The Designated Bastard is a very common character type found in badfic. While there are many personal agendas that a Designated Bastard may pursue, all of them have to do with being unreasonably harsh on the Sue/Stu, other bashed canons, or anything the Suethor wishes to give a hard time.
Designated Bastards are bad because they do not display good characterization: they oppose the Sue/Stu not for any real reason, but for an artificial, contrived one or for no reason at all. They foster an environment where individuals that oppose the Sue/Stu are made to see the 'error' of their ways, or are punished accordingly. This is a shocking attitude, can be considered tyrannical, and betrays the canon-warping control a Sue/Stu has over their home fic. This is doubly horrifying when a canon character is possessed to comply, and become this archetype.
Both canon characters and original characters can be portrayed as Designated Bastards. Original character Bastards often are wholly created to oppose the Sue/Stu and may not have any other traits. They are often cast as new antagonists. Canon character Bastards are usually characters the Sue/Stu dislikes, and their characterization is usually hijacked, promoting that if the Sue/Stu doesn't like them, nobody else should like them either.
Oddly, the opposite is also true: the Sue/Stu may get a kick out of converting and then romancing an uncanonically-defiant, desirable canon character.
Designated Bastards appearing in a fic is a charge, and is different from a charge for simple OOCness. Designated Bastards are often character replacements or possessed. Characters with OOC Resistance are turned into Designated Bastards and replaced/possessed with alarming frequency because Sues and Stus don't often like them. Characters with OOC Immunity cannot be Designated Bastards: they are always replacements.
The Designated Bastard's opposite number is the Designated Sycophant.
- 1 The Bastard's Role
- 2 Common Types of Designated Bastard
- 3 Exceptions
- 4 See Also
The Bastard's Role
The role of the Designated Bastard is to create conflict within the Suefic, or to create an antagonist where there otherwise would be none. In the abstract, the purpose of the Designated Bastard is to be wrong: to provide a strawman argument against the Sue/Stu’s actions. Designated Bastards usually display exaggerated negative traits, such as an unconditional bad attitude or even an unusually ugly appearance. However, this is not always true: if the Designated Bastard is also desirable to the Sue/Stu character, he/she could be depicted as handsome or beautiful. It does not make sense why being unrealistically defiant or disagreeable would be appealing, but Sues/Stus rarely make sense.
Designated Bastards are either eliminated by the Sue or ‘converted’ to the Sue’s viewpoint. Characters that are made Bastards due to bashing are often eliminated, usually killed off in embarrassing ways to underscore how badly they were wrong. Desirable Bastards will often be ‘converted’ once they realize how undeniably ‘right’ the object of their objection is. Once ‘converted,’ all of the character’s bastardly demeanor will vanish, leaving them a perfect mate or companion for a sparkly parasite.
The 'preps' in 'My Immortal' are a classic example of the Designated Bastard: a villainized, conflict-instigating label that embodies things the Sue does not like, that is bad merely because the Sue says so rather than providing any real reason.
Common Types of Designated Bastard
Designated Bastard Classic
As described above, Designated Bastards are unrealistically disagreeable or exclusive, and exist to create superficial conflict. In this case, the Bastard may not have a specific gimmick in mind. Often, these are canon characters that have been warped to try and exclude the Sue/Stu... the mentor character that doesn't want the Sue/Stu around, the childhood friend who does not want to include the Sue/Stu, etc.
Friendly Designated Bastard
It's clear that nobody should like Friendly Designated Bastard, but canon characters keep him/her around anyway. Somehow, this person became friends with the canon cast (or may be part of the cast), or even a canon character's lover, even though they are depicted as a thoroughly objectionable person. It does not make sense why anybody would tolerate such behavior in a circle of friends, or why somebody would make such a drastic change from normal, friendly behavior, to such nasty behavior. Usually the FDB will be 'dropped' from a group of friends in favor of the Sue/Stu that he/she objects to. Usually this is simply because the Sue/Stu doesn't like them, and they are then portrayed as unlikable to everybody else. It may also even be used to 'disqualify' a Sue/Stu's potential competition for a love interest.
Enemy Designated Bastard
The Enemy Designated Bastard appears as an antagonist to a Sue/Stu and their possible group. Many antagonists in badfic are also EDBs: existing to create a plot where the Sue can show off, and for no other real reason. It might not even make sense why they they are so hateful, or why they appeared at the time they did. They exist to be an obstacle, and are usually even more abusive or over-the-top than other Designated Bastards. A Friendly Designated Bastard may become an Enemy Designated Bastard if they don't vanish from the story once rejected by their former allies. They appear often as special 'rivals' in badfic: existing to simply be somebody for the Sue/Stu to beat up.
Designated Misogynistic Bastard
The Designated Misogynistic Bastard mainly rejects the Sue because she's female – and almost never appears in Stufics to criticize a male character. This Bastard's purpose is to make sexist comments, claim that the Sue is weak and inferior purely due to her extra X chromosome (rather than the fact that she is an idiot), and generally be a bastard. The Sue may eventually challenge him to a contest of some sort and best him before running into the arms of her Lust Object and gloating.
In contrast, some DMBs may actually be lusted after by the Sue. Apparently, some characters can't show they care about a daughter or lover without locking her in her room or generally bossing her around. Or, alternatively, the DMB's bad attitude will evaporate once the Sue gives him her undying love.
While the purpose of these characters is to show the 'strength' of the female character, including a DMB does not actually promote feminism or equality: the Sue's triumph over the DMB has to do with the DMB's artificial weakness more than any real strength of her own.
Designated Lecherous Bastard
The Designated Lecherous Bastard (also called 'Token Lecherous Jerk') is a character singled out as behaving like, well, a lecherous jerk towards the Mary Sue and/or her sidekicks, regardless of their canonical behavior or even common sense. He (and he is nearly always a he) almost never appears in Stufics, and when he does it's usually yaoi fic. On the contrary, many Gary Stus idealize lecherous behavior, equating oversexed behavior or even downright perversion with masculinity or desirability.
In Suefics, a Mary Sue may show off by beating him up or be victimized by him so her preferred male character can save her from the DLB.
Agent Redd was an OC created to be a Token Lecherous Jerk. Regular aversion therapy at the hands of female agents means he's getting better.
Designated Homophobic Bastard
The Designated Homophobic Bastard (also known as Token Homophobic Jerk) really hates gay people. (S)he hates them strongly, and for often no other reason than to provide an obstacle for a slash couple: twisted by the Suethor into rejecting the gay characters. The DHB's role is to make homophobic comments, attempt to exclude the characters, and in some cases attack the paired characters. Rather than reflecting cultural norms, religious beliefs, personal upbringing, the relationship itself, current legal codes, or other positions, this characterization overwhelmingly tends to be flat, exist solely to show Twu Wuv in the face of a half paragraph of adversity, and to make a disliked character look worse.
Unlike the some other Bastard variations, Homophobic Bastards are not unheard of within canon, and many characters can be rather less than fond of the idea without necessarily contradicting their canon personality. DHBs can, however, be easily diagnosed by having attitudes more common within the twenty-first century than their own time, unlikely speech patterns, character warping, and a fair share of character bashing. Severus Snape might well throw a number of insults toward a theoretical Remus J. Lupin and Sirius Black pairing, but given that the latter almost got him killed by the former, this should not be the only reason for dislike.
Designated Heterophobic Bastard
DHeBs are very rare. Heterosexuality is almost never portrayed as objectionable to anyone in fanfic, but when it is, it is usually an artifact of shipping wars: portraying the gay participants of a slash ship as hateful of a different, heterosexual ship.
Designated Ship-Sinking Bastard
The DSSB is different from DHBs and DHeBs in that (s)he does not hate a character or characters for their sexual orientation, but hates that they are in a relationship with someone else. (S)he is usually portrayed as an ex-romantic rival, and has a much higher chance of being female than the average Designated Bastard. She will go out of her way to try and break up the couple in question, often seeking to win back one of the romantic pair for herself. The other one she often regards with burning resentment, for little reason. She is never portrayed in a positive light, and in fact exists simply to show how awful she is, which seems somewhat recursive. She is usually exposed as a nasty person, bashed, and then run out of the fic in shame. If she does not relent even after her 'defeat' at the hands of Twu Wuv, she (like the Friendly Designated Bastard) might 'upgrade' her hatred and become an Enemy Designated Bastard.
Not all characters that hate the lead character are Designated Bastards. Be aware when:
- This character really does act this way in canon, or is hinted to feel this way.
- This character is merely OOC: their hatred isn't a tool to make the lead character/Sue/Stu 'stronger'. In this case, their anger might actually be evidence of a rare unpossessed canon with OOC Resistance. Being OOC is still bad, though.
- This is an AU where the 'bastard' character is the focus of the story, exploring how the 'bastard' came to hate someone so strongly.
- This story is actually a good story, and through some minor miracle gets the reader to enjoy the depiction. (Highly unlikely, to say the least.)
- There is some plot reason that sensibly explains their gross uncharacteristic reactions to things, such as mind-control, and fits in nicely with canonical themes.