I'm currently writing an asshole character, but it kind of bothers me that I feel that this trope is ... just not entirely cool, you know? I stumbled upon this clip: It suggests that we like asshole characters because they are up against a greater threat, such as organize crime or broken healthcare, which makes whatever they do kinda okay in comparison. Which is some part of it, I guess. One thing that really got to me was this soundbite: "We risked our lives and did terrible things, and it meant nothing when we came home" Yeah, try reading that one more time. The premise: If someone bravely sacrifices himself by doing "terrible things" to others, then they deserve some sorta reward. It would certainly be unfair if they got nothing for it. Even Wisecrack buys into this. It is presented as "this totally makes sense". They didn't even noticed how fucked up that logic was. So it's a very deep-rooted way of seeing things. I think this is a basic trope for a lot of asshole characters. By some weird mindhack that I haven't entirely worked out, character A doing horrible things to character B makes us empathize with A.