Tyrion: I'm guilty of a far more monstrous crime: I'm guilty of being a dwarf!
Tywin: You're not on trial for being a dwarf.
Tyrion: Oh, yes I am! I've been on trial for that my
entire life!
~ Tyrion Lannister lashes out at his father for his lifelong poor treatment of him due to being a dwarf.

A Scapegoat is a villain who is punished much more than he/she would actually deserve. He is the opposite of a Karma Houdini, although certain rare cases can apply for both, especially if a villain becomes more sympathetic due to Flanderization (see example 8).

Just being a "bad guy" and having bad intentions is never enough to suffer such a punishment, which must be given according to acts. Some villains, however, are submitted to a retribution that can be very harsh, even unfair, thus winning over the audience's sympathy.

Scapegoats can include:

  1. Incompetent villains, whose recurring defeats are often humiliating (Disney's Captain Hook, Heinz Doofenshmirtz, or Angelica Pickles).
  2. Comic reliefs who are defeated or punished in a slapstick manner (many Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry villains).
  3. A villain that has a horrible life that almost never improves or even gets worse (Andrew Detmer).
  4. Minions that are often unfairly abused or killed by their master, either for failure or because they've outlived their usefulness (Lefou by Gaston, the leaders of the Confederacy of Independent Systems by Emperor Palpatine, or Charlie Walker by Jill Roberts).
  5. A tragic villain who, in the end, suffered more than he or she made suffer (Gollum, Rameses, Daniel Cross, Aubrey Davis, and Kiritsugu Emiya).
  6. Villains who are constantly revived and killed over again (Lifty and Shifty, Mustafa, and Samara Morgan)
  7. Anti-villains who intend to do good, but just go about it the wrong way (Brain from Pinky and the Brain).
  8. Former Karma Houdinis who can no longer get away with their actions because their karma has reached the inescapable point.
  9. Remorseful villains who wanted to redeem themselves, but died before they could (Boss WolfWendy, Euphemia li Britannia, Siren, and King Nachtigal)
  10. A villain whose fate is so horrific that the audience almost feels pity for them (Barty Crouch Jr. suffering the kiss of the Dementor, a fate worse than death, or Arthur Reeves being driven insane by The Joker)

Pure Evil villains usually do not apply for this category, as they cannot be incompetent, comical, tragic, remorseful, or good-willed, and their actions are usually so heinous that their defeat, regardless of brutality, is warranted. However, on extremely rare occasions, a Pure Evil CAN be a scapegoat ONLY IF they meet the third, fourth, sixth, eighth, or tenth criteria; their death/defeat must be so brutal and/or gruesome that it is felt that it was overkill even for one such as them, or they have continually suffered throughout life and/or repeatedly pay for their deeds (i.e. Koba)

Obviously, Pure Evil villains can be scapegoats if they have different fates/personalities in different media.