Sunday, March 22, 2015

Villains Of Fiction!

I'm sure it's been mentioned before that I love fictional villains. If written, developed, handled, and executed well, these characters can make anything better. That said, no two villains are exactly alike. There are different archetypes and tropes that define certain fictional villains. And these right here are the Top 11 kinds of villains that are likely to appear in good works of fiction.

Card Carrying Villain: The most common, dime-a-dozen, archetypal villain there is. This is the diabolical schemer, the mustache-twirler, the plain-dealing rapscallion who revels in how nasty he is. Sometimes this villain will be so one-dimensional, one-note, and cardboard cutout that they'll fail to engage. But if executed exceptionally well, the villain will be tremendously entertaining to watch. Will work best in simple stories, fairy tales, plays, and farcical comedies. Elsewise they work in doses.

Anti Villain: The less usual type of villain - the villain who is not entirely villainous and not entirely unheroic, and who often commits acts of villainy or antagonism under motivations that are entirely reasonable, sympathetic, and sometimes even justified. The Anti Villain comes in four flavors - those who are villainous but honorable, those who are sympathetic characters driven to villainy, those who engage in villainy out of intentions that are right or they believe to be right, and those who are barely even villains at all but are stuck on the wrong side of a conflict. These can be compelling, intriguing and tragic villains. Captain Hook, Darth Vader, Magneto, and Mr. Freeze are famous examples.

Comedic Villain: This is exactly what it sounds like - villains whose personalities, goals, actions, and presence are comedic in nature. It's either because they're the antagonists of comedic works or because they're comic relief villains thrown into works of a different tone. In order for these villains to resonate with the audience, they must be truly funny and have some sort of real character to them.

Punch-Clock Villain: This type of villain can double as any of the above types, but the major point of them is that they are, at their core, just people who've taken villainy as a job. In their spare time they could be out shopping or doing things, but doing specific villainy for certain periods of time constitute their life's work. When off the clock, they may even be friendly towards their enemies.

Generic Doomsday Villain: These are the villain types that come out of nowhere, their backstories are either not detailed or not present, their motivations are vague and inadequate, their personalities are nonexistent, and their threat level to the good guys is so immense that it's their sole defining trait. Quite possibly the blandest, most generic villain archetype there is. Avoid them at all costs!

Magnificent Bastard: The most awe-inspiring and revered villain. This type of villain is defined by four qualities - high intelligence mixed with deviousness, being naturally manipulative, being driven by their goals, and possessing much charisma. Optional qualities include style, hammy theatricality, and a sense of boldness that lets them take the field themselves and leave unscathed or victorious. This villain can range from being the Big Bad to being a lowly minion, but they'll always be enjoyable.

Smug Snake: The counterpart to the above type - an efficient, intelligent, charming, manipulative, and devious villain who falls short of the magnificence they believe themselves to have due to pride, ignorance, and delusions of grandeur. This is a slimy, petty, unlikable villain who builds him or herself up to be something bigger and better due to a superiority complex, or sometimes inferiority complex. When outplayed, expect them to lose their cool and show themselves as the immature losers they truly are. These can be enjoyable Love To Hate villains so long as they aren't denied comeuppance.

Complete Monster: The epitome of evilness. This is a shamelessly, irredeemably evil villain who is defined by five major qualities - they're a cut above the rest in terms of their heinous atrocities, they're treated seriously and looked upon with revulsion and dread by others, they have no good reason for being so vile, they are unrepentant and thus beyond any and all redemption, and they possess zero mitigating qualities. Their position, resources, and the scale of their villainy varies, but they'll always be pure, uncompromisingly evil and as heinous in their deeds and behavior as they can be.

Psycho For Hire: This villain can be any of the above types so long as they possess one very certain quality - they work under hire for other villains not for profit, but for thrills. They enjoy killing, looting, maiming, raping, and bringing about the ruination of others, and will seek chances to do so.

Evil Overlord: This is the type of villain who usually comes to mind when one thinks "Big Bad." This is the dark lord, evil faculty head, corrupt businessman, despotic dictator, ruthless warlord, crime boss, or alien leader who governs all the other evildoers in a story. Their goals must be nothing short of domination, giving them total control over the populace and ultimate power to use as they please. Often a very frightening and powerful villain, but could be generic if not fleshed out or used well.

Eldritch Abomination: The highest level of villainy as it gets. This is a villain who is not a person, but a thing - a powerful and demonic entity who is inhuman and inhumane in all senses. By all means it shouldn't exist, yet it does, and it often seeks to consume the very fabric of it's reality in order to keep itself nourished with power. The ends will vary, but the means are always high scale villainy such as omnicide, mass mind rape, or the dreaded assimilation. These are scary ass villains - approach and use with caution!


  1. Complete monsters CAN have a freudian excuse, it's just not sufficient to justify their crimes. Darth Bane from Star Wars has freudian excuses to explain why he became so wicked (beaten by a drunkard father, falsely accused of murder and forced to flee his home, courtmartialed for standing up to his idiot commanding officer and mutinying rather than letting his friends die, joining the sith to avoid an unjust execution) but it's still clear he's an evil sob. Chantique had Josef Mengele (or the star wars version) as a father and was sold into slavery by her father, but it's clear her past is not sufficient to justify her crimes.)

    1. That's what I meant by "have no good reason reason for being so vile" - their backstories explain what shaped them into villains and what set them on the dark path we see them on in the present day, but they do not sufficiently explain why the villain's actions and motivations reach such extremes that we see them in. The only explanation for that is that the villain chooses to act as horribly as they can manage, they refuse to hold back or show any decency or seek any help, and they are too far gone in their malice and depravity to be forgivable or redeemable in any way. Basically their pasts stopped connecting to their crimes and the motivating drives behind said crimes. Crimes by any villain are hardly ever justified even if they have tragic pasts, but usually their past has a very direct effect on their present. Not so with a Complete Monster.