1. Atmas_Sylphen
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    Atmas_Sylphen New Member

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    Non-Evil Bad guy?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Atmas_Sylphen, Jul 23, 2012.

    What if the Antagonist of a story never does anything to actually be considered the Antagonist, yet the Protagonist fully believes the Antogonist is a bad guy? Would that be believable?
     
  2. m4r0v3r
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    m4r0v3r New Member

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    I don't see why not, the Protagonist could of misunderstood something, or not have all the facts, and due to that make a biased judgement
     
  3. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    If the situation is believable, then it’s believable. Think about it: As long as the protagonist has a viable reason as to why he/she thinks the antagonist is a "bad guy," then your readers will understand.

    For instance, the other day, I ate lunch out on the patio. Since I’m not a three-handed mutant (though sometimes I wish I was), I could only carry my plate and book; I needed to make a second trip to get my water. So I left my sandwich on the patio table. When I came back outside, the plate was upside down on the ground. My dog, the innocent little mutt she is, was there licking her chops and refusing to make eye contact with me. Of course, for all I know, a giant falcon could have swooped down, stolen my lunch, and knocked my plate to the floor. Maybe my dog saved my life by eating said monster falcon.

    Voila. Two points of view. On my end, my dog just stole my sandwich. On my dog's end, I just yelled at her for saving my butt.

    The whole "good-vs-evil" scheme is a cliché in itself, anyway. No one in real life is pure evil. The fact that you can see your antagonist's point of view is a good thing, and if you can let your readers see it as well, I think it would make your story more realistic. Take Wicked as an example. In the original Wizard of Oz, everyone thought that the witch was evil; however, Wicked showed her point of view and had her as the protagonist. The storyline was amazing because I could understand both points of view. As it turns out, the witch was just misunderstood - much like your antagonist.
     
  4. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    Usually the person who is committing the wrong, thinks it is right in their mind. It could just be two conflicting points of view. to quote star wars:

    Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil! The Sith are evil. The Dark Side of the Force is an evil presense.
    Anakin Skywalker: From my point of view, it is the Jedi who are evil.
     
  5. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    Where is a definition that say's an Antagonist must be Evil? I'd say I'd wait while you look for one, but that would take too long. The answer is that there is no such definition. All an Antagonist must do is act against the goals of the Protagonist. That's it, plain and simple. There is no other necessary component to the role of Antagonist.

    Your character is a doctor and trying to save a boy's life. An angel is working against your character. The angel is pure and just, obviously a force for good. But, regardless of being the Antagonist, the angel is not evil. There must be some other motivation for the Angel to work against the protagonist and the protagonist certainly has the best intentions. So, what would that be? That's where a story gets written.

    Never, ever, make the mistake of thinking than an Antagonist must be good, evil or some other moral flavor in direct opposition to the protagonist. ALL that is necessary is that the Antagonist work against the goals of the Protagonist. Period.
     
  6. Quinn T. Senchel
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    Quinn T. Senchel Member

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    As Morkonan stated. There is nothing that states an antagonist must be evil. Your antagonist may appear evil to the protagonist because they each have conflicting views. You could even make a protagonist out of someone that would be truly evil on the outside. An example, a man truly whole-heartedly believes someone, or a group of people, are responsible for the downfall of his nation. He attempts to fight/kill/expel him/her/them to restore order to his homeland. They never did anything, but the protagonist thinks they did and really believes he's fighting for the good of his nation.
     
  7. Atmas_Sylphen
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    Atmas_Sylphen New Member

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    Wow I didn't expect to get this many replies :D All that is true though. My Antagonist isn't even aware the Protagonist is out to get him... I guess that's like the president and an assassin. The president has no idea about the Assassin and has done nothing wrong, yet we view the story through the Assassins eyes and become convinced of the presidents criminal activities.
     
  8. Reptile Hazard
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    Reptile Hazard Member

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    As long as the antagonist is opposing the protagonist in some way, that's enough. Whether he/she is evil or not is entirely up to you.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Can you make the reader believe it?
     
  10. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    "Non-evil" bad guys are the best, in my opinion! In the real world, opposing forces generally believe that their side is the right side. But of course, there's usually more than one line dividing an issue, so a set-up like the one you're mentioning has more potential room to grow than just a knight-and-dragon situation.
     
  11. NuttyStuff
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    NuttyStuff Member

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    An antagonist can be whatever you think is right. If he/she isn't evil that just means that your story has more depth than others which makes it more interesting. A character can be anything, and if it doesn't make sense at first then find a way to make it make sense.
     
  12. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    If your story is from Hitler's point of view, for example, Hitler is the protagonist, right? The "Good Guy" of the book. And the others would be the "Bad guys", the antagonists. Although they are "Good Guys" from another point of you.
     
  13. Benjamin Harris
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    Benjamin Harris Member

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    You could always portray the antagonist as a kind of anti-hero. They aren't actually evil but their actions can be misconceived by the protagonist.
     
  14. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    While I love to refer to everything I dislike as evil, evil and good are such moral black and white terms that very few things fully fall into. Making an antagonist not evil is more realistic. The whole dualism of good vs. evil is a huge cliche. Making your antagonist have honest intentions, while perhaps misguided, will make him much more believable in my opinion. Like in a political story, your protagonist could just be a guying running on a campaign, and the antagonist would be his opponent. The antagonist doesn't need to be evil, as a matter of fact he could even be a close friend of the protagonist so long as he is the main opposition to the main goal of the protagonist.

    By the way, asparagus and today's popular music are evil.
     
  15. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    We were just talking about this in my English Comp Class! An antagonist is not necessarily a "Bad guy" or a villain. He or she is simply the person who stands opposed to the protagonist. Anyone can be an antagonist, it's all based on how they are portrayed in the story. As long as there is conflict between the MC, or protagonist, and another character, that other character becomes an antagonist. Its all about perspective!
     
  16. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Oh no, you did not just quote the prequels. XD

    Anyway, the basic definition of "antagonist" is just someone who gets in the protagonist's way. They don't necessary have to be evil. Take Apollo Creed, for example. He's not evil, no matter what perspective you look at him at.
     
  17. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    As of right now (and I haven't developed things further but will) I have no clearly defined antagonist It is all misconceptions on motives and like all humans, everyone makes poor choices that end up causing harm at some point in their lives. But like all humans, everyone (well most everyone) truly wants to feel normal and accepted and does not intentionally set out to be "evil".
     
  18. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    I take it you've never read Mao: The Unknown Story.
     
  19. Quabajazzi
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    Quabajazzi Member

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    Do you sort of mean Drakken from Kim Possible? (gosh I've been raving about him, haven't I?). That seems sort of like the situation you've vaguely described. And if you're after a bit of humor or comic relief...
     
  20. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    I think it all comes down to point of view. If your story contains a protagonist and an antagonist, and even if you frame them a certain way, there will always be a good guy and a bay guy at the end of the story regardless of how you framed them at the start.

    Switching the good and bad guy can be done, but it involves falsely leading the reader from a certain angle until a climax in the story where there is sudden realisation. Or it can be done by making an initially appearing good guy(a war hero for example), who is scarred by war and goes out and does bad things which get progressively worse, and there you've turned him into the bad guy. Yet an underdog on his team, who initially appears to be bad(smoking, drinking, has a track record for killing civilians) in the end, we find out he kills the war hero, and saves the lives of many civilians(he's now the good guy).

    That's two examples of how i would do it. But i think bad and good is a generalisation that can't be easily applied in all situations.
     
  21. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    As others have said, the antagonist doesn't have to be evil. But they do need to oppose the protagonist somehow, even if it's unintentional. You say that the antagonist never does anything to actually be considered the antagonist. That's what worries me. Again, even if it's unknown or unintentional or just a miss-belief by your protagonist, there has to be some opposition there. So just make sure that your protagonist is working to overcome something or someone, real or perceived, and don't worry about good vs. evil.
     
  22. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    In the world of good vs. bad, there is no such thing as black and white anymore. Today'sstorylines involve a lot of grey area, allowing heroes to be less pure and less perfect and creating villains who aren't trully evil. If you have an antagonist who isn't evil he can be shown as evil from the misguides viewpoint of the "hero".Or perhaps society see's him as evil, but he believes he's saving the world somehow.

    Moreover, this storyline is much more believable than the protagonist who is perfectly heroic or the antagonist who is perfectly evil. What really matters is the story and how you write it :) You have to make your story believable.
     
  23. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    My mom antagonizes me all the time, but I'm pretty sure she's not evil or bad.
     
  24. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    An antagonist doesn't need to be a bad guy, he just needs to conflict with/oppose the protagonist somehow. They can both be good guys if you want. If The Dark Knight followed the Joker's POV, the Joker would be the protagonist and Batman would be the antagonist. Protagonist ≠ good guy.
     
  25. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 Member

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    The key thing about the protagonist, is that the audience needs to sympathise with/have respect for them in some way. It's the way you write it really; you need a "likeable" quality about your protagonist - perhaps they are brave/witty/speak their mind/misunderstood/pure/endearing? The list goes on. As long as there's one thing about your protagonist that you can use to persuade your audience to be on their side.

    For instance take the countless kids books where the protagonist is a naughty child - we still root for them even though they are being naughty and the "enemy" is the adults even though they are probably being more sensible about the situation
     

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