1. SerenaYasha
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    SerenaYasha Member

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    What makes a Great villain, great?!!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SerenaYasha, May 16, 2011.

    Simple Questions about Villains.

    1. What makes a Great Villain Great?

    2. what are the best types of Villains?

    3. Do you perfer a villain you can sympthisis with OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die?

    4. other thoughts/comments about villains?
     
  2. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    Personally, I love the villains that I hate with a passion... if that even makes sense...
    One of my favorite antagonists was Umbridge from Harry Potter. I swear my blood was boiling when I was reading that book, but that character kept me flying through the book in hopes that the next page would hold the moment where Harry finally told her off or SOMEthing! I like the villains that are hypocritical and unfair, but maybe that's just me.
     
  3. MrNomas
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    MrNomas Member

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    I like two flavors of villains - forces of nature and truly evil.

    Your force of nature is just that. An unstoppable force that the MC's have to mostly run away from. Something so powerful that it can't be directly attacked. It may be an evil force or simply something so alien that it doesn't have to know any better (probably the way we are most bugs).

    The truly evil villain is one that has made that choice. I feel if it is better if, even if the reader doesn't agree with it, they understand that choice. The truly evil villain is actively trying to hurt others for whatever reason.

    The reader should fear the first, hate the second.
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    1. At least for storytelling purposes, one that the audience is very interested in. That does not necessarily mean they sympathize or even understand the villain, but at the least the audience must be very, very, very interested in the villain. Perhaps the villain has a colorful personality that you just can't but be engaged by, or perhaps the villain leaves cliffhanger-esque hints about their motivations that just wants to make the reader read on - regardless, so far as I know, great villains must be ones that the audience have a keen interest in.

    2. Same as above.

    3. Both are fine in a story for me, so far as, again, they keep the reader's interest.
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another way is to make the villain a vehicle for wish fullfillment - sometimes the audience dreams about being as powerful or uninhibited as the villain. The latter need is very hard for the hero to satisfy.

    For example, in cultures where women are subordinate, about the only way to write a strong or sexually aggressive woman is to make her a villain. Since independence and sex drive are not accepted in "good" women, a villain is needed to live out those fantasies.

    Another example of wish fulfilment, I think, is Hollywood's obsession with intelligent, murderous psychopaths. They're both more powerful than ordinary people, and get away with acting out their violent impulses.
     
  6. Essemar
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    Essemar Member

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    I think great villains scheme a lot. They have a whole facade that keeps the protagonist unaware of their actions. Some of my favorite villains have been friends with the protagonist, secretly guiding them along a path of the villains desire.

    Intelligent villains are my personal best. I don't appreciate brute villains who just destroy things for the heck of it.

    I want to hate my villains with a passion.

    Take some inspiration from the old gods, they have some brilliant villains. Loki is an all time favorite.
     
  7. cretinhop
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    cretinhop Member

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    1. What makes a Great Villain Great?
    How enchanting they are, definitely. Alexandre Dumas' Milady in The Three Musketeers is certainly the best villain I've ever read. Her characteristics made her believably able to pull the wool over the eyes of the musketeers on several occasions, escape imprisonment, plot a murder, etc. She really got me feeling a lot of hatred. She doesn't even exist.

    2. what are the best types of Villains?
    Substancey villains! The overdone archetypes don't really leave room for new character development, as it were. Whether it is his motive or their means, a villain ought to present new and interesting ideas to the character as well as the reader. World domination for the sake of world domination doesn't quite cut it anymore.

    3. Do you perfer a villain you can sympathizewith OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die?
    Hm. I guess I don't really have a preference. My room mate and I are obsessed with an anime called Soul Eater, and one of the characters (who eventually becomes a goody) is the ultimate sympathetic character. I adore him. At the same time, as previously stated, I loved Milady as much as I hated her. I don't think it's the villain him/herself as much as it is the development, and how he suits the story.

    4. Other thoughts/comments about villains?
    Yay villains?
     
  8. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Though how can you possibly hate Loki? He is brilliant!!!

    I seem to be one of the few that don't want to hate the villain. I like stories with gray areas. Though as a result the villain often isn't actually a villain anymore. Like say the villain has to kill a bunch of poeple, but it turns out that it's to save the world. In that case the hero becomes the villain for trying to stop him. Or if the villain has been brainwashed to believe that black people are evil and tries to destroy them. Then the villain just becomes a sad and twisted person in serious need of help. American history X comes to mind, where the younger brother has been thaught by the older brother to be racist.
     
  9. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    When reading this, the first thing that came to my mind was Watchmen. I won't spoil the ending for anyone who has not seen it, but that novel/movie is about as gray as it gets.

    Anyways...

    My favourite sort of villain is the kind that is absolutely horrifying. For example, the titular creatures from the Alien franchise. They are hyper-sexualised, they reproduce by using humans as living incubators and their thought processes are so utterly incomprehensible to humans that it makes no sense to try and change their conviction. Another great villain, though most people will probably not know it, is the entire Phyrexian faction from Magic: The Gathering. They are very Borg-like in that they are half-machines, half flesh and that they convert others into their own kind. However, they go way beyond the Borg in that regard. The mutations they bestow on their own, seen more as blessings than anything else, are often absolutely horrifying and incredibly invasive.

    I think that is what marks a good villain for me - invasive, relentless and violating. For example, here is a piece of artwork depicting someone who is being turned by the aforementioned Phyrexians. To me, this is equally beautiful and repulsive, and I feel that this is what the best villains are like. I put the picture in a spoiler block - it's not outright explicit in any way, but it is kind of creepy. The worst part is how the Big Bad is actually the oil that is flowing between her fingers - it corrupts everyone into Phyrexians. Yet, it is not sentient or even alive. It just... Is. No remorse, no pity, no motivation.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. What makes a Great Villain Great?
    A great villain is one that triggers an emotional response from the audience. It can be hate, dislike, even admiration. These things make the villain memorable to a person.

    Dr. Doom and Darth Vader (from the original SW trilogy) are both good villains. Despite the fact they both wear masks, they are very different.

    Villains have to be realistic, at least in their setting. They have their own wants, desires, and goals. Being evil for evil's sake is rather stupid (unless you are Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim:D ).

    2. what are the best types of Villains?
    The ones you can hate with all your being, yet still find a trait about them that is admirable. Magneto is a good example. You don't have to like him, but once you learn his motives, you can understand where he is coming from.

    3. Do you prefer a villain you can sympthisis with OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die?
    I like both. It really just depends on my mood.
     
  11. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    For me the best villains are the ones who think they're the good guys...:D
     
  12. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    Relatable

    For me a villain that isn't at least nearly as understandable as the protag isn't interesting. Nobody sane really wants death for the sake of death, and the insane aren't influetial enough to threaten most armed people. For example, my protags are both antags to other people with an equally valid pov. The story is just written from a certain view.
     
  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I think the best villains are the ones that are deeper than the stereotypical 'destroy everything' idea. Like Snape in Harry Potter -- he's the villain, but he's also the anti-hero and even the hero in some cases. He hates Harry, yet he's protected him time and again. He's also in love with his mother, which is a fantastic twist of tragedy.

    Then again, I love the villains that want to destroy everything, but for some sort of purpose, like the Joker (most notably in The Dark Knight). He wants to destroy the city, take over everything, but he's a criminal mastermind with a pretty genius plot.
     
  14. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    For me, villains that get under your skin and you just wish would die are the best. Whether I can sympathize with him/her or not doesn't always matter to me. It's nice every now and again, but I think the pure evil ones that always tend to have the upper hand and just screw things up for the MC are the best ones.
     
  15. Lilithmoon
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    Lilithmoon Member

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    1. What makes a Great Villain Great?]The ability to conceal their true nature and the personality to make you see things their way makes a villain great. The villain that can actually make you change your convictions is the greatest of all imo. Think: Al Pacino's devil in The Devil's Advocate, Catwoman, or Gordon Gekko.

    I think the total lack of empathy and inability to be reasoned with also makes for a great frightening villain, The Terminator, for example.

    2. what are the best types of Villains? I love the super cool, intelligent villains that I envy and secretly try to emulate but without being evil. There are so many types of villains to choose from it is hard to say which is best. Some of my favorites are the classic tempter/temptress, egomaniacal mastermind, brutal savage, and the emotionless psychopath.

    3. Do you perfer a villain you can sympthisis with OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die? I love the sexy, charismatic villain but at the end of the day I just want a villain I can hate. Of course, the villain that you hate so much you anxiously await his dismemberment, is only great if you have the satisfaction, of seeing him dismembered. My favorite villain of this type is the Krugan from the first Highlander movie.
     
  16. Primequis
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    Primequis New Member

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    1. What makes a Great Villain Great?

    Villains...just like heroes and any other characters, they come in all kinds of different incarnations and such. There is not any set formula for them since all kinds of them under the sun, but I'd put the #1 important thing, as with any character, is they must be memorable.

    2. what are the best types of Villains?

    I don't think there is any particular best type at all. However, I can say a couple I personally like. You'd need to use Google to further research these types, but here's a few I really enjoy

    • Magnificent Bastard
    • Complete Monster
    • Psycho for Hire
    • Stalker with a Crush
    • Affably Evil
    • Anti-Villain
    • Fallen Hero
    • Necessary Evil
    • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy
    • Carnival of Killers
    • Daddy's Little Villain
    • The Starscream

    And so, so, so many more. Part of fun I find is how many different ideas and ways can tackle making villains.

    3. Do you perfer a villain you can sympthisis with OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die?

    Why not both? In something I'm writing right now, my Big Bad of story is an outright sociopath obsessed with protagonist. A sympathetic point one can get is fact he's incredibly skilled guy who constantly reaches peak of different things tries so it gets boring for him and really doesn't feel any true connection with pretty much anybody. Protagonist is closest to that since keeps entertained and has a lust for. However, he is also absolutely creepy with lack of empathy, lust for protagonist, the sheer fact treats entire thing as a game to keep himself entertained, absolutely selfish, and so on.

    Personally, I lean to I absolutely hate, though I can see fun in either or.

    4. other thoughts/comments about villains?

    Study and see as many great antagonist as you can! You always need a great antagonist for your villain or more memorable one. Someone who the audience will enjoy following.

    A few villains that are favorites of mine I can suggest to look into that may give inspiration: The Master (Doctor Who), Kefka (Final Fantasy 6), Van Grants (Tales of the Abyss), The Joker (Batman), Johan Liebert (Monster), Zolf Kimblee (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or just manga), and so many others. Characters are really my favorite as is trying out as many different mediums as possible, so I could keep going and going. Still, best to cut myself off here.
     
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  17. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I always believe the key to a great villain (no matter the flavor) is credibility. In an essence, this means that whatever they do (be it actions, words or otherwise) is not only believable but also can be empathized with.

    With an established reputation, demeanor, physical prowess, or what have you, credibility is what separates the memorable villains (like Darth Vader) from the forgettable ones.
     
  18. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Sense of humor
     
  19. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    1. What makes a great villain great? A villain who is barely distuinguisable, morality wise, from the main character. One so grey that people are torn between the two. It also helps, of course, if the character is really cool, but that's only cream for the cake.
    2. What are the best villains? The Anti-Villain, all the way.
    3.Do you perfer a villain you can sympthisis with OR one you hate with a passion and wish would just die? The first, as can seen by my previous answer, but I want more than that. I don't just want sympathy, I want EMPATHY.
    4.other thoughts/comments about villains? Villains should be treated as full characters, just like the hero, which means lots of depth, especially about their motivations. The reader should be torn between the two, hopelessly.
     
  20. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    When the villian has a goal and opposition that is linked to the main character's goal and opposition, the villian would try to hurt the protagonist in a way to reach his goal (the pain doesn't have to be phsycial). For instance, if the protagonsit's goal is to win the NBA chanpionship, the antagonist's goal may be to win the bowling game. However, in order for the protagnist to get to the championship, he must win a certain amount of games. The antagonsit, on the other hand, may not have a bowling ball of his own, but the protagonist has a basketball of his own. Therefore, the villian may notice that the protagnist has a bowling ball he left behind him when he used to play bowling when he was little or something. The villian may steal the bowling ball. Then, when bowling rivary comes up, the main character may be asked to join, since he was the best bowler, until the villian stole his ball. (This may be a bad example, but I think this what makes the villain a good villian, is when both the main character and villian has an opposition against each other. Conflict arises when the main character loses the game because his ball is stole, so they both may become antigonist when the main character gets revenge against the antagonist. To put it on top of that, the main character may lose the NBA chapionship since he switched back to bowling to enter the rivary game.



    I don't often read books, but I would have to say that there are some good villians in a movie, though I really don't know who they are by name.

    I would have to say both, because the villian and the protagonist may both learn from something. Let's go back to the basketball and bowling example. They may learn that the main character and the villain has something in common, that the main character used to play bowling when he was little until he switched to basketball.

    Villains doesn't always have to be villians, and protagonist can also turn out to be villians, since both the antagonist and protagnost have something to fight against. What makes a good villian only occurs to me when they both have oppositions that are directly linear to each other.
     
  21. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    For me a villain has to be a little more then two dimensional. I don't necessarily want to empathise with him, but understand him a little.

    There's also a line they can't really cross. They have to have some weakness. An unstoppable force of nature is frightening, but its also a story killer. So the Borg were a mess. One Borg lands on a planet, and the world is gone. They were unbeatable. So it really irked the heck out of me when the Federation kept fighting them, and ultimately even holding them back - it simply wasn't possible given what they were.

    The joker from the dark knight annoyed me too. Mainly because I had no idea at all how he was doing it. He decried planning, didn't do it, and yet was everywhere, all at once consistently beating batman up. Its bad enough when the pretty blond runs away screaming, and the bad guy just walks and yet is always right on her tail. Villains have to be at least a little real.

    Also one other trait, not so necessary if the villain can show some redemption, but with the truly horrible ones, they have to die. I loved Heroes, have all the dvd's but Sylar I wanted dead. Very dead. He was horrible, sadistic and evil, and I didn't give a toss that he had a bad background, I needed the satisfaction of knowing he was finally gone for good.

    Cheers.
     
  22. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    I like villains that actually have a good reason to be a villain. It has to make sense, unless they really are just truly evil (I'm thinking Disney here - Maleficent). A way to think of it could be to think of it like politics - I despise "the other side" of the political spectrum from me. I think they're wrong. I think some of their views are evil. I think many are dangerous. But I know they have their own justifications just as I have mine.

    Similarly, a good villain, I think, needs to have that motivation beyond simple destruction/evil. Maybe it's greed or money or power. Maybe it's a psychiatric disease. Maybe they were hurt (lover killed?) and their elaborate plan for revenge hurts a lot of people along the way to get to that one person (e.g., wanting to destroy everyone that person loves, leaving them for last). In doing that kind of motivation, you are also forced to make them more than just a 2D "I'm evil, I'm here to mess you up!" plot for them.
     
  23. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    The fact that they are impossibly human as well.

    I dislike when a villain is portrayed as the ultimate evil - completely black and white, good versus bad, opposite of my hero sort of thing.

    I like a struggle. I want to be able to like and hate my villain at the same time. Have some redeeming qualities I can root for in those rare times where it looks like they might have a conscious, then yank it out and make me hate them even more. Mwah-ha-ha-ha...
     
  24. Three
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    1 - A great villian needs a great backstory. A great reason for why he does what he does. I'm getting very tired of villians who just want to kill everybody because they're evil. ...Because they had terrible childhoods or something ...I guess. It's incredibly hard for me to belive that someone 'just wants to kill everybody'. Villians should have purpose. They should have a reason for the things they do (it's ok if they don't know what it is, but YOU the writer have to know).

    2 - The best villians are intelligent, sophisticated and elegant. He is sadistic, and acts curteous at the same time, mostly just because he enjoys irony. (Watch you step there my dear, mind the corpse of your husband, whom I just recently killed. Wouldn't want the edge of your skirts stained with blood now, would we?)

    Despite being truly evil, he also has exquisite taste and an odd, but delightful sense of humour (see Hannibal Lecter). The best villian can make you laugh and shudder at the same time. Below his charm, his mind is sharp as a blade, and just as deadly. He is often a master schemer, devising the perfect, seemingly flawless plan others would gape at upon realizing. Of course, the plan is not actually flawless - there is no such thing, and at the critical moments, our charming villian is gripping the edge of his seat praying all will go as expected (see Artemis Fowl (whom, much to my disgust, ended up turning into a good guy) ). If he's not a schemer, he still enjoys manipulating people, using his charm or intelligence to trick others into doing his will without them even realizing. Just like in real life, a great villian is usualy a control freak. He derives satisfaction from controling others because he feels he has so little control over his own life. At some point before he became the villian we know today, he has in some way been victimized. Bullies beget bullies. A villian is always the product of another villian.

    3 - I'd prefer a villian I can sympathize with, but that's not exactly it. The best villians are very interesting, I want to read more about them, but are really frightening too. Prime example: The Joker.

    The Joker is a brilliant exception. He sees a 'truth' that only he can see. How mindnumbingly dull our lives are, how everything we hold as a priority is meaningless, how stupid we're all acting holding our values and morals so high untill push comes to shove and they're tossed out the window in a blink of an eye... or something like that. What he wants is for us to realize this truth, and the only way he can think of to do that is by destroying everything. (That's the Dark Night Joker, at least. He's been done many times and with several little twists that change his motivation each time. He is always wonderful though. Always brilliant and always, unquestionably evil.)

    I'm a proud villianophile. Can you tell? :D
     
  25. maxwell1422
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    maxwell1422 New Member

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    The best type of villains start out as the good guy's best friend and even help him along the way earning his trust as he makes his way to defeat who he thinks is the bad guy but just at the height of the climax the true villain betrays our hero leaving him broken and alone to gather real strength on his own.
     

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