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What Makes a Good Villain For Fiction?


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Showing 1-25 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 30, 2012 7:31:08 PM PDT
J. Case says:
Not a pushover.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 5:01:53 AM PDT
Splinker says:
At least one normal trait we can identify/empathize with.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2012 2:47:34 PM PDT
KinksRock says:
A compelling backstory that provides some explanation for his/her awful behavior.

Posted on Jun 6, 2012 3:43:20 PM PDT
J. Case says:
Lines that you'll remember, and be quoting.

Posted on Jun 6, 2012 3:46:32 PM PDT
Ku says:
Heath Ledger's interpretation of the Joker in the 'Dark Knight' is prolly as good as it gets.

'Why so serious?'

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 12:18:32 AM PDT
J. Case says:
Malicious acts

Posted on Jun 11, 2012 12:19:15 AM PDT
J. Case says:
Strong goal or goals that creates conflict between him, her, and the hero or heroine.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 10:44:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 10:44:29 AM PDT
W.T. says:
Complexity and relatability. Perhaps the best prose villain in the past few decades is Timothy Zahn's Star Wars baddie, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Clearly patterned after some of the real world's great generals and conquerors, he's charismatic, a brilliant strategist, an art lover, and he's a (mostly) decent guy to boot. As a discriminated-against minority who rose to the top and then, post-Palpatine, tore down racist (speciest?) glass ceilings within the Empire, it could be argued that he did more for "civil rights" in the Star Wars galaxy than the New Republic did. It could also be argued that the life of the average citizen under his rule would have been just as free as those under the control of the "good guys".

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 6:02:01 PM PDT
Oldog_Oltrix says:
Power! The usual model is Hitlerian: (1) Charisma, to attract a large following; (2) Ruthlessness, to manipulate the following to give him/her near omnipotence; (3) Arrogance, to cause the villain to attack goodness; (4) Fatal Flaw, to provide an opportunity for goodness to prevail.

Of course, it is not necessary for goodness to prevail, but it is the usual model.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 9:42:26 PM PDT
Quinton Blue says:
Intelligence combined with evil. A dumb villain just can't pose much of a challenge.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 3:05:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012 3:06:28 AM PDT
Oldog_Oltrix says:
Hmmm. Quinton, I'm thinking that there is huge body of action/adventure literature that capitalizes on the villain not being the sharpest tack in the box. As long as a villain has amassed enough power and control, they can compensate for their less-than-stellar intellect. Such tales in general depend upon the protagonist being brighter and more clever than the villain, from Ivanhoe and Robin Hood and Zorro to James Bond and Hunger Games.

It's true in real-life villains, too; if Adolph Hitler had been more intelligent, the western world would be a quite different place today. Yes, he was a brilliant political strategist, which got him to power; but he didn't have the overall intelligence to sustain his villainy.

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 6:10:44 PM PDT
Cphe says:
The more normal the setting/scenario......the higher the "chill" factor

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 3:57:36 PM PDT
J. Case says:
So making them more realistic?

Posted on Jul 11, 2012 4:57:27 AM PDT
Astrocat says:
Well, one of best villains I've met lately is Tyrion Lannister in A Game of Thrones. There aren't all that many "nice" folks in those books, anyway, some are really horrid, like Cersei and a couple of others. Tyrion, while certainly not sweetness and light, is a kind of mixed bag. You understand why he's the way he is, and there are some semi-shining moments when he does something you approve of (I won't do any spoilers here, but if you've read the books you'll know what I mean). He's opportunistic, but has such an insouciant attitude (hiding any knocking of the knees when he gets in a bad situation), that you really cut him a lot of slack.

Posted on Jul 11, 2012 8:40:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2012 4:59:04 PM PDT
R. Smith says:
Without a doubt, two things: 1) is she a badass or not and 2) is he complex or not?

I hate it when the hero is so obviously tougher (or smarter, faster, stronger, etc.) than the villain. What the hell is fun about that? You want a villain to be INFINITELY stronger than the hero so that there's conflict and tension. This might sound like a weird example, but I remember watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox the other day, and the human villains were so much dumber than the hero foxes. It was infuriating to the extreme. So this is the best element, and great villains who are tougher than the heroes include disparate characters as Hannibal Lecter, the T1000 (from Terminator 2), and Saron from Lord of the Rings.

Two, the villain has to be complex and definitely shouldn't be a stereotype. One reason that Avatar failed IMHO is its villain, the musclebound mercenary, is such a dreadful cliche. Make a villain I haven't seen before, one with his (or her) own psychosis and reasons for behavior. Complex villains include, once again, Hannibal Lecter, the Judge from Blood Meridian (a truly GREAT villain), and the Joker from The Dark Knight (he's not only a psycho, he's a psycho with anarchist philosophizing).

So there you go--the two elements to a great villain.

Posted on Jul 11, 2012 11:53:38 AM PDT
W.T. says:
The best villains (1) think that they are the one that's in the right and (2) have a decently compelling case to back it up.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 17, 2012 10:12:40 PM PDT
J. Case says:
Also they are the opposite of the hero, and might have a flaw that the hero also has, and would want to hide.

Posted on Jul 19, 2012 4:29:28 PM PDT
Splinker says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2012 8:15:00 PM PDT
nameinuse says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012 9:59:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2012 9:59:58 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012 2:02:35 PM PDT
Amy Hall says:
W K said: "The best villains (1) think that they are the one that's in the right and (2) have a decently compelling case to back it up."

oh yah! Like Walter White in Breaking Bad.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012 11:56:12 PM PDT
J. Case says:
What about Strannix from Under Siege?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:06:10 AM PDT
Amy Hall says:
I think some of the posters in the Religion thread would make great villains for fiction, since they seem to have it done to a pat in reality.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:10:53 AM PDT
Amy Hall says:
Fingers said, "Both guys are not intrinsically bad, they would have both turned out differently with a different turn of luck."

--------
You know, there are book clubs that can help you understand what you're reading, since you seem to be misunderstanding it all on your own. Geesch. It's like you only read every other page.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:48:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 12:49:18 AM PDT
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Fiction forum
Participants:  14
Total posts:  34
Initial post:  May 30, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 30, 2012

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