Villains you love to hate--and write discussion

Who are your favorite villains, and why?

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message 1: by Gail (new)

Gail Martin (gailzmartin) | 3 comments Mod
Which villains have stayed with you or made a huge impression? Which are just awesomely cool in an evil way? Which ones are totally shuddersome due to their amazing evility? And which ones are just underwhelming? Let's talk?

message 2: by Gail (new)

Gail Martin (gailzmartin) | 3 comments Mod
Some of my all-time favorite villains include Heath Ledger's version of Joker, Delores Umbridge (much scarier than Voldemort), and Pennywise the Clown from It.

message 3: by L (new)

L Firstly, thank you so much for the invitation to this wonderful group.

Secondly, the villains in literature that really stand-out in my mind have to be Voldemort from Harry Potter (although i do agree with your comment above about Delores Umbridge as she certainly is an evil being clothed in a cloak of illusion), also Sauron from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the Witch Lamia from Stardust and Mrs Coulter from Northern Lights.

message 4: by Tony (new)

Tony Ruggiero | 1 comments Hey Gail-thanks for the invite!
Well..this may sound a bit Freudian (sp) but the villain I find the most interesting is the evil part in each of us. I guess the ongoing battle of good vs evil that is constantly raging inside and how characters deal with it. I think a good example is as you mentioned, the Joker, but even more so is two face.


message 5: by Jay (new)

Jay Requard (jayrequard) | 1 comments I love villains that somewhat forced themselves into the role they are in, either because they think they can do better than those around them (often at all costs) or because they feel truly slighted by the world around them. Voldemort is a great example of combining both, but I also think Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars is equally good. He believes that the Dark Side isn't evil, and that causes him to believe that order by force is better than order by democracy. The prequel trilogy wasn't great by any means, but it did a good job placing those two opposing philosophies against each other.

That is another aspect of a villain that I like being touched upon by an author--their philosophy, and it is even better when that philosophy makes sense. A great example is The Evil Magician Trent from Piers Anthony's Xanth novels. Trent truly believes that only he can lead Xanth to safety and prosperity, and even makes the argument that the current system of based on a person's spell (everyone in Xanth has their own magic, BTW), instead of the content of their character. It is a weird reversal of what we usually agree is a good thing, but he is so brutal in his drive to make that type of change happen. While Voldemort wants to make the world of magic available only for those of the purest blood, it isn't necessarily an original motivation. It is purely evil, meant to make the reader dislike him.

I love villains that are brutal and have no qualms about it, so I am a really big fan of Artemis Entrei from RA Salvatore's novels, and an even bigger fan of Soulcatcher from Glen Cook's Black Company series. They are so ruthless that it is hard to like them, even though they are enthralling characters to read.

message 6: by Betty (new)

Betty Cross (bettycross) | 1 comments As for villains by other writers, I'm partial to villains who think they're doing good. Palpatine in Star Wars in one such. Alma Coin in the Hunger Games trilogy is another.

Among my own villains, I'm most proud of Kordo-Stri (a woman's name, BTW) in Mistress of the Topaz, my fantasy novel. She's a complete sociopath in regards to her career, but she's loving to her husband and kind and protective to her son. Her associates in the government of Nobalos aren't consciously defending an evil system. As they see it, they're just doing their jobs.

message 7: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Daigle | 1 comments I've always felt that the best villains are the ones you understand. The maniacs who do evil for no reason are boring, little more than animals. I want to know why the villain is doing evil and what drove him to it. That's why one of my favorite villains is Davros from Dr. Who.

Davros is cold, calculating, quick to kill, the hallmark of many villains. But there's a reason for his behavior. He was born on a world that has known nothing but war for generations. The entire planet has become tainted by radiation, chemical weapons and genetically engineered plagues. All the beauty and hope have been wrung out of it. Davros has suffered as much as his world has, losing both his legs to an enemy attack that confined to a mechanical wheelchair essential to keeping him alive. He hates because that's all he's ever known, all his people have ever known, and because his life has become unending suffering. You'd never like the man, but you can see how he became the monster he is.

message 8: by Den (new)

Den (dcwilson45) | 1 comments Nothing is more compelling that a villain who is willing to do horrible things for what he sees as the "great good". Ozymandias from the Watchmen is great example of that. He killed millions because he thought it would bring about world peace. And he was right!

On the flip side, Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker was compelling because he's an example of pure sociopathy. He has no conscience and relishes in the pure chaos and destruction he unleashes.

Then there are the villains who make you think they're doing good. Watch the Wizard of Oz and pay close attention to what Glenda the "Good" Witch does:

1. She puts the ruby slippers on Dorothy, thereby painting a giant target on the poor girl's back.

2. She tells Dorothy she has walk several miles to the Emerald City when it's plainly obvious she could have used her magic to just transport her there.

3. Finally, only at the very end does she tell Dorothy she could've gone home at any time.

Clearly, Glenda set the whole thing up to use Dorothy to assassinate the Wicked Witch. That's pure villainy!

As a kid, one of the villains that made a great impression on me was Darth Vader, especially when you look at the original trilogy (Before Lucas started tampering with it) as the story of his eventual redemption.

message 9: by vorbore (new)

vorbore | 2 comments Heh. My favorite villain is a defeated villain :D

For a truly good villain, there should be some really fine tuning, a balance between sense of humor, capability, intelligence, and a plausible back-story from one side and selfish, malevolent behavior from the other side. Us readers should not be let to really like a villain, to avoid the villain and the hero to change roles, or the readers to get confused whom they should root for, because in these cases disappointment would be very hard to avoid, in the end.
Cavilo from The Vor Game was quite a good villain. It was necessary for her to be defeated, there was never a doubt about that, but I did not want her to parish, the sentiment I grew for most of other villains.
Furthermore, a villain needs to be capable and smart, hero's equal or fairly close to that, in order to create real tension.
And, I am utterly horrified by righteous villains, those who truly believe to be doing the right thing. These are definitely not my favorite kind of villains, too real, too possible to come across in real life :shudder:

message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily (emilyleverett) | 1 comments The villain that just made me hate him more than just about anyone else I've ever read (Umbridge is a very close second) is Uriah Heep from David Copperfield. Seriously. "I'm ever so 'umble!" Someone should have shot him in the face. Really. And he more or less gets away with his evilness. (He ends up a "model prisoner" in jail and an example of rehabilitation, which he isn't).

He's so disturbing because he never gets what's coming to him. He's never adequately punished in my mind. That's one thing that gets me.

In my own work, I like my villain The Grey Lady 'cause she's got her own reasons, which aren't bad reasons--there's a real Big Bad in her own life--but good lord does she NOT handle it the right way.

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Ventrella (michaelaventrella) | 1 comments Umbridge is a perfect choice. She's evil only by our standards. In her own book, she's the hero. And those are the best ones -- the best written villains don't think they're evil. Even Hitler didn't laugh maniacally, wring his hands, and declare that he was evil.

There are some people in politics (and especially certain political pundits on specific news stations) I think are evil, but they certainly don't see themselves that way.

At the same time, it's also interesting to also see people in fiction who absolutely know they are evil (such as Ledger's Joker) and just don't care. They can be fascinating people just as much, so long as they don't become cliches.

message 12: by Cedunkley (new)

Cedunkley | 1 comments A few Villains come to mind:

Lord Foul from Covenant - I've yet to encounter another villain who holds such a long view of things. He puts into motion events he knows won't come to fruition for decades, even centuries, manipulating people and events, moving all of the pieces in play into shapes and forms he desires in his quest to break free from the boundaries that contain him.

Bishop Edmund Loris from Deryni - His relentless fanaticism against the Deryni is pretty frightening.

Doloros Umbridge - She's one of those people you meet that shocks you with her sheer enjoyment of tormenting people, again, based in fanaticism similar to Loris. She's far more terrifying on a personal level than Voldemort who's far more of a boogey man throughout a large part of the series. She makes pain and punishment a very personal thing.

message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Bartoszek (gracebarton2065) | 1 comments I can't actually think of many villains that have left a particular lasting impressions on me. I don't think it's any fault of authors, just that so much time and attention is focused on the heroes, the villains sort of get left out. One fantasy story I was working on tried to cover this, as one of my villains was a key character and had a lot of attention focused on him.

That said, there is at least one villain I can think of who is making an impression. Devlan, from Maria V Snyder's Glass series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass and Spy Glass). The character was initially a power-hungry, magic-addicted brute who thrived on torture and trickery, but after a particular encounter with Opal (the heroine, and one of his past victims) his addiction has been removed and he appears a much nicer, repentent person. I suppose in him I like how he had a brutal history but appears genuinely repentent and willing to make amends, showing that just because someone makes a mistake and becomes a villain doesn't mean they will always be so, and heroes can learn to forgive them.

message 14: by Chris (new)

Chris Jackson (chrisajackson) | 2 comments Agree that Delores Umbridge was a truly awesome villain for all reasons stated above. While all villains' motivations should be considered from their own point of view as "the best intentions", their methods, the actions that truly make them villainous, should be seen from their own POV as justifiable.

For myself, I find "pulp" and "comic book" villains a little thin on this side. While Kieth Ledger portrayed a truly awesome "Joker", I could not identify with that character's reasons for doing what he was doing. Yes, he was psychotic, but even psychos have motivations.

I want villains with feelings, with fears, with loves and hatreds. The Lanisters were awesome villains because they had all these things, and true, honest motivations.

message 15: by Kendra (new)

Kendra (madamejade) | 2 comments The Green Goblin probably affected Spider-Man more than any other villain, nay, any other CHARACTER, in the entire series. He killed Gwen Stacy, brought Spider-Man enough anger to kill (the glider thing was so that Spidey wouldn't be one of those 'killers'), inspired Green Goblin II, the Hobgoblin, consequently the Demogoblin, and others to wreck Spidey's day, leaving a lasting and festering wound even after death.

There are very few villains who have brought out so much in their protagonists.

message 16: by Kendra (new)

Kendra (madamejade) | 2 comments Den wrote: "Nothing is more compelling that a villain who is willing to do horrible things for what he sees as the "great good". Ozymandias from the Watchmen is great example of that. He killed millions becaus..."

In the books, Glinda really didn't know about the ruby slippers teleporting Dorothy home. She gave her the shoes because the ones Dorothy was wearing were tattered and ready to collapse, and the Wicked Witch didn't show up until after. It was a different good witch that told Dorothy that the way home was the slippers. In the movie, yeah, Glinda's the villain.
"Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"
"Only bad witches are ugly."
What I would have said were I Dorothy:
"So, am I somewhere in the middle..."

message 17: by Darin (new)

Darin | 1 comments I love the Joker, the Man in Black from Stephen King's Dark Tower Series and The Master/Mistress from Doctor Who for the same reason. The genius mixed with insanity is a truly dangerous mix...

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Villains you love to hate--and write

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