Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly... (Part II)

Yesterday I made a list of the common types of antagonists that appear in stories. Well, today is going to the other spectrum and looking at the common antagonists/villains that our heroes might encounter on their journey.

1. The Big Bad
Ooh, don't you like the big and scary monsters? This is what vampires used to be like. These are monsters/villains that are purely evil. They don't have any reasons or motivations apart from being evil (most motivations stems around the need to feed or being more animalistic monsters).

These types of villains are okay to watch and follow if it's in a horror movie. These days though, villains need more motivation than simply "because I'm evil".

2. The "too stupid to live" villain... a.k.a the bumbler
These are characters that if they existed in real life they would probably be long dead by now. Some reason they always seem to screw up their plans, and it's definitely a shock whenever they catch the hero or temporarily defeat the hero.

This type of villain definitely does vie for the sympathy vote, but it's always funny watching what these types of villains will do next. Don't try to use them in anything but for humour, because they won't be respected as villains otherwise.

3. The chess master
These types of characters use something called the Xanatos Roulette, they set up elaborate plans that, if one thing doesn't align in perfect place, the whole master plan could fall to bits. Never taking the easy way out, they would prefer to set up five moves ahead and usually (for some surprising reason) their plans never fail.

Joker is a fantastic example, even though he mainly does his plans through chaos, he never physically carries out anything, he rather sets things up so that they'll eventually cascade into the ending that he wants... just think of his plan in the Dark Knight, I won't go through it just in case it spoils the ending for some.

4. The "I do have a heart" villain... a.k.a the anti-villain
These are the villains you are meant to feel sorry for. Sympathetic villains that has an elaborate and deep back story that allows you to feel sorry for them. They are not purely evil even though they still are the ones going around committing the crimes and killing people... they have a reason for it.

Japanese horror is great with this. All of the movies I've seen has the main villain someone who the viewer can definitely feel sorry for. Take Samara out of the Ring, all she ever wanted was to be loved... so you end up feeling sorry for them (seriously, I've nearly cried at the end of some because of such a sad ending for the vicious monster that's spent most of the movie killing people).

5. The "is it bad to want the bad guy to win" villain 
These villains are fun to watch, and even more fun to write about. Sometimes they can also be combined with the anti-villain, because these are the ones that you hate to love. These characters can be sympathetic or have characteristics that the reader/viewer can relate to.

I love Anime and one of my favourites is Death Note, in it there's the main character who eventually becomes the villain as he goes around killing people, but his plan is just as elaborate as the chess master and he is humourous to watch. Plus he also had morals, he was attacking those who were committing crimes because the police system wasn't working fast enough. He was just all around fun to watch... it nearly had me wanting him to win, but I liked the hero much better.

6. The "all the world hates me" villain
This type of character is the exact opposite of the Unlikely Hero. He has had a poor and rough life. Most probably abandoned or orphaned at a young age, or abused by his parents or carers, but instead of remaining sympathetic, they chose to get revenge on those that have hurt them and thus becoming villains.

Voldemort is a great example. His childhood could pretty much be identical to Harry's, with being orphaned/abandoned and raised by people that don't want them. The one difference is the choices they make, Voldemort chose to go the evil path, so he became the villain in the story.

7. The designated evil
Okay, so this character is just like the "Designated Driver", they only exist because the story requires them. Sometimes they can be minor/petty crooks that the hero foils at the beginning or they can be a school rival who has not done anything wrong, but the story does need a villain and they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time sort of thing.

For all those that don't know, the character to the left is Vayne from Final Fantasy Xii (video game), his only crime was wanting to stop the gods for the way they treated humans like puppets.

I definitely love reading or watching the Chess Master, the anti-villain or stories that gets me to root for the villain. In my writing I like to work around the anti-villain, I love sympathetic villains. I would love to work on a whole chess master move (actually I've got something planned for my Heroes novel... hopefully it can come together).

So, what sort of villains do you like to read about? What do you write about?


Unknown said...

This list is just as good as your hero list. Well done! I generally like sympathetic villains or the chess master the most just because they get into the 'why' behind the villain and I really like knowing what went wrong and how they got to that point.

Great post! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like an intricate villian as well.
None of my villians really line up with any of the descriptions, though.

Jemi Fraser said...

Chess masters are the most fun to read about. My villain isn't quite that complex - but definitely has layers.

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Another great list! I'm most fond of #4 and #5.

The chess masters just strain my credulity toooo far. But they can be fun.

JJ said...

Awesome post! I love anti-heros and anti-villains. I try to give all my villains a little good and all my heros a little bad. Afterall, everyone has the ability to be both good and evil.

Brenda Drake said...

Totally give me a hot villain mixed with a little anti-villain and I'm hooked.

MTeacress said...

You sure summed that up well. I loved this post - same goes for the last one. I'm going to tweet it. :)

Kristi said...

I really like the interesting intricate villians of the "is it bad to want the bady guy to win" variety. I'm always impressed when I can be swayed to the obviously incorrect side! :-)

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