Every story needs one. Whether its an evil, tyrannical government body or a vicious, cunning man-eating shark, the antagonist plays a vital role in nearly every tale. What would the hero do if there were no villain? What would the reader do if there were no bad guy, no evil for the hero to conquer and triumph over?
Be bored out of our gourd, that's what.
Villains mean conflict, something every story needs. Even if the antagonist is the hero's own sense of doubt and insecurity, he (or she) still needs something to struggle against and overcome. In praise of villains, here is a list of a few of my favorite antagonists, in no particular order. The villains that we hate to love and love to hate.
Note: Because so many of my favorite villains are from movies and T.V. (Dr. Evil, ) I'll just be sticking to some of my favorite literary bad guys.
Gerald Tarrent (When True Night Falls): You've probably never heard of this fantasy series, but let me tell you, it had one incredibly hot, charming, bad-ass sorcerer villain. Tarrent was unapologically evil; he knew he was tainted and twisted, and he offered no excuses for it. Yet he was so charismatic and suave and logical about it all, you couldn't help but love him, even though you knew he'd probably betray you the second he needed to. He was MUCH more interesting then the book's stalwart, upright, hopelessly boring hero.
Cezar (Wildwood Dancing): Cezar is one of those antagonists I don't hate to love, I just hate. HATE. With the fury of a thousand suns. Small-minded, egotistical, patronizing, bullying, self-righteous, slimy, masochistic man. If you want to see what truly ruffles my feathers in a guy, read this book.
Professor Umbridge (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix): Another villain that made me bristle with loathing every time she stepped onto the page. I hated her sickeningly sweet attitude, and the way she smiled when she knew you couldn't do anything about her injustice. Couldn't stand her. Wonderful villain. Hem hem.
Spitz (Call of the Wild): Who would've thought a dog could be such a fantastic villain, and not just because it only wants to tear your throat out? Spitz is Buck's antagonist in Call of the Wild, but he's not just a mindless monster. He's cunning as well as vicious, bullying Buck, stealing his food, harassing him because he knows he can get away with it. And when they finally face each other in their epic fight to the death, you can barely stand the tension, because this had been coming for a long, long time.
Dracula (Dracula): The vampire that spawned every vampire story ever told. You just can't beat the original.
Voldemort (Harry Potter series): Without a doubt, this is one evil, terrifying bad guy you do not want to triumph at the end of the day. Lord Voldemort was so feared throughout the wizarding world his very name had become taboo, yet he was intelligent, powerful, and charismatic enough his former followers returned to his side even though he'd been "dead" for 15 years. That type of villain leaves an impression, and was monstrous enough to cast his shadow through all seven books, until the final, inevitable showdown with Harry at the end.
Serverus Snape (Harry Potter series): You gotta admit, Rowling sure knows how to create memorable characters. While Umbridge I loathed with a fiery passion, and Voldemort gave me the shivers, I could never decide if I hated Snape and wanted him to fall out a window, or if I wished he would give me "private" lessons in Potion's class. Hey, don't judge; I know you all felt the same.
Darth Vader (Star Wars): I don't even need to say anything. (I've read the books, too!)
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII): Okay, so this is a video game. But Sephiroth remains one of my favorite, if not the favorite, villain of all time. If you've played FF7 or seen Advent Children, you know what I mean. If not, well here's a picture.
Those are some of mine. Who are your favorite villains?