Monday, September 20, 2010

The Reflection in the Mirror: Villains


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?


  1. Great post!
    Hm..Tigerstar from the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. He's just so evil, yet very charismatic and awesome in his own way.
    I loved almost everything about Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel. And Lenah's coven, essentially the villains, were awesome!
    And of course, we can never forget Iron Horse, villain turned friend.

  2. Well since Final Fantasy 7 has been without a doubt the best game in the series, Sephiroth is the best villain as well - and he was hot! :) Though I never ever actually got to destroy the last opponent. I had to watch my brother playing to see the ending...^^

  3. Finally Sephiroth gets his mention! He's my fave hands down.

  4. Faith from Buffy the vampire, Scrooge, and Snape--I have a soft spot for him too! :)
    there are a lot more but I can't remember anything else at the moment.

  5. Oh Sephiroth! Every guy I know thinks he's one dope villain. As a Kingdom Hearts fan, he pissed me off in Kingdom Hearts 1 he just wouldn't die! lol

    But I have to admit, I do like his look!

  6. Ah, Sephiroth. I MAY have a character in my WIP loosely based on him. ;)

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post, although I'm a sucker for ambiguously evil characters. You know, ones who are TECHNICALLY bad guys but aren't the main villain. (Spike from Buffy, yes???) Because I very much enjoy when these characters are later redeemed.

  7. Sephiroth is the perfect description of Oberon.

  8. Nuada from Hellboy 2. I actually kinda wanted him to win! :) (yes i know its a film...)

    ummm literary ones, definitely agree with you on Gerald tarrent, Eligos from the Trickster series by Rob thurman is quite good too :) although she has Loki as a sorta good guy in that series! ^_^

    although nowadays alot of the 'good guys' are 'bad boys' now... are you sure tarrent was a villain? ;)

  9. just remembered who i was thinking off when i read your post. :)

    Morragan and Zaravaz. (from two different series by Cecilia Dart-thornton.

  10. Found this thread by googling Zaravaz. Zaravaz and Morragan were such intricate villains, so passionate, deceptive, enticing, alluring; they just drew you into their books in a way you didn't even understand until it was finished and you spent the next few days debriefing yourself.

    I can't believe Sauron from Lord of the Rings didn't make this list? Why? Why would he not be on this list? And Gollum, he is the epitome multiple personalities.