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"How do you create a good villain", Two weeks ago, 2:14 AM #1
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Now of course it depends on what type of story it is, what the in story world is like etc etc, but there are underlying things every villain that's memorable has to make them so

What do you feel makes a good villain, memorably or for the sake of how evil they are to the point of absurdity
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Two weeks ago, 3:24 AM #2
ilayas

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I feel the best villains are understandable. Even if the reader is not meant to agree with the villain they have to be able to understand why the villain does the things that they do. The reasons (or reasons) why the villain does the things that they do has to be believable. Evil for the sake of evil is boring and ultimately makes for a forgettable villain.
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Two weeks ago, 4:08 AM #3
argylefox

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Make them likable in some way. Polite, friendly, eloquent and very evil is good, methinks.
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Two weeks ago, 4:23 AM #4
snuffysam

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Something I've noticed that makes for a good villain is to 1) give them an obsession with some concept, and 2) make the villain willing to do anything to uphold that concept.

e.g.

"There's too much injustice in the world, so I'm going to kill anyone I feel is wicked"

"I want humanity to achieve perfection, and I'm willing to perform occult rituals to do so"

"I really like hands, so I'm going to kill people and take their hands"

Stuff like that.
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Two weeks ago, 4:44 AM #5
ChristianRepass

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ilayas:I feel the best villains are understandable. Even if the reader is not meant to agree with the villain they have to be able to understand why the villain does the things that they do. The reasons (or reasons) why the villain does the things that they do has to be believable. Evil for the sake of evil is boring and ultimately makes for a forgettable villain.


I agree with this. Also, a great way to make a villain more memorable would be to humanize them. For example, what kinds of food do they like? What kind of hobbies do they have? Who is their best friend?

Another good way to humanize villains would be to remember that everyone believes that they're doing the right thing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
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Two weeks ago, 4:52 AM #6
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It definitely depends on the story. The answers here are already very good, villains who are just normal people who have understandable and maybe even relatable motivations are usually very captivating. But sometimes a villain can work just because they are a fantastic foil to the protagonist. The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in fiction and he's pretty much the most over the top, saturday morning cartoonish caricature of a villain ever..he doesn't even have a backstory or a motive...he's just a nihilistic monster doing things for the lols, and yet he's so captivating and memorable because his subversiveness perfectly juxtaposes against Batman's idealism.

Another good villain is Hannibal lecter from Silence of The Lambs...here's a serial killer, a cold blooded psychopath that you end up liking the most out of all the characters in the movie. He's intelligent, classy, and charming, despite being evil.

A villain has to be impactful to the plot/characters in some way, that is number one. They CAN be relatable but don't have to be, they can be something readers HATE, fear, find captivating/mysterious, or a mix of the three. Giving these strong emotions a face and identity create intrigue and tension as well as become a catalyst for an infinite amount of character and story development all around.
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Two weeks ago, 4:54 AM #7
Jean_Q_Citizen

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Some good advice all around. Especially the last two. My villain is obsessed with becoming the Empress of a new Napoleonic Empire. But as time goes on, I plan to humanize her a bit...show WHY she got so obsessed, and at a very early age.

Your villain's upbringing can be important, too. Were mom and/or dad real pieces of work? Were they even in the picture at all? Did something along the way to adulthood make them snap, or become cynical or hateful? Background always comes into play - maybe not right away, but eventually.
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Two weeks ago, 7:13 AM #8
ilayas

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@Sovember

I would argue that the Joker's motive is to make everyone else see the world the same way he does. Which is a world that is not worth saving. That's why he is always pushing people to do terrible things. For him civility and kindness are just a facade' and with a few well placed cracks the whole thing comes crumbling down. His best joke he can tell is that you are no better then he is at the end of the day.

I don't really view that cartoonist over the top so much as deeply unsettling. Because to some extent you can agree with him. Everyone has a breaking point, even heroes, and he is really really good at figuring out what that point is.
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Two weeks ago, 7:51 AM #9
Sovember

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He is trying to do just that in The Dark Knight that appears to be more than subversion for subversion sake but his character in general is anarchy and terrorism for it's sake, not usually to prove a point. As Alfred says "Some men just want to see the world burn". It's good that you reference The Dark Knight/The Killing Joke Joker though, you mention you thought he was disturbing, which is good, a nihilistic terrorist clown with no backstory fighting a man in a Bat costume is written so well you don't view him as a caricature or "cheesy". That's what makes his character so good in the context of Batman stories imo haha
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Two weeks ago, 11:09 AM #10
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This is actually a really good video on the subject.

What Makes a Villain Feel Real
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Two weeks ago, 1:54 PM #11
jamiethefierce

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level:Now of course it depends on what type of story it is, what the in story world is like etc etc, but there are underlying things every villain that's memorable has to make them so

What do you feel makes a good villain, memorably or for the sake of how evil they are to the point of absurdity


The best villains are either those that are successful or those that inflict terror but never really go anywhere. A good villain is one that defies logic or reason or maybe they are just too smart for their own good. A villain can be stupid but that'd just make them laughable which may be what you are going for. If you make the "evil overlord" type then be sure to make them all powerful and then it'd be even more epic when the hero wins or if you are really serious or the story allows it then you can have the villain kill off the hero or at least one. There are hundreds of types of villains but the best are those that inflict fear in the reader or the villain could just be mysterious enough that people freak out whenever the villain appears in your story. Don't be too mysterious though or your villain will be extremely dull and lazy. Focus on what you want your villain to do and have them serve that purpose.

I hope that my villain rant inspired your own villain's monologue or jargon in some way. Have fun and try your best!
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Two weeks ago, 3:36 PM #12
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You have to make him (or her) a good contrast to the hero for one thing. Make sure they are everything that the hero stands against. Secondly, you have to give him a motive that is important to the story. It can be noble or evil motive, but it has to be relevant. Most importantly, their means has to be unjustified even if their motive is noble. At least, that's my base.
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Two weeks ago, 3:37 PM #13
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The reader needs to have multiple emotions towards the villain. It can be more effective if some of them are positive.
A key point there is build and show their three dimensional character.

Look at memorable villains backgrounds. Darth Vader, the Joker, Hannibal Lector for examples. They are not mysterious big bad guys. We know them.

They also have key memorable aspects that make them stand out in the crowd of villains out there.
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Two weeks ago, 6:29 PM #14
snuffysam

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MK_Wizard:You have to make him (or her) a good contrast to the hero for one thing. Make sure they are everything that the hero stands against. Secondly, you have to give him a motive that is important to the story. It can be noble or evil motive, but it has to be relevant. Most importantly, their means has to be unjustified even if their motive is noble. At least, that's my base.


In that vein, it might also be a good idea to give your villain some similarities with the hero. In a "we're the same, you and I" sense.
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Two weeks ago, 8:28 PM #15
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Sovember:A villain has to be impactful to the plot/characters in some way, that is number one.


This right here is the most important bit, I think. Your villain may talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

A lot of what has been said refers to the character of the villain: their motives and all that jazz. This makes for interesting (and certainly well written) villains. It's good to have interesting villains. Actions can speak louder than words, though, especially for villains. For a villain to be well written, their actions must have an impact, be it direct or indirect. This impact gives legitimacy to the threat they impose. The reader and the characters should feel the gravity of said threat.

Some of my favorite villains were ones that were built up as great threats, leaving me to imagine what they were capable of. Then when they actually acted, I was in awe at their capabilities. The threat they imposed was greater than I imagined. As a reader, I was attracted to the characters because their actions had such a great influence over the plot and the characters. For some, learning the greater depth (motive, backstory, etc.) to their character came after this point. Even so, I had already fallen in love with them.

The delivery of a villain is a vital aspect to their quality.
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9 days ago, 8:48 PM #16
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In my opinion, a good villain carries nearly the same ideology as the protagonist, but goes about it in a very different way. Sometimes they have the same motivation, but they always have SOMETHING in common that makes them attracted to each other in what seems like an inevitable way. The villain should be sympathetic to some extent. The audience needs to identify with them somehow, and I often like it when the villain of a story reveals something about ME when I discover similarities between us.

Villains are where the thinking gets done. They represent something we innately seem to despise, but they convince us that we might be wrong, or that it might be far more grey than we pretend it is. Walt Disney once said that a story is only as good as its villain, and I agree. The villain is the reason for the story, and the villain isn't always a character. Sometimes it's nature or an idea, or even a particular object.
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9 days ago, 8:55 PM #17
PeterVonBrown

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Just wanted to let y'all know that this Sunday's [Oct 15] WEBCOMIC CHAT is on this topic:

Writing Complex Villains

Hope it helps someone. :)
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9 days ago, 10:44 PM #18
FennFeathers

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ChristianRepass:I agree with this. Also, a great way to make a villain more memorable would be to humanize them. For example, what kinds of food do they like? What kind of hobbies do they have? Who is their best friend?

Another good way to humanize villains would be to remember that everyone believes that they're doing the right thing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


100% this! Villains need to be likable...not necessarily for who they are or what they're doing, but they should have redeeming qualities or a way for us to relate to them.
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9 days ago, 11:34 PM #19
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I guess one thing you could do is make a list of your favorite villains of all time, and ask yourself what they have in common. For instance, if your list is Sauron, Voldemort, and Darth Vader, you'd reach a very different conclusion than if your list is Claudius (Hamlet), Syndrome (Incredibles), and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast/Disney).
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8 days ago, 1:33 AM #20
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argylefox:Make them likable in some way. Polite, friendly, eloquent and very evil is good, methinks.


....is how "The Devil" is so often portrayed. He's a pretty good villain.

A serious reason for revenge; a really solid love interest - possibly the reason for his villainy in the first place; I had an idea for a 'villain' who is out to destroy billionaires and their 'evil' corporations,along with corrupt politicians and governments, because he wants to single-handedly save the environment. I guess Watchmen's Ozymandias is a variation on that theme.
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