The Villain Is the One That You Came to See

Posted July 21, 2015 by Inge in Features, Have I Gone Mad? // Discussions, Tea Party // Random Thoughts / 27 Comments

Everybody wants to be like me

The villain is the one that you came to see

Sick of all the good guys saving the day

‘Cause the villain always wins when the hero’s away

– Theory of a Deadman, Villain

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s nothing that makes a story so thrilling like a good villain to raise the stakes. Someone particularly cunning to give our good guys something to fight against. Someone with great plans, great intelligence, and usually a great smile, often used on a female protagonist or when plans go infinitely right. Even though they usually leave death and destruction in their wake, they add so much more to the story. Suspense to the max. A battle between good and evil. Grueling consequences.

As someone who’s interested in psychology and how the mind works, it’s also really interesting for me to find out about any back-story to these villains; what motivated them to choose for evil to prevail. While I’m fascinated about their motives, I don’t really need a tragic past to justify their actions. I like it better when they’re confident in their villain-ness instead of just bitter. Have them revel in it. Let them have a good time with it. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good redemption story as much as the next guy, but… real villains are/have more fun. 😉

It doesn’t help that they’re usually incredibly good-looking either. Like, what are you doing to my morals? I’m supposed to be rooting for the good guy here, yet I can’t help being physically attracted to the villain. And then they give him a sense of humour too, and yup, guess who I want to win? It’s like they’re saying, “Come to the dark side, we have sexy men.”

Here’s a list of some of my favourite villains.

Loki, Thor/The Avengers

“You were made to be ruled.”

I’ll admit right away: part of Loki’s charm is the fact that he’s played by Tom Hiddleston. But there’s also the fact that he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, and did I mention he’s played by Tom Hiddleston?

I think a lot of fangirls associate Loki with the term “misunderstood” — you know, our way of trying to find an excuse for his behaviour. Because he’s killed so many people and has no qualms with taking over planets, but when he puts up those puppy eyes, you just feel his sense of betrayal seeping through and all you want to do is give him a hug. Why can’t we just give him a planet, guys? All he wants is a planet.

He’s not bad to look at, either. Just sayin’.

The Darkling, the Grisha series

“Make me your villain.”

Don’t deny it, you were all secretly hoping the Darkling was a good guy in Shadow and Bone. Because he had charm by the buckets and he was good-looking, and he knew how to use them both on our gullible protagonist. On top of that, he was always clad in black and wielded darkness, which just sounds really cool. But darkness always has a way of getting under your skin. And he got under our skin good. Darkness holds power, and power is alluring. But in the end, how could a guy called The Darkling not be bad? I definitely like him better when he’s bad.

The Master, Doctor Who

“Here come the drums.”

I love the Master so much, it’s not even funny. But just this regeneration of the Master, not the next regeneration. Missy is just… no. But John Simm’s Master? Love him.

I made up a term for this type of villain, which is by far my favourite type: the “psychotically happy” villain. They’re evil through and through, but they’re just so pleased with themselves whenever they get something right, and they shout it from the rooftops. Not only that, but there’s a good amount of crazy going on in their brains, which makes them all the more interesting.

It’s also just a really good story because there’s a small shred of good left in him — we know it, the Doctor knows it, so it’s really a matter of will he/won’t he. But when they’re not yapping about the fact that he can still turn things around, he’s so much fun to watch.

Julian, The Forbidden Game

“I’m as cruel as life. As cruel as love.”

Julian was one of the first villains I ever truly sympathised with, even though he’d been following Jenny around for years and had some serious creeping skills going on. You just couldn’t help not liking him in the end, because even though he was a Shadow Man — a creature that lives in the darkness — he wasn’t purely evil. He’d found the very clichĂ©d “light to his darkness” and simply wanted to do anything to hold on to that. Even if it meant kidnapping a teenage girl and threatening to kill all her friends if she doesn’t stay with him forever. Still, I totally ended up rooting for him a little bit, because he wanted to be different from the other Shadow Men. See? Told you I could be a sucker for a good redemption story.

Moriarty, Sherlock

“I will burn the heart out of you.”

Moriarty also falls under the “psychotically happy” category — just look at all the times he randomly STARTS YELLING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE. On top of that, he’s also incredibly cunning, ridiculously smart, entertaining, and just downright creative (e.g. playing Molly’s closeted gay boyfriend to get closer to Sherlock), which makes him all the more fun to watch. He scares the living daylight out of me, but I can’t help but love him. Easily my favourite Sherlock character (although Lestrade is a close second, for obvious reasons) (it’s because he’s dishy, in case it wasn’t obvious).

BONUS ROUND!

Gaston, Beauty & the Beast

I don’t really like him because he’s a great villain or anything. He’s kind of a mysogynist scumbag. I just love him because I find it hilarious how much he’s in love with himself. I can totally see him standing in the mirror for an hour or two every morning and kissing his biceps and winking at himself. He’s like the Johnny Bravo of Disney. Just imagine Gaston going, “Hello, 911 Emergency? There’s a handsome guy in my bathroom! Hey, wait a second. Cancel that – it’s only me!” It’s especially funny because in Gaston’s ode to Gaston, they sing, “No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s”. In Dutch, “having a thick neck” means you’ve got a massive ego. And, well, Gaston’s ego’s so big it could cause a solar eclipse.

I know that secretly

Everybody’s rooting for me

Also, I can’t help but imagine how cool it would be to actually have the villain win the battle. They always bite the dust in the end. What kind of story would that give, how would things look after that? Or would they all just dance around and sing “I can’t decide whether you should live or die” like the Master did? I know Brandon Sanderson played around with that idea a little in Mistborn (evil conquering, not the dancing), but I want more.

I’ll always want more.

Because being on the side of the angels is boring.

Who’s your favourite villain?

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27 responses to “The Villain Is the One That You Came to See

  1. This is a great list! I made a post a while back on my top five favorite villains, and the Darkling was on it as well. I kind of forgot about Moriarty seeing as Sherlock hasn’t had any new episodes in what seems like an eternity (*sheds a single tear*), but he’s definitely a good one too!

    • Don’t get me started on Sherlock… *eye twitch* At least we’re getting a full, 90-minute Christmas special this year! It’s something. ^_^

      I’m reading Scarlet right now, but Queen Levana was quite good in Cinder!

  2. The Darkling…oh the Darkling! He definitely had me enthralled. xD I love villans, I just can’t help it! I also love it when the author is brave enough to actually follow the villan like Manon in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. But that does make me then think of when we really shouldn’t follow the villan like Nepherette from House of night, puke! Still fedup about that series! Love this post Inga! 🙂

    • I love it when you get to follow around the villain, but it has to be done right. Sometimes it’s all “Oh, I’m going to destroy this city hall, because I’m so evil, mua ha ha.” Like you said, with Neferet hahaha. “I don’t like middle-aged white men. Now go fetch me some wine.” Horrible!

  3. I LOVE villains. Like, a lot. Weirdly, I like them more than the actual main character–but I think that’s just a personal preference there, hah. Sometimes I feel like the villain is just better characterised than the main character? I’m not entirely sure what it is; I just find them more interesting. And moreover, I love the “villains” that aren’t necessarily charactized as villains–but kind of hover in the grey areas. So, like, Jaime Lannister or so on–who starts of reaalllllllly unlikeable, but as the novels progress, you actually find yourself liking him.

    Great post!

    • I definitely usually like the villain more than the protagonist because they’re just so much more interesting. There’s nothing that captivates me more than a well fleshed-out villain. I love them in the grey areas as well! Hang on, you’re telling me I’m going to end up liking Jaime Lannister?

  4. This made me laugh! I’m not usually attracted to the bad guy. I actually don’t like Loki. I’m not attracted to him at all – Thor on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. I have a major soft spot for Thor. I’ll admit it can be more difficult to hate a villain when they make you laugh, but I’m usually more drawn to the good guy in the story.

    I miss Sherlock!

    • What do you mean you don’t like Loki? 😉 I do understand the appeal behind Thor. For me he’s.. too perfect, if that makes sense?

      I miss Sherlock too. Counting down the days until we get that Christmas special!

  5. Yes!! I love this post. Villains are so awesome. They really can make or break a story, even if none of the story is told from their point of view. I was a huge Darkling fan as well. He’s still one of my favorites. And Moriarty… His ingenuity and cruelty and brilliance are mesmerizing. I’m also a huge fan of The Joker from Batman.

    • I don’t know a lot about Batman, but I do know I was incredibly impressed with Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight. Ah, Heath… I still miss him so much. He was so good (and handsome).

  6. Villains can make or break a story for me. One of my biggest pet peeves in books is when villains are evil just because. I mean, being mean might be fun and all, but there is ALWAYS some kind of reason that someone is evil. I strongly believe the evil is made, not born. So there better be a cool backstory that explains why your villain is a villain. I will simply not accept that they came out of the womb with an intense hatred of everyone.
    Some of my favorite villains are The Master from Doctor Who (even though he creeped me out, I still felt bad for him), Regina from Once Upon a Time (she is more of an off-and-on villain, but her story is so complex and amazing!), and Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles (I mean she has a whole book dedicated to her villainous roots!).

    • I definitely agree that evil is not born — however, sometimes I’m able to accept that a villain is just a villain because he can, as long as the villain is otherwise written well and makes the story interesting. But it’s still nice to be able to relate to him in a way, to understand why they’re like that.

      I still need to continue Cinder! But yes, Regina is a really good villain because she also has a humane side, and The Master has a tragic past but is still “psychotically happy”. <3

  7. I am so much of a non-bad guy shipper it is ridiculous. I did have a few fleeting thoughts about The Darkling, I will admit! And I loved Warner from Shatter Me from (almost) the start! I am trying to think of other villains that I liked but… I honestly can’t think of any! I now see this as a challenge, and I shall find a few!

  8. Apparently I like my villains a little sick because the two the come to mind immediately are Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and Joffrey from Game of Thrones. They’re both pretty sadistic, and they make my blood boil, but I cannot get enough of them. It’s so satisfying when the tables are turned on them.

    • Oh god hahaha, that is pretty bad. I think Dolores and Joffrey are definitely the type of villain you love to hate. They’re despicable. And yes, in this case, it’s a good thing they don’t get what they want hahaha.

  9. I love a crafty, smart villain and I find their backstories fascinating as the author reveals their creation. The only ones that confuse me are the ones born that way. I am reading The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman right now and there is a truly evil villain who has crazy cult leader charisma. Wondering what he’ll do next is fun.

    • It’s definitely interesting if there’s no way you can relate to them, because you can’t possibly imagine what he’ll do next. They can surprise you over and over again!

  10. I just love a well done villian. Maybe it really is because we studied psychology, lol. It’s just fascinating when you have a great villian who has reasons for why he acts a certain way and plans and it raises the stakes indeed. But most of all I just admire it when the author can make me like and understand a villain. I don’t like it when villians are bad because they are bad or just because he is evil or born that way, that makes no sense to me. i want a reason why they do those things.

    • I never studied psychology myself, but I find it really interesting how the human mind works. I love a good backstory because it makes a villain more than one-dimensional and makes it an actual character.

  11. YASSSS.

    I hate to be THAT person and point it out, but there’s a factual error in your post. I think you forgot to mention that Loki is so awesome, because he’s played by Tom Hiddleston.

    I don’t really know the others, but SO MUCH YES to Loki and the Master (John Simm obvsly, not that dreadful Missy character). I was always like, but Loki’s just SO misunderstood and he’s really just super insecure AND YES OKAY HE KILLED SOME PEOPLE SO WHAT WE MUST ALL DIE SOMEDAY. I love the “He’s adopted” scene in Avengers; it’s hilarious. :’D I don’t think anyone could have pulled it off as well as Tom Hiddleston. I mean just look at that face in Thor when he finds out about his heritage, most heartmelting expression I’ve ever seen. And it’s kinda hard to find him very threatening when he’s being used to wipe the floor by Hulk haha. I LOVED what they did with his character in Thor 2, it was exactly what I’d been hoping for.

    Okay, um… I feel like I just got way too excited. I’ll shut up about Loki now. What was the point of this post? Right, villains. I love love love seeing villains with good motivations. I LOVE villains that would be the heroes of their own story if you just switched POVs, but that just happen to be pitted against the protagonists, because they’re not actual villains …they’re just circumstantial villains. Obviously the most fun villains are the ones who REALLY revel in their bad deeds and follow them up with a witty remark or two. Unlike Jackie, I absolutely hate villains like Joffrey, because they just have no redeeming feature. Obviously I’m supposed to hate them, and it IS super satisfying when they do get what’s coming for them, but I just enjoy watching villains that have more of an understandable background more. I also love me a good redemption story or ambiguous character.

    • My apologies, I’ll fix it right away and mention that the reason we love Loki is because of Tom Hiddleston.

      Eghhh I’m really not a fan of Missy. I try but I just love John Simm so much. Can we regenerate him back?

  12. Oh my goodness I agree with this list SO MUCH. I LOVE The Master in Doctor Who and his insane crazy ways. He’s just funny. And not Missy, but the version you showed. He’s a brilliant actor as well. I didn’t know you were a Doctor Who fan! Loki is hilarious and I like how he is misunderstood, and never really gives up even though he has been thwarted so many times. Isn’t that what they are always encouraging the heros to do as well? And then Moriarity <3 He's such a great character and again, another funny villain. 😀

    • Yes, I’m a Whovian as well! I just love The Master so much, he is by far one of my favourite villains ever and I always enjoy watching his episodes! I’m finding it really hard to warm up to Missy, simply because Simm was perfect to me.

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