Writing rants: Why do we love villains

I cannot speak for everyone, but I love a good villain.

A lot of us usually find ourselves rooting for the ‘bad guy’ and feeling miffed when they fail. Scar from the Lion King, Ice King from Adventure Time, the Devil from Legend, Darth Vader, the Red Queen, and, of course, my personal favourite Dracula. Their tragic failings move us in ways that Simba’s, Bubblegum’s, Lily’s, Luke’s, Alice’s and Mina’s successes fail to.

I found myself wondering why?

Do we dislike ‘good’ guys? No, I can name several ‘good’ guys that I love, Kain & Raziel from Legacy of Kain (the whole good, bad line in this game is misty and grey, but I’m not going into that today), Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, and Captain Vimes from Discworld. The list goes on, but I think I’ve made my point.

All the writing courses/message boards/hints and tips all tell us that to make a real villain, you must give them a relatable feature. Let your reader make a connection with them. But is that it? Is that why we love them because they like the same flavour ice cream as we do?

Is it because our villains are flawed?

They’re more real to us than the ‘good’ guy because no one is really that ‘good’ and so making them two-dimensional. Whereas the villain has faults (sometimes major ones, I’m looking at you Scar) and this makes them more real? But again I’m not entirely satisfied with this, do I only like characters that I can see myself in? Am I, in reality, that narcissistic? (Do not answer that if you want to keep your skin).

Is it because they are (for the most part) charismatic? Are we that dumb to overlook a little thing like murdering and attempting to kill unicorns because the guy is charismatic? I sure as hell (haha pun!) hope not.

Is it power?

Power is supposed to be sexy, so are we attracted to villains because they have power. Once again I’m doubtful, ‘Good’ King Stefan was powerful, but I hate his skinny ass. Is it the freedom they represent, these guys do what they want; when they want to do it, to whoever they want to do it too. That is an excellent gift, and I admit I’m a little jealous, so possibly.

And then there’s the plain and simple the fact that villains are fun. Really fun, I’m not kidding, play Lords of Shadow 2 and tell me it’s not fun. You stomp around a city as Dracula being powerful and impressive (at least in comparison to 90% of the population around you). It’s a whole heap of fun. Level one of The Force Unleashed, you play as Darth Vader walking around Kashyyyk … enough said. I won’t tell you how many times I replayed that level.

I will also admit to a small (actually huge) love of sarcasm, and a lot of villains are sarcastic. The lowest form of wit my backside. It’s great.

Katie Marie wrote a Book. A big one and a couple of little ones. Check them out!

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3 thoughts on “Writing rants: Why do we love villains

  1. I don’t really love villains but I do tend to empathize with them if their evil was brought upon by something bad that happened to them. It does not justify the evil they are doing, but it makes them that much more understandable.. and yes, kick-ass. 😉

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