Two types of bad guys

I have this theory that there are two types of villains that work really well in fiction. They type you love to hate and the type you hate to love.

The first kind, the one you love to hate might look something like this:

umbridge

king-joffrey

hans

These are characters so vile that you can hardly hear their name mentioned without grimacing. They just do terrible things to terrible people. They lack any mitigating backstory features that would make you feel bad about hating them. We love hating them with the most passionate hatred we can cook up.

The second type of compelling villain is just the opposite. They’re the villain who, while clearly antagonistic, we feel sorry for. For example:

loki

phantom

harley quinn

So does your villain fall into one of these categories? If not, can you push them so that they’re closer to one of these categories?

Who are some of your favorite villains? Tell me in the comments below for a chance to win a critique (see Rafflecopter for details).
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16 thoughts on “Two types of bad guys

  1. Personally, I LOVE complex villains who make you almost want to root for them. I’m looking at you Tom Ripley, Heathcliffe and Frankenstein’s monster.

    Thanks for the giveaway, Kyra!! If Natasha wins, I’m her designated prize recipient. Just kidding!! 🙂

  2. For me, it’s got to be the Joker. I have love/hate relationship with this guy, who is the ultimate villain in my opinion. He oozes sinister vibes, he comes across as clinically insane, yet he’s quite clearly a genius. He’s funny, likeable (although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why!) and has got to be one of the most evil, twisted villains you will come across.

  3. I`m going to fall into all the cliché here and say Bellatrix Lestrange and Hannibal Lecter. Wondefully evil characters. My favorites are those that have reasons to be the way they are. I love a good chaotic villain just for the sake of being evil à la Joker, too!

  4. It’s a tie between Jadis from Narnia, Syndrome from The Incredibles, and Mother Gothel from Tangled.

    I’ve always adored Jadis. She’s just so regal and elegant yet utterly evil. She has this snake like charm that sends shivers down my spine. C.S. Lewis does create some incredible characters and Jadis has always been among my favorite characters written. As for Syndrome, he’s a villain, but he has strong motivations. He wants to feel special or “super.” More importantly, he wants the world (especially his hero) to acknowledge that he’s more than just a fanboy, he’s incredible, too. Don’t we all want that to some extent? For people we look up to to recognize us for our talents and passions? His motives get jumbled up in a lot of evil doings, but I think Brad Bird really gave him good, meaningful purpose behind his actions. He’s just so desperate for that attention that he thinks the only way he can get it is through evil doings. Lastly, I like Mother Gothel because you want to hate her, but at the same time you don’t. She’s what I like to call deliciously evil. She steals Rapunzel for her own gain and leaves her alone half the time. BUT, you kind of sense that she cares for her to some extent. But not anymore than she cares for herself and her youth and beauty. I just truly love her.

  5. Oh my goodness. Luke Castellan is one of my favorite villians–once you learn about his backstory, he becomes the book equivalent of Loki. You just feel so sorry for him and everything he’s been through and thinks about himself.

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