The Foreboding Villain: Types of Bad Guys
Originally, I was going to invite Dzherri to help me write this post, but since he was bad and hijacked the blog last week I decided not to include him. (For those of you who don't know, Dzherri Alexandrovich Kalasky is one of my main and favorite villains I've created. You pronounce Dzherri as Jil-e-at.) Plus, you guys should not have encouraged him. Not good. Now I've got a real problem on my hands...
Ahem. Back to the subject.
So, last week, we discussed how character drives a story and how you can use the most common bad guy story, but if the character is good, you have power in your story.
Now, this week, we're going to talk about the different types of bad guys and which one is good for what kind of story.
|Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget.|
Typically found in: Comical stories
Usually pitted against: A happy-go-lucky good guy who doesn't have much brains but usually has a good heart and wants to help people.
Motive for his badness: Nothing, usually. He's just there as the enemy of the main character, but also used to create a funny plot line and problem for the main character to bumble into.
Characteristics: These bad guys are the ones who sit back and say, "I'm so evil, wahahaha," and plot evil and try to kill the good guy for no reason other than the fact that yes, they're evil. These are the villains who sit in big black chairs with red felt, stick their hands together and chuckle evilly. They also usually have ridiculous plans, but that's what makes them all the funnier.
Must haves if used: If you use a diabolical villain, I do not recommend using it in a drama-type story. This villain really belongs in a comedy. A characteristic I recommend about this guy would probably be a witty or random sense of humor, for that brings a lot of comical conversations and goes nicely with a humorous story.
|Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.|
Typically found in: Romance stories
Usually pitted against: The main guy character who stole his girl's heart away, or the girl he liked but never returned his love.
Motive for his badness: Hurt feelings, jealously, and a love he'll never get returned
Characteristics: It depends. These guys can be very loud and obnoxious and think they're the best men in the world, or they can be quiet, creepy stalker-type villains. The main fact about them is they're angry, and they want to ruin the life of whoever stole their loved one away. Sometimes they try to force the girl they love to marry them, other times they create situations to try to win her back.
Must haves if used: If you decide to use a villain like this, there must be a reason behind his jealousy. And not a lousy reason, he really has to feel he's being cheated. This character is open for any interpretation you may decide to use, but a characteristic I recommend is he has a short temper.
|Smaug from The Hobbit.|
Typically found in: Several genres, but mainly fantasy
Usually pitted against: A good guy who is either out to get that treasure for himself but later realizes it's not worth dealing with the temptation of greed, or a good guy who is heroically trying to return a stolen or lost whatever to its owner or the people of a country.
Motive for his badness: He wants what he wants when he wants it, and he doesn't want to share it. Oftentimes he'll go so far as to kill someone who tries to take it away from him.
Characteristics: Obviously this character is more of a selfish type. This kind of villain is open for several different character traits, any that you want to give him, really. The fun thing about the Greedy Villain is he doesn't necessarily have to be a human. In fact, he's often a dragon. Greedy Villains have such an overpowering sense of protecting what's theirs that they are unpredictable, so you never know what the Greedy Villain will do to keep you away from his stuff.
Must haves if used: If you think this is the villain for you, good news! You can make him act whatever way you want, so long as you keep his desire of hoarding very strong and upfront. A character trait I do recommend for this villain would be insecurity. Anyone who's insecure will clutch something the think gives them happiness with claws and snarls. They won't let people touch their "happiness".
|Shang Yu from Mulan.|
Typically found in: Several genres
Usually pitted against: Either a hero who hasn't the faintest idea what the villain's problem is or someone who is involved with the villain's past, either purposefully or on accident.
Motive for his badness: This guy is mad because something has happened to him and he is going to make the same thing happen to the hero. He may or may not have been a bad guy before this event, but he's a bad guy now! Sometimes this Vengeful Villain is trying to extract revenge for an event that may not have even happened in his lifetime. In reality, the Vengeful Villain is out to balance the scales, restore honor or get even. It may not be the fault of your hero, but sometimes it is. Whatever the reason, Vengeful Villain wants to make your hero's life miserable.
Must haves if used: There has to be a pretty good reason why this guy is on the rampage to get revenge. It could be a car accident he blames on the hero's parents. It could be a five generations back so-and-so got into a duel with his ancestor and killed him. He needs a good reason for what he's doing. A characteristic I recommend is he really thinks he's doing justice by going after the hero. A man who thinks he's doing justice may do anything to get it.
|Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2.|
Typically found in: Several genres
Usually pitted against: A clueless hero, a obnoxious hero, a timid hero, etc. In fact, this villain is very flexible and can be pitted against just about any good guy character you have.
Motive for his badness: This guy is out to get something done. Perhaps he's out to change his fate, to win a war, to rise to power. Whatever the reason, he won't let anything get in his way. A Driven Villain usually doesn't care much about your good guy, he just wants to get something done and your good guy is in his way. But if the hero makes him mad, the Driven Villain can become a Vengeful Villain, out to get even because his plans got messed up. Driven Villains have a lot of motive for whatever they're doing, mostly they want recognition and power. They justify what they're doing by the fact that, "I'm only trying to get ahead."
Must haves if used: These guys are kinda guilty because they know they're in the wrong. They may bluff and pretend they're not, but they know that what they're doing is wrong. I strongly recommend using that guilt trait, because a guilty man is prone to either lashing out or repenting of his wrong doings. The Driven Villain can be very unpredictable.
|Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph.|
Typically found in: Several genres
Usually pitted against: Someone who is totally clueless as to this villain's past or what on earth he's doing.
Motive for his badness: This guy has been shaped into a villain. He may have started out nice, but life, (the death of his parents, life in an orphanage, abuse, etc.) has hardened him until he doesn't even realize what kind of person he is. Circumstantial Villains aren't the same as Vengeful Villains, though, because a Circumstantial Villain usually has no ties to your hero and doesn't really have anything against him. Circumstantial Villains are hard men who have become bad guys without realizing it, or have been created into bad guys. Because of this, these men can be turned back to the "light side" if given the chance and shown the right way. Most of these guys don't want to be bad, they really want to be good.
Must haves if used: This guy has been hurt, really a lot, and doesn't know how to deal with the pain anymore other than to harden himself. I think it's a good idea to use the trait of sullenness (whenever he doesn't like something, or is hurt, he becomes deathly quiet) or anger whenever he's confronted with emotional pain.
|Anakin from Star Wars.|
Typically found in: Several genres
Usually pitted against: A hero who also has fears of his own, but has learned to work through them. Though your good guy is opened to interpretation if you use this villain.
Motives for his badness: This guy, unwittingly, has become a bad guy and a usage of evil because of his fear. The fears can range from the fear of losing a loved one, the fear of dying, the fear of whatever, but he's driven by his fear. He can be overcome by his fear and become quite dangerous if he feels threatened. He knows only "Flight or Fight" and will do whatever it takes to strike down what scares him. If your good guy backs him into a corner, the Fearful Villain can fight like you can't believe to get out of the situation. His fears make him think that he has a right to act the way he does to protect himself or whomever he's protecting. He has a hard time seeing he's in the wrong.
Must haves if used: Give this guy a really good fear. A fear that's unusual, or something that is so typical it will surprise your hero. Most of all, never tell your reader what his fear is. In fact, don't mention it at all. Decide for yourself what he's afraid of and then make it drive the rest of the story, never mentioning that's his fear. A characteristic that's really good for this type of villain is he's not cowardly (runs from a fight) and will fight back. So perhaps give him a temper that explodes whenever he feels threatened.
|Stone Alexander from The Omega Code.|
Typically found in: Fantasy, futuristic stories
Usually pitted against: A parallel of Jesus or a man who has done wrong and is trying to do right.
Motive for his badness: This guy is the worst bad guy you'll ever have. This guy represents the devil. Characters like Sauron, The White Witch and Nicolae Carpathia are characters that represent the most evil villain in the whole world. These characters are usually either found in futuristic Revelation end-of-the-world stories or fantasy stories that are parallels of the story of Jesus Christ coming to save the world. (Like Aslan) They're best used in these genres and should never be used lightly. They are evil.
Must haves if used: These guys can never have any good in them. They're 100% twisted. They represent every form of evil, so they are all bad. You can, however, give them a sarcastic tongue or a interesting character trait that makes them unique, but tread lightly, for these villains are not meant to be liked a lot. They're meant to show evil.
|Kent from Iron Giant.|
Typically found in: Contemporary stories
Usually pitted against: A very good and kind person who may feel sorry for the villain.
Motive for his badness: This guy isn't like the fearful villain. This is the guy who usually is some government official, lawyer, or other daily life kind of person who is being a jerk and trying to get what he wants, but will turn and run the other way if challenged. The Cowardly Villain is usually used in children's stories, most commonly someone who is either going to separate the kid's family, friends, or is just being really mean to them. I'm talking like the FBI agent in Earth to Echo who is out doing his job but is the "villain" because he's forcing the kids to tell him where Echo is. Cowardly villains act big and tough, but are often nothing more than an act and don't really do much when challenged. They very rarely are the kind who will kill off the hero. Mostly they're pretending to be bad.
Must haves if used: These guys can have just about any character trait, but they really have to be kind of loud and obnoxious. Their characters say "Look at me, I'm bad, and I kno- oh, run away! He's coming after me!" And that's exactly how they act. They put on a show, so I definitely recommend the character trait of pride and loud-mouthed.
|Reese from Person of Interest.|
Typically found in: Historical stories
Usually pitted against: Not a hero, but a worse villain. Though sometimes they're pitted against a good guy who will chase them down halfheartedly and then in the end let them go.
Motive for his badness: This villain isn't your typical villain. In fact, should you chose to use this kind of villain, he's going to end up either being your main character or taking up an equal half of the story. There's no two ways around this guy. He's kind of the bad guy, but the good guy, too. He's done bad things in his life, but he cares about people and wants to make sure the good people don't get hurt. He will kill bad guys if he has to, and he will steal and lie and cheat if he thinks it will help someone. In reality, he's doing bad things to help others, so does that make him the "bad guy"? Well, he's breaking the law, so yes, he's the bad guy. Even if he is helping. If you choose to use this villain, be forewarned he probably is going to become so endearing to you that he'll become your favorite character and probably take the hero's place.
Must haves if used: Because this guy isn't really all that bad and isn't all that good, it means he's also having a inside struggle with himself. He wants to be good, but he does bad things. He thinks he's a bad guy, but he helps others. He's constantly struggling with this, so the character trait of uncertainty is a really good one to use for this guy.
So there you have it! Ten different types of villains you can use and where to use them. Most of these villains can have whatever character traits you want, so pull some fun ideas out of the box and get to work!
Now that we've discussed types of villains and where you can use them, it's time to wrap up this series with one more post- what if my villain isn't really the villain? What if my bad guy isn't actually a human or a creature?
Next post coming sometime next week... whenever I write it. :)
As a side note, which of these villains have you used? Which one would you like to use? Most importantly- is there a villain that I haven't mentioned up here that you think should have been included?
Hope you enjoyed this post! More coming next week!