Discussion: do you love villains? And what are your favorites?

Hi dear friends,

I am back again with a little chit chat about some topic dear to my heart. This week you have “the villains”.

You know the bad guy in the story!

Sometimes some of them are even more interesting than the main character! And they do add some salt and dimension to a story! The same way you can’t have light without darkness I think you can’t have goodness without …badness 😉 

If there are villains that I hate wholeheartedly there were some others I fell for or at least felt for. Yes they did bad things but ….

And that made me think: what makes us empathize with the villain? What makes us find excuses for him? Even wanting to redeem him (or her)?

More: what kind of villains do I like?

Let’s delve into brands of villainy

Firs of all, the easy to hate and think “just go to hell” are usually “all black” villains.

They are pure evil and more than that, we don’t empathize with them. This is a “no nuances” villain, the one that keeps doing unthinkable things to others.

Mine are: Voldemort (sorry but I never felt the need to save him); Queen Elara in Red Queen (completely mad and loving to make others suffer); Ghassan in The City of Brass (I never saw one redeeming quality in that man); President Snow; Shannon’s father in “Binding 13” by Chloe Walsh, to name a few!

 

Then you have the one that began as the villains of the story but unexpectedly turned out as heroes!

My two favorites are Rhysand (don’t forget he was the bad guy in A Court of Thorns and Roses) and Warner/Aaron from Shatter Me series (he was Juliette’s enemy in the first book and most part of the second one)! What morphed them into heroes is that some secrets have been revealed! They played a role. They were not truly bad but it served them to let people think they were bad!

 

You also have the unexpected villain! The one that began as your ally. The one you trusted and plotted with. The one you maybe fell for. One of the best example is to be found in Wicked Saints (I won’t name him as the book is relatively recent  and it’s not yet well known).

 

Another brand of villain is what we call the “anti hero”. He or she is a character who takes matters in his hands and thinks that the police is not good enough or that there is a fault in the system. He will do bad things to protect other people. One of the most famous anti hero is Batman!In adult litteratur, Keri Lake is known for her “anti heroes” like Ricochet for example.

 

And my favorite kind: the “all in nuances” villain!

The one that does or did bad things but you can’t help feeling sad for him. You want him to change. To be good. Because you think that he is misunderstood! Because you think he was not born as a villain but life, abuse, circumstances “forced” him to do bad things. And underneath the cover you feel that he would like to become better. Be it for a girl or because he still has a conscience.

Some of my favorites: The Darkling; Sebastian Morgenstein (I wanted to save him as it was not his fault if he was like that); the kidnapper in Stolen by Lucy Christopher; Maven (Red Queen); Marcus from Falling Kingdoms; Jude and Cardan (The Cruel Prince) both can be seen as villains or at least anti heroes; Naz from Monster in His Eyes by JM Darhower; Twitch from Raw by Belle Aurora; Julian from Twist me by Anna Zaires; Vicious in Vicious by LJ Shen ….

Now for the final question: what makes us empathize with some villains and not others?

I think it’s the famous “walk in his shoes” trick used by authors. If you learn about the sad past of the villain, if you get a glimpse of his thoughts where he shows remorse and vulnerability, if you get his point of view most of the time, if the author is gifted I will fall for the villain!

 

Now it’s your turn! What do you think of villains? What’s your favorite brand and why?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Sophie

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34 Replies to “Discussion: do you love villains? And what are your favorites?”

  1. Mary @StackingMyBookShelves! says: Reply

    I don’t know…I guess I do like villains. There has to be a protagonists to a story. I guess I can’t think of any off the top of my head…Oh my…..I am getting old.

    Mary

  2. I usually feel more in common with villains than heroes. I really like those that start out as antagonists, but end up compatriots/ allies, if not exactly friends. Favourite recent like that- Nico from Kat Ross’ Fourth Talisman series.

  3. In general I don’t usually love Villians. I had friends that loved Ursala and Maleficent, but I never did. But now with all the shades of grey and anti-heros, I am starting to find a few I love (Cardan!) Its an interesting topic!

  4. So relate to villains sometimes being more interesting than the main character! I like how you broke this down into different brands. I love the ones that turn out to be heroes- and Rhys is such a great example of that! And I’m really curious about the villain from wicked saints now. I love nuanced villains and anti heroes too!! Awesome post!

  5. I really enjoyed this post! I love the examples you gave for each category. I thought they were spot on! I think besides for the all black villains, I have a deep love for characters in each of these categories! Villains and morally grey characters add so much to the story. The morally grey ones, and the ones that turn out to be heroes are probably my favorite of the categories you listed!

  6. President Snow has always been one of my most hated villains. I hated him with everything I am, and there was nothing ever redeemable about him. And I don’t want to say, because of spoilers, but one of the villains in The Wicked Trilogy by JLA pulled my emotions through the wringer. I went from despising to loving and I never thought that was possible. My mind was completely blown.

  7. My favorite villain sort of hero is Lothaire, the enemy of old, from Kresley Cole’s Immortal After Dark. I hated him in all the books but loved him in his own book. Also Lothaire’s book, is one my favorite all time books.
    I also love Spike from Buffy as well.
    In tv, I love Adam Newman from The Young and the Restless.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh yes! I recall Lothaire! Great choice 🙂

  8. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

    Well Laura between you and Jacquie I feel pushed to watch it now!

  9. I love the all in nuances villain! I loved the kidnapper in The Stolen even if he truly was a villain. And I’ve always wanted to read about the Darkling but I couldn’t get into the first book.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Dani I loved the first Grisha book but not the last one!

  10. There’s not many villains that I love in books weirdly enough but I did enjoy The Darkling (even though I only read the first book) and Sebastian from TMI series. I kinda liked Loki from Magnus Chase series and I love to hate the evil queen from the Lunar Chronicles.

    I fell for villains in TV shows more easily for some reason, like Kai Parker, Klaus and Kol Mikaelson, Silas, Lucien Castle (all from The Vampire Diaries universe), Spike, Drusilla, Angelus, Darla and Glory (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      You have a complete list here Jamsu! 😉

  11. I love Villains! My favorites are The Darkling, the one in Wicked Saints, Cardan, Spike from Buffy, Damon from Vampire Dairies, and Gavin from the Horrorscape series by Nenia Campbell.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh yes Damon is a good one!!!!

  12. I agree with Jacquie. Raymond Reddington is the best villain! He is at the top of my list. I’m rewatching the show right now.

  13. Oooo, some really nice choices in there. I do love me a good villain. The better written the villain, the better the story. The one I liked the best of my most recent reads, was Ghassan from THE CITY OF BRASS. Truly so well nuanced and without any redeeming qualities! 😀 Of course, everyone will say Voldermort too, because Rowling did such a good job describing how evil he was.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I thought about Ghassan while writing this post Alexandra! I hated him so so much!!! Maybe if we did get some inside info on his youth etc I would be more lenient but as it is now…no way!

  14. Oh yes…anti-heroes! My fave! How about Lucian in Playing with Monsters by Amelia Hutchins? He hasn’t won me over completely yet, I need to keep reading but there’s just enough good there buried deep! Great topic!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh well yes Lucian is a good example!!!

  15. There have been villains I have grown to love, but usually they had a redemption arc or really weren’t as bad as we initially believe. And, well, loved Warner the whole time.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      The whole time? I did not like Warner in the first book!

      1. Hmmmm, maybe not the first book, but definitely all the rest.

  16. Umbridge. Without a doubt. I have never hated a fictional character more than that woman!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh yes! Umbridge! I could not stand her and wished all sort of evil things to that woman!

      1. Me too. I even think of her and my stomach goes tight!!!

  17. I loved and lived for the Darkling’s moments in the Grisha series! Voldemort is of course an iconic villain that I think will live on everyone’s list. One of my favorite villains in recent memory was Erbrechen from Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher. He’s a Geistestkranken – a magic user with the ability to bend people’s wills to his own. Due to childhood trauma and a lack of intimacy from an early age, he grows to become a slaver, traveling the lands and ensnaring lone stragglers to follow him and worship him as a God. As his power grows, so too does his insanity and his thirst for more. He was a really disturbing character that was well crafted.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh man that Erbrechen seems the perfect villain indeed!

  18. Tanya Atkinson says: Reply

    Oh yeah, there are times when I love a good villain. Sometimes they are straight-up evil with no apparent redeeming qualities and I love to hate them. But then there are the ones that are “just misunderstood” and maybe circumstances have made them take a certain path. Those are the ones I tend to fall for. The kidnapper from Stolen is a good example. And Cardan. I’ve never viewed Rhysand as a villain. He plays a part when necessary, but he never really been the “bad guy.”

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Yes the misunderstood are the bests Tanya!

  19. Do you watch The Blacklist on TV, Sophie? Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), high-profile criminal, helps the FBI track down some of the most-wanted people on Earth as part of his conditional arrest.
    He’s bad (kills without emotion), but also has real attachments to those he cares about and would do anything to protect them.
    He’s my idea of the perfect villain.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      No I don’t watch it! But indeed he seems the perfect villain Jacquie!!

  20. OMG I think that the Darkling is my all time favourite villain (Rhysand is not one for me, even if he pretended haha) Great post!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you!!!

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