Bookish Discussion · Books

What makes a villain great?

It’s very easy to love a character which is why protagonists are usually everyone’s favourite characters. However, the characters I find most interesting in books are the antagonists, the villains, the bad guys.


Coming to the main topic, what makes a villain tick?

  • Their backstory. What made them that bad? What propelled them to become terrible human beings? Something must have stirred the evil in them and I find the villains’ back stories the best part of the book. The reason has to be good enough (bad enough?) to convince the reader of their bad-ness.
  • Why do they hate the protagonist. Linking to the previous point, WHY do they hate the protagonist out of all the other humans. The story which did this best is definitely Harry Potter because it gave a completely logical reasoning for why Voldemort hated Harry.
  • The extent to which they are willing to go. How heartless are they? How much blood are they willing to spill?
  • Do they feel remorse about anything? I personally prefer my villains as insane as possible with zero remorse at all. I find it easier to hate then when they’re as inhumane as possible.
  • They HAVE to be intelligent. Villains are brilliant. Terrible, but brilliant. I don’t buy it when villains make rookie mistakes. They have to be precise and their plans well thought out. They need to make you believe that the hero is going to die.
  • They need to believe that they are the good guy. The most convincing villains are the ones who believe that what they’re doing is for the betterment of the world. They need to believe that they’re the ones who are doing things right and the people trying to put them down are the stupid ones.

All that in mind, here are some books which have the most compelling villains I have ever read:

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Voldemort from the Harry Potter series
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Valentine from The Mortal Instruments series
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Malcolm Fade from The Dark Artifices Series
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Ryle from It Ends With Us
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Moriarty from The Sherlock Holmes books
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Luke from the Percy Jackson series
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A whole assortment of people (trying not to spoil ya!) from the Vampire Academy series
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President Snow from the Hunger Games trilogy
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All the villains BUT ESPECIALLY SCORPIA from the Alex Rider series
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All of the baddies in the Throne of Glass series


What do you think makes a villain great? Who are your favourite villains?


3 thoughts on “What makes a villain great?

  1. I like my villains quite mad too, makes it easier to believe that they are really doing all the bad and unforgivable deeds and are not pawns for someone else. I love a villain who is witty (which factors with intelligence) and with a sense of humor (albeit, usually a bit warped).

    Liked by 1 person

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