On Heroes & Villains . . . But More About Villains, Really


I have to confess that it’s not uncommon for me to like a villain more than a hero.

DSC_0546And honestly, I don’t think I’m alone here. Sometimes, the villain is intended to be likeable — you know, the charming sociopath type which we’ve seen many times — but more often than not, villains are intended to be dislikable. Think of your favourite novel. Now think of the villain and the hero. Which do you like better — and why?

It’s all a matter of characterization.

Heroes are the good ones. The ones that do the right thing. The ones which you’re supposed to be rooting for.  They try to be novel and brave and do all the right things all the time. And the heroes, usually, are the ones that come out on top. Does that mean I have to like them? Nope. I usually don’t. Heroes are the ones who always seem to be striving for perfection… and, often, to some degree, find it. But I find them BORING. Good heroes to me don’t have to be “likeable” in every sense of the word, and they certainty don’t have to be perfect. But they do have to be REAL. That’s not to say I don’t have my favourite heroes. I love Frodo and Samwise and Jon Snow. I love Hermione and Harry and Gandalf. There are literally hundreds of heroes I like out there, but I also have my fair share of favourite villains, too. Let’s list them.DSC_0548

  • Voldemort (why yes, I did like him. A terrible person he may’ve been, but INTERESTING.)
  • Severus Snape (probably not a “villain”, but you go through most of the books thinking so.)
  • Ben Linus (from Lost, I always found this guy interesting. He could be an awful person… but he DID care. Take his daughter for example.)
  • Jaime Lannister (HEY, give me a chance here. He has FANTASTIC character development. Abhorred him at the beginning of the A Game of Thrones series… but he changes and he grows and I actually really like him. (Maybe not so much in the show. They changed a few things I didn’t like.))
  • Moriarty (BBC version, guys — admit it. You liked him too.)
  • Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston in Thor — actually this guy reminded me a bit of Moriarty; charming, but with a crapload of faults to come with.)
  • Tyrion Lannister (not sure I’d reeaallllly consider this guy a “villain”; he’s done some bad things, but does that make him a bad person? I don’t know. Seriously though. Go find me one person who’s read the books/watched the show and doesn’t like this guy.)

DSC_0549Then there are the villains you love to hate. They’re always fun.

*cough* Joffrey Baratheon *cough*

What about you? Villains or heroes? (“Heroes”, coincidentally, is a word that I just cannot seem to spell right. Every. Single. Time. I get it wrong.) I also NEED to know: What villains do you like. And of course, what Villains do you love to hate?


41 thoughts on “On Heroes & Villains . . . But More About Villains, Really

  1. MORIARTY YES OH MY GOSH <3 <3 <3 On the plane back from Italy I watched the whole season 3 of Sherlock and I neeeeeed season 4!! HOW DID HE DO IT. I hate Snape (and Umbridge for that matter) but I love Voldemort. And I just love WRITING about villains too. It's so entertaining.

  2. Moriarty!!! Yesss, i’m obsessed with him and in need of season 4 right now! I was also really interested with Voldemort and later in the books, my interest for snape rised.

  3. Love this one so much! Voldemort is my favorite villain of all; he surpasses all the other villains that I like hahaha :D And of course, I have to agree with you that there are some villains that I really love to hate, like Umbridge from the 5th Harry Potter book and also Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer…. GREAT POST! I absolutely love what you said here :)

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

  4. YES TO THIS POST! I don’t know…there’s just something really interesting about villains that you don’t really get from heroes, you know? I always find it really intriguing to see, psychologically, what made them into the horrible people they are. I think that’s why Voldemort is such a well-written villain – you can’t condemn his actions, but you can see why he became so evil, and that makes him so much more complex and realistic. And same with Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles – especially after reading Fairest.

    Wonderful post Kara! <3

  5. I just have to comment on this because BBC MORIARTY.
    Seriously though, I always like the heroes and hardly notice the villains except hating them until recently. I’m starting to like complex characters that aren’t just black and white.They add layers to their characters and the stories. Heroes that are too perfect and villains that are too evil make me growl.

  6. At first I was going to say that I don’t really like the villains in books, but then I thought about it a bit more and ‘Regina/Evil Queen’ from Once Upon A Time came to mind and I realised I like her. I didn’t at first, but the more her ‘human’ side came out and she did something good, I liked her. So I think the villains I like are the ones that redeem themselves and start working to help the hero.

  7. I agree that fleshed out villains are just as important to a book as the hero and more often than not, I find myself fascinated with them as well. Have you read Normal by Graeme Cameron? It is told solely through the villains POV and it is fascinating and I couldn’t help but feel for him and all his evilness.

  8. I like villains! Mayor Prentiss is one I love to hate (he just has it in him). And you’re right: Tyrion is a very likeable villain, isn’t he?

  9. YAY for Villains! I love villains in books. Because really, what would the story be without them? Well written villains are always such interesting characters. My all-time favorite villain would have to be Darth Vader. He’s the best ever and I LOVE him, even if he does do some bad stuff. Also, if you like villains in books, definitely read The Young Elites by Marie Lu. The main character, Adelina is an anti-hero and it’s amazing.

  10. I think my favorite villain might be Walt, from Breaking Bad. Because he started out the hero and then just went darker and darker until you were actively rooting against him, and realized this was a story from basically the villain’s point of view. In my own writing, I tend to always give my villains some sympathetic reason for their appalling behavior — so you get it, even if you totally disagree with it. Great post!

  11. Voldemort was certainly an interesting one and I think that’s mainly because the author actually bothered to give him a story. A lot of the time, when it’s from the hero’s perspective, things are very black and white. They’re the villain, i’m the hero and i will make things right. Harry Potter was so interesting because everyone had a story and it was told without a bias which is why I totally agree with you on Voldemort.

    I have this ISSUE where I like a villain if he’s smooth and charming. It’s pathetic but it’s true. Take, The Darkling for example. I cannot help but love him and wish that his story had been better. It definitely pulled at my heart a lot

  12. Oh yeah, totally with you. But I think it’s more because villains tend to be a little more multifaceted. And also because I’m not a fan of the fact that most YA heroes well…have the “hero complex”. Can’t stand it. Fabulous discussion, Kara x

  13. WAAAAAARNER! He’s been the ultimate villain for me and he was absolutely delicious. Morpheus is another one who was also seen as the villain who for most of us, made us fall in love with him. I think we like the mystery and badness of their characters, as generally the character building and growth is far more dramatic. I’m of the same mind Kara, most heroes I find really dull too, who wants to be this all knowing all perfect being saving the world? There’s no real personality in that. Brilliant discussion poppet, really enjoyed it <3

  14. It definitely depends on characterization too. ;) There are villains I love to love (like Snape–I love him 10000000x more than James–and Loki), and some that I would love to kill a thousand times over (Umbridge, that little bitch!), but either way, I feel EXTREME feelings towards these villains because they were crafted well. ;)

    There are some though, that I really just plain hate, like the two that Kelly mentioned in the comment above. xD Warner, Morpheus, The Darkling… Those types of villains get on my nerves, haha!

  15. You’re right, sometimes heroes are pretty boring! They just do the basically same thing in every book. Personally, I tend to like an intelligent villain such as Warner and Moriarty. But I love another type of villain too, like Snape (even though I don’t really consider him as a villain because his intention is to protect Harry)

    Anyway, great post, Kara! :)

  16. I definitely find that characterisation can make a villain a lot more fascinating than a protagonist. Actually a lot of the time I find that villains can make or break a book- the more well developed/intelligent a villain, the better the evil plot after all :P

    And the antihero is definitely one of the most interesting type of character- characters like Jaime and Loki. Are they good, are they evil? haha

    • I so agree! Sometimes a villain can be the pinnacle of the story… so if the villain isn’t any good, then it’s likely that the stakes aren’t going to be raised high enough for us to really care about the story. Yep, the anti-hero has to be my favourite. ^_^

  17. Great discussion Kara! I definitely agree that it all comes down to characterisation – and a villain can at times be so much more interesting to read about than a hero, especially when there’s some real character development, like Jaime and Tyrion, and Snape as well. Of course, even the heroes aren’t perfect, and why should they be? Readers aren’t either, so at least they can be relatable in some form. It doesn’t always have to be about good/evil with those clear cut lines in the story, sometimes with the most complex of heroes/villains they blur those lines.

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