Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Writing Lessons- Villains and Villainesses

Male Villains

1. The Tyrant- in it for the power. May not have a personal relationship with the protagonists. Often has minions to do his dirty work. Examples: Voldemort from Harry Potter, Khan from Mulan, Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Evil version of the Chief Hero Archetype.
2. The Bastard- dispossessed in some way from what he feels he deserves. Likely to have a personal relationship with protagonists. Bad Boy Hero gone to the dark side. He proudly announces his intentions. He wants something specific. Examples: Commodus from “Gladiator”, Lore from Star Trek NG, and the twins in “The Man in the Iron Mask”
3. The Devil- the charming fiend and master manipulator who uses people’s weaknesses. Persuades to get the goodies. Examples: Dracula, Tom Ripley- The Talented Mr. Ripley, Jack Nicholson’s character in “Witches of Eastwick”, JR Ewing
4. The Traitor- The double agent, the betrayer. He plots secretly. Has a personal relationship with the protagonists. Examples: hero’s best friend in “Ghost”, the Dr. in “The Fugitive”, Ned Beatty’s character in “The Big Easy”.
5. The Outcast- very similar to Lost Soul Hero Archetype. Often used to set up the reader to believe he is the villain, when he may or may not be the true villain. He wants desperately to belong, and is willing to sacrifice anything to be accepted and acceptable. Often portrayed as freakish, deformed, or socially unacceptable. This character is the most redeemable of the villains. Examples include Phantom of the Opera, the Grinch, Scrooge, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Columbine killers, Kent in “Real Genius”, vampire Lestat, Hitler
6. The Evil Genius- motivation is always to prove himself smarter. Will tell his elaborate plans. Intellectual inferiors are contemptible. Rigs the game in his favor. Opposite of the Professor Hero. Examples: Dr. Lovelace in “Wild, Wild West”, Dogbert, Pinky and the Brain, Hannibal Lechter.
7. The Sadist- Predator, in it for the thrill and his own pleasure. Dark version of Swashbuckler hero. Can be in lesser form the man who never grew up, blows the rent, stays out with the boys, and can’t keep a job. Puts pleasure before responsibility. Examples: “Natural Born Killers”, Caligula, Hugh Grant’s character in “Bridget Jones Diary”, Biff in “Back to the Future”.
8. The Terrorist- most convinced of his own righteousness, following a dark code of honor. Believes in his own virtue, but judges others. The ends always justify the means. Dark version of Warrior Hero. Examples include any Mr. By-the-Book, the minister in “Footloose”.









Female Villains

1. The Bitch- Dark side of The Boss. Female version of the Tyrant. Wants power, and leaves heel marks on the backs of others in her climb to the top. The evil Queen who wants power for its own sake. Examples: Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty”, Leona Helmsley
2. The Black Widow- She mates, then she kills. Uses sex often. Her motivation is her vanity. She is the Seductress Heroine gone bad. She can be what any man wants her to be, and is an expert in seduction of all varieties. Examples: “Body Heat”, Becky Sharpe, Delilah, and Salome. Catwoman. The old girlfriend trying anything to get the hero back.
3. The Backstabber- The female traitor, the two-faced friend. She loves secrets to feather her nest. May not be truly evil, but a team player determined to maintain the status quo or loyal to the group at all costs. Motivation: achieve the plan. Examples: Mimi- “Drew Carey show”, the wife in “Total Recall”, Victoria Tenant- “All of Me”
4. The Lunatic- often used in comedy situations. Dark version of the Free Spirit Heroine. Whatever fits her world, marches to a different drum that is missing a few beats. Can be truly insane, or obsessed. Lesser version includes the perpetual screw-up, interrupts, and is obstructive without intent to harm. Examples: Aunt Clara- “Bewitched”, the German companion in “Men in Tights”.
5. The Parasite- She collaborates for her own comfort. She sees herself as a victim with no choice and blames others for her crimes. She is the Waif Heroine gone dark. The moll, the arm candy who doesn’t want to lose her meal ticket and will do anything to protect her meal ticket. Goes along to get along. Examples: Hamlet’s mother, Bonnie Parker, Eva Braun, Harlequin-“Batman”.
6. The Schemer- Female version of the Evil Genius, and dark version of Librarian Heroine. Motivation is to demonstrate her smarts and get validation. Always has complex plans. Examples: Morgana Le Fey, “Dangerous Liaisons”, the Borg Queen-STNG.
7. The Fanatic- Dark version of Crusader Heroine, and the female Terrorist. Vengeful, and sees the need for Justice. The uncompromising extremist, she does wrong in the name of good, and shrugs at collateral damage. Examples: The Church Lady, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”.
8. The Matriarch- the motherly oppressor, she smothers with love. Dark side of the Nurturer Heroine. She knows what is best, and will do all in her power for their own good. A classing enabler, she sees no fault with whatever she loves. Will do anything to protect what she loves. The classic mother-in-law, the “Texas Cheerleader Mom”, “Serial Mom”, Cinderella’s stepmother, “Ordinary People”, “Misery”.

Tami herself stated that she believes that the villain archetypes are best using but one type at a time. After all, most villains aren't supposed to have too many layers or have an epiphany of change. I've always wondered why not.

2 comments:

Georgie said...

Great definitions and examples of each archetype. A very helpful list.

Lena Austin said...

Thank you Georgie, but I can't take credit. This list comes from the author Tami Cowan and her friends. Http://www.tamicowan.com

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