Jun 11 2012 8:18am

Bad to the Bone: Favorite Villains!

You know yourself if you’ve really loved something it’s much harder to explain why than it is to explain why you hated it; as Paradise Lost scribe Milton put it,

“For evil news rides post, while good news baits.”

Which basically means it’s way more fun to talk about the negative, whether it’s a feeling about a book or film or the latest celebrity scandal. Just recently, for example, a poll found that the Daleks have lost out to the Weeping Angels as the most favorite monsters from Doctor Who.

So let’s have some fun, and talk villains! Which villain, out of romance fiction, is the evillest? The Omega, from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series? A villain—such as Nick Gentry from Lady Sophia’s Lover or Lothaire from Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series—who then becomes the hero? Jack Randall from the Outlander series?

Tell us your favorite baddie!

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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
Okay, so I just re-watched Thor this weekend (more for shots of Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth than for actual cinematic value) and I have to say I love Loki as a villain, he's so sure of the actions and reactions of the people around him that he makes one giant mistake.

And I know I'm just regurgitating what you already said, but Lothaire is one of my favorite villains too, mostly because he was so good at being bad and I loved finding out some of his own motivations in his book.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
I am just loving the heck out of Loki. And I am very excited to see Tom Hardy as Bane in the Dark Knight Rises.

I love it when villains get redeemed, too, but I don't think either Loki or Bane will become heroic--not after doing such rotten things. There's only so far a villain can go before he has to stay a villain.
Christopher Morgan
3. cmorgan
Well technically Bane does get his redemption. He grew up in prison serving his dad's sentence, because...well...comic book logic. So he always thought he had to establish dominance and such. Which is why when he shows up in Gotham he proceeds to (possible spoilers, highlight) break Batman's back. Eventually the two develop a working relationship of respect, Bane even developes this weird father-like relationship with the daughter of one of DC's other villians. The problem is his hole addiction, the venom makes him a little crazy.

I disagree about the redeemed villians though. I love me a good villian that is apologetically evil. Give me a Loki any day. But I also like it when the story is told from the villian's perspective and it messes with you in all kinds of ways. You make the good guys bad and the bad guys good. It's great. Theres a book called ORCS which sides with the green guys and makes those dratted humans and elves the bad guys.

Gonna go away and hide for the rest of the day after unveiling that massive amount of nerdiness.
Megan Frampton
4. MFrampton
@cmorgan: I like unapologetically evil characters if they have a reason for their evil--for example, in our mutual favorite ASOIAF series, the "evil" characters aren't always that evil (except for Cersei, but even there some would disagree with me as to how evil she is).

I think that having the unrelentingly evil characters like a serial killer is lazy writing, and the villain is that much less compelling to me.
Allison Brennan
5. Allison_Brennan
Vogler said, "The villain is the hero of his own journey." Yes, yes, yes! "Good" villains are those who have strong motivations for what they do, and while they may be evil they often have some redeeming qualities. The best villains, in my opinion, are those that the reader can identify with on some level ... maybe because they understand their pain, or because of the target of the villainy, or because the villain and hero are two sides of the same coin.

I love Loki as a villain because he is worthy of the heroes. He's smart, manipulative, and driven .... it takes the heroes working together to defeat him, which is what he underestimates and is ultimately his downfall. (As well as Loki's lack of loyalty, which the heroes all have in spades, even the most "selfish" hero, Ironman.) In fact, the best villains should be "better" (i.e. stronger, smarter, better motivated) than the heroes so that when the hero wins, the satisfaction is that much greater (i.e. Luke and the rebels against the Death Star, classic David and Goliath story.)

Redeemable villains ... if done right ... are fantastic. I love the storylines where there are two villains, and one of the villains redeems himself by sacrificing himself for good, i.e. Darth Vader turning against the Emperor in the last Star Wars movie. I also like complex heroes, like Han Solo, who is not 100% "good" like Luke, but at his core is heroic. Solo is a smuggler, a killer (when he has to) and plays both sides of many conflicts, but when he's REALLY needed, he comes through. (Yes, I'm a Star Wars nut.)

Though I love a good, well-drawn serial killer. :) As long as I know WHY and the logic makes sense to the VILLAIN himself, I can buy into most any good serial killer storyline. Once I wrote a truly crazy (like needs to be in a mental hospital crazy) serial killer who was used by a manipulative personality. Getting into the mind of a crazy person was intriguing, and I wish I'd explored it more because they are the best unreliable narrator. I want to write another story with an unreliable narrator, but haven't found the write storyline yet.
Christopher Morgan
6. cmorgan
What Allison_Brennan said. I'm with her in both her love of Star Wars and description of what makes a great villian. It's not that they need to be redeemed, it should be that if you look at things from there perspective the bad guys are the ones that are messed up.

And really, let's face it. The rebels are really the villian of Star Wars. They are a terroist organization that blatently challenge the established rule of law. Just think of all those average joes, secretaries, janitors, matinence, that were on both of the Death Stars. Which, I'll admit, could have done with better naming/marketing.
Darlene Marshall
7. DarleneMarshall
The villains are oftentimes so much more interesting than the heroes. Who would you rather chat with over martinis--Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader?

I like complex villains with some depth to them. Dr. Horrible is a lovely villain.
Nicole Leapheart
8. BoxyFrown
Oh I love Lash from the Black Dagger Brotherhood - he is(?)/was(?) a supremely fantastic villain. I like for a good villain to have some complexity - be completely crazytown, but at the same time ave their own honor code. It's too easy to be a sociopath who doesn't care about anything or have no reason for evil.
Megan Frampton
9. MFrampton
Yes, I think what we're saying is, psychopath or not, that the villain must have his/her own honor code, as @BoxyFrown says, or we just don't find them believable.
10. pamelia
Love Lothaire! I really like that when he went from villain to "hero" he didn't turn into "just a nice guy who's got a big sad" like so many other hero-to-villains I have read.
My other favorite is Kane from R.Lee Smith's "Heat" -- if you haven't read it and can handle some really disturbing stuff you should check it out.
Claire Louise Thompson
11. Nefersitra
All must bow before DOOM!
The very mention of his name makes lesser men tremble! The once brilliant scientist with the iron mask and the twisted brain! Master of science and sorcery, Victor von Doom is the monarch of Latveria, the eternal nemesis of the Fantastic Four!

He's smart and often uses the third person to speak about himself. With ridiculously OOT villian dialogue.

What other world leader would get away with announcing
"The clapping shall go on for another hour. Have the first one who stops clapping brought out and shot." and still be beloved by his people.
Adaiah La Vonda
12. Adaiah
I agree with Pamelia. I love Lothaire. That vamp never apologized for a thing. I even made excuses for him when he killed. They should had stayed home that day. lol So "Be A Dear" and vote for Lothiare.

I'll have to check out R. L. Smith's Heat.
Karen Martin
13. karenmartin71
I had a hard time thinking of names for villains until I figured out the reason why. I absolutely love these bad guys. Some are not necessarily villains as much as they are just plan BAD, but they embrace who and what they are. My favorite ones are Rehvenge from J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Eric Northman from the Sookie Stackhouse series, Lothaire from Immortals After Dark series, Sabin from Lords of the Underworld, Barrons and Cruce from the Fever series, Stryker of the Dark Hunter series, and Samael from Heather Killough-Walden's Lost Angels series.
14. joleesa
Magneto. Very bad man, for very good reasons.
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