We all know that a good story needs a great villain. But sometimes it can be hard to come up with something new and exciting. If you’re out of ideas, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Villains can be anything from a powerful wizard to a cruel dictator to an evil creature from another world. They can have any motive, from greed and lust for power to simple hatred and revenge. And they can be as clever and diabolical as you want them to be! So why not let your creativity run wild and invent a truly terrifying villain for your next story?
Not Born Evil
Every good story needs a villain. Without someone to act as an antagonist, there would be no conflict and no sense of danger. But not all villains are the same.
The best villains in history weren’t always born evil. Their motives may have been good at first, but the desire for power and control slowly overtook them.
They allowed their thirst for domination to consume them, and in the end, they’re nothing more than monsters.
The best villains are those who are complex and multi-layered, with their own motivations and backstories. Often the best villains aren’t born evil but corrupted by power or circumstance.
Examples of Villains Not Born Evil
Take Darth Vader, for example. He was once a young Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker who was seduced by the dark side of the Force.
Or take Sauron from Lord of the Rings. He was once a powerful angelic being who was corrupted by his own lust for power.
In the Harry Potter series, Tom Riddle begins as a gifted student with a promising future. But after experiencing a traumatic childhood and being exposed to dark magic, he eventually becomes the evil Lord Voldemort.
Or Vlad the Impaler. At first glance, he may seem like a simple ruler who wanted to protect his people. But his thirst for power was so great that he’d stop at nothing to obtain it. Even if it meant killing thousands of innocent people. He didn’t care how much blood he’d to shed to protect his country. He was still a good ruler, he told himself.
That was the only way he could sleep at night.
It was the only way he could justify the blood that covered his hands.
It was the only way he could look at himself in the mirror.
The moral of these stories is that everyone has the potential to become a villain if you just push them hard enough. That’s what makes villains so fascinating and terrifying at the same time. They remind us that even the best of us can be corrupted by power or circumstance.
By creating villains with a long history and complex motivations, we can create stories that are more compelling and memorable.
Not Inherently Evil
It’s not just about whether or not a villain is innately evil – it’s also important to know that evil isn’t an innate trait in the best villains.
In fact, some of the best characters are those who think they’re doing the right thing for their people or humanity but actually aren’t.
And that’s what makes them so interesting. They’re complex and nuanced, and their plans often begin to unravel as a result.
Take, for example, the villain in a story I’m working on right now. He’s a man who believes wholeheartedly in his cause and is convinced that what he’s doing is right. But when his plans threaten to fail, he realizes that maybe he’s not as infallible as he thought.
His actions will have consequences he never expected. And that’s what makes his story so fascinating.
The Villain’s Inner Demons
Many of the most memorable villains have their own demons to contend with or are simply trying to survive in a cruel and unforgiving world.
The villain may do something unexpected that shows he’s not all that evil. For example, the villain might help the protagonist in a moment of need or show an act of mercy. This can be done to gain the protagonist’s trust, or simply because he’s a good heart underneath the evil exterior.
Or the villain may help a group of people who’re being threatened by another villain. This act of kindness shows that the villain isn’t completely evil and may even have a heart.
Either way, this brief touch of humanity makes the villain more sympathetic and understandable, even if his goal is still ultimately evil.
By creating a complex and sympathetic villain, authors can add depth and nuance to their stories. Readers are also more likely to empathize with a villain who’s struggling with inner conflicts than one who’s simply driven by greed or power.
Ultimately, there are no limits when it comes to creating a villain. As long as the character is compelling and believable, authors can explore any motivation and backstory they choose.
Figure Out Your Villain’s Ultimate Goal
Once you figure out what your villain wants and why he wants it so badly, you’ll know how to make your villain interesting and complex enough to keep readers glued to your story until the end!
The villain’s motivation is always something that affects him personally. It can be the pursuit of power, money, or just revenge. No matter what it’s, the villain’s motivation drives him to do whatever it takes to achieve his goal.
In many cases, the villain’s motivation is something rooted in their past. Perhaps they were abused as a child and now want revenge on those who wronged them. Or they witnessed someone close to them being hurt or killed and now want blood.
As the story progresses, the villain’s motivation will become clear. He’ll do anything to achieve his goal, even if it means hurting or killing innocent people.
Example of Complex Motivation of a Villain
The villain’s goal and motivations can be complex.
For example, the villain’s motivation can be twofold. On the one hand, they want to take revenge on those who’ve wronged them in the past. On the other hand, they want to create a new world order in which they’re the dominant force.
To achieve these goals, the villain is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how many innocent people have to suffer in the process.
The villain’s backstory is full of tragedy and heartbreak. Once he was a happy and innocent person, but that changed when his loved ones were brutally murdered in front of him.
Since then, the villain has been driven by a desire for revenge. However, over time, this desire has turned into something completely different. The villain now wants to see the world burn – and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve it.
You’ll Need to Fathom Your Villain’s Backstory
One of the most important aspects of creating a believable and compelling villain is developing a well-rounded backstory.
- What drove your villain to become evil?
- What circumstances led him down the dark path?
By fleshing out your villain’s backstory, you can give him depth and dimension and make him more than just a one-dimensional bad guy. Here are a few things to consider when developing your villain’s backstory:
- motivation – What drives your villain? What’re his goals?
- flaws – What weaknesses does your villain have? How do these weaknesses affect his actions and decisions?
- backstory – What events in their past made them who they’re today? How do these events affect their current actions and goals?
Keep it simple. You don’t need a complicated plot line or a detailed history from birth to the present day for your villain.
Instead, focus on one or two defining moments that made them who they’re today.
For example, the villain was once in a powerful position but lost everything because of one mistake they made. That one mistake led to a domino effect that completely ruined their life and reputation.
Everything they’d worked so hard for was gone in an instant, and they were left with nothing. This experience changed them, hardened them, and made them the person they’re today. They’re full of anger and resentment and would do anything to get revenge on the person who took everything away from them.
They were once respected and feared, but now they’re alone and despised. All they’ve left is their hatred and their burning desire for revenge.
Every good story has a villain who’s both threatening and interesting. But how do you create a villain that fits that description?
One way to start is to research villains from other stories. You should look at villains from your favorite movies, books, comics, graphic novels, TV series, video games, plays, and musicals.
There is the Marvel cinematic universe, DC Comics, Star Trek, and works by authors such as Robert Pattinson (Calendar Man) or Dan Brown on which to check the qualities of an iconic villain. The Sherlock Holmes books also have many wonderful villains to serve as inspiration.
This will give you a solid foundation for an original villain that doesn’t rely too much on clichés.
Real-life can also give many examples – just check the daily news!
Find out what traits made them memorable, and try to apply those traits to your own characters as well. It’s important to research the archetypes of villains.
It can also be helpful to think about your villain’s motive. What’s he trying to accomplish and why? By developing a clear motive, you can make your villain more sympathetic, even if he commits horrible acts.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with your villain’s design. A unique appearance can help him stand out in the minds of readers. With a little effort, you can create a villain that will be both feared and loved by your audience.
Here are some classic scenarios that might spark your creativity when it comes to inventing the villain for your story:
- A mad scientist who wants to take over the world
- A vampire who wants to enslave the human race
- An alien invader who wants to wipe out all life on Earth
- A witch who wants to control all humans with dark magic
- A serial killer obsessed with murder and mayhem
- A dictator who rules through fear and intimidation
- An evil queen who wants to rule over her own kingdom
- A pirate captain in search of treasure and revenge
- A monster who terrorizes the townspeople
- A villain who’s misunderstood and has a tragic backstory
- A villain who tries to conquer the world for a good cause
- A villain who uses his powers for evil
- A villain with a dark sense of humor
- A villain obsessed with beauty or perfection
- A villain who’s immune to conventional attacks
The World’s Best Villains
Darth Vader in Star Wars
Baron Blood – a British aristocrat turned vampire, who becomes an enemy of Captain America
The Evil Queen, also known as The Wicked Queen in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Kaecilius in Doctor Strange
Mr Freeze in Batman
Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal book series turned into a film and a TV series
Poison Ivy – the enemy of Batman
The Wicked Witch in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Doctor Doom in the Spider-Man and Avengers comics
Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series written by JK Rowling
Captain Hook in Peter Pan
Darth Sidious aka Emperor Sheev Palpatine in Star Wars
The Joker – Gotham City supervillain in the Batman comics
Thanos in the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men
Magneto in the X-Men
Ursula the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid
The Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked
Catwoman – supervillain turned superhero
Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians
The Disney villain Chernabog in Fantasia