Those of you who have read my novel and short stories have probably realized that I prefer to read and write about villains. It’s not that I admire what they do. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s that every good story needs a strong villain. The villain doesn’t always have to be a person. Just ask Captain Ahab.
Today I am looking at five of my personal favorite villains. Some are from popular literature. Some are from other media outlets like comics, animation, or even video games.
1. The Joker – Batman comics, animated series, and movies. Created by Gil Kane.
He’s a homicidal lunatic. When he isn’t causing havoc in Gotham, he is locked up in Arkham Asylum and haunting the dreams of the victims who have lived through his crimes. Appearing as the stereotypical king’s fool from a deck of playing cards, his jovial visage belies his malevolent intentions. Even as Batman fights to protect the innocent, the Joker seeks to undermine society as a whole and bring everything and everyone crashing down with him.
2. Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII video game and Advent Children motion picture. Created by Tetsuya Nomura.
Sephiroth begins the story as a war hero and top operative of an elite group of warriors. He is driven insane when he discovers that he is actually a government biological experiment created from the cells of a powerful and malevolent monster that fell from the sky centuries earlier. The planet’s most powerful champion becomes its worst nightmare. His descent from hero to madman and his attempt to destroy the world and use it as a vessel to sail the cosmos fuel the story for this classic game.
3. Lestat de Lioncourt – Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.
Before he was the hero of his own novel, Lestat was the antagonist of Rice’s first novel in the series. He is cruel, flamboyant, selfish, and reckless. He torments the novel’s protagonist, Louis de Pointe du Lac, after forcing him into an unwanted life of immortality. He had little regard for his human prey, often toying with them before he fed. In the second book of the Vampire Chronicles, Lestat narrates and gives his history and exploits a more positive spin, but he is still clearly a villain at heart.
4. Lord Voldemort – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
He is an unscrupulous wizard who thinks nothing of murdering a child to further his plans. In spite of, or perhaps because of his half-wizard lineage, he has a deep-seated hatred of all half-blood magic users. His name is so feared that no one who knows of him will speak it aloud lest he or his followers somehow track them down. His own fear and loathing of death drives every aspect of his existence. While most effective villains should have at least some redeeming quality to them, Voldemort is the exception to this rule. He is evil through and through.
5. Angelus – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Joss Whedon.
The polar opposite to the noble and tormented Angel, Angelus is gregarious and unapologetic. His unrivaled sadism earned him the title of “scourge of Europe” during the 1800s. As a villain, he is unrelenting and cold, using any and every means possible to demoralize and devastate his victims. Despite the depth of his evil, Angelus is forever changed by a gypsy curse that restores his soul. Weighed down by the guilt from his actions, he takes on the name Angel and begins working to atone for the atrocities he committed. Despite his newfound heroic nature, removal of his soul will cause him to revert to his murderous persona causing Angelus to be his own biggest antagonist.
This is my short list of favorites. Now, who are your favorite villains and what makes them so memorable?
M.T. Murphy is the author of Lucifera’s Pet, a violent and sexy dark fiction tale of werewolves and vampires. Connect with him below:
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