Aside from the Hero, the Villain is probably the most common character archetype. After all, without a villain, many stories would not happen. Heroes rise up solely to fight the evil villains bring into the world; with a villain, without their evil plan, heroes probably wouldn’t have destinies, or have lost their families, or be forced into the world. They’d stay on their farms and raise sheep.
The Villain Archetype tends to display the following characteristics:
- Tends to be evil purely to be evil
- Don’t care who else is hurt in the process
- Tends to be complete opposite of Hero Archetype
- Selfish, egotistical, power-hungry
The Villain Archetype tends to be less straightforward than the Hero Archetype. Many experts consider there to be sub-archetypes within this archetype, such as the Tyrant or the Fanatic. Some people consider them to be evil incarnate, whereas some people consider them to merely be the opposite of whatever the Hero is.
Examples of the Villain Archetype include Jafar (Aladdin), Sauron (though less traditionally), or the Wicked Witch of the West. Often, the Villain Archetype tends to be lacking in character motivation beyond “take over the world,” or even just “be in the hero’s way.” As such, the Villain Archetype tends to get more criticism than some of the others.
Villain Archetypes are used in a lot of different types of stories, from your evil businessman to corrupt politician to religious fanatic. You find them lurking behind TV shows, fantasy novels, thriller plots, and murder mysteries. Done well, they can draw you in, as you wait to see what they get up to next.
Who’s your favorite Villain Archetype? Any one that drives you mad or that you love madly?
Next: The Mentor Archetype