Character Archetypes: Evil with a Good Heart

We’re going to move into some of the still common, but less obvious, archetypes now. The first of these is the Evil Character with a Good Heart archetype (or EwGH for short, because that’s a mouthful). EwGH Archetypes are less common than your typical Villain Archetype, but they can still be seen in a wide variety of different narratives. The main difference between this archetype and the Villain Archetype is that a EwGH can be redeemed.

Common Aspects of the EwGH Archetype:

  • Redeemable
  • Usually through the love or morals of the Hero character
  • May have been good at one point in the past

EwGH characters aren’t inherently bad. They’re not being evil just for the sake of being evil. Something in their past hurt them, and they fell from grace. To quote Star Wars again, there’s good in them, I know it.

EwGH characters can be the main antagonist or a side antagonist. A character that seemed like a straight Villain Archetype can become an EwGH through their own character arc. There’s a difference between Darth Vader from A New Hope and Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.

In some, but not all cases, the Hero character may have some relation to the EwGH that allows them to have more of an influence over them. They could be a relative, or a lover. The Hero displays love and mercy to the EwGH, who realizes what they have done and that it doesn’t have to be this way.

EwGH also often make sacrifices (often of their own lives) to protect the Hero and their quest.

Some examples of EwGH include Darth Vader, Bad Cop from the Lego Movie, Ebenezer Scrooge (in a twist of also being the protagonist), and the Terminator. If you can think of an instance where a Hero manages to talk a bad guy down from their scheme, then there’s a good possibility that that bad guy is a EwHG.

Got any EwGH characters you really love, any redemption stories that have really moved you? Do you feel like this antagonist archetype is more realistic or believable than the Villain, or is it a letdown to have an evil character change their ways?

Next: The Mother Archetype

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Evil with a Heart of Gold archetype (link: […]

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