True villains in fiction?

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby setzer777 » Thu May 21, 2009 10:05 pm UTC

OBrien wrote:
godonlyknows620 wrote:The Anglo-Saxons probably meant Grendel and his mother from Beowulf to be examples of such evil characters, but from a modern viewpoint we can find some justification.


I thought Beowulf was originally a Norse legend?

Anyway, how about the Baron Harkonen? OK, granted, he didn't want himself to be the Emperor of the Known Universe, just his heir and nephew Feyd-Rautha, but he did that only because he knew he himself would be too easy to uproot, and his nephew could get him all the power and riches he wanted. OK, so you could argue that he was motivated by his old family feud with the Atredies at the beginning of the book, but that doesn't explain the whole overthrowing Shaddam thing. And for that matter, Feyd could be argued to be just as greedy.


Yes, but greed is still a motivation. The OP even mentioned "overcome with greed" as one of the personality defects he wanted a true villain to not have.

I'm a little hazy on his criteria - what exactly is the difference between being motivated by something and "driven" by it?
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby keeneal » Fri May 22, 2009 12:22 am UTC

OBrien wrote:Anyway, how about the Baron Harkonen? OK, granted, he didn't want himself to be the Emperor of the Known Universe, just his heir and nephew Feyd-Rautha, but he did that only because he knew he himself would be too easy to uproot, and his nephew could get him all the power and riches he wanted. OK, so you could argue that he was motivated by his old family feud with the Atredies at the beginning of the book, but that doesn't explain the whole overthrowing Shaddam thing. And for that matter, Feyd could be argued to be just as greedy.
So, I just read Dune for the first time this week :D What you describe there is greed, which is acted upon in a singularly violent fashion. Neither Violence nor Greed are the same as Evil.
Delass wrote:Oh, idea: The original terminator or the T2 T1000?
Can you really impose morality on a computer? Even one as powerful as SkyNet? The same argument could be made for HAL. In both cases, the computers simply decided that the easiest and most efficient method to achieve the objective is to remove (ie, kill) the humans.

I'm in the "no such thing as an evil-because-I'm-evil villain" camp.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Rinsaikeru » Fri May 22, 2009 1:00 am UTC

Maybe Professor Moriarty. Depending on how you read his character he has no real motivation to be evil and the only claim to possible mental deficiency is that criminality was in his family tree.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Aikanaro » Fri May 22, 2009 3:26 am UTC

keeneal wrote:
Delass wrote:Oh, idea: The original terminator or the T2 T1000?
Can you really impose morality on a computer? Even one as powerful as SkyNet? The same argument could be made for HAL. In both cases, the computers simply decided that the easiest and most efficient method to achieve the objective is to remove (ie, kill) the humans.

Ever read "I have no mouth, and I must scream?" I think AM is sufficiently advanced that morality can be ascribed to it....and it's just damn evil. Now, you can of course argue that it has a reason to be pissed....but even so....
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby SiTiC.Hybrid » Fri May 22, 2009 3:40 am UTC

well, yeah. The criteria given in OP are conflicting, but this is also a good excuse to rehash villains and there motivations.

I think that not understanding a villain makes them much more imposing. The less well you understand something, the more terrifying it is. And they could have reasons, a personal grudge etc- but does any of that matter if you happen to be between them and their goal? If their personality/character is stable.. well, it's all good.

Anyway. my offering? Lord Nihel from Brian Clevingers Nuklear age. It's hard to talk about without giving anything away, but I don't want to- if you haven't read it, you should. It's a good parody of comic books.. while actually being more than just a parody.

The mythology/science of the universe isn't well explained, but Nihel describes himself as a god. He rages that for all his power, he is a slave to fate. His goal is to destroy the universe. It comes off as a kind of nihlism. But this is from a being that's destroyed planets and killed billions to prove a point to a single individual.
Spoiler:
The point being that other people can't accept responsibility for his actions.


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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Zalzidrax » Fri May 22, 2009 4:28 am UTC

Greed or lust for power is certainly being evil for evil's sake. Power (and money) is a means to an end. Pursuing it through evil actions only for the sake of having more power (and thus more capability to do evil), is another side of the same coin of pursuing evil for evil's sake.

Whether you decide to call what you are pursuing power, or call it evil, it hardly makes a difference. They are both different sides of the same coin in this case.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby keeneal » Fri May 22, 2009 4:43 am UTC

Zalzidrax wrote:Greed or lust for power is certainly being evil for evil's sake. Power (and money) is a means to an end. Pursuing it through evil actions only for the sake of having more power (and thus more capability to do evil), is another side of the same coin of pursuing evil for evil's sake.

Whether you decide to call what you are pursuing power, or call it evil, it hardly makes a difference. They are both different sides of the same coin in this case.


Okay, power and money are means to an evil end (disregarding social climbers and workaholics who go after power and money just for power and money but not for evil). Gotcha. "Ends justify the means" reasoning means that if the end result is evil, then the path followed there was evil. Gotcha. BUT, in order for that logic to hold at all, the Evil End the villain was acquiring power and wealth to achieve has to be something other than power or money, other wise it is just greed. Greed is a sin, sure, but it's not The Ultimate Evil. Greed is a perversion of the desire to be comfortable, which is wholesome. Pure Evil (TM) can't have a good impulse at it's core... that's the point of this thread: to find a villain who has no reason for his villany.

Power can certainly be an end, and you can certainly use evil means to get it, but Power does not equal Evil.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby SiTiC.Hybrid » Sat May 23, 2009 5:06 pm UTC

keeneal wrote:
Zalzidrax wrote:Greed or lust for power is certainly being evil for evil's sake. Power (and money) is a means to an end. Pursuing it through evil actions only for the sake of having more power (and thus more capability to do evil), is another side of the same coin of pursuing evil for evil's sake.

Whether you decide to call what you are pursuing power, or call it evil, it hardly makes a difference. They are both different sides of the same coin in this case.


Okay, power and money are means to an evil end (disregarding social climbers and workaholics who go after power and money just for power and money but not for evil). Gotcha. "Ends justify the means" reasoning means that if the end result is evil, then the path followed there was evil. Gotcha. BUT, in order for that logic to hold at all, the Evil End the villain was acquiring power and wealth to achieve has to be something other than power or money, other wise it is just greed. Greed is a sin, sure, but it's not The Ultimate Evil. Greed is a perversion of the desire to be comfortable, which is wholesome. Pure Evil (TM) can't have a good impulse at it's core... that's the point of this thread: to find a villain who has no reason for his villany.

Power can certainly be an end, and you can certainly use evil means to get it, but Power does not equal Evil.


And we get back to the beginning again. A villain without reason for villainy is insane. Either a sociopath who doesn't care about anything else or emotional unbalanced enough to turn something minor into a quest for villainy. The only alternative is that you just don't know the villain well enough to understand his nature.

It gets into an argument about good or evil. Any villain who wakes up and thinks 'what dastardly deeds can I do today' is not mentally healthy, and not a 'true' villain. A villain who wants money/power/the female lead is dismissed as a true villain in this thread. Any villain who has a possible excuse is the same- Magneto endured the holocaust, it's no wonder he has his back up when governments start discussing the mutant problem. Somehow though, that makes him less than this 'true' villain ideal.

Either every villain is a hero in their own eyes, or they cannot be stable/self actualized. Or their story just isn't told. Which option would make a true villain?

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby keeneal » Sat May 23, 2009 8:18 pm UTC

Oh, no, I agree entirely, a "pure" villain doesn't exist... to quote myself
keeneal wrote:I'm in the "no such thing as an evil-because-I'm-evil villain" camp.
... thanks for completely flipping my viewpoint for me :P

What I was saying trying to say (in an admittedly roundabout way) was that the logic was too circular. There are such things as simply evil acts, I think. Like smashing puppies against walls; that's pretty darn evil. But the argument was that the accumulation of power or wealth is an inherently evil thing, or if it isn't, it becomes evil because of the use of the power/wealth. I say that that's false, because 1. there are "good guys" who go after power or wealth (thing the president of any non-evil organization, businesspeople and social climbers) and 2. in order for the pursuit to "become" evil, there has to be an evil purpose that requires the wealth/power.

So, to recap, you said "power grabbing is an inherently evil thing" and I said "no, it isn't". What I don't understand is that you say power grabbing=evil, but also that you don't think that a pure villain can exist. Unless you don't understand the meaning of the "different side of the same coin" figure of speech, or course.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Nemphael » Mon May 25, 2009 7:39 am UTC

How come Johan Liebert isn't mentioned yet? Sure, he was raised, but he's rather evil and badass. Whether or not he is a "true villian", he needs to be mentioned.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Tue May 26, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

Well, perhaps Gentleman Johnnie Marcone has received excess characterization from where I left off (I've read the first. . . seven? But not number five), but from where I am, he looks like a guy who could have been a wonderful law abiding citizen, but since crime was easily accessible he went with that instead. Ie: He decided to be evil because he could.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby william » Wed May 27, 2009 6:04 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:I would imagine the Borg collective from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyager, and the movie First Contact would be classified as a true villain. All they do is set out to conquer worlds or Federation-registered space transport vessels and assimilate the inhabitants into their collective. Besides being the dominant race or species in the universe, they really have no other motive, no cause to why they're evil, unless you want to say they're programmed that way. If so, who programmed them?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in their minds, don't they think that there's no reason why anybody wouldn't want to be Borg, or something like that?
Zohar wrote:I just went over this thread briefly. I see blokey mentioned the villain in Watchmen on the first page and didn't get many replies, but I agree with him.

I would disagree, because I have trouble seeing
Spoiler:
Ozymandias
as a villain. The only villainous character in that series IMHO is the Comedian.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Blokey » Wed May 27, 2009 9:24 am UTC

Well, I suggested [so-and-so] not because they were particularly villainous in the traditional sense, but because they fulfilled the OP's criteria of being self-realised, and not just a manifestation of past traumas. Unless you count the trauma of living in a society which just can not get its shit together. In any case, I'm still firmly of the 'a villain whose motivation is just omgpureevil is not really a villain anyway' persuasion.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed May 27, 2009 4:26 pm UTC

william wrote:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but in their minds, don't they think that there's no reason why anybody wouldn't want to be Borg, or something like that?

Exactly. See TNG:"I, Borg". Hugh is rather baffled by the idea. "You do not...want...to be assimilated?"
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby King Author » Thu May 28, 2009 7:31 pm UTC

philsov wrote:Have you ever seen it in real life? I'm just looking for an example because it really sounds like you're excluding evil people based on past trauma AND lack of empathy, which leaves room for very little else, if anything at all.


I've seen it in real life, yes, but it's a personal example, not a famous one, so I don't think relating the story would do much good.

sje46 wrote:EDIT: I reread your post, OP, and I know what you are getting at. I just disagree with the idea that them having sociopathy rules them out, as that is what you are looking for.


We use the term "sociopath" to refer to anyone who doesn't fit what we consider the ideals of most basic human decency; don't hurt people for no reason just because you can. So you could call any "truly evil" villain a sociopath, and that doesn't rule them out as far as I'm concerned. However, when I use the term "sociopath" I mean in the sense that there's something wrong with their brains that causes them to wholly lack empathy. Anyone who lacks empathy and is given a sufficient degree of freedom and power is going to appear evil, but it's brain defect, not choice.

So sociopath in the sense of "someone who doesn't conform to basic human decency" doesn't rule a character out as a "true villain," but sociopath in the sense of someone who lacks empathy does. As far as I'm concerned, anyway.

sje46 wrote:But if you are just looking for people who are "evil" despite a trauma of some sort, that is typically a one-dimensional character you'd find in children's shows.


Well what I'm interested in seeing is a multi-faceted, three-dimensional character who, by the account of most observers, is evil, but lacks the boo-hoo past or brain defect to have lead him, her or it to do "evil."

nightlina wrote:From what I've found, evil characters who are just evil for the sake of it are generally avoided in fiction because they're one dimensional. I've read a few lectures from different authors where they state that they specifically avoid writing characters who are just inherently evil. The same goes for the opposite, too - the authors also try to avoid writing 'good' characters who are just plain good... They avoid writing them because no one in real life is like that - we all have reasons for our actions.


Do we? I know someone who claims that her one true love is chaos. She conscientiously does random, pointless things for no reason in her everyday life. Her folks are as normal as the next pair, she didn't eat paintchips, she's not trying to prove something due to insecurity or something like that. She chooses to do things without reason. And if there's one person like that in the world, there's gotta be hundreds of thousands, at least. I mean, what are the odds that anyone has any aspect of their personality that's completely unique, on this planet of close-to seven billion people?

Ginger wrote:Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender could be argued as being both a true villain and a sympathetic/damaged villain in my opinion. Most of the time her mode of evil was fueled by a combination of self-interest and extreme nationalism.


Ah, I love Azula. But she seemed to me to be an extremely angsty teen. Remember the infamous beach episode? "My own mother, thought I was a monster. She was right of course, but it still hurt."

mrbaggins wrote:Fair point. Do people who torture people (And enjoy doing so) do it because it's a bad thing to do and they can, or is it because of something else... like needing a dominance reinforcement, or getting off on pain?


I understand the joy that can be had in torturing, because it's identical to the joy that can be had in pleasuring. I derive actual and intense pleasure from pleasuring a woman, it's not that I'm being noble or am just doing something to her so she'll do something to me; the actual act of manipulating her is pleasurable in itself. Why? I think it's a power thing; the fact that I can affect, phisiologically affect her body so dramatically, so drastically and powerfully. That's the exact same motivation behind love of torture, I think; the power.

folkhero wrote:I wanted morally ambiguous Captain Planet episodes like: CP shut down the lumber mill to protect local wildlife so Tom the logger lost his job and health insurance, then his wife got breast cancer and they can't afford the medical bills; then everyone sits down and has a reasoned talk weighing the importance of ecosystems to the economic damage caused by protecting said ecosystems.


That's an xkcd coming waiting to be made.

Sir_Elderberry wrote:The point is, he's evil, sane, and has no apparent excuse for being evil. Even before his missus talked him into it, he was speculating about murder. She just helped.


I gotta read Macbeth. Sounds like what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Zohar wrote:However, it's difficult to agree with the original point - everyone has reasons for why they are, both good and bad. If the character is written properly, they'd have a reason for working so hard for good as much as the villains have a reason to work for evil. Also, it's obvious to me that people are affected completely by their actions, other people's actions around them and the laws of physics. I don't believe in free will and I don't think a person really chooses what happens to them (rather, every "choice" you make is determined almost completely by your history).


Every time somebody says something like that to me, face-to-face, I flick them hard in the ear. When they get mad, I ask, "How can you possibly be mad at me? I'm not responsible for my actions." and flick them again :p

SiTiC.Hybrid wrote:Okay, I see that the sociopath thing has been most thoroughly covered, but why was greed used to rule out 'true' villains? The desire for more than what you already possess is pretty fundamental to the human condition. I don't see how it makes someone less evil. Which is scarier: Villains who were hurt at some point and let that define them, or villains who are stable, sane, and just want land/money/the world with no regard to human life?


You're confusing greed and desire. Greed is excessive desire, which isn't mentally healthy to have. If it's just desire, not excessive, then it's co-existable with true villainry. That is, if someone wants to get something with disregard for other people, but they're not obsessed, they otherwise lead a happy, healthy life, that'd be true villainry. But someone who has a furious, uncontrollable, rapacious desire to own more things and is acting specifically to fulfill that drive wouldn't be a true villain, by the mental defect exclusion.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 28, 2009 8:34 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
Zohar wrote:However, it's difficult to agree with the original point - everyone has reasons for why they are, both good and bad. If the character is written properly, they'd have a reason for working so hard for good as much as the villains have a reason to work for evil. Also, it's obvious to me that people are affected completely by their actions, other people's actions around them and the laws of physics. I don't believe in free will and I don't think a person really chooses what happens to them (rather, every "choice" you make is determined almost completely by your history).
Every time somebody says something like that to me, face-to-face, I flick them hard in the ear. When they get mad, I ask, "How can you possibly be mad at me? I'm not responsible for my actions." and flick them again :p
Logically, they are no more responsible for their anger at you than you are for your ear-flicking of them. How can you possibly take offense at their anger at you? They aren't responsible for their actions either.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby zombiefeynman » Thu May 28, 2009 9:31 pm UTC

I'd like to bring up Darth Vader again, just to make a point.

In Episode IV, he was pretty evil, and he had just about no backstory that I remember. In Episode V, he had a backstory, but all we know is that he used to be a good man, he was seduced by power, and now he is a bad man, which I think would count as villainy. In Episode VI he was fleshed out more fully and made more three dimensional, but his backstory was still lacking in trauma or brain defects.

Of course, Star Wars was insanely popular (and a reasonable piece of that must be attributed to Vader), leading to a demand for the prequels. In the prequels we got the family bit, we got the fear bit, we got the Padme bit, etc. And all that may have been in Lucas's mind from day one, but it seems reasonable to me to argue that, looking only at IV, V, and VI, Darth Vader fits the 'true villain' description.

This seems to happen with lots of other villains as well (by no means all). They appear in proto-true villain form, possessing evil and power, but kinda lacking in three dimensions. They are popular, and when they are brought back they must go through a little character development, which more often than not seems to be an angsty backstory designed to strengthen audience ties.

So a 'true villain' cannot stay 'true' very long without being added to, and if added to enough an angsty backstory is likely to emerge, because developers recognize that audiences like the villain in a sort of anti-hero way and don't want to destroy the impact of the character by making him evil with no reason (at least one that seems adequate to the villain). If the reason wasn't adequate, the villain is forgotten.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby setzer777 » Thu May 28, 2009 10:07 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
King Author wrote:
Zohar wrote:However, it's difficult to agree with the original point - everyone has reasons for why they are, both good and bad. If the character is written properly, they'd have a reason for working so hard for good as much as the villains have a reason to work for evil. Also, it's obvious to me that people are affected completely by their actions, other people's actions around them and the laws of physics. I don't believe in free will and I don't think a person really chooses what happens to them (rather, every "choice" you make is determined almost completely by your history).
Every time somebody says something like that to me, face-to-face, I flick them hard in the ear. When they get mad, I ask, "How can you possibly be mad at me? I'm not responsible for my actions." and flick them again :p
Logically, they are no more responsible for their anger at you than you are for your ear-flicking of them. How can you possibly take offense at their anger at you? They aren't responsible for their actions either.


Of course he is no more responsible for his taking offense than they are for their anger than he is for flicking their ears, so how can you possibly take offense at his taking offense at their anger towards his flicking of their ear?

Eh...the moral is, if you don't believe in libertarian free will (which I do not) it is silly to hold the standard: "Only take offense if the action was a product of free-will", and therefore the obvious response to the question: "How can you be angry when my choice to flick your ear wasn't a result of free will?" is "I don't consider free-will a prerequisite for being angry at someone for their actions".
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby semicharmed » Thu May 28, 2009 11:21 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Do we? I know someone who claims that her one true love is chaos. She conscientiously does random, pointless things for no reason in her everyday life. Her folks are as normal as the next pair, she didn't eat paintchips, she's not trying to prove something due to insecurity or something like that. She chooses to do things without reason. And if there's one person like that in the world, there's gotta be hundreds of thousands, at least. I mean, what are the odds that anyone has any aspect of their personality that's completely unique, on this planet of close-to seven billion people?


If she's "conscientiously" choosing to do things, they're not random. They may appear random, but choosing something because you feel it would be the most unexpected, pointless choice... is still making a choice. And hence, non-random.
Unless she's running her life via dice throws (which brings the problems of what choices to represent on the dice), it is impossible for people to live randomly.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Kizor » Thu May 28, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

Okay, prominent colonists from the Indians' point of view?

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby brume » Fri May 29, 2009 12:11 am UTC

John Doe (Kevin Spacey) in Se7en?

I don't remember there being a sob story.

And, similar to the concept that history is written by the winners, the person cast as the evil one can be determined by which side wrote the story. A really good villain doesn't consider him/herself a villain. Is Brain from Pinky and the Brain a villain just because he wants to achieve his personal goal of taking over the world? Not in his version of the story.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Ginger » Fri May 29, 2009 4:59 am UTC

King Author wrote:
Ginger wrote:Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender could be argued as being both a true villain and a sympathetic/damaged villain in my opinion. Most of the time her mode of evil was fueled by a combination of self-interest and extreme nationalism.


Ah, I love Azula. But she seemed to me to be an extremely angsty teen. Remember the infamous beach episode? "My own mother, thought I was a monster. She was right of course, but it still hurt."

The "infamous beach episode" was probably my favorite episode as far as character development was concerned (Azula's compliment on the boy's choice of attire was hilariously bad). :P Yes, Azula was probably suffering from some teenaged angst, but she is a teenager after all! Plus, she was a monster as far as most people were concerned, so whether she wanted a say in the matter or not people tended to understandably fear and revile her--It would probably breed angst in anybody to a certain degree. How does that in any way disqualify her as a true villain though?
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Mo0man » Fri May 29, 2009 7:38 am UTC

Johan from Monster?
Spoiler:
I mean first, they tried to explain it, then they decided... what the hell, lets make it so that he was evil to begin with
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby King Author » Fri May 29, 2009 11:41 pm UTC

SecordTalon wrote:Logically, they are no more responsible for their anger at you than you are for your ear-flicking of them. How can you possibly take offense at their anger at you? They aren't responsible for their actions either.


When did I say I took offense? I find it hilarious.

zombiefeynman wrote:This seems to happen with lots of other villains as well (by no means all). They appear in proto-true villain form, possessing evil and power, but kinda lacking in three dimensions. They are popular, and when they are brought back they must go through a little character development, which more often than not seems to be an angsty backstory designed to strengthen audience ties.


That's 'cause Hollywood is ruled by flower-hugging liberal hippies.

You win "Username of the Year," by the way. Now if only we could pit you in a fight vs Robot Zernike.

setzer777 wrote:Eh...the moral is, if you don't believe in libertarian free will (which I do not) it is silly to hold the standard: "Only take offense if the action was a product of free-will", and therefore the obvious response to the question: "How can you be angry when my choice to flick your ear wasn't a result of free will?" is "I don't consider free-will a prerequisite for being angry at someone for their actions".


*flicks your ear*

brume wrote:And, similar to the concept that history is written by the winners, the person cast as the evil one can be determined by which side wrote the story. A really good villain doesn't consider him/herself a villain. Is Brain from Pinky and the Brain a villain just because he wants to achieve his personal goal of taking over the world? Not in his version of the story.


And for that matter, since when did "taking over the world" become the default evil thing to do? What's evil about wanting to rule the world? I think if a good enough person were given the ability to rule by decree, things could go pretty smoothly. They probably wouldn't, but the chance is there.

Ginger wrote:The "infamous beach episode" was probably my favorite episode as far as character development was concerned (Azula's compliment on the boy's choice of attire was hilariously bad). :P Yes, Azula was probably suffering from some teenaged angst, but she is a teenager after all! Plus, she was a monster as far as most people were concerned, so whether she wanted a say in the matter or not people tended to understandably fear and revile her--It would probably breed angst in anybody to a certain degree. How does that in any way disqualify her as a true villain though?


Because despite her denial, she is ruled by jealousy and is such a little beast because her mother doesn't love her. Even though Zuko and Azula fight over their father's approval, deep down it's their mother that they both care about, and Ursa clearly loves Zuko and not Azula. In other words, she's disqualified by the traumatic past clause.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby annals » Sat May 30, 2009 12:54 am UTC

Okay, I've got one. Dr Horrible.
Spoiler:
Pre death-of-Penny, of course.

He wants to rule the world, and thinks becoming its evil overlord is the most efficient way to do that. Of course, he's also meant to be a comedic characterization of the villain type, but that just goes to show how silly the OP's criteria for "true villains" actually are.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Ginger » Sat May 30, 2009 12:56 am UTC

King Author wrote:
Ginger wrote:The "infamous beach episode" was probably my favorite episode as far as character development was concerned (Azula's compliment on the boy's choice of attire was hilariously bad). :P Yes, Azula was probably suffering from some teenaged angst, but she is a teenager after all! Plus, she was a monster as far as most people were concerned, so whether she wanted a say in the matter or not people tended to understandably fear and revile her--It would probably breed angst in anybody to a certain degree. How does that in any way disqualify her as a true villain though?


Because despite her denial, she is ruled by jealousy and is such a little beast because her mother doesn't love her. Even though Zuko and Azula fight over their father's approval, deep down it's their mother that they both care about, and Ursa clearly loves Zuko and not Azula. In other words, she's disqualified by the traumatic past clause.

Spoiler:
Hmm. I mostly disagree with this assessment. I agree that she valued her mother's opinion of her more than she would care to admit but I don't think the jealousy ruled her life, or that she even thought about it much, at least until her friends abandoned her. The young woman was a little beast for most of her life regardless of anybody's opinions if the flashbacks to her early childhood were any indication (For example the game she played with the apple on Mai's head and her reaction to the news of Iroh abandoning his military campaign) and most everything she did throughout the present time of the series involved advancing her own or her father's goals.

She didn't ever show any sort of hesitation, experience the slightest amount of guilt or express that she believed that what she was doing was in any way wrong--That's why I think she fits the bill of a relatively emotionally healthy and self-actualized person who nonetheless chose villainy despite the aforementioned hints at other emotions such as her comment about her mother during the vacation on Ember Island. In fact I'd go so far as to say that by all accounts Azula was the sanest remaining member of the royal family especially when compared to her tyrannical father and emotionally unstable older brother. Her personal philosophy that fear and personal power were the most reliable tools with which to manage her life just eventually came back to haunt her when suddenly she was the next in line to become Fire Lord--a figurehead position that paled in comparison to Phoenix King anyways--and nobody she actually valued was on her side. The resulting paranoid breakdown was due to enormous stress and not some preexisting mental defect in my estimation.

Something else that I've neglected throughout my posts is the whole extreme nationalism trait of her personality. Aggressive conquest was not a bad thing to the Fire Nation and I think the Fire Princess was as much of a product of her culture as Ozai was and to a much greater degree than Zuko. In her mind all her father had been doing throughout the time in her life that we didn't get to see much was preparing her to be the new Fire Lord, and perhaps not willingly given her deviousness, so I don't think she felt any impact from whatever trauma she had suffered until she realized that Phoenix King Ozai didn't have a particularly noble place for her in the utopia of global Fire Nation rule. The youngster's undoubtedly dysfunctional family dynamic aside, judging by how we've seen them treated by the general public in their home country, I must ask: Could such a life of pampered splendor be described as particularly traumatic even if your dad is the rudest dude on the planet?


I apologize if I'm being annoying by the way. This is your thread and I'm just talking about one of my favorite villains in it so I doubt I'll change your mind with my posts. It's just not often that I have the chance to discuss fictional characters with anybody and I find it to be oodles of fun. :)
Last edited by Ginger on Sat May 30, 2009 11:59 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby setzer777 » Sat May 30, 2009 4:45 am UTC

King Author wrote:
setzer777 wrote:Eh...the moral is, if you don't believe in libertarian free will (which I do not) it is silly to hold the standard: "Only take offense if the action was a product of free-will", and therefore the obvious response to the question: "How can you be angry when my choice to flick your ear wasn't a result of free will?" is "I don't consider free-will a prerequisite for being angry at someone for their actions".


*flicks your ear*


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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby keeneal » Sat May 30, 2009 7:05 pm UTC

annals wrote:Okay, I've got one. Dr Horrible.
Spoiler:
Pre death-of-Penny, of course.

He wants to rule the world, and thinks becoming its evil overlord is the most efficient way to do that. Of course, he's also meant to be a comedic characterization of the villain type, but that just goes to show how silly the OP's criteria for "true villains" actually are.


Yes, I agree. I was thinking of Dr. H as a candidate for this opening the other day. Dr. Horrible doesn't want to rule the world to exert his power over it (which would be Greed as opposed to Evil), he sees the world as diseased and wants to cure it. The only problem I see here is that evil is a means to ruling the world for him, not the other way around... is this a problem?
Spoiler:
also...strictly speaking, he never does anything out-and-out "evil". He breaks a few laws, destroys some public property, freezes people in time, etc... but does he ever actually do evil?I mean, even killing Penny and injuring Captain Hammer are accidents, and the "I'm going to kill you, Hammer!" bit is caused by jealous rage and desperation, not an evil motive

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby McCaber » Sun May 31, 2009 5:32 am UTC

I still think that if you give someone freedom from consequences, you make them a villain. They can do anything they want. From sleep in till 2 straight through shooting random people in the face. Perhaps it's just my cynical side, but I believe that that's the easiest way to corrupt someone.

That's part of what made Wanted a great book, where some ordinary jerk without consequences can ride rampant over half the world.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Gojoe » Sun May 31, 2009 5:38 am UTC

keeneal wrote:
Spoiler:
also...strictly speaking, he never does anything out-and-out "evil". He breaks a few laws, destroys some public property, freezes people in time, etc... but does he ever actually do evil?I mean, even killing Penny and injuring Captain Hammer are accidents, and the "I'm going to kill you, Hammer!" bit is caused by jealous rage and desperation, not an evil motive

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Spoiler:
well, he did not do anything evil at all. He didn't even kill Penny, accident or not, it was all Captain Hammer. He was even trying to stop hammer from pulling the trigger.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Mo0man » Sun May 31, 2009 7:53 am UTC

Wouldn't Doctor Doom count? I mean, he honestly believed that he would be doing good if he took over the world. He is (apparently) a good ruler of... that whatever country. Also, in the random "what if" stories, where he actually does take over the world, he does a good job of running it. He just really hates Reed Richards.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Lelouch » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:04 am UTC

Mo0man wrote:Wouldn't Doctor Doom count? I mean, he honestly believed that he would be doing good if he took over the world. He is (apparently) a good ruler of... that whatever country. Also, in the random "what if" stories, where he actually does take over the world, he does a good job of running it. He just really hates Reed Richards.

In that story, he took over the world then gave it up as the logistics of running it single-handed got to him and he gave up.

I have a problem with "sociopath" being defined as an illness or defect. Sociopaths understand that altruism is completely illogical and is a better candidate for illness or defect. Therefore, I would consider sociopaths to be "true villains" in the sense the OP defined.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Mo0man » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:34 am UTC

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby OBrien » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:12 am UTC

OK, so I'm not gonna offend any Christians by saying that the Bible is a work of fiction (I run a "Your guess is as good as mine" philosophy) so any non-Torah, non-Biblical, non-Quranic representation of Satan? Like in Paradise Lost?
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby tgjensen » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:13 am UTC

I would like, once more, to bring up Darkseid. He is evil because he is the god of evil. It is simply his nature. That's a pretty pure evil right there.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby OBrien » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:41 am UTC

Then by that argument, Dracula and Dark Soma in the Castlevania games. Sure they became what they are through seeking revenge, but they stay what they are because they're supposed to be the essence of evil.
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Lelouch » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:37 am UTC

OBrien wrote:OK, so I'm not gonna offend any Christians by saying that the Bible is a work of fiction (I run a "Your guess is as good as mine" philosophy) so any non-Torah, non-Biblical, non-Quranic representation of Satan? Like in Paradise Lost?
What about the gods of these religions themselves? Yahweh was hardly a paragon of kindness.

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby keeneal » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:20 pm UTC

Lelouch wrote:
OBrien wrote:OK, so I'm not gonna offend any Christians by saying that the Bible is a work of fiction (I run a "Your guess is as good as mine" philosophy) so any non-Torah, non-Biblical, non-Quranic representation of Satan? Like in Paradise Lost?
What about the gods of these religions themselves? Yahweh was hardly a paragon of kindness.
OBrien was specifically ignoring actual religious figures in order to avoid controversy... but w/e. we can pretend to be mature for a few posts. :P

Not having read PL (I know, I know...) I can only speak from the "original" Satan/Lucifer/&c viewpoint, and I don't think that he counts as wholly evil. He is, of course, the original sinner (he saw himself as God's peer, even though he was a created being) and the first rebel against God. But he does evil and tempts others to it in order to get back at God more than just to be evil... at least that's how I see it.

And as far as YHWH is concerned... If you're going to argue about a specific god being evil, you need to play by the rules of the religion that created that god (just like if you argue for a given character in a book, you have to look at the character in the world the author put him/her/it in). According to Islamic/Judo-Christian tradition, God's vengeful actions are the completely and utterly just punishments doled out to those who disobey the Law or break one of the Covenants. Also, by definition, YWHW is completely just and loving. One last point: "kindness"/"mercy" != "goodness"
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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Lelouch » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:41 pm UTC

Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah is good despite all the bad stuff he did/does... because Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah said so? A case of the lunatic running the asylum, I think.

A sociopath will often claim not to be evil, too, just above petty morals. Why's it different when it's one of those guys?

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Re: True villains in fiction?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Jun 06, 2009 2:15 am UTC

Lelouch wrote:Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah is good despite all the bad stuff he did/does... because Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah said so? A case of the lunatic running the asylum, I think.

A sociopath will often claim not to be evil, too, just above petty morals. Why's it different when it's one of those guys?

I'm not a theist, but if there was a god, the laws of logic/morality are his to dictate to you, so yeah, it is different.
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