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my kitty is laying on one arm so i'm typing with one hand, forgive the sloppy typos.

villians become detested from acts of obscene cruelty orannoyances. make everything seemingly ease into the villian's control and make your protagonist struggle a great deal to succeed at anything against the villian and you have the annoyance factor, for the cruelty, they have to either be cold-blooded and/or heartless, or assume they're doing what's best.

some extremely hated villians to study:

the main redcoat officer in The Patriot

the pudgy pink lady in harry potter 5

the midget guy in pirates of the carribean 2 + 3

percy in the green mile
flirtingoof's avatar

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Lord Tezzy
How to make a villain universally hated?
Make it obvious that they are wrong.
And then it make it obvious that, in the text, they are right.

I'm sure that I have to explain that more... so here goes.

It's fairly common now for people to look back on the old days of the southern white bigots and the whole lynching business and say 'omg, those people were evil.' Whether you want to debate about the various moral questions inherent in a discussion of different ethical and societal rules is beside the point, we, as a society, view those actions as morally reprehensible. Now, consider it this way, did those people consider it morally reprehensible? No. That's what makes them well-motivated, they believe they are doing the right thing, even good. This should be the staple of all good villains (IE: they aren't disney villains, they WANT something, BELIEVE something, and will DO something to acquire/gain it, all the while thinking they are RIGHT and GOOD and never being card carrying villains.) But this isn't the end to it. If this was, there'd be nothing terrible horrible about this series of events. You see, back in the day, not only did the people doing the lynching think they were right, SO DID AN OVERWHELMING PORTION OF EVERYONE ELSE. So, in their time, they were not villains, they were even likely called heroes be a lot of people. In ours, though? Villains. Compounded by the fact that their people didn't think of them that way.

Take this to a story and you've got a truly hatable (and as close to universal as I can even imagine) villain. Someone who does things that we believe are terrible, and not only thinks they are right, not only gets away with it, but is rewarded for it! Someone who is a villain by trying to be a hero.

In short: worst villain ever is the society backing any 'evil thing.' Which is every society, in some way, shape, or form. So yeah.


Awesomeness! I totally agree. I mean, they use to trade postcards of lynchings and stuff. It was socially acceptable and seen as cool to go see an actual lynching. I think a villain who is not only immoral, but is seen as good by virtually everyone, is a truly scary thing! Because, you know he's smart enough to be able to manipulate society, so much, that he can do whatever he wants in public, use or kill whoever he wants for unbelievable reasons, and make the good guys look bad at the same time. It reminds me of Tim Burton's first Batman movie, where Joker is giving away free money at that parade, the public is in love with Joker's sudden kindness, and Joker starts killing them with poisonous gas... total villain jerk!

However, Tim Burton's second Batman movie, where the Penguin runs for mayor, is different for me. It's true, Penguin's a very bad guy, but I sympathize. Similar to my feeling for the Phantom of the Opera. Those two villains have such screwed up pasts that it's understandable that they would be twisted in the head. Of course, they should pay for their crimes; and after coldly and deliberately murdering someone with no remorse (even in the end), it's too late to save them from their fate. But I feel sorry for them and wish they could have gotten help earlier in their lives.

Also, those two villains pretty much kill out of revenge (based on the movie and the musical), and revenge comes from their rational emotional pain, but turning around and making everyone pay for it. It's much more sad, compared to Joker. He kills because he's power hungry and greedy.
If a character is involved with something that readers won't like then they will become an evil character. If they continue to do things the readers won't like then they become a villain. If you want a universally hated villain, think of your main audience and go against what they like as a whole. For example, if I were writing for a Christian audience, it only makes sense that my villain would be a devil-like or aethiest character. If I were writing for a black audience, my villain would be an outright racist (or as current national feeling goes, homosexual). The character might be my hero, but if the audience doesn't like them then they become a villain. Its complicated but easy at the same time.
flirtingoof
Lord Tezzy
How to make a villain universally hated?
Make it obvious that they are wrong.
And then it make it obvious that, in the text, they are right.

I'm sure that I have to explain that more... so here goes.

It's fairly common now for people to look back on the old days of the southern white bigots and the whole lynching business and say 'omg, those people were evil.' Whether you want to debate about the various moral questions inherent in a discussion of different ethical and societal rules is beside the point, we, as a society, view those actions as morally reprehensible. Now, consider it this way, did those people consider it morally reprehensible? No. That's what makes them well-motivated, they believe they are doing the right thing, even good. This should be the staple of all good villains (IE: they aren't disney villains, they WANT something, BELIEVE something, and will DO something to acquire/gain it, all the while thinking they are RIGHT and GOOD and never being card carrying villains.) But this isn't the end to it. If this was, there'd be nothing terrible horrible about this series of events. You see, back in the day, not only did the people doing the lynching think they were right, SO DID AN OVERWHELMING PORTION OF EVERYONE ELSE. So, in their time, they were not villains, they were even likely called heroes be a lot of people. In ours, though? Villains. Compounded by the fact that their people didn't think of them that way.

Take this to a story and you've got a truly hatable (and as close to universal as I can even imagine) villain. Someone who does things that we believe are terrible, and not only thinks they are right, not only gets away with it, but is rewarded for it! Someone who is a villain by trying to be a hero.

In short: worst villain ever is the society backing any 'evil thing.' Which is every society, in some way, shape, or form. So yeah.


Awesomeness! I totally agree. I mean, they use to trade postcards of lynchings and stuff. It was socially acceptable and seen as cool to go see an actual lynching. I think a villain who is not only immoral, but is seen as good by virtually everyone, is a truly scary thing! Because, you know he's smart enough to be able to manipulate society, so much, that he can do whatever he wants in public, use or kill whoever he wants for unbelievable reasons, and make the good guys look bad at the same time. It reminds me of Tim Burton's first Batman movie, where Joker is giving away free money at that parade, the public is in love with Joker's sudden kindness, and Joker starts killing them with poisonous gas... total villain jerk!

However, Tim Burton's second Batman movie, where the Penguin runs for mayor, is different for me. It's true, Penguin's a very bad guy, but I sympathize. Similar to my feeling for the Phantom of the Opera. Those two villains have such screwed up pasts that it's understandable that they would be twisted in the head. Of course, they should pay for their crimes; and after coldly and deliberately murdering someone with no remorse (even in the end), it's too late to save them from their fate. But I feel sorry for them and wish they could have gotten help earlier in their lives.

Also, those two villains pretty much kill out of revenge (based on the movie and the musical), and revenge comes from their rational emotional pain, but turning around and making everyone pay for it. It's much more sad, compared to Joker. He kills because he's power hungry and greedy.


No.
Neither of those two fit what I was talking about even slightly.


What you are talking about is actually a villain I would like. One who is able to completely manipulate others into believing that the villain is doing what is good and right, while secretly doing the opposite.

I am talking about a villain who IS a hero. A person who, by doing what their society views as good and right, is actually doing something very, very wrong. IE: lynching because it was cool, despite the fact that THEY ARE KILLING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN A HORRIBLE MANNER FOR FUN.

This is, to us, VERY VERY EVIL, and yet, these people were awesomely cool people back in their time, cuz ya know, they were doing the lords work or saving southern white farmers or whatever the hell excuses they used.

They were not manipulating the crowd. They were a part of it. This is not a person twisting the minds of others, this is a person who's mind is just as twisted. This is a group mentality.
flirtingoof's avatar

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Lord Tezzy
flirtingoof
Lord Tezzy
How to make a villain universally hated?
Make it obvious that they are wrong.
And then it make it obvious that, in the text, they are right.

I'm sure that I have to explain that more... so here goes.

It's fairly common now for people to look back on the old days of the southern white bigots and the whole lynching business and say 'omg, those people were evil.' Whether you want to debate about the various moral questions inherent in a discussion of different ethical and societal rules is beside the point, we, as a society, view those actions as morally reprehensible. Now, consider it this way, did those people consider it morally reprehensible? No. That's what makes them well-motivated, they believe they are doing the right thing, even good. This should be the staple of all good villains (IE: they aren't disney villains, they WANT something, BELIEVE something, and will DO something to acquire/gain it, all the while thinking they are RIGHT and GOOD and never being card carrying villains.) But this isn't the end to it. If this was, there'd be nothing terrible horrible about this series of events. You see, back in the day, not only did the people doing the lynching think they were right, SO DID AN OVERWHELMING PORTION OF EVERYONE ELSE. So, in their time, they were not villains, they were even likely called heroes be a lot of people. In ours, though? Villains. Compounded by the fact that their people didn't think of them that way.

Take this to a story and you've got a truly hatable (and as close to universal as I can even imagine) villain. Someone who does things that we believe are terrible, and not only thinks they are right, not only gets away with it, but is rewarded for it! Someone who is a villain by trying to be a hero.

In short: worst villain ever is the society backing any 'evil thing.' Which is every society, in some way, shape, or form. So yeah.


Awesomeness! I totally agree. I mean, they use to trade postcards of lynchings and stuff. It was socially acceptable and seen as cool to go see an actual lynching. I think a villain who is not only immoral, but is seen as good by virtually everyone, is a truly scary thing! Because, you know he's smart enough to be able to manipulate society, so much, that he can do whatever he wants in public, use or kill whoever he wants for unbelievable reasons, and make the good guys look bad at the same time. It reminds me of Tim Burton's first Batman movie, where Joker is giving away free money at that parade, the public is in love with Joker's sudden kindness, and Joker starts killing them with poisonous gas... total villain jerk!

However, Tim Burton's second Batman movie, where the Penguin runs for mayor, is different for me. It's true, Penguin's a very bad guy, but I sympathize. Similar to my feeling for the Phantom of the Opera. Those two villains have such screwed up pasts that it's understandable that they would be twisted in the head. Of course, they should pay for their crimes; and after coldly and deliberately murdering someone with no remorse (even in the end), it's too late to save them from their fate. But I feel sorry for them and wish they could have gotten help earlier in their lives.

Also, those two villains pretty much kill out of revenge (based on the movie and the musical), and revenge comes from their rational emotional pain, but turning around and making everyone pay for it. It's much more sad, compared to Joker. He kills because he's power hungry and greedy.


No.
Neither of those two fit what I was talking about even slightly.


What you are talking about is actually a villain I would like. One who is able to completely manipulate others into believing that the villain is doing what is good and right, while secretly doing the opposite.

I am talking about a villain who IS a hero. A person who, by doing what their society views as good and right, is actually doing something very, very wrong. IE: lynching because it was cool, despite the fact that THEY ARE KILLING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN A HORRIBLE MANNER FOR FUN.

This is, to us, VERY VERY EVIL, and yet, these people were awesomely cool people back in their time, cuz ya know, they were doing the lords work or saving southern white farmers or whatever the hell excuses they used.

They were not manipulating the crowd. They were a part of it. This is not a person twisting the minds of others, this is a person who's mind is just as twisted. This is a group mentality.



Ah! So, are you talking about someone who wasn't the originator of the horrible ideas, but was just a follower of it, similar to a Nazi war hero?

Hmm... if that's the case, I would dislike a manipulator more than a guy who is a follower. The follower, being reinforced to behave so, wouldn't change without having an experience that transforms him. So, as much as I wouldn't like that society as a whole, and each person who doesn't have a mind of their own, the follower is no more a villain than the entire society, in my opinion.

However, if given a chance to change, and he consciously chooses to remain a horrible person, then I would dislike him more. But I would still think the manipulator is more of a villain.

So, then, what makes the manipulator more likable to you? Is it because he made a more conscious choice to be horrible? Or because he's intelligent, compared to someone who follows society?
Telpa's avatar

Noble Hunter

If you want them to be hated, avoid a past that has the 'awww' factor. I.e., his parents didn't love him, he was bullied, he saw someone he loved die...

Try not to make him attractive; I know that if I read something where a hot guy kicked a puppy, I would laugh, but if it was a grubby fat guy, I would say, "What an a**!" (Not that you can't make a fat guy sound cute ~)

Don't give him a charsimatic personality. If he's funny and polite (though not snooty or an a**-kisser) or if he's insane in a cute way (like "I'm gonna cut you up ♥" with a smile -- don't ask, I like characters like that), people might like him. But if he's constantly ratting out the main character or is jittery and sweaty, he's less likeable.

Watch how you describe him. Giving him gritty hair over silky makes him less likeable, as does the way you portray his ambitions (I.e., "His eyes glinted darkly" sounds more mysterious and likeable than "His beady eyes shook".

*Beady eyes immedietly make me hate a character* *shudder*

*Scans what I've just written, then sighs* I should really stop giving weird advice...
flirtingoof
Lord Tezzy
flirtingoof
Lord Tezzy
How to make a villain universally hated?
Make it obvious that they are wrong.
And then it make it obvious that, in the text, they are right.

I'm sure that I have to explain that more... so here goes.

It's fairly common now for people to look back on the old days of the southern white bigots and the whole lynching business and say 'omg, those people were evil.' Whether you want to debate about the various moral questions inherent in a discussion of different ethical and societal rules is beside the point, we, as a society, view those actions as morally reprehensible. Now, consider it this way, did those people consider it morally reprehensible? No. That's what makes them well-motivated, they believe they are doing the right thing, even good. This should be the staple of all good villains (IE: they aren't disney villains, they WANT something, BELIEVE something, and will DO something to acquire/gain it, all the while thinking they are RIGHT and GOOD and never being card carrying villains.) But this isn't the end to it. If this was, there'd be nothing terrible horrible about this series of events. You see, back in the day, not only did the people doing the lynching think they were right, SO DID AN OVERWHELMING PORTION OF EVERYONE ELSE. So, in their time, they were not villains, they were even likely called heroes be a lot of people. In ours, though? Villains. Compounded by the fact that their people didn't think of them that way.

Take this to a story and you've got a truly hatable (and as close to universal as I can even imagine) villain. Someone who does things that we believe are terrible, and not only thinks they are right, not only gets away with it, but is rewarded for it! Someone who is a villain by trying to be a hero.

In short: worst villain ever is the society backing any 'evil thing.' Which is every society, in some way, shape, or form. So yeah.


Awesomeness! I totally agree. I mean, they use to trade postcards of lynchings and stuff. It was socially acceptable and seen as cool to go see an actual lynching. I think a villain who is not only immoral, but is seen as good by virtually everyone, is a truly scary thing! Because, you know he's smart enough to be able to manipulate society, so much, that he can do whatever he wants in public, use or kill whoever he wants for unbelievable reasons, and make the good guys look bad at the same time. It reminds me of Tim Burton's first Batman movie, where Joker is giving away free money at that parade, the public is in love with Joker's sudden kindness, and Joker starts killing them with poisonous gas... total villain jerk!

However, Tim Burton's second Batman movie, where the Penguin runs for mayor, is different for me. It's true, Penguin's a very bad guy, but I sympathize. Similar to my feeling for the Phantom of the Opera. Those two villains have such screwed up pasts that it's understandable that they would be twisted in the head. Of course, they should pay for their crimes; and after coldly and deliberately murdering someone with no remorse (even in the end), it's too late to save them from their fate. But I feel sorry for them and wish they could have gotten help earlier in their lives.

Also, those two villains pretty much kill out of revenge (based on the movie and the musical), and revenge comes from their rational emotional pain, but turning around and making everyone pay for it. It's much more sad, compared to Joker. He kills because he's power hungry and greedy.


No.
Neither of those two fit what I was talking about even slightly.


What you are talking about is actually a villain I would like. One who is able to completely manipulate others into believing that the villain is doing what is good and right, while secretly doing the opposite.

I am talking about a villain who IS a hero. A person who, by doing what their society views as good and right, is actually doing something very, very wrong. IE: lynching because it was cool, despite the fact that THEY ARE KILLING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN A HORRIBLE MANNER FOR FUN.

This is, to us, VERY VERY EVIL, and yet, these people were awesomely cool people back in their time, cuz ya know, they were doing the lords work or saving southern white farmers or whatever the hell excuses they used.

They were not manipulating the crowd. They were a part of it. This is not a person twisting the minds of others, this is a person who's mind is just as twisted. This is a group mentality.



Ah! So, are you talking about someone who wasn't the originator of the horrible ideas, but was just a follower of it, similar to a Nazi war hero?

Hmm... if that's the case, I would dislike a manipulator more than a guy who is a follower. The follower, being reinforced to behave so, wouldn't change without having an experience that transforms him. So, as much as I wouldn't like that society as a whole, and each person who doesn't have a mind of their own, the follower is no more a villain than the entire society, in my opinion.

However, if given a chance to change, and he consciously chooses to remain a horrible person, then I would dislike him more. But I would still think the manipulator is more of a villain.

So, then, what makes the manipulator more likable to you? Is it because he made a more conscious choice to be horrible? Or because he's intelligent, compared to someone who follows society?

Let me ask you something.
Are you manipulated into thinking that all people are equal?
Are you manipulated into thinking that women should have the right to vote?
Are you manipulated into thinking that high school is important to a future career?
Etc etc etc.

Whether you wanna believe that society has manipulated you into believing this, it doesn't matter. You believe these things because they are what you are SUPPOSED to believe. There is no ONE person manipulating you into believing things. It isn't as if there's a Hitler standing atop a podium saying 'you must believe this.' We, as a group, believe these things (though I can point to specific origins, the origins are generally dead by now.)

There isn't a manipulator. There's only people who are striving for the 'normal' and the 'acceptable' and will do things to reach acceptance. And part of that is knowing who to ostracize.

Take that last clause to an extreme and you've got what I'd consider a universal villain.

Someone who is trying to do 'the right thing' as defined by their society (be it lynching someone or the like) but is, in fact, doing something really really horrible. Venerated for it, despite it's complete evil.

Get it?
Yes, in the right light, they can be portrayed as tragic figures who don't realize they are committing sins or whatever, but they are also just as easily portrayed as horrible people.

Imagine with me now, knowing that the entire world is against you, that you have no place to turn to because everyone hates you or everyone is afraid of you or everyone has demonized you and there is one person who is hunting you down to kill or imprison or whatever. Is he not the epitome of a villain? They become the embodiment of all the hatred the world feels for you.

Ergo: worst villain ever.

Of course, the importance is the portrayal.
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Lord Tezzy


Imagine with me now, knowing that the entire world is against you, that you have no place to turn to because everyone hates you or everyone is afraid of you or everyone has demonized you and there is one person who is hunting you down to kill or imprison or whatever. Is he not the epitome of a villain? They become the embodiment of all the hatred the world feels for you.

Ergo: worst villain ever.

Of course, the importance is the portrayal.


Yup, I get it now. Wow, "the embodiment of all the hatred the world feels for you." That sounds like a very interesting story!!! Reading that kind of story, I'd totally hate the villain!

wahnsinn und hass


Watch how you describe him. Giving him gritty hair over silky makes him less likeable, as does the way you portray his ambitions (I.e., "His eyes glinted darkly" sounds more mysterious and likeable than "His beady eyes shook".

*Beady eyes immedietly make me hate a character* *shudder*

*Scans what I've just written, then sighs* I should really stop giving weird advice...


This is true. "His beady eyes shook," LOL. I'd freak out if I saw that. I think that's why some villains or mysterious characters are given a glass eye or a hook for a hand, a characteristic very creepy and off about them.

Any unexpected movements would make me take a step back from liking a villain, like a tic, or an impulsive move to do something grotesque, like cut himself and shudder with delight as the blood drips on the floor.

How about rapid mood changes? Like, the villain is cooing at a baby, looks up and tortuously kills a bystander for no explained reason, throws up, and then attempts to go back to cooing (by then, mommy ran away with the baby)...that would make him very unstable, very interesting, and very horrifying.
w QueenValerie w's avatar

Conservative Sex Symbol

to me, a hated villain, is one whole holds complete confidence in him/herself
Elinin's avatar

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Personally, I think if you want to write a villain, you need to know what your target is, and appeal to that market. For example, you want to target young people, like say, their early teens, so write about a villain whom you know will irritate them. For example, cruelty to animals (that one really pisses me off), bullying, betrayal, stuff like that.

At the same time, a character, whether a protagonist or antagonist, has to be believable. This is the main reason why I feel Edmund from King Lear was probably one of the best antagonists I've come across in my entire life. Every single villain is driven by something, whether by greed or by hunger for power, or even for acceptance, and writing about that would make your villain more believable.
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I'd say go with a manipulative villain who exploits the weaknesses of others. Usually people don't look to lightly on those who take advantage of the helpless/innocent.
Hope that helps!
You've gotten a TON of good advice in here, so I'm not going to go in-depth, or I'd just be repeating other people.

One other thing to consider, regarding your story -- how much of it was written, when you showed it to people? I mean, maybe the villain only seemed distasteful instead of horribly evil because they only saw a small portion of his actions, so far. It's okay if they don't feel the full impact of his evil ways at first; that makes it all the better when you drop that brick on them later on. smile
I think that a good villain is one that on some level the reader relates to or one that the reader wants to be one of the "good" characters. What the villain does the reader must take personally.
I find the villains I hate the most are the ones where just as you think you see a spark of decency they flip it around eliminate all doubt
ex: A villains seems to have a soft spot for sister. Then she kills the sister.

or something like that. I hope i helped
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Whines too much. Monologues. Pushes chicks around. Mood swings. whee

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