There's nothing like a good villain. Not good as in "morally excellent," but good as in really bad. It's so rewarding to follow the journey of a hero who overcomes the obstacles of a villain we love to hate.
So what makes a good villain?
I'm going to borrow from Jeff Savage and his workshop, "Creating Believable Villains" from LDStorymakers. He said, "The best villains are like the hero if the hero had taken a different path." Now this isn't the only exclusively good thing about a bad villain, but it's something that made me think.
Let's take Darth Vader vs. Emperor Palpatine. I would say on a whole, Emperor Palpatine is more evil, heinous and icky than Darth Vader. If I had to meet up with one of them in a dark alley, I'd pray for Vader. However, Vader is a much better villain. Why? Is it because of the huge marketing potential of black helmets and voice changers. Maybe. But I think it's because we can sympathize with him, and see his motivations. And all through it we know that if he only had taken a different path, he would be the hero.
That makes a really good villain.
One of my very favorite villains is from the show, "Lost." You're never quite sure what side Ben is on, what he's going to do, or how he may react. He ranges from sympathetic to completely evil. I have many others that I could add, but I'd like to hear from you instead. What do you think makes a good villain? Who are your favorite villains in books or movies? Let's get this evil post going!
And on a completely unrelated side note, check out Graham's blog about helping Nashville: