We are drawn to evil. Have you noticed? When you read a book, its the bad guy you’re attracted by. The hero is a cliche. He’s a saving the damsel in distress, slaying the dragons cliche. The villain, however has no limits. He can be anything and anyone he wants. And most often, if its done right, you like him a little bit too. Sometimes, more than a little bit.
Come on. He’s evil. He’s terrifying. He wants to impose suffering on the world. He wants to torture your heroine. He wants world domination. He just wants to eat the other characters. He is limitless. And you just can’t hate him.
Why is evil so fascinating, so attractive? Is it the scary part? Is it that you can empathize with these characters, a little bit? Is it the forbidden fruit thing? Is it that there’s a little bit of evil in all of us? Why do writers want to write evil characters? Why do actors relish playing villain? Why is evil so memorable? Because it is.
All time famous villains have a special place in our heart. You can’t hate them and you can’t love them. But they’re there, sucking you into the story with their black inky damp dark cold ways.
Growing up with books and films, I’ve met quite a few.
>Cruella de vil, from 101 dalmations. Come on, what can be more evil than a -excuse me- woman, who wants to kill cute little dogs so she can make a coat out of their skins. While we’re at it, let’s add all the other Disney villains. Those guys make the best villains.
>Agatha Trunchbull, from Matilda.
I don’t know how many of you remember her, but she was the quintessential villain in the mind of a child. Hates children, has rumoured secret ways to torture, tall and huge and strict and scary, and always willing to torture a child just for the fun of it. And she had her own torture chamber. And she’s headmistress. Very convenient. The rumoured ‘poochandi’ our parents told us about.
>Napoleon, from Animal farm.
The evil pig who takes over animal farm after kicking Snowball out, he’s brilliant, in the lines of the most famous dictators of all time. He plays mind games, divides and conquers, uses chants and sayings and propaganda, so the animals are more miserable and work more than they ever have before, but do it believing they’re better off than they ever were. And he sends off his most loyal supporter to be butchered when he’s too sick to work. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
>The white witch, Chronicles of Narnia.
She’s evil and imposing, draws innocent children in with her cold charm, and turns into stone anyone she doesn’t want in her way. Into stone. At least Medusa couldn’t help it.
>Sher khan, the Jungle book.
He’s bitter and hurt and doesn’t want man in the jungle. All justified. He tries to hurt Mowgli, sure. But he’s a villain you just can’t hate. He fears Mowgli will bring fire into the jungle, and wants him out. Guess exactly what Mowgli brings into the jungle.
>Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes.
Well, we needed someone to challenge Sherlock, and who do we have here. A hero is only as good as the villain. And Professor Moriarty is the brilliant nemesis to Detective Sherlock Holmes.
>Loki, The Marvel Universe.
Enough said. Evil and ambitious. The poor adopted boy always in his brother’s shadow. The charming scoundrel. Admit it. You all liked him better than Thor.
>The Joker, The Dark Knight.
He was the best. I do not have to say anymore.
>Hannibal Lecter, The silence of the lambs.
Sophisticated. Cultured. Brilliant. And a cannibal. He’s chilling, because he could be anybody. He could be the man sitting next to you at the restaurant, and who knows what he could be eating. Oops. Who he could be eating. The pinnacle- when he served a man his own cooked brains, and had him eat it.
>Lord Voldemort. The Harry potter series.
You know who he is. Pun intended. He who must not be named is the most evil wizard of our time, and is a standing favourite. If you don’t know why he’s on this list, what are you still doing here?
And of course, who can forget, Shakespeare, who gave us some of the most famous villains. Ever. Case in point,
>Macbeth. Wait. Lady Macbeth. Wait. The pair of them. No. The witches.
The best part, they weren’t villains. They were the story. The reluctant evil, the guilt, the ambition ( Ah, the Hamartia). With the dagger and the hand washing and the bubbling cauldron. I did not appreciate this book when I had to study it for two years. I was an idiot.
There are so many I’ve missed, and many I’ve yet to meet. Add to our collection, and give me books to go read.
Oh. Don’t add Dolores Umbridge to the list. There’s evil, and then there’s EVIL.