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"Bad guy" and "Bad guys" redirect here. For other uses, see Bad Guy (disambiguation).

A rendering of an archetype of a villain as a late 19th-century businessman. A villain (also known in film and literature as the "antagonist," "baddie", "bad guy", or "black hat") is an "evil" character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist (though can be the protagonist), the character who tends to have a negative effect on other characters. A female villain is sometimes called a villainess (often to differentiate her from a male villain). Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot"


French villains in the 15th century before going to work, receiving their Lord's Orders. Villain comes from the Anglo-French and Old French vilain, which itself descends from the Late Latin word villanus, meaning "farmhand",[2] in the sense of someone who is bound to the soil of a villa, which is to say, worked on the equivalent of a plantation in Late Antiquity, in Italy or Gaul.[3] It referred to a person of less than knightly status and so came to mean a person who was not chivalrous. As a result of many unchivalrous acts, such as treachery or rape, being considered villainous in the modern sense of the word, it became used as a term of abuse and eventually took on its modern meaning.[4]

Folk and fairy tales
Vladimir Propp, in his analysis of the Russian fairy tales, concluded that a fairy tale had only eight dramatis personae, of which one was the villain,[5] and his analysis has been widely applied to non-Russian tales. The actions that fell into a villain's sphere were:  a story-initiating villainy, where the villain caused harm to the hero or his family  a conflict between the hero and the villain, either a fight or other competition  pursuing the hero after he has succeeded in winning the fight or obtaining something from the villain None of these acts necessarily occurs in a fairy tale, but when any of them do, the character that performs the act is the villain. The villain therefore could appear twice: once in the opening of the story, and a second time as the person sought out by the hero.[6]

leering. presenting a false claim to be the hero that must be rebutted for the happy ending. to fulfil a legitimate need. the villain exemplifies characteristics that are diametrically opposed to those of the hero. but was killed by the hero. [11] which makes some people identify with them as characters more strongly than with the heroes. In fiction. cackling. Because of this. sends a hero on his quest. In their role as adversary.[citation needed] Others[who?] point out that many acts of villains have a hint of wish-fulfillment. a convincing villain must be given a characterization that provides a motive for doing wrong.[8] Among these characters are Cinderella's stepsisters. with mustache-twirling. Various villains also perform other functions in a fairy tale. One is the false hero: this character is always villainous. the villain serves as an obstacle the hero must struggle to overcome. this often failed to translate well from stage to screen). but the dispatcher might also. a witch who fought the hero and ran away."[12] Portraying and employing villains in fiction Tod Slaughter always portrayed villainous characters on both stage and screen in a melodramatic manner.When a character performed only these acts. and who lets the hero follow her. lie to send a character on a quest in hopes of being rid of him.[10] Villainous foil The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an example of a literary villain. is also performing the task of "guidance" and thus acting as a helper. As put by film critic Roger Ebert: "Each film is only as good as its villain. This might be an innocent request. the character was a pure villain. eye-rolling. villainously. chopping off parts of their feet to fit on the shoe. If a dragon acted as the villain.[9] Another character. as well as being a worthy adversary to the hero. another character (such as the dragon's sisters) might take on the role of the villain and pursue the hero. villains commonly function in the dual role of adversary and foil to the story's heroes.[7] Two other characters could appear in roles that are villainous in the more general sense. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film.[13][14] Brad Warner . creating a contrast distinguishing heroic traits from villainous ones. only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph. the dispatcher. and handrubbing (however. In their role as foil.[7] The functions could also be spread out among several characters.

who wants to rule the world so that he can solve all of its problems). but goes to absurd lengths to achieve the equality he desires. fiction serves as a lens to focus of what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper. There are only people with problems.[15] Ben Bova recommends to authors that their works not contain villains. in his Tips for writers: "In the real world there are no villains. . There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. the antithesis to an antihero. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. who is honorable. more accurately. No one actually sets out to do evil. and Dr. or the conviction that his cause is just. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (The bad guy isn't doing bad stuff so he can rub his hands together and snarl.. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. (October 2012) In an attempt to add realism to their stories. many writers will try to create "sympathetic" villains. clearer understanding for us. Others may include those manipulated by higher forces (such as Jack Torrance being manipulated by the Overlook Hotel in The Shining)..) He may be driven by greed.states that "only cartoon villains cackle with glee while rubbing their hands together and dream of ruling the world in the name of all that is wicked and bad". He states. Or. or may employ a code of honor in fighting his enemies. These villains come in just as many shapes and sizes as antiheroes do. renewable source of energy. a secondary villain in the game Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi. as is the case in American History X). but fights the player's army due to loyalty to his country). neuroses. even if it is to achieve antagonistic goals (examples include Murdock. but he's driven by something not unlike the things that drive a hero."[17] Sympathetic villain This section does not cite any references or sources. Horrible in Dr. who commits various crimes in an attempt to complete his goal of creating a cheap."[16] David Lubar adds: "This is a brilliant observation that has served me well in all my writing. Anti-Monitor is currently the most powerful fictional villain to date. Some may wish to make the world a better place but go to antagonistic lengths to do so (such as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2. struggling to solve them. Other sympathetic villains may be pushed to antagonistic lifestyles by society's mistreatment of him due to prejudice against something he is a part of (such as racism. Fiction mirrors life.