Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Color of Villains

Last week not only did I get to listen to Brandon Sanderson, rising fantasy star, but also James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner trilogy. He told us the story of how The Maze Runner came to be. A great story about how it was the first (or nearly the first) book he wrote which proceeded to get rejected over and over. Then after he published other things, he went back and re-wrote much of it and after more stress and a change in agents, he then got a Random House deal. And now, he is none other than a New York Times Bestselling author! LOVE stories like that.

During the course of his story, he mentioned how much fun it is to write about gray villains. You know, those bad guys you can't decide whether you hate them or love them? (But in the end you mostly love them.) The ones you feel close to and feel sorry for? The ones you are drawn too, no matter how bad they are? The ones who have enticing glimmers of good? The ones who pure and simple just make your heart ache?

And I thought, ah a perfect blog post subject for me! Because this is one of the things I love most about reading, and TV shows/movies, are these gray villains. The tortured pained souls who if only circumstances were tweaked just a bit, everything would be different! If only someone would show them kindness and love, that good would come out. If only they didn't have their one fatal flaw!

Here's a few of my favorites (some he mentioned, some I added) from both books and TV/movies:

Darth Vader/Anakin from Star Wars: Loving too much is his fatal flaw, and how can you not feel sorry for that?

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights: Another villain whose passion simply consumed him which leaves you feeling sorry for how things turn out.

Damon from Vampire Diaries: He's a misunderstood vampire and just needs someone to validate him!

T-Bag from Prison Break: He is one creepy villain, but there are many many glimpses of how you know that deep down, he wants to change and be good.

Sylar from Heroes: I loved when he let his good, vulnerable side peek out. That bit of a tease was what kept this showing interesting.

Guy of Gisbourne from the BBC Robin Hood series: He is one bad dude and does some unthinkable things, BUT if only Marion would love him instead of Robin Hood, the story would be so different!

Javert from Les Miserables: He just wants to do what he sees is good and provide justice for the world.

Frankenstein's Monster: He did bad stuff, but I always felt so sorry for him.

Who are some of your favorite gray villains? What villains do you think are pure and total black?Or do you think ALL villains could be considered gray?


  1. What a fun post! You've mentioned one of my favorite gray villains already--Anakin. However, my most favorite gray villain is Severus Snape. If only Lily had not married James, if only he had not been sorted into Slytherin, if only he had not been so interested in the dark arts, he would be so different. I think he's one of the most round characters in any story. Most villains or heroes are flat because they don't change. But, Snape did.

    I think Emperor Palpetine and Voldemort are pure black. I don't think circumstances would've changed who they are. I think many villains are like this. But, I think there are quite a few villains that fall into the gray area.

  2. Oh, I like this tribute to the poor tortured gray villains. I've always had a thing for Mr. Preston from Wives and Daughters, don't ask, and Sileph from Enna Burning. I also totally agree with you on Frankenstein's monster and, of course, you know how I feel about Damon and Sylar. And, yes, there are villains who are all black.

  3. I'll have to second Sylar, and also Snape as mentioned above in the comments. But I think my favorite gray villain is Lex from Smallville. Who knew a bald guy could be so sexy?

  4. Snape came to mind for me, too. Partly because we are going to be reading that part of The Deathly Hollows tonight, and I know I will cry--again.
    Rowling does similarly with Draco Malfoy, though you don't like him, he does dredge up compassion in the later books, even Kreacher.

    I also think about Boromir from Lord of the Rings...he is amongst the "good guys" but he comes across villain-ish...certainly gray.


  5. I'm feeling bad about forgetting Snape! I totally agree he should be in this list!!

    Jenni: I also totally agree with your black choices.

    TG: Hmmmm, Mr. Preston. I can see that. The other dude, I can't even remember him!

    Shelley: I never really watched much of Smallville, but I've seen enough to know that you are probably right! :)

    Contemplatrix: Ah, Boromir. Yes... good one!

  6. HA! What a great post. T Bag! Sylar! I love to hate those two. And Damon..

  7. I'm so totally out of the loop on your TV villains, but I agree with Frankenstein and Snape. I can't think of others now, though...

  8. T-Bag is definitely creepy! Never could like him...

  9. I really wouldn't mind offering to help Damon out. Shucks, I even considered emailing TVD creators and asking them if I can provide Damon some much-needed companionship. How sad that none of his cast understands him whereas so many of us do! :)



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