Monday, February 10, 2014

Literary Love: Vulnerable Villains

One of my favorite bookish loves is what I'm calling vulnerable villains. These are the bad guys that you love to hate, or hate to love. The villains that are so gray (as I've written about before) that you aren't even totally sure they ARE the bad guys. Or maybe they are actually good guys who've had something bad happen to them. Or maybe they would have been good guys but then, they chose poorly. Or, maybe they are characters that we think are the bad guys at first, but then they turn out to be the good after all.

Yes, I truly love these guys. I feel for them, I want to make them better, I want to see them fixed, I want to give them the love I feel that they deserve despite whatever bad flaw they have going on that makes them end up in the villain camp. And sometimes it makes me cringe to want to love them, because sometimes they are so very bad.

But that's just how it is sometimes.

What do you think makes a villain a vulnerable villain? Here's what I think:

  • a back story that makes you sympathetic to them
  • a moment where you know deep down they actually want to do good
  • a vulnerability that they show which causes you to feel all they need is love
  • a charisma that slays you whether you want to be or not
  • an ache that they wear on their sleeve
I love these sorts of characters so much and I love it when authors are able to pull this off. Some of the favorites that I listed in that other post from a long time ago are Heathcliff, Javert, Frankenstein's monster. Some newer favorites include: 

Warner from the Shatter Me series. Oh. My. Word. I want to read and I'm scared to read the latest and last book, Ignite Me, so bad! And I hear that I simply HAVE to read the in between novelette, Destroy Me, if I really want to understand him. That's going to happen soon, I promise.

Loki, though not from a book exactly, is a perfectly example of all I've listed above... every single point! Has there ever been a better villain?

Valek from Poison Study, though not really the villain, is definitely someone you think is the bad guy at the beginning but then you mind is changed in a big big way!

Cole from the Everneath series. Ah, charisma. He's got it. You kind of forget you are supposed to be rooting against him.

Evan Walker from The 5th Wave. Yes! Is he the good guy or the bad guy? I love the grayness here!

Snape from the Harry Potter series. (And he's not a newer favorite, but an old one. I just didn't list him before!) Now, of course he's not the villain like Voldemort is, but, he is portrayed as the bad guy. Am I right? And then.. and then... AND THEN!

Yep, I love my villains! 

Who are some of your favorites?

To participate in the Literary Love event, link up here!


  1. Snape was definitely the first guy that came to my mind here! And, I love that you included Loki!! I can't think of any others off the top of my head, but it is still early for me!! I will be thinking about this one all day!

  2. Oh, villains! How I <3 them! Both the vulnerable and the totally crazy/evil ones. :D
    Cole! (I was totally rooting for him) <3 Evan! <3 Snape <3 YESYESYAY
    And I love Loki (from the mythology) too.

    Awesome post!

  3. Um yes!!! I loooooove grayness! The blurred lines between good and bad! In books, you're so right, Snape is like the perfect person to use. You hate him but you know something is up and then you love him.

    Right now my husband and I are watching Breaking Bad and there's a whole lot of gray going on with those characters!!!!

    Thanks for Literary Love posting! Don't forget to link it up too :D

  4. What a great idea for a post. :) I am not sure who I would list for this. I would have to think about it. :)

  5. Yes yes yes yes yes! Snape is my fave one, I think. I just want to make it better!

  6. This is an interesting post! Let me think about my favourite villian...

  7. These are a great group of characters! I loved Loki too :)

  8. Jaime Lannister! Although, of cource, with the multifacettedness of the characters and storylines of Martin's world, you could contest he is a villain.

  9. Spot on! My husband and I just finished watching Thor before I clicked on this link and there's Loki on your blog! Your points definitely fit him.

  10. Snape! YESSSS. I love these villans too. I often prefer the anti-hero to the hero because often they're so much more interesting. Great great topic. (I swoon over Snape ;>)

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love.



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