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View Full Version : Why Does The Villain Always Die But Never Change?



DwayneA
03-11-2009, 07:03 AM
Many villains in fiction and the movies don't ever change during the story. In the end, they either die or go off in handcuffs swearing revenge.

Is it a rule in fiction that only the protagonist can grow and change? Is it acceptable for a villain to actually grow and change or even reform in the end?

Zoombie
03-11-2009, 07:05 AM
...you're reading the wrong books, then.

I have read plenty where the villain changes.

I just can't really remember their names right now...

Clair Dickson
03-11-2009, 07:20 AM
Darth Vader.

Cyia
03-11-2009, 07:30 AM
Any well rounded character can grow and change, only with a villain sometimes they grow darker and more demented.

Marian Perera
03-11-2009, 07:33 AM
Is it a rule in fiction that only the protagonist can grow and change?

There are no "rules" per se in fiction.

deserata
03-11-2009, 07:51 AM
I have read that a good villain grows and changes as the protagonist does.

Nobody wants to read about a cardboardy villain with a static personality. A stock bad guy is simply not a worthy foe for a growing, changing protagonist, and that makes it boring. In a good story, everything should move.

DwayneA
03-11-2009, 07:56 AM
exactly makes the villain a worthy foe for the protagonist? And what is a static personality? What is the definition of Cardboard?

Nivarion
03-11-2009, 08:07 AM
my protagonist and antagonist grow and change so much they switch spots.

Dale Emery
03-11-2009, 08:25 AM
exactly makes the villain a worthy foe for the protagonist?

Has the motive and means to effectively oppose the protagonist's goals. Maybe represents something that the protagonist loathes or fears. Has a flaw that the protagonist can ultimately exploit to defeat (kill, change, persuade, arrest, ...) the villain.

Dale

NeuroFizz
03-11-2009, 08:27 AM
Too bad Voldemort can't go through puberty (again) with Harry.

Cyia
03-11-2009, 08:41 AM
exactly makes the villain a worthy foe for the protagonist? And what is a static personality? What is the definition of Cardboard?

Do you know who Moriarty is? If you're not familiar with Sherlock Holmes, he's Holme's nemesis. A nemesis is a special breed of villain because they're everything the hero is, but twisted 180 degrees. All of those lines the hero won't cross, his nemesis stands on the other side of and taunts him.

You've mentioned the Joker in posts before, he was a character like that, and Batman's nemesis. He was at least as smart as Batman, but didn't put the restraints on himself to prevent him from doing horrible things.

Well defined villains either don't think they're doing wrong, or couldn't care less. A well defined villain or nemesis is one that could be the hero if he stopped doing things that were morally wrong.


A carboard villain is like Nelson on the Simpsons. He's a bully because it's in the script and there's no need for any other reason, he just punches people.

"henchmen" are usually carboard villains. They have no motivation for their actions beyond following orders, and they don't really get anything for their efforts because they're too low on the power scale.

Ruv Draba
03-11-2009, 09:10 AM
Many villains in fiction and the movies don't ever change during the story. In the end, they either die or go off in handcuffs swearing revenge.

Is it a rule in fiction that only the protagonist can grow and change? Is it acceptable for a villain to actually grow and change or even reform in the end?Not every protagonist is a hero, and not every antagonist is a villain. Who is a hero or villain depends on audience sympathy, approval and to a lesser extent, viewpoint. Sympathetic characters we approve of are normally heroes; sympathetic characters we don't approve of are normally antiheroes. Unsympathetic characters tend to be villains if we don't approve of them, or plot-devices when we do.

Heroes can fight heroes (e.g. in the Iliad), villains can fight villains (e.g. in Alien vs Predator), and antiheroes can fight anyone (e.g. Dexter vs serial killers and the Miami police).

Character goals change all the time in fiction, e.g. the hero may start out trying to solve a murder and end up trying to protect the next victim. The villain might start out trying to gain an inheritance and end up trying to stay out of prison.

But a character's ruling passions (values, ideals, beliefs) change more slowly, and normally only after dramatic crisis. E.g. an idealistic character may grow cynical after a disaster, or a cowardly character might grow brave after others depend on it. Often a change to ruling passion changes our sympathy or approval, making a character more or less heroic, more or less villainous. Idealistic stories tend to exaggerate heroism and villainy over time; realistic stories tend to downplay heroism and villainy, spreading the sympathy around. Generally, the more the sympathy is spread, the more broadly we see change in characters.

Wayne K
03-11-2009, 02:30 PM
I read comic books when I was a kid, and The Silver Surfer became a good guy in the end. (I don't know how they did it in the recent movie)

In The Outsiders one of the protaganists becomes friends with the MC.

I didn't know Star Wars was a book.

It's rare but it does happen. It's early and I haven't had coffee yet. I'll be back if I think of any more.

tehuti88
03-11-2009, 06:38 PM
Why Does The Villain Always Die But Never Change?

Read my serials and you'll see how wrong this is. :D

CarnalPIE
03-11-2009, 07:02 PM
Well defined villains either don't think they're doing wrong, or couldn't care less.

You know, I remember a time when the whole "villains don't think they're doing wrong" thing was new to me, but I've heard this repeated SO MUCH in so many different arenas over the past 20 years or so I think it's becoming a cliche if it's not already. These days I find it refreshing when it's the second part of what you said, that they just don't care.


I didn't know Star Wars was a book.


Movies are still written. (okay, that's debatable with the Prequel Trilogy, LOL, but you get what I mean)

Cyia
03-11-2009, 09:11 PM
You know, I remember a time when the whole "villains don't think they're doing wrong" thing was new to me, but I've heard this repeated SO MUCH in so many different arenas over the past 20 years or so I think it's becoming a cliche if it's not already. These days I find it refreshing when it's the second part of what you said, that they just don't care.

It's not a cliche, it's human nature. "Villain" is a subjective term and the fact is that most of the real historical villains thought they were in the right. It's that kernel of morality (warped or otherwise) that keeps them from being 2-dimensional. They think they're working toward an improved society or life, and accept that to rebuild things have to be destroyed first.

It's leadership, skewed. A fictional villain, like a hero, tends to see in black and white, only they aren't shades of good and evil.

"The world would be better if my rules were followed. If I kill those who disagree, then others will learn to obey. When everyone obeys, there will be peace."

"If I decrease the population of the world by 2/3, then there won't be such a strain on the earth, or resources, and disease and pollution caused by overcrowding will vanish."

"Statistically this group causes the most crime, therefore they are bad."

"I am smart enough to see the problems those in charge have overlooked. I'll make them understand that so they will listen to me and fix a system that doesn't work."

"If no one will listen to my warnings about [insert regime/facility] having a flaw, I'll export the flaw and prove it. The money I take from them is a worth while price to pay for my service."