I have a tendency to lean towards being a big cheerleader for the villain in a story. Always have. When I was younger, my favorite character in The Lion King was Scar, not Simba. Simba can go suck it. Scar had a way better sense of humor. Nightmare Before Christmas? Easy. Oogie Boogie. He had the best music. When I was 13 years old, I read The Vampire Diaries (yes, kids, they were books loooooooong before the TV series) and I instantly fell in love with Damon. Not the severely dumbed down version of Damon you see on the TV series, but the cold, ruthless, walking nightmare that was Damon in the books. We’ll get into that later in this post.
This has been an ongoing trend for me in all venues of fiction, from books to television to the big screen. But it’s not just any villains, and it’s not exclusively “villains” per se. I realized when I was writing The Devil You Know that my affinity is for characters who walk the sometimes very blurry line between being a good bad guy and a bad good guy.
And more than anything, I love it when it’s difficult to tell which side a particular character falls on. I think not being able to figure it out is a sign of genuinely good writing.
In this post, we are going to take a look at a small handful of my favorite fictional baddies and see where they fall.