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The world seems full of them sometimes -- Villains and Heroes.  Look at Hollywood Movies.  Look at over-the-top rhetorical politics.  Look at the victims and the victors that walk around emoting, everywhere in everyday life.

They often do battle over Truth, Justice, and the American way ... or frequently over the more mundane -- they do battle for the minutest of competitive edges.

Chalk it up to the Human Condition -- the instincts that pit one person against the next, when it comes to taking possession of those fleeting opportunities.  Or rushing to take, the best seats in the theater ...


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".[1]

In fiction, villains commonly function in the dual role of adversary and foil to the story's heroes. In their role as adversary, the villain serves as an obstacle the hero must struggle to overcome. In their role as foil, the villain exemplifies characteristics that are diametrically opposed to those of the hero, creating a contrast distinguishing heroic traits from villainous ones.[citation needed] Others[who?] point out that many acts of villains have a hint of wish-fulfillment,[11] which makes some people identify with them as characters more strongly than with the heroes. Because of this, a convincing villain must be given a characterization that provides a motive for doing wrong, as well as being a worthy adversary to the hero. As put by film critic Roger Ebert:

   "Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph."[12]

What characteristics make for the epic classic Villain?  ... Assuming there is such a common recurring pattern, that is vitally needed to create dramatic tension, as Ebert alludes to.

5 Characteristics of an Epic Villain


Great villains are staggeringly powerful.  In other words, they have a way of making things bend to their will.


Effective villains are intelligent.  This does not necessarily mean that they are intellectually gifted.  Rather, it means that they avoid making stupid decisions.


True villains are immoral.  This is what makes them villains.  It’s not that they lack a sense of right or wrong.  On the contrary, villains often subscribe to a moral code.  But they are willing to violate accepted moral principles in order to accomplish their goals.



In Life, as in the Movies, we humans often need a Villain -- in order to persevere and ultimately emerge "victorious" by the end of the show ... We have to be fighting for something, if all our striving amidst the chaos, is to be worth the effort expended.

The stronger the adversary, the deeper our resolve -- that's just Human Nature ...
or is it simply the pattern of "good story-telling" that we've learned to model, as a handy metaphor, for helping us get through the tedium and hopelessness of the average, futile Life?

This is where Heroes step in.  They battle the Villains. They stand up for what's right.  They rarely let us down, and when they do -- they are quick and/or determined to make amends.

Without Heroes egging us on, how would we ever know the "bad guys" from just the over-paid actors?  

How would we ever know that all is right in the world again; or that it ought to be made right, as soon as humanly possible?

Our First Book — HEROES:  What They Do, Why We Need Them

Why do we perceive certain people as heroes?  What qualities do we see in them? What must they do to win our admiration? In Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them, authors Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals offer a stimulating tour of the psychology of heroism, shedding light on what heroism and villainy mean to most people and why heroes — both real people and fictional characters — are so vital to our lives.

The authors highlight the Great Eight traits of heroes (smart, strong, selfless, caring, charismatic, resilient, reliable, and inspiring) and outline the mental models that we have of how people become heroes, from the underdog who defies great odds [...] to the heroes who redeem themselves or overcome adversity.

For want of a role model, with deep stirring motivation, the timeless tales of the Hero vs Villain, might never be clearly told. In too many humans dramas, telling the "good guys" from the "bad guys" may not be as easy as checking the color of their hats, or the shape of their lapel pins ...

15 Interesting Motivations for Villains and Heroes

1. Romance.  

2. Revenge.

3. To distinguish oneself.

4. To fit in/gain acceptance.

5. Justice.

6. Greed.

7. Fear.

8. Desperation.

9. Social cohesion.

10. A desire to better oneself.

11. A desire to better humanity and/or society.

12. Curiosity/search for knowledge.

13. A desire to gain power to achieve a goal.

14. To escape one’s destiny.

15. To achieve one’s destiny.

Take the lead in Breaking Bad, and the father from Malcom in the Middle  -- same actor, with different motivations.  

And what a world of difference those different motivations make. Same person, different stories. Such is the stuff of Life. We often take on take on differing roles, depending on the size of the stages, we must traverse in our individual domains.

Now if only we could make real world villains, live up to their innate potential. And make our tarnished Heroes do all the admirable things they once promised to do.

Then all would be right in the world again, now wouldn't it?

Or so the story goes ... but alas Life is often more complex than "the stories" we use to simplify it, and to model it by.


Villains and Heroes?

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