My Top Five Favorite Villains

Photo credit: Med PhotoBlog on Flickr
So it’s October and I haven’t posted a single tidbit about Halloween or creepy things or even fears for crying out loud, so today I’m going to amend that. With villains. Specifically, my favorite ones. 

To quote one of my favorites listed below (bonus points if you know who), every fairy tale needs a good old fashioned villain. Villains make our protagonists fight for their happy ending, and truth be told, without them, there wouldn’t be much of a story. 

So without further ado, here are my top five favorite villains (in no particular order): 

  1. The Darkling. (The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo) So the Darkling wins my favorite antagonist ever award. He’s got that I know I shouldn’t like you and yet I can’t help it type appeal, he’s powerful, intelligent and best of all, he’s sympathetic. You know he’s horrible and probably a little crazy and yet the thought of him dying is not a happy one. At least, not to me. 

  2. Graceling’s antagonist. (The Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashore) Seeing how a large portion of Graceling is about figuring out who the antagonist is, I’m not going to spoil it and give this person’s name. But I will say this antagonist is twisted in a way that never stops being intriguing, and the more I got to know him, the more I wanted to know more. 

  3. Warner. (The Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi) Ahhhh, Warner. I have to admit, in Shatter Me, I wasn’t 100% sure why Warner had such an enormous fan base—I mean, yes, he was a great villain, but why all the swooning?

    Then I read Destroy Me. And Unravel Me. And now I am 100% in camp swoon over Warner.

    Again, what really drew me to him was the more I read about him, the more I began to understand him and the more he became a sympathetic antagonist. And I find that the more I understand about an antagonist, the harder it becomes to root for his demise, and to me, that’s a good thing. 

  4. Khan. (Star Trek: Into Darkness variety) I’m not going to pretend to be a Trekkie, because I’m not, but if there’s one thing that I love, it’s smart characters—particularly of the ridiculously smart variety. And this is no different for antagonists. So basically that whole Spock/Khan trying to outwit each other bit was my favorite thing ever. (Plus that scene on Kronos? Awesome).

    Back to smart antagonists: the reason I like them so much is because they’re genuinely difficult to beat. They don’t make stupid self-dooming mistakes, and they certainly don’t make it easy on the protagonist, which makes me that much more nervous for the protagonist and that much more desperate to find out how they finally defeat the antagonist.  

  5. Moriarty. (Sherlock variety) Basically everything I said about Khan applies to Moriarty. Except on top of being a genius, he’s crazy eccentric, definitely a tad bit creepy and is totally unpredictable. I’d probably love him for any one of those traits, but combined altogether? Yes, please. 

Who are your favorite villains from books, TV shows, movies, etc. and why? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
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Lesley Whyte said...

I am so with you about the Darkling. I'm genuinely worried that he's going to get killed off in the third book. Leigh Bardugo could kill literally ANY of the others (maybe even all of them) and I wouldn't care, as long as the Darkling lives.

Ava Jae said...

Gahhh I know! Though...I'm attached to a LOT of characters, I must admit. I know chances are likely someone's going to die, and no matter what, I'm probably going to be heartbroken. *sigh*

But yes. I do love the Darkling. Forever and always.

jezzell19 said...


That is all. :D

Ava Jae said...

Ha ha ha ha. :D

And hello, E.J. :)

Jen Donohue said...

Wait, there's a third Graceling book now?!

Hrm, lemme see. Moriarity, I can definitely agree with you. Al Swearengen, in Deadwood (though maybe he's not The Villain, he's also not a Good Guy, per se).

Ava Jae said...

Yes there is! It's titled Bitterblue. I haven't read it yet, but I intend to. :)

I haven't seen Deadwood, but I do like complicated characters and antiheroes, so...

Jen Donohue said...

Now that I'm reading the description of it on Amazon, I wonder if I DID read it. If so, it left the least impression. Hrm....

Ava Jae said...

As I said, I haven't read it yet, so I can't comment. But I enjoyed the first two. :)

Jen Donohue said...

Yes, I loved Graceling and Fire! I do need to investigate Bitterblue further.

I do, however, agree with you on the villain ;)

RoweMatthew said...

I never liked the Moriarty from the new Sherlock. He was just a chav in a suit. I didn't really think Khan was a villain in Star Trek: Into Darkness at all. Their goals conflicted occasionally but that dude with the big arse battleship was clearly the true villain.

Robin Red said...

Cora from Once Upon A Time was a good villain. She embodied all of the villainous traits that previous antagonists had, but she was heartless and ruthless on top of that. She truly inspired fear into me as a viewer.

Ava, have you noticed that all your top villains are male? (unless the secret identity of the villain of the Graceling Trilogy is actually a woman).

Ava Jae said...

Hmm as far as Khan goes, I think there were probably two villains in Star Trek: Into Darkness—what's-his-name and Khan (clearly, one was more memorable than the other). Because it seemed to me that even after the first guy was defeated, they still had a major battle with Khan.

That being said, I guess he could be viewed as a sort of anti-hero? I suppose it's up for debate, but as his goals conflicted with the protagonists goals, I still view him as an antagonist.

Ava Jae said...

You know, without commenting on mystery villain, I didn't notice that until you said so! But looking at my bookshelf, I suspect that largely has to do with the fact that most (not all!) of the villains from books, TV shows and movies that I've seen or read had male villains. So odds won out, I suppose.

If I was doing a top ten list, I would probably include Umbridge. Because who wouldn't include Umbridge? *shudder*

Ava Jae said...

It is a pretty fantastic villain... :)

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