Why Do We Love Villains So Much?

 Why Do We Love Villains So Much?

We, as in the book community, seem to have a love for villains (usually the young, attractive, male variety, but not always).Villains are really what make a book enjoyable, in my opinion. I love reading about a complex villain, who has motives going against the main character’s. WHY do they want to do this? A story without a villain would just be BORING. The hero would easily reach their goal, and who cares about a story without any obstacles? A good, interesting antagonist opposing a strong protagonist makes a book perfect.

What makes us like the evil characters in the books, the ones we are supposed to hate but sometimes end up secretly rooting for?

  • They are on the other side of the love triangle.

This is the reason I think of first while thinking about this topic. The other male in the love triangle is weak/unattractive, and so we start shipping the female character with the attractive villain. Think of the Darkling. SO many people are utterly in love with him and ship Alarkling.

  • We like them over the main character.

Our main character is weak/boring/annoying. We might not care about the main character and his/her goal, and root for the villain to win and just KILL HIM/HER ALREADY! (Or is this just me. Oops.)

  • We feel sympathy for them.

Maybe they had a rough childhood, or an event happened that changed them and helped them along their path of VILLAINY. We feel bad for these characters, and just want to cuddle them and feed them chocolate and keep them safe.

  • Their motives are understandable.

Maybe they want revenge on the character that killed their mother!! I don’t know, but when the villain’s motives are relatable, it makes it easier to sympathize for them, or support them.

  • They are complex, mysterious, and/or interesting.

A well-fleshed out, complex villain is so fun to read about. It’s also fun to see the villain and think, They’re actually not as terrible on the inside as they look on the outside. They’re secretly good at heart, I can tell, if you’d just give them a chance!!

There are some villains that I just HATE with all of my heart and will never ever like at all (Umbridge…). There are a lot that I actually like, and while I may not support them and want them to win, I still think they are a good, well written antagonist.

Villains I hate that are SO EVIL:

Umbridge (Harry Potter)

Voldemort (Harry Potter)

Levana (The Lunar Chronicles)

Clancy (The Darkest Minds trilogy)

The Commandant (An Ember in the Ashes)

The King of Adarlan (Throne of Glass)

Villains I like and want to read/love reading from their POV:

the Darkling (The Grisha trilogy)

Victor (Vicious)

Aeduan (Truthwitch)

Warner (Shatter Me)

Do you have a soft spot for villains? Who are some of your favorites?

Thanks for reading!



19 thoughts on “Why Do We Love Villains So Much?

  1. I knew at a young age that I liked the villains better. I don’t like every villain of course. They have to have a well rounded personality/interesting background. My favorite type of villains are people like Regina and Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time and President Snow from The Hunger Games too name but a few.


  2. Great post! I love analysing the villain in a story because, if the character is written well, they’re often convinced that what they’re doing is the right thing. I’m two books into the Grisha trilogy and I love The Darkling, I keep hoping he’ll redeem himself because I ship him and Alina so much!


  3. Well, a good villain makes a story/book awesome. I mean, we can’t appreciate a story as much as we should if the villain was wear and meh. One of the reasons I didn’t really like Their Fractured Light.

    I like the thought of an anti-hero, and one of the best examples would be Snape.

    BTW, I hated Warner. I just couldn’t understand him or even get his role. I liked Adam better.


  4. I hate Umbridge so much that I won’t watch Order of the Phoenix.

    I loved the Darkling until Bardugo made him feel undeemable in the last book. I like the Commandant because she’s interesting.
    I also like the twins from ADSOM and Rhys from ACOTAR even though I dong think he’s a villain.


  5. Sometimes villains are more three-dimensional and with better fleshed out backstory than the naive hero is and that makes me love them. However, every time they are just those cardboard cutouts of what a villain is supposed to be, I don’t even look at them twice. I think you’ve explained it great in your post! Warner is definitely someone I loved!


  6. I LOVE VILLAINS! And The Darlking’s story was one of my favorites. I personally was a huge Nikolai fan *wiggly eyebrows* but I thought the Darkling had one of the most compelling stories. I think what makes villains so interesting is that they have DEPTH. Reasons for their actions and asshole-ishness. There is tragedy, and angst, and they top it all off with witty one liners and great clothing. They’re everything we want in a character ^_^ THEY ARE INTERESTING.


  7. While I can’t say I liked The Darkling as much if at all I can understand the need for villains in stories and yes there are some that I just can’t stop thinking about. When I think of villains I think of Joe from You by Caroline Kepnes because throughout the story I kept having to remind myself that he was a creep and I shouldn’t feel sorry for him. If you haven’t read that book I would definitely recommend it. Interesting topic 🙂


  8. I DEFINITELY have a soft spot for villains. And like you said, the villains you listed that you “hate” I do too–but I LOVE them as villains. I actually love reading from villain’s POVs so much, and that’s a big reason why I love The Young Elites by Marie Lu ❤


  9. Great post!! I’m sort of in the middle haha. I love Warner and the Darkling, although at the moment I don’t ship Alarkling. Maybe that will change when I read Ruin and Rising. I hate Umbridge, Levana, and the King of Adarlan too! They’re terrible. XD


  10. My emo self definitely agrees with you. I always love getting to know the antagonist. He/she, like you said, is the one that keeps the story interesting. The more I hate him/her, the better. The antagonist is the one that’s so evil it’s cool. I don’t even know. Like I said — emo.


  11. This is such a great topic! I agree with you that we need and love villains so much in stories! I think that my favorite has to be Warner, though. I didn’t read from his POV since I didn’t read all of the novellas -but I want to!!-, but I still really, really, REALLY love him ❤


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