Tag Archive: villain archetypes


Most villains have a reason for being the way they are. The Runner Up is a villain because being left out made him jealous. The Self-Proclaimed Savior suffered a great injustice and is seeking revenge. The Lunatic, however, is just plain crazy.

The Lunatic may have a reason for becoming crazy, but everything they do after they’ve tipped over the edge is devoid of logic and reason. This makes them one of the most dangerous villains of all.  The hero can’t predict what the Lunatic will do next, can’t reason with him or gain leverage. The Lunatic is willing to sacrifice all to hurt the hero–there is no boundary they won’t cross.

One of the best examples is the Joker–not the Jack Nicholson one but the Heath Ledger one. The Joker had no qualms about blowing up buildings, people, and things. Never thought twice about who or what was destroyed in his wake. He was unpredictable, intelligent, and relentless in his pursuit. Beware the Lunatic.

The world is decaying–morally, genetically, intellectually, or some other way–humanity can no longer be left to its own devices. In steps the Self-Proclaimed Savior. Steeped in good intentions, the misguided efforts of the Self-Proclaimed Savior usually work against the free will of the people he is saving. Oftentimes it means the demise or eradication of a species–hence the villain stigma.

My favorite example is Magneto. Our polarizing friend believes that the only way for mutants to be free is to rid the world of humans–the weak link in the genetic chain. Despite his love of mutants, he is willing to sacrifice anyone–mutant or otherwise–for his cause and will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Even his docile attempt to create a new world in Avalon came with many challenges, and well, a villain will almost always default back to his deviant ways when things go wrong.

So beware the villain who claims to be acting in your best interest, they may not be so altruistic after all.

I struggled to find the right term for this Archetype. The Disappointing Seed won out for several reasons which I will discuss after I describe the villain who fits this mold.

The Disappointing Seed is the child (usually a son) who never quite lives up to the parent’s (usually the father) expectations. Often times the child is close friends with someone who better performs to the parent’s expectations, and must compete with his best friend for his father’s affection. The father is typically a villain in his own right possessing intelligence and/or an intensely cruel demeanor. He respect’s the friend’s intelligence, all the while ignorant to the fact that the best friend is in fact the superhero who is his arch-enemy. The superhero eventually destroys the father, leaving the son who never quite lived up to his father’s cunning and cruelty to fill his shoes. Key examples of this are the Osbornes from Spiderman and Red Mist from KickAss.

You may be asking yourself why not use the term “Prodigal Son?” Well, the prodigal son is one who doesn’t share and openly rejects his family’s values. Think a pacifist born into a family who owns a weapons factory.  The Disappointing Seed never rejects the family values, he is merely lacking in some skill or personality trait that is necessary to perform at the same level as the father. Plus, the son almost always makes friends with the hero (unknowingly) which adds the awesome twist of friend against friend.

Stay tuned . . . more Villain Archetypes coming your way!