If we’re being honest, one character is always the most fun to develop when you’re writing a new story. It must be the main character, right? The person you’re going to follow throughout the story, the one that means the most to you?
Nope. It’s the villain.
Villains are just FUN. You get to creep into the darkest corners of your writer brain and conjure up the most unashamedly detestable human being you possibly can.
This is how we look when we begin creating a villain.
But sometimes, it can be difficult to to make sure they’re fully believable humans. So here are the nine elements that have helped me out when developing these terrible people …
1) Hero’s Shadow:
The relationship between the main character and the villain is the most important one in the story, because it is the source of all conflict. Without the villain causing trouble, the main character wouldn’t have the chance to be a hero. Without that trouble, the main character’s weaknesses wouldn’t be pressured, which means they couldn’t change. The villain is a condensed and magnified embodiment of the inner weakness that the hero is battling. They’re the SHADOW of hero, the example of what will happen if the main character goes down the wrong path. Both are facing the same problem in different ways. For example Darth Vader and Luke.
2) Conflict Strategy:
In the pursuit of stopping the hero from achieving their goal, the villain is going to attack them on 1) a personal relationship level 2) a societal level and 3) an inner level. They’re going to attack the people around them, they’re going to cause consequences for the community surrounding them, they’re going to get into their head and plague them. Because the hallmark of a villain is that they’re the person who’s perfectly suited to attack the hero’s greatest weakness. Villains should have a distinct set of tactics to destroy the main character, on at least two levels.
This one’s expected. Of course a villain has flaws, it’s in the job description. But flaws do not equate to ‘He kicks turtles every morning before breakfast’ or 'His favorite hobby is butterfly stomping’ or, more within the realm of possibility, “He wants to kill the hero”. These are evil actions, NOT flaws. A lot of villains, particularly in movies, will be given horrible things to do without any explanation for WHY they do them. And it’s pretty easy to give them reasons: just give them human weaknesses! That’s it. Whether the actions they take are as small as theft or as big as blowing up a planet, these actions stem from recognizable HUMAN FLAWS. So like a main character, a villain needs mental and moral flaws.
Yup, even Maleficent has human flaws. And she’s a dragon part of the time.
4) Counter Goal:
All characters exist because they want something. And what do villains want? To get whatever the main character wants (for very different reasons), to stop them from reaching their goal, or another goal that directly conflicts with the hero’s goal. As long as that big tangible thing they want locks hero and villain in battle, you’re good. Think 101 Dalmatians: Cruella and the good guys are fighting over the puppies.
5) Surface Motivations:
Why is it that villains always have a team of followers? Because villains never outright state their true motivations. They always have a cover story, and that cover will paint them as righteous. Villains want to look like the good guy. So their real Hidden Motivations are defended by twisting perceptions of Good & Evil, by portraying evil acts in a positive light, by indulging their followers selfish emotions and desire to feel like “one of the good guys. "
Take Gothel for example: she’s a loving mother who wants to protect her daughter from all the world’s darkness. (Sure you do, Flynn stabber.)
Surface Motivations never stand up to logical scrutiny and a functioning moral compass, but giving your bad guy a compelling argument against your good side always makes things more interesting, which brings us to …
6) Counter Statement:
The main character needs to learn some kind of truth that will enable them to fix their lives, overcome their weaknesses, banish their ghosts. It’s whatever statement about "how to live a better life” you want to prove with your story. Your villain has other ideas. They don’t agree with that statement, have other beliefs about living life well, and represent an argument against it. For example, Voldemort: “there is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."
Although your argument isn’t very convincing, Voldy. I mean, you’re living in the back of some guy’s head.
This is everything on the surface of the villain. The way they speak, the way they look, the way they act, their role in life, their status and power. This is the facade they project for the world to see, a calculated effort to control how they are perceived. This is closely connected to that surface want, because that surface is what they wish people to believe about them. Over time, the reader and the other characters are going to be able to see through this mask and see what it conceals. My favorite Disney example of this is Mother Gothel: on the surface she’s this bubbly mom who loves Rapunzel and wants to protect her from the harshness of the world.
You can think of this as the text …
8) Hidden Motivation:
And this is the subtext. That surface motivation they want the world to believe is a mask concealing their true motivation, which is always rooted in their flaws, selfishness, and skewed beliefs.
9) Ghosts, Justification, Self-Obsession:
These three are closely related, so they get counted together. Like main characters, villains have GHOSTS: events from their backstories that knocked their worldviews out of alignment, that marked the beginning of their weaknesses, that haunt them still. Because these happened, the originally benign person allowed themselves to turn into someone who could occupy the job of "villain” in a story. Usually, these events are genuine misfortunes and are worthy of sympathy, just like the ghosts of a main character. Think of Voldemort growing up in an orphanage talking to snakes.
BUT! When it comes to ghosts, the major difference between a hero and a villain is HOW THEY DEAL with these unpleasant past events. Both have suffered, but react to suffering in very different ways. A villain will be consumed by these events, obsessed with the real (or imagined) persecution or disadvantage they’ve endured, convinced that all personal responsibility is nullified by their status of injured party. Past tragedies become a talisman that grants immunity from decency.
This scene from A Series of Unfortunate Events sums it up. An adult makes an excuse for a terrible person by saying he had a terrible childhood. And Klaus replies:
Yes, maybe they’ve both lived through tragedy. But THE KIDS aren’t hurting others because of it.
Because villains, who are constantly victimizing heroes, are completely convinced that THEY are the true victims here. No matter what they do, no matter what they are, they blame everything on that ghost, whether it was another person, society, or circumstances. And later they blame the hero, who they see as the REAL villain. For example, Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
“It’s not my fault, I’m not to blame”
So! WHY are villains like this?
SELF-OBSESSION! Yup, villains spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about themselves and their plights and their plots. Think of any villain and it’s not hard to see the inherent narcissism behind everything they do. Like willingness to take action is the nonnegotiable trait of a main character, self-obsession is the trait that all villains seem to share.
So! Developing villains in this way has worked out for me so far. If it looks like it might be helpful for you, give it a try.
And in the spirit of creating someone to torment our main characters and ruin their lives, here’s one more maniacal laugh for the road:
I love how some people seems to think Ephemera is secretly evil-succumb to darkness-related to Xehanort -type of character just because he have a silver hair lol. Can’t blame you, I thought the same when the first time seeing Ephemer, silver hair character are always look suspicious in every kingdom hearts xD
thank god he’s still a nice character (at least for now)
I don’t know how many people know about this particular TAZ Theory but I discovered it last night in the TAZ Subreddit. There are thread discussions about this here and here. There could be more but these were the two I found.
In summary, the theory in general pertains to the fact that Angus might not be all that he seems, and that he might be a dragon in disguise. Specifically a Silver Dragon. Under the cut because this came out really long! (Don’t worry there’s a tldr at the bottom)
Ushijima Wakatoshi may be an antagonist, but he is not a malicious person
@shiratorizawa-headcanons’ recent post reignited the fervour and indignation I feel about popular fanon mischaracterisations of Ushijima, so here we go.
First thing’s first. Ushijima is an antagonist. That much is clear. He is clearly intended to provide opposition to the main characters of the series, pushing them to grow. Their goal has to be accomplished through defeating him.
However, antagonist is not synonymous with evil, or “bad person”. L from Death Note is the antagonist to Light Yagami, but I’m sure everyone knows who poses more of a danger to society between the pair of them.
More importantly, I feel the need to clarify and debunk popular fanon interpretations of Ushijima.
“You should have gone to Shiratorizawa” is a joke that probably everyone who watches Haikyuu!! knows. It’s gone from a slightly funny meme to a stale, overused, tasteless joke. While I do not condemn the use of it as a joke, it has affected the way people view Ushijima’s character.
And is it really accurate or relevant? Name one instance where Ushijima has actually physically said the words “You should have gone to Shiratorizawa.” to Oikawa. When? Yes, he has said that “He should have gone to Shiratorizawa”. To Hinata and Kageyama. And his reason? A powerhouse team like Shiratorizawa that actually makes it to nationals and has a chance of winning would be more beneficial to a setter of Oikawa’s calibre. There is nowhere in canon where he has stalked, harassed and haggled Oikawa, begging or forcing him to go to Shiratorizawa. All that is baseless fanon bullshit. There’s literally no canon evidence suggesting that Ushijima even thinks about Oikawa outside of volleyball competitions.
I’ll admit that Ushijima did tell Oikawa, “You chose the wrong path.” and that did cross the line. That does not, however, automatically make him a creepy, overbearing, obsessive stalker. People are allowed to interpret fiction differently (as a literature student I’m more than aware of that). But Ushijima’s words were an act of concern, rather than coercion or violence.
What people need to understand is that Ushijima, while a talented player, is terrible at predicting and understanding the effects his words and actions might have on people. He is a blunt, straightforward and honest person who says what is on his mind. The reason he feels that Oikawa should have gone to Shiratorizawa is because he respects Oikawa’s abilities as a player and sees Oikawa’s potential. His way of showing it might be odd, but it is precisely because he respects Oikawa as an opponent that he questions Oikawa’s choice. To Ushijima, being at Shiratorizawa would allow for Oikawa to fulfil more of his potential (of course, the validity of that belief is questionable considering the treatment of Semi Eita, but that is another argument to consider) He honestly just wanted to warn Oikawa not to “make the same mistake” again without realising that he was basically rubbing salt on Oikawa’s wound + being offensive by telling Oikawa that the decision he’s based the past three years of his life around is wrong, because he genuinely wants to see Oikawa fulfil his potential as a player.
Ushijima’s intentions are not malicious. He respects his opponents despite his thoughts on their abilities (or lack thereof), and when he realises that he’s offended someone he’s quick to apologise (i.e. when Hinata questioned Ushijima calling Seijoh “infertile soil”. Ushijima sweated nervously and apologised for causing offence.) Even Oikawa and Iwaizumi, the two characters who dislike Ushijima the most, acknowledge that “he’s genuinely being sincere” when Ushijima wishes them good luck in their final high school tournament.
Ushijima isn’t the type to deliberately rile up his opponents. He doesn’t look down on them either. Up until Hinata’s appearance in his life, he’s competed against no one but himself mentally. And when Ushijima questions Hinata on being an unskilled and short player? He’s not insulting Hinata for that either! His first impression of Hinata gave him high expectations - a challenge he looked forward to facing, and when he realised Hinata’s abilities were much lower than what he expected, he was genuinely curious, because Hinata had spoken so boldly (about beating HIM, a top 3 ace, and going to nationals) before!
Ushijima states that “baseless self-confidence is something I dislike”, so he certainly does not exhibit that himself. He obviously doesn’t expect someone he acknowledges (Hinata, in case I’m not being clear here) to be arrogant, because in his eyes, an opponent he acknowledges and respects should have a “good” attitude just like his. He does not dislike Hinata himself, but is nonetheless infuriated by Hinata’s “arrogance”, because Ushijima works hard. Yes. Here’s the thing. Contrary to popular belief, Ushijima did not get his accomplishments handed to him on a silver platter. He works hard to become a strong volleyball player. Shiratorizawa’s image of him is “The Super Volleyball Maniac”. He wasn’t just naturally good at it. He spent time and effort practising and improving his skills, just like all the other hardworking characters (Oikawa Tooru) you worship.
Remember that Ushijima does not have the luxury of viewing the events of the manga (or anime) from an outsider’s perspective. He does not know of Hinata Shouyou and his struggles. All Ushijima knows about Hinata is that 1) The boy showed him up at Shiratorizawa and proclaimed that Karasuno would defeat Shiratorizawa and go to nationals and 2) Hinata Shouyou does not exhibit the skills necessarily to back up that statement. Ushijima literally has no idea that Hinata had no proper volleyball team or training up until last year, so it’s entirely within his rights to be annoyed that someone with such crappy skills (which Ushijima would attribute to slacking off/not working hard enough) would claim that winning against Shiratorizawa was so easy. He could’ve been nicer about it, but hey, he wasn’t that hostile to Hinata off the court, as you can see with the training camp arc. At the end of the match he acknowledged Hinata’s abilities as a player. Then in the manga, he (and Tendou) was shocked that his coach did not see Hinata as a worthy player to invite to the Miyagi First Year Training Camp, and he encouraged Hinata to keep working hard, “What are you doing standing there?”
Obviously, people are allowed to dislike characters, and Ushijima has done/said things to grate on people’s nerves (as a Seijoh stan and Iwaizumi lover, his “infertile soil” comments do irk me at times). Nonetheless, your personal feelings towards him do not indicate that he is as bad person (especially not a stalker or a rapist, gosh) canonically.
As the cap to the 10+ hours day of rehearsal, I stepped inside a walk-in-closet-turned-recording-booth to record Wheatley’s lines where he taunts Chell just before the boss fight. Our stage manager, Ryan, filmed some of this work in progress while Patrick handled the recording!
I believe this is the third and best take we did of all the lines.
Everyone seems to interpret the alignment system differently, so I figured I might as well share my current views on the subject.
Lawful Good: Truth, justice, and/or a code of ethics is the best way to do good for people. Evildoers must answer for their crimes.
Neutral Good: I don’t have any particular method of doing so, but I do good in whatever way I can.
Chaotic Good: I will fight for personal rights and freedoms for all people. By any means necessary, I will rebel against those who would subjugate the people, and crush any evils.
Lawful neutral: There are some basic rules and/or laws which should never be broken, but aside from that you may do as you want. However, order must be maintained.
True Neutral: I care about myself and my loved ones. If I’m fighting, it’s either for them or my own gain.
Chaotic Neutral: My own freedom is the most important thing. Nobody can tell me what to do.
Lawful Evil: Order must be maintained by any means necessary. Those who would oppose the authority who maintains order must be crushed. There are still rules we must follow, but none of them come from an ethical basis.
Neutral Evil: I do evil when I get the chance, but I’m not going out of my way for it.
Chaotic Evil: I live solely for evil acts. Whatever my particular brand of evil is, nothing can stop me from spreading it.