I’m seeing a lot of people saying ‘I hated lars initially, he was an asshole! he was created as an antagonist!’ like I understand that he has been mean but I never really saw him as an antagonist? He wasn’t very nice but also wasn’t mean for the sake of being mean, instead I think a lot of his issues stemmed from his own insecurities, which we kinda saw from the beginning. His feelings for Sadie, his attitude towards the cool kids, and his treatment towards Steven all really centered around the fact that he didn’t think they could actually care about him and like him the way he was, hence him pushing people away and defending himself.
It even became literal with him running away to hide instead of helping Sadie, because he has never been able to put himself at risk like that. And sure, it wasn’t really nice or fun, but it felt really…honest? While Sadie and the cool kids are all great and fun characters that are pretty different from how teenagers usually are portrayed, I think Lars has been a really strong contrast from that. The cool kids are so sure of themselves, which is why they’re so good at lifting up people around them and expressing themselves. No matter what Steven and Sadie and the cool kids say or do, Lars couldn’t really act the same way until HE confronted his feelings and learned to move past them and grow.
Turning pink could honestly be a physical representation of that growth, because it was Steven’s fear and choices that finally allowed him to express himself. So I don’t think Lars was ever a villain, and while he wasn’t as nice and fun as the other young people in Beach City, I think it still made sense and didn’t necessarily make his character unlikeable. He has just been a scared teenager who is too insecure about himself to see that those around him aren’t perfect and don’t judge him for his imperfections, and once Steven made him listen and understand that, he could finally learn to be brave and risk himself for the people he cares about, because now he knows they won’t turn on him.
I see a lot of people saying this was his redemption arc, but I disagree. I don’t think he needed a redemption arc, because he didn’t need to be redeemed, he just needed to grow and learn to love himself so he could love the people around him too.