Having trouble writing that desperately villainous character?
Here are ten things every villain needs to avoid – from the mouth of the greatest villain the world has ever known!
[Editor’s note – I snuck into the Academy of Ultimate Villainy last week for the lecture on Villainy 101 and barely managed to escape with my life and notes! Enjoy!]
Welcome to Villainy 101. Those of you gathered here are some of the world’s most promising students of villainy. You are here to learn from the best.
Your instructors (whose names will remain anonymous to preserve the element of suspense and secrecy that every good villain employs) are renowned as the world’s greatest, most nefarious, dastardly, and malevolent practitioners of all things treacherous, deadly, and self serving. If the heroes knew that this gathering were taking place, they would undoubtedly launch an attack attempting to destroy the pinnacle of villainy forever!
Such an attack would fail of course, because we have taken every precaution, placing the most desperately evil henchmen in our employ at every available entrance and exit except the cat door which is so small no hero could possibly use it for entry…
Ahem, thank you Mr. Speaker. Let’s proceed shall we? Ten things a villain should avoid.
1) Grandiose speeches
Mr. Speaker has provided us with several good examples in his opening remarks of this common villainous fault. We all know that evil villains are wholly self centered. We love to hear ourselves speak – after all, we are the greatest people in the world! Who better to listen to?
This tendency, however, can become dangerous, if we allow ourselves to get too carried away. The history of villainy is full of the epitaphs of noble villains who when poised on the threshold of victory were carried away by their own eloquence and allowed the protagonist to escape! As an evil villain, you must hold back the tide of rhetoric until the opportune moment.
2) The info download
Mr. Speaker was also villainous enough to demonstrate this error for us today. “Such an attack would fail, of course, because we have taken every precaution…”
Authors (good *shudder* people that they are!) often assign to villains the unenviable task of blurting out the most obvious sorts of hints and telltale giveaway signs to advance the plot.
Often the info download is encased in a grandiose speech. Avoid both at all costs. The info download is the author’s less than subtle method of informing both the reader and the protagonist of every detail of your villainous plot/fortress/or defense mechanisms. The golden rule of villainy is silence!
3) “I’m going to kill your girl friend!”
Oh please. Not again. If there ever was a more overused villainous tactic, I have yet to hear of it. The essence of evil villainy is creativity. If you can’t think of anything more creative than threatening the hero’s love interest, then you belong in the ranks of dimwitted evil henchmen not at the head of the line. Enough said.
4) “Well, well, well. What have we here?”
Is there something sinister about this repetition? Well, well, well… If one of you graduates of this villainous academy ever uses this insipid line, I shall personally pay you an unpleasant visit, burn your diploma, and subject you to the most painful and regrettable punishments that a student of villainy can imagine.
5) The C.C.C. – Clever Comeback Combat
Never ever engage the hero in a clever comeback challenge. It does not matter how many degrees you have earned in evil wit and insultery, the hero will always be wittier, cleverer, and sharper.
[Settle down there. Order. Order, if you please! The next person to interrupt gets sent to the dragon!]
Now, the art of short sharp comebacks belongs to the author who inevitably bestows it upon the hero, not the villain. According to the 2011 Authorial Manual, authors are simply not allowed to endow the villain with clever comebacks.
And try as we might, no manner of threatening has yet induced the author to give up the clever comeback key. You simply must accept it as a fact of life and remember to never engage in a clever comeback combat. Inevitably, the hero uses c.c.c. as a distraction and it is a short step and a drop kick from there to utter ruin!
Naturally, we take pleasure in victory. Having succeeded against all odds – the authors are out to get us, you know – the moment that triumph is at hand, we cannot help but gloat!
However, the number one rule of gloating is don’t gloat until the hero is good and dead… and buried for a week. Heroes are a tenacious breed. They are capable of getting out of the worst possible scrapes and surviving situations and blows that would down you or me in a minute…
I said no more interruptions! I know, I know, it’s not fair.
Authors play favorites. And villains, unfortunately, are always handed the short end of the stick! So until you are absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, convinced that the hero and all of his (or her) friends are dead, then you must refrain from gloating in victory!
7) The evil chuckle
This is almost more cliched than threatening the hero’s girl friend! “I’m going to destroy the entire world and you can’t stop me, mwhahaha!”
Seriously. Who laughs like that? There are very few villains who can carry off a true evil laugh without sounding like a Disney wantabe villain. Unless you are utilizing the insane approach, DO NOT LAUGH! This is yet another technique employed by authors to make villains appear less than we are.
8) “Look behind you…”
*shudders* This single line predicts woe and disaster for the villain. There are two common courses of action employed when the hero suddenly pulls this grenade from his pocket. Both should be avoided.
The first is simply to scoff. The hero is using a distraction technique. Just ignore him. This will likely get you killed. Heroes know that we know this is a distraction technique and have long since abandoned it as such. In fact, they have removed it from the Hero’s Handbook of Subtle Trickery and Deceptive Distraction!
So, the second option is to believe that the hero is telling the truth (I know it seems ridiculous, but heroes seem to like that sort of thing, for some reason!) whereupon the only course of action is immediate and unconditional surrender. This will likely get you killed as well.
Therefore, I suggest another option. The instant those lines come out of the hero’s mouth, shoot him, stab him, whatever… Just kill him. Then employing evasive maneuver 3, stop, drop, and roll, and come up shooting whatever assailant was behind you. The key to success in this action, is speed!
9) Evil henchmen
If ever there was a dark blot on the history of villainy, it was on those who fill the ranks of evil henchmen. Why is it, that there are so many dumb evil henchmen? One would think – statistically speaking – that the hero would get a dumb sidekick every now and then, and a really clever man would choose to enlist in our ranks!
As an evil villain, your responsibility is to choose carefully who you allow in your employ. The destruction of the world rest upon your hiring decisions! Demand resumes, check references, use I.Q. Tests!
And make sure that your evil henchmen can fight! Most evil henchmen have no more fighting skills than a wet noodle! Utilize rigorous training techniques. Instruct your men in the art of war, strategy, and treachery. And if ever the phrase, “Duh, I don’t know,” emits from the mouth of one of your men, send him to the dragon!
10) The Elaborate Trap
I know that when one has little to do besides plan the destruction of the world, the death of all who stand in the way, and one’s own subsequent aggrandizement, it is easy to become carried away in planning ridiculously elaborate traps for the hero.
Elaborate traps are doomed to failure. No matter how many hours you have spent in diagramming or how many engineers you have employed, the hero is always instantly able to spot the single trip wire that can be undone or the one bolt that will cause the whole thing to fall apart.
Believe it or not, but in studying the annals of villainy, I have discovered that the single event responsible for the failure of most elaborate traps is that the villain suddenly decides that, much as he would like to watch the hero being blown to bits, his plot is so time sensitive that he has to leave to bring the final pieces into place. Not only that, but all of the guards have to come with him. The few guards who are left behind inevitably fall to either drink or fighting, and the hero escapes without breaking a sweat!
This is an insult to the evil name of villainy. No elaborate traps, if you please. Beheading, the firing squad, and the fire pit are all sure methods of dispatching of the hero. But if you must employ an elaborate trap, then at least stick around to make sure it works!
Ah, yes, thank you evil Villain Instructor (whose name shall remain anonymous) for your inspiring speech. Alright class, tune in next time to hear your villainous instructor speaking on what a villain should do!