On Heroes and Villains


When I was in Grade Ten, I performed in a one act play. I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was called. Checks Google. It was called ‘He Done Her Wrong‘ by Anita Bell. Thank you, Google. All hail.

Anyway, it was a melodrama full of all the classic tropes with heroes and villains. I played a villain called Fleetwood Dashaway. Complete with tophat, cape and twirly moustashe. He was a very fun character to play, equally shallow and cardboardy as the rest of the cast. It worked because of its nostalgic approach to vaudville theater.

Saturday morning cartoons also were equally resplendent with evil villains and good heros.

He-man battled Skeletor. Inspector Gadget thwarded Doctor Claw. The Superfrieds versus The Legion of Doom

These work because they are fantastical and larger than life. We suspend our beliefs because in this kind of comic universe, evil can exist for its own merit.

In more contemporary fiction, we don’t have the luxury of pure evil or pure good. While we see many a flawed hero, we rarely see the same complexity in villains. All this, despite knowing the best stories are those where the villain’s backstory is fleshed out. Most importantly:

Every villain is a hero in his own mind.
~ Tom Hiddleston

Now, there are many kinds of Heroes and many kinds of Villains, each with their own character arcs, motivations and journeys. I totally recommend getting lost in exploring them:

So, with a MWAH-HA-HA and an UP, UP, AND AWAY, I challenge you to spend more time making your heroes less than perfect and your villains more redeemable.

Written by Writer’s Carnival Team Member

Doug Langille

me256x256Causing a ruckus as a member of the IT leadership team at the Nova Scotia Community College since 1999, Doug is one of the primary technology architects for the college’s IT platform, managing teams responsible for many key systems. He is a husband, father and shameless technophile living the good life in Nova Scotia. He’s also a grandfather, bird keeper, dog owner and cat butler.

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