Villain, Villain… Who’s Got the Villain?



When it comes to villains, I tend to get a bit philosophical.

Sorry, not talking about the rabbit hole reference or metaphysics.

When does the bad guy become the villain? When does a villain become a hero? Or an anti-hero? Does he ever? How do we decide who the villain is? And, one of my all-time favorite questions: When does a victim become a villain?

Aside from movies with characters like Darth Vader and Voldemort, Freddy Kruger and Norman Bates, how do we know who the “real” villain is?

We watch. We get pulled into the film. We feel.

I could argue President Snow isn’t the real villain in The Hunger Games but I’d get moldy plum tomatoes thrown at me so I’ll say he’s not the only one in those movies.

In The Matrix, the big bad is Agent Smith. (So says everyone.)

I beg to differ.

He just wants a life, poor bloke, and humans are kinda…gross. Can you blame him for wanting to rid the world of us? I jest.

However, we did create his kind. Isn’t it ultimately our responsibility he exists in the first place? It’s a stretch to blame us completely (and where’s the fun in that?) but he is a program, a machine, AI. And one, I might add, that’s just doing its job.

Agent Smith, a villain? Sure. But I think there’s a big bad baddie badder than him.

Cypher’s human, with a soul, and, presumably, a conscience yet chooses to murder all the humans who know and trust him.

He’s a bit too happy pulling the plug on his friends, to be honest. He’s creepily cheerful. Or cheerfully creepy. Whatever. *shudders* He makes a deal to do them in, without hesitation, in exchange for being plugged back into the Matrix to live out his life in ignorance (with a virtual steak and some serious cash). Bad? Definitely. Evil? Yes. Villain? Not sure. I think so but others might not agree.

Smith is obvious. Very clear in his intentions. He’s out to get these rebels who are trying to free mankind from enslavement.

Cypher is insidious. He hangs with the group. He lives, eats, sleeps, and, seemingly, works with them. Until we learn that he doesn’t. He’s planning to kill them and turn Morpheus over to the enemy. Basically, he’s a despicable, double-crossing, treacherous traitor.

Dante saves a special place in hell for traitors—the ninth circle (where the most wicked of the sinners reside).

I wouldn’t enjoy Smith popping up all over the place trying to kill me but, frankly, I’d rather see the knife coming, you know? Et tu, Brute?

What makes a villain? Their degree of evil or the conflict they create? Is a villain simply someone who stands in the way of the hero? If so, both Agent Smith and Cypher qualify. Not to mention all the minions (“Sentinels” in The Matrix). Which brings me to another point…

Sentinels? Stormtroopers? Death Eaters? Peacekeepers? Orcs? Are they villains? Must a character have intelligence or hold some sort of power (or all the power) in order to be considered a villain? So many questions, so little space.

I’ll leave you to ponder. Or perhaps just drop a rude comment below. No, please don’t do that. I’ll send my villainous minions after you. I have hundreds and they know where you blog.


Villain 2016 Banners


This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows and Satin#Villains2016

Don’t miss my next installment of *cue music* VILLAINS2016! (I’ll link to it here after I post because I am but a feeble, non-techie human and do not have power yet over the Matrix.)

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to get all philosophical with my entries. Seriously, thank you for letting me play. (Also, she made all the beautiful banners you’ll see around. *holds up ‘applause’ sign*)


15 thoughts on “Villain, Villain… Who’s Got the Villain?

  1. You’ve made me want to see The Matrix again. It’s been several years since I’ve watched it, and you’ve raised such interesting questions that I need to find it ASAP. (Tonight I’ll be digging through my husband’s DVDs.)

    Smith is the obvious villain and, like you, he’s a villain with whom I can cope. (Always easier to see the knife coming.) But Cypher – ouch! I think that’s the worst kind of villain.

    Thanks so much for joining the Villain Blogathon with your first (and excellent) analysis. Looking forward to your second one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Great #Villains2016 Blogathon: Day 1 – Silver Screenings

  3. This post is great, Sarah! I find the most compelling Villain to be the one who acts out of a sense of righteousness for his cause. They actually believe that they are doing the right thing..and that is what motivates them. Very difficult to like or hate them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree with you – the straight-forward villains are not the most interesting ones. Melisandre, the villain in the first Kushiel’s trilogy, is complex and fascinating. She’s doing amazing harm, but all in the service of a future she believes in. I know I’ve read books with other really complex villains in them, I’m just blanking on them right now. In my opinion, the best ones are the characters where you can really sympathize with their twisted logic – even as you understand how horrible it is. It’s torture to read – because *I* always want the villain to see the light and convert to good. It makes it difficult when I play any RPGames with my husband. (Which I don’t do often.) I hate killing evil things (in the games) because I always hope there’s a bit of good in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! I love to sit and think on this villain stuff. In my big books, I’ve tried to make sure every villain has justification for their behavior. Ira was forced from her home to fulfill her duty to her clan, and then due to circumstances beyond her control, she lost her power and was ultimately exiled. She deserves to go home, doesn’t she? She’s paid her dues!

    I’m going to say motive goes a long way toward making someone a villain. Is the motive selfish and will the means inflict devastation to others? Then yeah, total villain material.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I wouldn’t argue with you over Snow. I always thought Coin was the real villain and that Snow was just another victim, albeit a much better fed one. His crime was trying to hold his society together, okay and hold a little power too, but Coin’s interest were purely in self interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post, Sarah. I dare say there’s a little of the villain in all of us, from somebody’s point of view. Unfortunately it is too long ago since I watched the Matrix to even remember who the characters are. Well I do remember a little of Mr Smith and Morpheus, so I guess Cypher is the main guy, right? Strangely I have little recollection of him. I haven’t watched the Hunger Games either, so can’t go there. But I have read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the the Big Bad Wolf definitely got a bad rap!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A character like Agent Smith acts as the villain, but he’s more of a proxy for the real villains, the machines. If we were just presented with them, then it’d be difficult to accept them as villains because there are too many, and Neo would need to be in direct contact with them. Same as Darth Vader stands in for the whole Empire. So I think that sometimes characters aren’t truly ‘villainous’ because they’re provided someone for the protagonist to challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

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