5 Things to Avoid when Writing Villains

Hello folks! It’s August? Yeah, I’m trying to teach down several months that I seemed to have lost so if anyone finds them let me know, I could really use that extra time about now…lol…It’s been crazy busy!

But, enough about that you came here to read a blog post not for me to ramble about my hectic life…haha…Today, I bring you a post on villains that is sort of extra from the series we did on Heroes, Sidekicks, and Villains. So, these are the 5 things we want to avoid, the cliche or just overdone things that get on my nerves. (but maybe not yours *shrugs*)

So, here we go!

1. When the villains are smart and minions are dumb, or the minions are smart and the villain is dumb.

So cliché, and it’s done so much! Especially in movies…it’s like, what? Can there only be one smart bad guy at a time? No! So, a good example of this is Scar from The Lion King, he’s smart, and the hyenas are extremely stupid. Why? I’m not sure…why didn’t Scar just try to recruit some uncontented lions? Seriously, he had to be able to get better help…the dude was extremely smart. But no, he’s stuck with hyenas.

There are so many examples of this…and I’m having a hard time picking any, but a lot of movies have this, especially a lot of kids’ adventure movies, like Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure, Spy Kids, Lego Friends Girls on a Mission….and more.

Now sometimes this is done for comical relief, but other times it’s just like seriously? Let me think of some that are done for comical relief here….Um, Despicable Me (Done well in these movies, just pretty funny!) And I’m drawing a blank…Oh, The Penguins of Madagascar, Dave is just…I love Dave!!! Or the fangs from Wingfeather Saga, some of these guys aren’t the sharpest, but they do great for comical relief at really tense times.

If you want to pull this off a lot of time needs to be dedicated to making sure you aren’t just creating cheesy villains or villain minions that have no brains whatsoever.

2. Where the female villain can only be beaten by a female hero

This stems from our feminist society. Most of the time it’s like these guys can’t beat her for years and then this girl comes along and defeats the evil villain lady. No! I’m not against female villains or female heroes, but when not handled properly they tend to be…annoying.

I don’t think it should matter whether the villain is female or male, the hero shouldn’t have to be the same gender to defeat them. But this rule only applies when the villain or hero is female. The male hero can be defeated by the female villain, and the female hero can defeat the male villain, but not vice versa. This is just not right.

I honestly, don’t care for this politically correct thinking and since I self-publish, it doesn’t matter to me. It should be based on the skills that the hero and villain have not on the genders that they are. So, if you have a male hero and want to have a female villain that he defeats, go for it! Honestly, this side of the political jargon gets on my nerves.

3. Where a villain is defeated way too easily

Like in The Last Jedi…bummer. That ending was too soon!!! Like, what? I hate when this happens, it’s like so cheesy…Hero’s been training for a short amount of time, villains been around forever, one confrontation later the villain is dead and I’m mad because that’s not how life works!

Really, the movie or book takes forever to get to this point, and then the villain is out of commission before we even get to see how evil they really were. Badly done, so make sure you don’t kill your villain A.) too soon and B.) too easily.

4. The part where the villain gushes his whole plan to the hero

This is so cliché! Happens in most superhero movies and even like, medieval movies…basically anytime the villain thinks he has the hero. Then the hero ends up escaping and stopping the villain’s plan because the villain told the hero everything! This makes it way too easy for the hero and has been done so many times!

Honestly, I’m ready for a villain just to stab the hero and go enforce his evil plan! You have him, just kill him! Don’t spill the beans…(or maybe not kill him, but wound him and don’t spill the beans). Just create higher stakes for the hero and let the villain keep his thoughts to himself…who in their right mind spills their evil schemes to the enemy? I know I never would…

5. When the villain has a sad backstory

How does this justify him? Most of the time the heroes have sad backstories too, but they’re not evil. I get that everything is a choice, but I hate the grey area that most villains are standing on these days. This line of he’s bad but he has a reason to be bad! No! What does that teach readers? Oh, I had a lot of pain in my past therefore me being cruel to someone else is justified? No!

I hate these excuses we make for villains. I get that sometimes you need a backstory. Honestly, though give him a better motive. Maybe he lost everything as a child, and no one paid any attention to him and therefore he decided to make everyone lose everything as well! We feel for the villain, but we understand that his choice is wrong…

Make sure if you create a sad backstory for your villain that there is no grey area. Make sure his choices are not justified…because they aren’t! Wrong is wrong no matter what made you choose to do it, it will never be justified…but also, don’t be afraid to make a villain evil simply because he is evil. Power hungry is a good one for this, often used in old books, but a timeless motive that we can all understand. Jealousy is another good one as well.


Okay, here are my thoughts on what we shouldn’t do with villains! Things that make our villains unrelatable or flat or even just downright boring. So many of them are overdone, it’s hard to come up with new ways to do villains, should I do a post on that? Hmm…

I hope you enjoyed this post and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

So, what are some things you hate in villains? Do you agree with me? Should villains gush their plans to the hero? Does that get on your nerves? Let me know in the comments!



Published by Kayti

Hi there, my name is Kaytlin Phillips, but I go by Kayti. I'm a homeschool grad, author, reader, and child of our Gracious King!!! I have an obsession with the written word, or maybe an addiction. Ever since I can remember I have read everything I can get my hands on! I LOVE BOOKS!!! I also love writing and might have a slight obsession with pens and notebooks, don't tell anyone. I also love the smell of old books! And yes, if you're wondering, I talk to myself, I think all bookishly crazy people do...

16 thoughts on “5 Things to Avoid when Writing Villains

  1. I agree with a lot of these…but do have one question about the last one:
    So, I have this character who’s not really a villain…but he’s not necessarily a good guy. His backstory is only briefly touched on in the story, but here’s a small insert:
    “James wasn’t always a pirate. He had a real job, working for the king and queen. Then he met a girl, fell in love, you know how it goes. So he decided to settle down, and move to a small town a bit east of the capital city. Being a married man, having a place of his own–he was doing fine. Just fine. Especially once he had a son of his own. Everything was good. For years they lived as a happy family, together.”
    *imagine a slight pause in the character who’s speaking*
    “Then there was a fire. His wife and son didn’t make it out alive. James turned bitter, ready to escape to the sea. Greed was his focus for life. Seeking anything else that would take his mind off of his guilt and grief. Now he’s doomed to the bottom of the bottle, anything that’d ease the pain of his loss.”

    So if you’re still with me, I’d really like your opinions on this. Would you consider this as justifying his villainous character? Because technically he’s not truly a villain, he’s just sort of a not so great guy trying to get what he wants (in this case it’s the treasure) and he won’t let anything get in his way. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the comment and the question! Let me see if I can help you with this…

      I’d say based on what you’ve said that James is man who has let the bad things in his life make him bitter. He’s let those events harden him instead of grow him. As long as your not portraying what James is doing as okay because of what happened to him, then you not justifying him in the way I was referring to.
      A lot of people do bad things because they have had bad things happen to them, but this should never be help up as an excuse. James is not excused from the things he does because of the pain in his past, but we as readers are able to understand where he is coming from even though his actions are less than respectable. If that makes sense?
      It’s okay for villains to have sad backstories, we just need to make sure that we don’t let that backstory become an excuse or let that excuse justify the actions. Make sure wrong actions come across as just that, no matter the character what is committing the actions they should never come across to a reader as okay because of past events. Sure we can understand where the character is coming from, but we should also understand that the way the character is handling things is wrong.
      I hope that helps, and if you have any follow up questions please let me know! Or if I’m confusing…I can try and come across clearer. 🙂
      Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, it’s slightly annoying when the villain explains his entire plan. But sometimes it’s well-done, in that he leaves something out that is crucial. The character Arsene Lupin does this: he gives “all” the clues just to turn the detectives from the one thing that lets him escape.

    I also really love the Pillar Men in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Jojo is bold and brash, and thinks he’s a step ahead of them, but they’re really two steps ahead of him, but they don’t realize he’s three steps ahead of them! (I don’t know if that makes sense?) It’s a irresistiblly crazy cycle of brains-and-brawn battle. Just. The villains in that show tho. They’re ALL soooo well done. (and Dio especially is aMAYzing. 🥰)

    One villain trope I HATE is the evil-long-lost-twin trope. Ugh. A lot of twin tropes are too overused. But that one’s gotta be the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yeah, the not often used “I’m telling you plan, wait that wasn’t my plan….” that’s a good one! Quite enjoy those!

      Hahaha, slightly confusing but I get what you’re saying.

      Oh, yes! I can’t believe I forgot that one…argh, so overused and just not cool man, not cool. Definitely is one I don’t much care for…lol…


  3. Great points Kayti! Of the stories I’ve read and movies I’ve seen, I think your point #4 is the most cliche. And yet it keeps happening! I’m like, come on storytellers, let’s get more creative!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! (And thank you for stopping by!) Yep, I definitely agree…I know! It’s like come on? Would the villain do that? I don’t think so…*shakes head* Yes! Totally agree!


  4. Awesome points, Kayti! 😀
    I tend to like when the villain has a backstory. But as you said, that can’t justify it. “It can make you bitter or better”, my mom explained when she was teaching us history and we were at Hitler’s story, when his mother had died and it basically made him pretty bitter.
    Same for me about female heros…and female villains. I do enjoy when the girl hero has another gal (whether it’s the villain or not) who she’s not on good terms with, then at the end they somehow reunite and become friends. But not when it’s obviously emphasizing a girl against a girl. That plain annoys me.
    Yes!!! Villains cannot be so utterly dumb as to gush out plans to the hero! But it cracks me up in a nice way when they do that in little kid movies. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Tauriel!!!
      Yes, backstory is fine as long as we are clear that it does not justify the actions. Yes! Exactly, very true!
      Glad you agree with me! Thank you ever so much for reading!!! ❤


  5. GIRL. You completely voiced what I’d vaguely been thinking for a long time with that first point – why on earth would smart villains recruit dumb minions, or why would smart minions let themselves be dragged around by a dumb villain?!!! *thinks hard* *gives up* It just doesn’t make sense LOL. I love that you brought that up. (Yess, the Fangs in WFS at least afford some comic relief. I’ll give them a pass. 😛 )

    Similar to that point, I hate it when guards are stupid. *smh* So often it’s way too easy for the hero to fool or knock out some dumb guards, then get to the real work of fighting the villain. (And then… kill them way too easily after a teensy amount of training. 🤭)

    Really, I could comment on all the points you made and just gush about how much I agree. 😂 This whole post was so very good, Kayti!! ❤ 😁 (And I so agree with you and Vanessa about that last point; we've gotta be careful not to justify the evil done just because of a sad backstory. Amen!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ack, thank you so very much!!! I know? It makes no sense whatsoever! Thank you! (Yes, they can pass…lol…)

      Yes!!! I can’t believe I didn’t think to mention that!!! Ack, that so gets on my nerves! (Yeah….*rolls eyes*)

      Awwww, thank you so very much!!! That means a lot Saraina!!!! (I’m so glad you agree!!!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like that last point, Kayti. I feel like we live in a world where blame is always shifted to someone other than yourself, and making our villains bad only because they had some traumatic past is right in line with that. I agree, a lot of people are raised badly, etc., and therefore they’re more prone to going down a wrong path, but it’s also their decision in the end. And like you said, we have to make it clear that yes, they had a bad circumstance, but in the end, that doesn’t justify their personal, wrong choice.

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Vanessa! Yeah, that’s something I’m seeing more and more not only in books and movies but played out around me in life. Everything is a choice, how you handle your circumstances is a choice. Bad circumstances do not justify bad actions.
      Thanks so much for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

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