“Evil” Characters

Every fairytale needs a good, old-fashioned villain.

Jim Moriarty (BBC’s Sherlock)

In recent years, entertainment has taken a particular interest in delving deeper into the back stories of infamous fictional villains. Wicked (book or musical), Once Upon a Time (OUAT), and the upcoming film Maleficent are just a few examples among many.

What draws us to bad-boys, evil queens, and other baddies? It’s certainly not their stellar morals or victory stories (except maybe the first because they seem to get the girl in a lot of romance novels). It’s their pasts. What led them to become evil/wicked/whatever-you-call-it. 

Evil has a beginning

Maleficent tagline

Everyone has an origin story, moments and events that shape them to become either “good” or “bad”—but honestly, everyone is the hero of their own story, which is why every story has unique characteristics based on the point of view. George R.R. Martin knows this and uses this philosophy to write his A Song of Ice and Fire series (or Game of Thrones if you only watch the HBO version).

In Fire of Stars and Dragons, even the semi-antagonistic vampire king Corrin isn’t a one-note baddie without any depth or character.

Are people born wicked or is wickedness thrust upon them?

Glinda (Wicked: The Musical)

Last Sunday was OUAT’s 3rd season finale. It. Was. Epic. Let’s just say it had to do with time travel, family, and wish-fulfillment.

Let me give you a quick run down if you aren’t familiar with the show (don’t worry, I’m not posting any spoilers for any past episodes). When the Evil Queen enacts the Dark Curse, creating a secret town in Maine called “Storybrooke,” all the fairytale characters we’re familiar with became real people (but they forgot their fictional counterparts). Between flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest (and Wonderlandand Neverland and Oz, etc.) and modern-day life in Storybrooke, viewers learn how the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin, and many other villains (and heroes) became the way they are. By the time you finish any episode, you begin questioning your preconceived notions and realize even the most twisted didn’t necessarily start out that way. And even after they’ve assumed their evil roles, the characters are still evolving.

Evil isn’t born, dearie. It’s made.

Rumplestiltskin (ABC’s Once Upon A Time)

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