I love a good villain, and so do lots of other people. But it seems that the villains in books are way more colorful than those in movies and TV. I’m not sure why, other than what appeals to readers may not always appeal to TV watchers. For instance, Hannibal was a great villain, but he wasn’t completely black and white. The movie transformed him into someone slightly, but ultimately very different than who he was.
I don’t typically find TV and movie villains all that believable or scary. For one thing, I don’t really find anything I can see to be scary. If I see it, it can be fought. In books, the villains tend to be more well-rounded. Many of them are not all bad. Many book bad guys have multiple sides to them, ultimately making them both more human and more scary than what can be portrayed on TV. I like complex villains, especially ones with whom I’d sit and have a drink (though I wouldn’t leave my drink unattended). I also like purely evil villains, who do things for reasons that would never occur to me.
My favorite movie villains are Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Voldemort (from Harry Potter), The Joker (The Dark Knight), Khan (from Star Trek), and Darth Vader (from Star Wars). Voldemort, Khan, and Darth Vader were all after power, the Dark Knight was after chaos, and Freddy Krueger was after revenge. What made all of these villains great was their single minded adherence to their goals.
Best book villains are Mr. Hyde (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson), Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal, by Thomas Harris), Voldemort (from Harry Potter by JK Rowling), Gretchen Lowell (Heartsick by Chelsea Cain), Dexter Morgan (from the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay).
Who’s your favorite villain?