Who Do You Think are Literatures Greatest and Most Compelling Antihero's and Villains ?

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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This topic covers all the genres.:)
 
First and foremost is Shakespeare's Richard III. People claim he vilified the Yorkist king; I say he took a well known fact (or at least a common assumption of fact) and turned a ruthless usurper into a smooth talking, charismatic and ultimately tragic figure. Henry Tudor hardly gets a mention until near the end; not what you would expect for a piece of Tudor propaganda.

You only have to look at plays such as Macbeth to see how the title character can be portrayed as the villain if the piece, and one whom the reader would have little empathy with. Richard confides his machinations to the audience, so that we are all complicit in his misdeeds. There is much humour and cleverness in his soliloques, and he is shown to be a silver tongued lothario, capable even of wooing Anne, despite him admitting her murdered her husband. Ultimately, despite terrifying visions, he bravely leads a suicidal charge after being betrayed.


Severus Snape. I'm not the greatest fan of HP (although I have read them all), but there are some memorable characters. Alan Rickman played the role quite perfectly, as did Kenneth Branagh with Gilderoy Lockhart
 
Off the top of the old brain pan:

Cat Woman (Julie Newmar in the role).
Arsine Lupin
Diabolik
The Matmos from Barbarella
Duke Harkonnan from Dune (But only the David Lynch version).
Frankenfurter
Whatever the hell Scarlett Johansson was in Under the Skin.
Frank from Blue Velvet.
Amanda Donaho's character in Lair of the White Worm - oh yess

Looking at that it strikes me that there is a pretty common thread of sexual perversity in my favourite villains. I'm desperately trying to come up with some psedo academic, dry, rational explanation for this but f*ck it. A good villain has to look like they are enjoying being a villain otherwise they aren't a villain merely an antagonist. I can't understand the psychopathic / sociopathic motivations of a character like the Joker (post Killing Joke) but I DO understand the lascivious delights of indulging sexual fantasies. The idea that the ends justifies the means becomes more seductive if those ends include schtupping Susan Sarandon or crossdressing in Skin Two type kinkywear then yeah. Why not? (Especially if evil comes wrapped in a kiler bod like John Philip Law's.... then pass the ketchup!)

As a moment of pure onscreen evil Frank's "I'll f*ck anything that moves." hands down beats hours and hours of James Bond villain expo-dumping their complex over-technological schemes to corner the world's market of ingredient X.

I've never wanted to corner the world market in anything but I have frequently wanted to...

[Note to self: Stop digging! Now!]

Self: um... ok...
 
The law of the Mega City and by extension, Judge Dredd.

Iain M. Banks’s The Culture, more specifically the Special Circumstances division.

The crew of the Nostalgia for Infinity. There was a dark past hinted at, but never really revealed. the Captain/Ship had a nice redemption in Inhibitor Phase and I would love for Alistair to return to the crew for a prequel novel.
 
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Kane the Mystic Swordsman . Kane is immortal, amoral heroic villain/antihero . Well versed in all manner of Magic and sorcery , he's been bandit , soldier , General , Conquer and King . But because of his unending life Kane nothing ever last, because he outlives lovers , friends and foes.. He is ever a wanderer in the world he lives in.
 
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i havnt read a huge amount of books so I’ll probably change my mind at some point… but the backstory to the queen of hearts (heartless by Marissa Meyer) made Cathrine (yes the queen of hearts) a brilliant villain and the backstory just made it so much better :)
 
I think my favourite types of villain are when they have a reason for being a villain, so I guess you could call them more broken than villain… but then again pure evil can be pretty good too lol
 
A few other names that spring to mind for me...

Brandin from Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana and Melisande from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy, for similar reasons.

Namely, they are extremely charismatic and intelligent. They're the sort of villain you kind of don't want to be a villain because of how admirable they are... but ultimately, there is a core of selfishness and ruthlessness that puts them right there. I enjoy the ambiguity, the way we almost question "they're not that bad really"
 
A few other names that spring to mind for me...

Brandin from Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana and Melisande from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy, for similar reasons.

Namely, they are extremely charismatic and intelligent. They're the sort of villain you kind of don't want to be a villain because of how admirable they are... but ultimately, there is a core of selfishness and ruthlessness that puts them right there. I enjoy the ambiguity, the way we almost question "they're not that bad really"


Which pretty much describes Jaime Lannister. At times utterly ruthless and heartless, at others noble, self sacrificing and gallant.

It makes you wonder that if he didn't have Cersei for a sister he could have been the greatest of knights.

Then again, anyone that is too nice and honourable in Westeros soon finds themselves betrayed and murdered.
 
Steerpike from Titus Groan
Hans Gruber from Die Hard
Frank Booth from Blue Velvet
John Smith from The Man In The High Castle
 
Satan from Paradise Lost (I would add Sin and Death from it as well)
Faust and Mephistopheles
Barabas from The Jew of Malta
Ahab from Moby Dick
The witch in Hansel and Gretel
The queen in Snow White
The wolf in Little Red Riding Hood
The Headless Horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Dracula
Dr. Moreau
Manfred from Manfred
Svengali from Trilby
Satan from the Mysterious Stranger
 
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In before @Toby Frost can say him - Steerpike from Titus Groan is well up there.
I put him in third place behind Ineluki from Menory, Sorrow and Thorn and Mordred from Arthuriana.
As far as I know, early mentions of Mordred in Welch were largely positive, and it was only in later centuries that he became a monster and traitor in literary tradition.
 

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