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Evil protagonists from fiction - or 'Examples of how to play the bad guy without being a total jerk'


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Corwin from the Chronicles of Amber

You will have to explain your view on that one. I have read both series several times and never see him as evil or a bad guy.

As for the actual topic, Baron Zemo from The Falcon and Winter Soldier TV show. That made him much more likable, while still being a bad guy.

Anti-heroes in general have always been popular, though I think you are looking for characters who are still on the wrong side at the end of the story, more like the benevolent villain?
 

Campbell

Legend
Corwin is pretty much the perfect realization of the magnificent bastard. He's likeable, even somewhat nice at times. Gets along well with others. However, until his change of heart near the end of his cycle Corwin is motivated almost entirely by personal ambition, petty jealousies, and the naked pursuit of power for its own sake. He wants to rule over Amber not because he is the most suited or could do good things with it, but rather because he wants it. He also shows a willingness to do just about anything to get it. Before his imprisonment Corwin is a bad dude. A likeable bad dude, but still a bad dude.
 

You will have to explain your view on that one. I have read both series several times and never see him as evil or a bad guy.

As for the actual topic, Baron Zemo from The Falcon and Winter Soldier TV show. That made him much more likable, while still being a bad guy.

Anti-heroes in general have always been popular, though I think you are looking for characters who are still on the wrong side at the end of the story, more like the benevolent villain?

You can be evil and not be 'the bad guy' of the story:

 

Corwin is pretty much the perfect realization of the magnificent bastard. He's likeable, even somewhat nice at times. Gets along well with others. However, until his change of heart near the end of his cycle Corwin is motivated almost entirely by personal ambition, petty jealousies, and the naked pursuit of power for its own sake. He wants to rule over Amber not because he is the most suited or could do good things with it, but rather because he wants it. He also shows a willingness to do just about anything to get it. Before his imprisonment Corwin is a bad dude. A likeable bad dude, but still a bad dude.

Except that what he did in his past, before the opening of the first book, and what he did during the books, before and after his amnesia, are not the same thing. Some of that past may also be twisted versions of what actually happened because of the Shadow versions.
 

Frank Castle. (Marvel Comics, the Movie) - LE. A marine recon sniper, who returns home from war to see his entire family gunned down in front of him, and then being left for dead, he dons a menacing black attire and fights an unrelenting one man war on crime, like his DC counterpart, Batman. What separates the two however is their methods. While the latter avoids killing, or indeed even using firearms, the former embraces torture, mass murder, and inflicting extreme suffering on his victims.

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''I am going to hell. I sent many deserving criminal souls to their doom. I have no regrets. They’ll be waiting for me. When I arrive, they’ll wish they’d sent me to heaven.” - Frank Castle


Only caveat with Frank is, while he's not a team killing jerk, he does NOT play well with others; most other Good aligned heroes being reluctant (to say the least) to work with him, due to his extreme methods.
 

pemerton

Legend
Elric seems quite a bit evil but not necessarily a total jerk.

Kull would be another possible candidate, I think. It's been a while since I've read the stories, but I don't remember him having quite the heroic streak that Conan does.
 

Esau Cairn

Explorer
De Niro as Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart (or the novel Falling Angel; both novel and film are excellent).

Literally the Western definition of evil, and with his refinement and class, he finds vulgarities uncouth.


Elric seems quite a bit evil but not necessarily a total jerk.

Elric is a pawn of Arioch, a Lord of Chaos. Moorcock differentiates Chaos from Evil. If anything, the evil character would be Stormbringer.
As for Elric not being a jerk, the decision could result in a hung jury. :p
 

Elric is a pawn of Arioch, a Lord of Chaos. Moorcock differentiates Chaos from Evil. If anything, the evil character would be Stormbringer.
As for Elric not being a jerk, the decision could result in a hung jury. :p
Yeah; Elric is just CN and a lone wolf who plays by his own rules.

Stormbringer is CE; when the sword takes him over, THEN Elric becomes a team killing jerk.
 


Campbell

Legend
So when Corwin starts to regain his memories his first instincts are to engage his petty jealousies and seize power from his brother. Not because his brother is a poor ruler. He just wants it. I mean he comes back nicer than he was before, but not well intentioned at all. It's really only the outside threat that gets Corwin to abandon his worst impulses. He's a magnificent bastard and I love him for it.
 

My impression is that Elric is prepared to work with Stormbringer.
Kind of a naughty word co-dependency with a bastard friend.

Stormbringer gives him the strength he needs to get past his albinism and frailties and survive.

It then takes him over from time to time, and makes him kill his friends.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Elric is a bit of a junkie. He has a choice: wither & die, use drugs and magic to maintain his life, or keep using Stormbringer.

And since the vitality the demon sword grants him is SOOOOOO intense, he can’t give it up for any length of time. Eventually, he dolls off the wagon and people die.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
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Etrigan (various DC Comics titles): NE

A high-ranking rhyming demon in the legions of hell, he has nonetheless found himself voluntarily allied with both good and evil beings at various turns. His motives are obscure and seemingly mostly personal. Despite his nature, he is seldom seen killing anyone. While he has commanded hellish legions in combat, that isn’t his main goal or method- he prefers the personal touch.
 


William Money (Out of Missouri)

KAPOW

Sherriff Little Bill: Well sir you are a cowardly sonuvabitch. You just shot an unarmed man.

William Money: Well he shoulda' armed himself...if he's gonna decorate his saloon with my friend.

Sherriff Little Bill: You be William Money Out of Missouri...killer of women and children.

William Money: That's right. I've killed women and children. I've killed just about everything that's walked or crawled one time or another. And I'm here to kill you Little Bill...for what you did to Ned.

You boys better move away.

 


nevin

Adventurer
Alfred bester from babylon5
Definitely LE

The strong must protect the weak. Even if that's from themselves. He'll use or kill anyone to achieve the protection of his beloved Psycorp. One of those objectives is force every psychic into Psycorp where they can be protected from thier own actions.

He's definitely evil but in his own messed up way he's trying to protect his beloved psycorp. There is a great episode where he is truly confused that some of his targets would kill themselves rather than be captured. He is really upset that they die. Great Villain
 


Mallus

Legend
Would Mads Mikkelsen's take on Hannibal Lector qualify? He's evil, but he likes (or loves, in the case of Will) his friends. In his own way. He even helps them grow as people!
 
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