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What Makes a Great Villain?

Hello Visionaries! I took an unintended but needed break from blogging over here. Life has been crazy as I'm editing one book, writing another, and publishing one tomorrow! And getting an anthology ready for release. *wipes brow*

So, did I get a lot of blog posts written on break? Not really. I have one that still needs some tweaking and such…but I do have this one that I had an idea for a little while back and typed up just now. But I have real excuses one being that I have edited and rewritten a combined total of over 50k words already this month!

Anyway, let’s get to it!


Are you struggling to write a good villain? Are they coming generic or just…not evil? Or perhaps you’re afraid that your villain is only evil and has no depth to his or her character. Well, you’ve dropped by the right blog. Today we are going to break down some of the most out-of-the-box villains from movies and what I think makes them great. Plus, I’ll be assigning some homework for you. *winks*

The Sheriff of Nottingham from the BBC Robin Hood Series

If you follow my sisters and me on our blog, Sisters Three, you’ll know we are slightly obsessed with the first two seasons of BBC Robin Hood…lol…but the Sheriff of Nottingham is just such a good complex villain. Here are some reasons why:

  • He’s merciless and heartless, yet he can make you think for brief moments that he actually has a heart before he reverts back to his callused demeanor.

  • He has a sense of humor, and you find yourself laughing because your brain catches up to what he just said, and you’re like, wait…was that something about killing Robin?

  • He’s keen and calculating, even if he may come across as shallow at times.

So, as you can see from the above list, there is more to this character than meets the eye.

Bounty Hunter from Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

This character *fangirls for a long while*

*ahem* This character is awesome! Okay, so there’s not much I can say beforehand because of spoilers so let’s drop right to what makes him a great villain, shall we?

  • He’s terrifyingly awesome! The whole whistling as he’s coming for Puss thing *shivers*.

  • He’s not what he seems…that is…well, it’s a spoiler, but it’s awesome!

  • His veiled threats are fantastic!

So, all in all, this guy is super cool! His design is fantastic, his attitude is shiver worthy, and the ending of the movie *mind blown*. This is a fantastic villain.

Viggo Grimborn from Race to the Edge

This is by far my favorite villain that DreamWorks has ever created, though the Bounty Hunter is a pretty close runner-up. If you are wondering what Race to the Edge is, it’s a How to Train Your Dragon spin-off series that fills part of the five-year gap between the first and second movie. It is a fun and often hilarious series that I totally recommend checking out.

Viggo is one of the main villains of the series, and there are several reasons I love him!

  • First reason is that for a long while, Viggo plays from the shadows. We don’t know who he is really or what he’s up to… just that he’s a dragon hunter, and that somehow is enough.

  • Then we have that Viggo is a master planner. He’s always several steps ahead of everyone, which makes things super interesting.

  • He’s all business and, yet, enjoys the game of trying to best Hiccup and the dragon riders.

  • He’s overly confident, which is quite fun to watch because that overconfidence is actually pretty well-founded.

And I could probably go on…but we’ll leave it there…lol…Viggo is just such a great villain, and his plans are *chef’s kiss* he’s a master you guys!

And I know, I shouldn’t be rooting for the villain, I’m not it’s just nice to see the hero actually challenged.

Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda

You know, Tai Lung’s arch never really hit me until my most recent rewatch of Kung Fu Panda and I was like…wait, this isn’t all his fault.


Yes, I know…here’s a list of what I think of Tai Lung and why he makes a great villain:

  • He didn’t choose to be a villain, at least not really.

  • The way he was raised set him up to fail so in the long run…Shifu made Tai Lung who he is by constantly telling him that he would be the dragon warrior, that he was the best…and once Tai Lung learned the truth, he felt as if what was his had been taken from him. Honestly, the guy is trying to get back what he thought was rightfully his.

  • His actions are not right, but you can see where he’s coming from based on his past.

As I said, Tai Lung was set to fail at being a good person because of the spoiling and promises that Shifu had given him. Tai Lung became prideful and lost sight of anything but himself in the light of his own power.

Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2

If you haven’t figured it out by now…I’m a DreamWorks person. Honestly, I watched more DreamWorks than Disney, which is working out great for me now because I don’t watch Disney at all anymore.

But, another thing is that while Disney romanticizes villains and their backstories while keeping most all their villains the same, DreamWorks creates new villains with varying backstories, which is super fun!

So, Lord Shen…this guy is super cool. First, the design of a peacock with knives in his feather!! *mind blown* It’s an awesome design, and here are some other things that make him a great villain:

  • By trying not to become what it was foretold he would be, he became that very thing, which is a super awesome concept.

  • He became bitter with the choices that he had made and let it fuel it his evil deeds.

  • He was afraid for his future and willing to do anything in an attempt to keep himself alive…which led to his downfall.

I think what I like so much about Lord Shen’s arch is that he was striving to undo his future, which often is something a lot of us do. We want to change how life is going or went or how we think it will go…but often, by being afraid of what is to come, we don’t—and even can’t—change anything.


What do all these characters have in common? (Besides, mostly all being DreamWorks characters…lol….) Well, they are all villains that aren’t dumb, aren’t romanticized, and most definitely aren’t the same.

They have a sense of humor or sarcasm; they have a backstory…but not a pity party story of being wronged. Just backstories like any normal person, but they chose to let the events in their lives move them to evil.

Now, as for the homework I mentioned. Watch one or more or all of these movies and the first two seasons of BBC Robin Hood and take notes on the villains. Watch them and notice little things, mannerisms, how they tick…etc. You can do it with other movies and shows too! Just watch with intent and see if the villain is just another villain or actually something unique…something wholly their own.

I hope this post was helpful on some level. If not…that’s okay, because I quite enjoyed myself!

Let’s chat!

Who are some of your favorite villains from movies/shows/or books? What makes a great villain to you? Does it both anyone else when the villains are dumb? Let me know in the comments!


Kaytlin (Kayti) Phillips

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Aug 14, 2023

Haha, I know none of these villains, excepting the sheriff of Nottingham, but everyone knows him. I've never seen the show you referenced though.

Those are some great points about villans!

Kaytlin Phillips
Kaytlin Phillips
Aug 17, 2023
Replying to

It is!

Lol...definitely... there are a few worthwhile episodes, but one that's really no good at all, and we skip it because of bad content...but they did run out of at threads for a lot of the episodes...haha...


Saraina Whitney
Saraina Whitney
Aug 04, 2023

Girl, I LOVE this post!!!! Villains with a sense of humor are the best. 😆 The next time I watch a movie with a villain, I'll have to take notes about what makes him/her unique or not! XD

Kaytlin Phillips
Kaytlin Phillips
Aug 04, 2023
Replying to

Awww, thanks! I had so much writing! Funny villains in a smart, not dumb way are so much fun! (Kind of like, Azic *raises eyebrows*)

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