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  • J. J. Hanna

Villain Types: The Carefree and Cruel

We’ve seen them in film. We’ve seen them in books. This villain is evil for the fun of it. They’re cruel for no other reason than that they can be because nothing stands in their way. They don’t care about the consequences if they do get caught, they don’t care about the public’s opinion of them. They are the epitome of the “I don’t care” mentality, and they make it known.

A few well known villains of this nature are the Joker from the Dark Knight Trilogy and Jubal Early from Firefly.

The Joker’s actions are planned enough that he can intentionally mess with Batman’s head, but he doesn't have enough rhyme or reason to have a predictable nature.

He robs a bank and burns the money because it’s not about the cash, “it’s about sending a message.” He blows up a hospital because he could, and because he could send a message.

Writing this type of villain can be extremely fun, since it gives you the perfect opportunity to present arguments about the nature of the world we live in. Part of what makes these villains “bad guys” is that they insist on speaking the truth that no one else wants to acknowledge.

Something Jubal Early says many times throughout the episode he’s in, “Objects in Space”, is “Does that seem right to you?” Every time he says this phrase it’s preceded by something that throws a wrench in the normal scheme of life. The danger of Jubal Early is that he’s a bounty hunter who’s never yet failed to bring in his bounty. He’s smart and so grounded in his version of reality that the only way the crew of Serenity was able to defeat him was by pretending that reality was something different, something not real that would push him off balance.

Later in the episode, River tells Early that she knows the real reason he became a bounty hunter. It wasn’t because he needed money but rather because he enjoyed hurting people. He did it because he wanted to, because he could, with the added bonus of getting paid for it.

So how do you write this brand of villain? Here are some ideas:

  • Have the villain be impulsive. Let them spontaneously blow something up just because they can.

  • Have the villain give commentary on life that “shouldn’t” fit within their worldview, but does.

  • Give them quirks, such as turning on classical music right before they strike because they like the lilt of the melody.

  • Show them in normal, everyday circumstances living mostly inside the law. Sure, they’ll pay for their coffee, but they’ll take up eight tables in the coffee shop.

  • Give them their own code of conduct, but don’t let it be obvious to the reader. Leave the majority of the workings of their mind a mystery.

  • Give them such a huge superiority complex that they fully believe they’re a genius that can’t and won’t ever be caught.

Who are your favorite carefree villains? Let me know in the comments or on social media @AuthorJJHanna.


J. J. Hanna is attending Taylor University for a degree in Professional Writing. She has published multiple devotions and book reviews and draws comics about a stork named Lenard.

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