A Dark Destiny of Evil: Villains Can Be Chosen Too

Wrarrl the Devourer of Souls from Conan

Wrarrl the Devourer of Souls from Conan

We always think about the heroes who are destined.  Good is always chosen by the gods while evil . . . where does the villain come from?  I mean, it’s weird that only the heroes are hand-picked while their enemies just appear.  Maybe there is a sinister force behind them, but there’s a problem there.  If there is an evil being behind the villain then that makes the evil being the true, final baddie.

Destiny doesn’t always work for a villain.  It can foretell a hero falling into the role or the rise of an enemy, but the meat of these prophecies are always toward the good.  This does make sense since you don’t need to be saved if there isn’t any danger.  Still, I always find it strange that fate rarely takes responsibility for the other side of the coin.  At least we aren’t told about it, which again is probably caused by stories being focused on the heroes.  There are those exceptions, but those tales end up turning the villain into a hero.  Not only the ‘hero in his or her own mind’, but a hero who is besting a villain that others would see as the good guy.

Honestly, it’s hard to wrap my head around this.  I’ve tried in my stories by having Gabriel admit to forging both sides of a scenario.  He is eternally playing chess with himself and it’s a game that will never end.  New pieces will always appear and many of them move on their own.  Yet, there’s still a messiness to the villain side, which I’m thinking is part of their nature.  A villain would probably believe they were in full control of their path and anything to the contrary would hinder them.  Hard to think of a villain as the big baddie if he or she is simply filling in a role.

As you can see, I’m going back and forth on this one.  Destiny shouldn’t be used exclusively for heroes, but it’s difficult to put on the shoulders of most villain types.  In my own series, the Baron knows he is facing destined heroes while believing his is Gabriel’s equal.  He still talks about having a role to play in the coming events, but it’s more of a manipulator than a game piece.  The strange thing here is that he might be just as destined as his enemies because the original prophecy always involved his defeat.  I haven’t settled on his origin, but the Baron has shown hints that he was once a god-chosen hero.  Something went wrong and he fell off the path, but that came from free will.  This puts me back to wondering if you can really do a destined villain.

I’m going around in circles here.  What do people think of destiny and fate as it relates to villains?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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37 Responses to A Dark Destiny of Evil: Villains Can Be Chosen Too

  1. Fun perspective. TGIF and hugs.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    I believe it can happen if the gods in your series have a purpose for the villain. In the Bible, God mentioned raising up certain nations to teach His people a lesson. These nations were horrible oppressors–villains if you will. So yes, I can see that the Baron believes he has a purpose.

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    • There’s actually a lot more the Baron’s background than people know. At least on the blog, but it’s only just started coming out in the books. Can’t reveal it in full on here until promoting Book 15 late next year because it’s a doozy.

      Something to keep in mind with Windemere is that only one god creates destinies. The others have followers and use them for certain purposes, but they need to go through Gabriel for certain things. The purpose for a villain in Windemere is usually about balance. It’s clear that if the scale tips too far to one side then you get backlash. Free will can come in to fix the mess even if it’s a utopia. In regards to the champion prophecy, Gabriel did have to make the villains to test his heroes. Part of the rules and he didn’t want the Baron to be in charge of that.

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      • L. Marie says:

        That’s a good plan. Love the idea of balance. I can’t help thinking of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

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      • That’s a good comparison. It’s funny that you can see a lot of ‘balance’ in the stories. My favorite is the Nyx/Trinity one since they could have ended up in each other’s positions if not for a twist of fate.

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  3. Jan Hawke says:

    I think the whole good/evil dichotomy is a tough nut to crack in the destiny stakes. The main distinction with the evil side of the coin, for me, is to do with free will – it’s hard to wholly escape a Catholic upbringing at times! 😉
    If you think about it, Evil doesn’t need to chose! Villains are all about seeking power – they go looking for it, so it doesn’t have to come to them? Therefore, mortal villains almost always turn evil at some point, unless they’re born to it, so something has to drive them to ‘choose the dark side’ – Darth Vader being a prime case in point for this of course. 😉
    Looking back into ancient history, this also gets justified in the Order V Chaos stakes, as the balances of the universe, and probably why Evil does indeed appear messier. Interesting point to ponder, so I’m re-blogging right after hitting send! 😀

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    • Not sure I follow about Evil not needing to choose. I think I do, but one could say the same about being good. Both sides need a catalyst that drives them and one can see how a hero could have gone villain if they made a different choice. Of course, this does go solely off the free will thing, which works differently than destiny. Then again, I remember a line from Harry Potter. Both Harry and Voldemort were destined to do great things, but it wasn’t clear if it would be good or bad.

      Never really considered Evil as messier. Always seemed to be the more organized side while Good was forced to react. They do nastier things though, which can get messy.

      I wonder if one reason this is a tough nut to crack is because we don’t live with destiny in the real world. Not like it happens in fiction. We see everything as free will, so destiny doesn’t factor into our thoughts. Yet, there is an oddness when a series of events beyond a person’s control effects them. For example, a truck driver didn’t get enough sleep on the same day a businessman woke up late and the two collide on the freeway. We could call this a freak accident or bad luck, but those can be some version of destiny.

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      • Jan Hawke says:

        Well, there’s the ‘there are no accidents’ argument as per your example, which is a kind of self-fulfilling destiny, but no good or evil involved in the event as such.
        For a lot of protagonist heroes there’s an awful lot of ‘why is this happening to me?’ involved I think, which is messy and much more ‘random’ of course. Antagonist villains are usually far more direct and purposeful in why they choose to do what they do, which usually results in chaotic or disruptive consequences.
        So, a kind of blend of ‘chosen’ status being imposed on heroes more, and villains wanting to be chosen by evil because of their own ‘random’ journey?

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      • Possibly. One thing I’ve noticed from all of my villain-centered posts over the years is that people seem to jump more to the hero side of things at the first opportunity. That or talking about how villains can turn into heroes. We seem to give the hero a lot more leeway or even a pass on destiny while the villain is always thought to be an agent of free will. Almost like good is chosen by a higher power and evil is a human decision.

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  4. Jan Hawke says:

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    I think the whole good/evil dichotomy is a tough nut to crack in the destiny stakes. The main distinction with the evil side of the coin, for me, is to do with free will – it’s hard to wholly escape a Catholic upbringing at times!😉
    If you think about it, Evil doesn’t need to chose! Villains are all about seeking power – they go looking for it, so it doesn’t have to come to them? Therefore, mortal villains almost always turn evil at some point, unless they’re born to it, so something has to drive them to ‘choose the dark side’ – Darth Vader being a prime case in point for this of course.😉
    Looking back into ancient history, this also gets justified in the Order V Chaos stakes, as the balances of the universe, and probably why Evil does indeed appear messier. Interesting point to ponder, so I’m re-blogging right after hitting send!😀

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  5. jinlobify says:

    Yes Jan! You seem to avoiding hitting the nail on the head. 😀 In fact, calling a spade, a spade. I can see the Baron as the angel of light (satan), that became too proud that he began to think that he is equal with God (Gabriel). It doesn’t matter what culture you are from, God is always God, the good one, and the devil is always the devil, the bad one. In our mythologies, we give them different names, but they are alway the same. :).

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    • I’m going to have to disagree in a way, but only because I wrote the Windemere mythology and know the history of the characters. The Baron actually achieved the status of Destiny God prior to Gabriel overthrowing him. Both started as mortals and Gabriel is actually an entity of balance instead of ‘good’. He works the fates of heroes and villains, so he remains neutral. This is also a world with multiple gods, so I’m not really sure a monotheistic take would capture everything. Especially since several of the Windemere gods were once mortal and ascended to replace fallen ones. Being Jewish probably might be another factor here. We don’t have a Satan and God is neither good nor evil. At least from how I was taught.

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  6. Jean Lamb says:

    I would like to point out that villains don’t always have to stay villains. In Diane Duane’s DOOR INTO SUNSET, the putative villain is actually a reasonably decent fellow trying to do the best he can, though he’s not as choosy as he could be when he goes looking for help. And (SPOILER ALERT, though the book has been out for at least a decade)–the putative hero was, at the beginning, fairly immature and needed to be slapped upside the head a few times before he was fit to rule. So, in a twist I rather liked, the villain was named Prime Minister for the hero…

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    • I agree. Many villains do end up turning good at some point. Happens a lot in comic books and long-running series. In some cases, you learn that there is something even worse pulling the strings.

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  7. I love watching you go back and forth on an issue. I, of course, follow you as you pace the room. I enjoyed the exploration of destined villains. I believe villains can be destined even if it is only in their mind.

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    • Interesting. If that is the case then wouldn’t the heroes be destined for good in their own mind? I guess one thing is that most gods, beings of fate, or prophecies don’t admit to having a hand in the villain’s creation. I mean, a prophecy saying a hero shall arise to kill a big evil kind of hints that the evil might exist because of the prophecy too. One thing I’ve noticed from this topic is that people have a really hard time thinking of a villain as ‘destined to be evil’. We always gravitate towards them making the choice to do harm while the hero can get away with doing good because it’s his destiny.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post. You’re on a roll lately. The comments are all great too. You might be on the verge of a cool new story, at least that’s what I take away from it. A normal person is chosen by the evil forces to become their greatest villain. He spends the bulk of the story trying to avoid this fate, but falls in the end. The Dresden Files did something similar, and then “poof” ended it with a simple twist. Harry was possessed by the fallen angel, Lasciel. She offered to help him any time he wanted, but she gained power whenever she did. He wound up calling upon her a few times, and then poof, the story line changed. It could have been awesome.

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    • Sorry. I hear ‘poof’ and I think of Fizzle’s disintegration spell. How did the story line change?

      One of my superheroes has a similar story. The overall series deals with the superheroes being revived after being sealed and made to reincarnate without memories of the past. The reason is because one of the strongest went mad, killed many of the others, and nearly destroyed the world. He comes back and is a hero, but is fully aware of what he did. So, there’s always this threat of him going back to his original destiny of being a villain.

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      • He managed to get rid of her. Done and dusted, but it could have been great. Yak Guy shows up with no memories too, but he’s not going to become a villain (I don’t think)

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      • It’s always a tough choice. Do you have the character get out of a situation before it becomes a big problem or let it reach the edge? Haven’t really had to deal with that one yet. For some reason, I can’t picture Yak Guy as a villain. Not by the descriptions on the blog at least.

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      • He’s not a villain, he’s a dipshit. I think the best story would be to have the destined one succumb and become the villain, but do it as the logical choice doing a good thing. It’s tough to pull off, but can be done. If he ever uses the power or item it will happen. A loved one dies if he doesn’t…

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      • I have a vague memory of a villain who kept trying to be good, but would always fail. Something would happen beyond his control to undo his deeds or turn them into disasters. This made him turn evil because he felt it was what he was supposed to be anyway.

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      • Sounds like a good story line to me.

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  9. Don’t forget the old saying: winners write the history books. So evil might not be evil if a different frame of mind rules an area, which means one persons hero is another’s villain.

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  10. This is one of life’s eternal questions — why do bad things happen? Some cultures have mythic figures like Satan or Ahriman who take some of the blame, but lots of things like car accidents are just random and can’t be explained.

    At the core of the great religions and the great hero tales is our longing to believe there is a greater force that cares for us, so when it seems like there is a “villain” out there, the Gods (in a general sense here) will send a champion to defeat that evil.

    It’s a deep human need, but it has also become a stereotype in modern fantasy fiction. I’m often dissatisfied with books where the villain is two-dimensional. For every Sauron or Voldemort, there must be six that have no reason to be evil except that the plot needs someone to be evil.

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    • I think the evil for the sake of being evil is rather common in all genres. Part of it might be due to authors not wanting to touch too much on their darker sides or figuring the audience will simply go along with the villain just being bad. I’ve met some people who don’t want backstories to the bad guys because it might make them ‘weak’ and ‘soft’. It’s a difficult thing to create because once you give the villain a reason, they become more human. Many people don’t really like acknowledging that a villain in any genre is human.

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  11. Very interesting perspective. I don’t use fate in my stories, but if I do ever stray into that type of story, it will definitely be considered.

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