Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads. This week’s theme is: favorite villains. I’ve thought a lot about villains this week. What makes a character a villain? Where’s the line between villain and anti-hero? And most importantly what makes a villain great? I think the most important thing is motivation. A villain must have a goal that contradicts the hero’s goal and that goal has to make sense. They have to be driven by their own ambitions and desires, not just getting in the hero’s way for no reason.
1. Marissa Coulter – His Dark Materials
Listen, I have a lot of feelings about Marisa Coulter. She’s such a compelling character. An intelligent, well-educated and ambitious woman who’s risen to a position of power in a incredibly male-dominated field. But while she has a lot of admirable qualities she’s also a cunning liar and master manipulator who uses her charm and beauty to lure people in, only to stab them in the back when it serves her interests.
2. Bellatrix Lestrange – Harry Potter
Of all the fantastic villains in the Harry Potter series, Bellatrix will always be my favorite. She doesn’t get the most page or screen-time, but she steals every scene she’s in. She’s just so completely unhinged: wild, sadistic and dangerous. A true example of chaotic evil – and I love it. Voldemort wishes he was this viscous.
3. Jadis, The White Witch – Narnia
While putting together this little list I noticed a pattern: I have a thing for villains who have a strong aesthetic, it just makes them more memorable to me. And if there’s one villains who’s aesthetics game is on point it’s The White Witch, with her pale skin, white furs and crown of ice crystals. There’s a lot of evil queens and wicked witches in fairytales and fantasy fiction, but Jadis takes it to another level, freezing Narnia for a hundred years and turning her enemies into statues. The movie got one thing wrong though. She 100% would’ve turned them into marble. It matches her walls.
4. The Darkling – The Grisha Trilogy
Of course The Darkling’s had to be on the list. He’s one of the most popular villains of all time and one of the most polarizing. But whether you wanted Alina to kiss him or kill him, I think we can all agree on one thing: The Darkling is an incredibly compelling character. With his aura of mystery and power, he commands any scene he’s in. He proves that the road to villainhood is often paved with good intentions and big ambitions.
5. Thiago, The White Wolf – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
At first glance Thiago might not seem like the most interesting villain, he’s just a general fighting an impossible war. He’s caught in a cycle of hate and violence, driven solely by his hate for the enemy. To the point where he’ll do anything to destroy the Seraphim, even sacrifice the very people he claims to be fighting for. His ability to make good people rally behind his cause, despite of this, makes him a great villain.