Monday, 3 January 2011

Villainous Flaws

Have you noticed that villains' plans always share some fairly similar flaws? Particularly at the funnier end of the spectrum, there are some things that the average villain just has to do, apparently:

  1. Chasing after someone who should be as easy to squash as a bug (assuming that there are no giant ants involved) yet who somehow manages to keep one step ahead despite being only four feet tall and never wearing shoes. I'm looking at you J.R.R.
  2. Using giant robots/monsters/bunny rabbits for purposes which they really aren't suited. Surely, it would be easier to rob a bank with a ski mask and a gun than with the sort of high tech gear that costs more than the contents?
  3. Wearing black all the time. Fine if you're looking to blend in with a group of goths, but not otherwise.
  4. Always setting up shop somewhere with at least one secret way in. You'd think that the draught from that network of hidden tunnels would play havoc with the heating bills.
  5. Coming up with plans that rely on things that can only be obtained from one or two places. Instead of creating a spell using rare materials and a crystal stolen from the heart of Mt. Inaccessible, why not put something together using materials from your local Radio Shack?
  6. Failing to check who the people they kidnap are related to. Somehow, that wizard you need always turns out to be the long lost uncle of one or more heroes. Wouldn't it save a lot of time to work that out in advance, and pick someone else?
  7. Capturing people for nameless torments that never seem to happen (perhaps because they're still trying to think of a name) thus placing them in the perfect position to foil the villain's plan.
  8. Maintaining such a poor standard of employee relations that the favoured minion always betrays them towards the end. Honestly, is giving them a couple of days off here and there too much to ask?
  9. Turning people into things for hundreds of years. Don't they know by now that they always get turned back at just the wrong moment?
  10. Gloating, laughing, and generally revealing the plan.
Of course, there is no reason why your villains shouldn't do any or all of these things. It's just that you need to be aware of the cliches, and make sure that they only show up when you mean for it to happen.


Christine H said...

Very funny! I admit my novel contains a few of those things, but there are good reasons for them. But the gloating "Now I'm going to tell you my whole plan before I kill you" is not one of the flaws.

I think I understand it, though. Villains - like other nasty people in everyday life - are conceited. They think that they are smarter and stronger than everyone else and want to be recognized as such. They can't help bragging.

Which is awfully convenient for exposition.

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

My favorite "betraying minion" story comes in the movie "Mr. Sardonicas". Old and cheesy, but scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid.

Elena Solodow said...

Always announcing their plans before they act on them.

The Golden Eagle said...

I really don't like it when villains end up doing the last one. It would be so much harder for the protagonist--and more exciting for the reader--if the villain didn't say anything at all. I always find myself desperately hoping it doesn't happen if the chance comes up . . .