Inexplicable Villainy YKTTW Discussion

Inexplicable Villainy
A baddie who has no/inadequate justification/reasoning for their villainy
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(permanent link) added: 2012-07-17 13:29:38 sponsor: Four edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2015-04-17 11:30:57)

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

There are many reasons for someone to be the villain. Maybe they want to change the world for the better, but go too far. Maybe the hero wronged them and they want revenge? Maybe they want money? Maybe they're just completely and violently insane?

This is neither of any of the above.

There are two kinds of inexplicable villainy. First, there is the kind where the character is given insufficient motivation and/or characterization to really explain why they are villainous to any satisfying extent. This is not the same as For the Evulz, where the villain simply does what they do "because they're evil". This kind of villain doesn't even have that much motivation. They, as far as the audience can tell, are simply acting as the villain because the story requires one. See also Generic Doomsday Villain. (Do note that mindless monsters generally are exempt from this, because they often cannot justify their own actions - and even then sometimes there are good reasons for them to do what they did.)

Then there is the second kind, where the villain in question is given motivation, just a motivation that doesn't add up with their actions. Take, for instance, a bully who antagonizes a younger child. The reason for this? The younger individual once happened to buy an ice cream cone before the bully, and thus, the bully did not receive one that day. Despite the fact that numerous other individuals have surely done this, not to mention the fact that the child clearly did not intend to offend the bully, he still antagonizes the child. As no further reason is given, all the audience can assume is that he knew he was in a story, and just wanted to play the role of the bad guy.

This is the consequence of a writer enforcing a Black and White Morality without really putting enough thought into why the villain's motivation would drive them to actually be a villain. Note, this is different from For the Evulz, where the villain considers evil is its own motivation. These kinds of villains can possess a motivation (if they even have one), just one that shouldn't lead to their actions.

Compare Disproportionate Retribution when they have good reason why they become a villain, but then they're taking it too far, as well as The Dark Side Will Make You Forget, a common justification for this. Compare and contrast Stupid Evil when their evil deeds are purposeless and/or obviously detrimental to themselves.

Anime & Manga
  • In Pokémon: The First Movie, Mewtwo wants to destroy the world, apparently because some people were cruel to him. For some unexplained reason, this extends to Pokémon as well, despite him never having been wronged by them.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The main villain of the second arc, Arukenimon wants to destroy the world, despite the fact that she seems to enjoy being alive fine and showing no signs of being Brainwashed into it. This becomes especially jarring since later on it turns out she was unknowingly working for someone else, someone who most definitely did not want to destroy the world, and her previous actions towards universal destruction were shown to provide zero benefit to his plan. What's even stranger is that immediately after she discovers what he wants, she is all too happy to just help him along, without a single mention of her previous goal ever again.

  • In The Karate Kid, John Kreese tells his students to savagely beat and antagonize the protagonist. Why? No explanation, not even a hint of why he acts so violently. Same thing with his students.

  • In Harry Potter, most every member we see of Slytherin House is either working with Voldemort, a snobbish jerk, a racist, or some combination of the three. While ambition is their key trait, meaning working with the villain to further their own goals is reasonable, the racism and classism that pervades the house is never given sufficient justification. The best explanation is that the founder of the house preferred those with racist ideals, but how that leads to practically every member of the house being some form of sadist is never really explained.

Tabletop Games
  • In Warhammer40000, Tzeentch is notorious for his/her/its seemingly impossible to decode plans. As the Chaos God of change, Tzeentch is compelled to plot and plan endlessly. Thus while Tzeentch may theoretically have an end goal, actually reaching it would oppose his/her/its entire purpose. Tzeentch has been known to send its own armies to be ambushed, and still claim the event was "All according to plan".

Video Games
  • In Pokémon, most evil team members generally have a reason behind their villainous schemes. Team Rocket is a criminal organization, Team Galactic's leader wants to become a god, Team Plasma's goals would naturally come into conflict with the hero's, and Cipher's actions directly profited the organization. However, some of the villainous teams are given little reason to Kick the Dog as much as they do, with many of their plans having little to do with their ultimate goals..
    • Teams Aqua and Magma plan to preserve the land/sea, respectively. They plan to achieve this by capturing Groudon/Kyogre, and unleashing its powers, which would naturally result in more land/sea. What is odd is that not only are many of their schemes undeniably stupid (Like erupting a landlocked volcano), some of their actions have absolutely nothing to do with their stated goals.
      • For instance, at one point a member of one of the teams (Which team depends on the version) steals a man's pet. This is odd, as the pet in question (A seagull) does not in fact possess the power to expand the sea or land, nor would it contribute towards finding the creatures that do possess said power. Also, at another point, they attempt to steal a package, never explaining how said package benefits them or even if it is actually an object of particular value.
  • Shinra, the evil corporation in Final Fantasy VII, will kills thousands of customers and workforce in a single act, for reasons such as getting rid of one terrorist group that happens to be in that part of the city they destroyed, or because of an accident at the plant which the town they destroyed was paying to use. But subverted since they planned so that people will blame the whole thing on said terrorist group.

Western Animation
  • In the first appearance of Time Commander in The Brave and the Bold comic book, his clearly stated motivation is Clear My Name. He claims his civilian identity was convicted of a crime he did not commit, and escaped jail to prove it. He mentions this motivation several times, including in his private thoughts (though in his thoughts he never specifies that he's innocent, just that he wants his name cleared.) And yet he keeps doing supervillainous things that have absolutely nothing to do with this motivation, forcing Batman and Hal "Green Lantern" Jordan to track him down and defeat Time Commander.
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