"Vlad was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint."
The Anti-Villain is the opposite of an Anti-Hero
- a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are evil
, but they are far more ethical or moral than most villains and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be rather heroic on occasion.
They often reach a kind of critical mass that makes them more good than normal villains but not quite heroes, blurring the line between hero and villain the same way an Anti-Hero
does, but by coming from the opposite direction. Also, they seldom perform a full Heel-Face Turn
, or if they do, they continue to struggle with their villainous impulses.
Anti-Villain is an attempt to humanize, to lighten up, a villain as opposed to an Anti-Hero
, which has a tendency to darken the hero. Side by side, it can become very hard to tell them apart. The only reason some would even be considered evil at all is because they're the Designated Villain
. Despite this humanizing characterization
, they are rarely less dangerous. For instance, heroes wouldn't know what to expect if their enemy shows caring
and then attacks their reputation
, without giving them an excuse to rationalize
Most of them are probably well aware that what they're doing is "evil", unlike the blinded Knight Templar
, but strive to maintain a facade of good PR
. They'll see it as a viable means
to a (possibly) good end.
It may also be possible to turn a normal villain into an Anti-Villain over time by detailing their Start of Darkness
, giving them a Cynicism Catalyst
, a Morality Pet
, kind episodes
, or otherwise retconning
them into submission.
A Freudian Excuse
may explain their actions, but almost never changes them into an Anti-Villain if there is nothing good about their present motivations.
Click here for the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains
Villain types particularly prone to Anti-Villain-dom (though many have their share of flat-out villains, too) include:
See also Villain Protagonist
, Hero Antagonist
, and Minion with an F in Evil
, as well as No Place for Me There
. Another way for the Anti-Villain to transcend conventional morality is to completely, utterly set aside limitations
and achieve a moral fluidity that prevents himself from crossing the Moral Event Horizon
, becoming The Unfettered
. For a broad covering of what Anti-Villains can be, see the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains
. Compare Sympathy for the Devil
and Satan Is Good
. See also Evil Virtues
Compare and contrast Nominal Hero
, a character who is often essentially a villain working for the heroes because Even Evil Has Standards
. Do not confuse Anti-Villains with members of the Anti-Villain League