Magnificent Bastard

" magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!"
George S. Patton, Patton

If there was ever a character that deserved to be called "Magnificent", that character is the Magnificent Bastard. The Magnificent Bastard is what happens when you combine The Chessmaster, The Trickster, and the Manipulative Bastard: bold, charismatic, independent, audacious and genius. Capturing the audience with their charisma, incredible intellect, mastery of manipulation, and boldness of action, this character is a show-stealer, demanding your reverence at every turn. The term "Magnificent Bastard" was first used by General Patton in reference to Erwin Rommel in the film Patton, upon realizing that he was facing a man who literally wrote the book on deceptive warfare. It acquired its current meaning courtesy of Lionel Luthor of Smallville, who was given this nickname by the Television Without Pity boards.

So what makes a character a Magnificent Bastard? Let's break it down:

While usually an antagonist, especially if they're the Big Bad, the Magnificent Bastard can be aligned on either side of a conflict. Hell, they're so amazing they tend to forgo the idea of good and evil altogether, instead following their own agenda, choosing to help whichever side will further their goals. However, it's true that their penchant for manipulation at the expense of others means it's common for them to be a Villain, Villain Protagonist, or at least an Anti-Hero, but purely heroic examples exist. Either way, they're usually in charge of whatever organization they're involved with, or might as well be.

Aside from all the various aspects which come together to define the Magnificent Bastard, compare and contrast the Smug Snake, who fell short due to their own arrogance. When a villainous Magnificent Bastard become so over the top that they are no longer believable, then they become a Villain Sue (a regular Mary Sue for the heroic version). Also compare the Guile Hero, who uses cleverness, trickery and manipulation but is generally on the side of good and often lacks the flair and depth of-planning to elevate them to Magnificent Bastard status. Despite the term, they are not likely to be a Bastard Bastard, thanks to that person's inherent daddy issues, but there's nothing preventing them either.

Bonus points if at one point he or she offers the enemy a Sadistic Choice and gives a Slasher Smile.

Rarely a Complete Monster, because audiences are likely to find it harder to admire such a character, but some bastards (The Joker, Palpatine, Johan Liebert, Jim Moriarty, Master Xehanort etc.) are so magnificent that they can get around this. Being a Smug Snake is a common trait of bastards trying to be magnificent, though some counted examples were capable enough to graduate to this.

As Willing Suspension of Disbelief and popularity can vary from person to person in an audience, so will which characters qualify for the title or fall under some other trope such as those stated above. Check this page out if you want to Write a Magnificent Bastard of your own.

Not related to Heroic Bastard or Bastard Bastard. Though as said above, the Bastard Bastard can become a Magnificent Bastard if they play their cards right.

Now divided into:

Alternative Title(s): Magnificent Bitch