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Are Pure evil/Complete Monster villains realistic?:

Element of love
I am developing a villain and I have got to great lenghts to justify her evil without being For the Evulz.

But I have seen people that are tired of sympathetic villains and prefer Villains that are simple evil by choice and lack any FreudianExcuses.

But is a Complete Monster something that can be considered realistic?

edited 18th Sep '11 8:01:35 PM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
Pure evil in that they have no motivation other than evilness? Kinda hard to swallow. They exist, but they usually wind up in nuthouses before they can really do anything.

edited 18th Sep '11 7:59:16 PM by RTaco

It's easy, mmkay?
I'd say that it takes being a special kind of sheltered to not believe that Complete Monsters exist, and it's a credit to the Western world that so many children here are that sheltered.
At first I didn't realize I needed all this stuff...
 4 USAF713, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:05:38 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
In a setting with no magic, no, it's not realistic.

Then again, who says they can't have reasons? They could just be bad reasons...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 5 Major Tom, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:08:08 PM Relationship Status: Baby don't hurt me!
Eye'm the cutest!
Yes it's realistic. Just take a long hard look at the history of Man.
Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
Complete Monsters can be done realistically. Card Carrying Villains tend to be somewhat silly, but can also be done realistically.

edited 18th Sep '11 8:19:00 PM by tropetown

If you have to ask...
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
 8 nrjxll, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:29:10 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I don't believe there is such as thing as someone who commits evil actions purely for the sake of "being evil". That isn't necessarily the same as a Complete Monster, but it was brought up earlier in the thread. In point of fact a Complete Monster - as defined by the page - cannot exist either because Real Life is not a work of fiction, and the page's definition very much emphasizes the fictional nature of a CM.

I must note that neither point means that there is no such thing as someone who is irredeemably evil - that is a much more subjective debate I don't intend to get into.

^ What he said. You can make 'em as nasty as you want and still be realistic, but you're gonna lose your audience if they're doing those things just because.

 10 Chubert, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:35:13 PM from California
highly secure
I dunno. I do believe that some people are evil by virtue sole virtue of them being evil people and that they deserve whatever's coming for them. Not every evil person in the world was neglected (grew up in poverty, saw their best friend killed by a giant mecha, etc.) or sincerely believes that whatever they're doing wrong is actually a good thing. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but I would propose that most evil people are just evil.

In fiction, I like not-truly-evil evil characters. It makes the story interesting.
Whatcha gonna do, little buckaroo? | i be pimpin' madoka fics
 11 Kyle Jacobs, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:35:31 PM from Connecticut/D.C.
Nice Guy
I've actually been wondering about this myself - I've been trying to figure out how to make Despotism Justifies the Means work for a specific character in a setting where pretty much every single other character is a Knight Templar or Well-Intentioned Extremist. The closest historical analogue I can come up with is Stalin, but Stalin never had to give a Motive Rant.
Read Remus! Has nothing to do with wolves.
 12 USAF713, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:39:44 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Well... you can get away with anything if it's entertaining enough.

One day I will write a meta-fiction about a Card-Carrying Villain who knows the Evil Overlord List by heart...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 13 nrjxll, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:42:02 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up][up]That isn't the same thing as saying that they do their actions for the sake of being evil. To say that someone can commit evil actions without any logical reason in their background to account for them is not the same as saying that they are actually thinking "Gee, I wonder how I can be evil today?"

In case you can't tell, I also consider the Card-Carrying Villain highly unrealistic.

edited 18th Sep '11 8:42:36 PM by nrjxll

It's easy, mmkay?
I do note that purely evil characters are not really often interesting as characters, but they can be vitally necessary as devices for generating reactions from other characters.

edited 18th Sep '11 8:42:37 PM by PDown

At first I didn't realize I needed all this stuff...
 15 Crystal Glacia, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:47:04 PM from Cedarpointland
There are some people who simply do evil things from time to time because they feel like acting evil. I've felt like this before. But I find basing something bigger than the occasional gag off of being evil unrealistic. Most real life people that we consider Complete Monsters or immorally, irredeemably evil did evil stuff because they honestly believed it was beneficial or otherwise good.

Of course, they could always be batshit insane. There's that, too.
Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
 16 chihuahua 0, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:47:34 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I think in order to have a strong, serious Complete Monster, they must have some sort of motive that isn't just "evil for the sake of being evil", but something more in-depth. Perhaps something like "destruction is beautiful"?

 17 USAF713, Sun, 18th Sep '11 8:53:32 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Evil for the sake of evil is pointlessly stupid in a serious setting. It would be awesome in a parody, however. [lol]

Now I want to write this. evil grin
I am now known as Flyboy.
I'm just going to quote point three on the page for my philosophy on realistically portraying complete monsters.

3. There is no adequate justification or Freudian Excuse to balance out the misdeeds. That is to say, while there may be a sad backstory present, it must in no way be able to excuse the heinous evil deeds the character commits.

So while they may have started out as a good person who experienced sanity slippage, was a cutie that had been broken too far, etc, the point is that they're too far gone now to be considered anything but completely irredeemable.

That's debatable. The point isn't that they can't change, or that they can't be sympathetic, but that their actions are so heinous that there is no excuse or justification even if there is a damn good reason. See Johan.

edited 18th Sep '11 9:13:25 PM by kashchei

And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
Responsible adult
You don't have to be realistic. You want to be plausible. To borrow a quote, "The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense."

And to that end, I think if you justify your character's actions correctly, that is good enough. If it feels like a person has a good motive, then it works.

Alternatively, make them so awful and cruel, we feel no need to question them. In my personal opinion, the best villains are either deep and complex, fleshed out such that they feel real, or just completely horrifying. I think that if a villain is sufficiently abhorrent, and by which I mean really awful and not just puppy-kicking for the heck of it, then the audience will be too scared to ask questions. tongue
"Proto-Indo-European makes the damnedest words related. It's great. It's the Kevin Bacon of etymology." ~Madrugada
Well, it worked with Sauron, Voldermort, and such, but only because you come to view them as sufficiently dehumanized not to expect realism from their actions.
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
 22 feotakahari, Sun, 18th Sep '11 10:40:09 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
It's realistic to have a villain who completely lacks empathy, and it's realistic to have a villain who's sadistic to people he believes were born inferior. Villains who lack empathy and are sadistic to everyone are a tougher sell, but there's a bit of precedent among serial killers.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 23 Nightwire, Sun, 18th Sep '11 11:39:39 PM Relationship Status: Who needs love when you have waffles?
Aggressively Apathetic
I think this article can help.
Pray tell, what school of trangression is this?
How about keeping your villain mysterious? Or at least keep his motivations a mystery. Let him act like a complete monster with just enough hints that there's more to it than just plain cruelty.

[up][up] This works too. There are people in real life who can't empathize so a lot of the things we consider evil is just alright with them.

And some people just like to troll.

 25 Night, Mon, 19th Sep '11 2:41:03 AM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Nobody ever really knew or figured out why Hitler set up the Holocaust. Not only did it waste the lives of people who could otherwise have fought for Germany or worked faithfully in her factories, it is not an insignificant undertaking to systematically exterminate six million people. Tens or hundreds of thousands of Germans were needed as guards, builders, operators for the camps and machinery that made it happen.

Complete monsters exist. Indeed, they are the rule and the norm in systems that are built upon force or charisma rather than tradition or rationality.
"Remember that you are fighting the machine and the pilot both, but you only have to beat one of them."
Total posts: 109
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