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Characters / Fire Emblem Antagonist Archetypes

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Alongside heroes, antagonists in the Fire Emblem series tend to follow certain archetypes in both story and gameplay.

To see the central character index for the entire Fire Emblem series, go here.

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Bandit Bosses

Monster of the Week that's typically unrelated to the evil empire, or ancient evil dragons.
  • The Gazzak: A Starter Villain and often the very first boss. Likes to prey on the weak. Usually a bandit or a pirate.
  • Bandit Twins: An eccentric duo that may be defending their turf from intruders or protecting stolen loot.

    The Gazzak 
When a Lord starts their journey, they will usually be given a weak group to face in order to ease up their journey before fighting imperial soldiers, evil cult members, or even dragons. The group called for this job are usually bandits (or sometimes, pirates). These bandits usually have leaders in the form of Gazzak. Gazzak characters usually don't have very deep characterization, as they exist to be disposed of early and then forgotten about. But they serve as the first step for the Lord characters to begin their journey. For this, they're always equipped with an axe, which is always on the losing end of the Lord's preferred weapon, the sword. They may occupy a throne to make up for their disadvantage of the weapon triangle. But overall, they serve as the Tutorial boss of each games, teaching the ropes to the players.

While this archetype is obviously unrecruitable, Fire Emblem Fates Conquest features a bald bandit leader with the same name (Gazak) that can be recruited by capturing and persuading him.

Characters of this archetype: Gazzak (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light); Gerrard (Genealogy of the Holy War); Damas (The Binding Blade); Batta (The Blazing Blade); Bazba (The Sacred Stones); Zawana (Path of Radiance); Pugo (Radiant Dawn); Garrick (Awakening); Bandit Head (Shadows of Valentia)note ; Kostas (Three Houses)

  • An Axe to Grind: Always their weapon of choice. And it's usually an Iron Axe too. Even Kostas, who is a member of the Thief class which traditionally specializes in swords, uses an axe due to the way weapons work in his game.
  • Beauty = Goodness: None of the Gazzaks are pretty, and they're usually one-dimensional evil bandits.
  • Flat Character: They don't need any other characterization aside from "Grr, evil bandits!". Tropes Are Not Bad, however, since you don't really need deep characterization on someone meant to be killed and forgotten in the very first act.
  • Lone Wolf Boss: With the exceptions of Gerrard and Kostas, they aren't connected to the game's main villains. They're just ordinary lowlifes out for coin.
  • Obviously Evil: Though low on the villainy chain, you can definitely tell from looks alone that they're not dashing swashbuckling rogues, but evil ravaging bandits.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Their standard modus operandi. They send out their men to destroy villages (if there's one in the map), thereby teaching the players to be quick to secure villages and get items.
  • Starter Villain: Usually the first enemy boss you encounter in the series.
  • Warm-Up Boss: They exist to familiarize the players with the usual game mechanics, especially if the game gets Nintendo Hard somewhere. If you can't beat them, you may want to lower the difficulty...
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: On higher difficulties, chances are that these guys will be the first taste of real difficulty, especially on that game's equivalent of Lunatic and Lunatic +.

    The Bandit Twins 
The Bandit Twins are Those Two Bad Guys, acting as recurring minor antagonists. The bandits have always had the same hairstyle; one has purple hair and one has dark hair. They usually appear in desert levels.

Traditionally an NPC archetype, though they can be "recruited" in Fire Emblem Fates by using the Capture command.

Characters of this Archetype: Maggie and Rose (The Binding Blade); Paul and Jasmine (The Blazing Blade); Pain and Agony (Radiant Dawn); Vincent and Victor (Awakening), Lloyd and Llewelyn (Fates)

  • Aerith and Bob: Their Japanese names tend to have this going on. Examples of the Awakening ones: Handsome (Vincent) and George (Victor).
  • Affably Evil: Most of the time, the twins are oddly polite for bandits.
  • An Axe to Grind: With the exception of the Tigers, Pain and Agony, they always use Axes.
  • Bald of Evil: Most of them are bandits and have a shaved head.
  • Butter Face: All of them have muscular builds, but somewhat homely faces.
  • The Berserker: Berserker is their most preferred class.
  • Creepy Twins: In some games, they're specified as related.
  • Desert Bandits: They're usually criminals that operate in the desert.
  • Dual Boss: They're almost always fought together. In Blazing Blade, they have a support bonus that gives one a higher critical rate, meaning it is important to defeat them before they get close enough to use it.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Dolph and Macellan in Archanea have some elements of the archetype; they are two thuggish-looking bald musclemen who are Inexplicably Identical Individuals that are always seen together, but they are playable Knights.
  • Gag Lips: Downplayed, but they're drawn with lips, while most characters aren't.
  • Gonk: All of them tend to be much uglier than other characters to differentiate them from the rest of the cast.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Most of them aren't related, despite looking like twins.
  • No Brows: They have no eyebrows, contributing to an intimidating appearance.
  • Palette Swap: In The Binding Blade, the two are direct palette swaps of each other, and a few other bosses like Scott also use their portrait. In the Japanese version of Fates, the bosses in Anna's DLC are not in fact them, but meat-themed bandits reusing their portraits. In the US version, the meat bandits were altered, and made to be Lloyd and Llewelyn.
  • Promoted to Playable: In Fates, the Bandit twins can be captured and recruited into the player's army.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Aside from Paul and Jasmine, all of the twins have a theme with their names.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: They're almost never seen without each other, and tend to be quite fond of each other. In The Blazing Blade, they even have an A-Support between them.


Noble Enforcers

Just battle commanders who happen to be playing for the wrong team. Beauty = Goodness is usually in effect, so you may even be led to think you could recruit them. Due to their strong values, knightly code, or for the sake of their loved ones, they remain loyal to the villains til the end.

  • The Camus: A typically male physical unit that fights out of loyalty to their nation or their master.
  • The Ishtar: A typically female magical unit that fights out of love for their nation or their people.
  • The One-Shot General: A lower-ranking general that is beloved by their subordinates. They last just as long as Gazzaks despite their later introduction and sympathy level.
  • The Murdock: A high-ranking male commander of a very physical class that is frantically loyal to their superior or organization. Whilst honorable, unlike Camus, a Murdock remains hostile towards the protagonists and never considers changing sides.

    The Camus 


The Camus is an Anti-Villain from the opposing army that acts as one of the Big Bad's generals. They hold no ill will towards the player's army and usually know that what their leader is doing is wrong, but they continue to fight anyway out of loyalty to their nation or lord. Unlike other enemy commanders, the Camus cares about the well-being of their subordinates, to the point where they even allow any soldier who does not want to fight to leave the battlefield. They also tend to be very powerful bosses on their own, either through their sheer stats or the fact that they possess a very powerful weapon (or both); if the weapon is obtainable, it probably won't be with their original user.

Characters of this archetype tend to not be recruitable.

Characters of this archetype: Camus (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light); Wolfnote  (Mystery of the Emblem); Eldigan and Arion (Genealogy of the Holy War); Reinhardt (Thracia 776); Galle (The Binding Blade); Lloyd and Linus (The Blazing Blade); Glen (The Sacred Stones); Bryce (Path of Radiance); Zelgius and Levail (Radiant Dawn); Yen'fay (Awakening); Xander or Ryomanote  (Fates); Dimitri note  (Three Houses); Helbindi and Xander (again) (Heroes)

  • Ancestral Weapon: Some, like Eldigan and Xander, wield weapons exclusive to them or their bloodline. Others, like Camus and Bryce, wield incredibly powerful weapons the player can get only with their death.
  • Anti-Villain: Their defining trope, they are the poster children of this in the whole franchise: They are the kind of people who would make great friends and allies if it wasn't for them being on the other side of the war, and their honor prevents them from defecting.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Corrin in Fates: Conquest serves as one despite being a playable character. They show just how hard it is to be unable to leave the service of the Big Bad because of your own personal commitments (whether to your loved ones or your country).
  • Foil: To the playable Lorenz archetype. Both are renowned enemy generals who don't completely support the villains' goals, but while the Lorenz's virtuousness ultimately wins out and allows him to join your party, the Camus is too caught up in Honor Before Reason to do the same. Ironically, the archetype-naming Camus himself has served as both opposing archetypes: his own in Shadow Dragon, and a Lorenz as Zeke in Gaiden.
  • Honor Before Reason: Many of them choose death over disobeying their masters. This can be a main difference between them and the Ishtar archetype: While sometimes an Ishtar would use their love for someone amongst the bad guys (be it family or lover) as a reason to fight the good guys, a Camus is always about a knight's honor and loyalty to country (and its innocent people), not a romance partner. While the original Camus had a love affair with Princess Nyna, she was not the Princess of his country, Grust, which he dedicated his battles for, and solemnly accepted that their forbidden love was not meant to be. The only one who kind of deviates from this is Reinhardt, whose affection for Ishtar became one of his reasons to not leave Friege, in addition to his knight's honor.
  • It's Personal: There are some cases that a Camus character may be on the way to defect because of their piling up doubts, but then something happened: You wrecked their side so much some of their really close friends suffer or die. At that point, a Camus will outright reject any notions of joining the good guys because things just escalated on a personal level. Just look at what happened to Lloyd & Linus, Xander & Ryoma (in Birthright and Conquest, respectively). Ironically, it was Ishtar who codified this before she ended up branching to her own archetype.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Usually, they disagree with many of the actions done by their ruler/country, but ultimately obey nevertheless. The sole exception is Glen, who might have turned face if he had the chance; too bad Valter murdered him first.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: They're usually one of the most powerful forces on the enemies' side, but have a strong sense of honor.
  • Redemption Rejection: Any attempt to convince them to defect to the heroes falls on deaf ears, and they must be killed (or occasionally circumvented). The sole exceptions are Arion, who actually can be convinced to stand down by Altena, and Lloyd/Linus (whoever you fight first) and Glen, who are murdered before they get the chance.
  • Sole Survivor: Ironically, Camus is the only one of his archetype who definitely canonically lives after the events of the game he's introduced in. Ryoma and Xander are also this by definition of being playable either in Birthright or Conquest for either of them or Revelations for both of them, but neither of them are Camuses in the routes they survive.
  • Undying Loyalty: All of them towards their country/nation.
  • Worthy Opponent: They often come to see the Lords as such, sometimes bordering on rivalry levels.


    The Ishtar 
Often called the female Camus, the Ishtar serves a similar role to the Camus, being an Anti-Villain who fights for the sake of their country and is usually not a Hate Sink. The main difference between this and the Camus, however, is that the Ishtar is the female character equivalent. Typically, the Ishtar knows their country is wrong, but are loyal to a loved one, usually a betrothed or lover, and fight to protect them from the heroes. When they are not fighting to protect a loved one, they instead fight for the sake of protecting their home country. If they do fight the heroes, they typically use magic to be a Foil to their usually physically-oriented lover, or to differentiate them from other Camus characters in the game. In most situations, they decide to leave the battlefield entirely, usually because of Conflicting Loyalty, and typically end up appearing in the end in some manner. If they appear frequently in the story, they are typically at odds with the Dark Lady. In some rare instances, they are not even fought by the heroes, and instead simply try to stop the heroes, or even those close to them, from fighting.

Characters of this archetype tend to not be recruitable, though in some cases, they are actually playable units who, due to story events, are now enemies with the player.

Characters of this archetype: Ishtar (Genealogy of the Holy War); Altena (Thracia 776); Brunnya (The Binding Blade); Selena (The Sacred Stones); Enanote  and Jillnote  (Path of Radiance); Micaiahnote  (Radiant Dawn); Flora and Hinokanote  (Fates); Rineanote  (Shadows of Valentia); Catherine note  (Three Houses); Laegjarn (Heroes)

  • Anti-Villain: Like the Camus, they are all sympathetic in why they fight the heroes. Almost all of them are loyal to their home and simply wish to protect it. In some cases, they do so to protect loved ones.
  • Beauty = Goodness: All of them are attractive, beautiful ladies. Naturally, you can tell they aren't anywhere near as evil as some of the others.
  • Combat Medic: In some cases, the Ishtar is a magic class with the ability to heal others, usually meant to symbolize their kindness, while most Camus are physical bruisers. An notable exception is Catherine, who's effectively a female Camus.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: A common trait among them is a growing concern of what they should do. For most, they stop fighting once it reaches a point where they cannot overcome it. In some cases, they instead choose to die fighting for their home.
  • Dark Chick: Due to their emotional struggles and occasional kindness (to the point they don't actively fight at times, like Ena and Rinea), they tend to hold this place amongst the bad guys.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Micaiah starts off being your typical Ishtar, fighting for the people and her country despite having misgivings about the reasons for the conflict. As the war goes on however, she gradually begins to crack under the pressure of knowing that she is fighting against what she believes in, and yet also being too loyal to stop fighting, resorting in her becoming more desperate and willing to betray her own beliefs in the hopes she can end the war in Daien's victory. The result is that she nearly kills several thousand soldiers in a trap, leading to her being called out by Tibarn when he puts Sothe in danger. The result makes Micaiah break down and call off her trap, as she realizes she has become no better than the enemy they originally fought for liberation, and that she cannot ignore her own feelings like she started off doing. She resolves herself to stop fighting after, but outside factors force the conflict to continue anyway.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Pretty much a female version of Camus with the same nobleness and loyalty.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Female and more innocent than the other enemies, definitely moreso than the Dark Lady.
  • Foil: To the Dark Lady. The Dark Lady usually is a cruel, evil, and sadistic woman who fights for malevolent reasons, while the Ishtar is a kind, good, and honest woman who fights for what they believe in. This usually is reflected in their designs, as the Dark Lady will usually have darker clothing, hair, and, design-wise, an overtly sexual appearance, while the Ishtar will usually have lighter hair, clothing, and a modest but still beautiful appearance.
    • Also to the heroic Minerva half of the Wyvern Duo archetype, for similar reasons as the Camus vs the Lorenz.
  • Love Redeems: Subverted in most cases. If they are loyal out of love, even if it isn't romance but familiar, most of them attempt to convince the one they love to back out of fighting. Sadly, it almost never works, largely because the one they love is also extremely loyal, or goes off the deep-end in terms of sanity.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: If they aren't loyal out of love for another, they typically are just very steadfast in their loyalty to their home. Unlike the Camus, they are almost all aware of how wrong the things they, or their country, are doing, but remain silent since they feel it is the right thing to do. This is why Micaiah, Hinoka and Catherine fall into the archetype, as while they are playable characters, the direction of the story makes them an antagonist to the faction currently being played.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: If you want to know which female antagonist is more sympathetic, look at the one who dresses more conservatively. That would be the Ishtar, not the Dark Lady.
  • The Stoic: A good amount of them are fairly stoic, largely because they hold their true feelings back and follow orders. When they do show emotions, it usually is meant to be a sign that they've reached a breaking point.
  • Undying Loyalty: They are all fiercely loyal to their country or lord. Like the Camus, they tend to obey even orders they know are wrong.

    The One-Shot General 
An archetype which combines the qualities of a Camus and the screen time of a Gazzak. They're all meant to be one-shot antagonists meant to be forgotten once beaten, but at times, they possess enough decency that they don't come off Obviously Evil, but more like an Anti-Villain or a personable Punch-Clock Villain who fought against the player, once again blurring the shade of good versus evil within the story. Most of the time, the reason is that the nastier commanders applied very harsh orders that anyone who disobeyed the orders would be thoroughly punished, and these men had no choice but to obey, which would at least protect their squad; they and their squad would have a lot better lives if they just didn't end up under that one Bad Boss. Unlike Camus characters, they don't appear in other cutscenes, only appearing in the battle they're in. Yet, they're personable and honorable enough to make you wish that they could have more screentime or prominence. Sometimes, they do get the latter... posthumously.

Aside from their level of sympathy and screen time, another way to differentiate them with a Camus is that they tend to not have a powerful weapon. Their position tends to be not as high as a Camus, so it is more reflected with how their weapon tends to be nothing special, a trait shared with other common bosses. Sure, it makes them easier to fight, but it doesn't diminish the level of sympathy or tragedy.

Like Camus, characters of this archetype tend to not be recruitable.

Characters of this archetype: Sternlin (Shadow Dragon); Magnus (Gaiden); Yodel (Mystery of the Emblem); Ishtore and Liza (Genealogy of the Holy War); Eagler and Uhai (Blazing Blade); Shiraham and Hafedd (Path of Radiance); Veyona (Radiant Dawn); Mustafa and Pheros (Awakening); Lonato (Three Houses)

  • Anti-Villain: Even when they're being one-shot characters, they can show quite a lot of sympathies, sometimes comparable to Camus and Ishtar.
  • A Father to His Men: They're shown to care about the lives of their men and will ensure their lives are saved with their death, especially later ones. Unlike Camus characters, who are actually powerful enough to strike out, but bogged down with honor, One-Shot Generals usually fight the heroes because if they disobey their orders, their own men will pay the price, and they don't have enough power to directly disobey. Most of those who fought under them will express how much they're good, nurturing commanders.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Yes, they're sympathetic. But most likely, you'll be forced to strike them down and then move on like nothing happened.
  • One-Scene Wonder: They're just meant to be forgettable one-shot bosses, not even appearing in previous cutscenes, yet they can end up being really memorable.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: They don't have hard feelings for your army, but they've got a job from the bad guys... and if they disobey, their squad, true to the trope, will pay the price.
  • Trope Codifier: Before Genealogy, examples of this archetype usually counts because of commenting about their men paying the price if they disobey, and that's it, you just move on like nothing happened. It's only after Ishtore and Liza appear that the archetype was improved and showing its true form, since they're the first to get posthumous characterization and lamenting (Seliph lamented that Ishtore and Liza were very decent and likable to their men and yet he's forced to kill them, they're also both genuinely loving couple and Ishtore was revealed to be nice towards Tine/Linda.)

    The Murdock 

Perhaps the least sympathetic of the Noble Enforcers characters (but still more sympathetic than the more evil characters), the Murdock is a high ranking general in the enemy ranks that might look affable and not being evil about it, but he doesn't share the doubts and conflicts plaguing either the Camus, Ishtar or the One-Shot General. He may be a personable fellow out of battle, but when it comes to fighting the war, he steadfastly remains loyal to his nation/liege and does his job of planting himself like a wall between you and his nation/liege most admirably, as an ultimate show of loyalty and the fact that he's a model soldier. Call it Blind Obedience or the likes of it, but he has been raised to value the thing known as loyalty and held those values highly. His men are highly motivated, he might not be A Father to His Men, but he won their loyalty via strict discipline and proper training. He's decked with either powerful muscles or heavy armor that makes him a mighty physical fighter, if you face him, you may not feel pity or sadness, but rather an adrenaline rush of fighting for your life, he is a Worthy Opponent for you to unleash everything you know and prepared so far.

A Murdock is usually encountered rather late game and will probably be the second toughest (or third, if there is a Camus/Ishtar, then they tend to compete for the position) enemy you face before eventually facing the higher level of bad guys, mostly due to the fact that they tend to possess any of the Mighty Glacier class. Their high enough HP and stats might make you be wary in sending your mages, in case they actually tanked the magic and then prepares a counterattack that can kill.

Named after the high ranking general of Bern in The Binding Blade, who made several appearances prior of his battle to showcase his honorable, strict personality, but otherwise remained loyal to his lost cause of empire due to his own Undying Loyalty.

Characters of this archetype: Brian (Genealogy of the Holy War); Murdock (Binding Blade); Brendan (Blazing Blade); Dheginsea (Radiant Dawn); Orridyonnote  (Shadow Dragon); Cervantes (Awakening); Dedue and Gilbert (Three Houses)

  • An Axe to Grind: For some reason, Murdocks prefer axes more than a spear.
  • Anti-Villain: They're more of a Type I. They don't want to be seen as a conflicted Woobie, they know their role as antagonist and will stick with it. However, they're still noble warriors without going to the extremes like a Michalis that could have been perfectly personable if you are on their side (unfortunately, you're not).
  • Evil Counterpart: In two ways:
    • Murdocks are Evil Counterpart to the good Lorenz, a high ranking general that eventually realizes the error of their way and turn the other leaf late game. If that is a Murdock, however, he will refuse to turn a new leaf, because he already set his loyalty to his liege/nation.
    • On the other hand, Murdocks are actually either a Good Counterpart or A Lighter Shade of Black towards Jiols. Sure, both of them can look imposing with their armors, but a Murdock knows some genuine decency off battle and does not indulge in either politics or corrupt scheming, they know their position as a soldier. Jiols, on the other hand, are slimy jerks despite their size and high rank.
  • Four-Star Badass: Their ranks are amongst the highest in the enemy army and they are more than capable of delivering a mighty fight.
  • Large and in Charge: Members of the Murdoch archetype use large classes like General and Warrior. Official artwork tends to show them as especially large as well.
  • Mighty Glacier: That size of them isn't just for show, it also showcases their Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Promoted to Playable: Three Houses adds up cases of playable Murdocks:
    • Dedue is the first Murdock that's actually playable outside of bonus modes, but only if you take the Azure Moon route, and even then, he takes on elements of a Draug. Otherwise, his Undying Loyalty and tendencies to do any crazy things to better serve Dimitri without joining you makes him this archetype.
    • Similarly, Gilbert is an older version of the archetype and takes Dedue's place in the Azure Moon route, just in case Dedue wasn't saved from his Plotline Death (and even then, he still sticks around). On Crimson Flower, though, he decides to stick with his guns with the Church of Seiros despite Rhea becoming more and more unhinged.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Their defining trope. They're fairly affable and professional off the battlefield, but are still willing to commit atrocities in their master's name.
  • Stern Teacher: Their relationship with their men is strict and professional, whilst simultaneously valuing the lives of their soldiers. As a result, soldiers and commanders serving under them have the same loyalty to their general.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Being one of the few playable characters of this archetype, Dedue naturally has his reasons for his fanatical loyalty fleshed out the most. As it turns out, his direct family was wiped out in the genocide of his people, and Dimitri both saved him from being slaughtered like they were and is the most sympathetic of the royal family to the Duscur people's plight, meaning their future would look even bleaker than it already is if something were to happen to him.
  • Trope Maker: Brian, who only appeared in the last scenario, being a Master Knight with stats that almost made him a Great Knight (basically, a mounted version of Mighty Glacier, helped with his unique axe Helswath that made him more like that) fighting for nothing more than restoring his stained house's name and lamented if he was fighting for the wrong side on his death. Despite the fact that Lewyn still bashed him for still continuing the decline of House Dozel, he's a lot more Anti Villainous than his predecessors (who were squarely on Jiol archetype). He didn't get to name the archetype due to how he only had the screentime of a One-Shot General. Murdock would be the first to perfect the formula with extended screentime.
  • Undying Loyalty: This is a Murdock's greatest calling card, a counterpart for Camus' Honor Before Reason. So, he might not be on the more moral side... so what? For Murdocks, steadfast loyalty is the greatest moral value there is, and you can't convince them otherwise.
  • Worthy Opponent: He may view the player as this, nothing more, nothing less. Meta-wise, he'll be a very tough boss that requires better yet fair effort to defeat.

The Vile Opportunists

Unlike the protagonists, who wish for a better world, or the true antagonists, who want to create a new world order, these villains live in the grey of the moment. For some, the chaos of war has given them an opportunity to seize political power, prestige, or wealth. For others, it's just an outlet to express their inner vices.
  • The Michalis: Noble Demons who will commit wicked acts to preserve themselves, their people, or their way of life.
  • The Jiol: Corrupt, cowardly politicians who only care about themselves. Often Generals prone to backstabbing.
  • The Brute
    • The Kempf: Narcissists consumed by wrath or lust, who live out their power fantasies on the battlefield. Typically the bad guys' psychotic attack dog.
    • The Black Knight: An evolution of the Kempf who trades out narcissism and full-on psychosis for enigmaticness and a desire to find a Worthy Opponent, no matter who they have to cut down to do it. They tend to be The Dreaded who wear some form of helmet or mask and are known only by titles rather than actual names.

    The Michalis 
Michalis is something of a foil to Camus. Whereas Camus is a noble Anti-Villain, Michalis is quite the straight-up villain. These characters are driven by ambition and will do anything, and by that we mean anything, including dishonorable tactics or being as indecent as possible. Mostly part of nobility, they can be very haughty on their own and don't come off as decent out of battle, unlike Camus. However, they do share one thing with Camus: besides ambition, they also at the very least have their national pride. Most of their actions are also driven by the desire to make their people prosper (they couldn't care less about people outside their nation); usually, their people have gone through some sort of suffering and they would gladly do anything to alleviate that, including being hated by the very people they're trying to save. In other words, they are the Noble Demon of the Fire Emblem series. How much it saves them from being unsympathetic varies, but it certainly adds Villainous Valor points that makes them likable as villains, and if lucky, they may even find redemption just as karma catches up to them or become an 11th-Hour Ranger.

Characters of this archetype: Michalis (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light); Arvis and Travant (Genealogy of the Holy War); Naesala (Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn); Takumi note  (Fates); Berkut (Shadows of Valentia); Claude note  (Three Houses)

  • Ambition Is Evil: What makes them a bad guy and an effective one too. They have ambitions (usually for their nation), and stop at nothing to achieve it.
  • Beauty = Goodness: These are the antagonists that are most likely to look good. And they're also the ones who get noble or redeeming qualities, even if they stay antagonistic. This occasionally opens up a chance to join your team too.
  • Dark Messiah: To their nation, they may look like or fancy themselves as this, doing everything they can to save their nation. The response from their citizens may vary from accepting or being outright disgusted.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Berkut deconstructs the Michalis archetype. He starts off the game a smug antagonist who is sure of his goals and set in his way of thinking, like most Michalises tend to be. However, as he loses the war with Alm, he slowly begins losing his mental fortitude, becoming more unhinged until he learns the truth of his uncle's plans. Having his entire life's goal and purpose ripped out from under him, Berkut falls into total villainy, becoming a shell of his former self. Unlike other Michalises, Berkut's fall is less him being outright defeated, and more a result of the way he was raised.
    • Claude in the Crimson Flower route is what you get if you put a Michalis in a more realistic war setting. His primary goal is the survival of his nation, and while he is willing to fight dirty, he doesn't go down the level of the other examples, and is ultimately less a threat than other players in the setting, ironically making the first heroic Michalis via deconstruction.
  • Noble Demon: They're assholes, yes, but they can possess some humane and noble qualities.
  • The Scapegoat: For a lot of them, they are willing to be marked as an evil bastard by history, just as long as their people prosper in the future. And they willingly act like one too.
  • The Unfettered: A standout trait and key in what makes them so despicable: Their ultimate goals and motivations can be admirable or not, but they are all willing to perform some utterly heinous actions to reach them.

    The Jiol 
The Jiol is a seemingly minor antagonist character that has been around the franchise since the beginning. Much like Michalis, they will do anything to get what they want. However, the Jiol lack the charisma and valor to compare with Michalis, making them look pretty much like slimeballs and designated to be disliked. Just like Michalis, Jiol has a presence in the political world of the verse and is probably much more invested in politics than battle. However, they are also often shown as an example that power in politics corrupts the mind and they often become walking examples of bad nobility to contrast with either the Lord or even the Michalis, usually backstabbing other innocent nobility... which is mostly the good Lord's. Jiol characters usually began their position as an ally of sorts for the Lords, but the moment the evil Empire comes in and offers more power and opportunity... they turn their back from the path of decency and selfishly pursue the power.

They do possess an imposing presence when they actually go to battle, represented with the class General, though there are some exceptions to this rule. Like Michalis, they are never Final Boss material, but oftentimes, they serve as the Disc-One Final Boss; maybe there is some sort of story climax in defeating them, but they're never the end goal.

Characters of this archetype: Jiol and Morzas (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light); Desaix (Gaiden and its remake); Lang (Mystery of the Emblem); Chagall, Lombard, Reptor, Danann, and Bloom (Genealogy of the Holy War); Raydrick (Thracia 776); Erik, Arcard, and Roartz (The Binding Blade); Lundgren and Darin (The Blazing Blade); Orson (Sacred Stones); Ludveck (Radiant Dawn); Gangrel (Awakening); Kotaro (Fates); Cornelia and Acheron (Three Houses); Oskar (Warriors)

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Serves as a way to show the dark side of aristocracy in the Fire Emblem universe, contrasting with your army's 'good aristocracy'. Played With by Orson; he's more of a knight than aristocrat, but after betraying Renais, he temporarily becomes the king of Renais and runs the country into the ground.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Although they may be sniveling cowards, they will not go down without a mighty fight when cornered. Usually. There are ass-kicking perks when you've got a high position in the political world.
  • Bad Boss: As a rule, they tend to be tyrants, making the commonfolk suffer. When they fall and the heroes liberated the land, the people will rejoice that they're finally free from tyranny. Moreso if the land happened to be the Lord's homeland, which usually erects Rightful King Returns rejoicing.
  • Composite Character: Cornelia is an attempt to combine a Jiol archetype with a Dark Lady archetype, being that she is the one who sold part of her Kingdom into the Adraestian Empire to save her own hide and rule; and highly antagonistic against Dimitri (and an older lady to boot). There are some hints that she might be part of "Those who slither in the dark' (which may be a reason why she's a partial Dark Lady), but it's never confirmed outright.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: They may serve as the Climax Boss for an earlier arc, but after that, it's time to move on to the next, greater arc.
  • Evil Old Folks: They certainly got the age... and they're evil. The only exception is Ludveck, but he's just as bad.
  • Face–Heel Turn: They tend to start as some sort of ally of the good guys, but then betray them for petty reasons, mostly cowardice or other tempting reasons. Orson is even playable for one scenario before he betrays Renais.
  • Hate Sink: Responsible for a lot of atrocities that befall the heroes, you're supposed to dislike these guys and want them to die. Them being stereotypical 'evil noble' characters also enforces this as well. The only real exception is Orson, who is at least somewhat pitiable.
  • Large and in Charge: The earlier versions of this archetype are of the General class (or Baron, in case of those from the Jugdral games), decked with big armor to compensate for their smugness. Morzas in Shadow Dragon isn't armored, but turns into a large Mage Dragon. Cornelia is the only exception by not being large, making it up by being a high-ranking mage.
  • The Quisling: What was that, a gigantic Empire came knocking to the door? Obviously, the best course of action is to sell out their allies for the Empire, then start bootlicking the Empire in exchange of survival, political power or other bonuses.
  • Sleazy Politician: If not being an outright Corrupt Politician, power in politics is one of the things they seek.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Cornelia is so far the only female Jiol archetype character, thus she's not too old. Had it not been for her political involvement, she would've been a straight-up Dark Lady.
  • Sole Survivor: There are multiple examples.
    • Downplayed with Ludveck, whilst he never dies, he is sent to prison and unmentioned for the rest of the story.
    • Likewise downplayed with Gangrel, he can recruited in a SpotPass paralogue, but his ending states he dies shortly after the events of the game, unless romanced.
    • Acheron is not a required target in the Crimson Flower route in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, though it's unknown what happens to him afterwards.
    • Cornelia is also The Unfought on both Verdant Wind and Silver Snow routes.

    The Brute 

The Kempf

Not every notable enemy holds a high ranking in the army. Some of them may be mercenaries, hired swords, or even generals on the level of a Camus or lower. They also possess either great battle lust or overly high ambition that could match any other villains, even Michalis characters, and they resort to despicable actions just to show those off, without any care about how many will suffer because of it. They're technically obeying the higher chain of villains and may use the Just Following Orders excuse, but it makes them no less despicable and a lot of times, soldiers under them may comment how much it was like hell to be under their command. A lot of these guys risk their sanity in battle, eventually becoming an insane Ax-Crazy fighter that has to be put down. Almost no sympathy would be given to these guys, and it sometimes clues you in how bad the evil empire has been if they allowed such psychopaths into their ranks.

Characters of this archetype: Kempf (Thracia 776); Narcian (The Binding Blade); Pascal and Jerme (The Blazing Blade); Caellach and Valter (The Sacred Stones); Jarod and Valtome (Radiant Dawn); Iago and Hans (Fates); Slaydenote  (Shadows of Valentia); Kronya and Metodey (Three Houses)

  • Ambition Is Evil: Similarly to Michalis, a lot of them are more concerned in moving up ranks, getting more fame and a better paycheck, but without regards of their own country, they're just in for self-fame and advancement and hedonism (unlike Michalis). And they stop at absolutely nothing to get their way and may even enjoy the atrocities they commit to reach that.
  • Ax-Crazy: A lot of them are really unhinged in the head (though some at least make the effort to hide it)... and some of them, like Valter and Hans, get even worse as the story goes on.
  • Bad Boss: Even moreso than Michalis, if they do command others. Anyone serving them may comment on what kind of bad commander this guy is. The only exception is Jarod, who displays Villainous Valor and proves to be A Father to His Men when his back's to the wall (although before that happened, he was openly murdering one of his men for doing his orders wrong).
  • Blood Knight: A lot of times, these guys just love fighting and slaughtering anyone they come across.
  • The Brute: They're the main muscle of the group.
  • Composite Character: In Three Houses, Kronya is both a Kempf (from her overall craziness and blood thirst) as well as a Dark Lady due to being a member of "those who slither in the dark", which means her past incarnation, Monica, used to be more normal, although it is made more clear that they are different persons.
  • Hate Sink: They are designed to make the players desire to lop off their heads because they purposely show off their glee in either brutality or narcissism without care about any other lives than themselves.
  • Just Following Orders: Their favorite excuse, if they even bother trying to 'justify' their actions. For a lot of them, though, that tends to be unable to cover up their massive atrocities or glee on brutality.
  • Narcissist: If the character isn't that ugly or unhinged in the face, then this is their trait, a thorough case of self-loving and thinking that they're the best/most beautiful and the only thing that matters in the world (such as Kempf, Narcian, and Slayde). In this case, Beauty = Goodness is averted for them.
  • Psycho for Hire: They're basically the bad guys' primary attack dog. They may try to excuse themselves as a Punch-Clock Villain, but their brutalities say otherwise and annul their claims about it.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Their rank might not be that high compared to either a Camus or a Murdock, but BOY do they love to flaunt their so-called superiority onto others like they're even better than those two (and watch as their ego take a gigantic nosedive the moment you start kicking their asses).
  • The Smurfette Principle: Three Houses proves that even female characters can also be an example of this archetype with Kronya, the psychotic and bloodthirsty member of "those who slither in the dark" with a rank low enough that Solon sees it okay to just sacrifice her life for his own plans.

The Black Knight

Starting from the Tellius series, the series has begun experimenting with a new kind of brute. Still being the attack dog of the antagonists, they differ in a way that they do not indulge in selfish ranking privileges and being an out and out jerk (they do, however, act very enigmatic). They still showcase an exceptionally dreadful battle lust by being a Blood Knight, but they're not in it for the slaughter, but chances to fight a Worthy Opponent of their caliber. To make themselves look more terrifying, they usually don something to cover their heads, be it mask or helmet. This is one of the ways to instill Evil Is Cool within a villain; by making them a legitimate The Dreaded in appearance and personality.

Gameplay-wise, while these characters meet their end eventually (if they do anyway)... they have a tendency to appear in the early-mid stage of the story. This usually sends a shock to the player because these guys are extraordinarily powerful, way more powerful than anyone in your army during that stage, and sending people against these guys in those times tend to be a death sentence. However, as the game progresses, your army will gain sufficient strength to finally face this guy head on, and it still won't be a cakewalk, these guys just finally recognize you as a Worthy Opponent and will fight to the fullest.

Characters of this archetype: Black Knight (Path of Radiance); Legion (New Mystery of the Emblem); Death Knight/Jeritza (Three Houses); Lif (Heroes)

  • Black Knight: They are enigmatic figures clad in dark armor who conceal their identities with masks. The codifier for this archetype is even literally called the Black Knight.
  • Blood Knight: They are more selective than the Kempfs, but it's clear that they very much enjoy a good fight, especially when their opponents are worthy of their caliber.
  • Composite Character: This archetype combines traits of Kempf with traits of Murdock or Camus (and a head-covering garment), resulting in an enigmatic Brute who has a thrill for battle but does not kill indiscriminately, more or less acting like a powerful enigma in search of a Worthy Opponent; and doesn't care for self-advancement in titles and riches. This is shown somewhat in Legion but more blatantly in the Death Knight.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The Death Knight/Jeritza presents a much darker take on the enigmatic and unpredictable nature of the Black Knight archetype in his support conversations. Jeritza, previously known as Emile, developed a Split Personality that he treats as a second person as a result of years of abuse by his father and finally learning that his father intended to forcefully make his step-daughter and Emile's half-sister Mercedes his wife, and then murdering him and the rest of House Bartels in rage. While Jeritza is normally calm and reserved, the Death Knight is as much of a murderous lunatic as a traditional Kempf, and not only does Jeritza struggle to keep this side of him in check, not even Mercedes is safe from the Death Knight despite Jeritza creating the persona to protect her. Jeritza works with the Adrestian Empire and seeks challenging opponents not only as thanks for giving him a place to belong, but to keep the Death Knight's bloodlust satiated and prevent him from going on killing sprees, but even Edelgard doesn't have complete control over this side of him. He's only able to overcome this in his paired endings with Byleth or Mercedes on Crimson Flower.
  • The Dreaded: Chances are if they enter the battle... you know the shit is going to hit the fan if you ever try to confront them without preparation.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Shrouded with mysteries and sometimes does not follow the usual protocol of the bad guys, which makes them even more unpredictable and dangerous.
  • Sole Survivor: The Death Knight is the only Brute who can live to see the end of his natural lifespan, and only on the Crimson Flower route.

Evil's Inner Circle

These are the highest-level antagonists. They're beyond the moral conflicts of the Noble Enforcers, and the political games of the Opportunists. They want to totally upset the world, and will invoke monsters, dragons, and gods to do it.

    The Hardin 
The Hardin is a unique breed amongst the villains that they could technically overlap with any of the other archetypes, or be their own character. Their main trait also makes them one of the most tragic of the villain group: They have been possessed by an evil force, their brains set in the way of 'kill the good guys' or 'ruin the world', and the only way to stop them is to beat the crap out of them or kill them. The Lord's army would eventually do so, usually sending them to a peaceful death or maybe a very tragic one that, while the army might not notice, perhaps the players will. They usually used to be close acquaintances with the Lord and/or the heroine, if not an arch-nemesis of sorts, making the struggle against them more personal.

Because of this, they cannot be recruited, because utter tragedy is what built these villains.

Characters of this archetype: Hardin (Mystery of the Emblem); Julius (Genealogy of the Holy War); Lyon (The Sacred Stones); Eremiah (New Mystery of the Emblem); Robinnote  (Awakening); Garonnote  and Takuminote  (Fates); Veronica and Bruno (Heroes); Darios (Warriors)

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Once beaten, they usually get a sympathetic sendoff. Even Julius is given one, as Julia tries to remember what he was when they were younger.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: They have been screwed off in the brain and are now out there to kill the Lord and his army or ravage the world.
  • Demonic Possession: Most of the time, it's the Medeus figure doing so. There are two types of possession; the first is where the demonic figure claims the body as their own, such as Loptous, Fomortiis, and Grima; the second is where the demonic figure controls the host like a minion, such as the Darksphere, Duma, and Anankos.
  • Dying as Yourself: All of them except Julius and Conquest/Revelation Garon get to return to their senses as they die.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: If they're not born into a diabolical bloodline, jealousy (oftentimes towards the Lord) is usually the major catalyst that made them vulnerable to Demonic Possession.
  • Mercy Kill: There's no saving them; all you can do is put them out of their misery.
  • Raised as a Host: Some of them exist only to be possessed. The most extreme examples of this are Julius and Robin; they were born only to be the vessel for a dark dragon, and nothing more.
  • That Man Is Dead: In the most extreme examples of this, the host is almost completely dead in terms of their being, and is fully taken over by the possessor. Lyon in Erika's route (to Fomortiis) and Bad Future!Robin (to Grima) are the most extreme examples of this.
  • Tragic Villain: These guys didn't become villains by choice; villainy is something forced upon them (unlike Camus or Ishtar), making them usually the most sympathetic.

    The Dark Lady 
Among the antagonists tend to be at least one prominent woman. She is a high-ranking soldier and a member of the villains' hand-picked inner circle. As such, she carries an extremely high opinion of herself, and extreme devotion (up to and including being brainwashed) to the Big Bad she serves. Many of them have sadistic tendencies, either being a ruthless Bad Boss herself to her underlings or manipulating others.

As she loses repeatedly to the heroes, her sense of self-worth and worldview go into a downward spiral.

For all her devotion, she is rarely rewarded. She may end up dying a tragic death on the battlefield like any other boss, with her superiors hardly batting an eye. In her final moments, she may have a Heel Realization or even suffer a deserved Karmic Death.

While they vary in class from game to game, they wear darker colors and provocative clothing. They are usually of the subset of mages, or at least ranged fighters.

This archetype has its own evolution as well. In the earlier days, it was meant to avert Females Are More Innocent as opposed to the Ishtar (as the first example of this archetype, Hilda, was considered so heinously evil that many might consider her equal or worse than the top tier evils in Jugdral). Starting from New Mystery of the Emblem, Intelligent System injected some of the sympathy of the Ishtar into this archetype: That no one was born evil, and the Dark Ladies ended up becoming ladies who used to be virtuous or sorts, but then tragedy struck and they became preys of the evil's inner circle, mostly via brainwashing, becoming a twisted version of their old selves. From here on, their fate was to come back to their old selves once they are about to die, or perhaps have a shot in redemption (this is rare, however).

Characters of this archetype: Hilda (Genealogy of the Holy War); Sonia (The Blazing Blade); Petrine (Path of Radiance); Eremiya and Clarisse (New Mystery of the Emblem); Aversa (Awakening); Camillanote  and Arete (Fates); Nuibaba (Shadows of Valentia)note ; Kronya and Cornelia (Three Houses); Loki and Thrasir (Heroes)

  • Alas, Poor Villain: For the newer forms only (the earlier ones got well-deserved deaths as intended). Eremiya, Clarisse, Aversa, and Arete are all victims of brainwashing and Thrasir died while lamenting that she couldn't restore her Bruno.
  • Bad Boss: The faceless mooks and lower bosses are terrified of them, as they show no remorse in punishing or executing even allies for their failures.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Since New Mystery of the Emblem, its been common for Dark Ladies to be brainwashed into evil. To differentiate with Hardin, the brainwashing are mostly without any possession by the Medeus figure. All that was needed was for the Gharnef figure to cast some type of brainwashing unto them. Camilla in Conquest averts this at least, she is not brainwashed, but she has her family honor and loyalty to concern with (though not as extreme as Xander's, she avoided death because of it.)
  • Black Mage: Usually. Eremiya, Hilda, Sonia, Arete, Nuibaba, Cornelia and Thrasir are part of the mage class family proper. Petrine is of a normally physical class, but wields a magic flame lance. Aversa is a Dark Flier with Shadowgift, a magic-wielding pegasus class unique to Awakening with the personal ability to cast Dark Magic. Camilla can cast black magic, but she much prefers whacking with axes.
  • Composite Character: In Three Houses, the Dark Ladies of the game take aspect of several other antagonist archetypes:
    • Cornelia indulges in politics in a far greater extent than other dark ladies (Hilda was only involved in a smaller manner) and also participates in selling out Faerghus in favor of the Adraestian Empire. And with her being practically an elder lady, she would end up taking aspects of the 'old, sleazeball, backstabbing politician' pioneered by Jiol.
    • Kronya is basically the psychotic attack dog of 'Those who Slither in the Dark' prone to insulting her victims and relished in the bloodshed, but her rank amongst the group was considerably lower, basically making her the Kempf for 'Those who Slither in the Dark'.
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy: They are typically dressed much more provocatively than their peers, and for the in-game class. Eremiya is dressed like a saintly nun, fitting her Bishop class, though she is meant to serve as a facade to recruit unwitting orphans.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: If you look at this archetype right now, and come back to the older series and see how unabashedly evil the older entries of this archetype are (Hilda, Sonia and Petrine; and even Petrine had some minor genuine Pet the Dog moments with Ena, to show signs of evolution), you may roll eyes on how things have changed. Hilda in fact was intentionally designed to avert the Females Are More Innocent trope, being unapologetically evil.
  • Evil Matriarch: Eremiya is the adoptive mother of Clarisse and Katarina, Hilda is the mother of Ishtar (but delivers her cruelty mostly to her niece Tine/Linda), Sonia is the adoptive mother of Nino, and Arete is the real mother of Azura — who subverts this for being Brainwashed and Crazy; before her death, she was a very gentle mother, and returns to her kind self as she dies. Camilla at least in Birthright plays around with and defies this. Despite her aggressiveness, she's still a doting lady who prefers raising children genuinely and still inspires loyalty to her subordinates (Selena and Beruka). If a male Avatar romances Aversa, she also defies this, being aloof but gentle with her daughter Morgan, and noting that her past misdeeds are nothing to be proud of.
  • Females Are More Innocent: They tend to be depicted the most sympathetically of the villains, unless there's a nearby Ishtar. Ironically, the older forms of this were made specifically to avert this trope.
  • Foil: This archetype and the Ishtar sometimes foil each other among the female antagonists. While the Ishtar is an Anti-Villain who is honorable and loyal, the Dark Lady are sometimes more depraved and selfish, downplayed as a lot of the time the Dark Lady is brainwashed and/or noble in some way (on the other hand, while they might not enjoy it, Ishtars stuck to the antagonist side out of their own choice, no brainwashings needed). Dark Ladies are also a lot less modest in clothing sense than Ishtars.
  • Hate Sink: Dark Ladies can come in two main variants, either they're pitable for being manipulated or even brainwashed, or they're actually horrible people, a character that is hated both in-universe and out-universe to avert the trope Females Are More Innocent, there are also despicable people that happens to have boobs and vagina.
  • Karmic Death: Sonia finds out right before she died that she was another mass-produced Artificial Human like the one whom she had been cruelly mistreating; she is then abandoned by the subordinate she had abused. Hilda can have a special dialogue against the children of the woman she tortured for fun (Tailtiu/Ethnia), in which they plan to exact vengeance for their mothers and she can die from it. Kronya, after her glee of killing her victims; the latest one being Jeralt; and insulting them, was cornered by Jeralt's child Byleth and requested for help and that 'help' from Solon turned out to be turning her into a Human Sacrifice for his spell; and she pitifully died while begging for help from Byleth themselves.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Kronya is a throwback to the old style of the archetype pioneered by Hilda of Jugdral (since Kronya's game also has a Hilda who is a good girl). She is a thoroughly unsympathetic, psychotic girl, clearly not innocent and even her 'former good past self', Monica, was on the wrong end of a Kill and Replace so she's solely responsible for her actions, instead of being originally more innocent. This can also be applied to whoever impersonated Cornelia.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: They pretty much serve as some sort of in-universe Evil Is Sexy when compared to the more modest Ishtar, which is pretty profound considering the ones behind the whole franchise.
  • Sole Survivor: There are 2 examples:
    • Aversa is confirmed to survive if her Paralogue was taken and if she is recruited.
    • Cornelia is The Unfought in Verdant Wind and Silver Snow routes of Three Houses.
  • Undying Loyalty: Many of them are fanatically loyal to their boss such as; Petrine to Ashnard, Clarisse to Eremiya, Eremiya to Gharnef, Aversa to Validar, Camilla to Garon, Arete to Anankos, Thrasir to Hel. However this is often due to being brainwashing rather then true loyalty; though Thrasir wasn't in for loyalty but because she was promised with the prospect of restoring her version of Bruno, since she's an alternate Veronica.

    The Dark Wizard 

The Gharnef

The Gharnef is the first of the three main villain archetypes. He's a mage (usually a Dark Magic user) that spends the entire game manipulating others for some goal, being the driving force behind the main conflict. The Gharnef tends to be defeated before the real Final Boss rears its head... usually it's because they are trying to revive a great destructive being who would serve as the Final Boss (usually the Medeus). Their goals often will cause a lot of destruction to the world, so they're very antagonistic and have to be put down.

Characters of this archetype: Gharnef (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem); Jedah (Gaiden); Manfroy (Genealogy of the Holy War); Nergal (The Blazing Blade); Lyon and Riev (The Sacred Stones); Sephiran (Path of Radiancenote  and Radiant Dawn); Validar (Awakening); Thales (Three Houses); Hatanaka (Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE)

Characters that only have elements of this archetype: Veldnote  (Thracia 776); Solonnote , Hubertnote , and Rheanote  (Three Houses)

  • Always Male: All members of the archetype have been male.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Most of the time, Gharnef characters are deformed Gonks and irredeemable bastards. Lyon is a pretty boy and he gets the sympathetic Tragic Villain treatment and sad sendoff (because he is also a Hardin archetype). Sephiran also looks normal, and he gets a chance for redemption.
  • Casting a Shadow: All of them save Riev and Sephiran specialize in Dark magic.
  • Dark Is Evil: Their hearts are as black as their magic of choice (save Riev and Sephiran).
  • Evil Sorcerer: Is always a user of magic, mainly Dark Magic (though Riev and Sephiran use Light magic instead).
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Three Houses' pseudo-Gharnefs qualify.
    • Hubert is an example of a toned down Gharnef, which includes a less destructive goals to manipulate things behind the scenes, and merely a Face of a Thug. This results in him being the closest you can get to a playable Gharnef.
    • Rhea seeks to revive her mother not to destroy the world, but to see her again, regain the best moments of her life, and to have Sothis lead Fodlan and humanity to a better future. Her acts as Archbishop, while ultimately in service of this goal, have brought a stable yet socially unequal Fodlan which does motivate the actions of the three lords. Furthermore, while reviving Sothis is a noble goal, she seeks to achieve this at the cost of the individuality of the most recent vessel for Sothis: Byleth.
  • Manipulative Bastard: They spend the game manipulating others, often being responsible for many of the conflicts in the plot, all which would lead.
  • Promoted to Playable: While Hubert might look like it, he isn't a full example of Gharnef, so overall subverted. However, played straight with Sephiran. He needs specific circumstances to actually be playable and only really exists for one chapter.
  • Signature Spell: All of them except Riev have their own unique magic tome to bring forth against their enemies.
  • Sinister Minister: Many of them are evil Cult leaders who serve the resident Medeus archetype. Gharnef, Manfroy, and Riev take this further by being actual Bishops.
  • Sole Survivor: Being a Gharnef is generally a death sentence except in some very special cases:
    • Sephiran can see redemption playing New Game+ and completing some specific tasks to unlock the special event that makes him playablenote .
    • Seeing that he only has elements of the Gharnef archetype, Hubert can only survive in the route where you actually side with his side (Edelgard).
  • Unique Enemy: Mostly averted: Of the three main villain archetypes, the Gharnef rarely has their own unique class, opting for one of the normal magic-using classes instead. They may be of an enemy-exclusive magic-using class depending on the game, but they are rarely the only one. The only Gharnefs that have completely unique classes are Nergal (Dark Druid), Lyon (Necromancer), Sephiran (Chancellor), and Thales (Agastya).

The Smug Minister

Also known as the Ephidel, these are villains who are designed to attempt to emulate Gharnef, but are instead mired with the smugness of either a Jiol or a Kempf and none of the charisma or competence of either Gharnef or Michalis. This usually results in 'The Smug Minister'. Always a magic user, these characters are the type of characters that, aside from holding a slightly better position in the political world, much like Jiol (unless their group doesn't mingle with politics, thus they are just a mere mage), fancies themselves as a great manipulator of events and loves nothing more than to rub that in the player's faces or their victims, making them extremely detestable. Unfortunately, for all their more bombastic speeches, they can't back it up with power or cunning. If they think they like to manipulate, then to no one else's surprise, the Gharnef has been doing that in an even greater extent (these guys like to miss out some details, yet think they know everything). They wouldn't even realize that, too. Once their plans start falling down, much like the Dark Lady, only Undignified Death awaits them as they can only start ranting on the impossibility of their failure or cravenly begging for their lives to no avail. And there was much rejoicing from the players.

Characters of this archetype: Veld (Thracia 776); Ephidel and Sonia (The Blazing Blade); Lekain and Izuka (Path of Radiance); Eremiya (New Mystery of the Emblem); Excellus (Awakening); Iago (Fates)

Characters that only have elements of this archetype: Solon (Three Houses) note 

  • Always Someone Better: They can essentially be described as 'Discount Gharnef'. Veld is special in the fact it's well known he's lower in authority than Gharnef and Julius, but plays other-wise straight the role of the Gharnef in Thracia 776 because of the smaller scope.
  • Dirty Coward: When cornered, they usually start panicking, but that's merely the prelude to their long-overdue Undignified Death.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Always a magic user, more inclined to dark magic.
  • Hate Sink: If they got a lot of screen time, it will be dedicated to irritating the player with their smugness, manipulativeness, and evil actions.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Their forte, although they still pale compared to Gharnef, usually without them knowing.
  • Sinister Minister: They often have some sort of political power, to either the Rudolf or even the Gharnef, instead of the Medeus figure. Again, Gharnef still does that part better.
  • Smug Snake: This is what makes them so punchable. The way they fancy themselves as some big shot and rubbing it to their victims makes them really unlikable.
  • Undignified Death: They never end well.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Oftentimes they turn out to be a pawn of the real Gharnef.

    The Rudolf 
The Rudolf is the second of the main villain archetypes. Unlike the Gharnef, they tend to take a more direct approach, typically as the leader of The Empire that invades the nice and/or innocent kingdoms. The Rudolf's combat prowess matches their empire's military might, decked with massive armor, and they often own a powerful and unique weapon to make them even more dangerous to face in battle.

Some Rudolf characters are ultimately repentant, becoming the Tragic Villain and will see the error of his ways, but usually too late (in fact, Rudolf himself is revealed to be an Anti-Villain). If he does not repent at all, he will continue to be a threat to the realm until put down.

Characters of this archetype: Rudolf (Gaiden); Hardin (Mystery of the Emblem); Arvis (Genealogy of the Holy War); Zephiel (The Binding Blade); Vigarde (The Sacred Stones); Ashnard (Path of Radiance); Walhart (Awakening); Garon (Fates); Flame Emperor/Edelgard (Three Houses); Surtr (Heroes)

  • Anti-Villain: Most of the Rudolfs are either a Well-Intentioned Extremist with actual standards or like Hardin, a shell of their former self and a Fallen Hero.
  • Climax Boss: By the time you've defeated them, you're either at the end of the game or entering endgame.
  • The Emperor: They are the leaders of big evil empires trying to conquer the world. While Zephiel, Ashnard, Garon, and Surtr are all kings, they still act as evil emperors in practice.
  • Evil Overlord: They're usually the king of an evil empire trying to take over the world.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Downplayed with Edelgard. While she is the only female member of this archetype, one of only two who can become playable under any circumstances (the other being Walhart), and some of her worst traits can be toned down via a Morality Chain, her goals still bring her in conflict with the rest of the world.
  • Large and in Charge: These guys tend to be large, heavily armored guys who command a great deal of authority in their kingdom. Inverted with Edelgard, who is a Pint-Sized Powerhouse and one of the shortest characters in the game, period.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Most of them have incredibly high, if not maxed-out stats across the board.
  • Parental Issues: Most of the people in this archetype have certain... problems with their parents:
    • Arvis' father was a womanizer who pressed his mother into banishment, causing him to develop an Oedipus Complex from it.
    • Zephiel was The Unfavorite to his father, to the point his own father tried to have him assassinated twice (the second time being his Start of Darkness).
    • Ashnard is on the giving end of this trope to his son; even so, he tricked his own father into signing a Blood Pact to kill everyone ahead of him in the line of succession, and then murdered him personally.
    • Subverted with Edelgard. Rather than her father, the Emperor, being her abuser, it was how weak willed he was (though not by his own choice due to being inflicted with fatal sickness) and how the prime minister practically took over and used her as a guinea pig that served as her Start of Darkness. When she takes power, all she has to do is to tell her father she's ready to accept the crown, which he grants without complaint and gives her his full blessings and hopes, and then she puts the prime minister immediately in his place.
  • Promoted to Playable: Zephiel, Walhart, and Edelgard are all playable, with the former being a Secret Character only usable in trial maps, the latter being one of the main lords, despite fitting this role.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: All of them are royalty in their home games.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Edelgard is the first female to be a member of this male-dominated archetype, and the chances of getting another female like this in the future are... kind of low.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • Walhart is the only unquestionable example of a Rudolf who gets to live long enough to pull a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Edelgard might count depending on whether you consider her to be a Rudolf even on her own route where she's not an antagonist.
  • Tin Tyrant: Usually the commander in chief of The Empire, decked head to toe in heavy armor complimenting their size.
  • Trope Codifier: While Rudolf started the archetype, Hardin would be the one who codified the more modern traits: Unique weapon and toning down the Anti-Villain aspects.
  • Unique Enemy: Most of them (except Rudolf and Vigarde) have their own unique class. Their class are usually known as Emperor, King or some variation of the same idea, like Walhart's Conqueror. With the exception of Ashnard, the class it's always a variation of the Armor Knight class-line, not all of them have the Armor weakness, thought.
  • Visionary Villain: They tend to be someone who has some sort of vision of a better world and will stop at nothing to achieve it, and sometimes can be utterly ruthless and brutal about it.
  • Weapon of Choice: All of them, with the exception of Rudolf and Vigarde, have a unique weapon or spell that is able to hit at close and indirect range. These weapons are also extremely powerful, which, coupled with their already high stats, make them one of the most powerful enemies in the game, if not the most powerful. Hardin's Gradivus is unique for being droppable.

    The Medeus 
The last of the three main villain archetypes is not like any of the others. The Medeus is simply... not at all human. They are more or less a greater being whose power goes beyond mere mortals. Usually depicted as a dragon, though other species, a God/Goddess, or even a demon have been used. They usually tend to be The Man Behind the Man for the Gharnef, the force possessing the Hardin, or a tool too powerful for the Rudolf to control. Almost always the real final boss.

The Medeus is an ancient being which their existence and power is told in the world's legends, talking about their wicked desires and objectives, thought in some cases the Medeus can be remember more fondly in these legends because of either misinformation or because they used to be good.

Due to how late they show up, the Medeus runs the risk of having little personality and only being defined by the threat they present to the realm. Although ironically, sometimes a Medeus is simply their antithesis, Naga, after one bad day turned their morality around.

They are the only one of the three main villain archetypes to never be recruitable in any form, for obvious reasons.

Characters of this archetype: Medeus (Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem); Duma (Gaiden); Loptousnote  (Genealogy of the Holy War); Jahn and Idunn (The Binding Blade); a Fire Dragon (The Blazing Blade); Fomortiis (The Sacred Stones); Ashera (Radiant Dawn); Grima (Awakening); Anankos (Fates); Nemesis and Seiros/The Inmaculate One (Three Houses); Medeus again (Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE); Velezark (Warriors)

Characters that have elements of this archetype: Hegemon Husk Edelgardnote  (Three Houses)

  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • Unlike most examples of the Medeus, Fomortiis is not a dragon, instead being a demon.
    • Similarly, Ashera isn't even a being of darkness or a dragon, instead being a full-blown goddess, driven by a desire to maintain order on the continent of Tellius.
    • Grima looks like a dragon and is classed as one in Awakening, but his backstory as shown in the remake of Gaiden shows he is the result of a Mad Scientist trying to create a dragon/human hybrid.
    • Seiros is a dragon, but unlike most other dragon final bosses that fall under the Medeus archetype, who are degenerating evil dragons driven by a desire to destroy the realm they inherit, Seiros is a divine dragon who doesn't suffer from degeneration and is driven by a desire to resurrect her deceased mother and reunite with her. A desire that drives her to a murderous and insane rampage if Byleth decides to defy her expectations. In Silver Snow, unlike Crimson Flower, her role as a final boss is because of last-minute degeneration, and it's possible to save her through special means just like Idunn.
    • Nemesis is "just" an incredibly powerful human with powers derived from gods due to butchering the goddess Sothis and her children in order to fashion weapons from their remains.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: Many are evil dragons trying to destroy and/or conquer the world.
  • Females Are More Innocent: If a Medeus figure somehow is considered female, then it has a shot for redemption post-game.
    • Idunn is spared from death and spends the rest of her life in Arcadia regaining her emotions.
    • Ashera regains her moral compass and if certain conditions are met, she assists the reformed Sephiran in looking for another set of heroes to save Tellius from another war.
    • In any routes other than Crimson Flower (where she takes center stage as the Big Bad, and outright refuses Edelgard's offer of surrender), Seiros doesn't see the need to take over so she can pursue her goals (and in Azure Moon, after an implied Heel Realization in captivity, willingly relinquishes power to Byleth and Dimitri after her rescue; they then proceeded to reform her church and she's OK with it), and exclusively in the Silver Snow route, if Byleth has S Support with Rhea, Seiros manages to acknowledge Byleth as their own person and abandons her selfish desires to reunite with her mother, thus being able to genuinely become the virtuous archbishop Rhea that she projected all along.
    • Averted for Edelgard; by the time she takes the Hegemon form, she's considered as completely irredeemable outside of her ambiguous last action of throwing a dagger at Dimitri's shoulder. However, she's obviously a hero on her own path.
  • Final Boss: Whenever they appear, you can bet on them being the last opponent you face.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: It is generally the Gharnef or the Rudolf who serves as the Big Bad, with the Medeus generally only showing up just before the Final Boss fight. Often averted if there is a Hardin around for them to control, turning them instead into the actual Big Bad. note 
  • The Man Behind the Man: They frequently end up either directing or manipulating other villains from behind the scenes.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Most Medeus have a habit of either having been sealed or killed in the backstory, with the goal of the villains to resurrect or free them from their cans. If and how they're able to communicate with their minions depends on the nature of their current predicament.
  • Unique Enemy: Most of them have their own exclusive class, although it's averted for Medeus himself (in Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and its remake) and Jahn (in Binding Blade), who are both ordinary Manaketes; though in the former case he has a personal dragon weapon (Earthstone) that gives him an unique Dragon form in combat, in both the original and the remake.

Alternative Title(s): Fire Emblem Antagonist Archetype Tropes


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