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Kyoko’s Top 18 Most Hateable Villains (Part 2)

Welcome back to the Kyoko’s Top 18 Most Hateable Movie Villains of the last 20 years! We have more insidious bastards underway, so let’s keep going! Spoilers ahead, as always.

12. Clayton from Tarzan (1999)

Played by Brian Blessed

Played by Brian Blessed

If there’s one thing Disney understands, it’s dastardly villains, and Clayton—while certainly not the worst villain of their Rogues Gallery—is by far one of the easiest villains to hate. What’s so brilliant about Clayton is his escalation from selfish prick to a violent psychopath. He starts off as seeming like a single-minded, pompous a-hole escorting Jane and her father around so he can capture gorillas. For a while, he seems like just an afterthought, but then he slowly creeps his way into the antagonist role by trying to get Tarzan to give him what he wants. Then, he steps completely into the villain position when he manipulates Tarzan’s feelings for Jane in order to find the gorilla’s nest, and by the time Tarzan breaks out of prison to save his family, Clayton is long gone and there’s nothing but a monster left.

The brilliant thing about Clayton is the role reversal. He sees Tarzan and his family as nothing more than savages when in fact, Clayton’s behavior in the climax is the most animalistic thing in the entire film. The best part by far is the fact that he is responsible for his own death by allowing that inhuman rage to take over until it claimed his life.

What makes him hit my hateable villain list is that he so knowingly tricked Tarzan into getting his entire family sold into slavery, or killed, and didn’t give a damn. What’s more is that he rubbed it in Tarzan’s face, saying, “Couldn’t have done it without you.” How petty and nasty do you have to be to slaughter someone’s entire family for money and then have the nerve to laugh about it? Clayton was threatening, imposing, and just plain slimy. People really do not give this movie the credit it deserves and if anything, Clayton demands credit where credit is due if only for being one of the most smug, ruthless villains in all of Disney history.


11. Drew from Meet Joe Black (1998)

Played by Jake Weber

Played by Jake Weber

Well, we have another obscure choice here, but I promise I won’t go full Nostalgia Critic on you. Meet Joe Black is a film loosely based on ‘Death Takes a Holiday’ (1934) where Death embodies the body of a handsome young man (Brad Pitt) and shadows Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy communications mogul, in exchange for allowing him to live through his 65th birthday. Bill was scheduled to die, but since Bill has lived such a lavish, wonderful life, Death tells him he can stay alive as long as he guides him through the various things in life that are completely alien to him. Bill gives Death the name ‘Joe Black’, as he has sworn not to reveal Death’s identity to his family, and he begins accidentally upsetting things all over Bill’s life with his curious presence. Consequently, Joe takes a liking to Bill’s daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) and she reciprocates, which pisses off her boyfriend Drew, who just happens to be part of the board of directors at her father’s company and is unknowingly a mole trying to steal it right out from under the old man.

What makes Drew so insidious is the fact that he’s sleeping with Bill’s daughter while knowing he’s a few steps away from stealing the old man’s company and leaving him with nothing. Since the story starts in media res, we’re never told if Drew started dating Susan to get close to Bill or if he just happened to like her, and it’s that much more distasteful without knowing. He’s such an arrogant little shit when you consider Bill treated him with respect and took him in as one of them and all Drew could think about was dismantling Bill’s company and selling it.

Furthermore, Drew placed high on this list because he also used another member of Bill’s family to bring him down: Quince (Jeffrey Tambor), who is married to Bill’s eldest daughter, Allison (Marcia Gay Harden). Quince mistakenly thinks that Joe is making decisions for Bill, which is against a code of conduct with the company, and accidentally tells Drew, which gives Drew the perfect opportunity to vote Bill out as CEO, meaning Drew now has the power to sell Parrish Communications. Wow. That’s two family members he’s screwed over with no regard for how it will affect them, not to mention Bill himself.

Drew is one of the best embodiments of greed that I’ve seen in years. He has one end goal and he will tear through as many people as he can to get it. Honestly, I was kind of wishing Joe broke protocol and just sent his weasel ass to hell, but since Drew does get some pretty great comeuppance, I can live with it.


 10. Mike from Why Did I Get Married? (2007)

Played by Richard T. Jones

Played by Richard T. Jones

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Tyler Perry. I think he has exactly two good movies and that’s it (Diary of a Mad Black Woman and The Family That Preys, if you’re curious). To his credit, the plays he made before he got famous were also pretty damn good, but now he’s just a victim of selling out. Selling out doesn’t mean making money; it means trading in your talent for making a quick buck. There has been no effort put into the man’s work in the last 5-7 years, and I think Why Did I Get Married was the first step down his path to failure.

For those who are fortunate enough to sidestep Tyler Perry films, Why Did I Get Married is a film about four couples who get together once every year to reevaluate and work on their marriages during a couples’ retreat. Mike is married to Sheila (Jill Scott) and has been cheating on her for God-knows how long, but she refuses to see it because she thinks his mistreatment of her is due to her obesity.

I do admit that part of Mike’s hateability stems from bad writing. We are introduced to him and soon find out there is literally nothing to like about this man. He is a complete and total asshole. He insults Sheila in front of anyone within hearing range. For instance, when she is told she can’t fly with him to the retreat due to her size/weight, he tells her to rent a car and drive there and just flies without her. Oh, and did I mention the girl he’s cheating on Sheila with (a) is also going on the retreat with him and (b) is Sheila’s “best friend”? Yep. Class act, that Mike.

What truly tears it for me is two scenes: (1) when Sheila goes shopping and finds a lovely silk gown to wear for Mike and he literally laughs in her face after she shows it to him and then goes to bed (2) when he finally reveals he’s been cheating on her after all this time and cops an attitude when she is speechless. Nothing gets my goat like a bad husband in movies, especially one who constantly dumps on a sweet naïve woman like Sheila. I do blame her for being in denial about it and for marrying a guy who seriously never shows one single positive quality from introduction to the end of the film, but the thing is that there are so many women who let themselves be bullied by guys like Mike. I can understand falling out of love with someone, but Mike is so hateable because he was a coward for not simply divorcing her and starting a new relationship. Even if he was worried about money or whatever, he had no excuse not to just leave her instead of sticking around to poke holes in her confidence and put her down constantly. That kind of guy, fictional or not, is the kind of guy who needs an honest-to-God no-holds-barred beatdown. Preferably by someone the size of The Rock. Curb-stomp his ass, for all I care. Mike is easily one of the worst fictional husbands the silver screen has ever seen, and any man like him deserves nothing short of getting their ass kicked.


9. Professor James Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Prof Moriarty A Game of Shadows

Played by Jared Harris

Yes, the game is afoot. I love the RDJ-Jude Law-Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes from 2009. It had impeccable style, excellent music, glorious action, kick ass cinematography, and fresh spins on the characters we’ve known for decades. But that’s the first movie. The sequel? Eh. Less so.

Moriarty has been played by plenty of men since he first waltzed into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, but Jared Harris definitely did a good job making you despise this man to his absolute core. There are just so many reasons to hate him. He is arrogant, smug, has no regard for human life, vicious, conniving, and self-worshiping. Holmes may be an obsessive jerk at times, but he is nothing short of an angel in comparison to Moriarty. This man would doom entire countries for his own glory and he practically revels in the misery he causes others.

Normally, this would just make him your garden-variety villain, but there is one thing that separates Moriarty from someone like Lord Blackwood from the first film.

He kills Irene Adler.

You know, the literal best thing about the first movie.

That’s right, folks. The best female character I’ve seen in years gets Stuffed Into a Fridge thanks to Professor frickin’ Moriarty, and that’s why I hate him so much.

Irene Adler gave me air. I loved Holmes and Watson running around snarking up a storm and kicking ass, but Irene did all of that and she looked fabulous doing it. She was gutsy and smart and effective and powerful and relevant. You don’t know how rare that is for a male-centric film like Sherlock Holmes, and Moriarty just kills her like she was nothing. Screw that, and screw him. I was rooting for Holmes to throw his ass off that balcony for the fact that he took that great of a female character away from me.

Call me biased, but I call it like I see it. Destroy all of Britain if you want, but you take Irene away and it’s on.


 8. William Johns from Pitch Black (2000)

Played by Cole Hauser

Played by Cole Hauser

Pitch Black is one of the best thriller sci-fi horror films ever, hands down. It reinvented the survivor alien flick the way that Alien helped the entire genre find its footing. No one does it like Pitch Black, not even that sorry-ass sequel from 2013 that no one talks about because we pretend it doesn’t exist.

If for some reason you live in a cave and didn’t see it, Pitch Black is Vin Diesel’s claim to fame about a transport vessel that gets caught in a meteor storm and crashlands on a hostile alien planet. Said aliens are a race of bloodthirsty creatures that can only survive in the dark, and the planet just so happens to have an eclipse on the way, so the race is on to get the ship repaired and get off planet before the eclipse. There’s just one hitch. One of the crew members is an acclaimed serial killer named Riddick and he might pick them all off or simply take the ship and leave them to die.

Johns is the bounty hunter who captured Riddick and was taking him to a maximum security prison before they crash-land, so tensions are high. His character is easily one of the best written villains in the genre because he starts out much like your typical alpha male hero, but then you peel back some layers and you find the monster within. For instance, right after the ship crashes, one of the crew members is impaled through the chest with a piece of metal and when Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) tries to find the morphine to ease his pain before he dies, Johns pretends like he doesn’t know what happened to it. We find out later Johns is a morphine-addict and couldn’t even spare one vial—that he had dozens of, mind you—to allow that poor man a peaceful death. After that, we find out he’s not as brave and commanding as he wants us to believe, picking a fight with Carolyn before they leave in the dark to get to the ship and once they’re out in the dark and they lose more survivors.

The final point-of-no-return for Johns is when he suggests they need bait to keep the killer aliens off their backs, so he conspires with Riddick to kill one of them and drag their body behind them to keep the aliens occupied. One of the survivors is Jack, a young girl pretending to be a boy, and Johns tells Riddick to kill her. Riddick takes exception to that, to say the least.

Johns is so very easy to hate, but the cleverness of his character is that he is such a good foil for Riddick. The entire film builds up Riddick’s reputation and you are led to believe he’s nothing more than a ruthless murderer, but then you see that he’s actually more of a survivor, not a killer. Johns is the reason they didn’t get the ship ready in time. Johns is the reason so many of the crew members died. Johns is the real killer here, but he puts on an air of righteousness because Riddick is a criminal and they have a past. He’s nothing more than a coward with a big gun, and what’s more hateable than that?


7. Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Played by Tony Jay

Played by Tony Jay

It’s kind of impossible to pick a favorite animated Disney film, but gun to my head I’d say Hunchback of Notre Dame might be mine. It’s so fantastic, and most of that has to do with the fact that it’s so not a kids’ movie. This movie is deep. It deals with the kinds of issues that children don’t start understanding until they hit the double-digits, and that’s perhaps why it’s not one of the more popular Disney films, especially considering the deadly serious source material.

People often make lists of the most evil Disney villains, and for me personally, Frollo always wins. I mean, let me lay it out on paper for you (so to speak). Here you have a corrupt minister who has been viciously chasing down a gypsy woman and when he finally catches her and kills her (ON SCREEN, PEOPLE—HE KICKS HER IN THE FACE, AND SHE FALLS AND BREAKS HER NECK HOLY CRAP), then he turns his hatred on an innocent misshapen baby. Whom he then decides to drown until the archdeacon changes his mind. Oh, so maybe he finally grows a conscience and reforms as he raises the child—NOPE. He then gives the baby a name that means “half-formed”, and turns him into his personal slave, all the while filling the boy’s head with lies that he is a monster and no one will ever love him so he has to stay locked away forever serving his master.

Okay, so he’s not father of the year, maybe he has other qualities—oh, what’s that? The beautiful gypsy girl you want for your own stands up to you? Order her to be arrested and given to you or you’ll burn her at the stake? Then find out she has a secret place for her people and smoke them out and threaten to kill them all if she doesn’t come forward? Then when you do find her, you burn her at the stake claiming she’s a witch? Then you try to murder her and the poor boy you turned into a slave with your sword?

No, that’s perfectly understandable, Frollo. Who wouldn’t do all of that?

Seriously, people, Frollo is by far the most evil Disney villain of all time. I mean, come on. He’s just the most posturing, sadistic sick freak to ever be animated by that company. No matter how bad our other villains have been, you have a member of the church who full-on advocates genocide and then has the nerve to lust after one of the women of the race he is actively trying to eliminate. There isn’t enough room in Hell for all that evil. Frollo is hands-down always going to be the most evil person in all of Disney, and I think they are hard-pressed to create someone as horrid again.

Just like they’d be hard-pressed to make another villain song that damn scary-good.

Who will top the charts? Find out in Part 3!

On Death

So I spent about three hours last night on Skype having a debate with my writing sensei about major character death.

Occasionally, my sensei has enough time to drop in and give me advice about my novels–particularly brainstorming ideas on how to get the story unstuck, smoothing out character motivations and actions, or giving me a good kick in the seat of my pants to get me back on track with my word count. I honestly wish I weren’t a vagrant and could pay him for it. He’s a kick ass screenwriter and independent filmmaker so he knows a thing or two about damn good writing and how to whip a story into shape.

Still, we disagree on certain points and this was a huge hot button issue that neither of us had talked about before, hence the three hours. It got me thinking about myself, my writing, and my general philosophy about fiction. This post might be a long one so I pray that you’ll stick with me as I try to explain my position on major character death in fiction.

Disclaimer: I’m not against it.

I do, however, believe that it is overused and often simply a cheap trick to squeeze some tears out of your readers. Not always, mind you. I can name examples of fiction that did it correctly. By the way, BIG FAT STINKIN’ SPOILER ALERT FOR A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT BOOKS AND MOVIES SO PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

Here are the examples of using major character death properly (in my opinion):

-Dumbledore from Harry Potter

-Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop

-Trinity from The Matrix Revolutions

-Susan Rodriguez from the Harry Dresden novels

-Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (*debatable, though, because I loved him so much I couldn’t continue watching the show after he died.)

-Shepherd Book from Serenity

-Sam Winchester in Supernatural’s fourth season finale (I had to specify since he’s died at least three times in the show’s run, if not more. Yeah, it’s that kind of show.)

-Captain Roy Montgomery from Castle

-V from V for Vendetta

-Jason Todd from the Batman comics (granted, they brought him back, but whatever.)

-Rue from The Hunger Games

Each of the above deaths, to me, served definite, thematic purposes. These characters meant the world to the people they were supporting and their deaths caused major shifts in the narratives. It deeply affected the protagonists in various ways–motivating them to defeat the bad guy, to seek revenge, to end a conflict, to inspire greatness, or simply because there was no way for them to continue in the world they existed in. These are deaths that make sense on paper and naturally draw emotions out of the audience because we’ve come to know and love them, and have to say goodbye whether we like it or not. These are deaths that feel organic and not forced. To me, a good major character death doesn’t have to be one that you see coming, but it should be one that you can understand and justify in your head even through your hiccuping sobs (seriously, Capt. Montgomery and Spike’s death scenes made me sob like an infant.) They should die for a reason, and one that is more layered than “it’ll make your audience bawl like three year olds” because that is cheap emotional manipulation. I’m against that. Which brings me to my next point.

Here are the examples of using major character death improperly (in my opinion):

-90% of the characters who have died on Supernatural (but if you want to get specific, Meg, Gabriel, Balthazar, Jo, Ellen, and Pamela)

-Wash from Serenity

-Robert Neville from I Am Legend

-Captain Pike from Star Trek Into Darkness (I could be persuaded otherwise, but my initial reaction to this was that it was misused.)

-Majority of the characters who died in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

-Primrose from Mockingjay

-Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

-Billy from The Expendables II

-November 11 from Darker Than Black

The deaths of the characters listed above may be for one or more reasons that I disagree with from a writing standpoint. That is, using the death as a cheap trick to make your readers/audience cry, not wanting to develop the character further, using the death as a lazy method to make the hero worth harder for his/her end goal, using the death as an easy way into a revenge or hunt-for-the-killer plot, or trying to shock your audience with a high body count.

To illustrate my point, I’ll use the three examples that make me the most irritated: Sherlock Holmes, Supernatural, and Serenity. Irene Adler was literally the best thing ever in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. No disrespect to RDJ and Jude Law, I adored them, but she was the most bad ass woman I could remember seeing in recent films. She was smart, quick-witted, resourceful, manipulative, and brave. There was none of that sexist crap that you see in stuff like the new Riddick film. She was beautiful and dangerous and powerful and everything that a well-written female character should be. She showed all shades of being a woman. She was balanced. She was interesting. Above all, she was important to the plot. And they just killed her off in the first ten minutes of A Game of Shadows despite being the third biggest character in the first movie. And she doesn’t even get a meaningful death scene or a tear out of her lover. The movie just sweeps her under the rug like she was nothing. That is an injustice I simply cannot stand. Her death should have meant something more to Holmes. It should have enraged him, made him hunt for Moriarty even harder and want to kick the son of  bitch right off that waterfall at the end of the movie. Death needs to have an impact that resounds throughout the rest of the story, whether it’s a movie, a TV show, or literature. It’s not something to be taken lightly, which brings us to example numero dos.

Supernatural is by far the worst offender when it comes to death. It’s in season nine and they have killed over half of the recurring major and minor characters that have passed through the show. Think I’m joking? Google it. I’ll wait. Believe me now? In the first few seasons, we were devastated to lose major characters that we knew and loved and who were part of Sam and Dean Winchester’s lives. However, the writers seemed to think it was a good idea to kill literally everyone and guess what happened? I stopped caring. If you do the exact same thing with every single recurring character, what is the point of investing in them? They’ll be dead by their second appearance. Death has no sting when you use it over and over and over again to the point of accidental parody. It becomes dull when your audience is just checking their wristwatch to see when a character is going to bite it because they know this is your go-to move. The biggest disappointment in relying too heavily on death to get a response out of your audience is that it wastes the potential of the characters whom they barely got to know. In particular, Supernatural does not treat its female characters very kindly. They tend to die just because it will make the Winchesters feel guilty about being unable to save them, and it frustrates me because these women (especially Meg and Pamela) could have been welcome additions to the cast. They could have balanced out all that pouting, lying, and arguing that the Winchesters do all season long. It would’ve been a breath of fresh air to see Meg join Team Free Will, but instead, she got the shaft and now it’s back to the boring status quo.

And now, the kicker. Wash. I cannot think of a more polarizing death. Firefly was murdered in its crib and they finally managed to resurrect it and what does Joss Whedon do? He bumps off not one but two of the main characters. My writing sensei posted a quote where Whedon explained why he did it–to upset the norm, make the threat real, etc–but I disagree with the Whedon method of “kill everyone you love and in the most horrifying ways possible.” I think Book’s death served those purposes more than enough. It made everything hit home for the crew. It made them see even more than ever that time waits for no one, that the ‘verse is an ugly place, that some threats can come for you in the night and take everything you love. It was harsh and ugly and absolutely tear-jerking in every sense. But Wash’s death was just a suckerpunch. It felt like Whedon came up behind me and pantsed me and then kicked me and pointed and laughed after I fell. It was unnecessary. We already felt devastated at losing Book, and Wash died for the exact same purpose, so to me, it was an extraneous manipulative gesture. It just made us want to cry for the sake of crying, not for the sake of the story. I’m not saying Wash shouldn’t have died at all–I think he shouldn’t have died in Serenity. Wash’s death would have had more of a punch if there had been a second season of Firefly and he died at the end. The crew would have had time to come to terms with Book’s death and maybe they would have fought to be more cautious and then Wash’s death would come as a blindside to show them that they weren’t ready. But that’s a conversation for another day.

The main reason why I have no desire to bump off a major character in my own work is because of my personal philosophy about stories. It’s no secret that the world is an awful place. It’s just downright sickening sometimes. Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” That is a quote that I live by, through and through. Books are an escape. They can be a safe haven for some people, myself included above all. I look to them for comfort, for inspiration, for solace, for love and brilliance and creativity. That is what books mean to me. I’m not saying it’s what anyone else believes–it’s just true for who I am as a person and as an author. That being said, I don’t want my books to turn into one of those bad examples up there. I don’t want to kill off one of my main characters just to make you cry. I want my readers to feel everything–anger, sadness, joy, comfort, hope–and I believe that there is a way to do that without killing off a major character in the final novel of the series. I feel like it’s something that many writers rely on too heavily in their story arcs. I think many writers do it because it is expected of them to “raise the stakes” by murdering one of their darlings. I have already pointed out that when it works, it really works, but when it doesn’t, you just end up with a bad taste in your mouth.

Many famous authors emphasize that one should write the story they would want to read. And that’s my biggest reason against killing off a major character in the final book. There are millions of trilogies out there that have survived and become legends without killing off main protagonist characters–Toy Story 3, Star Wars (Darth Vader doesn’t count because he’s a villain, leave me alone, nerds!), The Dark Knight Rises, Indiana Jones (THERE IS NO FOURTH FILM DAMMIT), and that’s just franchises off the top of my head. I’m in no way against killing protagonists because it is an effective storytelling method, but for me, it has to fit the story naturally and be for a good purpose because the world that I’ve built for people to read should be one that I would be satisfied with reading, and I don’t believe that it will improve the work or the message behind the work if I kill that particular character. I believe in second chances. I believe in rewarding people for their faith in a story and in the characters who make up that story. I don’t believe that everything should have a happy ending, but since life is a steaming pile of camel manure most of the time, I think the least I can do is create a world where sometimes there is a silver lining. Maybe there isn’t a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, but I really don’t think there should be a homeless man waiting there to shank you after your hard and grueling journey.

But maybe that’s just me.

Thanks for reading, darlings.