It’s the one that pulls all the strings. The one that puts the consequences on hold. The one with a bit of a dark past and lots of sex appeal. It’s the villain next door.
Every TV show that respects itself has one. It all starts promising with the introduction of the character either in season 1 or later on in the plot. It could be a brooding stranger that enters the bar looking all dangerous or a sassy bombshell that will turn into the devil if you mess with her. The villain is fun. The villain knows no limits. The villain is the sh*t. And then it happens. It’s the smallest thing, really. A sad, wistful look. An unfinished sentence that dares to reveal more than intended. A single tear that forces its way out. In a nutshell, our villain gets all gooey inside.
If you ask the writers, they’ll respond with “This is character development”. If you ask me, I’ll tell you that not all villains are meant to turn good. Why not have a villain that is evil for the sake of it? Take The Vampire Diaries, for instance. Klaus was introduced towards the end of season 2 as the big bad of Mystic Falls. The guy was merciless. He sticked his hand inside you and ripped your heart out. Look at him now; wandering around making hybrids because his family won’t play with him and a certain blonde vampire has given a new meaning to rejection. His development throughout the show reminds me a bit of Damon’s and that’s the problem. Why have 2 characters going through the same transformation?
In The Following, we have Joe Carroll. Dark, sadistic, and alluring at the same time. There is no excuse for all the crimes he committed, no hidden motive that could justify his actions, yet no one seems to be appalled by him. His followers worship him and the audience is compelled by his smooth aura. And here’s the twist. Carroll believes that every brutal murder he’s done was an ode to literature. In his mind he’s an artist. In reality he’s a psycho. Of course, we’re still in season 1 and assuming he’ll be back for season 2, things could easily change, although I really can’t imagine Carroll acknowledging how grotesque his nature is.
Once Upon A Time’s Regina is another example of a great villain but lately she has also started showing her good side. However, in this case, Regina had a good side to begin with. Before that little brat, Snow White, ruined everything (come on, you were all thinking the same) she was nothing but a sweet girl in love. Regina became the Evil Queen when her whole world came crumbling down. Once she found something new to care about (Henry) she was ready for her redemption.
Character development is a wonderful thing, if done the right way. Making excuses for a villain to turn good just for the sake of it, is a recipe for disaster. Those who deserve to turn around will do so when the time is right and it will be magical. As for the rest, they chose a certain path and lived with it. It doesn’t get any more honest than that.