Transitioning now from heroes to villains, we're starting with taking a look at antagonists, and what kind of archetypes they might be built out of.

There are some characteristics that are more suited to antagonist characters than their goody-goody compatriots on the Light Side. Today, we'll be taking a look at one of my favorites - corruption.

A Corrupted (or Fallen) Hero is a character that used to be a protagonist but for whatever reason, turned his back on all that nonsense to join the Dark Side. (You're going to suffer through a lot of Star Wars references in this article. I'm not apologizing for it, either.)


Under this umbrella, you'll see a number of familiar characters, like Anakin Skywalker, Syndrome, Shego, and Saruman.

At one point, each of these characters was essentially a good person, possibly even working for the benefit of others. For various reasons (unrequited love, rejection, desire for power, or simply an inclination toward evil) each of them left the straight and narrow for something they hoped would be more fulfilling.


Let me just drop a spoiler right here - unless the corruption is a character development arc that ends in redemption, this never works out well for anyone.


That said, this character type is an excellent tool in your writerly belt, because not only can you get some really quality character and world development out of it, but it can serve to shake up your protagonist. The idea that someone can be a good person and turn evil strikes the reader as an unnatural development, something that's not ordinary, while the reverse (a villain being redeemed and "seeing the light") seems perfectly reasonable.


You can get a much more in-depth analysis of this concept in the Trope Talk video linked HERE. She does way more research into this kind of thing than I do, and I have nothing but respect for this woman.


One of the reasons we accept this descent from hero to villain even though it feels wrong is because we've seen it in our own past. Figures like Alexander the Great and Adolf Hitler started their campaigns as a way to improve life for their countrymen or keep a promise, and eventually it devolved into something much less appealing, which is really only clear in hindsight.

To the previous Element

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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