Being a writer I frequently live in another world. If it's not a book, it's a movie or a TV show. Fantasy worlds with fictional characters, monsters, magic, myths, all of the supernatural elements. These things make sense to me. Crazy how sometimes they feel more real to me than this world but I imagine for all my writer friends you may feel the same. At least sometimes :) Lately I have been wrapped up in watching these fantasy worlds and because of it, it has me thinking about why we love a bad guy.
The bad guy, he's dangerous, mysterious, adventurous and alluring. He gives in to the side we deny. He's not afraid to say what he wants, do what he wants, and be exactly what he wants to be. He gives in to all the things we already know we shouldn't but at times secretly want to. It is easily a love hate relationship we have with the bad guy. He is willing to do whatever it takes for his cause whether it's bad or good but always manages to get the job done. Whether or not he hurts someone's feelings is not his main priority so can easily skip over the part of himself that feels guilty unlike others.
The bad guy tends to always look out for himself but there is that occasion when our evil doer can have a soft spot. The soft spot usually being a damsel in distress who is often a much better person than he will ever be. The good girl falling for the bad guy is always a classic tale but why would good fall for bad? Much like the things I mentioned earlier it's usually the side of her she doesn't indulge in. Good can still desire the rush that comes with a little danger but ultimately the good girl tends to see something in the bad guy that no one else does. We can't blame her for wanting to help him see it as well. Plus it makes for a fun, thrilling, tragic and sultery romance even if it doesn't work out in the end.
For example, if you have ever watched the Vampire Diaries, how can we not love Damon Salvatore. In the beginning he swoops into town causing problems for his younger brother Stefan and the quaint town of Mystic Falls. He kills people even when he doesn't need to, he lies, he steals, he manipulates but at the end of the day Damon will do whatever it takes to protect the people he loves even though he doesn't want them to know he cares. As the seasons go on we learn more about his tragic beginning, how he never truly wanted this life and that he can't help but fall in love with his brother's girlfriend Elena. Who can blame him she's beautiful with a pure heart and cares deeply for those she loves. This bad guy's redeeming quality is that he falls in love with Elena. He still continues to do things he shouldn't but loving her sparks a desire to care about others. Initially it is because Elena loves these people which means he has to care. He is a classic bad guy who will do whatever it takes even if he has to hurt someone's feelings but we come to learn that his cold demeanor is really because he cares so much that shutting his emotions off tends to make his life easier but his love for Elena makes it impossible for him to shut that off anymore.
A bad guy is quite a fun and tragic character to write. We love to hate and love him. He fills our deepest and darkest desires while fulfilling a void in us. He's good for any story because he adds all the exilarating and tragic elements a story craves. When crafted the right way he can be a horrifying comedic relief taking other characters on new journeys.