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Good villain or bad protagonist?


Corsair
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Do you think a viewer/reader rooting for the bad guy the sign of a well written villain or is it a sign of poorly written protagonist?

 

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I'm slowly trying to learn about story telling and these kinds questions fascinate me.

 

 

Edited by Corsair
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I think it's fair to root for villains even with well written protagonists. The first example that comes to mind is Supernatural. Loads of fans love BOTH the good guys and the bad guys.

Star Trek is another nice example, especially with strong episodes. Khan is a well known example, but TNG has its fair share of excellent villains too. :)

There also might be times where there is purpose in making the viewer root for the villain. Horror films are infamous for this. They butcher their "heroes" to the point where we /want/ the mass murderer to succeed.

While not 100% related, you might find this interesting:

 

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19 hours ago, Corsair said:

Do you think a viewer/reader rooting for the bad guy the sign of a well written villain or is it a sign of poorly written protagonist?

I don't really think it has to do with a poor good guy that makes me root for a bad guy. I have found some of the best stories I have ever read are the ones where I feel closer to the bad guy. They may be bad, and I may want the hero to prevail, but it doesn't mean I can't understand or relate to them.

I especially love villain backstories, they are usually far more colorful and better composed then the majority of heroes in my opinion.

@kami What are some villains you would root for more then their more heroic counterparts?

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Yes! I <3 Death Note . It is my favourite Manga/Anime (dubbed)! Light Yagami is clearly the "bad guy", but right up until he dies I'm rooting for him and hoping that he lives this time round! haha :)

(I um... watch Death Note on repeat many times a month.. I've watched it over 100 times and could quote the entire thing...)

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@Nate You should probably mark that massive spoiler x'D But yes, I rooted for Light too :)

@Corsair I thought of another example of rooting for the villain: badly written books in general. Dean Koontz is this for me. His protagonists weren't really badly written, it was just the rest of his story/plot/everything that I hated so much, I was hoping the villain would win so the book would end x'D So it's not necessarily badly written protagonists, is my point, haha.

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I've read books where the protag grated on my nerves, so I rooted for the villain instead - but the villain wasn't fleshed out either as a character. In those cases I did it mostly out of spite

But if I really was to enjoy movies or books, I'd need to understand the reason behind the characterization of a protagonist or villain. Is the protag supposed to be unlikable? If they are (and it's stated) I can tolerate a bad protagonist and root for them. But if it's just the result of terrible or lack luster writing I won't be able. Likewise if the villain is likeable I can root for them as well, but I think it's more difficult to sustain a book or movie with a terrible protagonist as opposed to a good villain. Depending on the perspective of course. 

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

I think it goes both ways, but I think it also begins with whatever predisposition you have in terms of choosing sides, however the decisive factor for me is character depth and character development thereof.

This is part of the reason why I meticulously research books on Goodreads prior to making any selections, since some characters just become insufferable for me, thus ending up with favoring the villain, but mostly when there is a thin layer of protagonism underneath.

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