V is for Villains

This is a short post and really to pose a question:  Why do villains in stories always laugh?  Or smirk?  Or cackle evilly?  Why do they display any hint of merriment when they are contemplating or have committed some dastardly deed?  Being evil might be funny, but it can’t be that funny, surely.  Even in a room full of people, Merlin’s Morgana in series 3 had a face that was permanently stuck in an evil grin the moment anyone wasn’t looking.  Sometimes when they were looking.  If you are doing something underhand, save your laughter and concentrate on hoodwinking your victims good and proper.  All Uther had to do was turn around at the wrong moment and she’d have been toast.  It’s not that I have a problem with villains finding their villainy amusing in moderation, but I just don’t get where this whole idea that they have to laugh all the time started.  Was it with moustache twirling baddies of the silent movie era who, presumably, had to grin and twirl their moustaches to show their badness because they had no dialogue and rubbish, crackly film?  Does anyone else know?  I’m even guilty of doing it myself when I write baddies, perhaps because the idea is so ingrained in me that I just can’t shake it.  It seems to be a particular malady in fantasy writing as a whole.  I need help to kick the chipper-baddie habit.  Anyone want to form a support group?

Watch out for the smirk count in the corner. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “V is for Villains

  1. That video highlights almost everything about Merlin that I found annoying (by that I mean I loved it, apart from a few things). Pretty much as you’ve said, Morgana spent the last three series constantly grinning like an idiot. I think maybe because it was meant to be a kid’s show they thought they’d better spell everything out.

    My villains laugh, but only when something is actually funny (I don’t think I have random laughter anyway). I do have one character who does a lot of grinning, but that’s because he does bad things simply because he enjoys them. It’s certainly something we need to watch out for. Perhaps some kind of pen that gives us an electric shock when we describe a villain as grinning and wearing black…?

    • I loved Merlin too but even I was losing patience with the smirking. I think they calmed it down a bit series 4 and 5 as people were all…. well, smirking about it. I do smiling villains sometimes, and sometimes laughing, it’s true. I just don’t know why i feel the need to. If I was a villain, I’m sure I wouldn’t laugh. I love the pen idea – you just have to invent it!

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