A to Z Challenge – I


My theme for the A to Z challenge is Villain Archetypes.

Yes, 26 descriptions of some of your favorite villains of literature, TV, and movies.

April 10 – I is for Intellectual


Cold, calculating, and cocky, these bad guys get by solely on their brains, and use their considerable intellects for malicious purpose. This character may be a hacker, professor, sorcerer, politician, or ruler; the key to this villain is they believe they are smarter than everybody else. Because of that they feel they have to prove it. It’s possible this antagonist may also have a Hedonistic craving for knowledge, with little regard for the consequences obtaining that knowledge might incur. Epitomizing “too smart for their own good,” an intellectual will taunt the hero, who they usually see as a threat to their intellectual supremacy. He/She may also be an arch-villain with wolrd-altering machinations the protagonist(s) have to thwart.

These villains can be some of the most entertaining, especially in literature. While they’ve been portrayed as quiet loners intent on nothing more than acquiring knowledge, the fun ones like to mix it up with the hero (verbally). They’re the wittiest of all the archetypes, and in the top for verbal sparring as well. Their calm exterior makes them fan-favorites on occasion (much like the Bad-Ass) but just as often they’re aloof, snooty, erudite, and unrelatable. These villains also come up with the most elaborate schemes, and will often have plans within plans to thwart the hero. We often see an intellectual “win” or at least accomplish his goal posthumously, usually due to the application of superior wit and forethought contingencies.

The Intellectual rarely finds redemption in the narrative, mostly because he’s convinced he knows better. He couldn’t possibly be wrong; he’s too smart. The Intellectual is a fairly flexible archetype; he can be a professor type, a terrorist, rich and powerful, or completely destitute. The Intellectual can be any of these things. This archetype allows for a deeper, more intricate level of conflict and often brings about some of the most memorable villains.

Famous Intellectual Villains:
• Adrian Veidt (Watchmen)
• Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes, various)
• Lex Luthor (DC)
• Hugo Strange (DC)
• Baron Harkonnen (Dune)
• The Riddler (Batman)


7 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – I

  1. I love the banter between intellectual villains and heroes! Or when the intellectually villain explains his plans to the hero… they have a word for it in “The Incredibles?” ….monologuing. 🙂 love it. My favorite intellectual type villains are Moriarty and Syndrome (bad guy in the Incredibles)…though Syndrome was an interesting villain, a former fanboy turned bad.

    Liked by 1 person

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