A to Z Challenge – P

P

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 18 – P is for Psychopath

The psychopath is an often used trope for an arch-villains in all manner of fiction. It’s quite simple yet effective to leverage the inner insanity of these characters to fuel their villainous ambition. They’re incredibly memorable, quotable, and intense. They’re driven by things none of the audience can understand to inflict evil on the protagonists. These can be some of the most chilling villains of all time, either due to their extreme reactions or complete lack of emotion. Their outbursts, or cold, calculating responses resonate with the audience due to depth of their creep factor.

A Psychopath archetype is almost never redeemable. Their twisted minds don’t allow for the guilt, regret, or self-realization that comes with a sympathetic turn. If employed as a henchman, a Psychopath may be steered or manipulated into turning on the arch-villain, but that’s the closest they’ll get to redemption. These henchmen or flunky types are quite often loose cannon or barely controlled agents that can quickly turn against the main antagonist. When filling the role of the arch-villain, these characters simply cannot be beat for sheer impact on the audience. That’s why we remember them so vividly every time a Psychopath is on-screen or on the page.

The Psychopath is captivating because its a bad guy the audience can’t fully understand. We’ve all felt greed, wrath, or any of the other emotions that spur on most of the other archetypes, but a Psychopath? We can only postulate and guess at what makes them tick.They can have incredible prowess, exceptional intellect, or just a sheer ability to commit appalling acts of villainy. What they can do isn’t the biggest issue, its what they’re willing to do that’s what sets them apart from the other archetypes and leaves indelible marks on every audience member.

Some famous Psychopaths:

  • Hannibal Lecter
  • The Joker
  • Jack (from The Shining)
  • John Doe (from Seven)
  • Sabertooth (Marvel)
  • Col. Hans Landa (Inglorious Bastards)
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