A to Z Challenge – R


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 21 – R is for Royal

Royal archetype villains are rife throughout both visual and printed media. Taking the historically oppressive machinations of monarchies, as well as the hereditary nature of the bloodlines is an ideal breeding ground for the kid of oppression and corruption that creates compelling stories. Often more cruel than political, Royalty are often cruel for the sake of being cruel because their positions allow it. The romantic ideal of the peasantry rising above the monarchs is prevalent in history and historical fiction alike, and can often create some very entertaining villains.

The Royal arch-villain…he or she is always rich, connected, and has a bevy of henchmen, mercenaries, and the like at his/her beckon call. On occasion a Royal villain is employed by a higher, more malevolent evil, often because they owe their position to the aforementioned arch-villain. At some point the Royal became corrupted, or possibly they were born (or in-born) that way. Completely unsympathetic and devoid of any care for those beneath them, they often oppress on a large scale and have little to no awareness for the protagonists until they finally become a nuisance. On a rare occasion, a Royal villain may be redeemable, often when wooed or convinced to help the heroes against a greater evil. More often than not, however, these bad guys are just evil, and eventually come to a rather violent and sticky end. And the audience is okay with that.

A historically typical 1% vs. the other 99% story will often feature a Royal villain of some sort. They oppress the people, a hero rises to fight back, roll credits, cash checks. Even though we know how the story will go, it still breeds some excellent villainy. The 99% of us that are borderline genetically pre-disposed to hate Royalty, and their complete and utter disregard for any of the relateable characters. They’re callous, pampered, and terribly pale, mostly. Many of the most memorable happen to British or European, but Royal villains are not exclusively European. Nothing can get an audience against your antagonist faster than making him the member of a Royal family, Pasty or not, the audience can’t stand these types, and while many are at the very least historically inspired, the memorable Royal villains are some of the worst in fiction.

Famous Royal villains:

  • Richard III
  • Marquise de Merteuil (Les Liaisons Dangereuses)
  • Prince John (Robin Hood)
  • King Edward (Braveheart)
  • The Step-Mom (Snow White)
  • Baron Zemo (Marvel)

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