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 22 – S is for Serial Killer
This archetype…is kind of a slam dunk. Serial killers are one of the most oft-used arch-villains, and easily one of the most compelling. Leaving a trail of bodies for a hard-boiled (or well-endowed) detective or amateur sleuth to follow makes for some enrapturing entertainment. They’ve played the main bad guy (and sometimes the good guy) in countless TV shows, movies, comic books and prose work. The Serial Killers penchant for trying to outsmart the protagonists, or the forces trying to catch them, makes plot twists, loops, and dives very accessible to the creator. A dark imagination can run wild, and create all manner of creepy and grotesque scenarios that can’t help but pull the curious audience in.
A very popular movement in the last few years is to feature a serial killer a anti-hero from the get-go (i.e. Dexter, to a lesser extent Frailty and Silence of the Lambs). As arch-villains they are almost never redeemable, corrupt to the core and fully devoid of any remorse. When not the main villain, however, these murderers can often have their homicidal intents turned on more deserving prey, in a killer-killing-killers scenario, which is also the basis for any anti-hero fiction with a Serial Killer as a protagonist. They differ from the Psychopath, although they could be accurately classified as one, in that they specifically have to kill people to satisfy their compulsion. It does tend to pigeon-hole this archetype into the cops and robbers (or killers) genre, but their employment is so wide-spread that they deserve their own arhcetype.
The examples of Serial Killers are as varied of the methods they use. They’re usually intelligent, cold, calculating, but occasionally can be prone to violent outbursts and fits of rage. The application of their intelligence can vary as well, some being master manipulators, others devious strategists, and some rare examples a twisted kind of savant. They can be successful, middle class, or completely destitute. They have varied ethnic backgrounds, can be either sex, any sexual orientation (often this is confused and complicated, which can lead to the killing compulsion), and as previously mentioned they employ a variety of methods in their “work”. The chilling real-life examples often influence these memorable antagonists, and help shape some of the creepiest villains in all of fiction.
Some Famous Serial Killers:
- Paul Spector (The Fall)
- Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs)
- John Doe (Seven)
- Macbeth (Think about it…you know it’s true)
- Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
- Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)