A to Z Challenge – X


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 28 –  X is for Xenophile/Xenophobe

I roped these two together mostly because I wanted to show off having two choices for X (just kidding). The Xenophile and the Xenophobe are almost diametrically opposed, but they do have one thing in common: the unknown (or the barely known). The Xenophobe archetype has a distinct fear of the unknown, the different, the alien. In Sci-Fi novels, it’s quite often a literal fear of extraterrestrials that drives them to commit atrocities and evil deeds. In less outlandish fiction it manifests as a fear of less literal aliens, and is expressed through violence, repression, and in extreme examples genocide. The Xenophile is the polar opposite. This archetypal villain needs to know the unknowable, to the point where he’s willing to put everything and everyone at risk to get what he (or she) needs. Rather than irrational hate, this villain has an irrational attraction, again manifesting as literally “alien” in sci-fi, with a more grounded application in more grounded stories.

The Xenophobe can have many attributes and occupy many roles in the narrative. As a henchmen, he usually reports to an equally xenophobic master, who may or may not be using his cronies pre-disposition to garner wealth, power, or influence. As an arch-villain, the Xenophobe is a terrifying force. The brand of prejudice and unadulterated oppression they espouse germinates from a senseless fear that the audience sometimes struggles to understand. They can be powerful, or timid, smart or foolish, but they’re always influential, either inherently or through their position. They attract followers that feel the same senseless dark emotions that they do. The Xenophobic villains are always scary, even if their fears are sometimes well-founded (only in the Sci-Fi case…and rarely). The lengths they go to express their fear are horrifying to any rational mind, and that’s what makes them such terrifying villains.

The Xenophile tends to play a much different role. Often, this archetype can start as protagonistic force, or at least an ally for the hero. Then, as the story progresses, their curiosity and fascination with the alien and unknown gets the best of them.  They start to become reckless. What started as a healthy curiosity becomes a dark obsession, and the Xenophile is willing to do anything (and everything) for more knowledge, or to help their new-found “friends”. This example places the Xenophile they as a henchman, usually reporting to an alien antagonist intent on world domination, etc. In the rare occasion a Xenophile is employed as the arch-villain, their true machinations are disguised behind a veneer of altruism or scientific discovery. No matter what role they play, a Xenophile often meets a rather fitting end. They are often destroyed by the very alien influences that piqued their interest in the first place.

Some Famous Xenophobes and Xenophiles:

  • Hans Landa (Inglorious Basterds)
  • Ronan the Accuser (Marvel)
  • Amon (Legend of Korra)
  • Voldemort (and his Death Eaters)
  • Ash (Alien)
  • Dr. William Weir (Event Horizon)

5 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – X

  1. Doesn’t quite fit with what you’re talking about, but immediately thought of the Ender’s series. So much alien worlds being destroyed due to fear. I love you mentioning Dr. Weir from Event Horizon though!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I enjoyed the movie too. I know one of the reasons why I love it so much is that the way I imagined the “mind game” that Ender played with the giant, mouse, etc is how I pictured it in my mind, so was crazy to see it on the screen!


  2. Your two x’s (ha I’m jealous) were an interesting pairing – talking about different sides to the same coin. I think that of the two, I’ve probably had more experience in seeing the xenophobe as a villain than the xenophile, but both are clearly dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

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