Evil Doesn’t Understand Friendship (but your villain probably should)

Sorry for the lateness, minions!

A common enough of a theme is for the villain to be defeated by the power of friendship. Friendship is, after all, amazingly powerful, second perhaps only to the power of love.

An amazing robo-monster with all the powers of humanity, tech, and paranormal Beyond sewn together by someone surprisingly not named anything like Frankenstein proves a formidable enemy…

Until Buffy uses the power of FRIENDSHIP: “You could never hope to grasp the source of our power. But yours is right here.”

The power of friendship is so great, it has a multitude of children’s shows dedicated to it, and also tends to get its own episodes in many other shows.

Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem with evil’s misunderstanding of friendship. The primordial evil could not actually hope to grasp the concept of friendship because friendship is a type of love and love is selfless and evil, true Evil, is selfish and therefore Love and Evil are opposites. But we are a unique people because we are mortal and mortals are not abstract concepts like Love and Evil. Mortals are a weird bunch who are gray, who are a little bit everything.

What this means is that while Evil can never hope to understand friendship, your villain probably isn’t Evil. Your villain is probably evil, adjective, but not Evil, noun. Get it? Your villain is not The Primordial Evil.

Unless it is. You are definitely allowed to make your villain The First, like the end villain of Buffy. But usually The First and its primordial kin are not appropriate villains. Exceptions would also be made for a robot.

Your villain is a human, or a human-like being. And humans understand friendship, generally speaking. There are people who are not particularly evil who are crappy friends, sure. But there is absolutely no reason why your villain shouldn’t understand friendship. That doesn’t mean that your villain can assume that two heroes aren’t as good as friends as they think they are, or that altruism doesn’t exist. Enough decent people don’t believe in altruism and therefore don’t think anyone, even the best of friends, would ultimately act altruistically. But to assume your villain doesn’t understand or believe in altruism, and is always going to miss that important part of true friendship is to put your villain in the Villain Box, that crappy, limiting place where villains aren’t real people but just another stupid trope.

Don’t do that.

Also, this whole “your friendship is weakness” business, it’s nonsense. It really is. Surely an intelligent evil being can recognize that a bond as strong as true friendship is freaking amazing and more powerful than one selfish person alone. SURELY your villain can recognize that. And unless your villain is somehow isolated or so black-hearted or so selfish that they’ve become less than human – whether they were to start or not – your villain probably would like to have a friendship so strong and should be capable of it because mortals are insanely multi-faceted and complex and can be heartless and cruel and loving and kind all at once.

Consider a member of the Klan. Obviously a Klan member must be an incredibly hateful individual to want to treat another human being so wretchedly. But a Klan member could easily be a loving husband and father, too. We don’t like to hear that because our minds don’t want to reconcile that good and evil can reside within the same person simultaneously. When we hear of the Evil Priest, we say, oh, he’s just pretending, but it’s quite possible for the Evil Priest to take excellent care of his flock, to be a good priest, even if he’s also a terrible person.

So your villain’s right-hand man and general may also be his best friend. And they might have a true, beautiful relationship. Maybe the villain is friends with the hero – actually friends. That one is common enough. Maybe your villain respects the friendships the hero has and plans accordingly.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t defeat the villain with the power of friendship?

Pulled from http://mlp.wikia.com – they don’t state who the artist is and I cannot find it.

No way. There are still the robots who don’t get it, the Adams (meaning, Adam from Buffy; the Addams Family surely understands friendship), the primordial evils, the far-gone, twisted men. Friendship is awesome and people who don’t understand its power will find themselves at its mercy, and there ARE those who don’t understand its power.

Just…not every villain should be clueless. And hey, maybe you can have  a role reversal. Maybe your lone wolf almost anti-hero protagonist doesn’t understand friendship and finds himself ambushed by villain friends.

Edit: This is my 100th post! Thanks to everyone who enjoys this blog – your support is what keeps me going!

About Rii the Wordsmith

An aspiring author, artist, avid consumer of storytelling medium, gamer, psychologist (insomuch as one with her bachelor's is a psychologist), wife, mother, DM, Christian, a friend to many, and, most importantly, an evil overlord.
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5 Responses to Evil Doesn’t Understand Friendship (but your villain probably should)

  1. ChocolateViola says:

    This makes me think of the antagonist, Wilson Fisk from the Netflix’s Daredevil. The writers really fleshed out his character, and one of the things I love most about it, is that he basically has a best friend, named Wesley. Initially you think Wesley is just his right hand man, but you later find out that he’s Wilson’s closest friend as well. And its not fake either, Wilson genuinely considers him a friend, and vice versa. I feel like you don’t see that as often in writing or in shows anymore with villains or antagonists, but I think its important to add little details like that, because lets face it, even villains have feelings, and care and love people. (At least assuming they don’t suffer from anti-social personality disorder. Even then though they’re still human)


  2. ADAM! Sorry, will post an actual comment momentarily.


  3. I’ve always taken the “friendship will be your downfall” differently–not necessarily that a villain doesn’t understand it, but that he knows how to manipulate people through friendship. Think of it–how much easier is it to manipulate someone who trusts you? Granted, the friendship may be one-sided, but the loyalty is true enough.


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