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Image by Peter Steiner 🇨🇭 1973

How to Write a Lovable Villain

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

What makes a villain so wonderfully cruel and yet lovable at the same time? The answer is easy! Read to find out how to make your villain so wonderfully beloved and hated in just three simple steps!


As we've learned watching movies based on comic books as well as shows like Once Upon a Time, every Villain needs an origin story! We as readers and consumers want to know WHY this character became the villain of the story anyway!

Origin stories are good because it shows the audience that this person was not born evil. Something traumatic happened to them to make them think they should behave maliciously to have the life they think they deserve.

It is important since it shows that villains like everyone else, bleed. But there is a strong difference between a villain and a hero, and it is this:

Both the hero and villain go through some type of suffering. The hero positively learns from this pain and uses what they have learned to help others. The villain, on the other hand, uses their pain to act out, or to use it as an excuse to do whatever it is that they want. A true hero always does what is right, even when it does not benefit them, especially when it is most difficult to do. The villain will not do this, when given the chance, they will do what best benefits themselves.


Why do we all love "bad boys" or "bad girls"?

They are charismatic, stunning, have a way of speaking, captivating, wild and free, seductive, good lovers, etc. These might be good traits to add when creating your villain. Take for example Damon Salvatore of the Vampire Diaries. Even when we knew he was no good, we just had to love his charm anyway.

However, there is more to a person than how they portray themselves. Yes, there is charm, refinement, and romance, but who is your character underneath all this flare?

Where is their soft spot? Who will they die for? What does their heart bleed for? What are their passions? What makes them cry? Do they help others? When? Why? How?

Answer these questions and you will find yourself falling for your villain in no time!


Sometimes we are pushed into a corner that would end up corrupting our core beliefs for the sake of survival. Why does your character feel like he/she needs to do something terrible to survive? Who backed them up against the wall? Why is there no better solution than to act maliciously? If they are not protecting themselves, could it be their family they are trying to protect instead? Or perhaps they feel they are beyond saving and that is why they rather do whatever they please as a cry out for help.

There are millions of motives for a character to act as a villain. Whatever the reason is, find it. Every action must be justified so your audience could find a way to pardon them for their crimes.

Follow these steps and you will see you have a wonderfully complex, epic and lovable villain!

Hope this helped! Tell me what you think, leave me a comment below!

JK Noble | Author | Artist | Philanthropist

Published author of the new YA Fantasy Series, HALE.

Creator of the LMB franchise and the Encourage Literacy Foundation.


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