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Difference Between Villains and Antagonists

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Difference Between Villains and Antagonists-


I have found that there is often some confusion about various types of villain-character- related terminology, and so I thought that I would help anyone out there, who is interested, to understand the basic meanings of these words and how they relate to each other in regards to describing a character.

Basically, the term "villain" tends to describe the attributes or traits of a character themselves (as opposed to the role that they play within a story). In a very simple way, you could say that it means that a character is somehow "evil". In most common and classic fictional stories, the villain is also the antagonist (and the hero is often the protagonist). But "antagonist" doesn't necessarily mean "villain". The protagonist can be considered the star or lead character of the story. This is usually the character that the audience is encouraged to sympathize with. The antagonist is the individual who is against this lead character. The antagonist is not always the "bad guy", but just the character who tries to stop, stand in the way of, or destroy the main character (the protagonist).

The terms antagonist and protagonist describe the character's position in the story, based on what the audience is seeing; but they don't necessarily tell you whether a character is a hero or a villain. In most traditional type stories, the hero is the protagonist and the villain is the antagonist, but this is not always the case. For instance, if you have a movie or film in which the main character is a criminal, such as a thief or a serial killer, and that is the character that you, as the audience, follow and focus on, then that character is the protagonist (see Rant 27). And the police who are trying to stop this main character are actually the antagonists, even though they would normally be considered the good guys by most standards. Whether a character is considered an antagonist in a story, is not determined by who is good and who is evil; but by who is the main character and who is their adversary or obstacle.

It should be pointed out that in real life, everyone is their own protagonist and anyone who is against them is their antagonist. Even a real life "bad guy" will always see themselves as being the hero of their own story.

And just for reference, when we here at Twisted Jenius use the word Villainesque, we are talking about a genre of entertainment featuring the Villain Protagonist character type. In fact, that's exactly what this entire site is based on!

- False Prophet

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