Villainy 101: How to be a Successful Bad Guy

Every story has a hero. As such, every story has a villain fighting against him. This combination is the foundation of every tale; Hero vs. Villain, Good vs. Evil, the epic struggle to find the better end. This systematic structure of story telling is what draws people in every time. And yet, whenever a person picks up a book or pops in a movie to partake in learning of the tale, they already know how it is going to end. They know, deep inside, before they even pick up the book or movie, that the good guy is going to win.

But I ask you... why? Aren't truly good, heartwarming stories plotted out as such where the 'underdog' overcomes the 'top dog'? The way things have become, the villains have become the underdog. In every story, they make the same mistakes, again and again, and inevitably lose to the dashing, cunning hero. So to help those evil at heart, here is how to break the chain of failure. Going from how to act as a child, gain allies, and switch sides, to how you rule your subjects, deal with family, and eventually overpower the hero, here is how to become a successful villain.

The first thing is to plan early. Usually, the reason why a given person turns to the side of darkness occurs sometime in their childhood, be it that they had an abusive father, they were never as good as their older brother, or didn't get the last cookie out of the cookie jar. Whatever the case, you should know early on if you are destined to be evil. So from childhood, from that traumatic event on, you should work on being good. I hear gasps of surprise. Let me explain that further. Chances are, if you are the 'good guy turned bad', you will be the last person that the hero suspects to be the main bad guy. That puts the element of surprise in your favor, which is always a good card to hold in your hand. So while you're young and while you're growing, make alliances with everyone you meet. This includes the goodie-two-shoes older brother you may be planning to start an uprising against. Be his best friend, be the person he confides in, up until the point where you stab him in the back. There again, you will have the element of surprise on your side.

When you finally decide to make the switch to villainy, there are two ways to go about it. The first way is going with the gradual switch. This is usually done when there isn't anyone in your way that you have to kick out of office (namely, your older brother). This still can be done if you do need to get your good older brother out of the picture, but it's not recommended. The easiest way is by getting the people on your side and having an all out rebellion. This is best done by spreading some nasty rumor about your opponent (namely, your older brother). People are more willing to believe and remember people's faults over their good qualities. (This is where being your brother's best friend helps. Since he confided everything he ever did in you, you don't necessarily have to lie when you start the rumors, which makes the rumors harder to dispel.)

Now that you are ruling, there's a certain hitch that takes some fun out of being evil. In order to be successful, you have to be fairly good and generous to your followers. If you become a ruthless tyrant (which is fun and all), your subjects will inevitably grow to hate you. Because of this, they will be more likely to start an uprising against you when the hero comes into the picture and starts causing you trouble. So you must at least try to show your subjects that working for you is beneficial. You need loyalty and high moral among your people. If your plan goes horridly wrong, they may be the only thing that stands in between you and the hero's sword/gun/weirdly-designed-weapon.

When it comes to your family, you must be very careful. Your brothers and sisters will either be good from the start (in which case you will have to dispose of them either permanently or somewhere where the hero won't be able to get to them), or will try to be on your side and will start an uprising against you during a critical moment in the plot giving the hero the time he needs to start his plan against you. Sometimes, you get a good one, who will protect you with his/her life and will try and avenge you if you die. Spouses and sons are equally as tricky. Daughters will, without a shadow of a doubt, fall in love with the hero and will leave you to the dogs in a heartbeat.

Moving on with your plan, I must refuse to tell you exactly what you should do. It's not my job to tell you what will work or how it will work. I will leave the scheming up to you, so be creative. But I must take the time to advise you in one aspect. Make your plan simple. If a five year old can't do it, you shouldn't be doing it. The more complicated the plan is, the easier it will be for the hero to mess it up. You want the hero to have as hard of a time as possible.

While your plan is in motion (and being fouled by the hero), keep as calm as possible. Killing messengers just because they don't say the words you want to hear is not recommended. Good messengers are hard to come by, after all. And if you have a staff of trusted advisors, listen to them. Occasionally, at least. They are your trusted advisors.

Here's an important note: always be on the look-out for the hero of the story. You will always have a hard time dealing with them, no matter how many assassins you send out or how good they are. The hero will be hell-bent on screwing up your plans and bringing forth your demise and that determination will not be stopped by much, not even a substantial bribe. So keep a good eye on the hero, never underestimate him and attempt bring him down with as much force as you can as often as you can. However, chances are, this won't work.

There may be a point in time when you have the hero in your grasp. The possibility of this happening is so strong it's almost certain to happen. When it does, remember that you don't have to tell the hero your plan. Even if it will only take two seconds (since your plan is really simple, after all), those two second may be all the hero needs to make his daring getaway. Also, the hero is not entitled to a last kiss, last cigarette, or otherwise, and the hero is not too good to be shot in the back.

One of the last things to keep in mind, and the most important rule of villainy is to never, ever shout the phrase "I am invincible!". If you do, you will die. Usually, when people take the position of the villain, they obtain a large ego. This is the wrong approach. Ego leads to blindness, and that blindness may inadvertently the hero will win.

After reading and absorbing all of this, I can confidently send you off to do your evil work. I have not covered all the facts to remember, but I have covered the ones I find most important. But after all this, I must add one thing: Have fun. You're going to lose anyway.