In fiction, villains are figures we’re not supposed to sympathize with and are mostly no good since they’re usually the main obstacle in the hero’s goal. Sometimes they’re evil personified but other times they could just be evil overlords serving as dragons to a higher power, very selfish people who don’t give a shit about anyone else, or just an adversary. And of course, villains tend to do bad things to make sure he or she gets his or her way and doesn’t care who gets hurt. Many of times these villains tend to have inherently evil motivations or ones that are at least misguided. However, though some of them might not have done things that might not be good, some of them tend to have motivations that seem rather complex and somewhat justified. They just probably tried to accomplish it the wrong way.
1. The Wicked Witch of the West
From: The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
Why She’s Evil: The Wicked Witch of the West basically spends the entire time trying to pursue and kill Dorothy because she’s wearing her ruby slippers as well as killed her sister as well as conquer Oz and does whatever she can to get them such as throwing a ball of fire, sending the flying monkeys, enchanting the poppy fields, and threatens the Scarecrow with fire. She’s also a pretty menacing figure who strikes fear into Dorothy and her friends. It’s easy to see why the Wizard and Glinda wanted her dead.
Why She has a Point: Aside from wanting to conquer Oz bit, the Wicked Witch of the West does sort of have a reasonable motivation for the slippers and wanting to kill Dorothy to get them off her. For one, the slippers couldn’t be removed while Dorothy was still alive. Second, the ruby slippers belonged to her sister which she probably was supposed to get but Glinda basically put the slippers on Dorothy’s feet upon the latter’s arrival in Oz via tornado. And the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t even consulted on the whole thing. The fact that Dorothy ends up accidentally caught up in this as her adversary which compels the Wicked Witch of the West to focus all her energies on is what makes her the villain. Also, the Wizard is pretty much a phony while Glinda was just using Dorothy as a pawn so she can control Oz herself since she made the girl go all the way to Oz when she just could’ve tap the ruby slippers in the beginning which would’ve solved everything. This sort of makes Glinda the bigger villain since she may not have the kind of motivation The Wicked Witch of the West did.
2. Madame Defarge
From: A Tale of Two Cities
Why She’s Evil: She’s a bloodthirsty French revolutionary who is all to happy to inflict violence and anti-royalist sentiment however way she can. Politics aside, she also puts the climate of the French Revolution to her advantage such as her everlasting hatred for the noble Evermonde family and her obsessive desire to see Charles Darnay guillotined. Not to mention, she almost gets her way with that when Darnay and his companions return. I mean almost.
Why She Has a Point: Madame Defarge has every reason to hate the Evermonde family since Dickens goes to great lengths to show that this family is a pretty nasty bunch who even Charles Darnay doesn’t even want to do with (since he basically changed his name and moved to a different country to get away from them). Not to mention, Dr. Manette basically denounced the clan while in prison at the Bastille. The fact that Madame Defarge is a peasant may be enough to justify her hatred for the Evermonde but her hatred for that bunch is even more personal than that as well as dates back to her childhood. The real reason? She witnessed her mother being raped by Darnay’s father and uncle, which was also the incident that put Dr. Manette in prison since he was the guy treating her. Not to mention, the Evermonde twins were never brought to justice and probably died peacefully. Still, the fact that Charles Darnay is the last living Evermonde she knows, Madame Defarge is determined to have him pay dearly for his family’s sins as a scapegoat. On the other hand, while Dr. Manette hates the Evermondes every bit as much as Madame Defarge, he’s willing to see Charles Darnay as the person he is and lets him live in his house and marry his daughter.
From: Wuthering Heights
Why he’s Evil: Heathcliff basically makes life hell for most of the characters involved by buying Wuthering Heights and makes Hindley’s life a living hell as well as takes advantage of his alcoholism. Also, though he may be a self-made man, we never know how he got the money. Not to mention, he marries Isabella Linton out of spite for Cathy for dumping him and Edgar for marrying the only person in his life who doesn’t make him look like a psychopath. And he treats Isabella like shit as well as well as curses everyone in the room when Cathy dies which sort of makes Wuthering Heights haunted ever since. Basically he’s a complete bastard and Cathy and him might have had the same dad.
Why He Has a Point: Heathcliff probably wouldn’t be the asshole he became if Cathy’s old man didn’t die when he did. It’s perhaps plausible that Heathcliff’s love for Cathy as obsessive and destructive it is, is perhaps the only redeeming quality he has. The fact that Cathy’s father died pretty early on pretty much sets Heathcliff off a course to infamy led by Hindley’s bullying, Linton’s class prejudice, and Cathy’s rejection of him. And Heathcliff pretty much has a good reason to treat Hindley the way he did when he returns to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff might not have been a sweet kid but he certainly wouldn’t have turned out as bad as he did if he had a decent adult in his life who might have given him the parental guidance he surely needed. The fact he’s the bad guy is that he’s all doing his deeds in revenge for bad treatment and not being seen as good enough for the world around him.
4. King Richard III (or Richard, Duke of Glouchester)
From: Richard III
Why He’s Evil: Well, if we’re to credit Shakespeare, he basically knocks off Lady Anne’s father and previous husband as well as tries to marry her which he does over the man’s corpse. Not to mention, he’s a complete bastard who later poisons his wife, drowns his brother in a vat of wine, and knocks off two of his nephews in the Tower of London so he could have the crown for himself. Evil man indeed.
Why He Has a Point: For one, Richard III was a real historical figure who probably not as bad as Shakespeare said he was or no worse than any other medieval king at the time. Not to mention, Shakespeare wrote he play during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I so it probably isn’t nearly 50% accurate given the guy who defeated him was the Queen’s grandfather. Though a great work of literature, it’s also historic propaganda. Also, though Richard III did take the throne from his nephews and put them in the Tower of London, he simply did it by stating the fact that Edward IV was engaged to another woman at the time he married their mom which not only serves as grounds of illegitimacy but also was perfectly legal at the time. Plus, the boys were children (and England had boy-kings before with disastrous results) and he was basically running the country anyway. Many people in his place would’ve done the same thing, especially during the Middle Ages. Oh, and there’s the fact that he also had his other nephews and nieces including five of Edward IV’s daughters (including Elizabeth of York who married Henry VII and was Elizabeth I’s grandmother) and two of George of Clarence’s kids as well. And there are no Tower stories about them either maybe because many of them were women and he didn’t off them but still. Not to mention, he might not have been responsible for killing the Princes in the Tower. However, the main reason why he’s depicted as a villain is that he was the last king of of a royal dynasty (who usually ends up having a bad reputation) and the fact his death brought the end of the Wars of the Roses and the beginning of the Tudors in England. Also, the fact he seized the throne also counts as well. Sure Richard III might have been bad, but he might have just as been a victim of circumstance.
5. Raoul Silvia
Why He’s Evil: For one, he basically a James Bond villain who kills a bunch of people as well as destroys MI-6 headquarters via hacking through the computers. Oh, and he has a massive beef with M and sort of gets even James Bond to question whether his own boss has his best interests.
Why He Has a Point: Face it, compared to most James Bond villains, Raoul actually has a good excuse to make M’s life a living hell, even if his actions aren’t entirely justified. I mean he used to be an agent for MI-6 as well as one of the best and M was probably the closest thing he ever had to a mom (since most recruits at MI-6 were orphans). Not to mention, James Bond sort of views M the same way. Still, how would you feel if you were tortured to the point of insanity severe facial deformity and later learned that you were left for dead by your own boss? Sure M was only doing her job but it really hit Raoul pretty hard that someone he cared for like that would ever betray him. In any case, Raoul has every reason to be angry with her, but maybe not to the point of doing what he did.
6. Stanley Kowalksi
From: A Streetcar Named Desire
Why He’s Evil: Basically he’s an abusive jerk who beats his pregnant wife and treats her sister like an unwelcome guest the whole entire time. Oh, and he basically rapes Blanche to the point of insanity on the night of her birthday, right after he takes his wife to the hospital in labor. Also, he sabotages Blanche’s relationship with Mitch as well as is a selfish man and all around hyper aggressive brute.
Why He Has a Point: By no means, do I find much sympathy with this bastard of a man. Yet, you have to have some understanding with him since anyone would probably not like if their wife’s sister suddenly turned up at their doorstep after little communication for years. Oh, and it’s pretty obvious that Stanley doesn’t know her that well in the beginning but he does his research. Also, he’s basically one of the characters of the whole thing who’s quick to point out Blanche’s rather unpleasant qualities such as that she doesn’t care for him being a Pole, after Belle Reve was lost she moonlighted as a prostitute at some seedy motel which she was kicked out of, drove her husband to suicide after she discovered him having an affair with another man, and being fired from her teaching job for having sex with a seventeen-year-old boy. Not to mention, she’s basically staying with Stella because she has nowhere else to go and has been going to great lengths to conceal her checkered past. Sure Stanley was no saint by any means nor had any right to rape her, but Blanche was certainly not one either. Not to mention, raping vulnerable and mentally unstable woman seems more terrible than having questionable consensual sex with a seventeen-year-old, as far as post WWII America was concerned.
7. Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus
From: The Pink Panther series
Why He’s Evil: Basically went nuts and not only tried to kill Inspector Clouseau multiple times but also tried to destroy an entire country out of angry at being lied to about Clouseau’s assassination as well as whereabouts at one point or another. And he tried to pull that off pretty treacherously as a matter of fact.
Why He Has a Point: Because he’s Inspector Clouseau’s boss and later replaces him once he ends up in the madhouse. Not to mention, Clouseau is such an idiot and borderline incompetent that he basically gets through on cases despite his own stupidity and it’s pretty apparent that he’s the one who drives Dreyfus over the edge but not intentionally though. Clouseau can drive just about anyone familiar with him crazy. Still, what makes Dreyfus a villain is that he wants Clouseau dead and is willing to kill him, instead of maybe simply firing him or getting him transferred like most people would.