Friday, April 23, 2010

The Various Nefarious Ones: Villains/Antagonists in YA

They make our protagonist's life hell. They provide conflict, raise the stakes, and force tough choices.

We loves them.

Since we already analyzed Gaston from Beauty and the Beast to show what makes a villain truly great, I'm compiling a list of the types of villains/antagonists used in novels.

Here's a rundown of the Various Nefarious Ones:

Queen Bee
The classic high school nemesis.
Movie example: Regina George, Mean Girls
Novel example: Lila Fowler, Sweet Valley High; Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girl

Government/Sekrit Organization
Life's totally unfair.
Movie example: the Paladins, Jumper 
(Yes, it was a terrible movie, but I couldn't think of anything better.)
Novel example: the Capitol, The Hunger Games; Specials, Uglies

You're your own worst enemy.
Movie example: Tom Hansen, (500) Days of Summer
Novel example: Lia, Wintergirls

Remember when you had sleepovers and braided each other's hair?
Movie/TV/comics example: Lex Luthor, Superman/Smallville
Novel example: Lauren Wood, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Unconditional love? Questionable.
TV/novel example: Damon Salvatore, Vampire Diaries
Novel example: Janie's mom, Wake series

The Big Bad
You're a teenager. He's a super villain. Nice odds.
TV example: The Master, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Novel example: Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter

Sucky Circumstances
When shit happens.
Movie example: global warming, The Day After Tomorrow
Novel example: the moon, Life As We Knew It

The Corrupt Establishment
So much for enriching your life.
Movie example: Principal Vernon, The Breakfast Club
Novel/movie example: Miss Trunchbull, Matilda

Psycho Serial Killer
Look out, you're on the list.
Movie/novel example: Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter
Novel example: serial killer, The Body Finder

Any villain/antagonist category I forgot? Where does your nefarious foe fit in? Leave it in the comments!

For a fabulously in-depth look at the character traits that make a dynamic antagonist, check out "Antagonists of many flavors" from Laurel's Leaves.

For more character list goodness, check out FNC posts on:
The Nice Guy


  1. I think my favorite category is the Frenemy. Lots of tension there. Great list! :)

  2. Awesome post! I'm writing a dystopian fantasy so my antagonist is so the government.

  3. Great post. I love the family angle. I'm in the middle of an MS where I've got a brother and sister who are each other's opposing force.

  4. KM - Yep, the Frenemy is tough because they know all your deep dark secrets -- and enjoy stabbing you in the back with them.

    Nicole - Sounds awesome! Mine is contemporary, so it's more family/self.

    Cheree - Siblings can be so complicated! I have a pair of sisters who couldn't be more different.

  5. I love all these character studies. Keep up the good work!

  6. Very interesting post! I love them all. Thanks for sharing :D

  7. Cleverly Inked - Me too! Especially Bellatrix. She does crazy like no one's business.

    Elizabeth and Sara - Glad you enjoyed! I had fun putting it together.

  8. Awesome list! Family and frenemy would have to be my favorite. I love it when you can't tell if the antagonist is a villain, a friend, or a little bit of both! :0

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