Gemma, from Lucy Christopher’s Stolen, was kidnapped. She was drugged and taken from her parents and stripped from everyone she knows. Her kidnapper doesn’t let her leave. He also doesn’t hurt her. In fact, he’s kind. Patient. Gentle. Gemma finds herself warming to him, even though she knows that he’s wrong.
Sometimes the bad guy in a story isn’t really a bad guy. Or, okay, fine. He’s a bad guy. But you can understand why he does it–because the author has made him (or her!) a well-rounded character with complex motivations. In honor of Stolen‘s hate him/love him bad guy, we present the nine most sympathetic villains.
Gru from Despicable Me
Gru gets mad points for adopting three cute kids and sure, the whole point of Despicable Me is that Gru isn’t a bad-bad guy. Even from the get-go, those adorable yellow minions scream loveable.
Dr. Horrible from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Because we follow the story from Dr. Horrible’s perspective, we root for him through all of his murderous plots. Not just because Neil Patrick Harris could direct us off a cliff and we would march gleefully to our deaths. Not just that.
Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Spike is a prime example of evil-but-can-we-blame-him? He does terrible, terrible, terrible things, but he tries so hard to be worthy of Buffy. He makes inexcusable mistakes, but his overwhelming love for her makes it hard not to always give him one more chance.
The Grinch from The Grinch
GUYS. His heart grew three sizes. GUYS. THREE SIZES. *sob*
Edward Scissorhands from Edward Scissorhands
Edward’s innocence makes his evil actions not-so-evil. We know, we know–ignorance of the law is no excuse. But it kind of is, though? Right? It kind of sort of is? Like–think of him as a giant baby with razor-sharp phalanges. Would you be mad at that?
Dexter from Dexter
The show pitches Dexter’s urge to kill as something he can’t help. It’s a part of him. Plus he kills killers. He’s like a spider. Let it live, cause it will get rid of all the other bugs in the room. So really, we should thank him . . .
Artemis Fowl from The Artemis Fowl series
Yeah, he kidnaps a fairy. Yeah, he blackmails an entire species for his own personal gain. But he’s young, naive! And he comes around, eventually.
The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera
Overaggressive shippers aside, the Phantom has always been a figure of mixed reception. He’s obsessive and incessant and Christine is terrified of him. But romantics will forgive almost anything in the name of passion. Not saying we’d like to be taken to a damp opera-house underbelly where songs are sung in our faces, loudly. But we understand the appeal.
Sylar from Heroes
Sylar is a big bad. He kills and kills often. He has moments of light, but they are few and far between in a big sky of black. Maybe it’s the infrequency of his moments of not-evil that give us hope for him. They are so out of character that maybe they are actually in character? Shut up. Is too a thing.
A huge part of making villains sympathetic is crafting strong, believable voices for them. Make sure to join Stolen author Lucy Christopher and Shiver author Maggie Stiefvater for a live chat about how to craft a unique and authentic voice, 7:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 15!