Uncategorized · Writing Thoughts

Villain Motives: A Comprehensive List

No matter the plot, your villain needs a motive, even your lesser villains. Here’s a list with some examples from popular movies to help you figure out what your villain’s goals are and therefore, plot better for him/her/it to attain them.

  1. Power (Regain or Attain More)
    • Macbeth (Macbeth)
    • Scar (Lion King)
    • Jafar (Aladdin)
    • King Stefan (Maleficent)
  2. Money/Fashion
    • Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
    • Cruella (101 Dalmations)
  3. Pleasure (Enjoying the hunt/Creating fear or chaos)
    • James (Twilight)
    • Fenris (Harry Potter)
    • Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter)
  4. Revenge
    • Prospero (The Tempest)
    • Rachel (Twilight)
    • Maleficent (Maleficent)
  5. Freedom
  6. “Love”/Obsession
    • Lord Farquad (Shrek)
  7. Fear
  8. Self Worth/Increase Self Esteem/Impress Bad Guy
    • Peter Pettigrew (Harry Potter)
    • Barty Crouch Jr. (Harry Potter)
  9. Control (usually by the government)
  10. Politics
  11. Manipulation (to get something they wanted)
    • Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  12. Coerced/Forced
  13. Brainwashed (into believing they are the good guys)/Following a bad guy unknowingly
  14. Self-Sacrifice/Saving Loved People
    • Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter)
    • Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
  15. Paying for Mistakes
    • Lucius Malfoy (Harry Potter)
  16. Recover What Was Stolen
  17. Gain Information/Spy
    • Severus Snape (Harry Potter)
  18. Covering Secrets
  19. Hate/Anger Management Problems
  20. Acquisition of Land
    • Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
  21. Superiority (usually of a group, often involves cults and creating armies)/ Pursuit of Perfection/ Genocide/Ethnic Cleansing
    • Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)
    • Light (Death Note)
  22. Law Enforcement (Lawful Evil or taking the law into their own hands)
    • Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter)

Also remember that villains can fall under multiple categories. Don’t be afraid to give your villains multiple goals or a backup plan, in case their first doesn’t succeed. Villains are people too with wants, goals, and desires.

Any other motives I’ve missed? There’s plenty more out there. Feel free to share others or provide better examples!


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