Friday, August 14, 2015

Some Bad Guys Just Need a Good Smack!

Sometimes when you are really into a novel, don’t you just want to punch a character in the face?  Book Riot posted an article on which characters they would like to “punch in the face.” (Here’s the link) It was interesting, but I did not 100% agree with the characters the article’s author chose. In light of this, I decided to post my own top five characters that deserve a good smack.

5. John Hammond – the mind and money behind Jurassic Park.  I get it that some people have more money than they know what to do with and that because they have money, they get to be a little eccentric.  Further it is certainly impressive that Hammond came up with the idea to genetically clone a dinosaur and build a theme park filled with these extinct animals. Can you imagine what it would be like to ride through a safari filled with dinosaurs? John Hammond was the mind behind this concept, but this is not why he deserves a slap. He earns one when things start going wrong in the park but he refuses to see it. People are dying and going missing!  The park has lost electricity and its security measures!  Yet still Hammond insists that everything will be alright! He even knowingly put his own grandchildren at risk by bringing them to the unravelling park.  Smack!

4. Quentin Coldwater – the whiney main character from The Magicians.   I was super excited to read this book when it was blurbed to be “a grown up Harry Potter.” Negative. The book was very well written, and the concept was intriguing, but I could not stand Quentin. The guy had just about everything going for him. He was accepted into a university that taught magic. He had a girlfriend that loved him, and he had friends (okay, dysfunctional friends) that cared about him. Unfortunately, Quentin was never happy with where he was. He was always searching for something better and always seemed to make self-destructive decisions. Then, on top of everything, he whined about things not being fair.  He was VERY irritating. Smack!

3. Pride – one of the homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist : In Fullmetal Alchemist, there are seven different homunculi, man-made creatures that are indestructible. Most of them are annoying because they have shaped the history of humans, manipulating circumstances in order to bring death and destruction.  But Pride is a little different. Pride hides in the shadows, lurking out of sight. When he does appear he strikes quickly. He threatens and hurts the characters the reader likes and makes mean, snide remarks about the other enemies. He even starts to devour his allies to gain more power. Definitely, not the best guy to have on your side. Smack?  Harder than a smack?

2. Geoffrey Baratheon – the spawn of incest that became king. The Song of Ice and Fire is a bloody, gritty series that centers around the Iron Throne. I’ll skip the convoluted politics that results in Geoffrey’s having become king at the age of thirteen. I will also grant that in literature young kings and queens usually have a bit of a rebellious streak. They suddenly have more power and wealth than they could have ever imagined. But Geoff is all that but still little different. He is a certified serial killer.  He has a cruel streak that runs deep. He hurts animals and people (physically, mentally, and emotionally) just to see them squirm. He is boastful and arrogant, yet a coward. He tortured a girl just because he could. But don’t worry.  No need to smack him:  he got what was coming to him.

1. Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter’s fifth year Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher: Man, this woman was awful! She was cruel, prejudiced, and unfair. The worst part was, she tried to hide her inner ugliness by putting on an innocent façade. She had a sweet, high voice, pictures of kittens on her wall and wore charming (sometimes nauseatingly) pink outfits. But everyone soon discovered her true personality.  It is somehow just wrong to dress a monster up like a princess.  Smack!

Although I enjoy reading Book Riot’s articles, I didn’t just want to list off my least favorite characters; I wanted to point out that it was the skill of the writers that made us feel so strongly about these characters. Their entire existence was made to be hated. Villains are some of the most complex characters we come across in reading, movies, and video games. Sure, when we follow the hero and read his thoughts, it’s easy to fall in love with them. But to communicate why a villain wants to rule (or destroy) the world, is a powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal. Most people are not evil just to be evil. There is something more. Let’s look at our list again…

1.       Dolores Umbridge: She is motivated by fear. She is prejudiced against half-bloods of any kind because she is scared of them. Also, since she is small in stature, she seems to be cruel in order to assert her power and dominance.

2.        Geoffrey Baratheon: Geoff is vile, but he is also only thirteen. While he has all the signs of a modern serial killer, he is the victim of an outrageously wicked family who doesn’t bother to hide their contempt of him.  Finally the one in power, he can escape his family’s shadow by doing whatever he wants. His decisions usually thwart political manipulations (although he really doesn’t understand them yet.) Picked on for years by family and court politicians yet helpless to fight back, he now takes pleasure in hurting those who cannot hurt him back.

3.       Pride: Pride is motivated by his Father’s approval. He does whatever is needed to make sure Father’s ultimate plans come to fruition.  Technically, Pride was the first “son” created and feels as if he is in charge of the other homunculi. He will lie, threaten, hide, manipulate and even devour others to make sure the job is done correctly.

4.       Quentin Coldwater: Ugh, I really do not like Quentin, but I can see where he is coming from. He kind of represents us as a society. We are always striving for the next best thing instead of enjoying the life we currently have. Quentin was accepted into magic school, but he wasn’t truly happy.  He had a sweet girlfriend, but wasn’t completely happy with her either. Then his dream literally came true, and still he couldn’t see how good he had it. It’s frustrating to see it from the outside, but we can’t judge too harshly. At some point, we’ve also focused on the negative instead of looking at all the positives we have. 

5.       John Hammond: In Jurassic Park, Hammond was like the scared ostrich that shoved his head into the sand. It was irritating to see the dangers that surrounded the characters in book, but the eccentric old man refused to admit that his park was falling apart. Irritating? Yes. Unreasonable? No. Think about it. Hammond was about six months away from seeing his enormous investment pay out. He was the first person to recreate dinosaurs from ancient DNA. He was going to make billions of dollars and get to see smiles on the faces of hundreds of families. Of course he was going to insist that everything was alright. His dream, that was so close to coming true, was crumbling before his eyes. Admitting it would be admitting that all his research, all his time and money, and all his hopes, were for nothing.

Each character has his/her reasons for acting the way they do, but it doesn’t make us like them any better. I still would like to punch these characters in their faces, but at the same time, I would give the author’s a high five for evoking such strong feelings for these characters.

In your opinion, who would make the list? I can’t wait to read your comments!


  1. I do so love that Dolores Umbridge makes the cut but Voldemort doesn't. There is just something so great about that.

    I read "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory and remember being so incensed at Anne Boleyn that I actually stood up at the dining room table and slammed the book down and screamed. Man, if I'd had the ability to reach through the pages of that book and strangle her, I think I would have. Granted, she got what she deserved in the end, but still.

    Just recently I watched Insurgent, second in the Divergent series, and Joanna and Peter both made my To-Smack list. I felt the same way in the books.

    My favorite villains are the ones that you want to hate but you just can't. I came across one of those in the TV series "Complications." One of the gang leaders, Darius, is truly awful, but there's just something so compelling about him that you don't really want him to go away. stuff to think about.

  2. Nicely written, Alex!

    The more I thought about your topic, the more I realized that these 'bad' characters that leave some prone to fits of violence are drug-like in their addictive nature. As much as I despise them and the infernal role they portray, I probably keep coming back to the story, again and again, because my soul is subconsciously begging the author to smite the baddy down at some point. I'm pretty confident that the author will, but I'm not sure when or how. In other words, I come for the overall plot, but stay for the bad guy (girl).

    As for me, it's usually some real historical figure that fits the 'bad guy' bill quite nicely that I like to examine closely when I read. Some of the worst Roman emperors (Nero and Caligula) were just begging for a Smack (or short-sword jab because of the armor)! From the 20th century, I could study the nutcase, Himmler (architect of the Holocaust), all day. Triple-Smack! What amazes me even more are the number of minor individuals that align themselves with these cuckoo birds of history. Group Smack!

    You've inspired me to create the worst nemesis EVER for my books. They are just too despicably evil not to include.



Related Posts with Thumbnails