How to Create the Ultimate Evil Protagonist (4 Tips)

This post covers a reader's question: How to create the ultimate evil protagonist?

Stories about an evil protagonist are often fresh and interesting. A story about an evil protagonist necessitates a storyteller who knows how to craft stories with great depth and nuance where the narrative does not come off as cynical or false.

Why would you create an evil protagonist?

The human being is flawed by nature, and this flaw stems from his ability to make mistakes and his infinite imagination for evil.

For example, you have figures such as Vlad the Impaler, Hitler, and Charles Manson who were such evil men that they were better classified as monsters or demons.

These people were not fantastical creatures, but instead, they were ordinary people like you and me.

When we talk about evil protagonists, we must come to terms with the fact that even the most monstrous human being in existence pursues his dark ends for reasons the rest of us can relate to.

Introducing an evil protagonist into your story allows you to explore human imperfection and cruelty in a direct and uncensored manner.

4 Tips on How to Create an Evil Protagonist

The following is a list of several tips on how to create an evil protagonist:

Use a Reverse Character Arc

A reverse character arc is a story where, instead of growing into a better person, the character ends up worse off than where they started. This can include acquiring new vices and exacerbating old ones.

We see this in stories like The Joker and The Godfather, where our protagonists begin as flawed individuals and end up as direct representations of chaos and evil.

These arcs are critical for the evil protagonists because they are the only ones that make their Fall feel real and believable. They use character flaws and story progression to justify the heinous acts they commit in the climax when their moral transformation is complete.

Note: A tragic hero arc or a redemption arc may be used in the story, but at least a significant portion of the narrative structure should feature a reverse character arc.

A Moral Conflict

It's pointless to include an evil protagonist if the story doesn't address the morality of their actions. It is critical to understand that this class of characters exists to question the meaning of morality, not to add a "dark touch" to work.

As a result, when Light decides to kill the world's criminals in Death Note, society undergoes significant change. Detectives and police officers who want to stop our evil protagonist face a problem: if they stop Light, they return the world to its chaotic state, but if they don't, they allow a murderer to act as judge.

A moral conflict grips the audience and adds a sense of tension to the story. This is how you leverage an evil protagonist!

Well-Developed Secondary Characters

Understand that your evil protagonist will believe that what he is doing is fair because it is consistent with his value system and moral compass. Only well-developed secondary characters with opposing viewpoints to the main character can help you give that conflict weight and narrative relevance.


An Antagonist Who Brings Moral Conflict to Life

Although it may appear strange, stories with an evil protagonist require an antagonist. I know we are accustomed to believing that the story's villain is someone terrible, but that is not the case from a narrative standpoint.

A villain prevents the hero from achieving his ultimate goal, even if the protagonist's goal is immoral.

This idea gives the antagonist a special place in stories with evil protagonists because he represents the side of twisted justice, and his actions can explore the profound moral conflict of the story.

We see something similar in Code Geass, where Suzaku begins as a good character but is forced to become someone just as ruthless and dangerous across the plot.

Alternatively, L's rational and unconditional nobility in Death Note exposes Light's selfishness and arrogance.

Although they play different roles in the story, both antagonists are well constructed because they increase the moral ambiguity of the work and invite the audience to engage in the ethical conflict fully.

Handle the matter honestly!

The latter is more of a suggestion than something you should include. However, allowing your audience to draw their own conclusions in these types of stories is critical.

Allow your character's immoral actions and the consequences they cause to create real, tangible drama in the narrative rather than trying to smooth over these events.

If you do this, your story will most likely be intriguing and keep your audience interested from beginning to end.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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