All experienced writers know the major villains of our stories must have at least a few likable characteristics in order to for them to seem believable. This is based on the theory that every person, even a serial killer, has some good in him/her. I’ve known a few people (thankfully not serial killers) who I feel challenge that theory, but nonetheless, it is an acceptable rule of fact where fiction writing is concerned. If your villain is one dimensional, with only evil thoughts and deeds to judge, readers are apt to get bored and put your story down.
The first major exception to this rule for me was Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. (I suppose, if you want to stretch things, you could point to his intelligence as being a “good” quality, but given he used that intelligence to kill people kind of wipes that theory away.) Naturally, the character became even more memorable once he hit the big screen thanks to an incredible performance by Anthony Hopkins.
Many years have passed since Silence of the Lambs hit theaters, but I have finally discovered another exception to the villain rule: the character Anna from ABC’s V. If you aren’t familiar with the show or plotline, the V stands for Visitors, a race of aliens who have descended upon Earth intent on wiping out the human race and taking Earth as their new home. The humans don’t know this, of course. On the surface the Vs look just like humans. Beneath their fake skin, however, they are disgusting lizard creatures with vampire-like jaws and incredibly long tails that are used in various methods of murder.
The Visitors are led by their queen, Anna. She skins her own people to gather information. She imprisons her mother in a dungeon. She uses her daughter as a prostitute. Her ultimate goal is to find a way to remove humans’ souls so she can convert their empty shells into a slave race. Aptly, the actress who plays this monster, Morena Baccarin, is incredibly creepy looking—pretty on the surface, but with eyes and facial expressions that mirror pure evil.
I sincerely hope V is renewed for a third season so I can keep watching this dreadful woman. Why? Because I desperately want to see her fail. I want her shell game exposed. I want The Fifth Column, a group of humans working against the Vs, to succeed. It’s an elementary conflict, this good versus evil, but there’s nothing elementary about Anna.
Just goes to show, rules truly are made to be broken.