Three of the greatest villains ever created.
Three entirely different characters.
What makes them all so amazing?
Or in some cases, so sympathetic?
Moriarty, Loki, and Sauron are three popular examples of what I like to think of as the three main villain archetypes.
First of all, we've got Moriarty.
Moriarty just wants to have fun.
He doesn't have a specific goal in mind. He doesn't want to take over the world, even though he could, in a heartbeat.
Some would call him crazy.
I suppose you could say that.
But he's not. Not really.
He's perfectly capable of having a nice cup of tea with his archnemesis.
Perhaps that's what makes him so terrifying.
He's perfectly mild, perfectly calm, perfectly reasonable.
One minute, he's calm. Almost friendly. Greeting you like an old friend.
The next, he's...
Next up, we've got Loki.
Loki is the sympathetic villain.
Sometimes, he's even a hero.
How does that work? How can he be villain one moment, hero the next?
Well, unlike Moriarty, he's got motivation.
He isn't just doing this for fun.
He wants the approval of his father.
He's been hurt. Ignored because of his Frost Giant lineage.
But he doesn't go about it the right way. He makes a bad choice, the same as we all do.
Perhaps that's what makes this archetype so powerful.
None of these villains are necessarily "evil". They make bad choices, and suffer the consequences.
Finally, for Sauron.
Sauron is the Old Fashioned Villain.
The fairy tale villain.
He's just plain evil. He wants to destroy Middle Earth and take it for himself.
So he creates an all powerful weapon, a tool to achieve his goals.
But the Old Fashioned Villain doesn't function very well on his (or her) own, except in fairy tales and bedtime stories.
That's what makes the Ring so important.
An Old Fashioned Villain doesn't provide the depth that every good story needs.
The Ring gives Sauron the motivation he needs; it provides an extra layer to to book that Sauron himself cannot provide.