I posted this in my website, but I thought I could share it here for the sake of discussion. Why Unrealistic Evil Archetypes are so Successful August 05, 2016 — Richard Falken There is a trend among fantasy fans regarding the demand for deep, developed, fleshed out villains in fantasy fiction. Nowadays, many readers want writers to create villains with realistic motivations, solid backgrounds that explain why they perform their evil deeds, and relatable traits. According to this takeview on the subject, characters that are evil just because are a sign of lazy storytelling, are boring and are unrealistic. Many fantasy or mythological creatures are bad just because it is in their nature. Demons and gods of darkness are expected to be evil because they would not be good even if they were given the opportunity to be. A demon is not a member of an oppressed class, he didn't have a rough childhood, he was not recruited by a gang at a young age. He was born from the fabric of pure darkness and darkness is all that he is. However, the human worshippers of these black forces are a different matter. There must be a reason why the Mean Wizard of the Week turned to the Dark Side. He was not born from pure darkness, so he must have been a member of an oppressed class, or had a rough childhood, or was forced to survive in a gang infested town, right? If the writer is not able to explain to the audience why the Mean Wizard of the Week chose to be so, it must be because he didn't want to think about it, and hence he is a lazy author, isn't he? The truth is obviously not so simple. Fact is that villains that have no realistic or developed motivations at all are extremely popular in entertaining media, but it is hard to demonstrate that their motivations are lacking because their creators were lazy. When you define a complexBad Guy of the Month for a story, you need to provide him with goals and motivations, and it is very easy to make a mistake and alienate your readers because of this. I suspect many authors consciously use simple villians because of this. Take, for example, the generic Alien Invader. He is inhuman, he is covered in nasty fluids, makes weird sounds and is ugly. He kidnaps people and uses human beings to lay eggs in them. He acts like that because that is what nasty aliens are supposed to do. Readers will automatically understand that and accept it. The valiant heroes have enough of a justification for beating the life out of him, his family and his whole civilisation. Now consider the second example. The Agorist Gunrunner. He was framed by a crime he didn't commit and lost his faith in law. His wife left him, and when he went out of jail there was no family waiting for him. He was never given a job. He then tried to open a gun factory, but he could not sell guns enough in the white market to sustain the business, so he started making hyper-technological weapons and selling them in the black market. He now sells weapons to radical constitutionalist militia groups, and exports weapons to countries were there are no gun licenses for civilians. It is clear that the heroes must destroy his business of weaponry... Our glorious Interpol heroes will take care of him! What is the problem with the second example? Well, the problem is that the following readers now hate you for writing "such rubbish": Left-wing Agorists and other market anarchists. American right-wing constitutionalists. Militia members of different ideological signs. Gun manufacturers. I highly dislike books in which I like the villain more than I do like the heroes... when you think the villain is right and the heroes are wrong, the book is upside down. The story turns around and is not about brave heroes chasing a dangerous evil mastermind. It is about a bunch of thugs that think they are right chasing a person you agree with. When the inevitable end happens and the thugs defeat this character you like and know to be in the right side, you feel cheated and think the book and its author are unfair and should burn in the Hell of Árelor. The underlaying issue is that once you start giving evil characters complex goals, personalities and motivations, you have a chance of alienating your audience against you if they agree with the villain and not with the heroes. This does not happen with simplistic enemies like the Alien Invader. This alone is enough justification for opting for such Bad Guys in certain circumstances, even if you could come up with something more fleshed out. My recommendation is to create villains that are evil just because they like being evil, but to give them distinct personalities and traits that are realistic and relatable. This allows to have the best of both worlds: an enemy that will be identified as such universally by every member of the audience, and a deep character to please the readers that don't want a cardboard villain.