Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Necessary Evil

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about villains and how they interact with the hero. There are a few protagonists who wouldn’t be who they turned out to be without the antagonist. Can mediocre become courageous, or ordinary become extraordinary without evil? The short list below is of characters who I think became greater than they were because of the evil they faced.

The Following: Good—Ryan Hardy / Evil: Joe Carroll

Are you guys watching this show? It’s fan-freakin-tastic! I had to stop watching Criminal Minds because it just got too creepy, but for some reason, I love The Following. Ryan Hardy, the washed up FBI agent is brought back into the game to re-capture serial killer Joe Carroll who has an obsession with Edgar Allan Poe. As the season progressed, I realized that as dedicated and steadfast as Ryan Hardy is, he wouldn’t be who he is right now without the psychopath Joe Carroll. Ryan’s good, would not exist without Joe’s evil. Would Ryan still help old ladies across the street? Sure. But he was a barely functioning alcoholic before he was called back to recapture Joe. In a very sick way, they need each other.

The Terminator: Good—Sarah Connor / Evil: Terminator.

Sarah Connor is just minding her business, waiting tables. She has no idea a cyborg is on its way from the future to snuff out her family line before she can even conceive. This is a perfect example of evil bringing good out of a person. Who knows what Sarah Connor’s life would’ve been had it not been for the leather-clad Terminator who just kept coming. Would she have stayed a waitress? Maybe taken a correspondence course and became a paralegal? Who knows? But because of the necessary evil, she went on to be the woman who gave birth to the man who lead the resistance. She, herself, became a force to be reckoned with. She went from reactive to proactive. Awesome!


Harry Potter (The entire series): Good—Harry Potter / Evil: Lord Voldemort.

This is another brilliant example of something better coming from the appearance of something horrible. Do you think Harry Potter would’ve been anywhere near as great as he turned out to be had it not been for the evil that was Lord Voldemort? No. Aside from his horrid upbringing at the Dursley’s, Harry was an average student, an outstanding Seeker, and just a kind of nerdy kid. Had it not been for Voldemort, Harry probably would’ve made it on to a professional Quidditch team. But Voldemort did happened and forced Harry to become a hell of a lot more than he was.


Interview with a Vampire: Good—Louis de Pointe du Lac / Evil—Lestat de Lioncourt

Truly, I’m not sure that Lestat is all together “evil”. He just is what he is and doesn’t bother fighting his true nature. All poor Louis wanted to do was stop feeling the loss of his family…and maybe live forever. Louis didn’t really think it through—no duh. But had it not been for Lestat’s malevolent presence Louis was on the fast train to tavern suicide. Still, with his undead cravings and urges, Louis fought it as long as he could. The good in him managed to keep Lestat’s influence at bay so he be became a different kind of vampire. One that cries. L

The Matix: Good—Neo / Evil—The Architect

Neo was just a bored computer tech by day, hacker by night, but he knew something was wrong with the world. Then Morpheus shows up and tells Neo, ‘here take this pill and I’ll show you what the world really looks like!’ Neo takes the news so well he pukes. I’m right there with you, Neo. Although the Architect doesn’t appear until the last film, he is the one who built the Matrix. Neo was probably on the road to becoming a hermit/hoarder at best and in prison for hacking into the wrong system at worst. With his eyes open to the real world he literally became The One to put an end to the war.

I’m not saying bravery, courage and strength had nothing to do with all of these characters becoming who they eventually became, but without that evil force pushing them, it seems obvious their lives would’ve been a lot different. From this list, who do you think became much more than he or she was because of the evil faced? As always tell me who I missed. I’m dog tired now so I’m sure I missed a bunch!


  1. I totally agree with this idea! My favourite here is Sarah Connor...without the Terminator, she would have been dolling herself up for parties, and working at a diner, and then maybe some office some place. Because of the Terminator, she becomes an absolute kick-ass woman, with intelligence and bravery in great abundance!

  2. I'm not familiar with The Following and I have a vague recollection of Interview with a Vampire. The other three, interestingly enough, have the element of destiny intertwined. Often it is the villains that cultivate the entire story. Nice post!

  3. I'd go with the Terminator. Considering the changes from Sarah in the first film to Sarah in the second, I'd say the impact was huge.

  4. Sarah Connors! If for no other reason than her arms & shoulders in T2. OMG WANT!

    What about Katniss? She wouldn't have been the face of the revolution (book 3) if it weren't for the Capital. She'd still be a bit of a rebel, but her true nature was not that of a leader.

  5. Oh! I love this post! I'm a new follower from the A to Z challenge - nice to meet you. I believe adversity, struggle, triumph is what makes us great. Do roses grown in hot houses (where everything they need is given to them) smell as wonderfully as wild roses (that have fought for nutrients in the soil, water, sunlight)?

  6. It is interesting how evil can actually be used for good.

  7. I totally agree with this! I liked the Harry Potter one most of all, but this was a very nicely written post.


  8. DEXTER would be a good one too. I love the Following. :)

  9. I thought Harry Potter's growth was a really interesting one.

    Great list, as always!

  10. Mere: Sarah Connor did have a huge change because as the story began her life wasn’t headed to anything major.

    Jessica: The Following is SO good, but I understand it’s not for everyone. And I agree, destiny is a big part of good trumping evil.

    Alex: Yeah, Sarah did go from reactive to proactive in a major way.

    Sus: OMG! I so want her arms! And the rest of her too. She was cut! Lol. I forgot about Katniss! Good catch.

    Margo: Thanks for the follow! I agree with you. You never know how great you can be until you go through something that shakes you to your core. And I love your name. It’s the name of my mc in my latest novel!

    Sherry: I’ve always found it interesting how evil can be used for good, and also how people respond to acts of evil. Do they meet it with more evil? Cause that never works. I always think of Stevie Wonder’s song, AS. He has a line that says, “Hate knows love’s the cure.” Love it.

    Gina: Thanks! Harry Potter is a great example of evil forcing someone to be greater than he would’ve been on his own.

    Mina: I don’t watch Dexter—although I’ve been told how good it is—I just haven’t gotten around to it, so that’s why I didn’t add it on the list. But from what I know of it, I can see how it may fit. And The Following is Awesome!

    Golden Eagle: I agree, his growth, his bravery and his determination was what made him such a memorable character. Thanks!

  11. I like this post and the concept makes you think. I feel that the presence of evil helped, in turn, the self-evolution of the protagonists in these (and other) examples.

    I will pick The Following, because I can't help but get sucked into the mind games Joe Carroll plays. You are right, Hardy wouldn't be able to function without him. In some way it seems he is attempting to help/force his will to live. I'm behind an episode or two, so I better get on it! I really like the show, but I don't know really anyone who watches it :(

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

  12. I've seen everything you have listed but, like you, I love the Following. My wife and I have been hooked since the first episode. I like that it works both ways in that show too, they both influence each other. It wouldn't be nearly as good without their interaction.