Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness

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An antagonist can be classed on three orthogonal parameters:

This is a method of quantifying that third one.

Note that the below list is a very rough scale; any given character may fall higher or lower on this list depending on context, regardless of what tropes describe him. Many character types are very broad, so the positions below should represent an approximate average; some individual characters are subversions who turn out to be something significantly different from the stereotype of their type of villain.

An interesting feature of this is that the more evil a villain is the less vile he may appear to be, compared to other villains in the story, the logic being that a truly Despicable villain is someone we hate and revile, while a truly Evil villain is dangerous and to be feared- we care less about what happens to him and are satisfied that something does, if only to end his reign of terror.

See also Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes, for the bottom end of the Protagonist version of this list. See Likable Villain for a classification of reasons why not all villains are vile ones.

Examples of Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness include:

The sliding scale is roughly as follows:

Most Sympathetic

Least Sympathetic

Tropes that are orthogonal to this Scale, have too variable a position to be located specifically, or are position changing without having a particular position to call its own