Villain or hero?

Question: I've come up with a character I really love for my novel, but I can't see where he would fit in, at least in terms of hero, villain, or whatever. I made him to act in very wicked ways, but only to wicked people (or people he believes to be wicked). He is stylish, snide, has a dark sense of humor, and is completely hedonistic; a born narcissist, I made him out to be a source of dark comic relief in addition to his darker more violent side (and he gets VIOLENT). You might read up on a character called Reaver to get a slight feel for what I'm talking about. He's from the Fable video game series, but he gave a lot of influence for the character I'm talking about. Anyway, my question is what kind of character could he be described as? Sadistic, self-centered, kind of like a filthy-rich mix of Sweeney Todd (for violence/weapon of choice), Phantom of the Opera (because he has a way of avoiding detection) and Lestat fom the Vampire Chronicles (for his teasing, mischievous personaloty). He maintains a positive, if a bit strained, relationship with the main character, and enjoys teasing him in a big brother type of way. So, how do I label a character who is a villain to villains? Thanks!


P.S. He doesn't really care for the law either. He just acts on a whim, like Hannibal Lecter or a "chaotic neutral" character, if you get the DnD reference. Thanks again.

Answer: Among the eight archetypal characters described by Dramatica is one called the Contagonist who often comes across as villainous, but is different from the Antagonist.

The Contagonist character is driven to 1) do things that delay or impede other characters on a physical level and 2) tempt other characters to put aside their long-term goals for the sake of immediate reward.

What makes this character type interesting is that it can delay or tempt any of the other characters, including the Antagonist.

You often see the female version of this character seducing either the villain or the hero at exactly the moment they should be rushing out to confront their adversary or digging up the buried treasure. The male version is more likely to offer a monetary bribe, pick a fight, or put boulders in the road.

For instance, in Harry Potter Dumbledore's brother Aberforth shows up in the last book to tempt Harry into giving up his pursuit of Voldemort, while at the same time throwing the Death Eaters off Harry's scent. Darth Vader in Star Wars is just as likely to kill an Imperial officer as a rebel (in fact, he inflicts damage on both the hero, Luke, and the Emperor).

Note that what separates the Contagonist from the Antagonist is that the true Antagonist is driven to 1) avoid/prevent the heroes from attaining the Story Goal and 2) encourage them to reconsider (give up) the goal altogether. The Contagonist doesn't go that far.

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