Every villain is a hero in their own mind.” But can a villain be a hero in other people’s minds?

Everyone has a dark side, and watching them materialize through villains who live out our dark, intrusive thoughts is satisfying. Whether it be a stereotypical villain like Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, “The Menu”), an unsuspected villain like Rose from “Get Out” (Allison Williams, “M3GAN”) or a misunderstood villain like Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, “Girl, Interrupted”), villains have profound impacts on their audience. Villains — like so many people — hide behind a hard exterior, attributing their callousness to a deep fear of getting hurt. And, buried under their perceived nefariousness, villains can teach lessons of love, happiness and perseverance better than their heroic counterparts. No one connects to a story where the protagonist gets everything they want with ease. The relatable feelings of jealousy, anger and hatred coupled with positive affect make us feel seen

But the villain title can be damaging. Being labeled a villain carries a negative connotation that can overshadow the good hiding within. Apart from standard villain characters, the media villainizes certain celebrities, and this tactful villainization can be career-ending. Popular culture begs the question, what really is a villain? Can villains ever be good, or would that mean they aren’t actually villains? The term is highly subjective; no two villains are alike.

These pieces dig deep into all the different villains that impacted the writers’ lives, whether it be in a positive way, a negative way or a mixture of both. We’re finally giving villains the limelight, and what you’ll discover will be haunting in a way no one could imagine. 

Zara Manna, Senior Arts Editor

Illustration of Ursula from "The Little Mermaid"
Reclaiming Queer coded Disney villains
Max Newman
Illustration of Essek Thelyss
Essek Thelyss taught me how to regret
Lin Yang
Collage of six illustrations with “we have no enemies” written over it.
Investigating the value of violent men, villain arcs and Vinland
Saarthak Johri
Illustration of Rachel Zegler on a dark background with dislike icons surrounding her
The unjust villainization of Rachel Zegler
Olivia Tarling
Illustration of Gru from Despicable Me holding up a stuffed unicorn. Behind him, in the shadows, is his old ray gun
‘Despicable Me’ is more than the minions — in fact, it’s not about the minions at all
Emmy Snyder
Illustration of Taylor Swift from the Look What You Made Me Do music video.
Here lies Taylor Swift’s ‘reputation’
Ava Seaman
Illustration of a girl walking with a ghost floating above her.
The monster under my bed: Social anxiety edition
Abigail Goodman
Illutsration of Rory Gilmore, Hermione Granger, and Amy Santiago.
On relating to characters: A villain origin story
Graciela Batlle Cestero
Illustration of Wanda, Loki, and Harley Quinn
Why we love the ‘villain’
Mina Tobya