The Bigger Bad Guy

You guys have already heard me talk about how much I love the TV show The Vampire Diaries. Aside from having wonderful and consistent romantic tension, splendid characters, and fantastic plots—all things that are very essential to the makings of a good show—I’ve been able to pinpoint more specifically what makes this show so good.

I’m calling this idea “the bigger bad guy.”

It’s a fantastic device that works well to create well rounded characters, show excellent character development, and help the story get better and better as it continues. (How many times have we been disappointed by a second or third season of a show—or a sequel to a book series—because it wasn’t as good as the first one?) The Vampire Diaries only gets better with each succeeding season—something I can’t really say for any other show.

I’m now going to talk about “the bigger bad guy” and how TVD uses it. *Spoilers may be below up to the third season.

First, take a look at this guy.

Damon

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This is Damon Salvatore, our antagonist for season one of TVD—well part of season one. His brother, Stefan Salvatore, has just moved to Mystic Falls, your average small town. Except, of course, for the fact that there are vampires and other mystical creatures—a very creative town name on the creators’ part, I know. Damon has promised his brother an eternity of misery, so he follows Stefan around to try and make his life hell. At the moment, that mostly includes ruining Stefan’s budding relationship with Elena Gilbert. Oh, and Damon also has a secret agenda to reunite with his one true love, Katherine (Elena’s doppelganger), whom he believes has been stuck in a tomb for 100 years, give or take.

Now check out this chick.

Katherine

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This is Katherine. Turns out, she wasn’t stuck in a tomb. She’s actually been just fine out and about living her life. Damon’s crushed at first, but once he falls in love with Elena (whoops), he moves on. This is when Katherine makes her appearance and starts making it her agenda to make both brothers’ lives miserable. So now Damon is a good guy (most of the time.) He helps Stefan and Elena out as they try to get rid of Katherine.

Now at this point, things are a little harder to follow, so I’ll summarize even more.

Elena gets kidnapped by Rose.

Rose

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Rose assumes that Elena is Katherine (another whoops), which is why she kidnapped her in the first place. Katherine sort of helps to get her back. But before that happens, Rose takes her to this guy.

Elijah

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Elijah needs Katherine as a bargaining chip. You see, his brother Klaus has been holding his brothers and sister as undead hostages in coffins. Rose eventually tries to help the rest of the gang fend off Elijah and provides information on these scary brothers. Turns out that Klaus is even scarier than Elijah.

Klaus

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And eventually Elijah joins the team to try and stop Klaus, who is basically unkillable. Our ultimate bad guy.

Note that there are many other bad guys throughout the TV series. I’m just trying to give you guys a taste of what I’m talking about.

But now on to the main points I’m trying to make. There’s always a bigger bad guy. This enables each episode to be better than the last. Because the stakes are higher (vampire pun intended), and the conflicts are more intense as the bad guys get badder and more powerful.

It’s also fascinating to see characters undergo such change. The bad guys become good guys as their goals align with the good guys’. They don’t always become perfectly good—they still have their fun flaws, but they do change in remarkable ways that are exciting to see.

Now, TVD isn’t the only show out there that’s doing this. Look at Loki’s character in the second Thor movie. Look how he aligns with Thor to face a bigger bad guy. Look at Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These changeable bad guys are everywhere. And look at how much we love them! These are the characters that have the most fan girls—just saying.

Sometimes looking at where characters are going can help you solidify who they need to be at the beginning of your story. This can help with rounding out characters and their development. And it also makes for some interesting plot turns.

Sci-fi/Fantasy Movies and TV Shows

I watched a really good sci-fi movie the other day that got me thinking about the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I’m a huge fan of SFF—especially if there’s a good romantic subplot (or main plot) in the mix. Lately there’s been a surge of SFF movies and TV shows. And YA is really starting to bring in some fantastic fantasy (pun intended) and sci-fi. The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Throne of Glass, The Hunger Games, and Grave Mercy are just a few of my favorites.

It’s been my experience, though, that the movie making industry has a harder time creating strong SFF. This is understandable once you consider how many people read and make changes to a screenplay before it reaches production. And then there are the changes that get made while it’s undergoing production—changes by the director, the interpretation by the actors, etc. While these changes are understandable, I don’t think we can excuse all of them. When the storylines are riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies that are so bad that they make you unable to suspend your disbelief halfway through the movie, it’s a problem.

So to remind us that the genre is wonderful and worthy of our attention, I thought I would list some good SFF shows and movies to look into (and some old ones to remember and appreciate).

First is Live. Die. Repeat.: Edge of Tomorrow, the excellent sci-fi movie that I mentioned watching earlier. Basically this movie is Ender’s Game meets Prince of Persia.

And since I just mentioned them, I will add them to the list formally because they are both fantastic SFFs.

Prince of Persia

Ender’s Game

Next up is Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Need I say anything else?

Guardians of the Galaxy

Everything in the Marvel universe is already awesome, but I especially enjoyed GotG. Talk about fantastic dialogue and characterization!

Galaxy Quest

Laugh out loud funny.

The Hunger Games

Probably one of the most brilliantly done movie adaptations of a book.

Stardust

And now some timeless classics:

Star Wars

The Lord of the Rings

And a few great shows:

The Vampire Diaries

I know I talk about TVD a lot, but, guys, this show is brilliant. I had never seen a show that gets better with each new season until I saw TVD. The series arc is brilliant, and the plots are oh, so fun!

Every show by Joss Whedon:

Firefly

Dollhouse

I feel like Dollhouse is lesser known, but it is still an excellent show. If you like sci-fi, go watch now.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(These next two are not by Joss Whedon, but they’re both great.)

Witches of East End

Sorry, couldn’t find an official trailer.

And last but not least, Orphan Black

This actress is phenomenal.

Now go watch something awesome. Watching awesomeness always inspires me to write 🙂