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What's the difference between a villain, antagonist, shadow archetype, and tragic hero?

In this episode, I explain the difference between villains, antagonists, shadow archetypes, and tragic heroes.

SUMMARY: Villains intend to harm others and thus perform evil actions. Antagonists actively oppose the protagonist but are not necessarily evil. Therefore most villains are antagonists. But not all antagonists are villains. Shadow archetypes are characters who psychologically represent the repressed desires/motivations of the hero. Often shadow archetypes perform as a villain or an antagonist in the story. Moreover, tragic heroes are characters who were heading toward a positive arc (thematically) but succumb to their psychological flaw (aka their fatal flaw). If they survive their transformation, the tragic hero often becomes a shadow archetype. While antiheroes may share attributes or behaviors of the previous characters, they are not villains. They often perform as shadow archetypes or antagonists to a classic hero. Lastly, villains can also be the hero, main character, and/or protagonist in a story.

Below are the timestamps for the different sections of the conversation.

00:00 Intro

02:00 Background

04:52 Definitions

06:40 Hypothetical examples

13:47 Cersei & Daenerys

20:09 Snape 22:45 Joker & Twoface

31:43 Avengers: Civil War

41:20 Hybrid examples

48:31 Tragic hero

50:45 Outro

Additional Materials

You can watch the video version of this here.

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About the author

Josh is a military veteran, public speaker, and father of three. Josh has published multiple science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction books. When not writing, Josh plays video games like Mass Effect, God of War, and Mortal Kombat. Growing up as a comic book geek in the 80s, Josh has an affinity for superhero stories. He's also a huge fan of classic Star Wars and owns multiple lightsabers. His other hobbies include powerlifting, roller skating, and beach bumming.

Feel free to follow Josh on social media, to get updates on all of his latest projects here:

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