You’re welcome, my little nonnymouse! I love villainous characters, but I appreciate them as the villains they are.
One of my all-time absolute favourite villains? Crowley from Supernatural, a manipulative crossroads demon who became the King of Hell because he was able to influence the right beings in Hell. He routinely messes with the Winchesters (the real heroes of the story), and constantly has different plans in the works so he always comes out on top.
Want another? David Xanatos from Disney’s Gargoyles. He’s a normal human guy, but he’s the quintessential chessmaster. The trope “Xanatos Gambit” is named after him because he’s just that good at manipulating people and circumstances to his benefit. And, while towards the end of the series, he gets married and has a child… His wife is also a skilled thief who he often shares little pieces of his plots with. Neither of them remotely feel bad about how their mechanisations can hurt people.
Another? Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello. Called “Honest Iago” by his friends because he outwardly seems so innocent, he uses their trust in him to his advantage. He manipulates the situation of his captain’s new marriage to a young well-bred lady, making it look like the wife is cheating on the captain. Iago literally goes to his grave refusing to apologize for anything.
I LOVE MANIPULATIVE ASSHOLE VILLAINS. But I love them the way they are, and not some sugary bizarro-world version. Yes, I might like ‘em “soft” sometimes, because people are complex (and so should our heroes and villains be), but I never forget what they’re truly capable of… or WHY they’re the villains in the first place.