Antagonists are some of the most important ingredients in the making of a story. A good antagonist can be the difference between a good story and a truly great one, one that will be iconic for generations to come. Whenever I get into a story, one of the first things I look for is the main antagonist. These are my top 5 Antagonists across fiction.
Editor’s Note: The following list will contain major spoilers for each of the series mentioned.
5- Anton Chighur, No Country For Old Men
Anton Chigurh is the true personification of human evil, something of a grim reaper figure in the novel “No Country for Old Men.”
Chigurh’s design is the antithesis of humanity and all its goals. His portrayal is one of extreme oddity and allure. His clothes and hair don’t exactly fit him, and his mannerisms are almost robotic.
Everything he does has an uncanny valley, whether eating peanuts or talking. The Cohen brothers, who directed the film adaptation, stated that they wanted him to appear as though he could be a man from Mars. This is fitting, as Chigurh is the only central character with zero insights into his past. His name has no cultural significance either; he is simply named what he is because Cormac McCarthy thought his name sounded interesting.
In his introductory scene, Chigurh is arrested for the murder of a young girl he has been dating. He stealthily sneaks his handcuffs under his legs and strangles the deputy with the cuffs. Despite the intimacy of this murder, Chigurh has no emotion as he slowly kills the deputy. Upon his escape, he pulls over a car on the highway and tells the driver to step out of the vehicle and move some steps away from it. He then kills the man, saying he didn’t want the blood to get on the car.
Immediately, Chigurh is built up as someone with zero values or limits on what he is willing to do. He’s someone who will execute his goals with the precision of a surgeon with the consideration of swatting a fly. His motives are overall mysterious.
The story follows Llewelyn Moss trying to secure a briefcase filled with money and Chigurh’s chase to take that money. However, he is seemingly unconcerned with it, as Chigurh’s goals are purely ideological. He has no material benefit from what he does, only executing his crimes for the thrill of a hunt. This is because Chigurh does not secure the money for himself, simply handing it over the back to his boss at the cartel it was stolen from. He could take the money for himself and likely get away with it, but he does not. That is because Chigurh’s motives are entirely based on the act of killing itself.
Chigurh does not have a high opinion of humanity, simply seeing them as a mass of puppets who are mere victims of causality. This is notably portrayed in Chigurh’s primary weapon of choice, the cattle gun. He likens humanity to cattle with how he kills people mercilessly and efficiently.
His whole philosophy of killing comes when he is talking to a store clerk. He flips a coin and tells the man to call it. The clerk is very confused at first but calls it correctly. Chigurh then leaves, with the implication that if he were to call wrong, Chigurh would have killed him.
He elaborates further in a scene near the end of the story when he comes to Carla Jean Moss with plans to kill her after Llewelyn had promised a duel to him and put her life on the line but died at the cartel’s hand before he could do it. Chigurh tells her to call a coin toss, and Carla Jean is at first hesitant to do so. Chigurh explains that everyone he has killed was always going to die when they did, pre-ordained by fate.
This idea of humans being slaves to fight leans into a sort of nihilism that there is no kind of inherent moral good. As such, anyone who gets in Chigurh’s way, anyone whose death would benefit Chigurh, was simply fated to die. This philosophy leans into Chigurh’s brutal nature, getting something of a thrill out of killing. Chigurh does enjoy it, given how he often toys with people he plans to kill before doing it.
Notably, however, Chigurh’s killings are never random. Every killing he executes is a deliberate act done to further his own goals, whether it’s a hotel front desk worker who sees his face or someone sent to take the money from Moss that Chigurh believes will be a hindrance.
This joy of killing is put in immediate juxtaposition with protagonist Moss.
Moss, though somewhat selfish in his pursuit of money for his family, is ultimately a good man, someone who will even risk his own life to give a man who is dying of dehydration water. Moss and Chigurh come into contact only once, Chigurh tracking Moss down to a motel. Moss can get a jump on Chigurh in this fight, pointing a gun at him and threatening to kill him. Moss spares him here, leading to him nearly dying as Chigurh shoots him from a long range. In the end, Chigurh can overcome Moss due to one main thing. Chigurh has no limit. He is perfectly efficient, willing, and able to kill whoever he wants and thrives in a society that rewards violence. Moss does not have that, so he makes the many mistakes of mercy that lead to his demise. The story ends with Chigurh taking victory, endearing himself to his bosses at the cartel with his immense talent and leaving all who attempted to take him down dead. He triumphantly walks into the sunset as if he were a western hero of old.
Overall, Chigurh acts as a genuinely intimidating force of nature throughout the story of No Country for Old Men.
His characterization embodying the concept of human evil is executed brilliantly, as while he is elusive and somewhat alienated from humanity, he can act out his evil because society allows him to. This is part of one of the story’s central themes that society itself has degraded itself to the point that evil is easily allowed to thrive, and the good men that are left must continue even in a dark world.
Chigurh does what all good antagonists should, embodying an antithesis of the story’s themes, being an embodiment of evil itself. These aspects make Chigurh a genuinely brilliant villain and antagonist.
4- Gustavo “Gus” Fring, Breaking Bad
Gus Fring is the two-faced main antagonist of the award-winning crime drama Breaking Bad, alongside playing a role as a secondary antagonist to Mike Erhmentraut in Better Call Saul.
Gus is, on the surface, simply the owner of a chain of fried chicken restaurants known as Los Pollos Hermanos, a goodhearted small business owner and a well-respected member of the community. In truth, Gus is a cold-hearted, Machiavellian mastermind, one of the most powerful drug lords north of the southern border.
Gus is very much unlike the other criminals across the Breaking Bad universe. While many who serve the will of the cartel have a tendency to chaos and sporadic acts of violence to exert control, Gus is an expert in more soft power. In everything that he does, Gus is clean and efficient and resorts to violence only when it is necessary. This unnerving calmness gives Gus a powerful aura of cold intimidation, largely thanks to Giancarlo Esposito’s award-winning Emmy performance. Despite his intimidating atmosphere, Gus can act as one of the most important allies someone can have due to his wealth, resources, and cunning.
However, if one is to make themselves an enemy of Gus, it would be an understatement to say that they have doom awaiting them.
In Breaking Bad, Gus acts as the leading distributor of the blue crystal meth cooked by cancer-ridden chemistry genius and protagonist Walter White. Upon their first meeting at the end of the second season, Gus is skeptical of Walter, mainly due to his inability to control his primary criminal accomplice, Jesse Pinkman. Despite his initial suspicion, Gus decides to give Walter a chance, making a deal with him to bring him 38 pounds of crystal meth in exchange for $1.2 million. Upon having his request fulfilled, Gus decides that he can trust Walter, and so he hires him. This shows that Gus is concerned with how helpful someone can be to him, regardless of first impressions. Because Walter was able to prove himself useful to Gus, he was able to earn his respect.
Throughout the third season, Walter and Gus are professional allies to one another. This goes to the point that when Jesse criticizes Gus’s use of children for drug dealers, and Walter covers for him, Gus can respect this criticism, and he tells his dealers to let go of one specific child, that being little brother of Jesse’s girlfriend. However, when the child is killed, Jesse plots to kill the dealers responsible. Jesse, being outnumbered by the dealers, is almost killed by them when Walter saves Jesse by running them over with his car. This act makes it clear to Gus that Walter is not as reliable as he previously thought. As such, Gus begins a plot to replace him by teaching his lab assistant, Gale Bettichor, the process of cooking Walter’s blue meth, after which Gus kills Walter. This plan fails, however, when Walter tells Jesse to kill Gale so that Walter would become irreplaceable. In the aftermath of this apparent act of antagonism to Gus, he does not immediately enact revenge by killing Walter. Gus, instead, brutally murders his only henchman to have witnessed the murder right in front of him.
This goes to show Gus’s very logical mind. A lesser criminal would crash his entire criminal empire for the sake of revenge, but Gus is a true master of his craft.
His analytical mind is starkly contrasted with Walter’s brilliant yet emotional mind. Many of Walter’s actions are motivated by pride, by the justification of his ego.
In the final season, he even admits that the sole reason for his actions was to fuel the fire of his pride. Gus, on the other hand, is methodical and logical. He is the perfect adversary for Walter in this way, as all main antagonists should be.
Gus, however, is not without his weaknesses. Gus’s kryptonite is also his pride, but it is a weakness much better concealed than Walter’s. Many years in the past, Gus had attempted a similar operation. While before, he was a mere middleman for the cartel’s cocaine trafficking, he had tried to create a network of crystal meth smuggling, with the meth cook being his presumed boyfriend, Max. Seeing this as an act of disrespect, Max was shot dead right in front of Gus, reminding him that he should never step out of line again. As such, Gus harbors a deep resentment towards the cartel.
Throughout season 4, Gus’s main objective is to turn Jesse against Walter, plotting to manipulate him into being his meth cook, one that he would have greater control over. This intricate, back-and-forth chess game between the two over the criminal empire seems to have almost wholly ensured Gus’s victory. By the end of the season, Gus had not only killed the entirety of his cartel enemies, but he also had Jesse on his side, and he was absolutely ready to kill all of Walter’s family to keep him out of his plans. That is until Walter discovered that weakness of incredible resentment towards the cartel. Walter had made a deal with the last surviving member of the cartel, Hector Salamanca, wheelchair-bound in a nursing home, powerless. Walter had created a pipe bomb to kill Gus and had Hector talk to the DEA. He didn’t give them any information, but this news caused Gus to decide to complete his revenge plan finally.
Although he was well aware of Walter’s plans to assassinate him, Gus’s primal desire to have revenge for Max overpowered his logical mind. He arrived at the nursing home, ready to taunt Hector and watch his powerless rage at the fact that his family was dead and Gus had won. Hector activates the pipe bomb Walter had set under his wheelchair. Upon this realization, Gus loses his cool for the first time in the show. He shouts in fear right before the bomb detonates.
As the smoke clears, Gus begins to walk away from the room, calmly buttoning his coat as he does. This is when the camera pans to reveal half of Gus’s face and brain blown off by the blast.
He dies because Walter had tricked him into acting as he does and as such. His Harvey Dent-Esque appearance also reveals Gus’s two-faced nature. The attractive appearance of him as an excellent small businessman and a community leader and the ugly reality of him as a ruthless drug lord.
However, this is not Gus’s last appearance, as he serves a role in Breaking Bad’s prequel, Better Call Saul.
No significant insights into his character are revealed up until the end. His arc is mainly with his construction of an underground meth lab so that his activities would be hidden by the cartel, alongside a cat and mouse conflict against Lalo Salamanca.
Near the end of Better Call Saul’s final season, Lalo discovers this meth lab, and he is ready to expose Gus to the cartel’s higher-ups. Going against all logical thinking, Gus follows him into the lab and challenges him to a duel. Though Gus succeeds in killing Lalo, he is injured and takes more risks than he usually would.
It seems Gus did not learn from this mistake in terms of losing his rationality when it comes to the cartel. However, a victory is a victory, and Gus can finally celebrate. He goes to a fine restaurant and treats himself to a glass of wine. During this celebration, Gus is encountered by a friend of his, who seems to harbor a romantic interest in Gus. Gus at first humors him, beginning to offer some kind of romantic relationship. However, Gus realizes that doing this would simply put any potential partner of his into unnecessary danger. Gus leaves the bar before they can get closer. This adds a rather tragic lens to Gus’s character.
Even though his victory, Gus does not allow himself to be happy. This could also be a form of unresolved grief of his lover, Max. Gus’s final appearance in Better Call Saul is somewhat melancholic.
He may have achieved his ultimate victory, and yet, it all feels empty. Gus sits on the throne, but the throne is all that he allows himself to know.
3- Griffith, Berserk
Griffith is the best friend turned worst enemy of Berserk’s protagonist, Guts, and the main villain of the entire series. Griffith is something of an angelic figure, being seen as both incredibly beautiful and charismatic.
Griffith, at first, shows himself as a heroic figure, being strong, intelligent, driven, and holding high regard for the mercenaries who serve him as the Band of the Hawk’s leader. He has an almost unbreakable charisma, and many who stand beside him say that just by looking at him, they know they are looking at a man who would guide history.
This, however, is put in contrast with his very first appearance in the story of Berserk.
After Guts fights off one of many demonic beings known as apostles, the apostle in question, The Count, activates a mysterious, egg-like charm known as a Behelit, summoning a group called the god hand. The nature of the god hand is incredibly vague, but they appear as godly, higher dimensional beings that hold power over the world.
Guts, however, is instantly focused on a single member of the Godhand, one who he calls Griffith. Guts are clearly shown to despise Griffith as he tries to kill him the first chance he has. However, due to his power as a member of the Godhand, Guts is unable to touch him.
After they disappear and the count is defeated, Guts, who had been up until this point shown as ruthless and cold, sits down and begins to tear up. This moment marks the end of Berserk’s first arc and leads into the beginning of the second, that being the Golden Age Arc. This arc is the vast majority of Berserk’s beginning chapters, and it essentially tells the tale of how Guts and his world got so dark and just who Griffith is.
Griffith’s first ever encounter is with Guts. Guts, age 15, had been a mercenary all his life. He could use a sword before he could talk, and due to his upbringing, he had always been quite individualistic. Griffith witnessed his might with the sword and felt some kind of infatuation toward him, some desire to have him.
In this fight, Guts had been injured, so Griffith ordered the Band of the Hawk to take him in for the night and treat his wounds. This is implied to be some sort of sexual attraction. Griffith then gives Guts an offer, saying that he wishes to duel him and that if Griffith wins, he must join the Band of the Hawk. Guts accept this challenge and the two fight. Griffith is able to defeat Guts, and he has an almost child-like glee at the idea of having him at his side. This causes Guts to question if Griffith is homosexual, which, while not expressly stated, is implied that is the case. Though Guts is at first hesitant, he begins to find some kind of meaning in fighting alongside the Band of the Hawk, and he starts to respect Griffith.
Griffith and Guts’s relationship is one of the most important parts of Griffith’s nature as an antagonist.
Griffith is closer to Guts than most of the other mercenaries, drawn to his strength and rough individualism. At a first glance, it seems simply that Griffith and Guts are simply friends who respect one another’s might on the battlefield.
However, one of the things that makes this relationship most compelling is the concept of suspense. The audience knows that the results of this arc will result in Guts becoming a broken and brutal man and with Griffith as his worst enemy. In addition, early in the arc, Guts witnesses a demon for the very first time, Nosferatu Zodd.
Zodd is the first entity Guts is unable to defeat, and he is almost killed by this encounter. Zodd notices a Behelit worn by Griffith as a necklace, and here, he warns Guts that when Griffith is at his lowest point, he will be in the most danger. Zodd leaves after giving this prophecy, thus adding more suspense.
The cracks in their relationship begin when Griffith, due to endearing himself to the royal family of Midland, has the chance to speak with the country’s princess, Charlotte, a discussion Guts happens to listen in to. Here, Griffith explains to Charlotte what a true friend and equal is to him. He explains that the people who fight for him cannot be his friends because they fight for the sake of his dream.
Dreams are very important to Griffith, a precious thing. A dream, in Griffith’s words, is something that a man would do anything to achieve, and is one of the most important things in the world. The most virtuous thing a man can do is fight however hard he must for the sake of his own dream. He acknowledges that there are some dreams so grand that they swallow up thousands of other dreams like a storm, turning them into martyrs for the one ambition that will change the world. People who simply depend upon Griffith’s own dream are simply his valuable troops. The only person who Griffith could possibly consider his equal is someone who pursues their own dream at all costs, even if it would mean challenging Griffith himself.
This colors just how he sees the band of the hawk. They are simply his most valuable pawns to attain Griffith’s one desire, that being, a kingdom of his own.
Guts is seemingly the one exception to this, as Griffith does see him as his equal, his one and only true friend. Upon hearing Griffith explains what he considers a friend to be, Guts takes some time to think of what he had been doing, serving Griffith as a member of the band for the past three years, as this revelation came to Guts right after carrying out a political assassination of a man and his young son for Griffith’s own benefit. Guts himself feels so far below Griffith, so he makes a decision. He decides that once the war the band of the hawk has taken part in is over, he will leave and pursue his own dream, just as Griffith does.
Later on, Guts decides to leave; however, Griffith is at first very opposed to this. Griffith sees Guts, in a way, as one of his possessions.
Griffith is someone who always gets what he wants due to his intellect, strength, and charisma. He was able to rise from a mere commoner to attaining the title of lord and general within the royal court. Along the way, he may have lost some soldiers, but Griffith himself had never had his resolve truly challenged. Griffith had never lost something that he wanted to hold onto. Griffith is unable to accept the idea of Guts leaving him. He demands that Guts must duel him if he is to leave. Guts accept this challenge, and unlike his previous duel, Guts takes the victory, and for the first time in three years, Guts returns to his past ways, roaming the country with nothing but a sword at his side and a yearning for fighting.
Griffith is beyond devastated as he is defeated. Guts, the one man Griffith could ever call a friend, had abandoned him. He had built so much at this point, even attaining the position of the king’s right hand with plans to marry his daughter. The thought of him losing someone close to him, losing any kind of battle, almost breaks Griffith’s mind.
This is when Griffith makes his biggest mistake. He breaks into the castle, specifically Princess Charlotte’s quarters. In an effort to drown away these negative thoughts, Griffith attempts to reassert his grasp on someone he knows won’t abandon him. Griffith makes love to Charlotte here, but their relations are complete without intimacy, without any kind of meaning, as Griffith can only think about Guts, the man he had loved, besting him and starting anew.
While this is the beginning of Guts’ journey to discover his dream, this is the beginning of the end for the white Hawk.
In the aftermath, all of Griffith’s achievements are crushed right before his eyes as the king gets wind of Griffith taking Charlotte’s virginity. Everything Griffith had built through labor becomes little more than dirt due to his one mistake.
Griffith is banished to a dungeon underground and endures the king’s wrath, and the Band of the Hawk are deemed criminals to be executed on sight. After one year of punishment by a sadistic torturer, he has left an emaciated husk of a man, every muscle of his body torn off and his voice stolen. The once majestic Hawk becomes a pitiable shell with his wings gone.
When Guts and the Band of the Hawk eventually save him from this prison, he is both spiteful and grateful, weakly attempting to strangle Guts, embodying the truly spiteful feelings he harbors toward Guts.
At his very lowest point, Griffith witnesses Guts embracing his lover, Casca, as he revels in envy upon seeing someone able to live as a man. Griffith cannot handle the idea of being unable to pursue his dream. Spurred on by a hallucination of a younger version of himself calling on Griffith to pursue his dream, he takes the reins of a horse and rides into the distance with reckless abandon to endlessly pursue his dream.
He crashes, however, and Griffith truly begins to understand that his goals are simply impossible. His mind, soul, and resolve are shattered like glass. At this point, the Behelit makes its way right back to him, the flow of causality bringing this item back to him right as a solar eclipse begins.
Griffith gains the opportunity to get back a body that can fight for his desire alongside godly power, but he must sacrifice all that which is dear to him.
Kento Miura’s brilliant artwork illustrates the melding of the demonic and natural worlds during this eclipse.
Every last member of the Band of the Hawk, Guts and his lover Casca included, is branded with a mark of sacrifice. This mark attracts them to be violently devoured by the souls of the damned.
Griffith’s mind enters a state where he visualizes a road to a castle paved by the bodies of all who have died, commanded by Griffith. Griffith feels the deaths of them all piercing through him. He meets the origin of all evil in the Berserk world, the idea of evil.
The idea of evil explains that it is the construct of God created by humanity to explain misery. He explains that he manipulated the flow of causality to lead Griffith to this very point. Griffith decides that he wants wings to fly to the object of his desire, the castle of his very own kingdom.
Guts and Casca become the sole survivors of the hundreds sacrificed to the hungry demons. Griffith reveals himself reborn as a member of the Godhand. He attains the greatest power one could attain in the Berserk world. His new form bears a semblance to the armor he wears in battle, now holding bat-like wings. Griffith is reborn with the title of “Femto.”
His very first act in his new form of ultimate power is to violate Casca’s right in front of Guts, purely so that he may know the same misery Griffith feels he had inflicted upon him.
Guts watch helplessly as his eye and arm are destroyed by demons, and he cries out Griffith’s name. The eclipse ends before Casca or Guts die, but they are cursed to eternally battle demons who hunger for their brand of sacrifice for the rest of their lives. Griffith manages to destroy Guts’ mind as he gains the sole goal of revenge against the now godly Griffith, even alienating a now even more broken Casca in the process.
Even when Guts is able to break free of his chains of vengeance as he pursues a more heroic goal, that being to secure the safety of Casca, Griffith returns to the human world, ready to pursue his own dream of becoming a king.
They reunite for the first time in two years at a gravesite of the men killed by Griffith in the eclipse, known as the hill of swords. Here, Griffith claims that taking the lives of those men caused him to feel absolutely nothing. He claims that he is free of the binds of humanity, proving that Griffith had indeed rejected all that which makes one human.
Griffith flies off into the distance after their reunion, ready to build a kingdom of his own, leaving Guts with the choice to pursue what he knows is best for him or attain revenge against Griffith. The story is only halfway up to its current point by this chapter, and the story is still ongoing, but the chapters up to that point have yet to be read.
Ultimately, Griffith is a complex man, who while wielding great power both naturally and supernaturally, is flawed by his possessive and clingy nature, which brings him to his downfall.
His intense power and personal connection to Guts make Griffith’s conflict with Guts both challenging and personally meaningful. Their designs are even completely juxtaposed; while Guts is a very muscular and rugged man with short, straight, black hair, Griffith is lean and feminine, bearing long and curly silver hair. Griffith is always holding a lean sword whereas Guts wields blades that appear to most like unrefined hunks of iron. In these ways, Griffith is one of fiction’s greatest and most well-written antagonists.
2- Homelander, The Boys
Homelander is the sociopathic twist on the idea of an “Evil Superman” and the main villain of Amazon Prime’s “The Boys.”
Like many of the “heroes” in The Boys, Homelander is one of the many corrupt figures who are seen as celebrities among the masses. As the strongest hero, Homelander is the center of the most adoration, being by far the most popular and the face of the Superhero corporation, Vought.
Though he has undeniable charisma and appears as an upstanding figure, Homelander is, in truth, a detestable and pathetic narcissist with no goals beyond the justification of his ego.
The one object of Homelander’s desire is simply to be loved and respected, even if he does not truly love or respect others. This even reaches the point where Homelander simply cannot bring himself to kill people who do not fear him. Despite powerless people like Billy Butcher and Vought CEO Stan Edgar being in opposition to him, Homelander cannot kill them because of the sheer fact that they do not fear him. They see him for what he is: a weak man that simply has the gift of incredible power, and Homelander cares far too much about what other people think of him.
This is likely due to his past, being grown and born in a lab to be the perfect, most powerful hero by Vought scientists, having no kind of family or parental figures. This thriving for parental validation can be seen in his relationship with Vought’s vice president and single mother, Madeline Stillwell, oftentimes trying to be breastfed by her. Even then, however, Homelander can never truly be satisfied with someone. The moment Homelander realized that Stillwell had lied to him about his son, he did not hesitate to kill her.
Around 10 years before the story’s events, The Boys’ rugged anti-hero deuteragonist, Billy Butcher, discovers that Homelander had forced himself on his wife, Becca, leading to her mysterious disappearance. This motivated Butcher to get revenge on Homelander, no matter the cost.
Homelander had believed for years that Becca had died after the assault, but at the end of season 1, Homelander and Butcher both discover that Becca was living under a sort of witness protection by Vought, raising the son of Homelander, Ryan.
This discovery changes Homelander, or at least his goals, as he seeks to change Ryan to become more akin to him. This was something Vought had initially attempted to prevent, believing Homelander’s volatile nature could be remedied by giving someone with his powers a more conventional childhood.
Soon after, he encounters a controversial, populist hero known as Stormfront. Stormfront takes a liking to Homelander due to his incredible power and seeks to change him to be more like her. While Homelander’s public persona was all American and adored by all, Stormfront was incredibly polarizing, though she was worshiped like a goddess amongst a fringe group of people.
Homelander is even more adored of Stormfront when she becomes one of the few people to be genuinely honest with him, revealing that she had been a high-ranking nazi and that she saw him as a true Ubermënsch and the future of the Aryan race.
Homelander planned to form a family with her and Ryan; however, when Stormfront’s nazism is revealed to the public, this plan becomes unsustainable. When Stormfront kills Becca, Ryan, enraged at his mother’s death, burns her close to death with heat vision. When Homelander comes for his son, Ryan rejects him. Season 2 ends with Homelander being truly broken, losing both his lover and his son. He even loses some of his public adoration as the masses begin to distrust him due to his romantic relationship with Stormfront.
Season 3 begins with Homelander close to his wit’s end, constantly forced to apologize for his relationship with Stormfront by PR. Still, Homelander keeps himself from snapping, as Stormfront is still alive, though on life support with the majority of her body being severely burned.
When Stormfront dies early on in the season due to health complications, Homelander decides that there is only one option for him if he wants to save his ego.
During a live show created for Homelander’s birthday, he becomes completely unapologetic in his relationship with Stormfront. Homelander declares that he is completely infallible, that he is above all other life, heroes included.
Homelander announces that he is akin to a God.
Just like Stormfront, he becomes a polarizing figure, but he is only adored by a majority of white males in the rust belt, Vought statistics reveal. In addition, he plots a coup against Vought, ousting CEO Stan Edgar and installing a puppet in the position. Edgar, before resigning from Vought tower, warns Homelander that now that he is in charge, there will be nobody left to cover for him.
He reminds him that he is not a god. He is simply a “bad product,” in Edgar’s own words. Homelander’s main goal throughout the season is to build his new brand, having an almost cult-like devotion from his fans. In addition, due to Butcher alienating himself from Ryan, Homelander is able to get his son back on his side by the season’s end.
The final scene of the season shows Homelander killing a protestor, believing him to be a fascist, right in front of his fans. Homelander is met with applause and cheer to this, and Ryan even smirks at it all. Season 3 shows Homelander having every facet of his ego validated in every possible way, but instead of his public facade being adored, his true, ugly self is at the center of praise.
The Boys has not ended due to the confirmation of a fourth season, and so, Homelander’s story is still not done.
Still, the terrifying thing about Homelander is not just his power but just how unstable he is. He has no qualms about killing anyone, and thanks to his sheer strength, almost nobody can truly challenge him.
Early in season 3, Homelander foreshadowed the possibility of him using his power to rule through fear if his public support was to wane. All of this causes an incredible feeling of dread each time Homelander is on screen, thanks also in part to Antony Starr’s brilliant performance. Thanks to this, he ranks second on this list.
1- Yoshikage Kira, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 4
Yoshikage Kira is the elusive, hand-loving serial killer disturbing the quiet town of Morioh and the main antagonist of Jojo Bizarre Adventure’s fourth part; Diamond is Unbreakable.
Kira’s one desire in life is simple: a quiet, orderly existence without any kind of disturbance or chaos. This relatable desire is one that Kira will do whatever he must to secure, and he will not give a second thought to killing whoever he must for the sake of that life. Kira has above-average intellectual and athletic capabilities, but he will intentionally undersell them just so that he isn’t seen as remarkable, as that would disrupt his quiet life.
This goal of his is often put into conflict with Kira’s much more primal desire, that being his uncontrollable fetish for the human hand. This was first implanted into him when he, as an adolescent, gazed his eyes upon Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, particularly focusing on her hands. Mona Lisa’s hands became the object of beauty in the young Kira’s eyes.
In his teenage years, Kira would begin his serial killer streak, stalking young women and then murdering them, stealing their hands and making them into his “girlfriends” that he would then take on dates until they would begin to rot.
This was further emboldened by his father giving him the power of a Stand, a psychic manifestation of his soul. Kira gained the Stand known as Killer Queen, allowing him to turn whatever his Stand touches into a bomb, completely obliterating anything caught in an explosion that would be completely invisible to non-Stand users. Not only are Killer Queen’s explosions invisible to most people, but the explosions also leave nothing after they detonate, making it so that there are no traces to any of Kira’s crimes.
With Killer Queen at his side, Kira was able to effortlessly act as the serial killer while maintaining his quiet life.
This corrupt peace of Kira’s, however, could not last forever. A common theme in JoJo is that of the struggle against the concept of fate itself, of the gravity that draws individuals together and creates conflict.
Kira’s conflict with protagonist Josuke begins when one of Josuke’s friends, Shigechi, discovers evidence of Kira’s crimes in the form of a human hand hidden within a sandwich bag. This also serves as Kira’s introduction to the story.
Kira attacks Shigechi with Killer Queen, leaving him within an inch of his life. Shinichi runs away, ready to warn everyone that Kira, a violent serial killer, is on the loose. Before he can, however, it is revealed that the doorknob to the room Josuke was in had already been turned into a bomb. As Shigechi grabs it, the haunting words “Killer Queen has already touched the doorknob” are uttered as he is completely obliterated. Before his demise, however, Shigechi uses his own Stand to send Josuke a button he had snatched from Kira’s suit. This begins their conflict as Josuke leads an effort to investigate Kira.
The button is traced to a tailor, one which Kira is undoubtedly going to visit in order to fix his now buttonless suit. Two of Josuke’s allies, Koichi and Jotaro, investigate it. However, Kira was intelligent enough to foresee this move. Kira sets a trap for them with Killer Queen’s secondary ability, Sheer Heart Attack.
A battle of wits and tactical usage of stand abilities results in Kira standing atop two bloody, near-dead adversaries. Kira is about to finish Koichi off. However, he notices that his socks are worn inside out. This enrages Kira to the point where he painstakingly fixes Koichi’s socks.
This moment is notable for Kira as it hints toward a potential mental disorder. Kira is very anti-social, having never pursued any kind of meaningful relationship with anyone. Kira also is very concerned about maintaining order in his life and maintaining a strict schedule. His fixing of Koichi’s socks further hints at OCD.
This ends up being a horrible mistake, as before he is able to kill Koichi, Jotaro stands up and uses the last bit of his energy to assault Kira, beating him to a bloody pulp. In addition to this, backup was already on the way, something that Kira had been meticulously counting down toward.
For the first time in his entire life, Kira is in genuine danger. Josuke’s Stand, Crazy Diamond, allows him to heal people, so when he goes to them, he is able to restore Koichi and Jotaro healthfully. Kira at first pretends to be a random injured person that also needs assistance, but Josuke instantly sees through this, as only a stand user would be able to see Josuke heal them.
Now, the name Yoshikage Kira is finally tied to his many crimes. Kira is completely backed against the wall, but he discovers one final ace up his sleeve. Kira had gotten wind of a stand user named Aya Tsuji, who sold a service where she would use her Stand to alter the physical appearance of other people. Kira runs off, and he is chased, but by the time Josuke and others catch up to him, he has already forced Aya to switch his face with someone else’s.
Kira escapes into the masses, his identity once again a complete mystery.
Kira’s nature is such that he hardly breaks a sweat at the thought of completely changing his identity of upheaving his entire life. His changing of identity also serves to add a brand new layer to his excellent villainy, that being that the whole status quo is flipped on its head. Even with every bit of evidence in the world, there will never be any truly conclusive evidence that can bring Kira to justice.
However, this change is not without its drawbacks to Kira himself. Not only was his assumed identity a husband, but a father as well. This adds a further dimension to his character as Kira begins to develop feelings for his “wife,” Shinobu. This first shows itself when she is attacked by a stand user cat.
Kira protects her at first for the sole reason that it would draw unnecessary attention to himself, but he indeed begins to feel a connection to her. It’s a connection that Kira doesn’t fully understand.
First, he had never loved anyone before. Kira’s own cool and collective personality also begin to endear Shinobu to Kira due to her becoming distant from her original husband.
One of the things that makes a good antagonist is to flesh them out as a character, to make it so that they could feasibly be the hero of their own story.
As Kira grows closer to Shinobu, he begins to put into question his entire perception of himself, rethinking his entire life.
The urges continue to grow within Kira, however. Like a wild animal clawing through its skin as it hungers for a hunt, Kira is desperate to kill someone and take their hands. Kira realizes that if he keeps suppressing his desire, it will simply draw more attention to himself. As such, Kira decides to follow a couple that had insulted him on public transit to their apartment, and he kills both of them.
Though he is relieved, this action begins his downfall. Unbeknownst to him, his “son,” Hayato, had been watching Kira because he suspected something bizarre was going on with his father.
This creates another layer of horrifying antagonism with Kira. Not only is he a serial killer, but he has taken over a young boy’s father’s identity, with Hayato being the only one aware. Through the eyes of a child, Kira becomes terrifying in a new way, an imposter who could, at any moment, kill him or his mother.
On top of this, Josuke’s investigation into Kira has still never stopped. This increasing pressure causes Kira to develop as a character. He seeks to synthesize his two lives, that of the serial killer Yoshikage Kira and the family man, Kosaku Kawajiri. This “evolution” results in him gaining not only a new power but a new look as well.
Due to Hayato’s suspicious surveillance of Kira, he is questioned by Morioh’s defenders, but this in fact was part of Kira’s plan. Kira’s new stand ability, Bites The Dust, allowed him to trap Hayato in a time loop, on the condition that he tells anyone the name of Yoshikage Kira. Anyone that hears Hayato will be destroyed completely and time will rewind to 30 minutes in the past, with the deaths of anyone killed by Bites the Dust set in stone, fated to happen in every future loop.
Kira is about to attain his ultimate victory, however, his arrogance gets the better of him, something that Hayato had planned. He announces himself as Yoshikage Kira, just as Josuke was in vicinity to hear him expose himself, due to Hayato’s planning. With Bites The Dust defeated, Kira prepares to kill his enemies for the sake of his quiet life, now with a woman at his side, though Hayato knows that Kira’s volatile nature will eventually lead to him killing her. Josuke and Kira exert every bit of their might, using every application of their abilities and intellect possible to defeat the other. Kira, however, is unable to overcome Josuke. He attempts to flee.
However, a sick twist of fate leads to him being run over by an ambulance, which had been called due to all the commotion of his and Josuke’s fight. Kira’s death was so perfectly mundane, his head crushed between the wheels of an ambulance, and perfect for a man like Kira. In his final moments, Kira sees a vision of hundreds of hands dragging him down to hell.
One of the most important things about an antagonist is that they act as a mirror of the protagonist, a perfect contrast against them.
Kira and Josuke are like yin and yang, having an almost perfect duality between one another. Josuke appears as a violent delinquent at first, bearing a hairstyle befitting one from an old era, a pompadour. Kira, on the other hand, appeared like something of a perfect citizen, his hair worn neat and almost always wearing a neat business suit.
Beneath the surface, however, it is Kira that is the scoundrel of society and Josuke, and at times a brutal man with a heart of gold which protects the town of Morioh with his life. Their stands are also perfect mirrors of one another.
Kira has various abilities all related to destruction, whereas Josuke simply has one, the power to heal anyone but himself. This also reflects Josuke’s selfless nature. Killer Queen is rather animalistic and emotionless, whereas Crazy Diamond is more humanoid and lively.
Overall, Kira is what every antagonist should be, the perfect enemy of the protagonist.
In addition to serving as a remarkably well-done villain due to his ever-present threat, his writing as a character is also impeccable. He is also rather grounded because, despite Kira’s extraordinary stand abilities, his personality and motives are based on real serial killers like Ted Bundy.
Kira’s presence as an invader taking over the life of a father also strikes as a particularly horrifying thought, almost like a toned-down version of the fear of Stranger Things’ Mind Flayer.
Kira is terrifying, powerful, realistic, and psychologically complex.
Kira is the perfect antagonist.
Very well written! I really enjoyed this article.