Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliché — Villains Edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché!

Villains. Here at FanLit, we love villains, especially when they are well-written, nuanced, smart characters. Often, though, villains still fall into the category of flat, stick-figure characters, or worse, the dreaded Evil Overlords. It’s boring to read, and fun to mock.

In this Collaborative Cliché column, we take on the thinly drawn, evil-overlord villain. Let’s look at every stereotypical thing the Big Bads do. We’ll start you off, but please use the Comments to keep us going! Add your favorite eye-rolling dumb villain move.

One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book from our Stacks. 

MordorMort’s dark cloak swirled about his shadowy figure as he trod the cold flagstones down the dark hallway, the torches guttering out just before his shadowy form strode past, as if a cold dark wind swirled out before him, its shadowy fingers snuffing the offending light. The creature beside him was dark and baleful, like a black shadow against a dark night, or a dark tree against a black rock, or a dark tree inside the shadow of a black rock under a really dark and very black night. Its claws scrabbled against the cold stone, as if a dark shadow had, for a moment, solidified and scratched some cold stone. Then did it again. And again. Beside him, MordorMort’s footfalls quickened suddenly like feet falling on cold stone, but somewhat faster.

Before him, his master assassin stood. His cloak would have swirled around him but MordorMort had already done that. He bowed. “Great Scarlet Master,” he said, “There has been a child born in a distant village with the mark of the Chev’tte upon his face. Also in that town is the last surviving Knight of the Gray. You know what is prophesied about the mark of Chev’tte.”

The baleful, black, tree-shadow-rock thing at MordorMort’s side hissed, but the Great Scarlet Master shrugged. “He’ll grow up to be the one to kill me, yada yada yada.”

“I shall send an operative to the village to kill the child.”

“Nah, don’t bother. You know what? Go kill the kid’s parents. That’s the ticket. Then he’ll grow up on the street, and he’ll never amount to anything.”

The assassin pinched the bridge of his nose. “Really? Because—”

“Do you quessssstion me?”

“Um, no, your Scarletness, of course not. What about the knight? Shall we kill him?”

“Nah, nothing to worry about. He’s probably just a sad old drunk.”

“But don’t you think—”


The master assassin made a sweeping bow, wondering why powerful forces of darkness hired people like him if they weren’t even going to listen. He also wondered why MordorMort made people call him The Great Scarlet Master when he only ever wore black……

Now it’s your turn! Add to the story in the Comments. You can come back and add as many passages as you like. One commenter with a USA mailing address will get to choose a book from our Stacks.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. Eric Bishop /

    So the question running through MordorMort’s evil drenched mind wasn’t why his master wanted the boy left alone, but how was he going to kill the boys parents, the most protected man and woman in the United States of America? Not only were they protected, night and day by the Secret Service, but they also had their own personal protection service. How could he get close enough to do the evil deed? With his luck, killing the boys parents would only serve to make the boy stronger in his beliefs! Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what hog wash was this anyway? What MordorMort needed was a good evil plan and someone he could get on the “inside” to make the way a little easier! Maybe he could finally make use of the German Chancellor, she’d been bought and paid for years ago and with her evil bloodline traced back to one of the most evil men in modern Europe! Yes, she could come in handy, if used properly! Slowly a glint of a smile showed across MordorMort’s face or more of a smirk, since he was so evil smiling went against his very nature, as a plan started to take root in his twisted evil mind. His black cloak billowed as he made his way back to his laboratory, the darkness closing in around him.

  2. Mordormort’s next stop was the dungeons, which he kept meticulously dark, damp, vermin-infested, and unseasonably chilly at all times. The dungeons were located in the deepest, darkest chasms of Mordormort’s Fortress of Nefariousness, and were very definitely not located atop a secret labyrinth of ancient sewer tunnels. Probably.

    As Mordormort swept into the dungeons, his black cloak billowing behind him, a collective shiver swept through the small, ragtag band of rebels whom his Deathkiller Legionnaires (garbed in the most fashionable and practical spike-covered armor that money could buy) had captured earlier that night.

    “You WILL tell me what the Resistance plansssss,” Mordormort hissed, raising his dark, twisted staff and shooting a bolt of lightning, or possibly a pulse of evil energy, or maybe a projectile formed of cold, void nothingness, at the nearest rebel.

    The rebel – a young, idealistic, farmboy type – screamed and cried “Never!”

    In response, Mordormort only let out a cold, cruel chuckle. “You may defy me now, but soon, you and your pitiful pack of pathetic pugilists will be crushed like beetles beneath my boot.”

    A curious expression flashed across the rebel’s boyish yet well-chiseled features. “You will never get away with it! And, er … when and where exactly might this boot-crushing event occur?”

    Mordormort gave another chuckle, cruel and cold enough to send lacy threads of frost skittering across the stone dungeon walls. “You ignorant foolssss! When my Deathkiller Legion ambushes your miserable rebellion at Hero’s Vengeance Mountain at precisely 2:30 pm next Thursday, you will learn the true meaning of ssssuffering!”

    With a swish of his black cloak, Mordormort turned to leave the dungeon, but paused when he caught sight of a beautiful, red-haired young rebel, whose green eyes glittered with a hint of fiery temper. The escaped daughter of his most trusted advisor, Mordormort realized! Ever since her capture earlier that night, she had constantly bickered with and occasionally declared undying love for the farmboy. A cruel, twisted idea entered Mordormort’s cruel, twisted mind.

    “Bring her to my … chambersssss … later tonight,” Mordormort said to a nearby Deathkiller Guard, evoking a satisfying cry of rage from the farmboy. Mordormort chuckled again, causing the temperature to drop another few degrees.

    Mordormort swished his cloak a final time and strode from the dungeon, pausing only long enough to remind his guards never to desert their posts, even if they happened to hear a small, suspicious noise emanating from the gloomy hallways. Any such noise was probably just a rat or a feral pig or something.

  3. Sethia /

    MordorMort stalked away with his cloak billowing behind him, then not billowing, then billowing agian.  “Impossible to find good, unquestioning, help these days,” he rumbles as he mounts his horse. “Now I just need to remember were I put that one sword that can kill me.”

     15 to 20 years latter (depending on your target audience)

    MordorMort sits upon his throne made from the bones of his conquests. He is in a foul mode, but when is he not. As he sorts there thinking of how smart and all powerful he has become (nobody would ever be able to stand up him), one of his generals bursts through the door.”How dare you disturb me in such a manner”
     “I apologize my most fearsome Scarlet Master,” the general stampers. “But I have urgent news.”
    “I care not for your news, only for you rudeness,” and slashes the general across the cheek with his weird, long, supper stein nails.
    “Sir, the boy grew into an unstoppable force  and is on his way here with….”
    MordorMort slashes out agian with his claws and cuts his generals throat. ” I still can’t find good, unquestioning help!”

  4. Lily, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

    Thanks to all three of you for playing!

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