Good girls like bad boys or so I’ve been told. But what happens when a bad boy turns into the bad guy? Does he lose his appeal? Is he any less charismatic? He shouldn’t be.
A truly effect villain should possess a potent amount of charm to survive or at the very least lull those around them into a false sense of safety. Oh, sure there’s the argument for the absolute unstoppable lunatic who slashes his way through the general populace, but he doesn’t pack near the wallop as a villain who has enough endearing qualities to give the reader a vested emotional interest in them.
One of my all-time favorite villains is Elijah Price from Unbreakable. Here is a character born with a rare genetic disorder that makes his bones as brittle as glass. He dedicates his life to searching for an answer as to why he was born the way he was. Through the course of the story, I actually felt sorry for him, even rooted for him at times, until in the very end it is revealed that he is truly the villain of the story. There were clues along the way, but they were easy to dismiss because of the likeability of the character.
I prefer my bad guys to have at least a few redeeming qualities, just as I prefer my heroes to be a little sullied. The world is not black and white, why should our characters be?