Why We Love The Control Character

This video essay explores the motivations and methods of control characters who often seek and attain total dominance in their stories. Through their authority and planning, they can control the actions of others and dictate the course of the story.


  • The control character within a fiction is a character that seeks and usually attains total dominance in the story through their authority, planning and control of others.
  • Control characters are usually the leader of a powerful group or the head of a culture. This allows that group to be an extension of the character’s will and showcase the effectiveness of their control and ability to product advantageous outcomes.
  • Most control character excel in the role of the antagonist.
  • Since the antagonist is the character creating the obstacle for the protagonist to overcome, a control character antagonist raises the stakes by appearing as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
  • Control characters work best when their intelligence and control come as a surprise to the audience.
  • Control characters demonstrate their power not only through an established mythos of how dangerous they are, but by showing their competence and abilities during the events of the narrative.
  • In order to not glorify and endorse the benefits gained from the control character’s villainous nature the control character is frequently shown to not have gained true happiness from their power and authority. Showing this aspect establish the tone of a cautionary tale showing the hole that control and power cannot fill.
  • Defeating a control character cannot be as straightforward as overcoming other more manageable antagonist archetypes. It occurs by monumental efforts, unexpected outcomes, and by exploiting the system that the control character themselves created.