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Empathetic Villains

How to Write an Empathetic Villain

Storyteller OS users: Clip this video into your Knowledge Base and categorize it under Characters

In this video by Lessons from the Screenplay, learn how the antagonist in "Black Panther," Killmonger, challenges the protagonist to change their beliefs through empathy and confrontation. By exploring the character's backstory and relationship to the protagonist, the writers create a truly impactful and memorable villain. Discover how to create an empathetic antagonist that drives your protagonist to change in this insightful analysis.



  • The antagonist should affect the protagonist's beliefs both intellectually and emotionally.
  • Empathetic villains are often more impactful than generically evil ones.
  • Understanding the antagonist's backstory and relationship to the protagonist can create a truly impactful and memorable villain.
  • The differences between Killmonger and The Joker demonstrate how the specifics of the plot and the hero can demand different qualities from the antagonist.