Wrapping up this series of character designs for antagonists, villains, and even protagonists with toxicity as their flaw, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the toxicity of inactivity.
The motto is well known- all that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
Now, there's a lot more nuance than this, and I'm saying this as a person coming from a family and having spent almost 20 years of my life doing everything I can for what evil I see not to advance. Good people can't always do something. Sometimes situations are such that evil can't be stopped without some serious organization, cooperation, and determination from a bunch of good people.
Other times, good people don't even recognize that what is advancing is evil, perhaps even until it's too late, or at least too late for certain things to be averted. Still other times, good people may be too afraid to do something, or think they're incapable of doing something, or do things that aren't effective, and a zillion other things that would still allow for evil to advance.
This is NOT about such situations.
The antagonist or villain that falls into the category of toxic inactivity is the individual who:
1. can do something
2. knows they can do something
3. knows how to do that something
4. knows that if they do that something, evil will be stopped
5. and do nothing on purpose.
They're the subtlest type of villain if played right, because doing nothing isn't loud unless it's front and center. People often overlook a villain that makes life hell for others just by letting preventable things happen, exploits other people's lack of awareness, and then just pretends to be distraught at the damage, the chaos, the horror or the heartache unravelling around them.
It's easy to call out the footballer that willingly does nothing to stop a goal, but how are you going to know about the dude that saw an athlete be slipped spiked water and says nothing, resulting in that athlete being disqualified after a urine sample?
Toxic inactivity doesn't usually come without any other toxic traits to accompany it. It's very likely that all the other styles of toxicity will also be manifesting one way or another, in different measures. But if you're looking to design a villain as invisible as possible, someone that can truly surprise your audience even with the buildup, you might want to consider designing one who doesn't scheme very actively- they just bide their time to let things unravel when circumstances are just right.
They may not correct another character's misconception. They may not give proper information. They may not give proper information in time. They may not be on time when they have to be.
And this inactivity may be their only evil deed- they may be the lovely old lady that bakes pies for everything the entire story, or the mentor, or the loyal friend, or any other highly loveable and accepted character… that does nothing when they can, should, and would if they weren't a villain.
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 11, 2023
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