Sauron.

The White Witch.

Emperor Palpatine.

Names that bring to mind one goal: the rule the world, universe, or galaxy in an iron fist. Their impressive powers enable them to seize control and maintain an unbreakable grip on the world. All that stands between them and total dominion is one plucky hero or protagonist.

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Dark Lord/Supervillain: The Origin

The Dark Lord and All-Powerful Supervillain is a villain for two simple reasons:

  1. They seek to take away that which we value most: freedom and free will. Sauron wants to rule the world and uses the power of The One Ring to control all the other Ring-Bearers. Emperor Palpatine desires a much more benevolent dictatorship (ruled by the Sith), but there is no less sharp a sword driving it, as witnessed by the destruction of Alderaan when Princess Leia refuses to reveal the location of the rebel base.
  2. They use brutal, bloodthirsty, and dark methods to achieve their ends. Empress Jadis of Charn, the White Witch, uses an icy winter to keep the world of Narnia firmly under her control. Darkseid of DC Comics destroys worlds or turns them into a twisted, hellish landscape ruled by his evil minions.

Most Dark Lord and Supervillain types will have evil minions and henchmen working for them, and they will tend to follow darker philosophies, such as “Might is Right” and “The Ends Justify the Means”.

Some Dark Lords, like Sauron, tend to be Ancient Forces of Evil, driven by their evil nature or desires. Others, however, will have a tragic backstory that led them down the road to becoming “evil”. Like Darth Vader, the character that starts out as a Dark Lord or Supervillain may actually be redeemable.

They tend to be either the ultimate antagonists (the ones seeking to destroy/rule the world), or they will be tapping into the “evil” forces (of Entropy/Chaos or Ancient Evils) to achieve their ends.

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In Stories:

This is one of the most popular villain types, and has been used by countless stories:

  • Voldemort from Harry Potter is the most classic and one of the best-known Dark Lord types. It’s even his name!
  • The Dark Lord in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy pretty clearly falls into this villain type, though it’s nicely deconstructed in a unique way by the end of the story.
  • Darken Rahl in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series is another classic example of a Dark Lord.
  • Marvel Comics’ Apocalypse and Thanos are both examples of Supervillains.

Desire meets raw, untapped power and a broken moral compass, and you end up with this villain type.

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