So, I’m rewatching Farscape for the millionth time (this time with commentaries) and I have to say one of my favorite villains in Sci Fi history is Scorpius. He fits the trope perfectly — he is very much affably evil. Yes, he put a neural clone of himself in John’s head to get wormhole tech and has pretty much been torturing him and chasing him around for a few years… but, appearances and actions aside, he’s a pretty nice dude. His underlings seem to like him and remain pretty loyal. He rewards them well.
He also fits into the Magnificent Bastard trope because he is charismatic, he’s got a goal, he’s brilliant, devious and all around a smooth operator.
There’s one scene in the episode where Rigel and D’Argo meet with Scorpius and Braca at this 50’s style alien diner and this bad guy knocks the waitress into Scorpius. And he very politely rights her and gets back to business.
And at the end of it all, he is the lesser evil. His master plan was to acquire a weapon, made from wormholes, to end the evil empire. In his head, his ends justified the ways.
Kind of the same with Lord Voldemort — he is charismatic enough to acquire followers willing to do his bidding. Earlier in his life it was through his charm, and some intimidation, and later in life, it’s mostly intimidation. But, Ralph Fiennes did definitely add some extra umpf, especially as far as this trope goes, to make him seem more affably evil — like his awkward hug with Draco near the end of Deathly Hallows.
I recently watched Luke Cage and there are some awesome villains who embody this trope such as Cottonmouth, played wonderfully by Mahershala Ali.
Some of my other favorites include Jubal Early from Firefly, Magneto (I love me some Fassbender), Robot Devil from Futurama, all the ones in Buffy, Bill from Kill Bill… and speaking of Tarantino, I love the the hitmen in Pulp Fiction and the brothers in From Dusk til Dawn.
The reason this trope plays so true in my life is most of my “villains” have been affably evil. Especially The Psychological Abuser. You get sucked in and you don’t realized you’re being used or abused. This person was so kind, so well spoken, charismatic — but manipulative and deceptive. For instance, one of the things I did for him — which I didn’t know the full story at the time — was “internet stalk” his ex-wife and get her contact information for him. He told me it was an old friend he want to reconnect with or something — it was all bullshit. It was years later that I found out it was his ex.
And that’s just a cherry on the cake.
So, in sum — I like my villains two dimensional in real life so I know what they are. But in film, books, and television, I like them with much more depth.