I’m sure you have noticed in the majority of books that deal with good versus evil, the villain dies at the end. Unless it’s comic books and in that case the villains never seem to die.
It’s ingrained in our moral conscience that good triumphs over evil and the only way to defeat said evil is that it must be completely eliminated. Most wouldn’t be satisfied unless the world/story is rid of the evil villain. The death would also pay for the innocent lives related to the evilness. We want the world to be good. We want the hero to have that happily ever after so they no longer (ever) have to deal with the ordeal the author has already put them through.
I would like you to keep the options open. Why does the evil villain have to die? Why would his/her death pay for those sins committed? In my opinion, a death seems too easy of an out for an evil character and imagination. I mean the possibilities are almost endless on how a person can die, but does the villain really need to die?
The biblical proverb of reaping what we sow would fit better. Make that villain pay for their deeds. I’m not saying that you have to go tooth for tooth, but surely more stories can end with the character being exiled or have a just punishment that involves the villain getting exactly what they feared.
Example: if the character feared loosing the game, make them lose it. If a villain fought against a country to try overpowering it, make the villain instead be overpowered and know that it was his greed that caused his army to fall. Or have all his commanding forces betray him by switching sides and he’s left with no power.
Or a twist – have the villain right their wrong. Think of the Grinch from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Think as the villain as human. We all make mistakes and some of those choices can lead us down a wrong path and once we’re on that path, it’s too hard to leave it.
Or have the hero and the villain be the same character. The hero makes a whole array of decisions and they keep snowballing to negative results only to have at the end the hero finally makes the right choice.
Or another twist – have the hero fail. How would the villain succeed? How would that change the story? Why does there have to be a happily ever after? William Shakespeare wrote several tragedies and they are successful, even centuries later. And if you try arguing that it was the era of limited entertainment and that was why his plays were successful – research that before assuming it as so. Copies of Shakespeare’s work were limited and on average were first published a couple of years up to several decades after the plays were performed (Shakespeare Chronology).
And you can’t get away without me adding another Harry Potter thought.
Consider Voldemort – it seemed simple that his final death was the result of a backfire of Harry’s disarming spell. It was a huge series of best selling books and movies world wide, but Voldemort death only took one paragraph. Sure they circled each other having a chat before the two spells were cast, but what if Voldemort didn’t die from the backfiring and he was actually disarmed then captured? If Voldemort was so focused on separating his soul into the Horcruxes so he couldn‘t die, than wouldn’t another option have been to have the last remaining piece of his soul sucked out by one of his own creatures, a Dementor? So then his body would be a soulless empty shell that he could rot away in Azkaban. Lets face it, that would probably be Voldemort’s first and only “kiss” regardless.
These are just a few suggestions rather than taking the simple death ending of the villain. Don’t stay within the little box. Step outside it and push the boundaries with your story.
“There is no ceiling on your potential” – Chester Bennington.
L. R. Mauck