Effective Villains- The Moral Event Horizon

Greetings all,

Today I am going to deal with my absolute favorite trope- “The Moral Event Horizon”.

A Moral Event Horizon is an act committed by a character that plummets our opinion of them so far away from “good” that it would be impossible for them to recover. This act does not need to be committed by a villain (who is already passed the “good line”) and can be incredibly effective in completely turning a previously well centred, good character over the deep end.

There are unfortunately easy ways for us to use this technique; rape has always been a sure-fire way to completely kill off reader or viewer sympathy with a character, but unless you have the necessary writing and character crafting skills, it comes off as not only cheap and forced, but also in incredibly bad taste.

An effective way of establishing a good moral event horizon is to use it on a character who toes the line between “good” and “bad”. ┬áThe ambiguous nature of the character will allow for a greater transition to “irredeemably evil” than if it is used on a character that is previously established as evil. It is also generally ineffective to have a character who is noble and good suddenly fall into the Moral Event Horizon. These turns rarely seem genuine and most readers and watchers will have a hard time believing that this character will stay evil.

If you want a character that your readers or viewers can unanimously root against, the moral event horizon is an incredibly effective way to ensure that nobody is rooting for their redemption.

Just remember, when it comes to villains, make the act that pushes them over the edge meaningful. Don’t waste it on things that lessen the story that you are trying tell.

That’s all for now

-Shawn