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Do you know what it feels to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have your throat slashed from ear to ear? Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross? And left to bleed to death for your amusement?
~ Seung-Hui Cho in his manifesto.
Villains who, although acting for primarily evil goals, have understandable reasons for their motives due to suffering; hence, we can sympathize with them. Most of these villains are not in full control of their actions/emotions due to them not being evil by choice, but rather by them being, for the most part, a victim of circumstance.

These villains have a backstory that has caused them anger and depression, shaping them into destructive and hateful beings. However, the broken heart is what is causing their evil actions. Rather, they are forced upon a path of darkness, and their past has caused them to become distrustful and misled.

This typically includes villains:

  • who suffered heavy abuse or bullying;
  • who were scarred;
  • who were tortured or raped;
  • who lost a significant one, which makes these villains vengeful;
  • who suffered in a war and were sometimes forced to flee in order to avoid a genocide;
  • who suffered public humiliation;
  • who suffered from heavy discrimination;
  • who were reduced in slavery;
  • who became addicts;
  • who went insane due to a particular condition and, as such, lost their moral compass.

These characters are often suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can develop into delusionalinsecure, or egotistic villains because their experiences develop their beliefs into obsessions, twisting them to insanity.

Most of these villains are scapegoats or former heroes that turned bad.

IMPORTANT

DO NOT ADD VILLAINS WHOSE TRAGEDIES DON'T HOLD UP AGAINST THE HORRENDOUS ACTS THEY COMMITTED; there can be no justification for their horrendous acts, regardless of their past and conditions. Their evil acts combined with having no empathy does not make these villains sympathetic.

Albert Fish is a very good example of this, he suffered tremendous abuse at an orphanage, making him what he turned into. Instead of being sympathetic though, Fish didn't seem to care about being abused at all as a grown-up. This ruins any sympathetic background he had and no longer makes him tragic.

This also applies to villains who brought the so-called “tragedy” (no matter how sad it seemed) on themselves but blamed or framed others for it, or intended to give themselves a sympathetic story (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer had no excuse for his terrible murders and brought his grim fate upon himself).

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