The Antagonist

The antagonist, like the protagonist, is a fundamental character in storytelling. While the protagonist drives the story forward, the antagonist often provides the obstacles or challenges that make the story engaging. Here’s a breakdown of the antagonist’s role and characteristics:


The antagonist is the character, group, or concept that represents opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, they are the main source of conflict in the story.


  • Opposition: The antagonist opposes the protagonist’s goals or desires, creating the primary source of conflict in the story.
  • Complex Motivations: A well-developed antagonist often has clear motivations for their actions, which can sometimes make them relatable or even sympathetic.
  • Power or Advantage: They often have some advantage over the protagonist, whether it’s physical strength, resources, knowledge, or other forms of power. This makes the protagonist’s journey more challenging.
  • Flaws and Strengths: Like protagonists, antagonists have their strengths and weaknesses, which can be explored to add depth to the character.

Functions in a Story:

  • Drive Conflict: The antagonist’s actions or mere presence creates challenges and obstacles for the protagonist.
  • Highlight Protagonist’s Flaws: By challenging the protagonist, the antagonist can expose the protagonist’s weaknesses or internal conflicts.
  • Embody Themes: Just as the protagonist can represent certain themes or values, so can the antagonist, often contrasting ones.
  • Provide Tension: The antagonist’s actions or threats can create tension, suspense, or intrigue, keeping the audience engaged.


  • Villain: An antagonist who is clearly wicked or evil. Their malicious intentions are evident, and they are often in direct conflict with the protagonist.
  • Anti-villain: A character who opposes the protagonist but has noble or relatable motivations for doing so.
  • Force of Nature: The antagonist can be a non-human force, such as a storm, disease, or disaster.
  • Society: In some stories, society or its norms and values act as the antagonist, opposing the protagonist’s desires or beliefs.
  • Internal: The protagonist’s own fears, doubts, or flaws can act as the antagonist, creating internal conflict.

Relation to Other Characters:

  • Protagonist: The antagonist’s primary relationship is with the protagonist, providing the main source of external conflict.
  • Minions or Subordinates: Often, especially in larger tales or epics, the antagonist may have underlings or lesser villains who serve their purpose.

Considerations for Creating an Antagonist:

  • Backstory: Understanding the antagonist’s history can provide clarity on their motivations and make them a more rounded character.
  • Relatability: While not necessary, giving the antagonist relatable traits or motivations can add depth and complexity to the story.
  • Evolution: Does the antagonist change or evolve over the course of the story? Some do, while others remain steadfast in their beliefs or desires.
StudioBinder’s breakdown of the Antagonist – YouTube video

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