The Stephen King Method of Villain Development

I like Stephen King, and admire him for many reasons, but I had to laugh when I noticed a certain trend in Under The Dome when it comes to how the villains are developed.  You can tell right away they’re no good, and that as time goes on they’re going to get worse, but then almost every time they’re brought up you find out something new about their past that makes you not only realize they were always evil, but wonder how they ever got as far in life as they did.

It could go like this as a conversation (this isn’t anyone from the book, just an example of the escalation):

“Man, that Joe guy is a real jerk.”

“Sure is.”

“I bet he’s going to get someone killed soon.”

“More than likely, he is an embezzler, after all.”


“Sure, you didn’t know?  Bled his company dry.  Someone like that is bound to be willing to kill to protect his interests.”

“Holy crap, we should do something before he – oh crap he’s gone and killed someone.”

“Well, it’s not like it’s the first time.”


“Yeah, killed his secretary during rough sex.  Hid the body in a filing cabinet, I hear.”

“And he wasn’t arrested?”

“Well they wanted to, but the chief of police is – oh wait, there, he’s gone and killed someone else.  But that’s what you get from baby rapists, I guess.”


“Sure, didn’t you know?  Raped the whole maternity ward of the hospital before he burnt it down.”

“Oh my God, we have to call the FBI, the CIA, anyone!  This guy has to be – what was that explosion?”

“Probably another bomb of his.  He’s a terrorist on the side.”

“Well, after the baby raping and hospital burning, maybe that’s not so much an escalation as a sidestep.”

“Depends on your point of view, I guess.  After all, he straps the bombs onto newlywed couples and forces one to suicide bomb other weddings or else he’ll kill their partner.  He tells this to both of them, though, and blows both of them up anyway at two different weddings.  Twice the mayhem, he says.”

“Man, that Joe guy is a real jerk.”

“Sure is.”