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What are the things you need to carefully consider when you want to make a Hitler-like figure win in the end?

I was thinking of the ending for "Attack On Titan" and I was wondering what kind of backlash the author would have faced if he let the evil Hitler-like figure in the story win in the end.

I thought that the evil character would win because the story was set up in a way there were too many things that were hinted at that would give the evil character a sure way to win and do everything according to his plan. I was kind of shocked at the actual ending, but now I am wondering if it's because of the backlash the author would have faced and other factors I can't even suspect at the moment that made him come up with a lacklustre ending that made a lot of fans mad.

The Hitler like figure can be the antagonist or the protagonist. I don't think it matters for this question.

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  • People seem to prefer stories with a happy ending, where the hero (the character the audience identify with or are invested in) wins, especially in US and UK culture. You need to have a good reason for the villain to win and for your readers to be disappointed. It is hard to generalise much beyond that. If you wrote a spy or adventure story in which the hero runs round the world, trying to solve a crime/mystery, but is killed at the end, there will be a lot of upset readers. So why would you do that? (Just because Attack on Titan is badly written, it doesn't change this basic fact.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 14:47

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I'm an avid reader but a very amateur writer, so this is purely my opinion, but I think that to have the 'villain' win they need to be a very well thought-out, nuanced character with genuine reasons for their actions. If you have a villain that is just a plot device with no real, well-explained motivations (which so many books do), and is just evil for no apparent (or a very poorly explained) reason, it is extremely unsatisfying for them to win. I think that there also needs to be the appropriate build-up and background so that it makes sense to the story. Do they have the resources, plans, previous victories for them winning to make sense?

It also depends heavily on the environment and what winning means in that context. If they're Hitler-like, is their endgame genocide? Taking over the world? Eugenics? An easy example is Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, lots of people describe him as a Hitler-like character, however if he had won it would have been a ridiculous ending as a huge theme throughout the books is 'love conquers evil', and at the end of (almost) every book, they have some kind of victory against him.

I won't give too much away, but in The Witcher books

a surprise reveal was made at the very end and was just almost not dealt with at all, and the villain appears to just change his mind and let ******* go without a fuss.

It can't just be a last-minute decision to give the book a surprise ending, it has to fit with the rest of the story.

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  • Welcome to Writing.SE! You don't need to warn people about spoilers, you can just use spoiler tags to hide them, as I've done in my edit.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 10:11

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