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24

On TV Tropes this is called Evil Is Not a Toy: Sometimes the Sealed Evil in a Can doesn't escape by itself, nor is it released by an Unwitting Pawn, but is deliberately set free by a villain (or hero). Let's call him Bob. Bob usually thinks he can control the sealed evil, or bargain with it, expecting to trade on a certain level of gratitude on its part ...


37

Just Desserts From TV Tropes: A villain ultimately finds their evil deeds come back to bite them. Literally—they end up getting eaten. This does not include a Heroic Sacrifice. But may be subverted with a minor character being killed and eaten in obvious foreshadowing of what is going to happen to one of the bads at some point. While Mooks ...


1

Personally from the little bit of research I've done I feel that this is originally the "Good vs. Evil" troupe but after the mega force or "worser" evil is unleashed who then attempts to destroy the original villain it switches troupes to what's called "Eviler Than Thou". This is what I believe would be the best way to explain it. Here's the article that ...


0

I think Frankenstein fits this category almost perfectly. In Frankenstein the protagonist had created a creature that backfired on him and ruined his life. That pattern does not take into account that evil aspect as the protagonist wasn't evil. It just describes the pattern of creating something for the sake of personal benefit (be it a good or bad character)...


3

My two cents: Some of the examples others have cited, like 1984, or other similar novels like Animal Farm or Brave New World have endings where the main characters lose, but I think that's because these books aren't about the characters, they are about painting a picture of some ugly aspect of society. There's a sort of catharsis that comes from identifying ...


4

Yes, provided that it were not inevitable from the outset Suspense and uncertainty are vital ingredients to many a great novel. When it comes to making a good narrative, the outcome itself is less important than how we get there. Readers are often excited by outcomes which could have gone another way but for a few unlucky occurrences (for a classic case ...


2

When I was much younger, my actual "definition" of a "novel" was a book that ended unhappily. Old Yeller, The Red Pony, Where The Red Fern Grows...decades ago that was what was in the libraries, so I read them. All the examples that people are giving of "successes" are from books written many decades ago. They probably wouldn't have much of a market now, ...


0

Yes. A sterling example is the "Parker" series of books by Donald Westlake, written under the pen name Ricard Stark. Parker is a "bad guy" but the protagonist of the series, and always wins in the end, usually against the odds. These books challenge the notion of what a "bad guy" is, which is what you must do in your books if your bad guy is going to win. ...


14

Your girlfriend is correct that the bad guy winning at the end limits your audience, and will anger some readers. But it's important that you write your own book, not the book you think you should write. If you really connect with the material, and you execute it well, there are readers out there who will be as passionate about it as you are. A book aimed at ...


6

I think Amadeus hit on the core of the issue with doing this - "good" ultimately triumphing over "evil" is by far the more popular archetype, and for very good reasons. Setting aside the idea of "good guys" and "bad guys" for a moment but thinking about it in terms of "protagonist" and "antagonist", the reader is (typically) intended to sympathize with the ...


1

Consider giving a pyrrhic victory to the good guys in the end as an alternative. A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has also taken a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement. (source) It still resembles a tragedy, it still ...


49

It is perfectly fine for your story to end with the "bad guy" winning. Consider for example George Orwell's 1984: He loved Big Brother Complete and utter defeat. 1984 is one of last century's masterpieces. @Wetcircuit mentions tragedy in a comment, for good reason. Tragedy does not necessarily imply that the "bad guys" win, but it does imply the "good ...


6

You can do it. But the expectation has to be set that this is possible, and it should be written like a tragedy. The market for such a book may be small, but it isn't nonexistent. Check out the grimdark genre (third law series is an example). People do buy into it and even like it. But it's unlikely to sell as wide as something that has a feel good ending. ...


7

No, I don't think it would be okay for a bad guy to win in the end. Readers don't like it. They read for fantasy fulfillment. Happy endings outsell unhappy endings ten to one; publishers and studios don't like unhappy endings. They want something positive in the end. Especially from a writer that has no following; if you were already a best-selling author ...


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