Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Abeloth in the Fate of the
Jedi series. She started as an eerie entity by warping the minds of
the Shelter Jedi, though readers didn’t know the cause at first. She
quickly morphed into an annoyance with her constant meltdowns that
resemble the temper tantrum of a three-year-old.
The mask of mystery around Abeloth isn’t the problem. More stories
than imaginable bring the villain’s details to attention at the very
end of the book or series. As destructive as Abeloth was, her
potential for intimidation crashed with the association with the Lost
Tribe of the Sith. Whether she would have been successful or not
without them, we’ll never know.
The Lost Tribe, the other villain of the series, was far too archaic
to take over a galactic government. Even with Abeloth’s assistance, it
wasn’t believable. The Tribe probably picked up quite a bit during
their journey, but there’s no way they understood the nuances of
everyday life in the Galactic Alliance. Even ruling with an iron fist
requires the ability to use the holonet without asking an aide how to
input a frequency. In addition, the Lost Tribe fell into the dreaded
“grey” category of villains.
I’m not a fan of the grey villain in Star Wars. The movies are good
versus evil, not good versus the is-he-isn’t-he-evil. It’s not as if
the entire Tribe would be redeemed by the end. Trying cast them as
good beings who used the Dark Side pulls the series away from what is
Star Wars. Darth Vader isn’t grey at all and he was redeemed in end.
SWTOR brought to my attention the term “grey” regarding a character’s
The difference in that medium is that it is a numbers game.
The Dark and Light options can even each other, giving the character a
neutral alignment. It’s clear in the game who the villain is on the
side played. For the Republic, it’s, of course, the Sith Empire. For
the Sith, the Republic cause problems but there’s so much Sith
treachery that villains pop up all over the place. While there are
some characters that could fall under the villain tag on the Republic
side, it’s not nearly as abundant.
The serious lack of good villains harmed the heroes. Each time Luke,
Ben, Jaina and the other Jedi fought against the Abeloth and the Sith,
they’re efforts seemed almost in vain. Take out Abeloth and the Sith
and the many fights of the Jedi seem much more exciting. Complete beat
downs rarely make for good reading.
The fight of good versus evil empowers us. The idea that we can
overcome any obstacle, no matter how evil, creates confidence and
hope. That didn’t happen in FotJ. Abeloth’s defeat was more of a “meh,
it’s over” moment than the triumphed victory of the fall of Palpatine.