Is 'the evil twin' merely a lazy stereotype?

The evil twin is, at first glance, a predictable trope where pure villainy is set against the heroism of the central protagonist. Evil is subsequently only something that is external to our hero. But is this all there is? Does having an evil twin make the hero confront another side to himself? What does it mean for the viewer to see someone who looks exactly like the hero we know behave in a completely different manner? Does it make us reevaluate his behaviour, think about what circumstances could make him turn to the dark side? Or is this all negated by the disappearance or death of the evil twin and a swift return to the status quo?

  • This is a very valid exercise in self-judgment or sizing up of strangers. In a personal sense, evaluating the inherent goodness or bothersome evilness can be cathartic in times of peril or doubt. In dealing with others, it can be a make or break relationship that start productive or end disastrously. Seeing this dynamic in action through the twin phenomena can be insightful for the viewer, and probably transformative for the director as well. I think there is a good reason this narrative exists, it really serves a useful purpose in finding the root cause of positive or negative personalities or situations. Movies and television are littered with the story line, contact me to discuss. – lofreire 7 years ago
  • Interesting topic and questions. I tend to think the evil twin trope is tired and clich├ęd--if it's played completely straight. However, I like it when heroes are forced to confront "shadow" versions of themselves. For example, I once wrote a character whose nemesis embodied what her worst traits would have been, had she not possessed the morality and inner strength to control her own weaknesses. I think confronting that is a lot more powerful than confronting an evil twin, because it's actually scarier. If a hero has an evil twin, then yes he or she can just say, "Oh, that's the evil me. I don't want it, I have to kill it, I killed it, so let's go back to how things were." But if a hero is confronted with another, unrelated person, the stakes are different. Example: an intellectually gifted but loner hero confronted with an equally intelligent person who uses his or her brain to hurt and alienate others. In that situation, the hero has to confront, "That *could* be me. I can relate to and sympathize with that, so how do I approach and cope with this person?" – Stephanie M. 7 years ago
  • The basic emergence of this cliched trend harkens back to the very existence of matter and antimatter in this universe. Interesting topic. – Vishnu Unnithan 7 years ago
  • It can certainly be used as a lazy trope, undoubtedly; however, it also harks back to the doppelganger concept, which would be an interesting addition to exploring this theme. – JudyPeters 7 years ago

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