Antagonists Wiki

This is a companion blog to Automatic friends and Automatically a hero that will help explain why people aren't automatically an enemy to other characters.

The first time is happenstance. The second is coincidence. The third time is enemy action, Mr. Bond.
~ Auric Goldfinger

When looking at a character, there is a temptation to assign enemies to them. That line is in the Infobox, so therefore it should be filled in, right? If it means you're going to try and force characters to be their enemy that really aren't, then no, you shouldn't.

The justification for filling in that line usually goes something like this:

Character A is trying to do something. While trying to do it, they encounter Character B, who does something that means Character A doesn't achieve what they're trying to do. Therefore, Character B is Character A's enemy.

That's not always the case. An enemy is someone who deliberately opposes your actions and they know they're doing it. Most people you meet in real life aren't your enemy even though they might get in the way of what you're doing. Here's some examples:

  1. You're driving down the street. Another car cuts you off, forcing you to stop suddenly. Is that other driver your enemy?
  2. You're playing a video game. You don't win. Does that make the video game your enemy?
  3. You're a bird searching for food. You find some that's alive but it escapes. Does the fact that it escaped make it your enemy?
  4. You're playing a sport like basketball or baseball. Your team doesn't win. Does that mean the other team is your enemy?

In all of these cases, the answer is no, they are not your enemy. You don't like them, you don't like what they did, but it's just happenstance that you didn't succeed.

So what would it take for those to be actual enemies? Maybe things like this:

  1. Day after day, you keep seeing the same driver cut you off, and it's random as to where it happens so you can't predict it. You're worried about whether they're a stalker or psychopath, but so far, they aren't doing enough to warrant notifying the police. Then one day, you're on your way to a job interview. You get cut off by that driver again and it causes a traffic snarl, which makes you late for the interview. You don't get the job, and on the way out, that driver confronts you and says he deliberately did it so he could steal your job and there's nothing you can do about it.
  2. You're playing a video game and no matter what you do, you can't win. You don't understand what you're doing wrong. It's just like the game is out to get you. Then one day, you come across a message on a gaming forum where someone has discovered that the programmers deliberately made the game unwinnable and then bragged about it.
  3. You're a bird searching for food. You find some that's alive, but it escapes because it has help. You can't catch it at the time, so you look elsewhere for food. But no matter where you look, all of your potential food keeps escaping and you notice that the same animal is helping your food escape each time and seems to be enjoying the fact that you're not getting any food.
  4. You're playing a sport like basketball or baseball. Every time you play a particular team, you don't win. This goes on throughout the season. At first you think, "Maybe they're just better than us." But as the years go by and they keep winning, you begin to suspect something's wrong because nobody always wins. You start doing some research and you find an email that was leaked that said, "We've made a deal with the refs to get them to enforce some old rules nobody uses any more because it will cause (your team) to lose every time."

In all of these cases, you could legitmiately say you had an enemy because you found evidence that they are deliberately acting against what you're trying to do. It's the repeated instances and the evidence that changes a temporary opponent or obstacle into an enemy.

Without those repeated instances and evidence, you can't say that Character B is Character A's enemy. Go by what is in the story. If the proof isn't in the story, don't assume that someone is automatically someone else's enemy.