Character Types: The Henchman

henchmanpinterestWe had a great plan for this video: Anna and Daniel were going to shoot the video themselves and leave Josiah right out of the picture.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of things), it didn’t work as intended.

To be honest, the video was a bit of a disaster.

Daniel and Anna blame it on the script. Josiah blames it on the actors.

Either way, a solution needed to be found. And that’s what you’re going to see below as we redeem our failed experiment.

So watch as we dive into the henchman and explore how to fix that bumbling, incompetent stereotype the henchman often falls into.

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Tessa’s Short Story that Anna Was Talking About

Previous Stereotypes:

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Damsel in Distress

The Parents

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.
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  1. Is that… a nerf dart?

    The analysis of what makes henchmen fail was great. It’s not something I’ve not thought much on. A bit of a long video though.

  2. As always nice job guys! The incompetent henchman is one stereo type that bothers me to no end, because we shake our heads at the villain for not foreseeing the disaster caused by sending his bumbling buddy to accomplish an important task. I suppose the only part I enjoy about incompetent henchmen is that they can bring somewhat dry comic relief :), but I never thought of a such a simple solution for them as making them smarter. So hard to think outside of the habitual “clique box”.

    • Yeah, this stereotype probably annoys me the most of the ones we’ve covered so far. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than seeing a hero just win because of the stupidity of his opponent. =P I will agree with you, though, that there is a certain art form to the dry comic relief version of the incompetent henchman when it’s done effectively!

  3. Oh thanks Anna. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    “Just get smart henchmen” DONE!!! The story that I’m writing at the moment I have smart henchmen. There you go Daniel, all is not lost. And when my book gets published (in a hundred years or so) everyone will see what smart henchmen are like and want to write their henchmen like that. 🙂
    I’m very glad you told us that you were acting dumb, Daniel, I was beginning to feel very sorry for Josiah and Anna. 😉

  4. These videos make my day everytime I watch them. Thank y’all so much for doing these each month. *issues the many thumbs up*

  5. Hilarious video as usual. 😉 I always look forward to watching these videos!
    YES, the Henchman stereotype. The best (and most annoying) example I can think of is the Storm Troopers from Star Wars (in Episodes 4, 5, and 6). They’re so stupid, they can’t aim, and they’re always getting shot and dying. Whenever I watch those movies, I think, “Oh, c’mon. They have to hit a good guy at SOME point–even if they have terrible aim!!” 😛

  6. Oh and YES about Tessa’s short story. 😀 It is a great one. 🙂

  7. ‘Most heroes just aren’t smart’— you just made my day. XD That’s actually frightening how true that is though. 😛
    Great stuff as always. *thumbs up*

  8. Your family gets along similar to me and my brothers, excepting the fact that we’re all males and would probably descend into violence under the right circumstnaces 😛
    You know, another way to get around this stereotype is to get rid of the Henchman altogether (look out Daniel 😉 ) and have a loner villain, though I’d imagine this would only work for some stories.

  9. All right. I’m musing here on bumbling henchmen and evil villains. In my experience a villain is evil. (okay, okay okay) but he is not too evil because he has silly, stupid henchmen doing his dirty work. I don’t like the bad guy, but nearing the end of the movie when it is the clashing point, the bad guy tends to realize that he needs to do something and starts to become even blacker. And my feelings are stronger at that point. Is it only me that this happens to? So I think crazy, ridiculous henchmen are necessary . Do you? If the bad guy was smart and evil the whole way through, 1. he’d probably win and we wouldn’t watch it, or 2. we would be use to him by the end and our feelings would be dull.
    So, yeah, that’s all. I’ve just been thinking. (I know, always a dangerous past time) 🙂

    • Hm. See, I’d disagree there because I think that smart and evil villains /can/ be done well. The Hobbit, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Prince Caspian all have villains who lack stupid henchmen, but who are still intimidating and interesting in their own rights. Maybe it would be helpful to draw a distinction between stupid and not-smart (great term, I know ;P) in this regard. Henchmen and villains don’t have to be extremely intelligent to avoid being stupid. They can just be people with average intelligence who operate with common sense. And I think “stupid henchmen” /can/ work in certain cases when it fits their personality. But often, I think it doesn’t make much sense for the villain to be hiring those kinds of henchmen, or for the henchmen to be as stupid as they are given past feats that they’ve been able to perform. So that’s my two cents on that.

  10. Micaela M. says:

    *coughcough* Daniel, when you want to rant, you need to form your complaints in your head before hand ;). That way you can rant in one long run-on sentence with out tripping over your tongue ;). (speaking from experience *attempts a pun* I’ll play the mentor and get in trouble for it.) Also, shame shame shame for insulting LotR.

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