Literary Trope of the Week: Punch Clock Villain

A literary trope in a story is like a cliché with impunity.  It’s a recognizable convention, but if the author knows what to do, it can be used to great effect.  Any writer looking for ways to add useful details and situations to a narrative will find tropes helpful.  As such, this series of posts analyzes the endless well of information that is (from a literary perspective).

The Literary Trope: Punch Clock Villain

TV Tropes defines the trope as follows:

Like a mercenary, but with none of the badass.

These are characters who have no real grudge against the heroes, but are simply doing a job they’re getting paid for. After hours, they’re totally personable joes who go hang out like anyone else. Most Punch Clock Villains are not even particularly mean.

The distinction here between the mercenary and this type of villain is important.  The mercenary is technically a punch clock villain but comes across completely differently–as invested in their prey, usually.  The punch clock villain is literally doing a job.  It might be mopping the floor; it might be gutting the hero like a fish. [Read more…]