Every good story needs a hero and every hero needs a good evil protagonist-- the evil character in the story. So, what makes a good evil character.
There are some variants, but for most stories there are some common characteristics, some of which overlap.
Desire for wealth and or power.
Driven by money and power.
Exploitive, extractive, predatory.
Lack of empathy and compassion.
Not caring about other people, groups, the environment, culture, history-- unless there's money or power in it.- Advertisement -
Cruel, even sadistic.
Duplicitous, lying, scheming.
Cool under pressure or when engaging in lying or committing crimes.
The best evil characters, the strongest antagonists are not purely evil. They are complex individuals who offer a bit of good with their evil. They might show a kindness here or there. It may be manipulative or for show, but maybe not. They may fight with the good guys for one cause while plotting against the hero or the cause of the hero. These complex villains provide a great challenge to the hero-- not only directly, but through the deceptions this complex character machinates to influence and sabotage the relationship of the hero to his or her allies.
Does this sound familiar?
Of course, the characteristics of villains are the characteristics of Psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. They are the characteristics of corporatists and bankers who predatorily exploit people and communities, even whole nations, whole ecosystems.
And the characteristics of complex antagonists are the characteristics of lesser-of-two-evils candidates. They are the characteristics of church leaders and political party leaders.
There are other evil fictional characters who are pure psychopaths, like Hannibal Lecter and Voldemort. Maybe they're a different story, maybe not.