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One other interesting feature about "Vows" that I forgot to mention in my ramble last night. When Goliath is talking to Hudson in 975, he indicates that he is afraid that Xanatos went back in time to 10th century Castle Wyvern to plot some sort of skullduggery against the clan then. But in fact, it turns out that Xanatos's real purpose for being there is to receive the coins from Prince Malcolm, not because of the gargoyles, and that it's merely a coincidence (insomuch as anything in the Gargoyles Universe can be considered a coincidence) that he received those coins at the old home of Goliath and his clan.
I mention this because it brings up one of the interesting features of Xanatos that makes him different from the conventional "main villain" in an animated series. Most such "main villains" focus their schemes almost exclusively on settling their feud with the protagonists, to such an extent that it often results in the rest of their objectives failing because they let themselves get sidetracked by their obsession. But Xanatos didn't. A lot of his schemes turned out to be, from his own perspective, only marginally involving the gargoyles, while really focused in a different direction ("Leader of the Pack" is a good example of this, where it turns out that Xanatos's real interest was in getting Fox out of prison rather than in defeating the gargoyles), and in fact, he often accomplishes a lot of his objectives (the ones that didn't involve capturing Goliath and Co. - or, later on, becoming immortal). Other antagonists in the series do strike me as thoroughly capable of letting themselves get sidetracked by the feud to the detriment of their other goals (Demona, the Archmage, and the Pack spring immediately to mind in such a category), but Xanatos seemed more inclined to focus his attention elsewhere than on the clan.
At the same time, of course, Goliath always seemed ready to take an angle towards Xanatos as though he really was the "stereotyped master-villain" above, automatically assuming that Xanatos's schemes were directed towards the gargoyles (as per the case above) or even initially thinking that he was behind somebody else's scheme (as when he initially believed that it was Xanatos rather than Macbeth who stole the Scrolls of Merlin). That helped make Xanatos's break with "cartoon tradition" all the more noteworthy, in having Goliath's perception of Xanatos being closer to how such a conventional villain acted than Xanatos in person actually was.
Well, X getting his coin from Malcolm at Wyvern is far from a coincidence. Demona had a plan. Xanatos had his own plan. Those plans coincided of course. But they also worked together, planned together.
But generally, I agree with you. That was what made writing Xanatos so much fun. He was smart. He wasn't petty. He wasn't evil, though he did some evil things. He was so damn AMORAL.
Demona and some of the others you mentioned were fun too, for other reasons. Demona was as complex a villain as you'd generally see.
But only Xanatos was Xanatos.