The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) proved profoundly shocking for economic and political life. In the UK, media reporting of sudden insolvency in the banking sector, its teetering on the edge of collapse and subsequent injection of taxpayer funds by a desperate government thrust sector leaders and negative aspects of their leadership into the public glare. This is particularly significant in light of
pre-crisis reporting narratives that ignored negative attributes in favour of financial successes and deal-making. Many sector leaders had been previously unknown, but where certain individuals had featured in prior media reports, they were often lauded for dynamism, risk taking and ‘great man’
attributes. However, with the outbreak of a crisis and search for blame and responsibility, previously celebrated or ambiguous values and activities were surfaced for public judgement and found wanting, or even dangerous to society.
Whilst political and economic aspects of the crisis have since generated a great deal of research, only limited scholarship has focused on narrative understandings and myths generated around positive and negative leadership behaviours. Whilst heroes and villains have served as metaphors for human
behaviour since early societies started telling stories, the abrupt nature of this crisis triggered metaphorical narratives to the fore. This chapter will consider the dual phenomena of press coverage generated around negative leadership stories and how patterns of villainy, illegitimacy, demonization, and ruined reputations contributed to shared myths of the crisis.