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Villains in Fiction

All good stories need an adversary, and literature is full of tremendously evil villains who take that responsibility very seriously! Let's look at 10 top-tier villains deserving of a spot on this list.


Lady Macbeth

Her husband may have been the person to slaughter those around him, but most would agree that the main villain in Shakespeare's Scottish Play is Lady Macbeth herself.
Driven by greed and want of power, she goads her husband into committing treason by killing their king, King Duncan, so he can become king himself. She is initially defied but she knows to appeal to Macbeth's ambition and pride which wears him down and scrapes off his modesty.
She gets her hands dirty as far as getting the king's guards drunk and then plants evidence to frame them for murder, but she has her husband do the rest. Without her, Macbeth would have been content as he was - a bloodbath avoided.


Mr Hyde

Mr Hyde's name is no joke -- he represents all that Victorian societies felt they had to hide. He revels in the violence and depravity his Dr Jekyll host avoids, and brings out the worst in those he is around.
People are said to want to strike him in the face just by setting eyes on him, but he also instils utter fear in others who can sense the evil within him. A new level is reached when Mr Hyde, as the walking-talking personification of evil, bludgeons a man to death simply because that man appeared kind, friendly and, well, good.
He detests goodness, which leads to his eventual fight against Jekyll when the latter cannot accept him any longer.


Nurse Ratched

It could be said Nurse Ratched is most terrifying because she is, as her name suggests, a nurse; someone entrusted with caring for those in need being driven by a need to help. Yet this Nurse Ratched is the opposite in near-all regards.
Drunk on her power-trip, she reigns over her psychiatric ward with a sadistic fist. Withholding medications, basic necessities and privileges, she uses humiliation and punishment to control those in her 'care'.
When she is defied, she resorts to shock therapy and lobotomy, and has no remorse for the deaths she is responsible for.



Where Sherlock Holmes uses his intellectual gifts for the greater good, James Moriarty uses his for personal gain and to strengthen the criminal underworld he commands.
He stands as the archetypal evil genius and has commanded attention for his insidious manipulations of Sherlock and other innocents. It is not-so-quietly hinted that his actions are brought on by boredom, contemplating suicide as the world appeared dull. Sherlock is a means of entertainment to him but in their chats he unintentionally reveals his mental instability.
What could be more scary than an unhinged, powerful genius who is bored?


Professor Umbridge

Voldemort may be the over-arching villain of the Harry Potter series, but fans almost unanimously agree that this pink-loving, Muggle-hating witch is more detestable than any other foe Harry faces - and she only appears in two books!
Her sweet-talk voice just makes her barbaric treatment of Hogwarts students even more unsettling, choosing physical pain for punishment and resorting to illegal measures and abusing her role to get what she wants. Her hatred for muggles, muggle-borns, magical creatures - anything not pureblood! - demonstrates her prejudices.
We were all cheering when she was dragged away by centaurs. Oops, spoiler alert.


The Joker

In the world of comic books, no villain has ever come close to the arch-nemesis of the caped crusader. Batman faces off against the Joker too many times to count, and there is a reason he is one of the most adapted villains in the media - he is just so captivating!
He overcomes Batman's intelligence and strong physique by using his one massive weapon: his unpredictability. An 'agent of chaos', he bounces from one senselessly cruel act to another with little forethought and regard.
He plays with Batman, by undercutting his strength with psychological games. And in the end, he always seems to just...get away.


Annie Wilkes

Stephen King has created many horrifying creatures and entities in his novels, but it is the very real and completely human Annie Wilkes who truly sends shivers up bed-ridden spines.
Declaring herself her patient's 'biggest fan', she is obsessed with her unsuspecting kidnap victim's books. Initially seen as harmless, she gradually lets her mask slip to reveal the murderous, stalking psychopath she is. She is dangerously insane and her bipolar tendencies leave her unpredictable.
When her 'patient' leaves his bed, her reaction is to chop his leg off. An overreaction is the least of our thoughts. Though a fantastic movie version exists, it is book Annie who is the most horrific.


Uriah Heep

Uriah may be the only one on this list who isn't responsible for death, but his very name has become synonymous with sycophancy: the act of flattery to gain something in return.
Few villains can say they have had such an impact on language! He walks with a cloak of false modestly, referencing his own humbleness and dishing out compliaments in a vigorous attempt to swindle those around him. Blackmail is a common tool he uses, using it to gain a high-ranking position in a law firm and trying to force his love interest into marrying him.
To the very end, he feigns repentence but it is all for show.


The Grand High Witch

She is the most influential and powerful sorceresses on Earth and leads a secret society of witches in their never-ending quest to kill and torture children. Need I go on?
The Grand High Witch's preferred method of killing is to transform children into animals their parent's hate, causing the parents themselves to do the killing. Even fellow witches aren't safe: she regularly kills a witch to keep the rest focused, utilising her laser eyes to destroy them with a look.
Her plan to turn all children into mice is motivated by her utter hatred for them, and ridding the world of one a week is just not enough for her.


Count Olaf

For many young readers, the leering shadow of Count Olaf was the boogeyman of the 21st century.
He reappears in each of the 13 books, often with new aliases and disguises to fool the grown ups responsible for the safety of our orphaned heroes. He is conniving, treacherous and cold-hearted - eager to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune, going as far as deception and outright murder to get it.
The fact that he somehow manages to slip through the fingers time and time again, escaping justice and free to come back once more is both terrifying and captivating - the perfect villain for a children's series.

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