Top 5 Favorite Book and Movie Villains

I am fascinated by villains, in print, on the big screen, and even real life.  It’s why I write mysteries and thrillers.  They can be subtle in their villainry (which I don’t think is a real word), or over the top, hard to miss villains.  The real-life ones tend to be serial killers of one kind or another, but I’m not afraid to pin politicians and every day Joes who just really give humanity a bad name.

As I’m neck-deep in my WIP (work in progress), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to villains.  The natural thing to gravitate towards is to make a villain the antagonist.  That’s what makes them a villain, right?  Well, sometimes.  Classically, the bad guy, who is vilified, is the antagonist, while the good guy is the hero or the person you are rooting for in the end.  I personally think we all have villains and good guys in us, so I focus on writing balanced characters.   They might be good overall, but their behavior or choices make them seem bad or at least counter to what the protagonist is after.  Remember that anyone who is against us doing a particular thing in our lives is our own personal antagonist.  Does that automatically make them a villain?  Maybe. :))

Here are some of my favorite villains in print, and video. Let me know in the comments if you agree or feel free to list your own!

Book Villains
  1. Annie Wilkes – Who doesn’t love a deranged #1 fan?!  Stephen King is literally the king of writing superb villains.  And sometimes you love them more than the protagonists! Check her out in Misery.
  2. Sauron – If you are a LOTR fan, of course the Necromancer will be at the top of your list. The Ring Maker, Dark Lord, and any number of names Tolkien gave him, he is one bad dude.  I encountered him first in THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien, then again in the LOTR series.
  3. Hannibal Lector – Appearing in the novel The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, Hannibal haunts many people’s dreams. Yet, he is one of those super villains that people find fascinating, and not necessarily hated.  Hannibal makes an appearance on my Movie list too, because how can you not love Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal?
  4. Dracula – This guy should probably be my #1.  Everyone’s favorite vampire! I remember learning in my late teens that he was actually based off a real live person, Vlad the Impaler, who definitely tops the list of real super villains.  Yet, he’s also a character that many have fallen in love with, like Hannibal.  He’s deadly, but personable.  Go figure!
  5. Humbert Humbert – This guy is a creep. There is no getting around it.  If you aren’t familiar with him, he’s the main character in LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov.  He’s a pedophile and the whole story is disturbing to me.  I don’t understand why this is considered a classic beyond the POV it’s told in (unreliable narrator).  You guys have any thoughts??

Honorable mentions: Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling); Alex the Large from A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)

Movie Villains
  1. Hannibal Lector – Yes, to me he is my number one. Anthony Hopkins plays him so hauntingly, that after only seeing the movie once, the character has stuck with me.
  2. Pennywise the Dancing Clown – Stephen King does a fantastic job describing him, but the guy who was brave enough to dress up as him and the costume designer who created the vision, make this character one that has scared me for life. PS: I hate clowns.
  3. John Doe – Kevin Spacey in the movie Seven tainted me from ever liking anything he was in after that. That character also haunts me.  But, it speaks to Spacey’s acting skill that I dislike him based on how well he portrayed this villain.  I know, it’s unfair, but that’s how it is.
  4. Buffalo Bill (Jame Gumb) – Another Silence of the Lambs character. I will forever equate receding hairline, mullet men to serial killers. Creepy doesn’t even begin to describe this guy.  The actor played his role so well, if I see him in another movie, I immediately stop watching.
  5. Amy Dunne – The movie Gone Girl (adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn) did right by the book for a change. At least as far as how well Rosamund Pike portrayed Amy.  The character was so evil it was genius and Rosamund was perfect for the part.  Whenever I see her in another role, I’m expecting her to go all Cray Cray on whoever she’s in a scene with! :))

I thought of listing Real Life villains, but my list is extensive and we might disagree on ranking and what not.  Life is complicated enough, so let’s just keep those lists to ourselves, shall we?

Hope you enjoyed revisiting these characters.  Leave a comment and let know your thoughts.

— KT


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Villains: Book and Movie Baddies that Inspire
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One thought on “Villains: Book and Movie Baddies that Inspire

  • August 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    No Darth Vadar? Voldemort? The Joker? You missed a great opportunity here.


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