The Top 20 Fictional Villains



Yesterday (while I was trying to decide what to spend my husband’s money on next) I ran across a pretty interesting list of fictional villains on So, I decided to share the list with you. AND since I got the list from audible I am going to link to their version of these as well.  I would love to hear what you have to say about the list, and more importantly… I want to know if you think anyone should be eliminated and replaced.  Happy reading!



Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Synopsis: When Mr. Earnshaw brings a black-haired foundling child into his home on the Yorkshire moors, he little imagines the dramatic events which will follow. The passionate relationship between Cathy Earnshaw and the foundling, Heathcliff, is a story of love, hate, pity, and retribution, the effects of which reverberate throughout the succeeding generations.

The Villain: Heathcliff

What Audible Had To Say:  Poor Heathcliff got a raw deal. Born an orphan, Wuthering Heights‘ central character is swindled by his foster brother and doomed to fall in love with his foster sister, only to lose her to the heir of a neighboring estate. No wonder he’s so brooding and vindictive all the time. That said, are these sad circumstances enough justification to destroy the lives of your enemies and their heirs? Heathcliff thinks so.

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The Valley Of Fear (Sherlock Holmes #7) By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Synopsis: In The Valley of Fear, the great detective Sherlock Holmes has been summoned by a coded message to the house of a man called Douglas. But he and his faithful friend Dr. Watson arrive to find they are too late—Douglas has been murdered, with a mysterious calling card left by his side. Scotland Yard is stumped, but Holmes, detecting the diabolical workings of his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty, has some ideas of his own. Central to the novel lies the story of a terrorist brotherhood and the hold it acquired over an American mining valley.

The Villain: Moriarty

What Audible Had To Say: Professor Moriarty appears in only two of the original 60 Sherlock Holmes stories. It’s a testament to his evil nature that even with such slim face time, he is considered to be the true super villain of the Holmes tales. In fact there is strong suspicion that his place at the head of a vast network of bad guys means that it’s actually Moriarty protecting and nurturing every criminal Holmes faces.

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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The Synopsis: One of Charles Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please, sir, I want some more”. After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

Rife with Dickens’ disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation – and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

The Villain: Fagin

What Audible Had To Say: Fearful of getting caught himself, the cunning and devilish Fagin recruits poor children to do his dirty work, forming a band of his own personal thieves. With his rat-like fangs and unprovoked fits of vicious rage, Fagin is the stuff of a child’s worst nightmare, and Dickens’ greatest villain.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Synopsis: Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a “sissy” by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie’s ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James’s The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley—immortalized in the 1998 film starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gywneth Paltrow—is an unforgettable introduction to this debonair confidence man, whose talent for self-invention and calculated murder is chronicled in four subsequent novels.

The Villain: Tom Ripley

What Audible Had To Say: They don’t call envy one of the seven deadly sins for nothing. And in Patricia Highsmith’s now-classic, sociopath Tom Ripley takes covetousness to a new—and disturbing level. Orphaned at age five and raised by his cruel aunt Dottie, the suave and delusional Ripley sets out to take over one man’s life – literally.

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The Shining by Stephen King

Synopsis: First published in 1977, The Shining quickly became a benchmark in the literary career of Stephen King. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son slowly but steadily unfolds as secrets from the Overlook Hotel’s past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to laim the very souls of the Torrence family. Adapted into a cinematic masterpiece of horror by legendaryStanley Kubrick — featuring an unforgettable performance by a demonic Jack Nicholson —The Shining stands as a cultural icon of modern horror, a searing study of a family torn apart, and a nightmarish glimpse into the dark recesses of human weakness and dementia.

The Villain: Jack Torrance

What Audible Had To Say:  The Overlook Hotel’s winter caretaker has a bit of a drinking problem, and every demon haunting its halls knows it, in Stephen King’s bone-chilling novel The Shining. Under less paranormal circumstances, Jack might be able to resist his alcoholic tendencies, but he plunges into a murderous rage guided by the demons, and wields a mallet against his wife and the hotel’s caretaker.

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The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris

The Synopsis: A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname-Buffalo Bill-is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter-Hannibal the Cannibal-who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of The Silence of the Lambs-and ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

The Villain: Hannibal Lecter

What Audible Had To Say: Fiction’s most frightening villain is a cannibalistic serial killer whose penetrating psychological insight is just as horrifying as his flesh-eating ways. A true evil genius, Hannibal Lector requires few words to torment his victims. If you thought Anthony Hopkins was chilling as Lector, listen to Frank Muller’s portrayal of the infamous menace…

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The Poet by Michael Connelly

Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly has written one explosive thriller after another featuring Detective Harry Bosch. Now, in an electrifying departure, he presents a novel that breaks all the rules and will keep your heart racing and your mind guessing until the very last page.

Death is reporter Jack McEvoy’s beat: his calling, his obsession. But this time, death brings McEvoy the story he never wanted to write–and the mystery he desperately needs to solve. A serial killer of unprecedented savagery and cunning is at large. His targets: homicide cops, each haunted by a murder case he couldn’t crack. The killer’s calling card: a quotation from the works of Edgar Allen Poe. His latest victim is McEvoy’s own brother. And his last…may be McEvoy himself.

The Villain: The Poet

What Audible Had To Say: As if Edgar Allan Poe’s words weren’t scary enough at times, The Poet uses them to craft fake suicide notes for the people he’s murdered. A pedophile and a serial killer who specializes in brutalizing cops, The Poet manages to elude the greatest investigators alive with his cunning, savage crimes.

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis: The work is known for its vivid portrayal of a split personality, split in the sense that within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality each being quite distinct from the other. The novella’s impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was an immediate success and one of Stevenson’s best-selling works. Stage adaptations began in Boston and London within a year of its publication and it has gone on to inspire scores of major film and stage performances.

The Villain: Edward Hyde

What Audible Had To Say: When it comes to villains, the most repulsive and formidable are evil for evil’s sake. Edward Hyde reaches this extreme in The Strange Case. A poisonous extraction of Dr. Jekyll, Hyde commits his first unconscionable act by trampling a young girl. Later, he strikes out against a man solely for his kindness. Hyde also proves our toughest villain to defeat, as he is an inherent part of the novel’s protagonist. How do you destroy something if doing so also means destroying yourself?

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Paradise Lost by John Milton

Synopsis: In Paradise Lost, Milton produced poem of epic scale, conjuring up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos and ranging across huge tracts of space and time. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked Adam and Eve at the centre of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man. Written when Milton was in his fifties – blind, bitterly disappointed by the Restoration and briefly in danger of execution – Paradise Lost’s apparent ambivalence towards authority has led to intense debate about whether it manages to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, or exposes the cruelty of Christianity.

The Villain: The Devil

What Audible Had To Say: Satan is the original villain. From the Bible to Faust to countless horror movies, the Devil is forever reinvented, but maintains that pure evil he has always embodied. But of all the incantations, John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost is the greatest, most poetic form. After all, what’s more evil than Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven?

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The Wizard of Oz by  L. Frank Baum

Synopsis: Join Dorothy Gale, Toto, and all of her friends as they explore the incredible land of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is American’s most enduring fairy tale. From the moment Dorothy puts on the silver slippers (changed to ruby slippers by MGM to take advantage of their new advance in movie making: color) until the moment she clicks her heals and returns home to Kansas you will be swept away and captivated by her extraordinary story.

The Villain: The Wicked Witch of the West

What Audible Had To Say: She’s the second witch on this list, but by no means any less ruthless. And she has no shortage of accomplices either. Wolves, bees, and winged monkeys are just a few of this envious witch’s deadly assassins – and starvation and fire several of her ploys for putting enemies to death.

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Othello by William Shakespeare

The Synopsis: Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, written circa 1603. The work revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted ensign Iago. It includes themes of racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal.

The Villain: Iago

What Audible Had To Say: Shakespeare’s Iago is the quintessential manipulator. He betrays Othello’s trust and tricks Othello into murdering his wife, Desdemona. His motivation may be racism, it may be jealousy, it may be ambition, or it may just be pure evil. But Iago refuses to say, shrouding this malevolent force in a veil of mystery.

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The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Synopsis: When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.

The Villain: The White Witch

What Audible Had To Say: Four words for you: always winter, never Christmas. What could be more evil than that? With a team of secret police, a sizable power-hungry streak, and a conniving ability to charm and deceive, Narnia’s White Witch is the ultimate villainous dictator.

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1984 by George Orwell

Synopsis: In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

The Villain: Big Brother

What Audible Had To Say: For someone who’s always watching us, we never actually see him. This remoteness is at the core of Big Brother’s villainy. He is all-knowing and all-powerful in his absolute control of the party which he rules with censorship, torture, and fear. But is he actually real?

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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Synopsis:  Written when landing on the moon was still a dream, made into one of the most influential films of our century, brilliant, compulsive, prophetic, 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles the enduring theme of man’s place in the universe. Including a new Foreword by the author and a fascinating new introduction by Stephen Baxter, this special edition is an essential addition to every SF reader’s collection.

On the moon an enigma is uncovered. So great are the implications that, for the first time, men are sent out deep into the solar system. But, before they can reach their destination, things begin to go wrong. Horribly wrong.

The Villain: HAL 9000

What Audible Had To Say: The red-eyed supercomputer from Arthur C. Clarke’s sci-fi classic goes on a virtual rampage and racks up a nice body count, earning it the distinction of being the only inanimate entity to make our list of villains. Though we must use our imagination to determine why HAL ingeniously premeditates murder in 2001, the follow-up novel chalks it up to contradictory programming.

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Synopsis: A vicious fifteen-year-old “droog” is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to “redeem” him—the novel asks, “At what cost?” This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess’s introduction “A Clockwork Orange Resucked.”

The Villain: Alex

What Audible Had To Say: A little bit of the old in-out and ultraviolence put A Clockwork Orange‘s humble narrator Alex at the top of any list of literary villains. Alex commits violence for violence’s sake, and though he plays at repentance, by the end of the novel, he is the same evil, unsympathetic, unforgiving Alex he was at the onset.

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The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Synopsis: Dear Reader,  I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.  With all due respect, Lemony Snicket

The Villain: Count Olaf

What Audible Had To Say: He has the most menacing unibrow in all of children’s fiction, as well as a frightening tattoo of an eye on his ankle and the ability to disguise these distinguishing features so that everyone – except the children he’s tormenting – falls under his treacherous spell. In trying to steal the fortune of the Baudelaire orphans, Olaf’s early crimes include kidnapping and hanging baby Sunny in a birdcage outside of a tower window, and trying to marry 14-year-old Violet to take control of the children’s inheritance…and he only gets more cruel as Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events continues.

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Synopsis: In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

 The Villain: Patrick Bateman

What Audible Had To Say: Christian Bale popularized Bret Easton Ellis’ yuppie and depraved serial killer in the film adaptation of American Psycho. An investment banker by day and murderer by night, his mindless crimes include rape, torture, and even cannibalism. But what’s even more frightening? His complete lack of moral conscience.

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Dracula by Bram Stroker

Synopsis: The aristocratic vampire that haunts the Transylvanian countryside has captivated readers’ imaginations since it was first published in 1897. Hindle asserts that Dracula depicts an embattled man’s struggle to recover his “deepest sense of himself as a man,” making it the “ultimate terror myth.”

The Villain: Dracula

What Audible Had To Say: There is some speculation that Count Dracula was modeled after the real life 15th-century Romanian prince, Vlad the Impaler. In case you’re unfamiliar, Mr. Vlad was known for the incredibly brutal punishments he imposed during his reign. Like Vlad, Dracula is driven by his goal for violent world domination. Unlike Vlad, Dracula returned from death as a vampire. Bonus evil points!

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Gold Finger by Ian Fleming

Synopsis: Auric Goldfinger is a man with an obsession and nothing, not even agent 007 of the secret service, is going to stop him from achieving his goal.  Both the Bank of England and MI5 are determined to discover the origins of his ill-gotten gains, which have made him the richest man in the country. But underneath his greed and self-assurance lies a man of dangerous cruelty and cunning, a man who even James Bond will struggle to overcome…

The Villain: Oddjob

What Audible Had To Say: Built like a mountain and nearly as indestructible, Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob can break almost anything with his bare hands and feet, including a stone fireplace mantel! But his deadly talents don’t end there: he’s handy with bow and arrow, and his metal bowler hat with its razor sharp brim has been known to give men something closer than a close shave. But it’s his appetite for kitty cats (served on a dinner plate) that especially qualifies him for our list. Oddjob’s ultimate fate at the hands of an exhausted James Bond is a little different than the shocker the film provides, but we won’t spoil the fun by mentioning it here.

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The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

Synopsis: Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle’s most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she’s never looked back.

Until now.

A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.

The Villain: Pieter Willem

What Audible Had To Say: We can’t help standing on edge when mercenary Pieter Willem comes on the scene – to torture, rape, and torment young mercenary-in-training Vanessa “Michael” Munroe. Powerfully built and chillingly sadistic, he forces Monroe to learn how to kill, an instinct she must fight from turning herself into a monster like Pieter.

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About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.

2 thoughts on “The Top 20 Fictional Villains

    1. Damn it! I don’t know what is up with WordPress lately but it keeps erasing all of my links. Ok. Thanks for telling me, I’ll get them fixed.

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