Top 5 Most Terrifying Villains In Literature

Now, we’ve already covered many of the most
monstrous and terrifying creations that populate the endless tapestry of literature, both modern
and classic–but we’re yet to tread into the most nightmarish depiction of horror in
fiction–the evil of humanity. Oftentimes, it is far too easy for writers
to pen creatures and chaotic entities that plague mankind with their evil ways, but as
we all may know–fear is in the eye of the beholder, and when those same entities take
on the shape of our own human form–we’re often posed with a much more palatable, and
terrifyingly plausible notion. And thankfully for us, literature is littered
with some of the most despicable individuals that the human mind can imagine. So, let’s take a look. Hello horror fans, what’s going on–and
once again, welcome back to the scariest channel on YouTube–Top 5 Scary Videos. As per usual, I’ll be your horror host Jack
Finch–as today, we curiously take a look at the Top 5 Most Terrifying Villains In Literature. Roll the clip. For the curious amongst you, that clip was
from–of course, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix–where the evil that is Dolores
Umbridge served to make its first appearance. Of course, J.K Rowling’s creation is one
of the most terrifying villains of recent times, but I think for this list in particular–we
may find that the inspiration for her archetypal villainy was penned well before the Wizarding
Series. Still–she again receives our most honorable
mention, alongside many other terrifying villains of fiction. It’s important to note, that we also have
already compiled a Top 5 Scary List of some of Stephen King’s most horrifying characters–which
if you haven’t yet seen, make sure to check out. And so as you may assume, King won’t be
appearing on this list. Let’s begin. Kicking off at Number 5 – Mrs. Coulter And if you haven’t read Philip Pullman’s
fantastic series, His Dark Materials–I highly suggest that you do, but in a tale that literally
pits the eternal forces of evil against the eternal forces of good, the terrifying Mrs.
Coulter remains to be one of the most violent, selfish and memorable villains of recent times. And although Nicole Kidman’s performance
in the widely-disappointing 2007 movie was actually incredibly fitting for her character,
I’m talking purely about the novels in this particular instance. Because yeah, the less said about that movie
the better, really. And it’s an interesting one, because if
you know nothing about the novels, Pullman’s His Dark Materials is a young adult trilogy
that covers some incredibly weighty themes–but it’s in the later implication of Mrs. Coulter’s
actions where the true consequences of her villainy were finally revealed. Although, that’s definitely not to say that
throughout the story she’s not the literal definition of evil wrapped up in an aesthetically
pleasing package, because that’s exactly what she is. Now, I’ll try my hardest not to spoil the
character of Mrs. Coulter–but perhaps the best way to describe the nature of her evil,
is with her daemon. You see, in the world of His Dark Materials,
people are explicitly connected to a creature that serves as a physical manifestation of
their human soul, which appears as various kinds of creatures from the animal kingdom. In this instance, Mrs. Coulter’s daemon
was a male golden monkey–that on the surface, appeared to be a beautiful, curious creature–and
alongside his human familiar, the two of them would entice and flatter adults and children
alike, whilst working for the General Oblation Board–the secret arm of the Magisterium,
a corrupt Holy Church. Her daemon perfectly reflected Mrs. Coulter’s
personality–as a beautiful creature on the surface, but running deep with malevolent
intentions. On one occasion, her daemon was seen tearing
the wings off of cave bats–out of sheer boredom. Yeah. That says a lot. Coming in at Number 4 – O’Brien And this particular fictional creation comes
from George Orwell’s resounding and highly important novel, 1984. And yeah, it’s going to be incredibly difficult
to explain the evil behind this character in particular without spoiling the novel,
but hey–Orwell published this book 70 years ago in 1949–so I think you’ve had fair
warning. In the world of 1984, the protagonist, Winston
Smith–lives in a dystopian, oppressive, totalitarian version of Britain–a portion of the Super-State
of Oceania, which has been under the rule of INGSOC and Big Brother for time long forgotten. He who controls the past, controls the future. In this society, nothing is safe from the
eternal gaze of Big Brother–and even the confines of the human mind aren’t safe from
the Thought Police, an organisation that serves as the secret, ever watchful eye of INGSOC. And that’s where O’Brien steps in, an
administrator that works in the Ministry of Truth–and who leads Winston Smith to believe
that he is secretly leading an underground resistance, known as the Brotherhood–to bring
down Ingsoc from within and overthrow the Party. In actual fact though, as is revealed in a
vile moment of realisation in the novel–this whole thing is just a game to O’Brien–and
he in fact finds great joy weeding out citizens that aren’t completely loyal to the Party
and to INGSOC. O’Brien’s entire method of operation is
to lure in anyone who evens questions the party’s authority by pretending to be on
their side, and buy into their model of rebellion–and then of course–instead arrest them, and cure
them through moments of perverse torture of the human mind. I mean, compared to some entries on this list,
O’Brien is the definition of a very human fear. He exemplifies totalitarian authority with
every morsel of hope that he extinguishes. In his own words–if you want a picture of
the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face–forever. Yeah. Although perhaps not the root of all villainy–this
guy comes pretty close. Next up at Number 3 – Euron Greyjoy And please. No. Don’t panic. I’m not talking about the show’s representation
of Euron Greyjoy, but purely the book series. Although I still loved the show for the most
part, Euron Greyjoy wasn’t given the portrayal that his character deserved–and there’s
no denying that in George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire–The Crow’s Eye himself,
Euron Greyjoy, is one of the most terrifying villains in the whole of modern fantasy. And again–it’s because of his humanity, or
lack thereof. Now, George Martin is one of the finest writers
of our time, and has a particular knack for creating characters of pure evil–down to
the fact that he segways the conventional notions of light and dark, and instead focuses
on areas of grey. But nope. Not for Euron. Euron Greyjoy is just straight up the most
truly evil inhabitant of The Known World. Just compare him to some of the most memorable
villains of the entire series, so far anyway–and they all pale in comparison to Euron. Ramsay Bolton, Tywin Lannister, Joffrey–all
of them various shades of villainy, cruelty and malice–that have all equally committed
some of the most violent and horrifying atrocities in the series. And Euron still takes the cake. You see, he’s not a psychopath in the conventional
sense–he’s not prone to violent bursts of anger by impulse alone–but maintains his
own, entirely calculated sense of chaos without once showing us the true rage that lies within
him. And believe me, there’s plenty of it. Take for example, how Euron Greyjoy calmly
ripped out the tongues of his entire crew after a storm took his ship by surprise. He ripped out every single crew members tongue,
without a second thought–and his reason was that he needed silence. Allegedly, anyway–because as we all know,
it’s pretty difficult to stage a mutiny without a tongue. And that isn’t even close to the worse of
it, because the true evil of Euron’s character is explicitly revealed throughout allusions
to his childhood–pitting reason as to why his brothers despise him with such hatred. You see, the Greyjoy’s are pirates–reavers
and pillagers, who take what they want in pursuit of riches untold. But Euron, despite having sailed pretty much
across the entire known world–collecting countless treasures along the way and becoming
the most successful Iron Islander of all time–he keeps none of it for himself. Euron isn’t in it for the plunder–perhaps
then his violent nature would make sense–he’s in it for something else entirely. What that something is–only he’ll ever
know, and that’s the terrifying part. Swinging in at Number 2 – Nurse Ratched And this particular entry may get people’s
blood boiling a little–because there’s no denying the fact that Louise Fletcher’s
performance in 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest caused an entire generation
to scream out in rage at the screen, as her fantastic portrayal of Nurse Ratched relentlessly
proved that there are few limits to the depths that absolute power can corrupt absolutely. And although Fletcher’s performance was
without a doubt iconic in it’s own right–that’s not to detract from the fact that Ken Kesey’s
1962 novel just so happened to pen one of the most terrifying villains in the whole
of literature. And again. It was down to her warped sense of humanity–or
lack thereof–where the true nature of evil was found. However, the tragedy of Ratched’s character
only serves to make *us* as an audience question our own sense of morality–and ultimately,
it forces us to confront whether we can or should ever forgive evil. I’ll try my utmost to not spoil anything
behind this tale in particular, but as the novel explains–Nurse Ratched is the head
administrative nurse at Salem State Hospital–a mental institution, where the novels narrator,
Chief Bromden resides, alongside the iconic Randle McMurphy–and a whole host of other
patients that make up the fabric of Kesey’s tragic tale. At Salem State, Nurse Ratched exercises her
absolute power over the patients–using her patients access to medication and basic necessities
as a means to malevolently maintain her corrupt, cruel, authoritarian regime over some of the
most vulnerable members of our society. I mean, revealing the true nature of Nurse
Ratched’s pure propensity for evil would be spoilers enough–but holy moly, believe
me when I say this character is a creation of true, true evil. Whether we can understand her motivations
is a different question entirely, but Nurse Ratched remains to be one of the most perverse
demonstrations of authority and the evil that so often comes with it. Yeah. She definitely deserves her place on this
list. And finally, coming in at our Number 1 spot
— Hannibal Lecter And that should be Dr. Hannibal Lecter, because
I’m not in the mood to piss off one of the most complex and dangerous minds in the entirety
of fiction. Some would argue that in fact, Hannibal Lecter
is the most perfect villain ever created–and that’s without being, in many cases–the
actual villain of his story. Created by Thomas Harris, and first appearing
in his 1981 novel Red Dragon–Hannibal Lecter is a forensic psychiatrist on one side, and
a cannibalistic serial killer on the other. Throughout the events of Red Dragon–the novels
protagonist Will Graham comes to the stark understanding that Dr. Lecter doesn’t find
any conventional psychological profile. In fact, psychiatrists refer to him as a sociopath–simply
because they don’t know what else to call him. A fact which is reinforced in the later novels,
where Clarice Starling states, that they don’t have a name for what he is. In many ways though, Hannibal Lecter is the
antithesis of what a human *should be*. He operates more as a machine than he does
a man, demonstrated through his unrivaled intelligence–and his eidetic memory, where
he often explains the details of his elaborate memory palace–a narrative function that is
often paired to a similar brilliant mind, Sherlock Holmes. However, despite his superior intellect–it
comes with the extent and variability of his actions where the fear truly lies. Much like Euron Greyjoy, Hannibal Lecter is
a pool of such depth and complexity–that the understanding of his motivations would,
or will–perhaps never be reached by the rest of humanity. And that’s where the true brilliance of
Harris’ creation truly shines–because as portrayed in the novels, and the later films,
with the legendary performance of Sir Anthony Hopkins–we, as an audience–find Lecter to
be a likeable character. He’s a cannibal. He eats people with fava beans and a nice
chianti–and yet we can’t help but finding ourselves liking this guy. He’s more akin to the likes of Frankenstein’s
Monster–or Dracula–he’s a creation of horror that can only serve to go along with
their nature. And strangely enough, for a human looking
in–that fact forms a bizarre thread of curiosity that draws us in. Hannibal Lecter is the definition of horror. Equal parts fear, equal parts curiosity. And he’s a mystery that we’ll never truly
understand. Well, there we have it horror fans–our list
for the Top 5 Most Terrifying Villains In Literature. What did you guys think? Do you agree? Disagree? Have any more to add to this list? Let us know your thoughts down in the comment
section below. Before we depart from today’s video though,
let’s first take a quick look at some of your more creative comments from over the
past few days. First up–secretladyspider says — THANK YOU for always stating what the clip
is from. I haven’t seen every horror movie ever made
and I really appreciate it. Also, I’m probably gonna make fanart of
you guys soon, I hope that’s cool? Love the channel! — Of course it’s cool! That sounds awesome. And thank you so much for the support–if
you’re feeling particularly creative, then you can always send your creations to Lucy
and I on Instagram–details of which are down below. And that goes for the rest of you too! Well on that note horror fans–that’s unfortunately
all we’ve got time for in today’s video–cheers for sticking around all the way until the
end. If you were a fan of this video, or just Top
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100 Replies to “Top 5 Most Terrifying Villains In Literature

  1. I would (want to) add Vilgefortz from the Geralt-Saga (by Andrzej Sapkowski)
    He is a man with great ambitions, a great plan and he is stuck-up… but this is deserved, cause he is the mightiest being in the Geralt Saga. A calculating mastermind with brain and brawn in one body:
    Also an antagonist you only see/read a few times about but this is enough to make him mighty, dangerous and the main antagonist in this book series full of monsters, cruel kings, wars and more.

  2. Mr. Teatime (Teh-ah-ti-meh) the assassin from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. Now there's one creepy little bastard if ever there was one. Cool and measured but cuckoo enough to take contracts requiring the inhuming of anthropomorphic personifications.

  3. Professor Moriarty, Victor Frankenstein is the real monster of the book. But I would say Ozymandias from Watchmen might be the scariest of all time. "Killing Millions to save Billions" sounds like something Stalin would say.

  4. Thank you for adding Dolores Umbridge. She was more of a villain than Tom Riddle.

    But no Purple Man?

  5. Among the most terrifying villains in literature: Judge Holden (Blood Meridian) and Humbert Humbert (Lolita), the latter because he's as manipulative as Hannibal Lecter — so much so, that nobody thinks of him as a villain.

  6. Man jack, you want some good villains check out the deathland series ( lots of books but a great post apocalyptic novel series) or the death gate cycle books. I can't remember the hairless man's name but he is straight up evil. ( been a LONG time since I read and I can't find the series anywhere, BUT it's an almost perfect story with a HUGE twist) long comment but I promise you won't be dissapointed.

  7. I love this channel. Meanwhile I think I found a new idea for a future video if you are interested. There is a good selection especially towards the end here:

    Hope you approve.

  8. GRRMartin writings are rapetastic. I wonder how many rapists his books and the GoT tv series have inspired. Way to worsen rape culture. :((

  9. I was so upset they never made a version of the Amber spyglass or The subtle knife would have been good to see regardless of popularity The film was not that great I waited for years for the second one ; to see what they would do , this to no avail

  10. hmmm,,what about Randall Flagg, aka The Walkin' Dude/the Dark Man?
    I think he is one of the scariest Villains in Literature.

  11. I get annoyed when these guys place their intro narrative in the description. What gives?!

  12. Tbh i Think Martin isnt a Good writer at all.
    He just Leaves out the interesting Stuff and hopes you make a cool Story out of it instead of doing it himself.
    And no Not like Lovecraft….not even close….

  13. Five spots are never enough to enlist all the villains, but that’s why the comment section is great! People end up suggesting more and it opens up a whole discussion. Thanks for making these videos guys!

  14. "Stephen King won't be appearing on this list."
    Thank you for inadvertently saving me 12 minutes of my life by telling me this is not a video worth watching.

  15. can someone tell me why his dark material is called his instead of her dark material, because it looks likes the main villain is Mrs coulter a female and the main hero is a little girl so who is his in all between this

  16. Quick point re 1984 – O'Brien doesn't get a kick or thrill out of what he does, he's scary because he's a true believer. He wants to genuinely "cure" you of your traitorous thoughts and make you whole again before having you killed. He pities Winston Smith. He genuinely wants to help him and that is why he's scary. He fully understands the contradictory nature of Ingsoc but he believes in it.

  17. You missed Leo Bonhart from the witcher series, honestly, it's not just because of the popularity of the games but he's a truly terrifying being

  18. C'mon guys where is Iago at? The way he so easily manipulates those around him is the very blueprint on how to write a sociopath correctly. There are some others you missed big time but he deserved to be on the list

  19. If you haven't read Lost God's by Brom there is a character of the Lilth that could be included in list like this one

  20. I was surprised when I learned the actress who played nurse ratchet also played kai Winn in star trek ds9.

  21. While the shows portrayal of Euron was woefully different from the books, i feel that was because the show runners knew he would upstage everyone, so they basically made him into a spicy Victarion Greyjoy… And then Pilou Asbæk gave the stunted version of Euron a new life and really made the character his own.
    Go back and watch carefully; you'll see that Tv Euron is uniquely machiavellian. The way he panders to the Ironborn to gain their support, how he worms his way into Cersei's bed when just a few months prior he was just an exiled ship captain. He isn't the Euron Greyjoy we wanted, but he was one of the few joys of the show as the show runners descended into apathy towards their own baby.

  22. I would also include Diogenes Pendergast from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's FBI Special Agent A.X.L Pendergast series. Their whole story arc together is reminiscent of Moriarty and Holmes.

  23. Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is such a morally confusing character. Can’t help but adore him and forgive his murderous ways, he’s just so ridiculously attractive, physically and intellectually stunning #eattherude ❤️

  24. Ahh, poor Hannibal is so misunderstood. I really don't think of him as a villain, more as an anti-hero. Mason Verger, now THERE is a villain. Or the antagonist in the Dean Koontz novel "Intensity." (The movie didn't NEARLY do it justice). At least Hannibal is never out of control and never kills without reason. He adheres to his own set of ethics. True, they aren't the same as those of society at large, but the point is that he is predictable and never impulsive. He is not a sadist. He himself said "I never killed anyone that the world was not a better place for their not being in it." And really, it's the truth.

    The horrifying ones are those that delight in the suffering of others, choose victims randomly and across all types and ages, sadistic and depraved individuals…the Mason Vergers of the world. Hannibal doesn't frighten me. Those people do.

  25. HOW is Alex from A Clockwork Orange not on this list?! Also, I find Napoleon from Animal Farm much scarier than O'Brien.

  26. I'm sorry, but Ramsey Snow takes the cake from Euron in my opinion. To turn a person into a "Reek" is evil at its most horrific

  27. Lord loss from Darren shans The Demonata. Yeah it’s like a young adult/teen horror book but honestly he scared the piss out of me & I even had a nightmare about him about 5 years ago!

  28. there are so many excellent villains in literature that I think you should do at least 2 more parts to this, and I nominate First Chaplin Erebus from the Horus Heresy series. He manipulated events to plunge an entire galaxy into a civil war while simultaneously making it appear as if others were the ones pulling the strings. all to steer humanity toward his twisted vision of perfection and worship.

  29. Martin is trash not great. GOT is nothing more then a fantasy playboy for perverted teens. Still love your channel.

  30. Anthony Hopkins performance was not Legendary, more over the top even comic book worthy. Brian Cox performance in Michael Mann's 1986 Manhunter is legendary.

  31. Decker from Clive Barker's short story Cabal, which was later made into Night breed (my all time fave horror movie, btw), is scary and so purely evil.

  32. Check out Steven Erikson's Malazan Empire. Every bit as epic as Martin's series with villains and heros, too many to mention. Most character driven series Ive ever read and trust me Ive read TONS. There are some terrible and terrifying villains and even some morally neutral characters that are terrifying just because of the power they can wield. Im talking world busters that are barely held in check.

  33. I find Judge Claude Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame to be terrifying mostly due to the realization that not only does he believes his motives are necessary but are also the will of god. His complex nature and the fact that you can almost see his reasoning is unsettling.

  34. I love your literature reviews! Stephen king is one of my faves. Desperation is amazing coming second to the Stand. In surprised I haven't seen entertain in your lists yet as far as villians go. Maybe look into it? Anyway amazing stuff

  35. I think that Mads Mikkelsen's portrayal of Dr Lecter, is far more scarier than Anthony Hopkins cartoony villain version of him.

  36. The scariest villain that I've read it a book was from the series Warriors, it's about cats that live in the wild that are separated into 4 clans, but the terrifying cat was described as having other cat claws around his neck and had extremely sharp claws covering his claws and his name was Scrooge.

  37. Top human scary villains of literature:
    Iago (Othello)
    Jack (Lord of the Flies)
    He, the killer of Bambi's mother (Bambi)
    Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca)
    Roger Chillingworth (The Scarlet Letter)

  38. Dr. Lecter is truly terrifying as the books move along. It's interesting & disturbing. I agree with your #1. ☠️

    I've been binging older videos because I watch the new ones daily and I need more. I'm so glad that you're both still here & the channel stands. Thank you for keeping it fresh. 💖

  39. Remember even though Hannibal Lecter is terrifying he does have a code that he follows. If you are polite to him he will not kill you…

  40. I completely agree about Umbridge. She was worse then Voldemort, and that is saying something! Villains in Literature I can name a few but they make top 20 list and then some other.

  41. I was lucky enough to have been invited to a screening of Silence Of The Lambs in college. Once a quarter members of an honors group would watch a film with the Dean of the Liberal Artd Dept and then analyze it because one of his doctorate's was in film criticism. I wish I'd had time to take the full class. Anyway, one theory discussed was the idea of Hannibal as beyond good or evil. More like Nietzsche's Ünermensch, beyond good and evil. The good dean held that the hero of the piece was actually Hannibal. As we went back through parts of the movie frame by frame, he definitely made his point.

    Also, while Mrs Coulter was vile, Lord Asriel was a sociopath. They both were.

  42. Not sure about Euron. Think I’d have to read the books again. If we’re looking at A Song of Ice and Fire there are a few characters I could pick including Ramsay, Cersei, and Vargo Hoat And his little gang of loonies.

  43. BTW. How about the Top 5 most terrifying characters/things in fairy stories? Some of the stuff that came out of the Grimm Brothers imaginations have damaged generations of kids for decades

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