You know, those nasty characters who bring conflict to the story with their dastardly deeds. The writer can pluck the worst and best emotions from a reader by creating believable villains. Readers will keep turning the pages to find out if these ne’er do wells get what he or she so justly deserves.
I’ve created a list of my Favorite Villains from books and movies. I’m sure you have some hum-dingers of your own. Please share them!
10.) King Edward Longshanks: In Braveheart, how very villainous of the King to invoke Primae Noctis—the right of the a lord to take any newly married Scottish woman to his bed. The injustice is enough to make him despicable.
9.) Snidely Whiplash from Rocky and Bullwinkle: Snidely holds the mortgage to Nell’s home and threatens to evict her if the mortgage isn’t paid. I could never figure out why he tied her to the train tracks, but we children booed anyhow. Also, Snidely has a villainous sneer and is sneaky. More booing.
8.) The Sheriff of Nottingham: The nemesis of Robin Hood, the Sheriff upholds the law not because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to curry favor with the King. We’ve all known people like him. My favorite sheriff was played by Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. (1991) Boo. Hiss.
7.) Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: First of all, lovely name. Second, greed isn’t good and if you shuddered when he gave his famous iconic speech, we are of the same generation. The oily hair helped make him a repulsive character.
6.) Fagen, from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist: He did take in those street kids and he did teach them a trade. However, anyone who hurts children is a surefire villain. Unfortunately, we read about people like him too frequently in modern times.
5.) Boyd Crowder, the smooth-talking bad boy in Justified: (On the FX channel.) This character is taken from a book by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Boyd is complicated because he’s so darn likeable and has some good traits, (and is a hunk with great hair) but the bad things he does are really bad.
4.) The Grinch created by Dr. Seuss: We laugh at his antics but the message is clear.
3.) Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum: Again a villain who wants to harm children. Her laugh gave me the chills. Bad dreams are made of this.
2.) Inspector Javert: In Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, no amount of sympathetic backstory makes up for this dude’s obsession with Jean Valjean, the man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and went to prison for his crime. Even after Valjean served out his prison sentence, Javert won’t give him any peace.
Number 1. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: The devil himself. The Master Villain. Nothing redeemable there. A villain to keep us up at night.
There are so many more great villains but these are my favorites!
Sarah Richmond is the author of A Perilous Proposal and its sequel, A Secret Engagement. Two Edwardian mysteries/love stories with plenty of villains, and a heroine and hero working diligently to make sure they don’t win.