These top 10 villains in literature entertain, enthrall, and terrify us with their sinister plots, ploys, and antics. If you haven’t already, spend some time (but not too much time) with these best fictional villains and all-around antagonists.
1. Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Mr. Hyde is the dark alter ego of Dr. Henry Jekyll.
2. Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Those poor patients. This battleaxe is a cold, sadistic, and vindictive tyrant.
3. The shark in Jaws by Peter Benchley
The shark (and accompanying soundtrack) that haunts all beach-goers, thanks mostly to Steven Speilberg’s film adaptation, Jaws.
4. The Grand Witch in The Witches by Roald Dahl
Pull off the wig, gloves, and facemask, and this stunning women becomes a terrifying creature who turns children into rodents.
5. Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal Lecter Series Thomas Harris
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” said the genius murderous cannibal, Dr. Lecter.
6. Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
He eventually murders and takes over the identity of the man he once admired.
7. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
He’s an investment banker, materialist, psychopath, rapist, and serial killer.
8. Annie Wilkes in Misery by Stephen King
This nurse doesn’t work in a hospital, unlike Nurse Ratched, but keeps an injured writer captive in her secluded Colorado cabin, where she demands he rewrite a novel while she brutally tortures him.
9. Judge Holden in Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
He is more than a man, he represents pure evil.
10. Big Brother in 1984 by George Orwell
Not actually a person but a concept, Big Brother is an overseer of an authoritarian government.
Related: Top 10 Monsters In Literature