This Week's Top Ten-Best Villains

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to another Top Ten, a weekly meme hosted by Jillian at Random Ramblings.  This week's topic is best villains.  I think that writing a good villain is actually more of a feat than writing a good hero. Authors can create flawed, layered, multi-faceted heroes, but to create a truly, deliciously evil villain takes skill beyond the usual. At least in my humble opinion, a great villain is one that you have a end up having a grudging respect for, despite their evilness. They inspire revulsion. They are the characters that we love to hate.

My list comprises characters from young adult and adult fiction, old characters and new. In no particular order, here are my picks...

1. The Trunchbull, from Matilda by Roald Dahl:  The Trunchbull is probably my favorite young adult villain.  There is no other word for her but bully.  She uses her power to make others feel small, and her complete lack of human feeling towards the children under her "care" makes her truly despicable.

2.  Bill Sikes, from Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens:  Even the musical version of Oliver Twist can't make light of the evil that is Bill Sikes.  He's brutal, heartless-basically he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  Kidnapping, domestic abuse, murder...and no remorse

 3.  Hannibal Lecter, from Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris:  He was already on my list of the best characters I've read, and he fits here as well.   No one embodies what it means to be a sociopathic serial killer like Lecter.  Deliciously played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, he is perhaps the most delightfully chilling character I've ever watched or read.

4.  Nurse Ratched, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kessey:  The story of an Oregon insane asylum is horrifying enough, but add a sadistic, power and control-hungry head nurse and you have a recipe for horror.  Characters like Nurse Ratched are all the more frustrating because of their complete control of the hero.  I felt as helpless as the inmates in the face of Nurse Ratched's calm, rational, evil logic.

5.  The White Witch, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis:  The way she manipulates Edmund into betraying his brother and sisters was so devious!  And what kind of evil does it take to make it always winter but never Christmas?

6.  Cruella De Vil, from The Hundred and One Dalmations, by Dodie Smith:  I'm not sure that most children's publishers would have the nerve to publish a novel with such a horrible, selfish woman.    I mean, really, she's going to slaughter a bunch of innocent puppies to make a coat.  

7.  Anne Coulter, from, well, every Anne Coulter book:  OK, I know that she is not a fictional character, but I think that her cruel sarcasm, her complete lack of compassion, her namecalling, and her general mean-spiritedness make her truly villainous.  It's not just that she and I disagree politically and philosophically about EVERYTHING.  There are people that I disagree with deeply that I respect and admire.  It's how nasty she is-I would disapprove of her behavior even if she was a flaming liberal like myself putting down conservatives the same way she demonizes liberals.

8.  Max Cady, from The Executioners, by John D. McDonald:  Known better to most people as Cape Fear, from the two movies of that name starring Robert Mitchum and Robert DeNiro respectively, Max Cady is creeeeeeeeepy!

9.  Sauron, from The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R.Tolkien:  The prototype for Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort was darkness and death incarnate.  His evil sucked in all light, all love, all hope.  I think that the scariest part of that series is not the fierce battles between the heroes and the army of Sauron, but the utter devastation and barrenness, the soul-sucking slog that was the journey to Mordor.

10.  Annie Wilkes, R.N., from Misery by Stephen King:  One word-CRAAAAAAZY!  OK, two words-blowtorch.


  1. OMG Max Cady! And Annie Wilkes.. *shudders*

    What an awesome list, Heather -- brought back horrifying stories! LOL

  2. +JMJ+

    I always love it when a list gets quirky and I have warm feelings about your inclusion of Ann Coulter! =D

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Your right, Nurse Ratched is EVIL. Nasty, controlling and calculating. I wouldn't want to have her as my nurse if I was mentally ill. Talk about way to stop your recovery and drive you even more insane. Great post!! :)

  4. Oh and Annie Wilkes is my ALL TIME favourite villain :)

  5. Great list. Although I do disagree with you about Annie Wilkes. Crazy and creepy, that's for sure. But, as you've listed The Stand as a book you should read before you die, I'm surprised that Randall Flagg didn't make the list...

  6. Oh, I forgot all about the Trunchbull when I was making my list! She's awful, isn't she?


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