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For me, the only thing better than a hero to love is a truly evil baddie that I can pour my anger and hatred into when reading a really good book. The more bad the better, I want my baddies to be the kind of people who knock their grannies over to get to the last chocolate chip cookie and to steal sausages from puppies whilst laughing an epically evil laugh.

We asked for your favourite literary antagonist and although there wasn’t an enormous response, we still managed to put together your top ten baddest baddies.

Hannibal Lecter

Aaah what is not to adore about this truly evil character? From his coldly intelligent appraisal of poor Clarice to his piece de resistance when serving up a truly mind blowing meal for his guests, Hannibal Lecter is the stuff of nightmares written .

The Silence of the Lambs US
The Silence of the Lambs UK

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Jonathon “Jack” Randall

Rapist, torturer, psychopath? What on Earth was Diana Gabaldon thinking when she brought this reprehensible character to life? The epitome of foulness Randall ran Lecter a very close second.

Outlander US
Outlander UK

Review of Outlander

Count Olaf

Three children left orphaned at a young age, what could be better than a kindly uncle to step in and take over their welfare and ensure they are gifted the same opportunities that their parents would have afforded them? It’s just a pity that Olaf is nothing of the sort.


The Complete Wreck (A Series of Unfortunate Events) US
The Complete Wreck (A Series of Unfortunate Events) UK

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Tolkien’s supremely evil antagonist Saruman is the perfect example of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Saruman’s desire for power and order and his ultimate rejection of any chance for redemption makes him a truly worthy entry in our top ten.

The Lord Of The Rings US
The Lord Of The Rings UK

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Dolores Umbridge

Described by Stephen King as  “the gently smiling Dolores Umbridge, with her girlish voice, toadlike face, and clutching, stubby fingers, is the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter” and JK herself saying “her desire to control, to punish and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil” Dolores Umbridge is the chintzy face of literary nastiness.

Harry Potter Box Set US
Harry Potter Box Set UK

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Shakespeare makes his first appearance with his Othello antagonist Iago who determines to ruin Othello by making him believe that his wife is having an affair with his lieutenant. The way he manages this deception whilst managing to remain Othello’s most trusted servant is what makes him a stand out villain.

Othello US
Othello UK

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Annie Wilkes

Stephen King brings every writer’s fear to life with Misery antagonist and Number one fan Annie Wilkes. With a warped moral compass Annie baulks at using language stronger than the occasional doody and dirty bird yet has no qualms about kidnapping and forcing her ‘favourite author’ to rewrite his latest manuscript by any means necessary.

Misery US
Misery UK

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Moriarty, the baddie to end all baddies, well perhaps not but Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis is definitely the quintessential English literary villain and he is your pick for eighth spot.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes US
The Complete Sherlock Holmes UK

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Shhhhh! He who must not be named will not be impressed when he finds out he only made ninth place in our poll. Voldemort’s single minded determination to destroy Harry Potter and his disinterest in whoever else was hurt along the way made for a really unnerving and truly scary literary baddie.

Harry Potter Box Set US
Harry Potter Box Set UK

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Richard III

And Shakespeare rounds off our top ten with his second entry, Richard III who is “an ugly hunchback who is “rudely stamp’d”, “deformed, unfinish’d”, and cannot “strut before a wanton ambling nymph.” and  is determined that whatever he lacks in physical beauty he can more than make up for in sheer nastiness which he pursues with a gleefully viciously single minded tenacity.

Shakespeare Box Set US
Shakespeare Box Set UK

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That’s quite an eclectic list of literary villains there isn’t it. There were a few notable votes that didn’t quite make the top ten including Stephen King’s Randall Flagg, Severus Snape, The vampire Lestat and that cad Heathcliff. If there are any you think should have been included, then please let us know in the comments.

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  • Sarah Jackson says:

    My daughter would like to add Galbatorix from The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini.

  • Rita Backe says:

    Darken Rahl from The Sword of Truth-books by Terry Goodkind. Such a piece of villain, just like his father, Panis Rahl. *shudder*

  • Kimberlyn says:

    No Cersei Lannister!! What! This list needs work!

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