5 of the Greatest Literary Villains ever written

Literary villains, love them or hate them, are an important piece to any good story.

My top 5 of the greatest literary villains ever written contain spoilers if you haven’t read the books. But, with all the spoilers on the Internet, you probably have seen much more than what I listed here.

Many villain lists are usually classics, but I decided to include some of my favorite modern villains and include YA books and villains.

Villains are not listed in any particular order. I am not responsible if you see a correlation between today’s society and some of my villains.

All links will open in a new window to the book's page on the Author's official website. If I cannot find the book page, the link will take you to the Author's home page or as a last resort, the book's page on Good Reads.

I am making 0 money from this post.

5 of the Greatest Literary Villains Ever Written

1. The Firemen

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Face it, burning books, destroying knowledge, and the homes they are housed in are pretty criminal, not to mention evil. Enough said on this one.

2. Lady Stoneheart

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Full of rage, revenge, and hate, “Mother Merciless” slaughters anyone she thinks was involved in the “Red Wedding” without mercy.

No spoilers here. Read the books. While Michelle Fairley's portrayal of Catelyn Stark was brilliant, the TV series left out my favorite character in the books, among other liberties they took. I was disappointed because I looked forward to seeing Ms. Fairley bring Lady Stoneheart to life.

3. Saruman

Various books of Arda by J.R.R. Tolkien

Most people will argue that Sauron or Melkor/Morgoth were the true evil of these stories by Tolkien, and I agree they were true evil. You could toss in Feanor as another true villain in Tolkien’s works. All three betrayed everyone and their sister, but Saruman… Saruman is another animal altogether.

Saruman not only stabbed his friends and family in the back with the ultimate betrayal, but he destroyed nature and beauty and, by today’s standards, gaslighted the hades out of everyone.

4. Jeanine Matthews

Divergent Trilogy By Veronica Roth

Highly intelligent, this tyrant stoops to lows that know no limits, from serums of mind control to mass murder and genocide. Is she a brilliant teacher or the “female” Hitler, as Kate Winslet referred to her in an interview with Ellen? Read the trilogies, and let’s talk!


5. Valentine Morgenstern

The first three books of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Claire

Valentine experimented on children. We have seen the evil in that in our recent history. But, to make matters worse, not just any children, he experimented on his own!

After committing a serial killer’s amount of murders, Valentine kidnapped another child, experimented on him, and played with this boy’s mind until he no longer remembered who he was.

There is no question of the evil quota of this manipulative villain!


Over to you!

What do you think of my list of 5 of the greatest literary villains ever written? Do you agree with some of my favorites? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share your favorites.

Inara Reynolds is a freelance writer, poet, author of short stories and creator of a few fantasy worlds. She has written character classes for various role playing games, as well as modules.

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