Movie's Most Evil Characters

Evil Meanies in the Movies

Some of the most successful movies in Hollywood include characters that are so evil they leave you with a wild string of emotions including anger, frustration, hatred, disbelief, and sadness. For many, there is also an element of comic relief and/ or a welcomed retribution that make the film bearable in the end. There are no shortage of evil characters out there. I do not tend to find characters who are either supernatural or blatantly violent without believability to be that scary. Hence, you will not see Jason or Freddy type characters on my list. I much prefer intelligent characters, stories that are based in reality, or characters with such complexity and believability that you can’t help but feel a wide range of strong emotions when watching them. The following are a few of my favorites, in no particular order. If you have any to share, leave a comment. I’d love to hear more!

Hannibal Lecthter – The Silence of the Lambs

No list could be complete without Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lechter. He is evil personified, yet there is something oddly appealing about him. Anyone with a conscience may be moved by the sight of Dr. Lechter in a plexiglass, windowless cage. Perhaps it is his subtle attraction to and mentorship of FBI fledging Clarice Starling that humanizes him. Whatever it is that appeals to you about his character, he is still undoubtedly evil and twisted and his character’s incongruity is both intriguing and revolting.

John Doe – Seven

Truly one of the most disturbing, creepy movies I’ve ever seen. Kevin Spacey plays John Doe to a perfect T, committing murders according to the seven deadly sins. What makes John Doe so horrifying is his self-righteous, calm execution of serial murder. Don’t watch this one alone. The movie is scary throughout and features a demented, twisted ending. 

Alex Forrest – Fatal Attraction

Men everywhere were rethinking their positions on infidelity after Glenn Close got her obsessive hooks into Dan Gallagher, played by Michael Douglas. She made everyone who has ever been unfaithful hug their spouses a little tighter and repent their wayward tendencies. He was real. We’ve all met people like her. What kind of sick bi%&# puts a kid’s rabbit in a pot of boiling water?

Sorry to say that the trailer that accompanied this portion of the Hub is no longer available, but if you're interested, the DVD is worth renting.

The Joker – The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger’s Joker is just plain creepy. His make up is not applied with flawless precision. It is smeared and haphazard in a visual metaphor for his demented brand of madness. He had no conscience. He is a compulsive liar. And he places no value on human life. What could be more dangerous?

Sargent Botha – The Power of One

This little known 1992 movie features a relatively minor yet pivotal role for Daniel Craig, whose plays a ruthless Nazi in the SS. In a rage filled abuse of power, he strings up and lashes a young English boy and kills the boys only friend (a pet chicken) before being reprimanded in front of the students by a higher ranking official. Though he doesn’t appear until years later in the film’s chronology. He returns with an insatiable vengeance that will leave you speechless and numb with anger, praying that he gets what he deserves. The notion that such abuses, hatred and injustices have happened all too often throughout world history, this story is completely believable, and that is horrifying. 

Man-in-the-Mask, Pin Up Girl, Dollface – The Strangers

“Why are you doing this to us?” cries Kristen McKay, played by Liv Tyler. “Because you were home,” comes to cold, eerie, matter-of-fact answer. Need I say more? The Strangers is a frightening tale of terror and murder waged against a young recently engaged couple. The story is loosely based on a true story, making it even more terrifying. You’ll never want to be home alone again. 

Brad Whitewood – At Close Range

This story is based on a real life crime family in rural Pennsylvania. It is set in the 1960s and 70s. Family patriarch, Brad Whitewood, Sr. is played to sinister perfection by consummate bad guy, Christopher Walken. As the crime boss inducts his sons into the family business, it soon becomes clear that even blood is no protection from the paranoid delusions of a mad man. Fearing his sons will reveal his life of crime after they are arrested, Whitewood rapes his eldest son’s girlfriend and eventually kills one of his own. The sight of his youngest son on his knees in the moonlight, looking into the murderous eyes of his father moments before his murder is heartbreaking and will stay with you far longer than you would like it to.

Hattie Dorsett – Sybil

This is the only made for TV movie on my list, but deservedly so. Martine Bartlett’s portrayal of the calculating and systematic abuse of her daughter Sybil, played by Natasha Ryan, haunted me for years. I’ve only seen this movie once. Once was enough. Knowing that such cases exist all too often in real life makes the movie intolerable for me. 

Count Dracula – Bram Stoker’s Dracula

No list of evil characters is complete without one portrayed by Gary Oldman. His depiction of Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s classic is nothing short of completely, deliciously creepy. With his excruciatingly long fingernails, tall powdered wig, bloodshot eyes and deathly pale skin, he is sure to make your skin crawl. His more human portrayal of the younger man pursuing Winona Ryder’s character, Mina, will have you scratching your head, wondering how someone so flawed, dangerous, and dead, can still exude such a strong sex appeal. That is part of his crushing, deadly magic. 

Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Institutionalization in the 1960s was an even more fearful, dangerous experience than it is today. Louise Fletcher’s character violated ethics and abused her authority at every turn by using both subtle and not-so-subtle humiliation tactics, ordered cruel medical “treatments” and ruled her ward with a cool lack of compassion. Even nearly losing her life at the hands of her most challenging patient isn’t enough to curb her cruel need for control and domination.

Freddie Lee Cobb – A Time to Kill

This movie takes us back to a much darker, more sinister time in our nation. One in which the KKK had even more power and instilled more fear than it does today. Kiefer Sutherland plays this character with such a convincing lack of humanity that he becomes one of the most loathsome figures in American cinema. 

Abel Turner – Lakeview Terrace

This character will make your blood boil. The manner in which he terrorizes the interracial couple next door is relentless and cruel. He abuses his authority as a former police officer, which is not unimaginable, and this makes him all the more menacing. This is one character that you hope gets what’s coming to him!

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Comments 10 comments

lorddraven2000 profile image

lorddraven2000 5 years ago from Wheelwright KY

I would have put Pinhead in there, now that's a creepy dude. I loved this list and how you included some that others may have left out like John Doe which was an amazing character.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 5 years ago Author

Thanks so much. I thought of Pinhead, though I didn't actually see those movies, believe it or not. I'm glad you liked the list.


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

You didn't include freddy or jason on your list because you wanted believable characters, so why did you include Dracula?

Anyway still an excellent hub.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 5 years ago Author

Good question. For me, there is something primal, sexy and alluring about Dracula. His ability to seduce his victims, who following him willingly, makes him a dangerous psychopath. That is fascinating and completely evil. Thanks for reading!


Mike G. 4 years ago

On balance, I'd put Mildred Ratched right at the top.


Anonymous 4 years ago

Colonel William Tavington from The Patriot should be up there.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 4 years ago Author

I actually never saw that movie, but thanks for sharing. I'll have to give it a go.


Lybrah 3 years ago

Excellent hub--there are many good movies written about here.


Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie2000 3 years ago Author

Thanks, Lybrah. Glad you enjoyed it.


IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

The joker and Hannibal Lecter would be on my list too.

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