This is going to be an interesting post to write because I usually love villains? And, let’s be honest, right from the gate, I pretty much love all of the villains below. Many of them, I believe their “villainy” is just being misunderstood, but, like, in a legit way, not in a Loki is sad, so he gets to be an ass way because that’s not misunderstood, that’s just straight up blaming your problems on something else. I’m talking, like, the devil is misunderstood kind of vibe here, which yeah, I wrote a post about that recently, and I’ll definitely link it. But, I thought what better time to talk about my favorite villains than Halloween! Some of these will just be general villains, like the devil, but some will be book-specific, too, because oh boy, there are some villains out there that I just want to scream about. We about to #protectionsquad for one of these books, and if you know, you know.
Also, because there’s always that one, I feel like I need to mention that, of course, I don’t condone any of the actions of the villains on this list. I recognize that they’re all pretty awful, but I’m not going to explain all the reasons why they’re the worst because I’m here to talk about why they’re my favorite instead. Just know that I know that they’re terrible.
There are a lot of things that I love about David Mitchell’s universe, and though I feel like I’ve talked about The Bone Clocks way more than normal lately, particularly given that I still haven’t read Mitchell’s new book, I couldn’t talk about villains without talking about the Anchorites. Mitchell’s wider universe comes together in The Bone Clocks, and all the characters that you’ve seen woven throughout previous books finally come to a head, and everything starts to make sense. It’s an incredibly intricate and complex plot, one that spans literal centuries, perhaps even millennia, and as much as I adore the Horologists and all their flaws, the Anchorites are truly excellent villains because I often understand why they’re doing what they are. You could even argue, from a different point of view, that the Horologists are the villains, and though they definitely aren’t, given how willing the Anchorites are to do just about anything to get what they want, it makes for an interesting story between the two sides.
In general, the Fae are malevolent creatures, and no one shows that chaotic, murderous side better than Margaret Rogerson in An Enchantment of Ravens. I’m specifically talking about all the other Fae in this, too, not Rook, because we all know he’s only got the tiniest amount of villainous tendencies in him. He’s too much of a softie, and I’ll never understand how he holds his title as prince in such a ruthless realm. Between the trickery, the glamours, and the true love of utter chaos, the Fae are always going to be one of my favorite villains, and I absolutely adore how Rogerson wrote them.
I know. Trust me, I know what you’re thinking. But Hades isn’t a villain! But he really, really is. In all literature, Hades often takes the fall like the devil does–since he’s the king of hell, everyone blames all misgivings on him, and everything is his fault. Do I think that Hades & Lucifer are villains? Not in the slightest, but since that’s how the world paints them, and since they often lean on those tropes, they’ve definitely got a place in this list. And though Lore Olympus is probably the least villainous of all the Hades out there, it’s also my favorite, and I definitely swoon a lot over Smythe’s version of Hades & Persephone. Plus, she takes the truly villainous origins of their romance and gives them an updated and much-needed optimistic spin.
I’d like to point out that I’m an idiot, and that, when I was creating this list, I put Hannibal Lecter on here completely forgetting that Mads played him. I forgot that the show, Hannibal, existed at all, which is just the strangest thing ever to me because I adore the show. My love for Hannibal starts allllllll the way back with Anthony Hopkins, though, and was only bolstered when Gaspard Ulliel played a younger version of him in Hannibal Rising. Mads is probably my favorite of the actors to portray him, but, no matter what, I’m always going to love this insane murderer.
Y’ALL IT HAS BEEN LITERAL YEARS SINCE THE LAST TIME I WEPT OVER HOLLAND VOSIJK! We all know how outstanding VE Schwab is at writing morally gray characters, but perhaps none of them better than Holland from the Shades of Magic trilogy. Gods, I love watching people read the series for the first time and listening to how much they hate Holland so I can sit back and quietly cackle until they, too, are looking to join the #hollandvosijkprotectionsquad. LEAVE MY BOY ALONE! Holland’s definitely one of my favorite “villains” on this list, and honestly? Half of these should be in quotations because they’re all just lost, sad, uncertain people that need a little guidance and maybe a hug or two from Kell.
Annnnnnnnd, it’s showtime. Lucifer is, hands down, my favorite villain of all-time, and while I know that everyone is expecting to see Tom Ellis here, it’s the Supernatural version for me. I already loved the devil long before Supernatural came around and wildly amplified that love, and no matter what else happens in that show, no matter how bad the plot gets sometimes, I will always welcome Mark Pellegrino’s version of Lucifer back to the screen. Truly, too, I do love Tom Ellis in Lucifer, and though I had some issues with Satan’s representation in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I was hyped to see him there, too. He is the most misunderstood of all the villains, but also probably the ones that leans into that the most and uses it as an excuse to do horrible things.
For a brief second, I wondered if including Malachiasz from Emily A. Duncan’s Something Dark and Holy trilogy, but considering he literally bathes in blood on his journey to becoming a god and tries to murder just about everyone, he’s definitely a villain. He’s just also a love interest and someone we wall want to wrap in a blanket and protect. Look, it’s complicated, but Malachiasz belongs on this list, and he’s definitely one of my favorite villains because of all that. I know that he could destroy everything with nothing more than his bare hands, but he’s also a fragile boy that needs some tea and a nap, and that is the kind of villain I’m here to flail over.
Maleficent is the OG, y’all! She was my very first villain that I fell in love with, and I know that’s 100% because she turns into a dragon in the original Disney cartoon, Sleeping Beauty, but also? She’s just a straight up badass, and I want to be her. When Angelina Jolie portrayed her and gave her the most heartbreaking story, I just fell in love even more, and though I recognize that she’s a villain, and she’s done some horrible things, she also just wanted to protect herself and her heart, and I vibe her motives real hard. I always feel big SAME energy with Maleficent, and you can take that as you will.
I truly cannot remember the prophet’s name in Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria, but he’s creepy as fuck. The way that Soria described him, how his appearance is constantly shifting between ages, how his expressions & body language are often kind and genuine, but then, suddenly and rather quickly, evil to the core, how he twists the story and bends everything purely to benefit himself, all while making you think he’s on your side, is just–Soria does an outstanding job of making you trust this sweet, poor old man that’s been dealt a bad hand only to completely turn everything on its head and reveal that he’s rotten to the core. He’s probably one of the few true villains on this list (he’s right up there with Hannibal), and he was expertly crafted.
Let’s be honest here, if I did these in order of favorites rather than alphabetical, Sauron would be at the top. And I know! I can’t believe I picked Sauron and not Morgoth, too! My favorite version of Sauron isn’t from LOTR, either–it’s The Silmarillion era Sauron for me all the way. Morgoth is another misunderstood villain, but Sauron? He lets himself be seduced by the king of all evil, sees the same sorrow and uncertainty and desire for more reflected in Morgoth’s eyes that lingers in his own soul, and decides that he wants to step away from all that is good in the world and follow that desire. Sauron is, perhaps, the only villain on this list that is not so because of his circumstance, because of something someone else did to him, because of his situation or his history. He is a villain purely because he wants to be one. He’s power-hungry, greedy, and spiteful, and he unleashes all of that purely because he can. And Silmarillion Sauron, before he’s wasting away, before Isildur nearly defeats him, is someone that would have laughed in Frodo’s face.