Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten villains who are just as compelling as the heroes

top ten tuesday                villains

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c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten

The Darkling
The Grisha trilogy - Leigh Bardugo 

What a fantasically vicious man.  First on my list of psychopaths, the Darkling is a masterful actor, able to control the narrative and use people's darkest secrets and greatest desires as strings for a marionette master.  He's got enough humanity to pull for sympathy, and enough bloodthirst to be truly terrifying.  

Lord Gargaron 
Court of Fives - Kate Elliott 

He's the man you absolutely love to hate.  Ramsey Bolton, meet your young adult counterpart.  Gargaron is the kind of man who will do anything for power, whether it means murdering his own kin or burying people alive.  He's a mental match for Jessamy, which makes him truly formidable, and his cruelty always has a purpose, which keeps him from being a one-dimensional baddie.  

The Jackal 
Red Rising - Pierce Brown 

There are loads of fabulous villains in this series, but the Jackal is one of my favorites.  He's the perfect foil for Darrow, the representation of everything Darrow could become if he stepped over the right (or wrong) lines.  Vicious, psychopathic, the kind of killer who likes to play with his food, he's always a chess game ahead of the competition and stylish to boot.  

Queen Red 
Splintered - A.G. Howard 

Red is cruel and complex, a study in villainry.  Her motives are tangled, her backstory rich, and her methods delightfully macabre: vicious man-eating flowers, blood spells, evil toy armies and carefully-worded curses.  She's a suitably sinister counterpart for an edgy Alice.  

The Necromancer 
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard 

This guy decided it was a grand idea to raise an army of the undead in Victorian-era Philadelphia, and that was just the start.  The true nature of this chilling chap can't be described without giving much away, but it's enough to say that Dennard has crafted a classic dramatic villain with abundant flair.  

Tom Riddle 
Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling 

I am Lord Voldemort.  There are few scenes in literature as chilling as that.  Yeah, I said it.  Riddle is the ultimate megalomaniac, a genius whose self-assuredness if both his strength and downfall.  Although, after Cursed Child, I have some questions for old Tom... 
The Witch of the Waste 
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones 

You won't recognize her in the movie, because her character is totally different (and better) in the books.  She's an enigmatic villain working in the shadows, spinning curses out of sonnets--because she's just that classy.  To elaborate on the layers of her clever scheming would be to spoil.  Just read it.   

Saint Dane 
The Pendragon series - D.J. MacHale 

This guy is a psychopath to rival Kilgrave, brutally cold and callous.  He thrives on sowing chaos around the multiverse and he knows exactly which threads to pull to get people to destroy themselves and each other, leaving his hands clean--after all, he only nudged.  MacHale writes his manipulative brand of genius flawlessly.  
Count Olaf 
A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snickett

Olaf is just as integral to the books as the three orphans he torments.  He's a masterful creation of fiction, a special blend of over-the-top narcissism and chilly callousness that makes him equally fascinating and dangerous.  His ludicrous disguises and plots are the backbone of the series.   
Tyler Durden 
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk 

Durden is both villain and hero, savior and destroyer.  He's the mastermind behind Fight Club and the impetus for the narrator's violent transformation.  He's the perfect psychopathy (because clearly I have a type), charming and devilishly witty while also being astoundingly unpredictable. 


  1. I completely agree about Voldemort. I loved learning about his motivations and his past. The soliloquy at the end of Book 7 when Harry shares everything he's learned about Riddle is the best moment in literature IMO. I love how it all comes together.

    1. YES. I just listened to that on audio recently, and it's such an affecting scene! I wish there were more of it in the movies. It's so clever how it all ties in.

  2. Great choices! So many options from A Series of Unfortunate Events!

    Lauren @ Always Me

    1. Definitely! Olaf is the star, but I really love all of the villains/guardians. Esme was definitely on par.

  3. I forgot about A Series of Unfortunate Events! I loved those books as a kid.

  4. Oh but this thogh "he kind of killer who likes to play with his food" THAT IS WHY THE JACKAL IS SO TERRIFYING. omg I love that series. Everyone is so bloodthirsty and it's all so dark and it's just sUCH A GOOD SERIES I CAN'T EVEN. *flails*
    I also hate Count Olaf but ... book 13...omg I don't know. *collapses in a heap* I really wish Lemony Snicket would write a series on Olaf's backstory! He's a super interesting villain and there were times when I felt bad for him. BUT HE'S DISGUSTING SO THERE'S THAT TOO.
    And yesss to Voldemort and the Darkling too. Such intriguing villainy.😱😱

    1. RIGHT!? I mean the whole series is spectacular but he was SUCH a good character (even though I say that about most of the characters).
      Haha right? There was some in his Autobiography but I want more! Then again, I just want more of everything about that series.
      Yeees. The characters with the complex backstories are really the best villains.

  5. I wish I read the entire series of unfortunate events, because I clearly missed out on it during my childhood. I think I read the first 2 books, and then random #8. Haha. But yes, Count Olaf is such a good villain! Same as The Darkling! I really need to get on with The Grisha series though.

    1. You should still read it! Even though it's more MG, it's so snarky and clever, with tons of references I never understood until I was older. I'm just going to keep poking you until you read the Grisha books. ;)

  6. The Darkling ... swoon. Is it wrong that in my head canon I still think of the scene between him and Alina as canon? Yes, it was NOT A DREAM.

    1. Hahaha I was just arguing with some friends over this. Because he's so murdery. He'd have had to do some major redeeming for me to be cool with that...but he's such a good character!

  7. Out of these I've only read HP...though I have seen Fight Club and I whole-heartedly agree on both counts! Shadow and Bone, Red Rising, Splintered, Something Strange & Deadly and Howl are ALL high-priority tbr books though and seeing praise for the villain is even MORE motivation :D