Truly evil characters in film and literature

I came in here to mention this absolute bastard… Nearly every line of dialogue he uttered and every action he took made me want to feed him to direwolves like Marv dealing with Kevin in Sin City.

Adding to the Deadwood list I would suggest Francis Wolcott for most wretched villain on a show about a haven for wretched villains (Portrayed to sociopathic perfection by Garrett Dillahunt, who also played Jack McCall, another psychopathic contender for this list)

For a unique, and possibly debatable entry, I would suggest Kristof from The Truman Show. He purchased an unborn child for the sole purpose of exploiting his entire life without his knowledge. Every terrible thing that befell Truman throughout his days was specifically orchestrated for ratings, and when Truman figured out his position and tried to escape, Kristof attempted to murder him live on network television. It never once occurred to him that any of this was wrong in any way.

Adelei Niska, from Firefly. In an era of ambivalently crafted villains with backstories more heartbreaking than the hero’s, it was kind of nice to see an unabashedly sadistic bastard with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Alan (or Allen, I only listened to the audiobook) from Spider Robinson’s Very Bad Deaths. He’s the only fictional serial killer who has given me nightmares and frightening thoughts while awake. The whole concept scares the hell out of me. Which really sucks, because I loved the book in every other way … but it’s too disturbing to read again.

I mean, most characters who enjoy torturing others to death could be considered “truly evil,” but Alan takes it to a higher level.

While Joffrey and Theon were certainly the most loathesome characters in Martin’s series, they weren’t the most evil - not by a long shot. Joffrey, after all, was just a spoiled, inbred 13-year-old brat with major mommy *and *daddy issues; Theon was an entitled, insecure jerk who let matters spiral out of his control. Neither were in any way admirable, but I wouldn’t call them Evil with a capital E.

No, the most evil character in the novels, without a doubt, was Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides. There was no aspect of the character that was not undiluted hatred, rage and destruction. Compared to him, Joffrey and Theon were decidedly minor league.

Don Logan as played by Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.

Gal: This is madness, I’ve had enough of this “Crime and Punishment” bollocks. I’m happy here.
Don: I won’t let you be happy, why should I?

You know what… you are ABSOLUTELY right. Ican’t believe I didn’t think of him in the context of this thread.

Iago.

Completely agree, he had the same ability the High Priest had in “Pyramids” (IMO, Vorbis is a reworking of that High Priest, but in a far more vicious mode). That is everything the hero did and said could and would be turned against him by Vorbis. Nightmarish character.

My fav evil character in movies would be “John Ryder” in The Hitcher. He too had the capacity to always enter and leave a scene at the most convenient time for him and at the worst possible time for the hero. And I loved how he tried to reshape C.Thomas Howell through the whole movie. And contrary to Hannibal Lektor, that did not make him look like a precious sissy.

I suppose in terms of scale, Clegane was probably the most evil. But Theon was a murderer and a rapist who was descended from a long line of murderers and rapists. Given Clegane’s body and power he would have done the same. If he became king of the Iron Islands he would be reaving the coasts nonstop.

I have to admit, Gregor is possibly the only villain in ASOIAF that Martin didn’t wrap in ambiguity or mitigating circumstances. Of course, you have to kind of feel bad for anyone who ends up like Frankenmountain did, but considering what came before, I don’t feel THAT bad for him.

Frank Booth.

Huh. That reminds me. (Spoiler for Barton Fink):

John Goodman’s character in Barton Fink. I’m pretty sure that was right when he was the cuddly husband in Roseanne.

Cathy from East of Eden is the purest kind of sociopath.

Funny, because Sergi Lopez is rather well known in France, and by the time he made Pan’s Labyrinth, he had already been cast as a psycho here in other movie(s) (well, at least one quite popular: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry,_He’s_Here_to_Help ). I regret that he had lost so much weight for Pan, in his usual chubby frame, he would have been much much more appropriate as a kind of human ogre, in Pan. He was too sexy for the role, IMO.

In the AIDS history “And the Band Played On,” famous medical researcher Robert Gallo comes off as hideously evil. This doesn’t really qualify since it’s from a non-fiction book, but the book is highly recommended to those seeking extraordinary villains.

Subsequent investigative work has cast doubt on the book’s charges, but the Gallo character portrayed in the book would have no compunction about setting up rigged commissions to clear his name.

Dr. Zhivago’s Viktor Komarovsky, the attorney who causes his father’s death and later seduces the underaged Lara and does everything he can to get her back, including lying to Zhivago about her husband’s death. He later turns her life into “a chain of crimes beyond [her] knowing.”

I’ll nominate Senator Gregg Hartmann from the Wild Cards series. His name for himself is “Puppetman”; he can reach into the minds of others and manipulate their emotions, tugging them like a puppeteer pulls strings. One of his first uses of his power, at age 11, was manipulating a retarded teenager into raping and murdering a girl he had a crush on, while he enjoyed it all from inside the kid’s head.

Albert in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. Many characters are evil criminal/boss types but he took such sadistic pleasure in controlling and humiliating everyone around him. And I was absolutely terrified every time he was on scene.

Homicide:Life on the street
Georgia Rae Mahoney and her brother Luther

This

But also this. Albert is actually much more repellent, but that movie is unwatchably unpleasant IMHO.

Also:

Alex in A Clockwork Orange
Caligula as portrayed in I, Claudius among other works