The world of literature and film is filled with bad people, and perpetual “bad guys”. Some of the best stories revolve around the main character being evil or amoral. Nonetheless, some of the worst bad guys had their beginnings, not in film but in literature. To honor that, I have compiled a list of the 7 worst bad guys that appear in both books and film:
Film: American Psycho
Book: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The character of Patrick Bateman is one of the most well-known, seemingly normal (at first) villains in fiction. However, he is actually a pretty horrific serial killer whose “mask of sanity” is wearing thin.
He spends his day an uber rich and successful mergers and acquisitions specialist in an even more wealthy company. He seems so normal in the yuppie universe he lives in (I mean he is a shallow, sex addicted, and greedy douche, but hey, so are all his friends.)
The reason this bad guy is at the top of the list is because not only does he seem normal to those around him (bordering on unnoticeable to his personal languish) but he also gets away with it. He blends in so easily without even trying that people think he is either joking when he confesses or aren’t even really listening. He goes on to live a relatively normal life (although it is alluded to that he continues killing).
Thankfully, Ellis wrote his demise a few books later in a horrible fire. This yuppie murderer finally had his day closed out with death. (Yup that’s a Wall Street pun)
Film: Crime and Punishment
Book: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I couldn’t leave out the guy who killed two women with axes then almost got away with it! This book has been on my top 3 favorite books since I can remember. I will admit the first part of the book is SO LONG it’s hard to finish, but if you do get passed it, it is phenomenal. (I even named a kitten after ol’ Rasky in high school).
In the novel, and subsequent films, we have our main character, someone who thinks he is so smart that he is above the law, because he can simply manipulate his way out of trouble. He decides to murder his loan broker so that he doesn’t have any more bills and because he thinks someone of his intelligence is capable of getting away with it. Oh and he chops her head with an axe and her sister when she stumbles on to the scene.
While the third part of the novel is his confession and arrest, I put him on this list because, he adamantly believes at the beginning that he is allowed to break laws and murder because he is a “great” man. And also, he really only feels guilty for the first murder, and for some reason feels less bad about the second.
Film: Wuthering Heights
Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Oh, Wuthering Heights, how many times did I read thee? (Like ten times, I’d have to say). I still love this novel. But the reason I put this on number 3 is because Heathcliff’s annoying reveng-y personality, he makes himself and everyone around him miserable and eventually leads to them dying a death full of sadness. It’s terrible.
While there are other people on this list who killed in a worse way, Heathcliff made the top three because the first half of the book, you actually feel for the character. He is the brooding dark eyed romantic (I am told that’s the dream) and you feel even worse when Catherine states she can’t marry him only because of his status in society. (Also she put it in an awful way: he would “degrade” her if they married, ugh!) But then you meet the older Heathcliff. The one full of hate and malice, and anger (and not the good kind either).
Not only does he swindle his brother out of his fortunes, (and causing him drink himself to death) but also he also heartlessly takes advantage of Edgar’s sister’s affection for him even so far as to marry her despite how he despises her. The ongoing battle of revenge by Heathcliff results in a temper tantrum of epic proportions by Catherine that causes her death.
If your keeping score, that two deaths caused by our “romantic hero”.
He then forces young Cathy and young Linton to marry and Linton promptly dies, a combination of sickliness and a loveless unhappy marriage.
Finally Heathcliff dies when he realizes he doesn’t have the strength to continue the vendetta. And two generations of hate and death are perpetrated because of him.
Film: No Country For Old Men
Book: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
One of the only people who uses the pure luck of his victims to determine whether they will be killed or not.
He gives this option to almost everyone crosses his path. And it is a miracle that he doesn’t get caught over and over again.
By the end of the film and book he has killed many many people includes our main character and his wife. He shows no remorse for the people he kills (maybe because he leaves it up to the coin toss and therefore holds no responsibility in his mind) and rarely shows compassion for anyone.
The best (or worst) part of this story is that Chigurh gets in a very bad car crash that injures him and yet he still managers to walk away despite fractures to his ulna.
So once again, Call It.
Book: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
One word to describe O’Brian. Douche.
This one a little less obvious. He doesn’t outright murder anyone (at least within the story) but he does something much worse, he kills their souls. And in this case, the soul of Julia and Winston. In a world where there is such thing as thought police, Julia and Winston just want to love, they want to exist without having to worry about someone watching and O’Brian takes that away from them.
What makes O’Brian more terrible is that he pretends to be friends with Winston before arresting him.
So because he didn’t actually kill anyone, he landed at number 5 on my list.
Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Milo is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with capitalism. He has no allegiance or care for anyone else unless they are paying him. He also kills countless civilians and military men both on his side and against him.
His life is business and although he gets tried for treason, he also gets out of that thanks to his “syndicate” business.
Milo is meant to personify what is wrong with the concept of capitalism. The fact that his allegiance can be bought (rather than earned) and that he would feed soldiers cotton balls covered in chocolate (rather than lose a profit on cotton) shows how amoral he actually is.
I put him on this list, because he isn’t a bad guy that is crazy, he is just a bad guy that does whatever necessary to get the thing he loves the most: money.
Film: Apocalypse Now
Book: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Kurtz, much like Raskolnikov, views himself as better than the rest of humanity. Kurtz fancies himself as a demigod in the remote area of the Congo in which he has con astray.
What makes him a bad guy is that he takes advantage of the unknowing African tribesman to settle himself as a god, and gain all the ivory in the region that way. He takes advantage of those around him and it is alluded to that he even killed those who didn’t work with him.
He is also a tyrant who isn’t above abusing anyone to get what he wants. While we have no idea how many people he kills, we do know that is a great deal.
When Marlow finally meets him, he is close to death but still maintains the charismatic persona that afforded him the worship from those around him.
I put him lower on this list because he is so disillusioned to the world that he doesn’t quite get it till the end when he dies.
I know that I have probably left some pretty bad guys off this list (hey it happens) But we can’t deny the murdering and mental torture these bad guys inflicted on characters. Why do we love to hate these bad guys? I haven’t figured that out yet, but hey, it makes one hell of a story.