Stephen King's greatest villains

Stephen King's greatest villains

If there's one thing Stephen King knows rather well, it's evil. The creator of numerous literary nightmares has been behind some of the most villainous characters we've ever read.

But which ones are the best? We've assembled our list of favourites below.

Let us know what you'd add to the list at the bottom.

(Images: Rex Features, Ben Whitesell)

1. Randall Flagg (The Stand)

There are many reasons why Randall Flagg is the greatest Stephen King villain but the most overarching one is that he crops up in numerous novels. He's mainly known for his villainy in The Stand where he achieves a cult-like following who he controls and punishes for disobeying his fascistic regime. But he's also cropped up The Eyes Of The Dragon, arguably Hearts In Atlantis and then The Dark Tower series. Each time Flagg has a thirst for power and destruction, making him a deservedly recurring bad guy.

2. Pennywise/It (It)

Responsible for countless nightmares, It is a shape-shifting monstrosity that is best known for taking the form of the most terrifying incarnation imaginable: a clown. Pennywise is a clown who lives under the sewer and preys on children. When it is later revealed as a giant spider, it's still just as terrifying. It is representative of our fears and spiders are just after clowns in our phobia top ten. Even now, we're blaming King for why we avoid clowns like the plague.

3. The Crimson King (The Dark Tower)

Probably the most ambitious villain on the list, The Crimson King isn't content with just killing a few people or haunting another, he wants to destroy everything. Rather like It, he's a shapeshifter so is seen as many things, including a Satan-like red creature. But whatever his incarnation, his red eyes remain consistent. He's also mentioned in other works including Insomnia and Hearts In Atlantis.

4. Annie Wilkes (Misery)

One of the many terrifying things about Annie Wilkes is how sweet she seems near the beginning. With her unwavering devotion to romantic novelist Paul Sheldon, Wilkes appears as if she's a saviour but as we soon discover, she's anything but. In fact she's an emotionally unstable, psychopathic killer with extreme, ermmm, anger issues. She tortures Sheldon psychologically and also, in the book's most horrifying scene, cuts off his feet. Being left in the snow suddenly sounds much more preferable.

5. Jack Torrance/The Overlook (The Shining)

A joint entry here since it's strictly the Overlook Hotel that is to blame for the events of The Shining. Aspiring writer Jack Torrance becomes merely a puppet for the villainous building. It turns the father and husband into a homicidal maniac with a fondness for a mallet. The hotel is aided by a selection of evil spirits who reside there. The Trip Advisor reviews would be deservedly poor.

6. Andre Linoge (Storm Of The Century)

When you're 4000 years old, your conscience probably isn't going to be your strongest point. That's the case with the guilt-free antagonist of Storm of the Century. The cane-carrying wizard appears during a, you guessed it, storm and torments the townspeople of Little Tall Island. He wants an heir and isn't leaving until he gets a child. Or he'll march them all into the ocean. Not a nice chap then and a perfectly good reason why living for longer than 100 years does awful things to you.

7. Kurt Barlow (Salem's Lot)

Shipped to Jerusalem's Lot in a box, Barlow was never going to be anything than utterly evil. Not long after his arrival, he starts causing mayhem, feasting on children and turning others into vampires. Using his hypnotic spell, he also causes the townsfolk to do what he wants. In other words, he's pretty much the worst thing that ever happened to the place.

8. Cujo (Cujo)

Okay so it might seem a bit unfair to blame Cujo himself since it's strictly the owner's fault for not getting him vaccinated and then the bat's fault for infecting him with rabies. But still, it's Cujo we'd be truly scared of. The murderous dog goes on a bloodthirsty rampage after he's bitten and turns man's best friend into his worst enemy in one fell swoop. He's the reason we opted for a pet cat.

Tags: books

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