To have a hero, you need a villain. And in the annals of literary history, there have been some downright scoundrels, to put it mildly.
No deed is too dark, no action too despicable for this list of utter reprobates. We've selected 40 of the very worst (or best, depending on how you look at it); you should feel very very glad that these dastardly characters are confined to the pages of the books that contain them.
If we've missed any vile villains, let us know in the comments below.