ICYMI I'm writing a romantic suspense novel so villains are on my mind. The best villains I'm told are frightfully relatable and/or sympathetic characters. They are often the polar opposite of the protagonist, in fact the villain is the reason the protagonist displays goodness. A "good" villain isn't evil simply for the sake of being evil, he/she will have a good reason for his evilness. He'll give you gooseflesh because he'll make you want to tame him, change him, make him better. He'll make you like him in spite of himself. And if that's not scarier than scary, I don't know what is.
Villains that made an impression on me (listed in order of appearance in my life):
This less-than-human evildoer literally brought on a fever. I was sick for 2 days, and did not sleep peacefully the whole month after I was tricked into watching Nightmare.
This one put me off impulsive, spontaneous travel for life. Not to mention curtained bathtubs. And until Bates I truly thought villains could not be human...or a human being could not be truly evil.
A cannibal as repulsive as he is beguiling to the detectives who try to catch him. He's highly intelligent, sophisticated, a gentleman...in other words, every woman's dream apart from his flesh-eating fetish.
A nasty piece of work who takes jealousy and retribution to a transcendental level. Psycho is too tame a word for this villainess. Notice that there's only one villainess in this list. She's scary but not as scary as the dudes. Which simply means that women aren't as bad as men.
My latest villainous - ahem - obsession is an everyday dad and husband, a bereavement counselor who genuinely seems to care about his patients. However...in his secret serial killer life, he's a stalker, a sadist, a misogynist, a possible pedophile, a psychopath whose sense of self deteriorates with every episode. You know you must hate him absolutely...but the thing is you might not. And that's scary as hell. (The absolutely slow-cooker storyline of The Fall is riveting, and IMO brilliant in the way it's handled some very uncomfortable and hard to watch subjects.)
Who are the villains that keep you sweating through the night?