Top 5

Bookish: Top 5 Wednesday – Favourite Villains

favourite villains

Ah villains. Love to hate them or hate that you love them?

What makes a villain a villain? Well usually they are the ones doing the bad thing(s) that our hero must stop or they have done the bad thing(s) that our hero must overcome.

Sometimes the villain has their reasons and really they should have their reasons as it makes them a multi-dimensional character (even if one of those reasons could just be to cause as much chaos and destruction as possible).

These reasons could make it so that black and white become shades of grey and therefore invokes a sense of sympathy from the audience. Sometimes, despite their reasons, the villains actions are so reprehensible that they are irredeemable.

We can enjoy villains despite their actions but still recognise that they are vile.

There can also be an interesting ‘Draco in Leather Pants’ effect where people love a villain a little too much and downplay or rationalise their actions to make it seem that they are heroic or sympathetic, even in cases where this really isn’t the case. Case in point: Healthcliff. Seriously.

But I think that’s another post for another time.

I’m actually going to focus on my favourite villains from fairy tales and no… just because they are my favourite fairy tale villains doesn’t mean I like them or excuse their behaviour. Just…no. You’ll see.


jack in the box

(Artist: unknown)

The story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier is one of suffering, pining and an evil Jack in the Box that isn’t just evil because, let’s face it, it’s a creepy AF toy but because there is something else i.e. possession going on.

This is a story of obsession and another kind of possession. The titular soldier loves a paper ballerina from afar. Unfortunately the Jack in the Box also ‘loves’ her and decides to remove the soldier from the picture by throwing him from a window.

Fate or luck brings the soldier back but the Jack in the Box convinces a child to throw the soldier into the fire. The next bit is hazy; either the ballerina is blown into the fire by accident, throws herself in on purpose or (because she returns the soldier’s love) is thrown in by the Jack in the Box in an act of jealous anger.

It’s toys but it’s a story of love and death. And a murderer.




The Pied Piper of Hamelin has an entire story dedicated to him but does that mean that he’s the hero? No. No, it doesn’t.

In this story a town called Hamelin is rife with a rat infestation until one day a piper comes along and leads the rats to the rivers to drown by using his magical pipe. He is supposed to have received payment for this act from the mayor but things turn sour and he doesn’t.

Now while I don’t agree with renegading on a promise, the piper embarks on something called disappropriate retribution and he becomes the villain of the piece. How? Well he threatens to use his magical pipe to lure all the children from Hamelin away, never to be seen again.

He does.




Before Disney came along and made the Snow Queen a glamorous blonde with a belter of a voice she wasn’t nearly as sympathetic and, like our piper friend above, was prone to a bit of child stealing.

She comes across two childhood friends – Kai and Gerda – and for reasons unknown to anyone but herself, she takes an interest in Kai, enchants him with her kiss and steals him away.

As a villain she is enigmatic and strangely absent throughout the story. This only serves to heighten the unease as to her motives and at the end we are never really sure if she has actually been defeated.



(Artist: Arthur Rackham)

Which witch is which?

Fairy tales are filled to the brim with witches and the one that I have selected is the witch from Hansel and Gretel. Fairy tales love doing horrible things to children, this is partly due to the fact that they served as cautionary tales told to children to warn them of dangers.

Now I think Hansel and Gretel has far more villains in it other than the witch but that’s another post for another time.

I quite like the subversion’s that have arisen from this particular tale but if we stick with the source material we are looking at a witch who lives in the woods, in a house made from all things scrummy just to lure children towards her so she can eat them.




This is actually one of my favourite fairy tales because I am clearly twisted. One of the reasons that I enjoy Bluebeard as a story so much is because the titular character is such a nasty piece of work that you feel tense for the heroine and hope for the villains downfall.

If you don’t know who Bluebeard is let me tell you – he is a rich and charming ladies man who owns a large estate with a mysterious room and a set of keys.

Except he isn’t. He’s a misogynistic wife murderer whose mysterious room contains some horrors and he serves as a particularly nasty fairy tale villain.


So here are my top 5 (fairy tale) villains for this weeks subject. Who are your top 5 villains? Any of the above strike you as particularly nasty?

Until next time!



11 thoughts on “Bookish: Top 5 Wednesday – Favourite Villains

  1. Oh I love your take on the prompt! Bluebeard is a piece of work. And that fanart you chose is spot-on in the disturbing department 😀

    My top 5 this week morphed into an “Anatomy of Villains” post (that I still even haven’t finished writing yet :P), partly because I couldn’t think of enough villains on a short notice and partly because I just *really* want to talk about villains in general and what makes them tick and all that. 😀 And I think it’d be interesting to see more hero to villain developments in stories! Kind of like Walter White –> Heisenberg in Breaking Bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Bluebeard is a horror but I love the story. The fanart is just superb, I wish I had drawing skills! Or you know… skills.

      I love villains very much and I think the best thing I ever heard when it came to writing about villains is that ‘every villain is the hero of their own story’ and sometimes as a writing exercise or thinking exercise its good to try and see the story events from their point of view as it fleshes them out more and provides greater conflict.

      I think villainy is a matter of perspective in some ways.

      I’ve not seen Breaking Bad but my husband’s watched it so I know a little and he says its very interesting to see how Walter White progresses down the path he chooses. It’s sad because (if I get this right) what drove him to it in the first place was love for his family and his desperation to provide for them and also the way the healthcare system was working against him and so pushed him to that life. If there’s any more hero – villain pieces I’d love to know because I find it fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup that’s exactly how Walter White starts off! He goes from “I’m doing this for my family” to “I’m doing this because I’m good at it and it’s a way of retaking control of my life.” And it’s fascinating because we find out that Walter always had the qualities of Heisenberg–like pride and arrogance–but whereas before he never had the resources (or the inclination) to act on it, the cancer kind of flips a switch in his head.

        And I agree with you! Sometimes I think there’s so little that separates the villain from the heroes.

        And I think you might like The Liveship Trader books by Robin Hobb! There’s a character who’s technically a “villain” but his backstory is just so utterly tragic and seeing how he went from this sweet young boy to a sociopathic pirate is super interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list! I love that you went with fairytale villains! Witches are my favorite characters to read about and there are so many amazing, wicked witches in fairytales. I love the one in Hansel & Gretel, she’s perfectly terrible. I remember being so fascinated by her house as a kid. The Snow Queen another fantastic one, and the Sea Witch in the Little Mermaid!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s because I’m not so secretly, secretly obsessed with fairy tales! I love witches and I love when re-tellings subvert how ‘wicked’ some of them are. I think the ones that want to eat children are truly awful though 😉

      See I think the Sea Witch in the original The Little Mermaid wasn’t actually that bad or that evil. I saw her as sort of providing a service which she did with a sense of detachment. The Disney version though? She’s awful (and I LOVE it)!


  3. Cool villains! And i actually know them all, haha 😀 Usually when i read these lists i’m totally clueless.
    We learned about Bluebeard in school, i think i was around 12?? Found it totally creepy. Good story tho!

    I do find villains fascinating. I usually like those stories where i get to know them a bit better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Villains can make or break a story I think and I love when they are complex and interesting but that you still know they are horrid and deserve their comeuppance!

      I have no idea what most people have on their lists because I’m clearly not keeping up with some books!!

      Bluebeard is my favourite fairy tale because I was clearly a horrid little child and now I am a horrid little woman 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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