Voldemort Named Among Worst Literary Villains by Penguin

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Jan 16, 2009

Posted by EdwardTLC

Dark Lord Voldemort has made the top ten list of ‘scariest villains in children’s literature’ according to a report in the Scotsman. The paper details the results of a new list from the Penguin Group, which polled 600 readers, asking them to rank the literary characters they most feared. Coming in at number six, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from the Harry Potter books by author J. K. Rowling stands along side such other great literary villains as The White Witch from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Captain Hook from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and The Wolf from Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm. The article also quotes Booktrust children’s website editor Rebecca Wilkie as saying:

“A good villain is larger than life and does things we would never dare, but usually gets their comeuppance in the end. Who can forget Harry Potter triumphing over Lord Voldemort and Roald Dahl’s witches being turned into mice?

She goes on to note that, “For all of us, there is something comforting in the ultimate triumph of good over evil.” The full list of the Top Ten Literary Villains is as follows:

  1. White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis ’ 1950)
  2. Captain Hook (Peter Pan by JM Barrie ’ 1904)
  3. The Grand High Witch (The Witches by Roald Dahl ’ 1983)
  4. Wicked Stepmother (Snow White by Brothers Grimm ’ 1810)
  5. Cruella De Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith ’ 1956)
  6. Voldemort (Harry Potter books by JK Rowling ’ 1997)
  7. The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming ’ from the 1968 film. Not the original book)
  8. Miss Trunchbull (Matilda by Roald Dahl ’ 1988)
  9. The Wolf (Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm ’ 1810)
  10. Long John Silver (Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson ’ 1883)




80 Responses to Voldemort Named Among Worst Literary Villains by Penguin

Avatar Image says: wost?Avatar Image says: ...Voldemort is four times as evil as the Grand High Witch and Captain Hook combined...that's a bit weird o_OAvatar Image says: what! Voldy is below Cruella De Vil and Wicked Stepmother!!! the Wicked Stepmother!!! come on peeps!Avatar Image says: Hurray for Voldi!! Btw, ur right Sable, but more people named them so yeah., but he´s our favorite anyways!! youre so awesome voldemort!Avatar Image says: By the way, Harry Potter is the most recent book on the list. just something i noticed.Avatar Image says: Um...Voldemort is not scary at all! Especially when he becomes all cliched in book seven (that was cringe-worthy to read). I mean, any villain would be scary if he or she was in the room with you, but that's not the point. Voldemort often falls prey to the villain monologue and the over-the-top antics ("You have one hoooouurrrr!") and over the course of the series, he essentially becomes a parody of himself. But yes, of course, he's evil. And just by the nature of the Harry Potter story is he probably more evil than most. But, in my opinion, he is not particularly scary. Avatar Image says: But don't get me wrong...I like Voldemort, too, and I think he's interesting. It just doesn't help anyone's argument when they rant about such a thing on a Harry Potter fansite. So perhaps everyone should explain WHY they thing Voldy is so scary?Avatar Image says: Voldy should be at the top!!!!Avatar Image says: I love every single one of those books:) The White Witch and High Witch are very scary, but in my opinion, Voldemort should be much closer to the top. He is terrifying, and just because we see the weaknesses in him doesn't make him any less scary to all the people that he victimizedAvatar Image says: Aww, Voldypoo, I knew you could do it! :DAvatar Image says: Wow, Voldy's in good company- or should I say bad company? He's among the classic villains.Avatar Image says: So perhaps everyone should explain WHY they thing Voldy is so scary? Err... because he is basically Hitler? Worse, Hitler with the power of reading minds and killing you with a stick? I do think Voldemort is the worst of the lot because of his genocidal tendencies, but I do understand that older, more classical villans would rank higher than him. I suppose a closer look to the statics of the voters- the age groups, especially, would shed much light on this. You have to admit, that when somebody says "literary villan" only a Harry Potter fan would automatically think of Voldemort. There are many others with a bigger imprint on people's minds. Most of us weren't terryfied by Voldemort during our childhoods. I myself had nightmares inspired by Cruella de Vil and The Wolf, and faithfully hated the White Witch since I was seven. They have just been around for longer. Let's see the results in twenty years' time.Avatar Image says: I agree with most of the villains on the list, but definitely not the order they are in. I think the reason I don't agree with some is that when I read the book, I always put myself into the story. A villain might not seem too scary to me as an adult in the real world, but I would find them terrifying if I lived in their world.Avatar Image says: well said, Bell.Avatar Image says: That's a good point, Corey. I don't think Voldemort was supposed to be particularly scary in Book 7. He was losing his power. He was to be pitied. He was, ultimately, trying too hard to be evil. The sad thing is, I think he realized it towards the end. He wasn't the end-all be-all of power. He was losing. I think he felt like he had nothing left but his hatred of Harry Potter, and I think he realized he was doomed before he raised his wand and said "Avada Kedavra" for the last time. But he would rather die a failed villain than live and redeem himself. That's what makes him scary to me.Avatar Image says: yes, but at least Voldemort did "love" his snake.. even gave her a cool name...gave her a nice bubble to sleep in... gave her all sorts of snacks.... Avatar Image says: I like the list, not necessarily the order, (admit I haven't read a couple of those) but I don't like the title of this article. When I saw it on my RSS feed, I was angry that someone put Voldemort on a list of poorly-crafted evil characters. I wouldn't refer to this list as being of the "worst" bad guys, but describe it as the creators of the list itself did...the scariest!Avatar Image says: ScottMan said: "I don’t think Voldemort was supposed to be particularly scary in Book 7. He was losing his power" ?? He was in control of most of the Wizarding world in Britain, the one man he feared was dead, and the one person who could seriously harm him spent most of the book camping--he should have been at his MOST frightening in book 7.Avatar Image says: I personnally think Miss Trunchbull and Cruella De Vil are way more frightening than Hook or the White Witch. Maybe because they could exist in some way? But I do agree about Voldemort. He is abominable, he is an homicidal and genocidal dictator. Avatar Image says: Brothers Grim characters scarier then Voldemort, I can understand, however, The Grand High Witch? I thought she was funny.Avatar Image says: Eh... Voldemort being one of the "Worst" Literary Villains makes him sound like a whimp... "Best" Literary Villains is IMHO a better title :PAvatar Image says: I love that the date is set as 1997 rather than 2007. Just reminded me of how old these books actually are lol. Just ignore me and my happy little thoughts :PAvatar Image says: Voldie should be at the top! He's worst than the grand high witch and all the tohers, and Captain hook. Anyway, voldie's not meant to be scary Avatar Image says: Christ man. Voldemort could top them all. When I was a kid I remember having a blank face at all the villians on those list but the only one I remember actually hiding under my covers and screaming when my mind played tricks on me and I saw a cloaked man wandering my room. It was Voldemort and I would yell for help every night lol.Avatar Image says: I think Voldemort is scary due to his unrelenting harshness, lack of mercy for anyone, no matter how loyal, and his thirst for blood, revenge and general destruction and anarchy... But I'm ok with the White Witch being #1, but I definitely think that Voldemort should be above Captain Hook... I don't remember ever being scared by villains as a child... probably because my mother hardly ever let me see or read anything scary, for which I do not thank her, lol... a child needs nightmares, heh. but i do LOVE how the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on there... by the way... written by Iam Fleming?!? How could I NOT have known that before?? LOL.... but yeah, that guy, actually, was one of the few things that did creep me out when I was a kid... because of his big nose, and how he can smell you... -shiver-Avatar Image says: The only villain on that list that tops The Dark Lord in my "fear scale" is the wolf from Red Riding Hood, and that's only because I'm freaking scared of wolves, wear wolves and anything like a wolf. The others are just pitiful in comparison with Voldemort.Avatar Image says: I mean: come on! This is the guy who killed his father and his grandparents at age 16! Which one of these people would you least want to come to your house at night? Voldemort! End of question...Avatar Image says: Hmm... The White Witch enslaved a land and cast it in eternal winter, and tried to hunt down four lost kids so she could murder them and rule the land forever. Captain Hook would routinely kill children (with a sword, I might add) with no real agenda other than they annoyed him, tried to feed children to a crocodile, tried to DROWN them, poisoned Peter Pan...... I think you can see where I'm going with this. Villains like this are much scarier to a child, because they target children and they do it maliciously. Voldemort, as great a villain as he is, just doesn't tip the scales for me. He targets adults, he is a very stereotypical villain (right down to his appearance), and personally I agree with most of the list. Not sure I'd rank Cruella de Vil above him though... all she wanted to do was skin a few dogs, hardly the stuff of nightmares (unless you're an animal rights activist)Avatar Image says: I must say, the white witch deserves the spot. She makes me tremble when I read the books. Voldemort deserves a higher rank though. It's an opinion.Avatar Image says: The headline is rather poorly worded, "worst" makes it sound like Voldemort isn't an effective villain. Which is not what the article was trying to say.Avatar Image says: Number 6, is pretty good, and he's in good [or is that bad] company! I don't see a single "villain" that I was not scared of, at some time or another. And remember, folks. These are villains, in literature! Not movies...although nearly every one has been in a movie, with the exception of 'The Grand High Witch' from 'Witches' and the 'Wolf' from 'Little Red Riding Hood'. Somehow, they all become much scaryier, in the Movies, because they are SEEN. Everyone has their own "visualization" of each of these. It is the visualization that makes these villains so "scary". The line, in the quote, is right on: "There is something comforting in the triumph of good over evil"...and everyone, on this list, has that trait! Bell's comment is a very good analogy, for the "modern age"....Avatar Image says: what about sauron? the fear u feel during lotr is super but voldemort IS the most scaryAvatar Image says: Yeah, I think the penchant for genocide itself is pretty darn scary. He's Hitler fictionalized and twisted to be just as ugly physically as he is mentally and spiritually. His reach is long - as demonstrated by the fact that he took over the ministry and, therefore, a good deal of the British magical world. Penchant for theatrics aside, he's both intelligent and insane - never a good mix. His magical power is unquantifiable, his desire for death and destruction unmatched (Deatheaters don't count as he is their leader - without Voldie they have no real stronghold), and he's performed so many rituals he looks as far from human as it gets. Yes, folks. Voldemort is a scary villain.Avatar Image says: Voldy should be closer to the top!!!Avatar Image says: Captain Hook, scarier than Voldemort??!! And those others..?? Oh well. 600 people in a poll isn't THAT much. And we all know he's the scariest ;)Avatar Image says: I think it's his power over his Death-eaters and what that means, ie the ability to infiltrate the Ministry (which as an institution is meant to protect and safeguard its citizens) and Hogwarts school, thereby causing fear and misery in every wizard's day to day existence (whether pureblood or not), that makes him scary. Like a Stalin or Hitler. But I'm also not sure I would want to be Harry on a motorbike looking over my shoulder and seeing that particular vision heading in my direction either! Avatar Image says: The Dark Lord always wins.alwaysAvatar Image says: If I was a little kid Voldy would be at #1 for me. And I love all of the books on this list. :)Avatar Image says: Personally, I've never found Voldemort very scary. Sometimes it felt Rowling wanted to make him TOO scary, too much of supervillain so he was somewhat forced IMO. In Book 3, I found Sirius Black waaay scarier and a more threatening villain in general than Voldy (well, before he was revealed to be good), I feared for Harry's life. And I think Voldy was outsmarted too many times in the course of the series. And yeah, he is kinda like a totalitarian dictator, but when I think of a Hitler or a Stalin, I feel disgust, not fear. Two totally different emotions. But with Voldemort, I didn't really feel disgust either. He was too... detached to generate any signifant emotions from me. He was more like a natural force or something like that. A general persona of evil, but the ultimate form of that was the Dementors. Anyway, that's my opinion.:) But congrat!Avatar Image says: voldi is the scariest fo shoAvatar Image says: Voldemort is way worse than any of those people! They say Hook is scarier than him? Um no. Avatar Image says: UM...#6??? That's just a little off. Voldemort is by far more evil then everyone on that list!!! For crying out load he killed a ton of people!!! Come on wouldnt you be more scared if voldemort was real then if the other people were real?? he has Death Eater!!! Voldemort isWAY scarier than those other people.Avatar Image says: Voldemort should be number 2 at least because none of the other villains were taking over their fantasy world and our world. also Voldemort was torturing and killing more than any other villain and no one could defeat him unless they knew about his horcruxes. I remember being terrified of Voldy when i was little. Avatar Image says: Oh no it's going to be winter forever!!!! Come on, the witch isnt scary!! Come on Voldy cant love, he splits his souls, if he came into the house right now I would be saying my last goodbyes. If the white witch came I'd be like oh darn lets go buy more jackets!! lolAvatar Image says: Wrong the worst villian is Rick WarrenAvatar Image says: I love Narnia, but - the White Witch? I'd rather see her than Voldemort!Avatar Image says: When I first read the title of the article I was confused..."worst" is REALLY misleading there. "Most evil" or "one of the best villains" or something would suit it more, lol. Avatar Image says: You might want to change the article title to 'Voldemort Named Among BEST Literary Villains' - worst implies he's a poorly written character, and not scary at all. That's what I thought when I read it, anyway.Avatar Image says: Way to go Voldy!Avatar Image says: Narcissus brings up a good point: how Voldy makes the reader feel. What would/can/should disgust us about him is who he's roughly patterned after: Hitler, and as someone else pointed out, the fact that Hitler was reality and could be again. (....which goes deeper than children would read.) Part of what makes others fear him goes beyond him specifically, it's the 'persuasive' effect he has on others. I don't think Jo wanted us to feel simply fear for Voldy, but something more complex. She wanted a bit of sympathy, (if someone had sympathized with him early on, he wouldn't have become Voldemort AND that not recognizing others deserving of sympathy could lead them to violent 'paths'.) She also gave the sense of not giving in to fear, but to actively fight for hope. Most importantly, Voldy's an excellent villain, who's above all crude ranking, because JK Rowling 'wrote' him so well!!! (*We* know who's best!) Carry on all you want about lists, though, because they're still fun and make us all think, read and debate!! :)Avatar Image says: Possible someone has already said this, but the title "worst villains" makes it sound like they are not scary, but wimpy or badly-written. You probably would have been better off writing "most evil villains" or something.Avatar Image says: I don't know, Padfootlover, right now eternal winter is pretty freaking scary to me! :)Avatar Image says: "And yeah, he is kinda like a totalitarian dictator, but when I think of a Hitler or a Stalin, I feel disgust, not fear. Two totally different emotions." You would feel fear if you were living in in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's USSR. Thats how Voldemort was supposed to make us and the wizarding world feel.Avatar Image says: I was disappointed that Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty) didn't make it, since they included several Disney movies. Even more than Voldemort, she's the baddest villain of all time - evil for the sake of evil. Voldemort was evil, but it was in pursuit of power and control - Maleficent was just evil. But I do agree, Voldemort probably should have been further up in the list.Avatar Image says: WHAT?! the wicked step mother isn't scary or the white witch or trunchball the dark lord is sooooooooooooo much scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Avatar Image says: "We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the one, and Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!" Voldemort gets his commeupance! And to the people who think Voldemort is not a classic scary villain then don't say anything at all. Voldemort is the best even if he is the villain! :) Avatar Image says: hrm .... I don't really think scary is how we should judge them ...evil, maybe .... or maybe most notorious villains of all time ..... XD hahaha ..... on that note .... Jadis wasn't scary either. XD Avatar Image says: For a second there I was thinking 'worst' as in most poorly written villian..! That list is a little.. predictable for my liking. Seriously, people are still considering Grimm's versions of folk tale 'villians' scarey? They weren't even proper villians in the originals.. Most of those villians appear to be very two-dimensional, aside from Voldemort. I guess if they all got to tell their story of how the got 'bad' then maybe they would seem more believable. Voldie is brilliant though - the rise to evil, seeking blind revenge, attacking a little baby, and his fall from grace - just a true villian through and through!!Avatar Image says: Saint Dane from the Pendragon series should be up there.Avatar Image says: I think that Voldemort is not evil in the way that the children book's evils are. He's cruel, he kills and tortures people. His cruelty makes him more similar to, for example, a killer of an adult's book. Even if the Harry Potter books are supposed to be children's books, they talk about things so complex (death and life, good and evil, the decision to sacrifice ourselves for the "greater good") that can't be understood by childrens. So, in my opinion, Voldemort shouldn't even be on this list, 'cause he's evil, yes, but not like the other evils on the list. Sorry for any grammar mistake, i'm italian. I hope I explained well what I wanted to say. And, by the way, does anyone agree with me?Avatar Image says: I agree with Bell. As someone who was quite young when the potter books came out I was very scared of voldy and to this day I still find it hard to listen to the audio chapters of PS and GoF where Voldy comes back, but the people at penguin who made the list are all probably quite a bit older than me so they wouldn't have had Him as a scary influence on their nightmares.Avatar Image says: Yes, I agree with you! And you did explain it well.Avatar Image says: Well, I don't agree with you at all. A human who has lost any sense of what is right and wrong is the scariest thing of all. A human who doesn't even twitch an eyelid at somebody dropping dead in front of him, who feels nothing for victims as they writhe and scream of pain as they are tortured - that's really scary. Especially, as we know that such people have existed, exist now and will probably continue to exist as long as humanity does. He is pure evil and that is scary. He was prepared to maim his soul over and over again to obtain immortality. We never got to know any of the other characters like we got to know Voldemort - none of the others ever really scared me.Avatar Image says: Way to go Voldy!!!Avatar Image says: Well, I guess I was too old for Voldemort when I started reading Harry Potter (I was 13 yo), because he never scared me. He was a somewhat cool villain at the end of Book 4, but that's that. Oh and Belsito has a good point.:) Nazi (or Soviet) atrocities were terrible because they were committed by human beings like everyone else. If they could transform into monsters, would I do that too in any scenarios. The 'banality of evil'. But I never thought Voldemort was a 3D character. Although J.K. emphasized the importance of choice, the backstory of Voldy didn't really reflect that ('he hardly ever cried'), like he was predestined to be evil. Well, not the Dark Lord, but evil.Avatar Image says: Belsito, were you referring at my comment or at the previous? Anyway, goodnight everybody (here's 10 PM)Avatar Image says: How could they not include the Wicked Witch of the West? But yes, Voldy is the worst.Avatar Image says: yeessssss......... voldemort is gonna rule again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Avatar Image says: Mrs. Coulter (from His Dark Materials) ought to be on there somewhere as well, IMO.Avatar Image says: The list seems like how I would put it... except for Voldemort not being higher up. But atleast he's on there! :DAvatar Image says: Other actors don't even stand a chance against the dark Lord !!! OMG, i totally sound like a death eater, but any how he really deserves it, Finnes is a geniuse as he-who-must-not-be -named !! Avatar Image says: I'm sorry, but Voldie deserved first place. I mean, the $#@% tried to murder a BABY! How evil is that? What'd the White Witch do? She served up tins of Turkish Delight and turned a few critters to stone - and they were reverted back to life so weren't even dead to begin with. Shoot. In a wand to wand battle, Voldie would make marshmallows out of the White Witch.Avatar Image says: yeah voldemort is waaaayyyy scarier than those other characters. but ScottMan has a point: during DH, he wasnt as scary as in, say, goblet of fire towards the end. He was obviously losing at this point and though he wouldnt admit it to anyone, he knew he was losing. But this rank probably goes through the whole series and stuff. Either way, voldemort is a pretty creepy person in DH anyway.Avatar Image says: Voldermort was feared more in the earlier books due to the unknown about him. However as the books progress and the rest of the wizarding world gets darker, he seems to be less frightening due Harry (and us) beginning to suss him out and figure out how to defeat him. Yes, the thought of meeting him is still absolutely terrifying yet we are able to conquer that fear because we know a lot more of what he can and cannot do. A very worth top 10 villain. On another note, let me say that the "Child Catcher" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the movie still terrifies me to this day. I remember watching that as a child and then not wanting to visit the ice cream van later in the evening because he was the "Child Catcher". I suppose in the long run it has saved my teeth and taught me not to go approach vans/people offer sweets without an adult present but Disney what were you thinking? Serious scary stuff right there.Avatar Image says: Why in a list of villans in children literature would you put the film character of the child catcher... why not just pick a villain in another book?Avatar Image says: oh come on! he-who-must-not-be-named is a legend! how could he end up 6th? this is outrageous....Avatar Image says: Voldy deserves that title...I mean... 1. He was defeated by a baby 2. And his plans were foiled by him at least 8 times 3. His teeth are reeeeal bad!!Avatar Image says: Where's that witch Umbridge? As evil as Voldy is, there is not another literary villain I hate more than that woman. Everytime I read OotP, I want to reach into the book and strangle herAvatar ImageGarden State Geek says: Well, he's the best villain and the worst, isn't he? Ralph Fiennes is a great voldemort in films. The graveyard scen in GOTF was one of the scariest ever. Avatar Imagekylee says: um... seriously? Voldemort is definitely at the top of the list.

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