7 of My Favorite Literary Bad Guys


Sometimes you gotta give some love to the bad guys. I mean, let’s face it, sometimes the villains or bad guys are the best part of a story. Not only would the story not be, well, exciting if it didn’t have a villain, sometimes they add great depth and character to the story. Some are done just so well that they’re almost more memorable than the heroes, or you feel like you might just start rooting for them because they’re so bad. Or am I the only one who does that? 

This is spoiler free! So don’t fret. Also, these are in no particular order.

shadowThe Darkling

From The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Who doesn’t like the Darkling? Who doesn’t like anything written by Leigh Bardugo? Because if there is someone out there, we need to have a conversation 😆

But to the point, the Darkling is a character where you think you know who he is and what he is about but he’s written so well you’re shocked. Then, you continue to root for him even though he does some shady shit. That’s how good Bardugo is. Some people even swoon for a person they definitely shouldn’t be swooning for.

Adelina AmouteruThe Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by

From The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Technically, she’s an “anti-hero” but whatever, she’s badass. When I first read this book I was absolutely blown away, then I read book two and was blown away all over again. I haven’t read book three because I’m scared for it to end in a way that I don’t want it to end. Adelina is a character that you feel great grief for. You understand her motives and her decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Frankly, she gets the shit end of the stick often and you can’t help but want to just root for her.

But she better kick some major ass in the finale.


From A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Amarantha was just brutal. While I didn’t root for her or think she had a depth to her that justified her actions, I just thought she was so downright dirty and evil that I had to appreciate that. She put a man’s eye in a ring so he’d always see what she did. She tortured a girl. She had a sex slave. She was a dark and deranged woman.

Queen Levanacinder

From The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Note: I have not finished the series, nor have I read Fairest. 

I enjoyed Levana’s character. I don’t feel like we got to see enough of her, but maybe that comes later in the series (I’ve read 1-3). What we do get to see, I find to be pretty cruel and deceptive. She literally “glamours” herself so people don’t know what she actually looks like, if that’s not deceit, I don’t know what is. Also, I liked that she was a “take what she wants”/infiltration type of bad guy. She just got right up in everyone’s business, demanded things, and got them. #Respect


From Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

AIDAN is an AI that is a mix of the bad guy and the good guy. He does everything because of his programming and belief he is saving people. What I loved were his chapters throughout the book. I only cared about his chapters. I wanted his story to end well and I actually had emotional reactions to things that happened to “him”.

Dr. Richterultraxenopia

From Ultraxenopia by M.A. Phipps

In a sense, he’s such a simple character – a doctor with certain, questionable, scientific dreams. That is fairly simple compared to the other villains on this list. Dr. Richter was unique, though, in that he was creepy. He said some creepy things and he had motives that weren’t always quite clear. He was just a man yet it just felt like there was something evil in him.

gotbookCersei Lannister

From A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Ok, I saved the best for last. After a while, I really grew to appreciate Cersei’s level of crazy, level of intelligence, level of cunning, level of just being a tough ass woman. She has faults, many faults, but this is a list of my favorite bad guys anyways. In terms of the books, I’ve only read up until book 3. As for the show, I’m all caught up, and I CAN NOT wait until the new season because of where her character left off. Just, are you kidding me? She’s about to fuck some shit up and all anyone is talking about is Dany and her dragons.


Who are some of your favorite villains or not-so-good characters?

Do you ever root for them to win?

Comments are the best! Let's chat!

27 thoughts on “7 of My Favorite Literary Bad Guys

  1. Levana is such a great villain. I finished the 4 books in the series but still waiting to get to Fairest. I don’t know the others listed and don’t have too many other bad guys I can think of. I am not sure if I ever root for them to win but I think you need to see their side if you were to root for them. Great post!

    1. I still have one book left in the series, so I hope its good to me! Also, yeah, villains aren’t always the easiest to root for or really understand where they’re coming from. I don’t usually agree with their motives, but they’re sometimes just SO GOOD I can’t not like them more haha

  2. I only read The grisha trilogy from your list, but I agree about the darkling! He has so many layers and complex, even at the end I’m not sure we’ve already peel all the layers off. As for Cersei… I didn’t read the books (they’re HUGE) but I do watch the show. Her resilience, cunningness, her love for her children… It’s amazing! I really love her “thinking” face, you know, the one with the smirk 😀

    1. You have to have a certain level of respect for Cersei. Even though she’s a terrible person to everyone, she is a great character for her commitment. Are you caught up with the show?

        1. OK. How badass is it that she is now on the throne. And now that shes alone, I feel like she’s going to be so freaking brutal. I can’t wait!

  3. I have only read the Lunar Chronicles from this list and while I wasn’t a fan of the main books in that series, Fairest blew my mind! It’ll make Levana such a more well-rounded character in your head because – somehow – it kinda makes you feel sort of sorry for her. Def recommend reading it! My favourite ‘villian’ is probably Jackal from Blood of Eden because of his sass!

    1. I’m sort of the same with the Lunar Chronicles. I really loved Cinder, but I’ve been losing interest as I continue. I do like Levana, though! So I’m glad you enjoyed Fairest 🙂 I have not even heard of Blood of Eden! I’ll have to look into it.

      1. Yeah, I don’t think that I’m a massive Lunar Chronicles fans myself. I still haven’t gotten to Winter. Oops!

        And the first book from Blood of Eden series is called The Immortal Rules. Def recommend if you love dystopians!

  4. So, I have read a few of these, and I must say that I TOTALLY agree with your assessment of AIDAN. I felt the same way! And I think you are SO right about The Darkling too! And Amarantha… man, she was awful! I liked Adelina too, maybe more than I was supposed to hahah. I really need to read/watch Game of Thrones, so badly, so I know what everyone is talking about 😉 And finish The Lunar Chronicles too! Great choices!

    1. I think I liked Adelina too much too. Those books are just so good. I can’t wait to read the last one. As for GoT, I actually prefer the show over the book SHH DON’T TELL. I just think the show is easier to get into. Martin writes SO MUCH unnecessary detail that I get easily distracted haha

  5. Love this list! <3 I don't normally root for villains/bad guys, but yes sometimes they just made better impressions than the hero/ine itself 😛 I also enjoyed Queen Levana's characters! She's so well developed and really moves the story, there's a novella solely about her if I'm not wrong. I kinda root for Teren Santoro though, the captain of the guard from The Young Elites? He was ruthless and I was instantly smitten lol and Prince Maven from Red Queen! There's talk and theory that he might be actually kind but I love him anyway, good or bad hahaha hardcore #TeamMaven.

    Puput @ Sparkling Letters

    1. OH MY, HOW did I forget about Teren! I kind of root for him too. At one point I thought it was going to be Adelina and him together. I don’t really remember Red Queen >.< I read it so long ago and still haven't read the sequel. I need to get on that…

  6. I was literally thinking about my favourite villains and writing a post about it last month! I haven’t gotten around to finishing it yet ha. But I LOVE to love (Or is it love to hate?) villains.

    This is a good list, I haven’t read half of these books haha but I really liked the Darkling even though I also didn’t like him at the same time. Aidan was also a bad guy that I liked, he was so logical and was trying to do the right thing. Except it wasn’t the right thing o_o

    My absolute favourite bad guy of all time though is Jackal from the Blood of Eden series. My gosh, he was sooo funny. And he did bad things but I was willing to forgive him for it all, he was just such a cool character!

    I also like the ‘bad boy’ that actually does bad things character. Like Damon from the Vampire Diaries. It’s just way more satisfying to read their character development than it is to read a good character remain good and always do the right thing etc.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    1. AH YOU SHOULD. I want to see who you choose !

      You’re the second person to say Jackal and I’ve never even heard of that series….It looks like I just added more books to my TBR haha

  7. Levana is one of the villains that I love to hate. She was so well-written, especially in Fairest. I completely understand her and her motives, which makes her character even scarier! You should definitely read Fairest if you appreciate Levana’s character.

    I never really understood the whole Darkling thing, but I totally agree with you about AIDAN. He (or it, I am not really sure at this point) was so dynamically written, especially for a machine. I have never come across a villain who was so sure he was not a villain. I mean, in retrospect, all he wanted was to help people. Sure, he ended up killing most of them, but the effort was there, right?

    1. I want to read Fairest but I want to finish Winter first. Gah. too.many.books.

      Exactly (about AIDAN). He thinks he’s doing the right thing, and is also a machine, but has his own personality? Idk. It was just a really great mix for a “villain”.

  8. ALL OF MY YES to the Darkling! He is honestly the most fantastic villain I’ve ever come across and I’m not sure anyone will ever top him. I also really loved Levana. Fairest was fantastic! Great post 😀

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. He was SO good. I think that was the first time I ever really enjoyed a villain in a book haha Bardugo did fantastic with him!

  9. YES TO ALL OF THESE. Adelina, Queen Levana and the Darkling are all such complex and intricately crafted characters. It really shows the amount of psychology and research that goes into writing dark, antihero-esque characters like that. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous choices! <3

    1. Yes! Sometimes I wish I could go into the mind of an author while they’re writing those characters….it’d be interesting hahah

  10. I just finished Illuminae and I think AIDAN is also one of my favourite villains – the way he’s written and the languages he uses was so original and added to my enjoyment of Illuminae even more!