5 Most Detestable Characters that We Love to Hate

There’s something so satisfying about reading a truly evil villain. Sometimes, if they’re especially over the top, we even end up loving how much we hate them. These are the characters we are rooting for to die, get utterly humiliated, or otherwise get their come-uppance. These are the characters we never get tired of raving about how horrible they are. These characters make their books even more unforgettable.

Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter

Hands down, Umbridge is at the top of my list. I know in 2021 this is a bit of a controversial opinion, but I just hate this women so friggen much. The fact that she delights from torturing children is just HORRIBLE, but her superficial qualities like her annoying laugh and pink cardigans make hating her much more fun than, say, hating Bellatrix Lestrange.

I think my favorite thing about the introduction of Umbridge as a villain is that it introduces into the Harry Potter series the concept of a shade of grey between good and evil. Here is a woman that isn’t a death eater, and is in fact on the side of the “good guys”. However, she is just as twisted as those who are killing people in the name of blood purity. Later in the series, she hops right on that bandwagon as soon as it enters the government. To me, she represents the danger of those with backwards ideas and more ambition than compassion working in and for our government.

All these years later, and Umbridge is still the most hated character in the fandom. We will never get tired of her, and book 5 just wouldn’t be the same without her.

Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones

This whining, obnoxious, entitled little prick sitting in a place of power is as terrifying as it is grating. I guess he was even more hate-able on the TV series, but Joffrey practically became a meme in his absolutely annoying brand of evil. I don’t know if his childishness makes him better or worse (he’s only like, 12 or 13 in the books), but I think we can all agree that we were cheering by the time he died.

Mrs. Coulter from His Dark Materials

I freaking LOVE (and hate…) Mrs. Coulter. What makes her so seductive to children? What makes her so terrifying to Lyra? I think the fact that she (and therefore we) never truly understand the answers to those questions is a big part of what makes her such a fun villain to love/hate.

To me what is so fascinating about Mrs. Coulter is how she genuinely thinks that she is in the right. Ripping children and the daemons apart? It’s really better for them, because anything is better than SIN. Keep her daughter in a poisoned coma? I have to or she’ll leave me! She seems half motivated by thirst for power and half motivated by her love for Lyra. The two twist each other until she’s a truly terrible villain.

President Snow from The Hunger Games

One of the things that makes President Snow’s brand of evil particularly awful is that we never really see his motivation or how he got there. As far as we can tell this guy is just willing to threaten, prostitute, and kill the children that didn’t die in his terrible Hunger Games. As far as we know power is just more important to him than the lives of the masses.

I guess this is part of the reason that so many people were upset by the plot of A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. They were worried that Collins would try and make him a sympathetic villain. But since there’s no way to justify anything he’s done, I’m sure knowing his motivations would actually make him worse. Which, in turn, would make hating him a less enjoyable pastime. It’s easier to despise a villain that’s over-the-top, in my opinion.

Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles

I only read the first book in this series, Cinder, so I’m mostly going off what I’ve seen other bloggers talk about over the years. But Queen Levana falls squarely into the category of PURE UNADULTERATED EVIL. I remember almost laughing at times at how ridiculous her actions and words were, but in some ways those villains are the best. Also, she’s got a great aesthetic, something Marissa Meyer is outstanding at, and would be awesome on screen.

Who are YOUR favorite villains you love to hate? Let me know in the comments!

18 thoughts on “5 Most Detestable Characters that We Love to Hate

  1. 100% agree on Umbridge, Joffrey and President Snow! Haven’t read the other two books though, but planning to pick up His Dark Materials finally this year so cannot wait to meet Mrs. Coutler! 😛 I’d also probably include Ramsay Bolton on the list, although I think the series made him out to be more evil than the books.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 5 – The Emperor from the anime ‘The Seven Samurai’.

    4 – The Witch from ‘Snow White’.

    3 – Stirling Hayden as Colonel Jack D. Ripper from ‘Dr. Strangelove’.

    2 – Mr. Woodman from ‘Welcome Back Kotter’.

    1 – MARGARET HAMILTON!!!

    Happy Trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I saw this post, I instantly thought of Umbridge! Somehow, she almost seems worse than Voldemort because she is insidious. She’s largely accepted by the government and by mainstream society, and so she’s allowed to act without restrictions. You can’t immediately point at her and shout, “She’s evil!” and have people take you seriously. She’s very dangerous because her type of evil is so easy for her to hide.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I finally thought of something to say about Umbridge. I think the idea that she works so well as a villain is that we all have known someone like her: a seemingly gentle, kind teacher type who wants to infantilize her charges and wants to do this by insisting that there is no such thing as evil. When Harry has personal testimony that he has seen evil, she gaslights him. She insists that belief in evil is itself the problem. I wouldn’t call this a “backward” idea, rather it’s quite progressive. But it is sooo common. Rowling does a great job of showing how this kind of willful blindness can be just as devastating as the evil itself.

    Liked by 1 person

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