Movie villains are often a stretch from reality. They're gaudy, over-the-top, and typically driven by a plot point that could very easily have been resolved with a hug and a bit of therapy (we're looking at anyone who's ever portrayed the Joker), but sometimes film baddies are so well written, so believable that their actions stick with us after the credits roll.

Norman Bates, Psycho, 1959

It's always the psychological thrillers that have the most serious impact on viewers. This is because they seem so incredibly real, and in reality, they could be. Norman Bates is a fictional serial killer, but his character was actually based on two real-life murderers. The scariest part of this villain is that he appears to be the normal guy next door. Could your neighbor be harboring such a secret?


Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs, 1988

A serial killer who took pleasure in eating his victims, Silence of the Lambs was a thriller that is still scary today, even decades after its release. Lecter is so realistic because he has psychopathic tendencies that are entirely possible in the real world. The question is, who are the real Hannibal Lecters out there right now?


Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men, 2007

This fictional serial killer approaches murder, so naturally, it's disturbing. And according to a study by a Belgian psychology professor, it is an entirely realistic depiction of how serial killers really work. When you see how calmly a serial killer can act right before and immediately after killing a human being, it's downright frightening.


Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street series 1984

While the element of killing people in their dreams is far from realistic, a sadistic serial killer who slices his victims to death with razor blades is a possibility. For decades, A Nightmare on Elm Street was one of the scariest films ever hit the big screen. If you want to fear for your life for no apparent reason, this is the franchise of movies to watch.


Brick Top, Snatch, 2000

A truly terrifying character, Brick Top, is the antagonist of the 2000 film, Snatch. He's a villain you love to hate. He is a ruthless gangster who feeds those who annoy him to angry pigs. And let's just say he is easily annoyed. The film features a glimpse into the illegal world of racketeering, and if this doesn't keep you from gambling, nothing will!


Scorpio, Dirty Harry, 1971

Played by actor Andy Robinson, Scorpio was a fictional character based on an actual villain. Though not every element of the movie is the same as real life, Scorpio is a depiction of the infamous Zodiac Killer. The story is so shockingly real that it's no wonder he's considered of the best and most realistic villains of all time.


John Doe, Se7en, 1995

You can always count on a psychological thriller to really scare the dickens out of you! The thriller features a serial killer John Doe. He seeks out those guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins and gives them a punishment to fit the crime. Typically it's a long, torturous death. The amount of time he puts into stalking and killing his victims is both mind-blowing and unsettling. One of the best, most realistic villains of all time, John Doe will give you the creeps for years to come.


Stansfield, The Professional, 1994

Played by the marvelous Gary Oldman, Stansfield is a harrowing villain. In the film, he is a corrupt DEA agent who's mentally unstable. His violent side pushes him to kill an entire family, leaving only one surviving member to bear the grief. His act is villainous, heinous, and absolutely cruel. The scary part is that stories like this aren't completely far-fetched. A killer like him could very well be walking among us.


Hans Gruber, Die Hard, 1988

The main villain of this 1988 classic, Hans Gruber plans to execute hostages until he gets comrades released from prison - or at least that's the story he tells the good guys. This character was not a common sight to see in 1980s America, making him somewhat unrealistic to many. However, today, things are looked at very differently. The thought of a terrorist attack is very real and very, very scary.


Bill, Gangs of New York, 2002

Part of what makes Bill so realistic is that he was based on a real person! Yes, Gangs of New York focuses on a story of revenge in New York set in 1862, and the character of Bill "The Butcher" is based on William Poole. He was the head of a Washington street gang and was known for his ruthless style. This is what makes the fictional character so impressive. Some elements of his story could happen, and in fact, they did. A ruthless murderer like Bill "The Butcher" is as real as a villain can get.


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