Fictional characters can inspire us. They can encourage us to be our best selves. Or they can just give us the ever-loving creeps. For every Hermione Granger or Bilbo Baggins or Lizzie Bennet, there's also a clown in a sewer grate just waiting to eat your toes. Books have the unnerving power to burrow deep into your subconscious brain and leave you with all sorts of unsavory nightmares, and the real culprits are those incredibly creepy characters. A creepy characters stays with you far longer than the creepiest of settings, or the most slavering of monsters. A creepy character gets a kick out of sending shivers down your spine. So here are the thirteen creepiest fictional characters of all time, for anyone who enjoys the occasional case of the creeps.
First of all, though, let's make the distinction between "creepy" and "scary." Rabid dogs and zombies are scary, sure, and so is looking down from a very high balcony or leaning too far back in your chair. But creepy is when there's just something... off. Creepy is when a character looks harmless but you just know that they're not. Creepy is a far more insidious feeling. And, while some of these characters might make the crossover to scary at some point in their story, each of every one of them is deeply creepy from the start:
Check out the entire What's Up, Boo? series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Miss Havisham from 'Great Expectations'
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations takes "not getting over your ex" to a whole 'nother level. She was jilted at the altar, and now she insists on wearing her rotting wedding dress for the rest of her life. The uneaten wedding cake is still sitting on the table, and all the clocks in her house have been set to the exact moment she was dumped, making her one of the creepiest and the pettiest characters around. According to Dickens, she looks like a cross between a skeleton and a waxwork with sunken, moving eyes.
Patrick Bateman from 'American Psycho'
OK, so Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is just straight up scary a lot of the time, like when he's murdering women and eating their flesh. But the creepy part of Bateman is that he's able to be a brutal serial killer and still be a totally normal and successful Wall Street bro. He's... basically just toxic male privilege personified.
Mrs. Coulter from 'The Golden Compass'
In the world of Philip Pullman's Golden Compass, every person has a dæmon, an animal familiar that embodies their very soul. Mrs. Coulter seems like a sweet, accomplished socialite at first, but there is something very off about her golden monkey dæmon. Of course, Mrs. Coulter is later revealed to be a horrifying woman who experiments on children, but it's really that silent monkey with its black doll eyes that gives us the creeps.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown from 'It'
I don't know that It from It really counts as a character so much as a freaky spider monster, but Pennywise has enough charisma that I'm willing to call him a real character, and a creepy one at that. Pennywise is your classic murder clown: all cute and fun until he sucks you into his storm drain to die. Get out of that storm drain, Pennywise, it looks very damp in there.
Merricat Blackwood from 'We Have Always Lived In The Castle'
Merricat Blackwood is the narrator of We Have Always Lived in the Castle. She lives with her sister and her uncle in a big house. Everyone else in their family is dead. Even before you get to the bottom of the Blackwood family murders, though, there is something very unnerving about Merricat's childlike narration, her lack of empathy for anyone but her sister, and her strange "games" in the backyard.
Alex from 'A Clockwork Orange'
Anyone who can look this creepy while drinking a glass of milk is someone you want to stay far away from. Alex from A Clockwork Orange is a fan of "ultra violence," which essentially means that he gleefully assaults people for sport. He's one of the most upsetting literary anti-heroes, but the real creepiness shines through in just how much fun he's having as he violates and murders innocent people.
Annie Wilkes from 'Misery'
At the risk of doubling down on Stephen King characters, you can't get much creepier than Annie Wilkes from Misery. She rescues her favorite author from a car accident, takes him to her home to convalesce... and then chops off his foot so he can never leave. Wilkes is your classic depraved, book-loving serial killer with a cheery disposition.
Boo Radley from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'
To be fair, Boo Radley isn't bad or evil... but oh boy is he creepy. Living your entire adult life as a widely hated recluse would make anyone creepy, but still. Even though Boo ends up saving Jem and Scout at the end of To Kill a Mockingbird, he's still none too great at interacting with the outside world in a non-creepy way.
Dracula from 'Dracula'
Look, out of all the classic creatures of the night, Dracula has got to be the creepiest. And also the sexiest. It's confusing. The Count manages to balance creep factor with suave: people are drawn to his charisma, but also he's probably going to eat you. If anyone can be both elegant and creepy, it's the original sexy vampire himself.
The Grand High Witch from 'The Witches'
The creepiest thing about reading The Witches as a kid was that anyone could be a secret witch. Well, any woman wearing gloves, at least. The idea of someone peeling the skin off of her face is universally creepy, even without the whole "turning kids into mice" angle.
Beloved from 'Beloved'
Beloved from Beloved is a murdered baby who has come back to reawaken her family's suppressed trauma. Or at least, that's who she seems to be. It's hard to blame the grown up ghost of a murdered baby for holding a grudge, but from the moment she appears on her mother's doorstep, soaking wet, there's something more than a little "off" about Beloved.
The Other Mother from 'Coraline'
The creepiest creepiness lies in taking something familiar (like your mom) and making it just slightly wrong (like your mom but nicer and with buttons for eyes). The Other Mother from Coraline is so intensely creepy because she's so very sweet and yet so very wrong. Plus, buttons for eyes is just classic nightmare fuel.
Mrs. Danvers from 'Rebecca'
Last but not least, there's the queen of creep herself: Mrs. Danvers. In Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers is the head housekeeper at Manderley, a rich country estate. She spends her time skulking around the empty halls and trying to convince the new lady of the house to kill herself. Mrs. Danvers liked her previous boss, Rebecca, way more, you see, and she will do anything to ensure that Rebecca's memory is properly "honored."