Boo! Hiss! Every good children's book needs a rotten sneak, a sniveling turncoat who drops everyone else right in it. We celebrate the best of the worst.
1. Napoleon (Animal Farm)
George Orwell’s terrifying creation (famously based on Stalin) is a fascinating study in how power corrupts. The manipulative pig first ousts Snowball, the farmyard’s benevolent leader, then uses fear and misinformation to wrap everyone around his gnarly trotter. By the end, innocent animals are being put to death and Napoleon is hobbling around the farmhouse on two legs. A truly despicable creature.
2. Edmund Pevensie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
The ultimate sulky brat. Entering the magical kingdom of Narnia, he immediately falls in with the evil White Witch and, prompted by a faceful of candy, tells her all about his siblings and Mr. Tumnus. Even when warned about the Witch’s true nature, he keeps running back to her. Only when she actually tries to kill him does the dimwit finally get the idea. D’oh.
3. Peter Pettigrew (Harry Potter)
Possibly the busiest betrayer in our list, the shape-changing Pettigrew wreaked havoc at Hogwarts for years. He got Harry’s parents killed, sold out his friends, framed Sirius Black for murder and caused the deaths of many wizards by unleashing a dormant Voldemort. Literally, what a rat!
4. ‘Long’ John Silver (Treasure Island)
The famous pirate has become such a cliché (with his peg-leg, parrot and ‘Oo-arrrr, Jim lad!’ catchphrase) that it’s easy to forget the pure nastiness in his betrayal of young Jim Hawkins. For much of the novel, Silver is almost a father-figure to the young sailor so his revealing as a mutinous leader is a horrible letdown. The old rogue also has a smooth skill for changing allegiances whenever it suits – at times, it’s hard to remember whose side he is on.
5. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings)
Ah, my preciousssssss! Infatuated by the One Ring, pasty-faced Gollum leads young Mister Frodo (holder of said Ring) directly towards the lair of a giant, Hobbit-eating spider. Ouch. But we shouldn’t be too harsh on poor Gollum, who does occasionally feel remorse for his actions. He’s more like a desperate addict needing his next fix than a calculating villain.
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