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13 of the Most-Hated Characters in Beloved SFF

These loathsome characters can't ruin these great sci-fi/fantasy novels, but it's not for lack of trying.

Detestable Characters in SFF

We’ve all been there. You’re cozied up with a book you love and then comes the one character you wish never existed. It doesn’t matter if they’re necessary to the story. Or if their storyline makes a certain kind of sense. They hurt the characters we love, get in their way, and sometimes outright betray them. No matter how many times we read the book, we hope, maybe, just this once, things are different. 

They never are, though, and that makes us hate these characters just a little bit more. If you're a glutton for punishment or just looking to commiserate, we've found 13 of the most-hated characters and villains in popular SFF books. And if you're looking for something new to ready, rest assured that even these devils can't manage to ruin these great offerings. Sometimes, hating is half the fun.

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Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The character: Virgil Doyle

Why he's hated: Manipulative, charming, seductive, and evil. Virgil Doyle’s ambitions put everyone around him at risk. He wants a future for himself, which is understandable, but he plans on getting that future by stealing it from others—his father, his wife... it doesn’t matter who as long as he gets what he wants. And if you think he can’t get even worse: He’s blatantly racist.

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Jade City

By Fonda Lee

The character: Ayt Mada

Why she's hated: To live in a criminal clan, you have to be a bit ruthless, but Ayt Mada takes that to the extreme. She’s cunning, unremorseful, and determined to win. To secure her position, she murdered everyone who would be a competitor, and her brutality only grew from there. She never stops plotting, never gives up, and never gives in. Definitely not someone you want to cross.



By R.F. Kuang

The character: Lettie

Why she's hated: In a world where magic is used as a weapon for colonization, it’s frustrating to read a character who almost blatantly refuses to see the damage being inflicted on the people around her. When push comes to shove, Lettie simply can’t see past her own privilege, and that makes her intolerable.



By V.E. Schwab

The character: Eli

Why he's hated: All villains have reasons for doing what they do. They’re the hero of their own story, and no one makes that belief more obvious than Eli. He’s arrogant, self-serving, and manipulative. But he hides behind religious rhetoric to justify what he does. Once you see through his charade, it’s difficult not to want to scream at him through the book. 


A Game of Thrones

By George R.R. Martin

The character: Ramsay Bolton

Why he's hated: There are any number of despicable characters in this series, but of them all, Ramsay Bolton is by far the worst. He hunts girls, tortures prisoners, and generally delights in the misery he inflicts. It’s one thing to be part of a House that once flayed their enemies alive. It’s something else entirely to actively seek out innocents and inflict endless cruelty upon them.

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone

By Leigh Bardugo

The character: The Darkling

Why he's hated: Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, The Darkling ruffles almost everyone’s feathers. Is he misunderstood? Corroded by immortality and power? Either way, he definitely makes some bad decisions throughout the series, forcing his will on Alina and anyone else who crosses his path.



By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The character: AIDEN

Why he's hated: One of the most terrifying things about AIDEN is how persuasive he can be. And how necessary he is. Without him, all would be lost. But his decisions are so … merciful? ERROR. No, he’s ruthless and cold, and what else would you expect from a damaged AI? But still …

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

By Sarah J. Maas

The character: Tamlin

Why he's hated: Tamlin is one of the most complicated characters in the entire series. Does he deserve the hate he gets? Maybe. It’s not like he made a ton of great choices with Feyre. But trauma makes a mess of most, and Tamlin is no exception. Does it excuse his behavior? No. Does he work to overcome the past and redeem himself? We’ll let you decide.



By Frank Herbert

The character: The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Why he's hated: Maybe ruthless and cruel are the same attributes, but the Baron takes both to uncomfortable extremes. He uses his intelligence to manipulate everyone, homing in on their weaknesses and exploiting them through blackmail and torture. His power-hungry nature is excessive and uncontrollable. There is no line he won’t cross, no one he wouldn’t use. No wonder readers hate him.


The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood

The character: Aunt Lydia

Why she's hated: It takes a deplorable person to not just survive in a tyrannical fascist regime but go out of their way to thrive in it. And that’s exactly what Aunt Lydia does. She knows the situation the handmaid’s go through is beyond horrific. But she embraces the religious doctrine with terrifying zeal, punishing, tormenting, and torturing the unlucky women forced to endure horrendous ordeals.

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Ring Shout

By P. Djèlí Clark

The character: Butcher Clyde

Why he's hated: Butcher Clyde is detestable for so many reasons. He’s a disgusting demon. An outright racist, he’s also sickeningly manipulative. He twists the truth, using hate as a way to infect in shockingly effective ways. He’s a terrifying villain and the evil he’s capable of is absolutely chilling.

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The Fifth Season

By N.K. Jemisin

The character: Jija

Why he's hated: For a character who never actually appears on the page, Jija lurks throughout the novel. He’s described as honest, even likeable, but his actions pain an entirely different picture. All we know is that (spoiler alert!) Essun's wanting to confront and kill him is perfectly reasonable given what he did.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Iron Gold

By Pierce Brown

The character: Lysander au Lune

Why he's hated: In a system like the Society, where Golds rule above all other Colors, there are a lot of characters for readers to detest. But Lysander takes the hate cake. It isn’t that he tries to undo all the work Darrow and the Rising have done to free the Society. Or how many lives he’s taken in that pursuit. It’s more that he had a chance to break the cycle and be better. He simply refuses no matter how many times he’s given the chance.