Dracula knew the value of a good henchman. He lured Renfield into his thrall so that he could move continents and build his strength. But eternity is an awful long time, and as the new movie starring Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult shows, sometimes being a henchman isn’t all its initially cracked up to be. The movie made us wonder: What makes a good henchman?
In the same way a hero needs a sidekick to help shoulder the burden of saving the world, a good villain relies on henchmen to help them destroy it. Sometimes they’re compelled against their will, sometimes their values simply align, and sometimes the henchmen are simply biding their time until they can try to take over the world. Here are nine compelling henchmen that are willing to serve evil, just like Renfield.
1. Lilith au Faran
From the start of the Red Rising series, Lilith is loyal to The Jackal and The Jackal alone. As his most loyal Boneride, she does whatever he wants, to whatever end, no questions asked. She enjoys striking fear into her enemies hearts, weaving bones in her hair and laughing at the cruel violence she readily inflicts. We won’t go into spoilers, but the lengths she goes to make sure The Jackal survives are extreme, to say the least. Is it love? Some deluded version, perhaps. But there’s no arguing that she’ll go to the end of the galaxy and back to make sure The Jackal succeeds in his machinations. It doesn’t get more loyal than that.
2. Mitch Turner
Mitch Turner is always in the wrong place, at the wrong time. And his giant frame covered in tattoos doesn’t help. Tired of being accused of crimes he didn’t commit, he robs a bank—and gets caught. It might be more bad luck for Mitch, or good luck for Victor, but the two were cellmates before they escaped. As he helps Victor pursue vengeance, he asks few questions and just wants his chocolate milk, making him a very reliable henchman. Of everyone on this list, Mitch is by far the most likeable.
3. Pitir De Vries
It pays to be a human computer. Especially since actual computers are outlawed across the universe. And Pitir De Vries uses his abilities to enthusiastically help the ruthless Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in his quest to control the Spice. He comes up with the plan to destroy House Atreides, using torture, manipulation, and outright threats to put the pieces in play. Pitir is so loyal, that even though his abilities allow him to see his future demise at the Baron’s hands, he still serves him without hesitation. Maybe it’s hard finding someone twisted and evil to follow. Or maybe he thinks he can outmaneuver death. Either way, he proves his loyalty time and again, which if you’re scheming to eliminate a rival family, is definitely a plus.
The Lord of the Rings
Of all the henchmen on this list, Saruman is the most complicated. Yes, he turns on his fellow wizards and follows the bidding of Sauron, his loyalty is less secure. He’d take the One Ring for himself if he could. Still, he serves Sauron well enough, only betraying him for his own ambition at the end. If Sauron hadn’t been defeated earlier, there’s no doubt Saruman would have been a much better-behaved henchman as he responds to power and fear, two attributes Sauron displayed in abundance.
5. Count Tyrone Rugen
The Princess Bride
Count Rugen is the six-fingered right-hand man to Prince Humperdink. As the Grand Vizier of Florin, he should be upholding the best interests of the nation. But the Prince wants war, so that’s what Rugen sets out to incite. He’s fascinated with pain, building the Pit of Despair and a torture machine meant to drain life, which he uses to ensure the Prince gets what he wants. He’s a bit sniveling, so we don’t think he’d give his life in the name of loyalty, but he serves Humperdink without question for the duration of the book.
6. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
A Game of Thrones
Though his younger brother was named as the Lannister’s dog in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, The Mountain is the one who maintains unflinching loyalty. He’s their most brutal knight, dominating anyone who dares challenge him or the House he serves. The Mountain is cruel, killing anyone and everyone who stands against the Lannisters. Though he has his own House and lands, his loyalty to the Lannisters never wavers, likely because they allow his sadistic tendencies to flourish. But in a world where everyone is vying for the Iron Throne, his allegiance is worth his weight in armor.
7. The Shrike
This mysterious but terrifying creature protects the planet Hyperion. It’s unknown where it came from, but it was created in the future and sent back in time to fight the war between humans and AI. Most believe it serves the Reapers, a group of AI entities with Technocore, a powerful AI collection that has evolved past its need to stay connected to humanity. The Shrike is gigantic, imposing, and relentless in its duty. It can’t be reasoned with or deterred, making it one of the most terrifying henchmen on the list.
8. Inquisitor Sand den Glokta
The Blade Itself
Once a champion and war-hero, Sand dan Glokta was captured, tortured, and left crippled. Unable to find work, he joins the King’s Inquisition where he now investigates and exacts punishment to those who defy the King. Though he’s aware of the bitter irony of being the tortured turning torturer, he continues to do the Inquisition’s bidding, even using his own experience to break people. He’s devious, enjoys outmaneuvering his opponents, and hates losing, making the Inquisition the perfect job for him, and one he isn’t looking to leave anytime soon.
9. Keris “The Commandant” Veturia
An Ember in the Ashes
A small woman who exudes nothing but violence and menace, it might seem like the Commandant is loyal to no one but herself. But she serves the Empire so single-mindedly, that she can only imagine herself on the throne to continue it’s good. To do that, she allies with The Nightbringer, doing his bidding to wreak chaos in the Trials so that she can achieve her ends. Even when her plans are thwarted, she doesn’t relent, serving the Empire through sheer brutality until another opportunity for power presents itself. She’s ruthless and determined, and while she may not be a typical henchman, she has no qualms becoming one to achieve her goals.