While we all cheer for classic heroes like Superman, Spiderman, Thor, and so on—but it's the characters with steeper development arcs, more conflicted motives and backstories, and questionable ethics that tend to stick with us. The success of television shows like "Dexter," "Game of Thrones," "Breaking Bad," and "The Sopranos" demonstrate time and again there is no lack of interest in the anti-hero.
This may be because there are few times we judge something as being objectively good or objectively evil. As morality is typically judged in the context of the circumstances the actions occur in, the notion of a "bad guy" can be less than definitive. In "Breaking Bad," Walter White's decision to produce and sell crystal meth is borne out of necessity via a terminal cancer diagnosis. The drug trade stands to set his young family up for life after he's gone. As the show progressed, White became increasingly more diabolical in his actions. However, as everyone else around him devolved, his actions remained relevant and relatable.
There are times, however, where we seek to push ourselves beyond the subjective. Mark Twain once wrote, "There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable." Sometimes, we push ourselves toward that which is dark and scary because we crave the adrenaline boost. Sometimes, we are drawn to the appeal of the "charismatic monster." Sometimes, our love of these monsters helps to explain our world and our place in it. And our embrace of monsters in fiction and folklore can be seen as a conceit that there are real monsters in the world.
Stacker compiled a gallery of 15 terrifying monsters in literature. We focus on how these monsters were depicted on the printed page—delving into the deeper origins of the monster and how they came to haunt readers around the world.
Keep reading to see if your favorite monster made the list.
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