The significance of a worthy villain has always been an important trait for all genres, in particular the action and horror franchises. Our ability for an audience to invest in the stakes and get a real sense of threat is very much dependant on a worthy foe.
Hans Gruber made his villainy known early with his assassination of Mister Takagi, Scar proved his true nature in The Lion King by throwing Mufasa off a cliff, while many a Bond villain has shown their worth through an early execution. But while a death at the hand of the film's antagonist can most definitely help them leave their mark, it doesn't mean it is required for a villain to display their fearsome nature.
Be it through a frightening physical characteristic, a creepy aspect of their personality, an authoritative demeanour or some other disturbing trait, there have been many fearsome villains who have not killed. Some times it has been due to a lack of opportunity to do so, others have got henchmen to do their dirty work, while many just got their kicks from the psychological torture of others.
The fearsome villain is definitely not exclusive to the action and horror fields either, with our list covering a variety of genres including Animation. So sit back and be prepared to be chilled to the bone as we take a look at the most fearsome villains who never took a life.
12. Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow - Batman Begins
While he may have appeared in each of episode of the Dark Knight trilogy, there was no doubt that the character of Dr Jonathon Crane, better known as Scarecrow, was at his most fearsome in the first entry. Batman Begins is arguably the weakest of Nolan's Batman films, but it is of no fault of Cillian Murphy's outstanding performance as the psychotic Gotham City doctor.
While the character's science background and evil plans for the city of Gotham make him a great threat, it is Murphy's bone chilling performance that really works. Like our previous entry, it is the perception that Crane is always in control, and seemingly enjoying himself that makes him so fearsome.
The more realistic portrayal of such a nightmarish character could have been a real negative here, but Murphy manages to bring out the manic nature of Scarecrow while also maintaining him as a threat. He very nearly gets the better of Batman and Racheal, with it almost feeling like he is toying with the both of them before going in for the kill.
While he definitely leaves the gangster Falcone in a bad way thanks to his toxins, he doesn't actually kill him, and Batman foils his final deadly plan, so we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the murder front. The character does lose its impact in the last two Dark Knight films, too easily defeated and feeling way too much like a cameo, which Scarecrow was far more deserving of.