Watchworthy

The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers 

Mark Holmes
Originally by
Updated May 25, 2020 65.3k votes 7.1k voters 285k views 51 items

List Rules Only those meeting the FBI's definition of 'serial killer' - i.e. no masked lunatics just killing whoever stumbles into their barns.

Who are the best fictional serial killers of all time? These are serial killers featured in television shows and on film. To be clear, there is a difference between a serial killer and a mass murderer. A serial killer is one who kills individually, stalking a victim and murdering them in cold blood. Some of the most memorable movie and TV characters ever have been serial killers, so be sure to vote for the ones you liked the most -- and vote down any you didn't like. Also, feel free to re-rank this list any way you want, and add any notable fictional serial killers who are missing.

The creepiest film and TV serial killers often steal the show with their terrifyingly cool, chilling scenes. They manage to elude the good guys who are dutifully tracking them down, often for most of a movie or television show. Eventually, almost all of the fictional serial killers listed here are caught, but not before they leave behind horrifying reminders of their sick and twisted abilities. They are, quite often, some of the best movie villains of all time or the creepiest characters on television.

When you think of the "best" fictional serial murderers, who comes to mind instantly? Hannibal Lecter? That's certainly one of the most famous and memorable serial killers ever on film, thanks to Anthony Hopkins (who won an Academy Award for the role in 'Silence of the Lambs'). Or how about mommy-obsessed Norman Bates (Anthony Hopkins), the serial killer who scared the wits out of everyone in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho'? There is no doubt that both of these characters are iconic, and among the most utterly terrifying figures in film. Both, interestingly enough, were brought to the small screen in 2013: Lecter in the NBC horror drama 'Hannibal' and Bates in A&E's drama 'Bates Motel.'

Are serial killers the new vampires now? Could be. One thing is certain: The fictional serial killers listed here are among the characters you absolutely, positively do not ever want knocking at your door.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Hannibal Lecter is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal
2
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Dexter
3
Patrick Bateman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
American Psycho
4
Pennywise the Dancing Cl... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
5
Buffalo Bill is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
The Silence of the Lambs
6
Jigsaw Killer is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Saw Universe
7
John Doe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Seven
8
Ghostface is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Scream Universe
9
Sweeney Todd is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street
10
Mickey Knox is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Natural Born Killer
11
Francis Dolarhyde is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Red Dragon
12
Arthur Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
13
Tate Langdon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
JaidenDalBello added American Horror Story
14
Brian Moser is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
William Roberts added Dexter
15
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Heroes
16
Billy Loomis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Goopus added Scream
17
Mallory Knox is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Natural Born Killers
18
Light Yagami is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Travis MacPherson added Death Note
19
Bloody Face is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
American Horror Story: Asylum
20
Firefly Family is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
CapoAssKickerMikey95 added Firefly Family House of 1000 Corpses, Devil's Rejects
21
Red John is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
joash2 added The Mentalist
22
Stu Macher is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Goopus added Scream
23
Harley Quinn is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
Ms.green added Batman: The Animated Series, Birds of Prey, Batman: New Times
24
Hannah McKay is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
GlennSwan added Dexter
25
Mr. Earl Brooks is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers
wiabux added Mr. Brooks