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The Greatest Fictional Serial Killers

Updated May 25, 2020 32.0k votes 7.3k voters 287.8k views45 items

List RulesOnly 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.

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