Peter Pan is a lot of things: a child who can fly, a rogue, a dreamer, and perhaps above all else, a terrible person. In fact, he's kind of a sociopath. Instead of viewing him as a childhood hero, you should probably be scared of Peter Pan. While it may sound far-fetched, there is a long list of evidence from the original novel and the classic family films that proves Peter Pan is a jerk. And that's being generous.
Maybe you already realize he's a killer, but you may not know just who he's willing to kill. What about his loyal friends, the Lost Boys? Well, they're more like followers than friends to him. For that matter, many of the inhabitants of Neverland are subject to his whims, stripped of their autonomy by a boy whose only concern is having fun.
Peter Pan sucks. Big-time. He is selfish, inconsiderate, and maybe even the villain of his own story. After taking a closer look at the leader of the Lost Boys, the truth is clear: Peter Pan is the worst.
There are quite a few disturbing events in J.M. Barrie's original novel Peter Pan, and some of the worst can be attributed to the "hero" of the story. One such incident is Peter's reaction to Wendy when she says she needs to return home to her worried mother:
He was so full of wrath against grown-ups, who, as usual, were spoiling everything, that as soon as he got inside his tree, he breathed intentionally quick short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this because there is a saying in the Neverland that, every time you breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast as possible.
There's a passage in Peter Pan that seems to be a throwaway at first glance, but the implications are horrifying:
The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.
"Peter thins them out." What does that mean? It doesn't take a large logic leap to assume he kills them. If Peter just sends them away, the phrase "thins them out" wouldn't be appropriate. That has a very specific meaning, and in this case, it points to serial murder.
There's a line in the novel that describes how Peter occasionally switches sides in the middle of a battle for the fun of it. While it's meant to characterize Peter Pan as a mischievous scamp, the ramifications of his actions could be deadly for those who call him their ally.
It's also evident in the book that there is killing in Neverland, as Peter likes to go on pirate hunts. He's a killer. Peter might even "thin out" his Lost Boys by switching sides mid-battle and slaying the very people who trust him as their leader.
There's a scene in the Disney animated film where the Lost Boys march and chant the mantra "We follow the leader wherever he may go." The sequence may come across as playful and innocent, but the lyrics also make the Lost Boys sound like the brainwashed followers of an authoritarian regime. That's textbook dictator stuff.
Peter clearly revels in his position over the Lost Boys, soaking in their adoration in a sometimes smug fashion. This is especially manipulative since he has little concern about killing them off once he's through with them.