The Dreaded: Live-Action Films
- In The 13th Warrior, the Vikings, who are set up as mighty warriors, are visibly frightened of the mysterious creatures called wendols. Described as "an ancient evil, a terror that has no name", the Vikings' reaction causes the hero Ahmed ibn Fahdlan to ask, "Look at them. What thing could affect them so?"
- In Apocalypse Now, Colonial Kurtz is this. It is at one point mentioned that the Viet Cong in the area appear to be fleeing in terror due to the brutality of his tactics alone.
- The Avengers (2012):
- Nearly every character treats the transformation from Bruce Banner to The Incredible Hulk as a threat comparable to that of a nuclear bomb. Especially notable in the case of Black Widow, who thus far had been one of the most unflappable people in the MCU. An encounter with a rampaging Hulk aboard SHIELD'S helicarrier leaves her a shuddering and trembling mess until a call for backup brings her back to her senses.
- The Stinger of the movie shows that humans have reached this status among the Chitauri (who, according to Thor, have this reputation themselves) by beating the crap out of their invasion force in short order before nuking their mothership.
- Thor (to an extent) and the rest of the Asgardians are also this to SHIELD, causing them to use the Tesseract and the remains of the Destroyer to create super-weapons in order to fight them, along with other extra-terrestrial beings Loki's actions also make Fury desperate enough to assemble the Avengers in the first place.
- Buford Tannen, Biff's great-grandfather in Back to the Future Part III absolutely terrifies the people of Hill Valley in 1885 thanks to his extremely short temper and quick-shooting, especially if you call him "Mad Dog" (when Marty calls him that, everybody immediately runs away or takes cover). The newspapers stopped keeping track of all his kills after he'd shot an editor who printed an unfavorable story about him.
- Blazing Saddles: "Never mind that shit, here comes Mongo!"
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier has the titular villain. Black Widow is even more apprehensive of him than she is of Loki and the Hulk, and it becomes clear early on that the only person capable of stopping him is Steve.
- The Hessians in The Crossing owing to their rigid battle formations and their slaughter of surrendering troops at Brooklyn. Captain Heineman of the Pennsylvania German troops even asks if he can discuss the attack with his men beforehand rather than on the day so they won't be too terrified to attack troops they think of as "devils."
- One villain per movie in The Dark Knight Saga
- Ra's al Ghul is a name criminal elements know well, and when mob boss Falcone hear he's coming to Gotham, he reacts with terror.
- Batman has cemented his status as this to Gotham's underworld by the beginning of The Dark Knight, to the point that the mob has been put wholly on the defensive within a mere year's time, and the mere sight of the Bat-Signal is enough to deter many from criminal activity.
- The Joker in The Dark Knight is feared by the mob, the cops, and the politicians for being an Ax-Crazy Magnificent Bastard. Even at the beginning of the film, his own goons are telling each other legends about him.
- Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, he has already got the overthrowing of a small country to his name prior to the movie, Selina Kyle is afraid of him, Alfred, after hearing rumors about him and seeing footage of him at the Stock Exchange, is convinced that Bruce doesn't stand a chance against him. And as the film progresses, he traps nearly the entire police force in the tunnels beneath Gotham, then takes over the city, but before he did that, he seemingly killed the Batman. For months he is the terror of the city, and the few remaining police officers don't try to face him, they just try to stay out of his way.
- Batman becomes this himself even to Bane judging by Bane's reaction to seeing the Bat-Signal on the bridge.
- Lawrence Makaore's character from Dead Lands is feared by the Big Bad Wirepa.
- Death Race: Warden Hennessey is a female correctional officer presiding over a prison filled with murderers and rapists. Her first scene has her take an unguarded walk through the yard, with not a single convict daring to lay a hand on her. One of them declares to his buddy his love for how ruthless she is.
- Played for laughs in The Freshman, with Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando. When an attractive young woman (played by Penelope Ann Miller) interrupts Clark Kellogg's (Broderick) film studies class looking for Clark, the teacher is less than impressed. When she announces herself as the daughter of Carmine Sabatini (Brando, channeling Vito Corleone), the teacher just about shits a brick; "Jimmy the Toucan?!?"
- Luca Brasi from The Godfather. Mostly an Informed Attribute elaborated on in the books, but he's a particularly brutal enforcer in a world that has plenty of them.
- Godzilla has time and time again become this by somehow beating monsters that are even stronger, faster, or smarter than him, largely by virtue of being The Determinator. He's not (quite) the most powerful kaiju, but due to him overcoming seemingly impossible odds and almost invincible enemies, he has earned himself the title of King of The Monsters. He rarely loses, but when he does it's a shock for onlookers, to put it mildly. Virtually anyone who can fight with him on equal ground is seen as just as bad as him, and any who can beat him are seen as worse than a nuclear bomb going off. He's not the Trope Namer for the Godzilla Threshold for no reason.
- Of special note is Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, where not only does Godzilla rise to the level of "super monster" himself, but his power is so out of control that when he dies his death threatens to release enough energy to light the planet on fire and melt through to the core of the Earth. And this is going on the same time as a new super monster, Destoroyah, shows up and proves it is equal in power to the now-super monster Godzilla (at least until his power rises when he is near meltdown). Keep in mind that his "Burning" form is already strong enough to easily dispatch most past monsters who gave him hell without even being near meltdown. Dread does not even begin to describe what G-Force is feeling when they have two super monsters who are super even to other super monsters along with The End of the World as We Know It to deal with all at once.
- "Listen, kid. There are two things you don't know about the Earth. One is me, and the other is... Godzilla." The Xilian leader in Godzilla Final Wars quickly learns that Godzilla isn't something to be taken lightly.
- Anytime the Mutos showed up in Godzilla (2014) , you can bet it was a scary moment. Even when they were just shown on the news, such as the female one running through Vegas, was pretty creepy. Little wonder that the military attempted to use nukes on them, albeit in a rather unconventional way.
- Godzilla himself is an interesting variation. While he doesn't deliberately cause any damage, he's so huge that the simple act of getting out of the ocean is enough to cause a tsunami. Not to mention that the military tried to nuke him back in the 1950s and it failed to kill him. He's also one of the few things the aforementioned MUTO react to with genuine fear and hatred, since he's one of the few (if not only) things that can kill them. It's little wonder that people quickly learn to get out of his way when he's approaching and that people refer to him not as a monster but a "god".
- Tommy De Vito from Goodfellas is by far the most feared mobster in the entire film, even to his own partners. "Funny how? Like a clown?".
- In Hellraiser: Inferno, the Engineer is a near-legendary figure in the criminal world and tales of his insane depravities abound. Every time Joseph asks around for information on him, his informants recoil in terror.
- John Wick is this to practically everyone who knows of him by reputation. When it is learned that his dog was killed by the son of the local head of The Mafiya, the mob boss treats it with all the severity it entails, even trying to initially appease Wick. When that fails, he goes all out in protecting his son.
Viggo: He isn't exactly the boogeyman, he's the guy you send to kill the fucking boogeyman.
- El Indio from For a Few Dollars More. Ax-Crazy bandit, and paranoid.
- The Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park series are this. Remember that dark little tune that plays at the opening of the first film? It becomes their Leit Motif, to the point that you'll hear it at the mere mention of Velociraptors, shortly followed by a barrage of Oh Crap! and Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? reactions from everyone... including people who don't even know what a Velociraptor is. By the time of Jurassic World, even operators of the newly opened park have decided to keep the raptors out of tourist-accessible attractions; for comparison, it's perfectly okay for tourists to observe the infamous T. rex, highly aggressive Pteranodons, and a shark-eating Mosasaurus in the main park. Even after some success with training, it's still made clear by Fluffy Tamer Owen that his four imprinted raptors will happily kill anyone besides him if given the chance. They do.
- In Kellys Heroes, it's Tiger tanks. Kelly is the only one who isn't scared shitless by the mention of a Tiger, and Oddball's immediate reaction on hearing there are Tigers in the Op Area is calling the entire escapade "a wasted trip". In fact, the only time in the film Oddball is completely serious is when explaining in excruciating detail how badly outmatched his Shermans are.
- Hickey from Last Man Standing is widely feared by the Doyle and Strozzi gangs for being a Psycho for Hire.
- Kaulder, the hero of The Last Witch Hunter, is the terror of witch community. It's said that mothers use him in their tales as a boogeyman for their children, and when he arrives at Chloe's club, the entire place empties in panic by the time he reaches the bar.
- Liberty Valance and his gang of outlaws in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
- The Agents in The Matrix serve as this, at least in the first one, where Morpheus advises Neo to simply run away if he sees one.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Knights who say Ni! appear to have a terrifying reputation, considering the fact they inspire fear within nearby villages, maybe even the whole country, cause the shrubbery-economy to collapse and make a fearful king Arthur do their bidding.
- The Newsies ain't afraid of Brooklyn. ...But Spot Conlon, he makes 'em a little nervous...
- Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. A Scarily Competent Tracker Bad Ass Psycho for Hire with his own moral code that could lead to you being killed merely for making small talk with him. When someone asks if he's dangerous, Carson Wells responds, "Compared to what? The bubonic plague?"
- Davy Jones (and his pet, the Kraken) in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
- Succeeding him in the fourth film is Blackbeard, "The Pirate All Pirates Fear".
- The mere mention of Victoria in Red brings on a mixture of fear, admiration, and dread in all the other characters. Once we meet her, she lives up to her reputation.
- Invoked by Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes, who deliberately cultivates an image of himself as a devil-worshipping Evil Sorcerer and Antichrist figure because his plans hinge on using fear to control others. Judging by the terrified crowd of Doomsayers that gather outside Parliament on the day when his plan reaches its climax, he did pretty well in that regard.
- Professor James Moriarty from the sequel. He is feared by the criminal underworld and many influential politicians and businessmen all over Europe. Even Sherlock Holmes gets terrified when he has a first-hand look at his plans for causing a war that is capable of engulfing all of Europe.
- Brick Top in Snatch.. Merely poking his head through a door is enough to make hardened killers soil themselves. When asked, "Do you know who I am?" the bad-boy yardie Lincoln simply lowers his head and meekly replies that yes, he does.
- Star Wars
Vader (to the commander of the second Death Star): ...the Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
- The deliberately melodramatic opening crawl for the movies always refers to something as "dreaded" — the "dreaded Imperial Starfleet", the "first dreaded Death Star"...
- Darth Vader in particular, who is a six-and-a-half-foot-tall, caped black knight with magical powers and super strength. He makes a triumphant entrance to the film's famous soundtrack, cape swirling, and lifts a captive soldier up and snaps his neck with one hand as an Establishing Character Moment. It just goes from there.
- In the Expanded Universe Darth Vader is still viewed as an example of pure evil hundreds of years after his death. The man really left an impression on the Galaxy it would seem.
- And Imperial officers, Vader included, used the Emperor's name to scare their co-workers.
(The commander of the second Death Star soils himself)
- Boba Fett has this reputation, all the more impressive since he's a Badass Normal in a galaxy dominated by lightsaber-swinging sorcerers. Unfortunately, with the exception of seeing him capture Han Solo, he mostly stands around being intimidating before he is knocked into a monster's mouth on accident by a blind Han Solo.
- The Expanded Universe rectified George Lucas' short use of him, something he even regretted, by bringing Fett back to life by blasting his way out of the monster that swallowed him. That would only further his reputation as one of the biggest badasses in the galaxy, where even Jedi Knights and Masters are very apprehensive of confronting him. George Lucas himself confirmed that Boba Fett survived the Sarlaac Pit.
- Parodied (along with just about everything else) with Dark Helmet in Spaceballs. Everyone is afraid of him (and his method of punishing his mooks somewhat justifies that), but having Rick Moranis under that helmet kinda ruins his aura of terror.
- Rat Race has real-life lawyer Gloria Albright as this. When two different characters cause an accident and she shows up, both of them Oh Crap!.
- Terminator: The T800 in the first film. In the sequel, Sarah Connor reacts with horror when she sees the new T800 for the first time. By the time the T1000 comes along, she's better prepared for it.
- Indeed, the first time she sees the T800 in T2 is the only time in the entire movie when she absolutely panics.
- Played for laughs in The Three Musketeers (1993), when some Mooks run into one of the title characters.
Mook: It's Porthos the Pirate!
(A few Mooks scream and run for it)
Porthos: I told you I was famous.
- The Usual Suspects gives us Keyser Soze, a Shrouded in Myth mob boss who isn't actually seen on screen for the majority of the movie. (Or...is he...?) The mere mention that he's involved in the plot elicits an Oh Crap! from almost every character. From what we see of his actions, it's completely justified.
Verbal Kint Keaton once said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyzer Soze.
- Rebel Leader Te Wheke in Utu due to his vow to kill every white person in New Zealand. He is particularly feared by The Gunslinger Williamson who witnessed the rebels' brutality first-hand.