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, Colonel 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.
  • 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!"
  • Brimstone: As soon as the Reverend arrives into town, Elizabeth is completely terrified of him. There is good reason for this, since he is in fact a murderer, a rapist, and her father.
  • 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.
  • I Shot Jesse James: To most people in the West, Jesse James is this, being a brutal outlaw that robs and kills people with impunity. However, amongst the James clan itself, Jesse's older brother Frank is actually more feared. Both Bob and Charles Ford worry about him taking revenge on them for killing Jesse, and part of Bobís motivation to move to Creede is to put distance between him and Frank.
  • James Bond: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the notorious head of SPECTRE, has earned a reputation amongst his henchmen as a Bad Boss, as he runs SPECTRE like a totalitarian and tyrannical dictator, besides the fact that he's willing to condemn the world to chaos just for profit. Organizational discipline within SPECTRE is notoriously draconian with the penalty for failure or insubordination being an automatic death sentence, as he demands total and unquestionable loyalty from his minions, and rarely gives them a second chance. Furthermore, to heighten the impact of the executions, Blofeld often chooses to focus attention on an innocent member, making it appear his death is imminent, only to suddenly strike down on the actual target when that person is off guard ó and he does it as a warning to others that are planning to do such things. Here are some ways he kills his minions: Fail your tasks or dare to question him? Get a poisoned dagger to your leg or be tossed into a piranha-infested water pool. Thinking of double-crossing him? Get electrocuted in a chair. Try to defect from him? A goon squad will be sent to hound you down no matter where you're hiding or located. And the interactions Bond has with Mr. White and Rosa Klebb shows that they are truly terrified of the scope of his wrath, with Mr. White choosing to kill himself rather than face Blofeld's wrath, while Rosa Klebb enters Villainous Breakdown mode when Blofeld gives her a 2nd but final chance to get the LEKTOR decoding machine.
  • 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.
    • Winston is another, particularly for the second film. He has enormous influence in practically the entire criminal underworld and can steer it to his whims as a result, so even John himself is a little put off by the thought of offending him.
  • 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.
    • The T-Rex herself also counts in the first film. Even before the power goes out, Muldoon orders silence in the control room while the tour passes her paddock and all the park personnel watch the tour nervously. Then after she breaks out she proves so dangerous that the mere sound of her roaring in the distance is enough to send Grant and the kids into a panicked flight over the perimeter fence.
  • In Kelly's 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.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: both protagonists, to varying extents.
    • Louise is Frenchie King, the most fearsome, successful and slippery outlaw in the West.
    • Maria is widely feared in the town of Bougival Junction because of her easily soured temper, a penchant for playing around with her victims and a reputation for trigger-happiness.
  • Liberty Valance and his gang of outlaws in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • 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 S.H.I.E.L.D.'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 S.H.I.E.L.D., 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.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has the title 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. His own support staff are afraid of him. Which makes it something of a villainous Crowning Moment of Awesome when Alexander Pierce walks in to one scene and casually backhands him.
    • Thanos however, is the ultimate Big Bad. Though we have only seen him briefly and have set to witness his power, he is widely feared throughout the entire galaxy if not the Nine Realms. And we'll finally see why in Avengers: Infinity War.
  • 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 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?"
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Princess Bride invokes, discusses, and parodies this trope with the Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • 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.
  • Don Logan in Sexy Beast. His very name inspires an Oh, Crap! reaction not because he is physically strong or imposing (quite the opposite), it's because he is a completely unhinged psychopath with a terrifying Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Invoked by Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes (2009), 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 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. 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
    • 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, and prior to The Force Awakens the First Order viciously destabilized the Republic and Leia Organa's influence by merely revealing she was Vader's daughter. 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.
        Vader (to the commander of the second Death Star): ...the Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
        (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.
      • Don't forget that Boba Fett was also a badass because he may be the only person in the galaxy with the stones to stand up to Vader and demand, "What if he doesn't survive? He's worth a lot to me." Even Vader shows him respect and offers to compensate him for that loss.
    • 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.
    • Luke Skywalker has become a heroic example of this as of The Force Awakens. He is so revered and apparently is so powerful that the First Order lives in fear of the potential of his return, especially Supreme Leader Snoke, who outright admits that Luke is powerful enough to defeat them. Snoke orders Kylo Ren and Hux to obtain the map if they can, but is fine with the map being destroyed if necessary if it can keep Luke lost forever.
  • Downplayed in Stroker Ace by the fact that Clyde Torkle isn't really evil; he's just a Bad Boss. Still, his introductory scene shows drivers ducking out of his way and generally trying to avoid him. The contract Stroker signs with him later explains why.
  • 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)
    D'Artagnan: Pirate?
    Porthos: I told you I was famous.
  • In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood's character of William Munney is well known to everyone who hears his name, causing them to nearly soil themselves when they hear it.
  • 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. ( 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.
  • Ichi in the Zatoichi series is a case of Beware the Nice Ones, and pretty much makes a lot of Yakuza quake in their boots upon realizing who he is.
    • Doesn't stop a lot of them from making the mistake of Bullying a Dragon...much to their detriment later on.
  • Hamburger Hill: A place as opposed to a person: the A Shau Valley. Spoken of with obvious dread and respect by the veteran members of the squad, with one expressing his outright fear of being sent back into it. When one of the replacements asks "What's the A Shau Valley?" he only gets a cold stare as a reply.