The Dreaded: Live-Action TV

  • The 100 has a group of creatures called "Reapers", a race so terrifying that even The Grounders, a tribe of hardened warriors who were trained on a hostile Death World, avoid them like the plague.
  • Angel:
    • Has The Destroyer, a very powerful creature transfer over from the hell dimension Quor'toth, who is revealed to be Angel's son Connor.
    • Angelus.
  • Arrow: Even before he actually showed up, the show established that Bigger Bad Ra's Al-Ghul is so frightening that everyone who knows of him is terrified of him even Season 1 Big Bad Malcolm Merlyn. And when he does finally show up in Season 3, it becomes clear that his reputation is not only well-founded, but an understatement.
    • Season 2: Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke also invoked a lot of fear, to the point that Oliver and Sara, two of the biggest badasses on the show, are utterly terrified when they realize he's in Starling City.
  • Breaking Bad: After the murder of Gus Fring, Walter White, by the name Heisenberg, is known and feared throughout the American southwest.
    • Jesse Pinkman also became feared for a time after the death of Spooge, who had stolen money from one of Jesse's friends. Of course, he didn't actually do it, and he became not-so-feared once Spooge's girlfriend fessed up to his death.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The big bads tend to be this to the heroes and usually for a really good reason. With the exception of Angelus in season 2 (who was himself quite strong and had an almost foolproof plan) all of the villains have been nigh unstoppable, cunning and highly destructive.
    • Buffy herself is this to the monsters.
    • Lothos. He was famous for killing many past Slayers. Consider that Spike was considered a Badass Nonhuman for killing two.
    • The Master. In the Dreamverse, his escape from his can is one of Buffy's darkest nightmares and preventing his escape is Angel's top priority. The unspoken belief between them is that they won't be able to stop him if he gets out.
    • Angelus, despite not being as strong as the other villains, definitely qualifies as this.
    • The Mayor, perhaps not to the same extent as Angelus or The First but it is worth noting that he was able to freak out both Mr Trick and Deputy Mayor Alan Finch, and had control over his own personal army of vampires before he became invulnerable. Hell, he even freaked out the Scooby Gang when he casually walked into the library.
    • Severin is the prophecied Siphon, whose coming had long been feared among the magical community.
    • Faith is nine kinds of panicked when she sees Kakistos again, with Buffy even mentioning in Chaos Bleeds that he was the one thing Faith was ever truly terrified of. Furthermore, his reputation is such that Giles immediately recognizes his name when Buffy, being Buffy, misidentifies him as "Kissing Toast."
  • Burn Notice:
    • The main character develops this kind of reputation over the course of his spy work before the series starts. One agent admits his agency always assumed "Michael Weston" was just a code name for a group.
    "I'm Michael Westen... yeah, that one."
  • The Cape: Chess is this, the mere mention that he could possibly be alive being enough to spook public defender Dana Faraday.
  • Cheers: Norm became this in one episode, when the CEO of his company forced him to become the company's hatchet-man, essentially giving employees notice that they had been laid off. At the end of the episode he decided he could not keep this job with a clean conscience, so he decided to turn in his resignation. He tried calling his immediate supervisor and then the CEO's secretary, both of whom hung up immediately; word had gotten out through the company grapevine that if you got a call from Norm Peterson, it meant you were being laid off. When he realized what was going on, he called up the CEO personally and greeted him with, "Hello, sir? This is NORM! PETERSON! MUAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!"
  • Dexter: When one of George King AKA 'The Skinner''s employees is brought in for questioning about a series of murders, he has a near panic-attack, and would rather go to jail than convict him, and for good reason.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks are treated by all who know them as the bogeymen of the Doctor Who universe. Even the Doctor, who's battled and defeated them uncountable times, always treats their arrival with a mixture of grim determination and just plain old fear.
      • Best seen in the end of the first part of "The Stolen Earth". When the first broadcasts of "EX-TERM-IN-ATE! EX-TERM-IN-ATE!" reach Earth, the former companions and allies of the Doctor such as Sarah Jane, Martha Jones, and even Jack Harkness — some of the bravest people in the universe, one of whom is outright impossible to kill — are stunned into a state of tearful panic.
      • When the Daleks are first encountered in the new series (in the eponymous episode "Dalek"), the Doctor reacts with sheer panic when he realizes the alien prisoner he is locked in with is (apparently) the last surviving Dalek.
    • After the reboot of the universe, Rory Williams has been interwoven into the myths and legends of human history as "The Last Centurion". Woe betide anyone who threatens his loved ones;
      Rory: Where. Is. My. Wife.
    • There is a very good reason why The Master is considered to be one of The Doctor's most dangerous foes. He may be a bit silly at times, but he's more than capable of bringing the earth to its knees.
    • When they first appeared in "The War Games" the Time Lords were treated as this by the Doctor and the War Chief.
    • Should be noted, before certain events in Series 7, The Doctor qualified for this trope. In that his name and history was enough to terrify plenty of alien races. Including, irony abounds, the Daleks. The only thing that gives a Dalek pause is the Doctor's name. The only thing that scares them is a madman with a box, the one presence in the cosmos they would not wish to face. In fact, this is made especially clear in the Series 5 episode The Pandorica Opens. The Doctor's enemies have designed a perfect prison to trap the Doctor in. Considering that, the legend surrounding the Pandorica reflects on what his enemies think of the Doctor:
      The Doctor: There was a goblin. Or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And it couldn't be caught or reasoned with. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
    • Even the Doctor's regenerations face this. There is a regeneration those following the Eighth Doctor don't speak of: the War Doctor. He is notorious for breaking the promise bound to the name "the Doctor" by burning down Gallifrey and the Daleks with them. note 
    • Just the mention of River Song's name is enough to make a Dalek literally beg for mercy. It is not granted.
    • In "The Day of the Doctor", we are treated to two back-to-back encounters of The Dreaded: first, as a group of Daleks invade Arcadia, the second city of Gallifrey, a swarm of the Omnicidal Maniacs surrounding a group of unarmed, defenseless Gallifreyans, including scared, crying children, and then we get the second, as, before the Daleks can slaughter these people, they all detect the presence of the Doctor, and dare not waste even a minute fraction of their attention on anything but their long-hated foe, with not even one staying behind to finish off the helpless people.
    • There is also the Valeyard. He starts off as a Lawful Evil Amoral Attorney prosecuting the 6th Doctor. It is finally revealed by the Master that they are an Enemy Without of the Doctor between his 12th and 13th incarnations. They are so terrible the Master is scared of them. Taken further in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, where the 7th Doctor locked away the 6th Doctor's personality to prevent the Valeyard existing. Big Finish Doctor Who Unbound shows if the Valeyard had won he would have destroyed the Web of Time.
  • Firefly:
    • The Reavers.
    • To explain some of their heinous acts, they rape people to death, skin them and wear their skin, and feast upon their organs. And as Zoe aptly put it "[hopefully] in that order".
    • The Hands of Blue have a similar effect, at least on River, and they rapidly pick up this status with Jayne once he hears the effects of what they do to "witnesses."
  • Game of Thrones:
  • Grimm: The Grimms are The Dreaded of the Wesen world. Whenever someone realizes Nick is a Grimm for the first time, they are terrified and often beg not to be killed. Monroe explains it best;
    Monroe: You're the monster under the bed! [...] You're not real! You're a scary story we tell our kids! Be good or a Grimm will come and cut your head off...
    • And like Harry Dresden or the Doctor, he's beginning to earn a reputation for himself one encounter at a time as people get wind of what he went up against and what the outcome was. He'd deny being one of the baddest badasses out there, but the scorecard says he is.
    • It helps that there seems to be something about Grimms that makes Wesen instinctively fear them. Many badass Wesen who never encountered a Grimm before, are paralyzed with fear the moment they see that Nick is a Grimm. It seems to be a supernatural element of being a Grimm but it has not been explained on the show.
      • Partially explained in Season 3, that when the Wesen woge they see the Grimm's eyes turn black and their true selves reflected in them.
  • Heroes: Sylar. When a gaggle of supervillains are released from their cells and have the chance to take revenge on Noah Bennet, the guy who locked them up, Noah only has to say one thing to scare them into teaming up with him: "Sylar's in the building."
    • Bennet was pretty dreaded himself at first. He's a Badass Normal who used to work for The Company and was very good at it. Sylar is in fact the only thing more feared than "the man with the horn-rimmed glasses."
  • Another rare game show example: In Jeopardy, there is a category called "The Dreaded Spelling Category", and it is dreaded, because the contestant does have to spell the word, exactly. (Not as easy as it seems.)
    • "The Dreaded Opera Category," as well, because very few people know it well enough to do well on it. Naturally, this was always saved for last.
  • On Justified Theo Tonnin, The Don of the Detroit Mob, is portrayed like this. He has been the head of his crime family for over 30 years and the cops can't get any charges to stick. According to stories he likes to travel with a severed human ear in his pocket and if he pulls it out and starts talking to it, you know that he is really angry at whoever he is currently with. His mob lieutenants are shown to be Axe Crazy psychos but they all adore/fear Theo and he manages to keep them in line (most of the time). This portrayal is helped by a large dose of Real Life Writes the Plot since the actor portraying Theo is very busy and could only appear sporadically on the show. The writers had to invent other mobsters to act as the Big Bad of a season which resulted in Theo being portrayed as someone even those guys are deathly scared of.
  • Human Target: Guerrero has managed to interrogate people just by introducing himself. Of course, being prime time they have to keep most of the stuff that got him the reputation off screen.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva: Wataru develops into this after recovering from his Heroic BSOD, as demonstrated where he begins sends Fangires fleeing in terror simply by staring them down. Without transforming into Kiva.
  • Kamen Rider Drive: After beating a Romuroid (Roimude, Roidmude, whatever), it calls Shinnosuke a "Kamen Rider", making him (and "Mr. Belt") call him Kamen Rider Drive.
    • To clarify, after having kicked much monster ass since 1971, Riders themselves are now dreaded. When Shinnosuke suits up for the first time, and the Roidmudes a good look at what his suit looks like, they and their bosses start taking him very seriously because they're dealing with a Kamen Rider now, and you don't screw around with one of those! As per the downplaying of the title's use in the revival era, Drive is initially just Drive, and in fact had never heard of the term until he hears the bad guys decide he's one and get scared. He decides it's pretty cool and he'll be "Kamen Rider Drive" now.
  • In Leverage, Eliot Spencer is a rare heroic example. Anyone who knows Eliot's reputation as a supreme Badass takes him very seriously. When he announces himself by name to Moreau's bodyguards, an entire roomful of people draw guns on him and the closest ones actually look worried.
  • Merlin: Merlin's older alter-ego has this reputation towards Morgana in series four. While a heroic example, he's not a Terror Hero as this is completely unintentional on his part, and she's terrified because the gatekeeper of the spirit world told her that he is her destiny and her doom. Whenever she sees him in his aged form, she has Tears of Fear. It doesn't help that he commanded a dragon to burn her army, stripped her of her powers once, and in a magical battle, completely curbstomped her and tossed her aside like a rag doll.
    • Morgana's vision of the future plays this straight. She's lying wounded on a battlefield, littered with the remains of her dead soldiers. And then we see the older Merlin, standing over her triumphantly and seemingly all-powerful, furiously admonishing her for all of her crimes.
    Merlin: Is this really what you wanted, Morgana!
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Everyone in London is terrified of Doug Piranha, including his brother and partner in crime Dinsdale. "I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug," Luigi Vercotti says. Doug's most horrifying technique? Sarcasm.
  • Mr. Young: In the first episode, Derby describes Slab as a cross between Godzilla and Bigfoot. This becomes a plot point in "Mr. Hyde" when Adam develops a serum that makes him more confident, but also turns him into a monster whenever it takes effect, but finds that just looking at Slab scares him enough to turn him back.
  • Twin Peaks: Bob. An evil spirit that raped and murder Laura Palmer. Possesed Leland and murdered Maddi.
  • Revolution:
    • "I'm Miles Matheson, and yes, all the stories you've heard are true." Cue terrified Eye Take from a Mook.
    • Sgt. Strausser is one the most feared members of the militia. Even Miles describes him as the only person he's afraid of.
  • Smallville: Lex Luthor has evolved into this. Simply knowing that he's out there and that he knows their secret identities has Clark, Oliver, and the rest of the Justice League shaking, and the possibility of his return is spoken of in tones usually reserved for The End of the World as We Know It. Not bad for a Badass Normal and (as of his last, Season 8 appearance) Evil Cripple.
    • Season 10: Smallville's version of Darkseid. In fact, that's the whole point of him: as long as you have fear or doubt in your soul he can control you.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Theokoles, the Shadow of Death. This giant, undefeated gladiator terrifies everybody when he's announced to be coming out of retirement. Everyone assumes that Spartacus and Crixus are doomed when they are announced as his opponents.
    • In Vengeance The Egyptian is one. Ashur is currently looking for various psychos to help him, so he quickly recruits The Egyptian into his Quirky Mini Boss Squad.
      • Amusingly, the Egyptian is apparently only this to the Romans, who he is fighting alongside. There's no indication that the gladiators/rebels have even heard of him.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Borg Collective in various series. Despite appearing rather infrequently in the series where they first appeared, their sheer implacability, utterly relentless nature, and single-minded goal to assimilate everyone and everything that they come across led to The Federation considering them, as Captain Picard puts in Star Trek: First Contact, "our most lethal enemy". Even Guinan is afraid of them, what with them having assimilated her home world. The suspense that builds up around their incursions into Federation space is particularly indicative of this. It's less so in Star Trek: Voyager, where Voyager encounters them so frequently without being in much danger that the Borg end up exhibiting Villain Decay.
    • In the first season of TNG, the Ferengi were treated this way. It didn't last long.
    • The Iconians were so feared that the other races in the galaxy banded together to wipe them out via orbital bombardment of their homeworld and called them "Demons of Air and Darkness". In Star Trek Online, the Iconians turn out to be not so extinct and they are responsible for the strife plaguing the sector. In their first real appearance, a single Iconian vessel wipes out two Borg cubes and leaves just as quickly, telling the survivors to fear them. Furthermore, the Dominion is so afraid of the Iconians that their official policy for dealing with them is to give the Iconians anything and everything they want, hoping they will go away.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dax is notorious among Trill initiates for being one of the worst mentors for an initiate to be assigned to. Dax is infamous for have broken more initiates (thus ending their chance of becoming Joined Trill) than any other Joined Trill. Being assigned to Dax is therefore regarded as practically a death sentence by most Trill initiates.
    • A variation occurred in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Face of the Enemy", where Troi was kidnapped by a Romulan underground movement, and subjected to surgery so she could assume the identity of an operative in the Romulan Tal Shiar named Major Rakal. (The real Rakal had been covertly killed by members of the movement for this very purpose.) Troi quickly found that other members of the Romulan crew were terrified of her because of the reputation of both Rakal and the Tal Shiar; apparently, they have the authority to execute other Romulan officers for any reason they see fit, and are quite liberal (and at times cruel) with this privilege. (In fact, that's the exact reason resistance member N'Vek chose her for the part; he thought that she could play the role well and not give herself away, and in fact, they never suspected a thing until it was too late, with N'Vek making a Heroic Sacrifice to finish the mission and get Troi back to the Enterprise.)
    • In Star Trek: Voyager there was Species 8472, a race of aliens that even the Borg were terrified of; Janeway had to form a truce with the Borg to fight them, which is how they met Seven of Nine. (While originally presented as Omnicidal Maniacs, a later retcon made Species 8472 Not Evil, Just Misunderstood (despite the fact that before this, they had no qualms about destroying inhabited planets, and Kes clearly saw murderous intent when she read their minds). And they were retconned back to the cruel beings they first were in the game Star Trek: Armada II.
  • Supernatural: Has a few depending on the season. In the first season, demons are nigh-unstoppable. In the first episode with one, Sam and Dean have serious trouble exorcising a single demon—it could be anyone, conventional weapons are all useless (the only thing that can hurt it is holy water), and, to kill it, they have to enable it to posses the plane itself. When they learn it was a demon that killed their mother, they become very unnerved. Once they get their hands on the Colt (a gun that can kill anything) and learn how to make devil's traps, demons become a lot less threatening, though are still highly feared, until...
    • Season 4 shows that angels are this to demons: a group of demons harass Sam and Dean shortly after Dean is mysteriously brought back from Hell, but Sam points out that the demons don't know how Dean is alive, either, and are more afraid than they are, because it means there might be a bigger fish. Later, Sam goes back to kill them and finds that their eyes were burnt out because they saw what it really looked like. The only survivor is gibbering about how the end is upon us and how everything is going to die. When it turns out that nothing Sam and Dean have or can do will hurt an angel and sometimes angels can go bad and/or insane, things escalate quickly.
    • Season 7 ups the ante with the Leviathans, who can regenerate from just about anything, shape-shift into someone perfectly (as long as they have a tiny DNA sample), tear through just about anything and anyone, are immune to angels, demons, monsters, Eve, weapons (can't hurt them permanently), fire, iron, salt, and silver. The only things that can hurt them are...Borax-based cleaning products. Decapitation slows them down, but they can only be killed by being eaten by another Leviathan, being forced to eat themselves (used as a punishment for failing their leader), or being stabbed by a "bone of a righteous mortal, soaked in the bloods of the three fallen" (a fallen angel; "the father of fallen beasts", an Alpha; and "the ruler of fallen humanity", the King of Hell). The head Leviathan is this to his subordinates, as his very name is enough to make them shake in their boots. He plans to kill every monster, demon, and angel he can and change human physiology—to make us live longer, be more disease resistant, and much fatter—and psychology—to make us passive—so the whole planet becomes a buffet for the Leviathans.
    • Death tops them all. He is the only being in creation that can make Dean Winchester quake in his boots. One day, Death will reap God Himself.
    • The Winchester brothers themselves are becoming this to the supernatural community—mostly demons and angels, who know about all the stuff they've done.
  • The Wire: Omar Little. An absolutely Badass stick-up man who robs drug dealers for a living. The drug dealers generally see him as more of a force of nature. Even CHRIS AND SNOOP get shaken when they realize he's after them.
    • By extension, Chris and Snoop also count.
    • Brother Mouzone is possibly an even bigger one than all the others mentioned. Even the thought of bringing this guy in to help them scares the shit out of Stringer and Prop Joe.
      • Though, to be fair, only certain people (like Joe and Stringer) seem to know who Brother Mouzone is. Omar, apparently, didn't know him. Cheese suffered a great deal of pain and humiliation for his ignorance.
  • The Thick of It: Not widespread, but everyone in Whitehall is afraid of Malcolm Tucker. From the movie:
    Simon: Who was that [on the phone]?
    Judy: [whispering] Malcolm. He's coming to see you.
    Simon: Oh, shit, he's still alive. When's he due?