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Arch Enemy / Literature

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  • The Deaf Man in the 87th Precinct series by Ed McBain.
  • Theseus Spencer to Oberon Navarro in Alterien.
  • Patrick Bateman to Jean and Luis Carruthers in American Psycho.
  • Visser Three to the Animorphs.
  • Captain Ciaran Devlyn to Caspian Knoll in Astral Dawn.
  • In the Babar The Hunter and later Rataxes (the warlord of Rhinoland) are the Arch Enemies of Honorable Elephant King Babar.
  • Baltimore: Henry Baltimore and the Red King, who murdered the former's entire family and tried to destroy his life in retribution for slashing his face in World War I. He ended up making him worse, since Baltimore is now supernaturally tireless and will not rest until he is destroyed.
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  • Kitano, Kazuo Kiriyama, and Mitsuko Sôma to Shuya Nanahara, Noriko Nakagawa, Shôgo Kawada, Takako Chigusa, Hiroki Sugimura, and Shinji Mimura in Battle Royale.
  • The Belgariad: The Prophecy and Dark Prophecy are cosmic archenemies. On the human level we have Belgarah, Disciple of Aldur, and Ctuchik, Disciple of Torak, who have loathed one another for eons.
  • Messala to Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur.
  • Elijah to Queen Jezebel in The Bible.
  • Carl Peterson was the Arch Enemy of Bulldog Drummond, until he was killed in the fourth novel. Afterwards, Carl's mistress, Irma took over his role.
  • Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg and Lt. Tom Keefer to Lt. Barney Greenwald, Lt. Steve Maryk, and Lt. Willis Seward Keith in The Caine Mutiny.
  • Ciaphas Cain has Emeli, a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, Cain's most persistent and powerful enemy. She first appears as a mortal sorceress who tries to seduce Cain on Slawkenberg and gets killed for her trouble. She later returns as a Daemon who regularly haunts Cain's dreams and is the Big Bad of two novels, each time plotting to convert a planet to worshipping her dark god or even remaking it as a Daemon World.
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  • In the Back Story of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Set was this to Epemitreus. Which is part of why he helps Conan against Thoth-amon, one of Set's votaries.
  • Franny Roote in Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe novels: although Hill dispatches Roote to jail in the series' second novel, An Advancement of Learning, he resurrects him as Pascoe's obsession in Arms and the Women, Dialogues of the Dead, and Death's Jest-Book, then finally elevates him to true Arch Enemy status in A Cure for All Diseases.
  • In both The Divine Comedy and Real Life, Pope Boniface VIII was Dante Alighieri's most hated enemy, as he was directly responsible for Dante's exile from Florence. In the poem, it is outright stated he'll end up in Hell (specifically, the bolgia for simoniacs), and every time he's brought up in any conversation, none of the souls have anything nice to say about him.
  • Dracula meets his match after 400 years in the person of Abraham Van Helsing.
  • Cold Days, in The Dresden Files, reveals two factions have this kind of relationship: the Fae Winter Court against Nemesis, a Hate Plague/alien invasion. An epic-scale war that has continued for centuries.
    • Also there is the ongoing battle between the Knights of the Cross and the Order of the Blackened Denarius.
    • The leader of the Denarians, Nicodemus Acheleone, is a solid contender for Harry Dresden's arch enemy.
    • A very short distance behind Nicodemus is the mysterious wizard known only as "Cowl," who seems to be behind more than one of Harry's problems in various books.
  • Morjin to Valashu in the Ea Cycle.
  • The Elenium: Sparhawk and his one-time friend Martel, who also act as one another's Evil Counterparts.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort to Harry. Also jerkass Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape, at least until Snape's death.
    • Rita Skeeter to Hermione Granger.
    • Bellatrix Lestrange to Neville Longbottom, Hermione Granger and the Weasley family.
    • The Malfoy family to the Weasley family.
    • Voldemort (and previously, Gellert Grindelwald) to Dumbledore.
    • Slytherin students to Gryffindor students. Their historic dislike of each other goes well beyond the competitive nature of the House Cup (to put it in perspective, Gryffindor's relationship with other houses is a more of a Friendly Rivalry).
  • President Snow, Cato, and Clove to Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games.
  • Ernst Stavro Blofeld becomes James Bond's Arch Enemy over the course of three books, until Bond himself comes to think of it as a blood feud and refuses to get MI6 involved.
    • At the end of Casino Royale, Bond declares war on the whole of SMERSH as revenge for killing Vesper Lynd.
  • John Devil, from the eponymous novel by Paul Feval is the Arch Enemy of Inspector Gregory Temple, as well as being one of the earliest super-villains, anticipating the aforementioned Moriarty with about 30 years.
  • Soviet spymaster Karla to George Smiley in various John le Carré novels.
  • Shere Khan the tiger to Mowgli in The Jungle Book and its adaptations.
  • Stephen King:
    • In The Dark Tower, Walter is Roland's Arch Enemy, but not the Big Bad.
    • Annie Wilkes to Paul Sheldon in Misery.
    • IT/Pennywise to the Losers' Club in IT, although IT considers The Turtle to be IT's true nemesis. Henry Bowers also serves as an intensely personal antagonist to the gang, particularly Mike and Ben.
    • Danny Torrance and Rose the Hat in Doctor Sleep.
    • Jamie Morton and Reverend Jacobs in Revival.
    • Barlow to Ben Mears in 'Salem's Lot.
    • Jack Torrance eventually becomes this to Wendy Torrance and Danny Torrance in The Shining.
  • The Nome King is the Arch Enemy of Dorothy Gale and Ozma of Oz in the Land of Oz series.
  • The balor Errtu is the self-proclaimed archenemy of Drizzt. Errtu claims that no one else hates Drizzt as much as he does. Errtu is glad that Drizzt is a Dark Elf, a being whose projected lifespan can be measured in centuries, since this means there's a good chance Drizzt will still be alive when Errtu is eventually allowed to leave the Abyss. Every time Errtu finds a way out of the Abyss he makes a beeline for Drizzt. During one of his stays in the Abyss, Errtu took great pleasure in torturing the soul of one of Drizzt's friends. While Drizzt has other foes like the assassin Artemis Entreri and the orc king Obould Many-Arrows who both eventually make peace with Drizzt, Errtu is far more evil than either of those two and is also the only one who could theoretically hound Drizzt for the rest of his life.
  • Dime Novel hero Nick Carter's greatest foe was the fiendish Professor Jack Quartz, a hypnotist and vivisectionist.
  • Anton Chiguhr to Llewelyn Moss and Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men.
  • Nurse Ratched is the archenemy of Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
  • In Dan Abnett’s Ravenor trilogy, Zygmunt Molotch is the arch-nemesis of the titular Gideon Ravenor. The two men have been trying to kill each other for more than seventy years by the time the trilogy takes place, and their enmity is deeply personal, with Molotch having killed three of Ravenor’s best agents prior to the first book. When Ravenor learns that Molotch has cheated death once again in the third book, he defies orders to stand down and goes rogue in order to end Molotch once and for all.
  • Mrs. Danvers to 'Maxim' de Winter and the second Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca.
  • Redwall has had a few examples, but the most obvious are Swartt Sixclaw and Sunflash the Mace from Outcast of Redwall. When Sunflash maims Swartt's trademark sixclawed paw while escaping enslavement, a feud is struck that will haunt them both for their lives. From the time they are teenagers until Swartt's death in late middle age, they are always hunting one another.
  • The Saga of Arrow-Odd: Ogmund Eythjofslayer and Odd are locked in a deadly feud that lasts for most of their lives and has been triggered by Odd's depredation of Bjarmaland, Odd's very first viking cruise and the same voyage that made him rich and famous in the first place. Despite being deadly enemies, they also have much in common — such as being nigh-immortals who dedicate their lives to the quest for glory by battle and conquest.
  • Chauvelin for the eponymous hero of The Scarlet Pimpernel, with generous traces of Inspector Javert and Foe Yay.
  • Schooled in Magic: Nanette, originally introduced as the spy Lin, develops a grudge against Emily after Aurelius takes Emily as a sort of protege. After Mountaintop's fall, Aurelius is dead, and Nanette devotes herself to ruining Emily's life, allying with many of Emily's other enemies to attack her again and again. Her actions were partly responsible for kicking over the dominoes that led to the Zangarian Civil War.
  • In the Shannara franchise, Bremen the last of the original Druids, and Brona the Warlock Lord (who betrayed and destroyed the Druid Order) were this in the Backstory. This was eventually expanded on in First King of Shannara, where we see that Bremen in particular took this very personally. In The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara the Ilse Witch thinks that she and Walker are archenemies but in reality she's been duped, and he wants to save her. A straight example in Voyage is Elven Prince Ahren Elessedil and Mwellret Cree Bega. There's just something fundamentally twisted in the tortured relationship between this broken Elf and the sociopathic Smug Snake who turned him into The Woobie.
  • Sharpe: Hakeswill in seems to dedicate himself expressly to making Sharpe's life miserable — he has him flogged in pre-canon, he has Harper flogged after figuring out how close he and Sharpe are, he attempts to rape and eventually murders Sharpe's wife... Sharpe tries and fails to kill him in repeated inventive ways before he finally gets to give him the coup de grace at his execution.
    • Once Hakeswill had been written out of the novels, this role was arguably taken over by Major Ducos, a French spymaster who is constantly coming up with schemes to hamstring, if not outright stop, the British war effort, as well as to humiliate, discredit and kill Sharpe in the process.
  • Professor James Moriarty, the "Napoleon of Crime" in the great detective's words, is Sherlock Holmes' Arch Enemy and Worthy Opponent. Almost by default, since he only really appears in a grand total of two stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though of course other Sherlock Holmes stories (be it literature or whatever other media) have since run with it and made him a regular (the most regular, by a large margin) foe of Holmes.
  • Doctor Hannibal Lecter to Clarice Starling, Will Graham, and Jack Crawford.
    • Clarice Starling also has Buffalo Bill and Mason Verger.
    • Will Graham also has Francis Dolarhyde.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei Lannister thinks that Tyrion is her worst enemy thanks to a prophecy stating that she would be strangled to death by the hands of her younger brother. She is utterly convinced in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons that everything going wrong in her life is Tyrion's work.
    • More generally, House Stark considers House Lannister to be their archenemies and the conflict between the two is central to the story. The Lannisters see the Starks more as annoyances and to get them out of their way, have them killed or attempt to assassinate them (Joffrey has Eddard (Ned) Stark executed, the Lannisters orchestrate the deaths of Robb and Catelyn, while Cersei attempts to have Jon killed after he becomes Lord Commander). So, between the Lannisters killing Ned, holding Sansa and (supposedly) Arya Stark hostage, crippling Bran, and the Lannisters who mastermind the Red Wedding... Yeah, It's Personal. The Starks thought they were archenemies before but by this stage, several members of the Stark clan exist solely to destroy the Lannister House.
      • Specifically, Catelyn despises Cersei Lannister and blames her for what happened to her husband Ned and children; Arya seems to hate every single one of them but especially hates Joffrey as he killed her father Ned and her friend Mycah; Joffrey thinks he is The Rival to Robb Stark (from a purely dynastic point of view, he is right, but Robb completely outclasses him as a warrior and commander, partly because Joffrey is still just a kid); Robb himself despises the Lannisters for killing his father and probably sees Jaime as the Lannister he has to beat; and Jon despises the Lannisters who killed his father and brother Robb and/or caused harm to the rest of his family. On the flip side, the heads of these households — Tywin and Eddard — don't seem to think about the other that much at all, while Tyrion Lannister has a... complicated relationship... with all of them (both with the Stark family and his own, ranging from antagonistic to Odd Friendship). The youngest children, on both sides, are treated more like victims of the whole thing.
      • Historically the Boltons, another powerful Northern House, were the enemies of House Stark, even killing some of the Stark Kings. The hostilities seemed to ended have centuries ago, however the Boltons end up betraying the Starks and Lord Bolton murders King Robb Stark.
    • Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, is an Ax-Crazy sociopath with a penchant for Rape, Pillage, and Burn, and as such several characters (including his own brother) have sworn to kill him for whatever specific crime he happened to commit against them or their family on any given day.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen was highly regarded by most people and generally seen as The Wise Prince by everyone... Except by Robert Baratheon, who hated him with a such a passion that he not only killed Rhaegar personally in mortal combat, he swore to kill every single Targaryen he could get his hands on, including their children. Though, the practice of slaughtering the kin of rivals to the throne is not exactly uncommon in this setting (and the known surviving Targayen children actually are plotting to overthrow him and his House), it is strongly implied that Robert did this purely out of spite for the Targaryens' in general and Rhaegar in particular.
    • Stannis Baratheon seems to be this to the Lannisters with Robb Stark's death. He was already their main adversary, however he has continued to antagonize them longer then their other rivals.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible: After defeating Doctor Impossible and discovering her ties to him, Fatale considers this might make him her Arch Enemy, but is it worth it?
    I suppose I ought to vow to oppose him forever; make a nemesis issue of it. But it's a little beside the point. ... with CoreFire back, he's already got a nemesis. I'd have to be a co-nemesis. ... I'm not 100 percent sure what I'm supposed to angry about, if we come down to it.
  • Spy School: Murray Hill serves as one to Ben after the first book, sometimes while working as a freelance spy, sometimes on behalf of the evil organization Spyder.
  • Lex Luthor (or the Guy who took the name-Like he cared about a copyright infringement suit) thought he was in Tales of an Mazing Girl. He was more of a minor threat.
    • The Duke of Wellington and Napoléon Bonaparte, whom some like to see as historical archenemies, even though they probably did not see themselves that way, show up in the series.
  • Milady de Winter, Comte de Rochefort, Cardinal Richelieu, and the Duke of Buckingham to Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers.
  • In Timeline-191 the United States of America and the Confederate States of America are one another's archenemies, fighting four wars against one another, and spending most of their time when they are not at war preparing for the next one.
  • Bob Ewell to Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • This shows up a bit in Tolkien's Legendarium.
    • Manwe, King of the Vala, and Melkor Arda's God of Evil, later known as Morgoth Bauglir, are this. However Tulkas could also be considered this for Morgoth as he defeats them personally twice in combat, and him entering Arda caused Morgoth to flee, giving peace for a time. Morgoth could be considered this for many of the heroes of the First Age, such as Beren and Hurin.
    • Huan, the greatest wolfhound in Middle-Earth, and Carcharoth, the greatest wolf to have ever lived, who was created by Morgoth because of a prophecy that only such a wolf could kill Huan. They end up performing a Mutual Kill.
    • Glaurung, Father of Dragons, serves as this for Turin and his sister Nienor in "The Children of Húrin". Bear in mind that Morgoth had cursed their father Hurin and his family so could be considered the enemy of their family, his actions eventually wiping them out. However Glaurung is the one who causes the most trouble directly for them, even though Turin kills him his actions drive Turin and his sister to suicide.
    • Morgoth to all heroes in The Silmarillion. Manwe, Feanor, Fingolfin, Finrod, Beren, Luthien, Hurin and Tuor in particular.
    • Sauron to the Fellowship of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings. Sauron also had Galadriel, Gil-galad, Elrond, Elendil, Isildur, and Círdan in particular.
    • Saruman to Gandalf.
    • Gollum to Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee.
    • Smaug to Thorin Oakenshield and his company in The Hobbit.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the most notable examples are Fireheart and Tigerclaw, and, coincidentally, their mentors, Bluefur and Thistleclaw.
  • In The Wheel of Time the Forsaken Ishamael Later Moridin clearly views himself as this to Rand Al'Thor. Considering that he's The 'Verse's version of The Antichrist, from a metaphysical standpoint he's not wrong, either. However, another member of the Forsaken would contest the position- Demandred, who is said to have hated Rand's previous incarnation more than anyone has ever hated anything and has transferred that hate fully to Rand, making it plain that he sees himself as the only one allowed to defeat him though Moridin makes it plain he won't respect that if his plans call for it. Prior to his death, Sammael would have put himself up for the title too, though other Forsaken feel he falls well short of Demandred for sheer hatred- yeah, being the main character in a series where It Sucks to Be the Chosen One means you get lots of people who want this position. Other characters have them too, usually (but not always) their Evil Counterpart:
    • Mat has the Gholam.
      • Mat is also considered the counterpart to the Forsaken Balthalmel (since both are gamblers and womanizers), though the two don't really interact. There is also Padain Fain, due to their mutual connection with Shadar Logoth, and Fain once held Mats family captive. And it is ultimately Mat who takes Fain down. Though Fain considers Rand his archenemy (despite hating Mat and Perrin also, adn the Ishamael and the Dark One), and furthermore Fain kills Perrin's family.
    • Perrin has Slayer.
    • Egwene has Elaida.
    • Nynaeve has Moghedien.


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