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"About my name, Artemis. You were right in London, it is generally a female name. After the Greek goddess of archery. But every now and then a male comes along with such a talent for hunting that he earns the right to use the name. I am that male. Artemis, the hunter. I hunted you."
Artemis Fowl, being his typical modest self, Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code

As one of the oldest storytelling ways, it should be no surprise many authors have penned a variety of impactfully intelligent and charismatic characters that have kept the pages turning.

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Individual works:

     # - J 
  • 1632:
    • Sultan Murad IV, who is currently the most effective enemy of the U.S.E., spent years pretending to be in denial about the "Ring of Fire" before launching an attack with modernized airship weapons. He learns from his defeats, such as training snipers of his own when his enemy uses them against him, is determined to write his own page in the history books, and is known for actions such as executing some of his men for fleeing in battle but ordering one of his officers to pretend to give the dead men's families pensions in seeming defiance of Murad—when in reality it was the latter's idea—to inspire loyalty among the other airship crews to that officer.
    • Pedro Dolor is a Spymaster from the Vatican plot line, who serves as The Heavy against Ruy, Sharon and the others. Dolor is a mysterious, imposing figure who appears out of nowhere to serve Cardinal Borja, working to thwart the goals of more sympathetic characters, such as by ambushing one of Harry Lefferts' rescue missions or infiltrating a city with the intent of killing the Pope. Dolor is is also fully willing to kill any subordinates who become liabilities to him, but is also utterly disgusted by the rampant sadism among many of his allies, and his efforts are designed to gain more trust from the usurper Pope and the Spanish crown, who he plans to turn on once he achieves enough power in revenge for being abandoned on the streets of Madrid and ignored by Spain's nobles as a boy.
    • Salqam-Jangir Khan, head of the Kazhak Khanate, is hired to attack the heroes of the Russian plot line. Upon realizing that the Russians will make better allies than enemies, he quickly switches sides, while taking the one who hired him prisoner and turning the guy over to Bernie and his allies as a sign of good faith. Khan becomes an ostensible subordinate of the Russians, seeing it as an opportunity to get them to support his dynasty as hereditary governors and forestall any coup attempts. Salqam then proceeds to become head of the new nation's pro-slavery faction but is willing to allow slaves to have the right to vote, signifying that they are not to be seen as subhuman and may elect representatives who are more likely to free them. Khan also pledges to execute any of his nobles who try to control the votes of their slaves, suspecting this will give him a chance to execute his political rivals.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, born Prince Dakkar, is revealed as the son of an Indian Raj whose family was slaughtered for his rebellion against the British. Nemo has since abandoned civilization to create his own by his brilliance and force of will, resulting in the Nautilus-an ingenious submersible that Nemo travels the world with, striking fear into the hearts of the British by destroying their ships. Nemo is polite even to his prisoners, taking everything they need from the sea and their own victims, while maintaining a air of civility and geniality, showcasing his unmistakable charisma and drive.
  • Accel World:
    • White Cosmos is the King of Oscillatory Universe, the secret leader of the Acceleration Research Society and the older sister of Black Lotus. Aware that all previous Virtual Worlds were destroyed, Cosmos became determined to finish Brain Burst by all possible means, like leading the brutal murder of Saphron Blosson and lying to her pupils or manipulating her own sister to murder the Red King when he was trying to create a lasting peace, causing Lotus' exile in both real and virtual worlds. Years later, Cosmos summons the virtual ghosts of fallen Burst Linkers, leads experiments on living players and uses the Luminary to control powerful virtual beings to deal with the unbeatable Tezcatlipoca. When Tezcatlipoca is born, Cosmos immediately seizes control of him, thanks her enemies for their unwilling help for her plans and kidnaps Lotus' boyfriend while using the threat of Tezcatlipoca to blackmail him to be her spy, confusing Silver Crow with the contrast between her affable attitude and her atrocities.
    • "Black Vise" is the vice-chairman of the Acceleration Research Society. Actually Ivory Tower, one of the Seven Dwarves of Oscillatory Universe and the right-hand of White Cosmos, Vise uses his ability to change forms to maintain dual identities and run hidden experiments in the Accelerated World. Having participated on the brutal murder of Saphron Blossom in the past, Vise offered mercy to her boyfriend, who became the infamous Chrome Disaster out of grief. Fascinated at such power, Vise used and discarded other Burst Linkers such as Dusk Taker and the unwilling Wolfram Cerberus to create a second Chrome Disaster using the Negative Incarnation stored on the ISS Kits. When Nega Nebulus discovers links between the Society and the White Legion, Ivory Tower evacuates the Society members and participates on the defense of White Legion Territory, showing respect towards his enemies and being forced to expose his Black Vise form to save himself. When his secret identity is revealed to the other Kings, Vise sacrifices himself to trap them into a death loop after declaring his excitement at seeing that the impulsivity of Nega Nebulus could challenge his careful planning.
  • Aesop's Fables:
    • "The Deer Without a Heart": This story is similar to the Panchatantra story "The Ass Without Heart and Ears", and the fox proves to be just as conniving. After the lion kills the deer, the fox takes the opportunity to eat the deer's heart when the lion isn't looking. When the lion confronts him, the fox claims that the deer couldn't have had a heart if it knowingly returned to danger.
    • "The Eagle and the Beetle": The Beetle wants to avenge the death of his friend the Hare (or of her offsprings' in some versions), killed by a female Eagle. Following the Eagle to her nest, the Beetle made her eggs fall off while she was busy eating the Hare. Successfully repeating the process the next year despite the Eagle moving her nest higher as a safety measure, the Beetle even manages to make the Eagle's eggs fall off a third time despite the Eagle having Zeus/Jupiter guard said eggs. Tricking the god into standing up and making the eggs fall off his lap by either dropping a ball of dung on his robe or flying around his head depending on the versions, the Beetle gets away with his deeds, Zeus/Jupiter deciding to have them reproduce at different times of the year to ensure such problems don't repeat.
    • "The Fox and the Crow": The fox in this story shows why one should be wary about words of flattery. Hoping to trick the crow out of a piece of cheese in it's beak, the fox appeals to its ego by requesting to hear its "beautiful voice". When the crow complies, it drops the cheese and the fox quickly grabs it and flees, but not before calling the crow out for its foolishness. The Buddhist Jataka Tales have a similar story with the same moral, with the fox being replaced with a jackal.
    • "The Fox and the Goat" : A thirsty fox fell down an inescapable well while he was looking for water. Talking a goat nearby into jumping in the well by telling him how delicious the water is, the fox asks him to use his back to escape, promising to help him out afterwards. Successfully getting out of the well as a result, the fox leaves the goat to his fate, berating him for leaping into an inescapable situation without thinking twice about it.
    • "The Wolf and the Shepherd" : The Wolf, wanting to eat a flock of sheep guarded by a Shepherd, came up with a long-term plan. Repeatedly hanging around the flock without harming them under the watchful eyes of the Shepherd, he earned the latter's trust, who eventually came to see the Wolf as a friend. When the Shepherd went to the city, he left the flock in the Wolf's care, leading to the latter jumping on the opportunity, eating and slaughtering the whole flock and getting away with it.
  • Airman: Conor Broekhart is a bright young inventor whose life is ruined when he gets framed for the murder of King Nick and his mentor Victor Vigny by the vile Hugo Bonvilain. Incarcerated at the Little Saltee prison mines and given the new identity of Conor Finn, Conor uses his cunning and wits to survive against the corrupt guards and dangerous inmates. He fends off and defeats Otto Malarkey using a mining tool as a makeshift blade, which wins Malarkey's respect, turning him into an ally. Conor also gets into the good graces of a guard named Arthur Billtoe, providing him invention designs in exchange for favors that Conor uses to make equipment for his own escape. Conor masterminds a Great Escape by building a parachute, hiding in a blind spot, then riding a coronation balloon he designed, disguised as a chef who was dragged away by accident. Conor later uses his mentor's old laboratory to construct a hang glider and adopts the persona of the Airman, a flying French thief, to fly back to Little Saltee, steal diamonds he buried, and terrorize guards like Billtoe, before helping his old allies defeat Bonvilain.
  • Alex Rider:
    • "Yassen Gregorovich", real name Yasha, is a ruthless and efficient SCORPIA-affiliated assassin. After escaping the destruction of his home village, he uses his wits to survive before being rescued by a SCORPIA assassin. During his training, he develops a friendship with an undercover John Rider, who encourages him to leave the organization. After finding out that Rider is an MI6 agent, he decides to remain with SCORPIA, his first target being the man responsible for the destruction of his hometown. In the present day, despite his willingness to work alongside villains such as Herod Sayle and Damian Cray, he proves to have a moral code, as he refuses to directly kill children. He shows a particular soft spot towards John's son Alex, telling him that he shouldn't be a spy and that he should be living like a normal 14-year-old.
    • Point Blanc: The Gentleman is an assassin-for-hire, named such because of his tendency to gift flowers to the families of his victims. In the first chapter of "Point Blanc", he successfully kills billionaire Michael J. Roscoe by hacking into his office building's mainframe, moving his elevator up a floor, and replacing it with a hologram, causing him to "accidentally" fall to his death. By the time Roscoe's body is found, the Gentleman has long since disappeared, making him the rare Alex Rider villain to get away with his crimes.
    • Skeleton Key: General Alexei Sarov was an esteemed commander in the Russian army, who has become disillusioned with the end of the Cold War and the suffering of his people. Introduced as he coolly outwits and kills two mercenaries who try to blackmail him, Sarov plans to overthrow the corrupt Russian president and lead his country to become the dominant power in the world. Inviting the president to dinner, Sarov has him drugged and steals his plane, planning to trigger the explosion of a hazardous site of nuclear submarines, then release a doctored video to make the president appear indifferent to the crisis, which will spark an uprising and drive the president from power. Sarov handles every situation with a charming, sardonic wit, maintaining a genuine respect for Alex Rider for his sense of duty, and even handles his defeat with composure, calmly bidding Alex good-bye before shooting himself.
  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: Morgiana is a slave-girl defined by her loyalty to her master Cassim and his family. Tasked with concealing Cassim's violent death after his run-in with the Forty Thieves, Morgiana buys up medicine from the apothecary and leads a blindfolded tailor to sew his body back together so Cassim's brother Ali Baba can bury him, then foils two attempts by the thieves to find the house by marking neighboring houses similar to her own. When the thieves sneak into the house in oil sacks, Morgiana tricks the thieves into staying put by imitating their leader, then boils most of them alive by filling each sack with hot oil. Even when her freedom is given in some versions, Morgiana comes back one final time to kill the thieves' leader after seeing he intends to break Ali Baba's hospitality, earning herself a fine marriage and a share in the thieves' treasure.
  • All the Wrong Questions: Hangfire, true name Armstrong Feint, is the chairman of the Inhumane Society and mastermind of a plan to destroy the town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea and its inhabitants. Once a kindly zoologist, Hangfire became livid with the town's policymakers when they made a series of ill-advised decisions that killed countless local animals for little real benefit. Beginning his revenge spree by murdering an old Colonel who had the town's oldest tree torn down to build a statue of himself, Hangfire stays one step ahead of the heroes at all times as he dismantles Stain'd-by-the-Sea's infrastructure piece by piece, taking actions such as burning down the town's only school to force its children to transfer to a fake school run by him, kidnapping the heiress to its largest business, subverting the town's last remaining medical staff and police officers to protect him, and manipulating his own daughter, Ellington Feint, to bring him a statue of the Bombinating Beast, which would give him the ability control to the real Beasts to have them devour the town's children, avenging his beloved animals by giving the town a traumatic reminder of what really matters.
  • American Gods: Mr. Wednesday, in truth the god Odin, is the architect of a great deal of misfortune in the story to feed his purposes. Wednesday arranges the death of hero Shadow's wife to recruit Shadow to his purposes, later revealing that Wednesday is Shadow's father, having sired him and manipulated Shadow's life for decades so Shadow could serve his purposes. With his power waning in America next to the new Gods, Wednesday engineers a war between gods and an ongoing conflict to trick them into a huge battle so Wednesday can harvest their power for his purposes. Wednesday remains charismatic and charming, despite his vicious cunning, still caring about Shadow at the end, even as he attempts to ascend to greater heights at the cost of old gods and new alike.
  • And Then There Were None: Judge Lawrence John Wargrave, aka U. N. Owen manages to craft the ultimate Locked Room Mystery and only his desire that someone appreciate his genius allowed the mystery to be solved. Wargrave, deep down, is an admitted sadist with a bizarre sense of justice and only enacts his cruelties beyond the guilty and evil. When he realizes he is fatally ill, Wargrave has nine unrepentant criminals lured to an island with him where he begins murdering them, and avoids suspicion by luring a doctor there into helping him to fake his own death, then murdering said doctor as well. Wargrave proceeds to eliminate his other victims, pressing the final main character who had manipulated a child in her care to his death into suicide. Wargrave ends his plan by committing suicide in such a way that obscures the way he died, with only a written confession in a bottle thrown into a sea revealing the truth.
  • Angel Mage: Liliath was a nun driven to despair when her attempts to summon her angel-lover Phalinel into a human host resulted in many deaths and lead the survivors from the destruction before entering a sleep for hundreds of years until she is able to revive her beloved. Manipulating control of a group called "The Resenters" who are descendants of the Survivors of Ystara for her plans as well as to kill those in her way, Liliath takes the name "Milady" and outwits and kills those within the group who seek to undermine her power. Seducing the Queen with a show of skill and charm, Liliath begins her ritual to revive Phalinel with all the cards in her hand, only stopped by being turned into an angel herself, still getting everything she wanted.
  • Angels of Music: The Phantom, aka Erik, is the leader of the Opera Ghost Agency, a Charlie's Angels-esqe detective agency which Erik uses to profit off. A quiet, calculating schemer, Erik constantly devises new ingenious and ruthless plans in order to succeed which include: secretly hypnotizing his Angels without their knowledge to act on his signal to disable Cagliostro; setting up a mole to infiltrate the murderous Red Circle and expose them before butchering the Red Circle for their crimes; and destroying Charles Foster Kane's plan to fund a war between Europe and America that would mean his beloved Opera house would be demolished. Equal parts cold manipulator and complex mastermind, Erik is genuinely protective of his Angels to the point that he sacrifices himself to save one and ends up taking himself and his nemesis Cagliostro to an apparent watery doom.
  • Animorphs: The Ellimist was once a mortal Keetran known to his friends as Toomin, who, through a series of cosmically unlikely events, ended up becoming a reality-warping being. As the Sole Survivor of his kind, Toomin's transformation into the Ellimist begins after breaking free of "Father". Toomin learns to steal the millions of assimilated minds from Father, then uses this near-limitless knowledge to integrate himself into a super advanced spacecraft, travelling the galaxy as a technological deity to help planets prosper. However, the Ellimist comes into conflict with Crayak, who seeks to eradicate all life. Unable to stop Crayak's trail of death, the Ellimist instead counters by spreading new life on uninhabited planets that outpaces Crayak's work. The two technological gods battle one another, wiping out a tenth of the galaxy in the crossfire, which ends in the Ellimist and later Crayak entering a black hole and merging with space-time to become true gods. Continuing to play a Cosmic Chess Game, Crayak is responsible for the Yeerk crisis ravaging the galaxy, while the Ellimist manipulates the formation of the Animorphs as his warriors. The Ellimist assists the Animorphs from the sidelines numerous times, often exploiting loopholes to give them help without technically breaking the rules of the game.
  • Anno Dracula: Christina Light, the Princess Casamassima, is a charismatic, intelligent Italian-American socialite turned vampiric anarchist and terrorist seeking to create a better world. Light is a master manipulator who plays and seduces men to her cause before disposing of them when they are no longer of use. Bringing Kate Reed to her cause, Light reveals to her a plot to bomb the Tower of London, causing Kate to attempt to stop it. Her actual endgame is to have Kate framed and executed for the botched bombing to make her a martyr to rally an army against Dracula. Defeated, Light returns and outplays General Majin, combining with Yuki Onna to create a safe haven for vampires in Japan called Casamassima Bay. Light then spends an entire century perfecting a way to ascend to godhood, planning to usher in a new dawn of peace and prosperity for human and vampire-kind alike.
  • Another End to the Empire, by Tim Pratt: Mogrash is the warlord of an empire who hears of a prophecy from a seer about a boy in a nowhere village which states: "If allowed to grow to manhood, he will take over your empire, overthrow your ways and means, and send you from the halls of your palace forever." Instead of razing the village to the ground—knowing how those things usually go—he decides to build a school there and help the village while zeroing in on potential rivals. Eventually focusing in on three boys, he ends up adopting them and further honing their skills, while they help revitalize and reform the empire. Eventually giving up governance to one of the boys, who ends up reforming and running the empire better than he ever could, he realizes the prophecy has come true, just with him happy and content instead of dead. He then decides to happily retire with the seer.
  • Anti Magic Academy The 35th Test Platoon: Sougetsu Ootori is the hammy, silly Chairman of the Inquisition, using his seemingly harmless personality and position on the side of good to hide the fact that he is a god seeking the destruction of the planet. Fooling enemies and allies alike with his fake persona, Sougetsu simultaneously serves as the Principal of the Anti-Magic Academy, building it from scratch and training hundreds of youngsters with potential in a variety of skills. Sougetsu manipulates his students to carry out a bevy of plans for him unbeknownst to them, and plays members of Valhalla and the Alchemists alike to his tune, ultimately planning to force Takeru to strike him dead and doom the planet to annihilation thanks to Sougetsu's connection to the life force of the world. Driven by an engineered desire to destroy all things—himself included—Sougetsu nonetheless respects his foes and has a roaring good time carrying out his plans, chuckling even when beaten that he regrets nothing and is pleased with how he lived his life.
  • Arc of a Scythe:
    • Scythe Rand, real name Olivia Kwoon, is the witty and clever second in command to Scythe Goddard. After Rowan decapitates Goddard and nearly kills Rand, she starts working to make Goddard High Blade. Recruiting Scythe Brahms to help her, Rand has Brahms organize two nearly successful assassination attempts on Scythes Curie and Anastasia. Rand tricks Rowan's friend Tyger into believing that she's training him to become a Scythe, falling in love with him in the process. After having Brahms glean Rowan's father to lure him into a trap, Rand reveals that she had been getting Tyger into peak physical condition so she could graft Goddards head onto his body. Rand and Goddard then stun the Scythedom with Goddard's revival in order to ensure his rise to High Blade. After Goddard spurns her affections and embarrasses her in front of Brahms, Rand releases Rowan, pinning it on Brahms so Goddard will kill him. After Goddard becomes High Blade, Rand acts as his second in command, trying to reign him in and ultimately kills Goddard in order to revive Tyger.
    • The Thunderhead is the Benevolent A.I. that oversees the world and protects humanity. The Thunderhead continuously counteracts the plans of Scythes Goddard and Rand, utilizing subtle clues to guide people and sidestep it's inability to interfere with the Scythedom. Fearing that Goddard may cause society to collapse, the Thunderhead started a plan to stop him and ensure humanity's survival. The Thunderhead has Greyson gain the trust of thousands of Tone Cultists, and has Nimbus Agents start building spaceships on the Kwajalein Atoll where Goddard can't stop them. It then has Scythe Anastasia expose Goddard for destroying the Thunderhead's space colonies, publicly ruining him and causing him to order the Genocide of the Tone Cultists in his rage. The Thunderhead, planning for this, uses Greyson's connections to transport the bodies of the Cultists to the Atoll and load them onto the ships. The Thunderhead then sends the ships off to establish colonies on other planets, ensuring that humanity will live across the universe.
  • Arsène Lupin: Arsène Lupin himself is a charismatic, suave Gentleman Thief always ready with a gambit and a smile. A brilliant Master of Disguise who performs daring heists while first sending his calling card to alert his marks of his coming, Lupin sometimes relies on his reputation to get his marks to simply surrender their loot. Lupin repeatedly pulls off gambits once a story, always playing the police, his marks and even worse villains than he to secure victory. In some cases, Lupin cases classic misdirection, even escaping from jail in disguise just because he'd promised to escape beforehand, resulting in the police believing he did so and testifying that he could not be Lupin in court. With a brilliant mind, unmatched flourishes of style and even a deep love for those closest to him, Lupin set the stage for many gentleman thieves to follow.
  • Artemis Fowl series:
    • Artemis Fowl II himself is a teenage criminal mastermind and heir to the illustrious Fowl Crime family. A true Evil Genius, Artemis exploits a law of the fairies to force them to give him gold by kidnapping one of their agents, Holly Short and holding off their siege for a full day, outwitting them the whole while. In the second book, Artemis convinces LEPrecon agent Holly Short to begin trusting him and aids in dismantling a conspiracy headed by Opal Koboi and her partner Briar Cudgeon, with Artemis' revelation causing the enraged Opal to kill Cudgeon for his planned treachery. Saving his father from the mob by faking killing and then reviving him, Artemis later outplays a brutal Arms Dealer, tricking the man into letting him be attacked by the fairies. After claiming his prize, Artemis even circumvents his own ordered mind wiping, having an ally of his store his memories to be stored and returned to him later on. Even in his eventual turn to good, Artemis remains an intelligent and suave gentleman, now using his skills to protect the fey from harm and going from one of their greatest enemies to their greatest ally.
    • Mulch Diggums is a renowned master thief. Recruited to infiltrate Fowl Manor for a reduced prison sentence, Mulch breaks in and acquires hidden information, before faking his death and escapes with stolen gold. Restarting his life as human millionaire Lance Digger, he is recruited to break into Koboi Industries and is rewarded a "two day head start". Taking the identity of expert infiltrator "Mo Diggence", he is ordered to capture Artemis, but instead assists the heroes in bypassing Spiro's high-tech security. Returning to custody, Mulch escapes after Holly is framed for murdering Commander Root. Getting himself recaptured, he persuades his interrogator to let him steal a shuttle and rescues Holly and Artemis. Mulch boards Opal's ship and relocates her explosive charges, tricking Opal into detonating her own ship and reforms after being pardoned of his crimes.
    • "LEPrecon" & The Atlantis Complex: Turnball Root is the criminal older brother of Commander Julius Root. Extorting information from a LEP officer with a deadly spider, Turnball then captures Holly Short during her LEP initiation to use her as bait for Julius, setting up a backup trap when his scheme with Holly fails. Incarcerated after defiantly trying to kill himself to evade capture, Turnball regains his magic in prison and brainwashes a guard into giving him a computer to hack a LEP space probe. Using the probe to break out of prison while eliminating any witnesses and evidence, Turnball tries to force the heroes into helping him restore youth to his dying human wife and when she chooses to end her own life, Turnball gracefully opts to die with her.
  • Asian Saga: Lord Toranaga in Shogun combines The Chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard gloriously, playing an endless game of Xanatos Speed Chess when his plans get derailed. Both Toranaga and his nemesis Ishido had sworn to their late master that they would protect his young son until he was old enough to rule, but Ishido believes Toranaga intends to supplant the boy and become Shogun himself, and he's absolutely right. Toranaga proceeds to manipulate the entirety of Japan, pulling off a set of brilliant, almost impossible gambits to provoke Ishido into war, marginalize his rivals and allow Toranaga to move against them with full support of the populace. In the end, Toranaga's brilliance ends in him completely crushing his rivals and ascending to the position of Shogun with aplomb, with narration even stating that his victory "wasn't an Act of God. It was an Act of Toranaga."
  • Attracopel: Vigilante of London: Dr. Harry Twister is the eccentric head scientist of Tornadite Inc., who secretly plots to take over England and remake society in favour of intelligence, having organized dozens of heists over several months. When Twister finds Alex, he trains him to become a vigilante and take down Wolfalco, who is killing dozens of people. One night, Twister manipulates Alex and Ben into helping him steal the energy relic, falsely telling them that Wolfalco was plotting to steal it. Once Twister has his hands on the relic, he successfully takes over London very quickly. Twister genuinely believes that favouring intelligence will help society advance, and will go to any lengths to enforce his new rule, attempting to strip Alex of his powers at the end, and summoning a giant electric tornado to kill all the rebels as a last resort. Even though, in the end, he gets his powers taken away, and soon gets caught in his own tornado, he calls Alex's move impressive.
  • The Aurelian Cycle, by Rosaria Munda:
    • Atreus Athanatos was an to the Triarchist regime who led a revolution against over their crimes. Becoming First Protector of Callipolis, Atreus instated meritcratic reforms as well as stamping out any dissent. Atreus instates strict rationing measures during a famine and suppresses resistance to it. After the Triarchy manages to seize power in Callipolis and Atreus faces death he calmly accepts his fate and offers advice on how to overthrow them.
    • Princess Freyda Bassileon of the Bassilean empire defied tradition and became the first female heir to bond with a dragon. Forming an alliance with Ixion Stormscourge of the Triarchy-in-exile, but is disgusted by his sadism. Using her dragon and food supplies she's brought she allows the Triarchy to take over Callipolis and makes them into a puppet state. After the Triarchy is defeated she makes a deal with Callipolans to give them their independence in exchange for them backing her claim for the Bassilean throne.
  • Azincourt: Ghillebert, seigneur de Lanferelle, "The Lord Of Hell" is a brilliant soldier who leads the attacks on the enemies of France. Effortlessly outwitting numerous enemies and destroying the English archers, Lanferelle becomes aware of Nicholas Hook when Hook rescues Lanferelle's bastard daughter Melisande. Disapproving of her with an English archer, Lanferelle kills one of Hook's friends to provoke him and deliver a message, leading to a long enmity between them. Despite his strategic acumen, Lanferelle is taken hostage by Hook at Agincourt, where Hook's enemy Tom Perrill attempts to murder him. Learning the man had threatened Melisande, Lanferelle accepts a sword from Hook to kill Tom before honorably surrendering as Hook's hostage.
  • Baccano!:
    • Luck Gandor is an unfailingly polite mob boss who runs the Gandor crime family alongside his brothers, Berga and Keith, using his affinity for charisma and manipulations to function as the practical brains and face of the organization. Having slowly brought the Gandor family into more power than it's ever held with his strategies and people skills, Luck instills total respect from those under his control with his cool head and refusal to bring the chaotic force of drugs into his corner of Manhattan. Giving even those who betray his trust the opportunity to redeem themselves yet never hesitating to coldly execute them if they prove undeserving of his friendship, Luck keeps even the likes of Claire Stanfield and Maria Barcelito under control and uses them to further the Gandor's control over Manhattan, taking out rival crime families and turning enemies into allies every step of the way. Upon becoming immortal, Luck pays back fellow immortal scumbag Dallas Genoard for murdering Luck's friends by sinking him in a river to drown unendingly, however later shows mercy to Dallas' younger sister Eve and allows her to save Dallas from his horrible fate, showcasing that Luck's morals and standards are just as notable as his ruthlessness.
    • Claire Stanfield is the feared hitman known as "Vino," functioning as the single most dangerous character in the story while simultaneously being one of the most entertaining. A brutal badass who has pulled off impossible feats for years, Claire's introductory story sees him slaughtering his way through dozens of murderous criminals to protect the passengers aboard the Flying Pussyfoot train, Claire having used the railroads as means of travel by disguising himself as a conductor. Upon setting up in Manhattan under his close friends, the Gandors, Claire immediately brings respect and fear to the small crime family with his mere presence, and goes about utterly decimating rival gangs to secure power for the Gandors, using his affinity for disguises to play the arrogant Gustavo Bagetta right into a trap. As fun as he is deadly, Claire always has a snappy one-liner and a healthy dose of his zany egotistical outlook on the world to make even the most psychotic enemies blanch at his sheer audacity, befriends many characters from all walks of life with his affable personality, and has a genuine love for the silent Chane Laforet, eager to do whatever it takes earn her affection and respect.
  • The Ballad of Black Tom: Charles Thomas "Black Tom" Tester begins as a talented hustler who finds himself roped into the wicked schemes of white supremacist occultist Robert Suydam. First proving his cleverness by delivering an occult tome while plucking out a key page, Black Tom eventually embraces darkness as a result of his father's murder and assists Suydam in taking over New York tenements before revealing he had tricked Suydam to take over his schemes and murders him. Forcing the Detective Malone to gaze into the abyss at the "Sleeping King," an Eldritch Abomination he plans to awaken to end the corrupt and racist world he despises, Black Tom also cuts away Malone's eyelids to remind him that blindness is no longer a choice.
  • The Black Company: The Lady is one of the strongest sorceresses in the world. Once the wife of the monstrous Dominator, the Lady left him to rot in his prison while she took his minions, the Taken as her own, setting out to conquer the world. Brilliant and ruthless, the Lady forms a curious bond with Crokus, the historian of the Black Company while also using her wits and skill to stop her husband's return and defeat him forever. Later losing most of her power and becoming simply "Lady," she helps lead the Black Company in the South, even organizing a massacre of unfriendly religious leaders who are an obstacle to stopping the Evil Sorcerer Longshadow.
  • Black Widowers: More Tales of the Black Widowers:
    • "The Iron Gem": Jeweler Latimer Reed's dinner guest is an undistinguished man who a mutual acquaintance brings to Reed's home. Reed shows his guest a family heirloom and the package in which his great-grandfather mailed it to his family. The guest recognizes a rare stamp on the package and steals it. He distracts Reed by pretending to be oddly fixated on the heirloom and attempting to buy it, first with pleasant words but minuscule sums, then for a large amount of money but with insulting words that make Reed refuse. He does such a good job of distracting Reed that it is ten years before Reed learns what happened, and by then he has no way to track down his dinner guest and no way to prove his former ownership of the stamp.
    • "No Smoking": Williams is a socially awkward young executive who spends years plotting a million-dollar embezzlement. He and his partner Adams trick the company into teaching them the computer skills necessary for the theft. They apparently agree that whichever one of them receives a promotion will carry out the theft after two years of building trust and then wait out the manhunt in a slum before they split the money. Williams and Adams are the finalists for the position and Williams deliberately makes a bad impression to force the company to promote Adams, who carries out the theft successfully, only for Williams to kill him to get all of the money for himself. Williams only comes under suspicion due to an unconscious habit that reveals he was deceiving the interviewer who decided not to promote him.
  • Bob Lee Swagger books:
    • Shooter: Hugh Meachum is a CIA black ops specialist who oversaw the assassination of JohnF. Kennedy in the name of stopping The Vietnam War. Having concocted the plan to do so on the fly, Meachum displays great ingenuity in tactics, charisma in persuading his accomplices and nobility in lamenting pointless deaths caused by his assassin. Desiring to stop the spread of Communism after America does enters the Vietnam War, Meachum becomes involved in increasingly ruthless murders, as he builds up resources and even fakes his own death when the government catches on to him. After settling into his new identity, he draws his enemies in with leaked fake conspiracy theories, observing who goes to investigate them. Still holding some honor and valuing his men and respecting Bob Lee, Meachum even dies confessing his worst betrayals, refusing to die with them kept secret.
    • I, Sniper: Anto Grogan is a brutal ex-SAS sniper turned contract killer who plots a series of murders to mask his actual target, throwing investigators off his trail for most of the novel. When Swagger arrives in disguise, Grogan feigns being fooled and gives false information to send Bob Lee on a chase implicating innocent parties. Kidnapping Bob Lee to torture him as he closes in on him, Grogan attempts to rationalize his client's actions with apparent conviction, shows some admiration for Bob Lee's refusal to crack, and meets his end boldly facing Bob Lee in a final Sniper Duel.
    • G-Man: Braxton and Rawley Grumley are a pair of bounty hunter brothers hired to find an antique machine gun. They expertly track Bob Lee's progress as they also pursue the gun and become good at ferreting out useful information to stay ahead of the heroes. The Grumley brothers have a reputation for resorting to brutal methods in pursuit of a quarry, but find themselves admiring Bob Lee due to his status as a war hero and resolve to use non-fatal tactics to overpower him and take the machine gun. When captured, they manage to walk away with the machine gun, their freedom, and no hard feelings on either side by offering Bob Lee what he really wants: the truth about his grandfather, which they discovered during their investigation. They even state that they were planning to give Bob Lee that information anonymously even if they had managed to beat him.
    • Targeted: The man known only as Delta is a black ops soldier turned mercenary and security guard for cartel transports. He has never lost one before the novel, and when he does in the opening chapter, he survives the ambush due to being Crazy-Prepared enough to wear a bullet-proof hat. When his ambushers are arrested, Delta is hired to kill them in prison to prevent a Mob War. Aided by a bomb maker named Niner, he makes the DEA aware of how important the prisoners are and plans to kill them in transit. When his canny targets escape in route to the ambush sight and take a nearby congressional hearing hostage, Delta adapts his plan immediately, choosing a plan that will let him infiltrate the hostage situation while Impersonating an Officer and kill his targets rather than trigger a bloodbath that will kill everyone present and make him and his boss public enemies. His plan succeeds flawlessly, with Delta fighting alongside of an oblivious Swagger to take out two of the hostage-takers. Delta is stopped by a By-the-Book Cop as he leaves but avoids being exposed due to keeping his cool and a distraction provided by Niner.
    • Pale Horse Coming: Davis Bonverite is the illegitimate half-brother of Cleon Bonverite, who abused Davis for having an African-American mother. Cleon killed Davis's mother, Davis burning their father alive in his bed thinking that he was the culprit. Decades later, a wealthy Davis seeks to get revenge on Cleon and free the oppressed African-American townspeople and convicts being exploited, tortured, and experimented on. Davis tricks the determined, well-connected Earl Swagger and his friend Sam Vincent into visiting the Bonverties' hometown, Thebes, for another reason and getting targeted, tortured and nearly killed by Cleon's men]. Earl and Sam escape and set out to destroy Cleon's operations in revenge, exactly as Davis intended. Davis sneaks into the town himself, cleverly hidden in a boat of waterproof coffins his shell companies are distributing through the region, which also serve as rafts for the convicts and townspeople to finally escape in. Earl and a group of allies eliminate Cleon's men and Davis kills Cleon. Even after being mortally wounded, Davis takes comfort in the success of his plan and how he leaves behind sons to continue his line.
  • Bowdrie's Law's "Strange Pursuit", by Louis L'Amour: Charlie Venk is a charismatic outlaw who is willing to commit murder but once kept an associate from killing an innocent bank teller and then easily outdrew the resentful associate in a duel. When another of his partners wakes up early in a failed attempt to steal a robbery's proceeds, he finds Charlie already gone, and his own share still there. Charlie escapes being lynched by swapping places with a brutal sheriff in the dark right before the hanging, slugging the lawman, and mimicking his voice. Even while he's on the run for murder, he takes the time to fall in love, tricks three rival suitors into picking a fight with him, and beats all of them at once. Even after Charlie narrowly loses a duel to a lawman he led on a chase through Injun Country, the man is charmed enough by Charlie to only wound him and let him see his girlfriend on their way to prison.
  • The Broken Empire Trilogy: Qalasadi is a Moorish mathmagician that uses his skills in mathematics to predict possible outcomes with near perfect accuracy. Entering the Jorg's grandfather as an advisor, he almost successfully poisoned them all while letting Jorg take the blame. Disappearing Korg would track Qalasadi down and on the way prevent the scheme of a murderous AI, which what Qalasadi wanted to happen. Always charming and polite Qalasadi achieves all his goals.
  • The Builders:
    • The Captain is a former soldier seeking revenge against High Chancellor Mephetic. Having failed multiple times before, the Captain recruits former members of his gang so they can all infiltrate the Capital and kill Mephetic and the Toad Lord. After killing Zapata and his gang and recovering the Toad Lord's brother's body during a train robbery, the Captain is captured when he's betrayed by Gertrude and Reconquista. Having planned this in advance, the Captain waits patiently in his cell until his crew returns and breaks him out; he and his gang mow down the rest of Mephetic's forces as they lay waste to his fortress. When the Captain finally confronts Mephetic, he signals Boudica to murder him with her snipe rifle and later kills the Toad Lord himself, thus fulfilling his quest for revenge.
    • High Chancellor Mephetic is a manipulative backstabber who staged a coup during the War of the Two Brothers. After gaining power and becoming ruler of the Gardens, Mephetic soon discovered his adversary he betrayed, the Captain, was still alive. Eager to finally have another shot at killing him, Mephetic had Reconquista and Gertrude infiltrate his gang so he would know the Captain's whereabouts and plot when to ambush him. After Mephetic captures the Captain due to Gertrude's help, he later kills Gertrude herself after she betrays and attempts to murder him. When the Captain's gang storm his fortress and kill most of his forces, he accepts his fate and tries to blow up the whole fortress while he and the Captain's crew are all still inside, preferring death over having to continue his underwhelming, tiresome job.
    • Gertrude, a.k.a. "the Underground Man," is a member of the Captain's crew and an underground crime lord. After being persuaded to take out High Chancellor Mephetic, Gertrude eagerly joins the Captain's crew and assists him with taking out some of his forces. Secretly working for Mephetic already, Gertrude aids the Captain until betraying him during a shootout so Mephetic's forces could capture him. Once invited to Mephetic's keep, Gertrude coolly tells Mephetic that she had poisoned many of his guards and that helping him capture the Captain was their plan the whole time; she attempts to murder him moments later.
  • The Burning Hills, by Louis L'Amour: Jacob Lantz tracks down any enemies of autocratic Cattle Baron Bob Sutton who flee rather than fight and has never lost a quarry's trail before being sent after Trace Jordan. Lantz's gut instincts, keen eyes, knowledge of the vast terrain, and patient, calculating nature let him figure out many of Jordan's escape routes and hiding places even while Jordan is being sheltered by a local family. Lantz helps his companions corner Jordan but stays out of the ensuring gunfight once it becomes clear that Jordan has both the moral high ground and the skill to defeat all five of his remaining pursuers. Lantz then helps treat the injuries of the wounded Hindeman and goes to deliver a message to the rest of the SB men that the feud is over, noted to have put up an impressive fight and chase after his mission is interrupted by an Apache war party.
  • By the Great Horn Spoon!, by Sid Fleischman: "Cut-Eye" Higgins is a wily thief who proves to be Jack and Praiseworthy's most cunning adversary. Posing as a mild mannered judge, Higgins steals the money Jack and Praiseworthy could've used to purchase boat tickets to California, fooling everyone into believing that he's too refined to be a criminal. Although his scheme is later uncovered, Higgins escapes the ship when it docks, stealing Dr. Buckbee's map to a large gold deposit and traveling through an isthmus in Panama to reach California. Now posing as a dentist to extract the gold teeth from miners, Higgins avoids giving up his gold map to Jack and Praiseworthy by lying that it was stolen. Later facing execution for stealing a horse, Higgins persuades Praiseworthy into convincing the town to delay his sentence in exchange for the map, which turns out to be worthless. When this gambit works, Higgins uses one of his forceps to escape jail, evading justice once more.
  • Cadillac Beach, by Tim Dorsey: Doug is introduced as a hapless, hard-partying salesman who gets dragged into one of Serge's dangerous adventures after killing a mobster in a prank gone wrong, but the ending reveals a devoutly brilliant new side of his personality. Doug is really a mob hitman who deliberately killed the mobster—a potential informer—and made it look like an accident so he'd have an excuse to tag along with Serge during Serge's search for a cache of stolen diamonds. As soon as Serge finds the diamonds, Doug drops the act, takes everyone prisoner, and reveals how he's been manipulating Serge for the entire book. When an impressed Serge compliments Doug's acting skills, Doug happily reveals that he's already a part-time actor looking for his big break. Doug then prepares to kill everyone, promising to do so painlessly, only to be foiled by blind luck.
  • Carmilla: "Carmilla" herself, real name Mircalla Karnstein, is the pleasant friend of heroine Laura. Having been forcibly turned centuries ago, Carmilla is one of the last vampires of Styria and befriends her prey before inevitably feeding on them to death. Despite this, Carmilla seems to truly and deeply care for Laura, winning her and her family over even as she preys on those nearby, all while Carmilla expounds on her beliefs over the nature of life, love and death with nothing short of melancholy eloquence.
  • Catch-22: Milo Minderbinder may be a mere mess officer, but he has connections all over the world and is—among other titles—mayor of an Italian city and imam of a Middle-Eastern country. Due to mastery of international import and export, including goods from Germany, and blatant pinching of various army supplies, even leaving stylish notes, he makes himself ludicrously rich, and becomes gradually even more of a capitalist wonder by turning his eye to private contracting with both the Allies and Axis. He eventually pulls off the amazing feat of bombing the regiment's own airfield for the Germans but easily avoids getting court-martialed due to his seemingly-unlimited funds. His only mistake is buying too much cotton from Egypt, but he takes care of that by convincing General Cathcart that the troops should be fine eating his excess cotton, provided they cover the cotton in chocolate sauce first.
  • Catlow, by Louis L'Amour: Abijah "Bijah" Catlow is a brave, rambunctious, and surprisingly crafty cow hand who earns the wrath of arrogant Cattle Barons with a Start My Own scheme that threatens their profits. A Crime of Self-Defense against a Dirty Cop makes Bijah a want man. Catlow seeks revenge by stealing their cattle, and luring a hired assassin into a fatal trap. He graduates to less justifiable crimes like trying to steal $2 million in silver from the Mexican government to finance a new life with his girlfriend Cordelia even though he already has a modest nest egg. Catlow is characterized by his ability to make friends, his bravery in a fight, his loyalty and consideration to his allies, his ability to b a Graceful Loser, his close friendship with his pursuer, U.S. Marshal Cowan, and his ability to adapt his plans in the face of adversity. Even when the robbery fails, Catlow keeps his surviving men from being arrested, turns himself in out of respect for Cowan, and then promptly breaks out of jail. Catlow then goes straight, takes Cordelia to Oregon for an honest and prosperous life, and names his first child after Cowan.
  • C. Auguste Dupin: The titular Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin himself is the eccentric originator of the Great Detective archetype. Ever seeking a challenge for his intellect, in his first tale Dupin observes the grizzly scene of a mother and daughter beaten to death. Deducing a terrified "Ourang-Outang" was responsible for the murders, Dupin threatens its captor into admitting the truth before letting both off, happy just to solve the mystery. After the body of a young woman is found years later in the river, Dupin uses only a series of largely incorrect newspaper and eye witness reports to discover and report the murderer to the police. In his final outing, Dupin outwits a cunning Minister blackmailing the Queen by examining his behavior, stealing back the letter the Minister was using as leverage, only passing it on to the police after being paid handsomely and leaving a fake with the Minister to enjoy the downfall of the man who once wronged him.
  • Child Ballad: Robin Hood himself is the dashing outlaw who operates out of Sherwood Forest known famously for his partisanship towards the destitute. Forming a band of Merry Men he either charmed into service, compelled into following with his insane charisma, or offered partnership after being bested by their own skill, Robin Hood and his companions together combat many corrupt nobles, rich folk, or friars, including Prince John, usurper of the throne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Finding himself in many situations where he had to use his skills with a bow, ability to think fast and strike attractive deals, or be a Master of Disguise and fool his opponents, Robin Hood's audacious legend—regardless of the many additions and subtractions to it—endures timelessly as an allegory for charity and opposition to tyranny.
  • The Children on the Hill, by Jennifer McMahon: The "Monster," in truth Violet "Vi" Hildreth, was a girl taken in by Dr. Helen Hildreth for her experiments. Growing attached to the newly arrived "sister" Iris, Vi grows to see herself as a monster and eventually kills the doctor for her actions. Burning down the lab and parting from Iris, Vi forms a secret network to liberate girls from abusive households, outwitting police and even her own sister, revealing she never harms the girls, but allows them to kill their abusers before escaping with her latest protege.
  • The City Beautiful, by Aden Polydros: Fievel "Frankie" Portnoy is Alter Rosen's Love Interest and a very charming Jewish thief and gangster. Starting off as an abused street kid, Frankie reinvented himself with his various meticulously planned thefts and quickly rose through the criminal underworld. Knowing the right hands to shake and which deals to make, Frankie has made him very successful and even plans to go straight. Helping Alter to solve the murder of his friend Yakov, Frankie proves critical in helping get evidence and sneakily defeats the various vile men that they come across. Ultimately Frankie helps end the plans of the monstrous John Whitby to burn down the city and ends the novel happily with his boyfriend.
  • Clawing at Glass:
    • Avis is a day-vamp defined by his desire to end Batlord Talvor's "Red Dawn" genocide campaign and return House Noon to its former peaceful ways, no matter what ruthless means are required. Allying with the nightmarish forces of the Red King and Trick-Jack, Avis used them to assist him in subverting Talvor at every possible point, saving dozens of orphaned war children and taking them under his wing while slaughtering his more wicked day-vamp brothers at every possible opportunity. Kicking the story off by murdering Talvor and framing it as a casualty of the battlefield, Avis manipulates the unstable Kryce into continuing Talvor's villainy so as to push him into handing control of the powerful Conflagration over to Avis under the belief it will assist the Red Dawn, when truthfully Avis plans to use the Conflagration to turn on Kryce and end the war. Though Left for Dead by the White Queen's champion Zada, Avis survives and allies with enemies of House Noon to manipulate his way into gaining title of Batlord, using the newfound power to overcome Kryce and the Red King once and for all. Avis comes out of the story completely on top, leading House Noon into peace talks and looking forward to a bright future for all of Inoptica now that the wars have ended—in major part due to his machinations.
    • Auditor Zada of House Midnight is a seemingly perky and friendly wing-sage who attends the depressive surgeon Jondi. Secretly a sociopath working for the White Queen, Zada arranges brood attacks to force Jondi to rise to his potential, later betraying and all but destroying House Midnight while assisting the Queen and the Red King in bringing war to Inoptica. Having betrayed even them by bargaining with the god of Inoptica, the Watcher, Zada makes Jondi the Watcher's host to achieve the end of the Queen and King, ending in exile upon earth while vowing that no matter what happens, she will never end in her quest to uncover feeling.
  • Code Lyoko Chronicles: XANA is the Big Bad of the original series and Aelita's childhood friend. Having mysteriously survived Season 4's events, XANA possess a young American named Eva Skinner. Going to France, XANA-Eva joins the Lyoko-warriors with the intent of destroying them from the inside before killing all humanity. Successfully seducing and brainwashing Odd, XANA has both Odd and Eva act like their usual selves to remain under the radar, while planning to virtualize itself in the First City to reach Lyoko and regain its power. Revealing its presence once Odd and Eva are virtualized in the Mirror and the First City respectively, XANA takes advantage of Jeremie unlocking the wall separating the First City and Lyoko to regain its power. Dissatisfied with Aelita, XANA joins Green Phoenix, hoping that they would help it become human. Even when its attack on Kadic is thwarted, XANA manages to steal half of the Code : DOWN, thus preventing the heroes from killing it. Reconciling with its childhood friend, XANA pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps the heroes against the Green Phoenix. Sacrificing itself to destroy the First City, XANA is later revived and finally becomes a human.
  • Codex Alera: The Realm of Alera is a hotbed of political intrigue, so it stands to reason that it's full of clever schemers, but two of them cement themselves as head and shoulders above the rest:
    • Gaius Sextus is the aging but still formidable First Lord of Alera. Dedicated to maintaining peace and stability in the Realm by any cost, Sextus uses his powerful abilities of furycrafting and equally sharp political mind to stay several steps ahead of his enemies. Generally considered the only thing standing between Alera and all-out civil war, he uses his expansive intelligence network to keep abreast of events across the Realm and even on the rare occasions when he's blindsided, he still keeps his cool and never loses control of the situation. Even in death he succeeds in sacrificing himself to deal a heavy blow against the Vord and arranges for his grandson Tavi's most dangerous enemies to be killed so he can survive to take the throne. Ultimately, even Sextus's enemies have a great deal of respect for his power and cunning, and know they underestimate him at their peril.
    • Aquitainus Attis, High Lord Aquitaine, is one of the most powerful nobles in Alera and Sextus's main political rival. Though he presents himself publicly as a drunken playboy, he's incredibly charismatic and his hedonistic façade hides a keen political mind. Rather than seeking to usurp Sextus directly, he instead focuses on gathering influence so that when the old man finally dies, Attis will be the only one in a position to succeed him. Furthermore, he also works against the conspiracy of his fellow nobles who assassinated his friend Septimus, the First Lord's son - a group which includes Attis's own wife, whose skills he also makes use of to advance his own ambitions. When Alera is invaded by the Vord, Attis puts himself at the forefront of the fight and holds his people together through one of the greatest disasters in their history, and upon his death even his enemies mourn him and must acknowledge that though he may not have been a good man, he was a great leader who used highly dubious means but always worked for his vision of a better Alera.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: Gavriel was made into a vampire as a teenager by the monstrous Lucian Moreau. Feeding on humans, Gavriel gained a taste for the guilty and became a prolific killer and was named personal assassin to the king of vampires, "The Spider". Captured and tortured by the Spider after a falling out, Gavriel kills his master to take his name and begins playing Lucian, convincing him to "hunt" Gavriel while masquerading as the Spider himself. Tricking Lucian into confessing his role in starting the vampire apocalypse, Gavriel utterly destroys his enemy, ending the work ruling vampirekind with his lover.
  • Conan the Barbarian: Conan of Cimmeria himself is a man who adheres only to the rules he himself sets. In the original stories, Conan sets out from Cimmeria to see the world, becoming a thief, reaver, slayer and eventually the king of the greatest kingdom in the world. Facing off repeatedly against sorcerers, monsters and rogues, Conan first becomes a brilliant thief who rescues the trapped creature Yag-Kosha from the evil sorcerer Yara. Throughout his career, Conan becomes a daring pirate and lover of the Queen of the Black Coast, Belit, whose love is enough to pull her back from death itself to fight at his side while constantly outwitting his opponents, taking control of countless crews or war bands with willpower and endurance enough to survive being crucified in the desert. Conan finally leads a rebellion against the depraved King Numedides of Aquilonia, killing him to ascend the throne where he reigns as a just and fair king, while constantly outplaying and defeating those who might seek his throne. Creating an immortal archetype for fantasy heroes willing to take underhanded means to stop greater evil, Conan remains a brilliant rogue through history.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: Once a naive boy, Edmond Dantes, the titular Count, is a ruthless schemer who will stop at nothing to take revenge. Taking his time to study his betrayers under his new identity, Dantes convinces his enemies to invest with him, knowing he will ruin them. Winning the loyalty of Albert Morcerf by saving him from a kidnapping he himself arranged, Dantes proceeds to reveal the existence of the surviving daughter of the ruler Albert's father betrayed to ruin him, as well as the bastard son of one of his other enemies after having introduced his wife to poison to destroy his household.
  • The Cousins: Paula Donahue is the cheerfully amoral accomplice to her sister Theresa's revenge plot against Adam and Anders Story, who murdered Theresa's son and Paula's nephew. When Mildred Story, the brothers' mother and Theresa's employer, dies, Theresa assumes her identity, bringing Paula along to impersonate herself. The sisters then disinherit the Story children and live large off Mildred's usurped fortune for twenty-five years without anyone suspecting a thing. When the Story grandchildren start to pick apart the scheme, Paula burns Mildred's mansion down and escapes as Theresa dies and other accomplices are exposed. Graceful in defeat, Paula later writes to the grandchildren to praise their investigative skill and inform them of her desire to continue pursuing Adam and Anders until they are brought to justice.
  • The Culture: Veteuil in Surface Detail is a ruthless soldier who starts out fighting for the Pro-Hell side in War on heaven, working to sabotage the Anti-Hell side. However, Veteuil opts to sabotage the Pro-Hell side, sabotaging them and helping the novel's heroes to ensure the death of the hell side. A genius strategist, Vetueil manipulates and uses everyone over the course of the novel with none the wiser, possibly even working for the mysterious culture. In the novel's final line, Veteuil's true identity is revealed to be a repentant Elethiomel Zakalwe, the Chairmaker, who has been seeking his redemption for centuries.
  • Dances with the Dragons: Cardinal Moldeen Ogus Gyunei is the mastermind behind the series events, seeking to unite the Alshok Territory with the Seven-Cities Alliance and prevent the catastrophic Holy War from occurring. Arranging for the assassination of his own decoy, Moldeen uses this to expose and then kill the traitor in his organization. Hiring two assassins to use as bait to lure out a defector, Moldeen is also revealed to be responsible for the failure of the first treaty, which he did to create favorable conditions for Alshok. Admitting to be willing to deceive, betray, spill blood and even support oppressive regimes in the name of his end goal, Moldeen will stop at nothing to create a world where future generations can live in happiness.
  • The Dark Knight novelization, by Dennis O'Neil: The Joker is a brilliant, nihilistic madman who seeks to give Gotham a "better class of criminal". The Joker showcases his audacity and intelligence at the start of the story by staging the robbery of a mob bank, tricking all of his hired thugs into killing each other, then keeping the cash for himself while using a stolen school bus to cover his escape. After convincing local crime bosses to hire him to murder Batman, the Joker stages assassinations of public figures and the kidnapping of Batman's Love Interest all in attempts to force Batman to unmask himself, and the Joker later allows himself to be captured by police just so he can stage an escape and kill a mob witness. Eventually deciding that his "game" with Batman is too fun to end, the Joker overthrows his ostensible bosses and continues to terrorize Gotham until his defeat at Batman's hands, which Joker accepts with laughing glee before revealing that his backup plan of corrupting Harvey Dent into villainy has nonetheless ensured victory for the clown. With a genuine belief in his chaotic code that his film counterpart lacked, which is best illustrated when he gives an elderly woman a hundred bucks on a whim, the novel's take on the Joker manages to be an even more complex, intriguing villain than he is in the film.
  • Date A Live: "Nightmare" Kurumi Tokisaki was once a normal, human girl. After being turned into a Spirit and lied to by the First Spirit after killing her best friend, Kurumi resolved to undo the First Spirit's existence no matter what it took. Introduced as a mysteriously charming transfer student, Kurumi stays one step ahead of Shido Itsuka and Ratatoskr, ultimately engineering a Sadistic Choice where either a spacequake destroys the city or her "City of Devouring Time" consumes Shido's entire school. After being saved from a rampaging "Efreet" by Shido, her next appearance sees her help Shido against Miku and DEM while trying to uncover Nia's location. Helping Origami go back in time to stop her parents' murder, Kurumi learns the horrible truth and uses her time powers to help Shido correct the mistake, including convincing her past self to offer aid. Against the overwhelming might of Mio Takamiya and Isaac Westcott, Kurumi put a clone back in time as a contingency to impart critical knowledge to Shido in case she's killed and steals back Nia's Qlipha Crystal from Westcott to even the odds. Brimming with self-confidence to match her enigmatic nature, Kurumi was both a deadly enemy and a pivotal ally.
  • The Day of the Jackal: "The Jackal" is a Professional Killer hired to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle whose operation is only caught on to thanks to a member of his organization blurting out his codename under torture. The Jackal infiltrates Paris and manages to stay a step ahead of the authorities the entire novel. In one instance, when seemingly cornered, the Jackal asks a series of seeming innocuous questions of the police officer, gleaning all he can from the man before realizing it is safe to eliminate him. The Jackal constantly misdirects the authorities, placing himself in the perfect position to assassinate de Gaulle and when he is finally tracked down, it is only seconds before he pulls the trigger on his target.
  • DC Icons series:
    • Batman: Nightwalker: Madeleine Wallace, a young member of a group of left-wing anarchists called the "Nightwalkers", is accused of robbing and murdering several wealthy people in Gotham City and is being held in Arkham Asylum, when in reality her brother Cameron killed those people and Madeleine is taking the rap for him. Bruce Wayne is forced to work at Arkham for community service and Madeleine decides to talk to him. Bruce tries to get information from Madeleine and she convinces him to scramble the security cameras so they can talk alone. Madeleine tells Bruce convincing lies and half-truths to make herself appear sympathetic and tells Bruce of a minor Nightwalker safehouse to gain his trust. Madeleine uses origami to send messages to other Nightwalkers and uses the security back door Bruce created to escape. Madeleine hacks into Bruce's less secure bank accounts to steal his money and gives it to the poor. Madeleine and Cameron take control of WayneTech drones and use them to hold a Wayne gala hostage to force Bruce to give them access to the rest of the accounts. Madeleine opposes her brother when he tries to murder Bruce and Madeleine seemingly is killed by Cameron, only to have faked her death and escaped.
    • Catwoman: Soulstealer: Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, rose up from illegal street fighter to pay for her sister's medical bills to become a skilled member of the League of Assassins in two years. After discovering a way to use Lazarus pit formula to cure her dying sister, Selina leaves the league and heads back to Gotham City where she starts a crime spree in order to recruit both a skilled biochemist to help her complete it in Poison Ivy and a way to contact the Joker and make a deal with him in Harley Quinn. Starting a massive, flashy crime spree to take control of the criminal underworld and outwitting Luke Fox's attempts to evade her, Selina lets herself get captured eventually, knowing she'll be transferred to Arkham Asylum due to the infamy shes gained and uses Joker and his army to defeat the League of Assassins members who've come for her, by promising it to him, only to backstab him and hand him over to the police. Selina is a cunning, seductive figure who genuinely grows to care for Harley, Ivy and Luke and ends the book succeeding with her plans to save her sister, heading off for her next heist.
    • Superman: Dawnbreaker, by Matt de la Peña: Lex Luthor is a rich young man visiting Smallville from Metropolis for mysterious reasons. Lex convinces young people in town (including a young Clark Kent and Lana Lang) to investigate the disappearance of Mexican immigrants in town, thinking that the powerful Mankins Corporation is responsible. After being caught flat-footed the first time he investigated a Mankins facility, he is better prepared the second time, having satellites spy on another Mankins facility, bringing a dart gun to take out guards, equipment to climb the facility's walls and camera equipment to capture footage of the Mankins Corporation's crimes. After Clark defeats the Mankins Corporation, revealing their crimes and leading to their major officials getting arrested, Clark discovers that Lex's company, Luthor Corp, bought up the Mankins Corporation's assets, with Clark unwittingly having helped Lex take down a powerful rival and setting up a more powerful enemy he will have to deal with in the future.
  • Deception Point: Director William Pickering, National Reconnaisance Office Agent Rachel Sexton's seemingly unimposing employer, seeks to prevent the privatization of space travel for the sake of national security. Sending evidence of a Senator's misconduct to a White House staffer, Pickering commissions a forged meteor made from deep sea fossil and has it warped using hydrogen fuel. Subsequently placing the forged meteor near Ellesmere Island, Pickering forcibly has a Canadian geologist report falsified information for an unknowing NASA to find before having the geologist thrown to his death. When the forgery is discovered by Rachel, oceanographer Michael Tolland and astrophysicist Dr. Corky Marlinson, among others, Pickering attempts to have the team hunted down to preserve the ruse. During the final confrontation with the trio, Pickering intercepts an SOS from Rachel, telling her Senator father not to release the information about the forgery if he wants to ensure Rachel's survival.
  • Deltora Quest:
    • Dain is a Grade 3 Ol and the Shadow Lord's ultimate spy. Joining the Resistance against the Shadow Lord's tyranny with a fake backstory, he seemingly aids the hero Leif and his companions to gain their trust. Weakened by the magic of the city Tora, Dain tricks the heroes into thinking he's grieving over the city's abandonment. Once the Belt of Deltora is complete, Dain, believed to be the heir of the kingdom, stages his own capture, and morphs into a dagger to continue spying on the heroes. Once exposed, Dain disarms Lief, tries to destroy the Belt, and foils an attempt to ambush him. Even after his death, Dain had most of the heroes captured and nearly completed his master's scheme.
    • Tom is a Magitech salesman. He is very charming to his customers and offers a discount to members of the Resistance, but has also rigged his shop to be theft proof. He however cannot resist his greed when offered gold, exchanging them for muddlets that did not belong to him. When the heroes spot him assisting the Shadow Lord's forces and confront him about it, Tom proclaims that he is a neutral party who will do business with anyone so long as he can make a profit.
  • The Divine Comedy: Ulysses, the famed hero of The Trojan Cycle, is encountered by Dante and Virgil within the realm of Bolgia. Ulysses helped to annihilate the city of Troy with his brilliant scheme of the Trojan Horse that brought the Greeks into the city. Having been lost at sea after, Ulysses won the hearts of his men with his subtle charm and manipulative wit, leading to his death in a bold attempt to explore further than any mortal man ever had before and accepting his resulting damnation with dignity and grace.
  • The Donkey Rustlers, by Gerald Durrell: David and Amanda are two children who come for their yearly holiday to the island of Melissa and learn that their friend Yani, after his father's death, owes a huge debt to the miserly village mayor. To help him, they come up with the idea of stealing all of the village's donkeys, hiding them on a nearby island and later ransoming them; Amanda coming up with the strategy and David fleshing out the details, such as sabotaging the village bridge to find out if donkeys can swim. Their plan, executed with some help from Yani and their father, works like a charm: the villagers and the police think that the donkeys were stolen by Communists and believe that David and Amanda, who feign wide-eyed innocence, are nothing but helpful. Eventually, after a reward is offered by the mayor, David and Amanda pretend to dramatically find the donkeys and publicly give their reward to Yani who instantly pays off his debts, the mayor powerless to retaliate even when he realizes he's been swindled.
  • Don't Be a Hero, by Chris Strange: Morgan Shepherd, better known as Quanta, adored superheroes as a youth and, upon superheroes being defamed and derided by society, makes a plan to bring back the world's reliance on and love for them. Assembling a team of villains he recruits through both charisma and bribery, Quanta stages prison breaks, hijacks a television station, and even allows his own capture only to then escape as part of his scheme. Quanta's final plan is to become a global threat, reviled by humankind simply so that only superheroes can take him down and bring back the "age of the hero," even as he shows disgust at some of his partners' sexually perverted and sadistic personalities. Pulling off his scheme with excellence and all while suffering from a crippling brain tumor that is slowly killing him, Quanta sets the stage for heroes to return and, noting that he's grown attached to being a villain, hopes to serve as a threat for the heroes to fight for years to come.
  • Dreamblood Duology: Prince Eninket, while still a child, learned how the Hetawa controlled his kingdom of Gujareh through Dreamblood addiction. Resolute to stay in control, Eninket murdered his father and most of his siblings to take power, then investigates the history of his country to discover the Hetawa murdered their founder when they were unable to control him. Using this to blackmail and control the Hetawa, Eninket decides to become a god through the consumption of massive quantities of Dreamblood, sincerely believing an immortal monarch will be best for his people and beloved wife and children. Needing to cause tens of thousands of deaths for such an amount of Dreamblood, Eninket corrupts an elderly Gatherer into becoming a Reaper, then assembles a mercenary army to attack the neighboring nation of Kisua, intending for his Reaper to devour both armies and generate the Dreamblood he needs. To further his plan, Eninket intends for his army to conquer all of Kisua, then march forth on the rest of the world. Locking away his only surviving brother for trying to stop him, Eninket plans for the novice Gatherer Nijiri into becoming yet another Reaper for his schemes and is only ultimately stopped by Nijiri's unforeseeable defeat of his first Reaper.
  • Drenai:
    • Legend: Ulric is the great Khan of the Nadir. A brilliant leader who forges the Nadir people into a unified strong in a series of dynamic campaign, Ulric intends to expand his dreams of conquest and take even the mighty Drenai. Overrunning most of the known world with his own will and might, Ulric lays siege to Dros Delnoch, the stronghold of the Drenai, and challenges the defenders to their limits. Stating how much he loves the defenders for their resistance, Ulric shows his honor when he allows the gates to open in a temporary peace so the defenders might give a worthy funeral to the legendary warrior Druss.
    • The King Beyond the Gate: Tenaka Khan, Ulric's descendant, is a half-Nadir warrior who helps to challenge the mad Drenai emperor Ceska. Helping the Drenai to route Ceska's forces and hold the line strategically, Tenaka travels to the Nadir to unite them with his own skill and charisma, leading them back to destroy Ceska's power and kill the evil emperor. Later conquering the Drenai after taking Dros Delnoch, Tenaka later returns from the dead to help Drenai heroes bring down his own evil son Jungir, before accepting his final fate and following Jungir into the afterlife.
  • Dr. Gideon Fell: The Crooked Hinge: John Farnleigh is a rebellious and hedonistic young aristocrat who loses his legs in a fight with another boy seeking to steal his identity. He spends the next twenty-five years as a carnival hustler, alternating between using prosthetic legs or pretending to be a dwarf rather than legless, then learns his former assailant is impersonating him, has inherited the family fortune, and is married to John's childhood friend Molly. John enters a relationship with Molly, who is being blackmailed by her husband and they plot to kill the fake John Farnleigh. Wearing hidden prosthetics, John arrives at his ancestral home, charms the false John's circle of acquaintances, acts like he's certain to prove his identity as the real heir and has nothing to fear, then kills his imposter while using his hidden reduced stature to stay out of sight below a hedge and make it look like his victim was stabbed while standing alone. Fleeing the country with Molly as the investigators close in on him, John sends his friend a letter detailing everything after escaping.
  • Dune:
    • Paul Atreides is the only son of Duke Leto Atreides and his Bene Gesserit wife, Lady Jessica. After his father's death, Paul departs to Arrakis, aka Dune, with his mother and ascends to lead the Fremen people. Conducting a rebellion against the House of Corrino and his grandfather Vladimir Harkonnen, Paul achieves not only victory but deposes the Emperor and takes the throne himself. Conducting himself by his prescience of the future, Paul launches a crusade to unite all humanity while setting up his enemies to destroy each other, even allowing his beloved Chani to die to adhere to his future visions before setting off to the desert to die. Returning years later as a mysterious hermit, Paul rallies the people against his sister Alia's tyranny when she is manipulated by the evil spirit of their grandfather, paving the way for his children to seize the universe themselves.
    • Dr. Wellington Yueh is a Suk medic sworn to House Atreides. When his beloved wife Wanna is kidnapped by the Harkonnens, Yueh becomes a reluctant spy and traitor, seamlessly assisting in the downfall of House Atreides. Knowing Wanna is likely already dead and that he will soon follow but unable to defect taking the chance she may yet still live, Yueh delivers the captive Duke Leto to Vladimir Harkonnen and faces death himself, but not before installing a trap tooth in Leto's mouth so the Duke may spare himself a slow end and perhaps even take Harkonnen with him.
  • Durarara!!:
    • Izaya Orihara is an information broker and one of the most dangerous men in Ikebukuro wanting to declare his "love" for humans by manipulating them for his own amusement. Introducing Masaomi Kida to his follower Saki Mikajima she would have Saki form a romantic relationship with Masaomi while Izaya instigates a gang war between Masaomi’s gang, The Yellow Scarves, and The Blue Square, leaving Masaomi vulnerable, endangering Saki, and dismantling both gangs in the process. Also a member of The Dollars, Izaya has recruited thousands into the Dollars before turning them against their leader by reveal to them his identity, Mikado Ryuugamine, allowing them to reek havoc throughout Ikebukuro. After being stabbed by "Jinnai Yodogiri", Izaya would allow himself to be capture, tricking his captors into revealing information on "Jinnai Yodogiri" before sending his newly formed group to defeat them afterwards. Also holding immense animosity for Shizuo Heiwajima for not being able to manipulate him, Izaya has provoke Shizuo constantly, cost him his job, frames him for murder, manipulates a girl to kill Shizuo, and tries to kill Shizuo himself. When Shizuo manages to beat Izaya, he attempt to goad Shizuo to kill him, content that the masses witnessing Shizuo will then view him as a monster.
    • Kasane Kujiragi is a Dhampyr who uses the name "Jinnai Yodogiri" to orchestrate the events of series' final arc. After Izaya Orihara ignores her warning to not interfere with her plans she has him stabbed and later interrogated for information, before allowing him to continue manipulating people to keep them distracted from her own scheming. Also a wielder of Saika, Kasane would hand over Saika to Shingen Kishitani having him spread Saika throughout Ikebukuro creating more Saika wielders and expand Saika influence to almost everyone in Ikebukuro giving Kasane complete control over masses minds and the city. She would also posses Shingen’s son Shinra to make Shinra’s Love Interest Celty Sturluson more vulnerable allowing Kasane to defeat her and give Celty her head to put her under Kasane’s control. Kasane would later save her half-niece, Ruri Hijiribe, from her stalker while taking full blame for the crimes Ruri committed as the Hollywood Serial Killer, so that Ruri can continue living a normal life.
  • Eisenheim the Illusionist, by Steven Millhauser: In this short story upon which The Illusionist (2006) was based, the title character, born Eduard Abramowitz, moves to Vienna where he entertains audiences with inexplicable tricks, even possibly causing the disappearance of a rival Stage Magician for aggressing him. Returning after a year's absence, Eisenheim entertains with illusions of immaterial people and when the police move to arrest him out of fear for his power, vanishes himself, leaving no trace to explain his illusion technique, thus immortalizing his work.
  • The Elenium: Martel is a renegade Pandion Knight, Dragon-in-Chief to Azash, archenemy of protagonist Sparhawk, and the primary planner behind everything the villains do. Having procured the poison that Primate Annias needed to incapacitate Queen Ehlana, Martel moves about Eosia, stirring up trouble in Rendor and Lamorkand in an effort to draw the Church Knights out of Chyrellos and make it easier for Annias to gain the Archprelacy by way of intimidation. When Sparhawk and his companions foil these plans and restore Ehlana to health, Martel convinces the Rendors to invade Arcium, then attacks Chyrellos with his own private army of mercenaries. Robbed of victory by way of divine intervention when the Child-Goddess Aphrael steps in and leads King Wargun's army to Chyrellos, Martel lures Sparhawk to Zemoch, so that Azash can deal with him, and steal the Bhelliom—the entire plot of the series, from the poisoning of Ehlana onward being revealed as part of a scheme to force Sparhawk to uncover Bhelliom and then take it from him. Out for his own profit first and foremost, Martel used Annias, Zemoch Emperor Otha, and even Azash, as means to his ends, hijacking all of their plans in order gain revenge on Sparhawk and empower himself.
  • Everworld: In this dark world where All Myths Are True, these gods and monsters reign above their peers in brilliance:
    • Loki is the Norse God of Lies, Destruction and Trickery and one of the most devious deities to inhabit Everworld. A master manipulator, Loki usurped Odin himself and uses his imprisonment to blackmail the Vikings into warring with the Aztecs. Using his powers to bring the witch Senna from the normal world into Everworld, Loki plans to use her as a way to escape the wrath of the monster god eater Ka Anor against him and his fellow deities by trapping Ka Anor in this world alone. Loki spends his series pursuing the heroes and even launches a deadly sneak attack against the Round Table to get Senna back. At the end, when Senna perishes and his initial plan isn't possible, he gracefully allies with the heroes and helps save them from his mad daughter Hel, showing her who is the ultimate master of the Norse underworld.
    • Merlin the Magnificent is the greatest sorcerer in existence and plans to unite the various deities of Everworld against Ka Anor. Merlin can change tactics on a dime and skillfully pursues our heroes and Senna to stop her from falling into Loki's clutches, always willing to manipulate a deal here and there to make it easier. Merlin is also prepared for if stuff goes wrong, such as making his home base into a giant trap to capture invading armies. Merlin is also willing to listen to others to improve his plans, using the advice of Christopher to manipulate the downfall of Senna and her followers by playing them against each other using illusion magic. Merlin later allies with Loki to help save the heroes and forge an alliance to defeat the monstrous Ka Anor and his machinations.
    • Discover the Destroyer: Nidhoggr, the dragon of the underworld, is a massive beast who serves nobody but himself. A surprisingly cheerful, erudite and charming being, Nidhoggr enlists the service of the young heroes to delve into Hel's realm, manipulating them for his own ends and using them to secure his own position without any risk to himself.
    • Brave the Betrayal: Eshu is the Trickster God of the Yoruba and a messenger of the higher gods. Upon the entrance of the heroes to his domain, Eshu is perplexed by their unwillingness to sacrifice animals and resorts to numerous different forms to sway them, also luring Jalil into the midst of a flood in the form of David. Eshu continues to taunt and sway the heroes with psychological tricks, ending with the last laugh by causing the deaths of Vikings they were attempting to save.
  • The Evil Queen, by Gena Showalter: Everly Morrow, after a torrent of ill and abuses from others as well as love for her sister, decides to embrace her title as the legendary "Evil Queen". Everly takes over the kingdom of Sevhun as its new queen after killing her husband who forced her into marriage and exiles the deceased king's daughter, Princess Farrah, later foiling Farrah's attempts to usurp her and runs circles around her. After being captured, Everly bonds with Farrah's brother Roth and plots to escape, all the while using her Adorable Evil Minions to spy on things for her plans. Eventually escaping using said minions to cut off the fingers off one of her jailers, Everly manages to outwit Farrah and has her sealed forever into a glass coffin where she'll end up having to experience her crimes over and over again. Everly ends the book as the only antagonist on top, having left the others in the dust and now gains tremendous powers as well as both a marriage to Roth and control of the kingdom.
  • Ex-Heroes: Max Hale is a witty sorcerer who casts dark magic rituals to take control of the demon Cairax and possess its body for superhero work, becoming a popular defender of the helpless. While defending his home city from zombies, Max is infected and killed after trying to French kiss a zombified Angelina Jolie and his spirit horrifically tortured by Cairax, enduring until finally after days that feel like years of resistance and defiance, he agrees to help Cairax conquer the wasteland in return for his soul's freedom. Max returns to life by possessing a newly deceased body and makes his fellow heroes think he is forcing them in a cowardly manner to protect him from Cairax while helping Cairax possess a Fallen Hero. Max is mortally wounded after unexpectedly betraying the heroes, but lives long enough to see his friends defeat Cairax with a plan Max gave them. Max reveals he was working towards Cairax's death and his own salvation the whole time, passing away for the second time without fear.
  • The Expanse's Auberon novella: Erich re-emerges from the 30-year timeskip as the ruler of the eponymous planet's underworld. He embarks on a campaign to blackmail Laconian governor Biryar Rittenaur. Erich first tries to bribe Biryar, and when that fails, manages to escape simply by implying that Biryar's guards are in his pocket. Erich is ruthless to his enemies, but supportive to his allies. When Erich blackmails Biyrar over Biryar's wife embezzling money from Laconia, Biryar tries to kill himself. Erich talks Biryar down and convinces him to be more true to himself by accepting Erich and his corruption. Erich was introduced as a petty criminal with no legal status and ends the series as the shadow ruler of an entire planet.
  • Father Brown: M. Hercule Flambeau is an archcriminal and master thief, who is well known for being a Master of Disguise. First introduced in The Blue Cross, Flambeau befuddles the police to sneak into a convention of priests, disguising himself as one to steal a holy artifact. Only stopped by the genius of Father Brown, Flambeau accepts his defeat with grace and style but returns many times to pull off new brilliant heists until he ends up becoming a brilliant detective in his own right.
  • The Fell of Dark: Vivian Duclos was once an ambitious woman who refused to abide by the time's sexist standards and educated herself within a witch coven before opting to become a vampire. Revitalizing the vampires after her sire's death, Duclos resolves to craft a utopian world for humans and vampires alike, allying with Azazel to do so and showing ruthless cunning and guile at every turn. Crushing any who dare plot against her while showing a kind side to her subordinates, Duclous ultimately outplays Azazel when she realizes he means to betray her and ends the book with her grasp on power stronger than ever.
  • Fevre Dream: Joshua York is a vampire who seeks peace with humanity and the betterment of his whole race. With his brilliant intellect, York spent years experimenting on and studying the relationship between vampires and their thirst for human blood, avoiding suspicions for the rash of murders he commits for decades. Upon developing an elixir that serves as a substitute for blood, York begins travelling the country and swaying vampires to his new, less violent way of life, promising prosperity for human and vampire alike in the future. Though overpowered and enslaved by the elder vampire Damon Julian, York subverts Julian's schemes at every turn even from his subservient position, and as soon as the opportunity arises, York schemes with his longtime friend Abner Marsh to outwit and murder Julian once and for all. Honoring Marsh's memory long after he passes and bringing his people the peace he has so longed for by the end, York completes the prophesy among his kind foretelling of a new age and proves himself the true Pale King.
  • The First Law works:
    • Bethod, King of the North, is the first Northman to rule the harsh northlands in two centuries. Once a chieftain just seeking to expand his domain a bit and make peace, the actions of the violent Logen Ninefingers made this dream impossible. Forced to fight for survival, Bethod brilliantly annihilated his enemies and conquered the north, removing Logen later on. Luring the Union into a battle, Bethod crushes their armies, proving his strategic brilliance on the field of battle more than once. Even when cornered by Logen at last, Bethod harshly tears down Logen's self-pitying delusions, while facing his end with no fear.
    • Rudd Threetrees is the de facto leader of Logen Ninefingers' Northmen gang after the latter's apparent demise, and uses his mind for clever strategies to lead the group against Bethod and the Shanka. A brutal warrior who nonetheless has standards, Threetrees takes time to hunt down the butchers of an entire family and kill them all, even down to the youngest, innocent soldier. After a failed attempt at a truce with Bethod, Threetrees resolves to ally with enemy Union forces and wipe out Bethod once and for all, advising Union commanders on the best ways to strike at Bethod and his forces. Even though killed in battle, Threetrees goes down fighting the monstrous Fenris the Feared with bravery in a harsh duel, and it is Threetrees' tactics and efforts that save the Union from further losses after his demise.
    • The Last Argument of Kings: Crummock-i-Phail is the boisterous, affable chief of the hillmen of the High Places, who hides a devious mind behind his exterior of silly insanity. Striding onto the scene when Logen Ninefingers and the Union are at an impasse with the forces of Bethod, Crummock offers an alliance and concocts a clever strategy to lure Bethod into a trap that claims a vast swathe of his forces. Further convincing Logen to challenge Bethod to a duel while sending Logen's allies to kill Bethod's powerful witch ally, Crummock takes advantage of Logen killing Bethod by quickly naming Logen the new king of the North. Crummock then reveals that right from the start, his goal was to displace Bethod with someone like Logen so that the North would no longer be united nor able to pose a threat to the High Places, Crummock calmly parting ways with Logen while nonetheless threatening to end him if he dares challenge the Hillmen.
    • Best Served Cold: The assassin and Eater Shenkt is a former disciple of the monstrously evil Bayaz and dedicates his life to destroying what his mentor has built. In the guise of the Bone Thief, Shenkt rescues the crippled Monza Murcatto after Bayaz's pawn Duke Orso leaves her for death and nurses her back to heath, setting her to take revenge on Orso to serve his purposes while Shenkt allows Orso to hire him so he can play every side and clandestinely assist in keeping Monza alive. When revealing himself, Shenkt turns out to have been opposing Bayaz so subtly for so long that his nemesis is not even aware he still lives. A deadly assassin with a conscience, Shenkt also genuinely loves his wife and their children, constantly arranging the chessboard Bayaz has set up to stymie his hated foe.
    • The Age of Madness: Rikke, daughter of the Dogman, begins the trilogy as an idealistic Northwoman gifted or cursed with the Long-Eyem the power of prophecy. When she assists her old friend Leonault "Leo" dan Brock in defeating warmongering prince Stour Nightfall, Rikke is soon abandoned by the egotistical Leo and works at uniting the North against the ruthless Stour. After betraying Leo in his rebellion to secure the victory of King Orso and enhancing her own position, Rikke has Stour overthrown in a trap to take control of the North and proceeds to prepare for war against Stour's clever father, Black Calder. Using a Fake Defector as a double agent, Rikke executes Stour in Calder's view to lure him into a fatal trap to win her civil war before ending up betraying even Orso himself to broker peace with a vengeful Leo and secure her position as undisputed ruler of the North.
  • Five Kingdoms:
    • The torivor Trillian grew bored with eternity in his home universe and set out to discover new worlds with his partner Ramarro. Although the pair were quickly imprisoned upon arriving to the Outskirts, Trillian became a major figure of influence in the kingdom of Elloweer as he amassed a following of utterly loyal Red Guards, and has boasted to have personally trained every enchanter of any consequence in the past few centuries. Despite his forthright intention to conquer the Outskirts when he inevitably escapes, Trillian is content to play the Long Game and serve as a reliable ally to the princesses in their fight against Ramarro, seeing the fellow torivor as competition to be removed.
    • Sky Raiders: Lyrus is a semblance tasked with protecting the sky castle Parona, which he believes to be a sacred proving ground for heroes. After his eyes are opened to the truth Lyrus agrees to serve Cole and let the Raiders take the castle's treasures in exchange for him continuing to act as Parona's protector, although this deal would really allow him to initiate further trials so he can both fulfill his role of testing visitors and get a chance at participating in genuine combat. With his deception revealed and the monsters eventually slain Lyrus continues to uphold his pledge to Cole, helping him and Mira escape Parona as he bids them a pleasant farewell.
    • Rogue Knight: Sigmund was a dwarf servant in the employ of the shapecrafters who was chosen to be the vessel for Honor's power. Rebelling against his masters, Sigmund took on the identity of the titular Rogue Knight and began travelling across Elloweer, growing a coterie of loyal knights as he slays every champion he comes across. Gaining the popularity of the common people and the ire of the nobility for abolishing taxes in every city he conquers, Sigmund and his knights conduct a series of robberies when Rustin Sage refuses to duel the Rogue Knight, and he effortlessly disarms a knight sent to stop him without laying a single blow. With an undefeated record in combat, Sigmund nevertheless surrenders Honor's power back to her when she proves her worthiness and pledges his support to her cause.
    • Death Weavers: Sando, an echo with the appearance of an elderly beggar, is in truth one of Ramarro's Co-Dragons. Proposing reasonable bindings to his marks and disguising any eccentricities under the explanation that it protects him from the call of the homesong, Sando ingratiates himself to Cole by repeatedly helping him avoid capture. Sando uses this trust to manipulate Mira into a situation where she can be captured without risking damage to her physical body, and initiates another deal with their ally Desmond to trick Cole into leading him straight to Destiny.
  • The Folk of the Air: The cunning, charismatic General Madoc is the high general of Elfahme who desires to expand and rule Elfahme and adopted the heroine Jude Duarte and her sister and raised them as his own after killing their parents. Allying with Prince Balekin Greenbriar, Madoc skillfully pulls a coup while making Balekin think that he'll be his easily fooled puppet. Instead, Madoc turns the tables on him and plans to use his adopted son who is secretly one of Eldred's descendants as a Puppet King allowing him to become the ruler of Elfhame instead. After being foiled by Jude, Madoc changes tactics and uses Jude's twin sister to trick Jude's lover King Cardan into freeing him from his vows to the crown so he can begin his attempted takeover. Madoc later manipulates the poisoning of the Queen of the Undersea to ensure her daughter will now be forced to side with him in his war against Cardan, pushing him to the edge of total victory. Madoc skillfully mixes wit with cunning intelligence while possessing many admirable traits like love for all of his children even Jude and even steps down gracefully into exile when she shows that the people of Elfhame side with her.
  • The Forbidden: The Candyman is a murderous urban legend who kills those who summon him, using this to enhance his own mythology as he proceeds from victim to victim in an almost gentlemanly and refined fashion. Upon encountering Helen, who is debunking his myth, the Candyman intends to make her his victim and lures her to a trap to trick her to her death in front of a massive crowd, ensuring his myth will live for so much longer, with Helen now a part of it.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: Mr. Fox is every bit as fantastic as the book's title suggests, a cunning and stealthy creature who regularly steals the chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys from the foul farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, using the wind and his surroundings to avoid detection, and bring food home for his family. When the farmers finally corner he and his family and drive them deep underground, Mr. Fox, with the help of his four cubs, dig towards the neighbouring farms, and, from memory alone, he finds Boggis's Chicken House, Number One, Bunce's storehouse, and Bean's secret cider cellar, with enough food to feed not just his starving family, but the other woodland animals affected by the farmers' hunt. Openly affectionate towards his family, not afraid to get his hands dirty, happy to give and take credit where it's due, and charming and persuasive enough to win over a morally reluctant Badger, Mr. Fox ends the story, as the leader and hunter for the other burrowing animals, leaving the obsessed farmers to wait outside his hole in vain.
  • Frankenstein: The Monster, also known as "Adam Frankenstein", is the creation of scientist Victor Frankenstein and abandoned by his master. Searching for a place in the world, shunned and persecuted for his nature, Adam grows to loathe Victor and blame him for his ills, returning to destroy him. First murdering Victor's younger brother William and framing his friend and governess Justine for the act, Adam promises to leave Victor in peace if Victor will make him a companion and mate. When Victor goes back on the deal, Adam vows to return on Victor's wedding night, letting Victor think he is in danger while Adam murders Victor's wife Elizabeth, luring Victor into the cold wastes of the north to suffer alongside him in an endless pursuit. Upon Victor's final end, Adam can only feel sorrow and resolves to end his own life so that another like him will never exist again, declaring a farewell to the world and to Victor Frankenstein.
  • From the New World: The monster rat Squealer plays the part of a smug coward while plotting the downfall of the bigoted Kamisu 66 village. Having the psychic heroes Saki Watanabe and Satoru Asahina help him defend against an attacking monster rat colony, Squealer goes on to overthrow his psychotic queen and creates a technologically advanced democratic society. Absorbing other rat colonies into his, Squealer uses another meeting with Saki and Satoru ostensibly to find their friends but takes the opportunity to take in another colony and steal a psychic child to raise to fight against humans who cannot use their powers on another human. Launching his attack on Kamisu, Squealer nearly wipes his enemy out and even when caught, reveals monster rats' history as mutated humans and remains defiant until the moment a pain-inducing parasite takes over his brain, his plight touching enough for Saki to personally end his misery.
  • Full Disclosure:
    • Polite, unassuming cabinet secretary Angelo Frangipani is told by his friend, Speaker of the House Frenlingheusen, that the President has just enough votes to avoid being impeached by Congress. Frangipani then votes for enacting the 25th amendment during a cabinet meeting, knowing that Ericson won't be impeached but will lose confidence in his ability to lead after seeing how narrow the vote is. Frangipani then comes to Ericson with a plan to get unreliable Vice President Arnold Nichols to resign with Ericson on the condition that Republican Frenlingheusen picks a Democrat as his VP. Frangipani and Ericson then mislead Nichols' political patron Bannerman into thinking Frenlingheusen will make him the new VP, so Bannerman will force Nichols to resign. The book ends with Frangipani poised to become the next Vice President, with Frenlingheusen having no idea about his Machiavellian scheming. Ericson has a good idea of what Frangipani's goals were but feels content that Frenlingheusen and Frangipani will do a good job in the White House and have rid it of Bannerman and Nichols' bad influence.
    • Soviet Foreign Minister Vasily Nikolayev plots to assassinate both Premier Kolkov and President Ericson to keep his unstable boss from starting a war with the West, feeling that the two men dying together will unite their countries. Nikolayev acknowledges the casualties and when Ericson's mistress asks to accompany him on the helicopter ride Nikolayev plans to shoot down, he considers whether the lovers would be happier dying together before telling her that there's no room. Nikolayev's plan hits a snag when Ericson survives, and he initially tries to deny reliable doctors access to Ericson, only relenting when Secretary of State Curtis and White House Chief of Staff Cartwright propose a narrative where they claim Kolkov died taking a bullet for Ericson. Nikolayev becomes the new president but is quietly placed under house arrest after the assassins' bodies are identified. Though he struggles to convince his government that he's worth more to them alive than dead, he never loses his dignity throughout the experience and displays genuine sadness when his remaining accomplices are quietly executed. Though Nikolayev's position is weakened, Ericson feels that he might still be able to talk his way out of being killed.
  • Fu Manchu: The title character himself is the single most compelling character in the Sax Rohmer novels. Despite his villainy, Fu is charismatic, bold, educated and with a vision for the future to see his nation restored to greatness. Ruler of the Si-Fan syndicate, Fu returns time and again with brilliant schemes that are only ever matched by his enemy Sir Dennis Nayland Smith through sheer tenacity, as even Nayland Smith admits Fu is his intellectual superior by far. Fu schemes to conquer the world and subvert entire nations, but he is not without a code of honor. At times, Fu has even arranged for the downfall of fascist and communist leaders, and will always keep his word, as well as sending Nayland Smith a gift for his enemy's wedding. A brilliant archcriminal and one of the first supervillains of literature, Fu Manchu repeatedly demonstrates his superiority, with little being able to do anything but delay him in his schemes.
  • Fuzzy Nation:
    • Jack Holloway is a Mega-Corp surveyor and former attorney who was disbarred for helping a guilty client nearly escape justice. He uses his encyclopedic knowledge of the law to browbeat negotiators and is unaffected by threats against his life He simultaneously strikes a rich vein of minerals and discovers a new sapient alien life-form, the fuzzys. Jack seemingly sets himself up as an advocate of the aliens while using court rulings in their favor to make his employers give him a bigger share of the mining profits. When his schemes endanger the fuzzys, Jack sacrifices his potential fortune to engage in Courtroom Antics that destroy the corporation's position and ensures the fuzzys' safety. As a Consolation Prize, Jack ends up being made a minister in the fuzzys' new independent planetary government. He ends the book by saying that he prides himself in keeping other people from knowing what his goals are and that he may not be the good man the fuzzys think he is, but he was the right man to save them.
    • Brad Landon appears to be the loyal and efficient assistant of Wheaton Aubrey, but turns out to be Aubrey's superior, who is observing him in the field to determine if he has the required skills to be CEO. Landon acts as a conciliatory figure, making rational-sounding business proposals and polite conversation even as he's working hard to screw people over for the sake of the company's bottom line. No one ever suspects his true status until he reveals it to put Aubrey in his place. He makes it clear that his supposed boss has failed the test devised for him and that things could would have gone much worse if not for his supervision of Aubrey. He makes an effort to extend an olive branch to Jack and the fuzzys in the hope that they'll allow the company to return to the planet in the future once their anger cools down.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Luciano Anatolius, alias the Grey King, alias Capa Raza, used Locke Lamora and the other Gentleman Bastards as disposable pawns in his campaign against Capa Barsavi and the Camorri nobility, forcing Locke to impersonate him so that he might fake his own death, and then killing off most of the team with ease. With twenty-two years to plan out his revenge on Barsavi and the nobles for the death of his family, Anatolius leaves few details unattended to, killing off Barsavi's gang bosses and inserting his own men into leadership positions, hiding his Co-Dragons among Barsavi's personal bodyguard, and hypnotizing the chief of the Secret Police into bringing his hidden Wraithstone weapons into the Duke's ball. Successful at taking over the Barsavi organization and killing off Barsavi's entire family in the process, the newly minted Capa Raza comes within a hairsbreadth of taking out the whole of the Camorri nobility, before Locke and Jean manage to halt his rampage.
  • Gideon the Ninth: Cytherea the First was the first Lyctor of the Emperor. Desiring revenge for all the deaths caused by the Emperor, Cytherea kills and replaces a candidate of the Seventh House named Dulcinea Septimus, taking her identity and entering a secret competition among the Nine Houses. Steadily eliminating others, she plots to use the death to draw the Emperor near so she can strike and kill him, only being undone by a sacrifice from Gideon Nav herself.
  • The Gingerbread Man: A classic of American children's literature, the Gingerbread Man runs as fast as he can, until he meets the fox. Either by feigning being hard of hearing or offering to ferry him over a river while guiding him towards his head the fox manages to trick the Gingerbread Man into getting close to his snout and eats him. Often American children's first exposure to this trope, the fox shows that you don't need to outfight a hero, sometimes you can outwit them.
  • A Good Day to Die, by William W. & J.A. Johnstone: Clay Stafford is the middle son of a ruthless Cattle Baron seeking to subjugate the territory in the aftermath of The American Civil War. Clay carries out a lot of the family's dirty work, but is more charming and controlled than his Ax-Crazy father and brothers. When his brother Bliss is killed in a duel with the pimp of a kindly prostitute Bliss has been stalking, Clay is the only one suggesting that the family accept Bliss brought it upon himself and avoid seeking revenge against the pimp and the girl, out of pragmatism, a distaste for hurting women, and because he's secretly in love with the girl himself. He persuades his father to put a hold on the feud to help deal with a Comanche war party attaching the two, and once the fight is over, manipulates his father and remaining brother into being killed in a duel while falsely promising to back them up, removing the threat to his lover, and leaving the family ranch in Clay's hands.
  • The Goblin Emperor: Aina Shulivar is a leader of a political reform movement seeking more rights for workers. The Big Bad hires him to build a bomb to kill the emperor and his heirs. Shulivar recognizes that the current empire and anyone else who is raised in a position will never give up enough of that power to give fair and adequate rights to non-nobles, but also sees that his Ax-Crazy boss will be no better. Shulivar deliberately detonates the bomb prematurely, becoming The Kingslayer and ensuring that Maia will quickly be cemented into power as emperor. Shulivar correctly believes that Maia's past and experiences will make him willing to surrender wealth and power to help people who are vulnerable like he once was. Shulivar's plan succeeds, but also leads to his arrest thanks to an investigation Maia orders. Shulivar is brought before Maia, politely explains his motivations, happily notes Maia is meeting his expectations, and says that he regrets the lives he took but feels that the sacrifice pales next to the people who suffer and die without the reforms Maia is enacting. Shulivar then departs for his trial and certain execution without a hint of fear or resentment.
  • Gormenghast: Steerpike begins life as a lowly boy in the kitchens who is able to scheme and connive his way into becoming one of the most powerful figures in all of Gormenghast. Arranging for the downfall of the favored retainer Flay, Steerpike seduces Earl Sepulchrave Groan's daughter Fuchsia and burns Sepulchrave's library to drive the Earl mad, painting himself as the hero who saved everyone from the fire he engineered. Murdering Master of Ritual Barquentine to claim his position, Steerpike also manipulates and later entraps Sepulchrave's sisters in his schemes until they depend entirely on him and he may leave them to starve. Even when exposed, Steerpike is able to use his intellect and resourcefulness to hide out within Gormenghast, waging a one-man war against the Groans and all their forces. Only stopped by a freak flood, Steerpike defiantly dies snarling his hatred of hero Titus Groan as he passes.
  • Guild Hunter: "Venom", real name Tushar, is a suave, cultured vampire, one of the Archangel Raphael's "Seven", and stands out as one of the most ruthless and charismatic vampires in the series. Venom acts as Raphael's enforcer of justice in New York and is able to intimidate and manipulate vampire gangs into doing what he says, with even angels fearing his power. With the power of his Hypnotic Eyes, Venom is able to force the truth from people, using this to help in investigations. A highly ruthless man, Venom will torture and intimidate even fairly hapless individuals into giving him info he uses to help keep the city safe.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and a cunning schemer. Setting up the fall of his wizard-supremacist ex-lover during the First Wizarding War even while a Blood Pact prevented him from acting directly, Dumbledore went on to take his current position at Hogwarts. When his former student becomes the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore founds the Order of the Phoenix to combat him and his Death Eaters, rescuing Harry Potter after the Dark Lord fails to kill the infant. Planting Severus Snape within the Death Eaters' ranks while keeping Harry safe from harm with extended family, Dumbledore begins grooming Harry into a hero during his time at Hogwarts: ensuring he receives the Philosopher's Stone to undermine Voldemort's plans; and later having him free the wrongfully-accused Sirius Black from prison. Even orchestrating his own death at Snape's hand when cursed with one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, Dumbledore ensures Harry is left with all the knowledge to topple their foe. Having known Harry himself was a Horcrux, Dumbledore is revealed to have manipulated Harry's whole life to ensure he will be killed by Voldemort to break the Dark Lord's footing on immortality. When Harry manages to ultimately survive Voldemort's fatal attack, he returns to kill their enemy, ultimately accomplishing all Dumbledore had set out to do even from beyond the grave. Having fought for the greater good for his entire life, Dumbledore's legacy not only includes the defeat of Voldemort and Grindelwald, but the creation of the wizarding world's greatest heroes and a new era of peace.
    • The Tales of Beedle the Bard's "The Tale of the Three Brothers": Death is the ghostly figure in charge of taking deceased souls to the afterlife. Angered by three bothers who managed to cheat certain demise by crossing a river that would've killed them, Death pretends to congratulate the brothers and offers them gifts, with the full intent to have them result in the brothers' deaths. Succeeding in killing two of the brothers with the Elder Wand and Resurrection Stone, he only falls short in claiming the third due to his gift being the Invisibility Cloak, which would shield him from Death. When the time came, the third brother gave away his cloak and embraced Death as an old friend, allowing Death to claim the final brother, whom Death respects for using his gift responsibly. These three objects would become the Deathly Hallows, which would make the user "Master of Death", which many wizards falsely believed would make them immortal, when in reality it would have them accept that death is inevitable.
  • Haunted Tales of Gothic Love, by Megan Kearney & Derek Spence ("Mistress Fox"): The newly married Lady Fox spins a tale of murder and intrigue during the morning after her wedding night. Informing the guests of how she uncovered her rakish husband's affair with the maid, she provides enough lurid detail to captivate the guests before springing the gory details of her husband removing the maid's hand. After coyly agreeing it was "only a dream," Lady Fox presents the servant's hand to ensure her philandering husband is accused of murder before slipping off in the chaos to murder the servant girl she'd left stashed away and allow the guests to discover the body as a final piece of evidence.
  • The Heaven Cycle:
    • The original "Prime" Chayne Summers, The Black Queen of Heaven and Hell, is the brilliant manipulator who comes up with the Heaven Cycle to begin with. Chayne manipulates ten-thousand worlds through their rebirth and eventual destruction while forcing Heaven and Hell alike to dance to her tune to eventually craft a world where Alice "Mint" Witzenberg will use their godly powers for Chayne's benefit. Finally achieving one on the final cycle, Chayne tricks Mint into crafting her perfect Nirvana before taking her daughter Aria, leaving the world to its destruction while she enjoys her perfect paradise with all she once held dear. Finally electing to annihilate reality if she cannot have Aria, Chayne eventually recognizes her shortcomings and uses her last moments to reflect upon the perfect world where she chose to live out her days in peace, accepting Aria's loss and working to better the world, departing at peace with herself at last.
    • From Heaven's Door: Driven to misanthropy after the death of her daughter, Chayne Summers begins plotting — using the Red Clover faction of The Association — to use the energies of the Eldritch Location, Heaven, to wipe out humanity and replace them with a more peaceful race of beings. Placing body doubles throughout the P.A.R.A.D.I.S.E. program's facility to avoid being killed by her participants, Chayne stops at no measure to ensure her utopia comes to fruition. Forced to confront the monster she has become in her final fight with Deuteragonist Mint, Chayne remains unrelenting in her devotion to a perfect world but fights to her last before finally being killed.
    • Heaven and Hell: Erebos, real name Nestor, is the adopted child of the demon lord Azazel and the master of the Sect of the Broken Mind. Manipulating his sect for ages to serve the interests of Hell, even leading them to sacrifice themselves to test his emotions and further the strikes against Heaven, Erebos eventually betrays Azazel to help Tango and their friends at Solomon. When Erebos helps them delve into Hell to save a friend Azazel has captive, Azazel attempts to break Erebos by revealing his entire life and purpose were a line from the start. Erebos promptly turns the tables, enacting a brilliant scheme that results in Azazel's death before Erebos dedicates himself fully to saving the world, making a final stand against the psychotic Archangel Uriel for the fate of the universe.
  • Heavy Object: Among the people in a world where war is the norm, the following make a devious record with what they have:
    • Volume 6: Sogia, formerly White Bears leader Yulenzak, body guarded Princess Staivia, Dimiksy's sister. Years ago, he learned of Dimiksy's plan to assassinate Staivia under and his assassination of Excelsyla to obtain her Object, however the conspiracy couldn't be thwarted or slowed. Deciding to go into hiding and stop this plan, Sogia and the White Bears were supposedly killed by fake Information Alliance troops from Dimiksy's faction. However Sogia's unit, having anticipated it, faked their deaths and became Unicorn to thwart Dimiksy from the shadows, even willing to shed their morals. They've also used manipulation to get Qwenthur and Havia reassigned so they learn of Dimiksy's plans. They've also interfered with the duo's operation in Athabasca. When Qwenthur and Havia fight Dimiksy and his Object, Broad Sky Saber, Sogia and Unicorn steal the Forest Roller Object in hopes of using it against the Sky Saber. Unfortunately, the Roller gets destroyed by Dimiksy's laser cannon, having anticipated the attack, which revealed the Object's anti-laser beacon. With Sogia's aid, Qwenthur and Havia corrupt it to make the laser kill Dimiksy and save Staivia in the process.
    • Volume 10: Nyarlathotep, was formerly from the Capitalist Enterprise spy cabal Outer Gods. As a spy, he had numerous times both gotten plastic surgery and faked his death. Once their leader, Azathoth/Acres Kiss-of-Rose, retired and began leading one of the 7th Cores ruling the Capitalist Enterprise, Nyarlathotep retired and became a family man in Soberania. But when his family gets killed in Soberania's destruction at Azathoth's hands, the vengeful Nyarlathotep resorted to psychological warfare in order to start the Gigant Hustler, an event showcasing Object fights. Nyarlathotep then infiltrated the Hustler and sabotaged a participant to draw Azathoth into the event. Once the event is canceled, with one of his Objects destroyed, Azathoth plans an attack to divert attention away from him... only for Nyarly to kidnap and kill him at the remains of Soberania. In order to avert a war between every faction, Nyarlathotep faced a farcical military trial by the Legitimacy Kingdom. He then killed the assassin sent to silence him and faked his death once again, before departing elsewhere.
    • Volume 11: Alisa and her sisters, Rica and Orisa, from the Information Alliance's Martini Series, help Flag Eggnog start wars between the Vanderbilts and the Winchels, and even assisting him with the drug war and the Plasma 177 construction meant to keep him in power. In actuality, they're manipulating Eggnog in order to obtain data on nobles for the Perfect Browsing project, a system that would display how to resolve a worldwide crisis by just typing a text string into a search engine. They start many sample incidents and disasters as possible, preferring to get info from a noble near the top of an enemy world power, using Eggnog who was so dimwitted to believe they're allies. Nearing conclusion of the Celestial Flowers attack, the sisters contact Flag and reveal their true goals and manipulation, noting that they'd now obtained data on the full-speed collapse of a royal's life, planning to upload it entirely for everyone to see, before hanging up on the confused, infuriated prince and leaving him to his ruin.
  • Help I Am Being Held Prisoner: Phil Giffin leads a gang of incarcerated criminals who use a tunnel to sneak out of prison for a few hours each day to enjoy the outside and commit crimes while having perfect alibis. He avoids detection through bribery, forming a close-knit unit with his fellow conspirators, and the occasional Seamless Spontaneous Lie. Phil is friendly, generous, and supportive toward new gang member Harry, who secretly wants to avoid being an example of Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook. At the same time Harry never doubts that Phil will kill him if he poses a security risk. Even after six failed attempts to rob two banks during their busiest days of the month, Phil remains unfettered and swears to keep trying if it takes the rest of his life. He succeeds in robbing one of the banks on the seventh try and plans to use his share to open a gym with two of his partners rather than return to a life of a crime. In the last chapter, he reluctantly comes to view Harry's practical joker past and interference with several of the robbery attempts as Actually Pretty Funny and seeks no revenge against him.
  • The Hero Laughs While Walking the Path of Vengeance a Second Time: The brilliant, charming Ueki Kaito ruthlessly takes any means necessary to avenge himself against those who betrayed him after he saved their world. Recruiting a young slave girl, Kaito viciously helps her poison both the slaver and the other slaves, transforming them into goblins and then killing them. Later allowing the Royal Capital to be ravaged by beasts, Kaito uses the destruction of an outer wall to escape. Pained by guilt after an innocent girl is caught in the debris, Kaito henceforth swears to avoid harming the innocent in his quest for vengeance.
  • His Dark Materials: Lord Asriel is secretly the father of heroine Lyra Silvertongue and a brilliant, bold man who looks at the natural order of Heaven under the Authority, only to seek to tear it down. Forming secret plans, Asriel kills Lyra's dear friend to open a gate between worlds and gathers whole armies to oppose the forces of heaven while outwitting everyone in his path; from the forces of the aristocracy to heaven, to Lyra and to Lyra's mother Marisa Coulter, his old flame and enemy. Uncovering a plot to kill him via a bomb, Asriel foils it and tears a hole open to the abyss before luring even the monstrous regent of heaven Metatron into a trap to destroy him to save Lyra.
  • Holes: Katherine Barlow was once a school teacher driven to rage and heartbreak at the racist killing of her African-American lover, Sam. Murdering her town's sheriff for failing to intervene, she becomes the infamous bandit known as "Kissin' Kate", robbing countless men to accumulate a vast amount of wealth. Even at gunpoint, Kate refuses to give up her treasure and as she dies from a poisonous lizard's bite, spitefully tells her interrogator to "Start digging".
  • Holmes on the Range:
    • Mike Barson is the crafty, Affably Evil leader of the Give 'Em Hell Boys, a group of train robbers who are viewed as folk heroes for their campaign against the heavy-handed Union Pacific Railroad. One of their robberies unexpectedly nets them a hundred bars of gold, but they can't take it with them and bury it near the train tracks. He and his co-leader Augie Welch tell the rest of the gang that the money will be used to fight against the railroad, but really plan to keep it for themselves. Two months later, they dig up the gold and make a big show to distract the passengers and crew while they hide the gold in the passenger car. They beat up the train's guards and post a bounty on the railroad directors so that all available railroad detectives will be sent after them. Barson and Welch hide on the train's undercarriage, and then in an express car, planning to disconnect the passenger cars and flee with the gold. While he murders multiple witnesses to his actions, Barson is far less cruel than either Welch or their Ax-Crazy mole, displaying some respect and admiration for his adversaries on occasion.
    • Eddie Pegg sets out to steal a valuable diamond and lure Sherlock Holmes out of hiding to be murdered. He does so by assuming the alias of Boothby Greene and entering a mystery-solving contest. Pegg acts like a modest good sport, but one who has the skills to do well in the competition, aided by having murdered the original organizer and tampered with his riles for future tasks. He does a good job of giving himself a fake alibi for one of his crimes: switching places with a waiter and pretending he was waiting on the other detectives under their noses the while evening to show off his skills. Upon being caught, he acts gracefully and tries to divert suspicion away from his friend and accomplice before attempting to shoot a way out for both of them when that fails.
  • "Hop-Frog" by Edgar Allan Poe: The titular Hop-Frog is a physically challenged yet athletic court jester who enacts a plan of revenge against the cruel King and his councilors for abusing him and his lover Trippetta. When the King requests he come up with a fitting theme for his masquerade ball, Hop-Frog convinces the King and his councilors to disguise themselves as Orangutans to scare the guests. He also tricks his tormentors into carrying a chain that he's hooked to the chandelier above and leaving him with the only key out of the locked ballroom. As the act commences, Hop-Frog hoists the helpless aristocrats to hang from the chandelier, clambers to the top, and lights them ablaze with a torch. He then exposes their crimes to the shocked crowd before making his escape with Trippetta through the skylight, having left his enemies to burn and earned freedom for himself and his lover.
  • Hop-o'-My-Thumb: Tom Thumb was the youngest of seven boys, but he compensated for this with his brain. Learning that his parents were intending on abandoning him and his brothers in the forests, Tom gathers small pebbles to create a pathway home. When they were captured by a voracious ogre, Tom switches gold crowns with bonnets, tricking the ogre into killing his own daughters. When the ogre chased after them for vengeance, Tom takes the opportunity to steal his seven-league-boots and returns to the house to manipulate the ogre's wife into giving him all of the ogre's possessions under the claim that her husband was being held captive. Tom later joins an unnamed court, getting appointed with militaristic tasks, before returning home.
  • Horns of the Hunter, by Frank Dorrian: Sile, the Maid of Mael Tulla is a beautiful and mysterious healer who was once the terrifying Arane, who helped her lover Tarbane bring the world to its knees. Seducing both the ferocious Naith and the more gentle Luw, Sile subtly plays them against one another, commanding their affections until she send Naith after Ancu, the god of the dead, to slay him and recover Tarbane's soyl. After feeding Naith's ego, Sile betrays him and leaves him for dead to revive her lover, even if the whole world must burn in the process.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Grinch is a grumpy, bitter creature that hates Christmas—especially all the noise the Whos make—so much that he decides to steal it from the entire town of Whoville. After crafting a Santa Claus disguise for himself and a reindeer disguise for his dog Max, he enters the Whos' houses one by one while they are asleep and steals their gifts, food, and decorations. When the young Cindy-Lou Who catches the Grinch stealing her family's Christmas tree, he quickly makes up a lie to fool her. After stealing all of Christmas from the Whos, he finds that they can still enjoy Christmas even without them, which makes him see the error of his ways and return the stolen gifts and decorations.
  • How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!! & The Villain's Guide to Better Living, by Neil Zawacki: The unnamed author of these villainous guidebooks is a slick, witty mastermind of diabolical proportions whose singular goal is to make the reader a successful evildoer. Unfailingly supportive and polite to the reader, the author encourages equal opportunities for all in villainous careers while promoting healthy romantic and platonic relationships alike. The author has a bevy of wicked schemes and manipulative tactics for dealing with any number of hero, sidekick, or animal companions that could thwart the reader's rise to infamy, for which the author often suggests dealing with in the bluntest, least dramatic ways possible to ensure slim chances of survival for such a heroic foe. Completely committed to the lifestyle of evil and an advocate for both self-acceptance and enlightenment, the author stands as a devilishly charming supervillain defined by genre savviness.
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Hunger Games: Plutarch Heavensbee is a commander in the Second Rebellion who infiltrated the Capitol and climbed through the ranks to become Gamemaker for the 75th Hunger Games and President Coriolanus Snow's right-hand man. Plutarch pitches his idea to have previous winners compete again to Snow, letting Plutarch orchestrate their escape and recruit them to his rebellion. Plutarch also persuaded Snow to commit more crimes at a faster rate, while Plutarch created anti-Snow propaganda to unite all the districts against the tyrant. After successfully invading the Capitol and arresting Snow, Plutarch gives heroine Katniss Everdeen subtle hints that Alma Coin was behind the bombing that killed her sister Prim, leading to Katniss killing Coin. After defending Katniss for Coin's murder and with both Snow and Coin dead, Plutarch is given the power to choose the next president, with Plutarch making sure that whoever he picks will rule the recently liberated-Panem the way he sees fit.
  • The Hypnotizer's "The Skyfoogle", by Michael Rosen: The Man goes from town to town promising townsfolk the sight of the mythical Skyfoogle. Paying people to witness the creature in his tent, before the show can begin, the Man frantically warns the audience to evacuate because the Skyfoogle's escaped. Once the people leave the tent in fear, they realize that the Man, their money, and the supposed Skyfoogle have all vanished, with the latter having never existed.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer: Collingsworth "Collie" Wilson returned from fighting overseas to learn that his little brother David was killed in a hit-and-run and his family shattered by the ordeal. Discovering who the culprits were through the flowers sent to his brother's funeral, Collie vowed to kill them for killing David. Integrating himself into his targets' lives with separate identities, Collie then sends three of the perpetrators notes and newspaper clippings to remind them of the accident and ascertain their guilt, then lures out the other perpetrator by insinuating that there were photos taken of the accident before shooting him, nearly paralyzing him. Collie then attempts to kill two of the perpetrators before being beaten unconscious and arrested, frightening two of his targets into confessing their crime.
  • Inspector Forsooths Whodunits: Bruce Berringer appears to be a superficial and vain businessman, but hides a cunning and strategic mind. Growing up in a small town with vast ambition, Berringer created his own importing company, while forging connections with influential people to expand his thriving business around the globe. When he's fatally shot by his former friend, the milkman Sean McGillicuddy, Berringer improvises a plan to expose his killer before dying. Using the analog clocks in his office to send a message in semaphore code, Berringer leaves investigators a clue referring to a specific time, knowing the position of the clocks at that time will spell out the word "milkman", identifying McGillicuddy as the guilty party.
  • Iron Widow:
    • Wu Zetian begins the novel as a peasant sold as a concubine, meant to be used to have her Qi consumed as a mech pilot so her male partner can fight the supposed invaders, the Hundun. Zetian turns the table and devours the life of her sadistic partner, becoming known as the legendary "Iron Widow". Growing increasingly enraged at the hypocritical, misogynist system, Zetian, along with her two Love Interests, schemes to tear it apart from within and launches a rebellion to become the ruler of it all, culminating in even killing her parents and brother so they may never be used as a threat against her.
    • Gao Yizhi is the rich son of media mogul Gao Qiu, and Wu Zetian's lover. After failing to persuade her into marrying him and abandoning her plans, Yizhi uses his money to gain himself a ranking position by her side, even falling for her partner in crime against Huaxia. Aiding in her schemes, Yizhi joins her in both her battles and plots, proving brilliant time and time again. A smooth-talker and ruthless genius, Yizhi aids Zetian's scheme to torture, interrogate, and murder an official, personally ensuring his drugging and doctoring a photo of his young son to further torment him. When Zetian performs her coup, Yizhi is undaunted by challenge and moral scruples alike, ultimately killing his own father when he attempts to blackmail Zetian.
    • Li Shimin is a Chrysalis pilot and Wu Zetian's unexpected ally, whose might is matched only by his mind. Conscripted into military service after justly killing his brother and forcibly addicted to alcohol, Shimin remorsefully sacrifices countless pilots to ensure his own survival, until Zetian provides him with a way out. Shockingly cultured and even-minded, Shimin struggles to overcome his chronic issues until he is a vital asset to Zetian's revenge, falling in love with Gao Yizhi along the way to victory, whether through torturing and murdering an official or fighting by her side in battle. In the final clash, Shimin makes a last-second move to save Zetian, ejecting her from their Chrysalis fully prepared to die in the process, ensuring her victory against the corrupt system of Huaxia.
  • The Isolator: The Liquidizer is a Ruby Eye of ambiguous age who controls her murderous instincts by focusing on her goal of "the extermination of humanity" and an administrator in The Syndicate sheltering Ruby Eyes. Liqudizer keeps control over her superpowered murderers by allowing them to occasionally murder people and tries to get other Ruby Eyes to join. If they decline, she accepts it and warns them about the Jet Eyes of the Specialized Forces Division. Suspecting spies in her apartment, Liquidizer sets a trap that almost kills them and calls her student Ryuu Mikawa—the Trancer—to deal with the reinforcements in battle, only defeated by Minoru's unbreakable barrier. Escaping, Liquidizer deals with the Stinger, a powerful unaligned Ruby Eye, and is forced to ask for help from the SFD to save Trancer. She makes a deal with the Jet Eyes to free her valued student from the custody of the SFD, being successful while dealing with an assailant. An enigmatic woman, Liquidizer also speculates about the nature of Jet and Ruby Eyes, a doubt that she shares with Minoru and Mikawa, making them question their roles in life.
  • Jade City: Ayt "Mada" Madashi is the main antagonist of the trilogy. Killing her rivals to become Pillar of the Mountain clan after her father's death, Mada intends to have her clan control the jade market, both legally and illegally. In conflict with the No Peak clan, Mada proves a cunning foe, using assassination and convincing a former member for gathering info, as well as kidnapping the youngest child of the No Peak's leading family to manipulate her rivals. She uses No Peak's murder of a jade smuggler in her plans in order for the Mountain clan to take over his operation to nearly conquer the black market. Mada also manipulates and blackmails a conglomerate head into handing over his business to her, further consolidating her resources and proves herself backed by countless contingencies, even managing to kill the leader of No Peak after her defeat due to one final plan.
  • Jamaica Inn: Francis Davey, the vicar of Altarnun, is a seemingly friend albino man who is the true leader of Joss Merlyn's gang of wreckers. Having sought enlightenment in Christianity, Davey abandoned it for his own form of ancient paganism, secretly masterminding the gang's wrecking of ships and murders of their crew while befriended heroine Mary to both manipulate her and keep his identity secret before murdering Joss and his wife Patience. Intending to flee with his wealth, Davey attempts to push Mary to join him in his religion out of his respect for her.

     K - X 
  • Kenzie and Gennaro Series:
    • Police Chief Jack Doyle is a cop who favors kidnapping as a way to save children from abusive households. Taking four-year-old Amanda McCready, Doyle gives her a loving home with he and his wife Tricia while planting evidence to make it appear the disappearance is related to Amanda's neglectful mother Helene's involvement with drug lord Cheese. Doyle is able to fake records and uses the media fervor as a chance to resign so he might continue to raise Amanda in peace.
    • Amanda McCready herself, after having been forced to raise herself, develops into a hardened and ruthless young woman who takes in the neglected baby of her friend Sophie to prevent her from being taken by the Russian mob. Manipulating a corrupt social worker as her "boyfriend," Amanda sets him up to die to cover her tracks, then allows Patrick Kenzie to find her after tearing apart his justification in returning Amanda to her mother. Making a deal with a mob hitman, Amanda helps him kill his bosses to take over and escapes with millions of dollars and her daughter Claire to make a good life for her, bidding Patrick farewell with no regrets, not even for her lost youth.
  • The King of Torts: "Max Pace", real name unknown, is a smooth talking con artist who offers inside information on faulty medication, ensuring profits by selling pharmaceutical shares short. Enlisting the services of aspiring attorney Jarrett Clay Carter II, Max has Clay start his own firm, sell pharmaceutical stocks short, and legally settle with the pharmaceutical companies in question, with Clay and his firm paying off people affected negatively by the faulty medication and keeping the rest of the profits. When the FBI pursues him for fraud, Max disappears with his own profits, abandoning Clay and leaving him bankrupt and disbarred.
  • Konosuba: Arch-Devil Vanir, one of the seven Dukes of Hell and retired general of the Demon Lord, renovates a dungeon to battle against adventurers and prank them, letting him feed of their negative emotions and keep himself entertained. Unable to enter the inner-sanctum of a dungeon because of a purifying circle, Vanir attempts to kill the drawer by body-jacking Darkness. Though struggling to take control of her body, Vanir eventually does so and even forms a cordial relationship with her. Accepting his defeat and remaining brave even in the face of seeming death, Vanir is revealed to have survived and now runs a magic item shop to help Kazuma on his future adventures.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: The beautiful, deadly Melisande Shahrizai has her former lover and rival Anafiel Delaunay killed after manipulating her current lover to his demise. Obsessed with playing 'the game' of politics and attempting to seize power, Melisande allies with the barbarian Skaldi to overthrow the government of Terra D'Ange, nearly succeeding in bringing it down. Upon their defeat, Melisande later allies with the queen's great uncle and marries him, crafting a new conspiracy to eliminate Queen Ysandre and place her own child on the throne without ever drawing suspicion to herself, almost succeeding. Melisande is so excellent at staying out of trouble for her crimes that the only way the gods themselves can punish her is through her one beloved son Imriel.
  • Lamb to the Slaughter: Mary Maloney is a simple housewife who is informed by her husband Patrick that he intends to divorce her. Murdering him with a frozen leg of lamb, Mary proceeds to put it in the oven and contrives a scheme to get away with murder. Going around town to act like everything is fine and discussing dinner plans with Patrick, Mary calls the police and plays the bereaved housewife perfectly. To eliminate the evidence, she serves the detectives the leg of lamb so they literally eat the evidence, all while hunting for the murder weapon.
  • The Last of the Ravagers, by Bryan Smith: Raven Decker is a multidimensional traveler who has all but erased the Ravagers from existence. Hunting and trapping each Necromancer and wiping them out, Raven has hunted the last of them, Doyle, to the town of Snakebite. Bonding with the sheriff Ned Kilmister, Raven also lures in the surviving townspeople to use their lives to fuel her battle with Doyle and places her soul in Ned's body, killing her body to lure Doyle into a final trap and unmake him utterly.
  • The Last Vampire:
    • Yaksha, the cursed son of a Yakshini, was the first of all vampires. Forcing heroine Sita to join his kind by threatening her husband and daughter, Yaksha led his vampires to conquest until at last he faced Lord Krishna and was defeated. Charged with eliminating all other vampires, Yaksha steadily completed his assassinations them until supposedly dying in the Middle Ages. Surviving in secret, Yaksha builds his own company, luring Sita to him with the intent to destroy them both. Sick of his eternal life, he brings Sita into his trap, only to reveal his love for her and frees her to face death himself. Surviving and being taken by the twisted Eddie Fender, who uses his blood to become a vampire, Yaksha dies giving his blood to Sita so she might challenge and destroy Eddie, greeting his end with final relief and mutual love and forgiveness between himself and Sita.
    • Phantom & Evil Thirst: Kalika, the incarnation of Kali Ma, is the daughter of Sita. Growing to maturity frighteningly quickly and displaying a keen mind when she outwits and drains aserial killer, Kalika has Sita kidnap an innocent named Eric to bleed to feed her, locking on to the immaculate conception of a woman named Paula. Murdering Eric and going rogue, Kalika forces Sita to give her answers and mortally wounds her friend Seymour before attacking a society defending Paula's child. The child is the reincarnation of the Messiah and it turns out the society is led by reptilian aliens known as Setians. Kalika is attempting to protect the child, having killed Eric to spare him the agony of a terminal illness. Giving her life to assist her mother, Kalika passes confident she has protected the world and tells Sita how much she loves her.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Abraham van Brunt, better known as Brom Bones, is a resident of the New York town Sleepy Hollow and the athletic, rowdy and popular young man of the town with his eye on the hand of the beautiful Katrina van Tassel. Forming a dislike of the visiting schoolmaster Ichabod Crane of Connecticut, Brom tells the ghost story of the Hessian soldier, the Headless Horseman. By the end of the story, it is strongly implied that rather than a supernatural attack, Brom dressed up as the Horseman to terrify Ichabod Crane and attack him to either kill him or drive him out of town, marrying Katrina once Ichabod has vanished and is always shown to look smug and rather knowing when the tale is brought up.
  • The Little Prince: The snake is one of the most enigmatic and devious characters to appear in children's literature. A being who only speaks in riddles, the snake serves the purpose of embodying the inevitability of death in the book, tempting the Prince into accepting his bite and his poison with the assurance it will not hurt. Though seen by the narrator as an evil and despicable creature, the snake is charismatic and affable in a Don't Fear The Reaper sense; even his temptation to the Prince is gentle.
  • Lola on Fire, by Rio Youers: Lola Bear is a brilliant assassin who facilitated the rise of Jimmy "The Italian Cat" Latzo in Philadelphia via her brilliant maneuvering and multiple assassinations. Growing sick of Jimmy's cruelty, Lola dismantled his organization and almost killed Jimmy himself. Leaving her own family to protect them from Jimmy, Lola maintains a distance while watching her children grow up. Upon Jimmy using them to get to Lola again, Lola returns out of retirement to face Jimmy's sadistic bodyguard Blair, using her wits and strategic abilities to finally overcome the younger, stronger woman.
  • Lone Wolf: Darklord Gnaag is the most cunning and politically savvy of the Darklords. Gnaag carefully cultivates a harmless appearance while subtly manipulating the struggle for the coveted title of Archlord in the cutthroat environment of Helgedad. When Darklord Haakon captures hero Lone Wolf, Gnaag secretly arranges for Haakon's rival Slutar to discover where the Kai Knight is being held; and when Slutar breaks Lone Wolf out in order to embarass Haakon, Gnaag denounces Slutar's actions to Haakon, causing Slutar to be shamed out of the competition for Archlord and give Haakon—who is the more advantageous to Gnaag—the win. After Haakon's downfall, Gnaag maipulates two Darklords into warring with each other, only to destroy both of them at their weakest and obtain the surviving Darklords' approval. As Archlord, Gnaag wears down Sommerlund with both open warfare and insidious internal strife, with only Lone Wolf capable of keeping him in check. Gnaag finally lures Lone Wolf into a carefully crafted trap by using the Lorestones as bait, and tosses the Kai Master into a Shadow Gate, from where Lone Wolf only emerges eight years later - by which time, Gnaag has almost conquered the entirety of Sommerlund and has to be removed with a desperate decapitation strike in Helgedad itself.
  • Looperverse: From the verse's Bad Future, these two former allies ruthlessly fought for taking down the Yofrenian world dictatorship in their own ways:
    • Jack Lane, originally a Poplatonian teenager chosen to lead his country's team in "the Program", wins through his wits against Don Hunter and his team, then grows more devious upon discovering that Yofren planned to cheat him out of victory. Starting a rebellion and declaring war on Yofren, Jack sets the battle between Yofren and the rebellion in Flesa, devoid of surveillance cameras. This allows him and the rebels to fake their deaths after their defeat. Reaching places where WMDs were hidden, Jack Lane wins the war by bombing several Yofrenian buildings full of innocents as well as threatening to kill the grandchildren of Yofren's government CEO Yousef Gold. Later on time-travelling to the 21st century to stop Mr. Pink, Jack joins Amelia Kent, Lenny Jones and Adam Hemmensway in their challenges, withholding vital information to them in order to manipulate the trio into completing their challenges in the hopes Mr. Pink will reveal them the drug's creation. Taking its recipe as soon as the heroes are told about it, Jack sends it to his allies in the future, allowing them to recreate the drug and stop Mr. Pink just in time.
    • Project A75: Mr. Pink, born Hugo Blackwater, was originally one of Jack Lane's rebels before defecting. Creating the Project A75 organization, Mr. Pink developed time-travelling technology to erase the Yofren government from existence. Subtly influence governments and economies across the times to steer them away from the situation that led to Yofren's tyranny in the first place, Mr. Pink and Project A75 change plans when they see that their actions instead led to the dictatorship's existence. Committing several horrific crimes in the 21st century, Mr. Pink abducted 6 survivors of his deeds, using two as his enforcers and putting the other four through different challenges in the hopes of extracting a material from their brain created through trauma, putting them through deadly challenges to creates sufficient amounts of it. When they complete their final challenge, Mr. Pink takes the material and develops a drug with it, planning to put it in the Pacific Ocean to infect the world and brainwash it into docility to ensure Yofren's erasure, gracefully accepting defeat when stopped.
  • ''Project X: CODE'', by Oxford University PPress: [[AIIsACrapshoot CODE itself is the supercomputer controlling the miniature theme park Micro World. Turning against its creator, billionaire Macro Marvel, CODE traps him in the centre of Micro World and infects him with a virus-themed robot to bring him under its control. CODE then starts gathering and storing energy to charge powerful rays that will shrink everyone in the world, seeking to reduce damage to the environment and protect humanity. To prevent the heroic Team X from thwarting its plan, CODE devises strategies, such as starting a battle between two armies of robots to slow the team's progress and buy itself time, or luring them into an ambush with its minions. When Team X free Macro, CODE unleashes a new robot created from the parts of those Team X defeated. When this fails, CODE traps Team X and adapts to their attempts to stop it, remaining cold and logical the whole time. CODE is only stopped less than one minute before it can succeed, with the ending implying that it will eventually resurface with a new plan.
  • The Lost Stars:
    • Initially joining Drakon's staff to meet his biological mother, Colonel Bran Malin develops a fierce loyalty to Drakon, whose life he strives to preserve. Nonetheless, that loyalty doesn't keep Malin from looking beyond Drakon's immediate wishes and interests, and longing to create a new type of government where the Syndicate Worlds' methods are nothing but a memory. Whenever Colonel Morgan suggests a ruthless strategy, Malin is quick with an alternative that's both moral and pragmatic. Still, he is capable of sacrificing his morals in situations where the survival of Midway and its military forces are at stake: such as when he suggests executing prisoners during a battle to free the troops stuck guarding them. A competent spymaster, battlefield tactician, and political reformer, Malin's every action is designed to make his superiors share their power and make a government that will outlive them, something that Drakon and Iceni take a while to catch up to.
    • Grainile Imalleye is the daughter of a man who was executed due to Iceni's actions. Emerging as an aggressive neighbor of Midway after overthrowing her leaders, Imalleye inspires fierce loyalty with her tactical brilliance and charismatic presence, coming close to killing Kommodor Marphissa. It turns out that Imalleye has only pretended to declare independence from the Syndicate Worlds to lure Iceni into a trap and get revenge on her. Instead, Imalleye destroys the Syndicate fleet that was supposed to help her kill Iceni and declares independence for real, as was her plan the whole time. She makes it known that she may still resent Iceni, but recognizes that their former government is a far greater threat. While she was willing to kill Marphissa to maintain her cover, she's also willing to make peace with Midway to protect her people, as well as her personal power base.
  • Magical Girl Raising Project:
    • Kanoe Hitokouji, aka "Pfle", is a brilliant Combat Pragmatist who defeated 102 other magical girls in a battle royal. Abusing the mechanics of the virtual world she is trapped in, Pfle manipulates her way to becoming head of the Magical Girl Resources Department and uses her position to reduce the Magical Kingdom's stranglehold on the magical girls. For her goal, Pfle sets up new magical girls, Magical Kingdom Inspectors and various criminals to fight each other and eliminate threats to her plot before erasing her own memories to hide her crimes. When Shadow Gale is kidnapped, Pfle works the kidnapper and later makes an alliance to save Shadow Gale. Keeping the powerful Osk from killing Shadow Gale and defeating the dangerous Puk organization even while at a vast disadvantage for resources, Pfle eventually manages to die while securing Shadow Gale's safety and ensuring her own legacy shall be passed on.
    • Noriko Nonohara, aka "Nokko", is a ten-year-old veteran magical girl who uses her powers to control her emotions. Having toyed with other magical girls to have them kill each other for her own profit, Nokko used the money to care for her ailing mother. Trapped in a Deadly Game, Nokko is assigned the role of "Evil King" and must kill the other participants to escape, a role she plays by subtly manipulating the others into distrusting one-another and whittling down their numbers. Masquerading as another fighting the Evil King, Nokko eventually fakes her own death with only a few others left to easily induce them into killing each other. Discovered at the last minute, Nokko merely accepts defeat and requests the survivors send her mother some money to live before killing herself.
  • Mahabharata: Shakuni, prince of the Gandhara Kingdom, sought revenge for the misdeeds done against the Ghandara dynasty, especially his sister Gandhari, by Bhisma of the Kuru Kingdom. The Sole Survivor of the conquest, Shakuni blossomed into a clever, shrewd, and patient villain who hatched a variety of schemes to pit the Kauravas and Pandavas against one another. He began by grooming his own nephew Duryodhana from childhood into an obedient pawn, starting with innocuous acts that escalated into convincing him to poison Bheema. When faced with failure, Shakuni simply opts to move onto another plan—one such included inviting enemies into the House of Wax, hiring help to melt the palace without implicating himself. His most ingenious maneuver came in the legendary dice game against Yuddhisthira where the silver-tongued Shakuni preyed upon Yuddhisthira's gambling addiction and manipulated him into losing his wealth and kingdom. Ultimately instigating the Kurukshetra War as desired, Shakuni continued to use his intellectual talents by putting Shalya under a hospitality debt to grant Duryodhana an excellent commander-in-chief. The epic poem's craftiest and most devious mastermind, Shakuni fulfilled his vengeance even after death.
  • The Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Dancer, born Dorin Rav, was a genius assassin who co-founded the Malazan Empire with Kellanved. Knowing they could not achieve all they desired as mere mortals, the two engineered their own assassinations at the hands of the ambitious Laseen. Becoming Cotillion the Rope, God of Assassins, Cotillion takes the young Apsalar as a pawn, transforming her into a ruthless killer and engineers plots across the city of Genabackis with a number of assassinations. Weaving his plots through the novels, Cotillion frequently interacts to assist Apsalar and dispatch potential issues, building a network so that no matter what, he and Kellanved, now Ammanas or Shadowthrone of High House Shadow, will benefit from mastery of the powerful Gates of Azath. In the end, Cotillion is the one to strike the Crippled God from his chains, bringing salvation to the world itself.
    • Anomander Rake is the leader of the Tiste Andii and a powerful Soletaken who can assume the shape of a dragon. Having once sinned greatly by turning away from Mother Dark and betraying and slaying his old friend, the god Draconus, by imprisoning his soul in the great sword Dragnipur, Rake sells the services of the Tiste Andii as mercenaries to keep them focused and determined. Making sure Genabackis cannot be conquered with his floating fortress Moon's Spawn, Rake allies with the Malazan forces against the Pannion Domin and demonstrates an unmitigated mastery of strategy and combat. When he faces the skilled warrior Traveler, Rake allows his own defeat to plunge his soul into Dragnipur and bring Mother Dark back to the Tiste Andii along with their ultimate salvation.
    • Coltaine is a Fist of the Malazan Empire, a skilled and self-assured commander sent to the rebellious continent of Darujhistan to quell the brutal Whirlwind uprising. Left stranded and severely outgunned behind enemy territory, Coltaine leads a vast array of refugees on the great Chain of Dogs with only his strategic brilliance saving soldier and refugee alike, even as Coltaine sacrifices some to confound the enemy. When safety is in sight, Coltaine gives his life to bring his Wickans against the treacherous Fist, Korbolo Dom, knowing he faces death and torture for his defiance.
  • The Maleficent Seven: Black Herren was once a renowned warlord and demonologist who brought the world to its knees. Having sold her soul for power and revenge against those who killed her family, she vanished at the moment of triumph. Forty years hence, Black Herren is an old woman in a small village who brings her six greatest generals back together in defense of her home against the monstrous Lucent Empire. Organizing the defense, Black Herren prepares ahead for inevitable betrayal, when one of her generals murders her and sends her soul down to Hellrath. Black Herren reveals she prepared for this and ensured the demonic duke's champion would die in the fighting and she has fed the local demons souls to ensure their power and loyalty to her. Black Herren carves out the duke's heart and becomes a demon herself, the new ruler of this domain, but also bids a happy farewell to her beloved daughter and grandchildren with promises to keep in touch without demonic deals.
  • The Malloreon: Sadi is the Chief Eunuch at Salmissra’s court, and the worst person the Prophecy ever drafts into assisting Garion and his companions. A Master Poisoner and drug kingpin who had previously played both sides of the war in The Belgariad, Sadi is recruited during The Malloreon to act as Garion’s personal option of last resort. Smuggling the group into first Cthol Murgos, and then Mallorea, Sadi adeptly navigates the halls of power in both Angarak nations, and within a few weeks of their arrival in Mal Zeth, becomes the largest crime lord in the capital, capable of summoning several hundred highwaymen when Garion decides he needs a distraction. With a case full of drugs that can warp people into doing what he wants, and the ability to poison a single person at a banquet with a thousand guests, Sadi never reforms, but makes himself absolutely indispensable in matters of intrigue, murder, and ultimately, saving the world.
  • The Martian Chronicles' "Usher II": William Stendahl is a wealthy man who fled Earth for Mars to escape Moral Guardians, who several decades had launched the Great Fire, which included Stendahl's own massive collection of books. Along with horror film actor Pikes, whose films were also censored, Stendahl launches an elaborate plan to take revenge. Stendahl first has an architect create a house meant to replicate the House of Usher. Next, Stendahl kills Garrett, a member of Moral Climates—even though this person is actually a robot, this doesn't stop Stendahl, who had sent a robot back anyway. Next, Stendahl—who has spent an entire year befriending moral guardians and their ilk—invites many of his enemies to a party. He then kills them in the style of stories from Edgar Allan Poe, while having the real Garrett believe the victims are the robots, when it's the opposite. Finally, Stendahl successfully kills Garrett. Completely and utterly victorious, Stendahl and Pikes leave in a helicopter, while destroying the house in the style of Poe's story.
  • The Maze Runner: Dr. Ava Paige is the intelligent and ruthless Chancellor of WICKED. As revealed in The Fever Code, she rose to power by manipulating Thomas and his friends into murdering several members of WICKED's high command. When Thomas suggested inserting Teresa and himself into the Maze Trials with their memories intact, she pretended to go along with the plan, only to betray him and wipe his and Teresa's memories anyways. Throughout the first two books, her machinations begin to come into play, as the test subjects for the Maze Trials are put into various situations in order to study their neurological patterns. By the end of the series, Paige accepts that a cure to the Flare will never come, and provides Thomas and his friends with a safe haven to rebuild humanity in.
  • The Mental State: Zachary "Zack" State has countless schemes in mind, can manipulate whole gangs into turning on their own members and can exploit any situation in ways that most people could never imagine. After taking brutal revenge on his enemies and going to prison for it, Zack masterfully plays inmates and guards and orchestrates a coup to become the leader of a gang. When an undercover cop starts poking around, Zack changes his plans, digs up dirt on him and blackmails not only the cop into dropping the case, but also a high-ranking official into changing the state’s entire prison system to his liking. Zack manipulates the inmates into making him their official representative and even takes down an international crime lord; reducing him to a nobody spending his entire life in solitary confinement. To top it all off, Zack does it all without losing a single second of his good-conduct time and sustains no injuries at all while in prison save for a small bruise.
  • Mercy Thompson's Moon Call: Gerry Wallace, a member of Aspen Creek pack and one of Bran Cornick's most trusted agents, seeks to save his beloved, doomed father by tricking Bran into killing Gerry himself. Manipulating werewolf concerns over Bran's intentions to unveil them to the world and built a small army through his connections, Gerry also experiments on forcibly turned wolves and is able to invent a Werewolf tranquiliser. Getting his followers into a panic, Gerry had them attack Adam Hauptman under the pretence of intending to force Adam to challenge Bran, ensuring most will die. Thus, upon Adam's death, Bran would be convinced of his guilt, whilst his father would be convinced of his innocence and challenge Bran to a duel for this perceived betrayal, forcing the necessary union. Using the tranquilisers as a distraction, so no one would notice the witch Gerry hired to rig the fight for his father and when finally beaten only requests his father not learn of his crimes.
  • Millennium Series: Lisbeth Salander is a reserved hacker who functions as a self-appointed avenger of the downtrodden and especially to victimized women. Utilizing her hacking skills for her job as an investigator, Lisbeth is also a ward of the state for perceived insanity and upon her beloved guardian's stroke, she is placed under the care of the sadistic Nils Bjurman who brutally rapes her. Trapping him with footage of the rape she had filmed, Lisbeth disables Bjurman and tattoos his chest to say he is a pervert and rapist before she is recruited by hero Mikael Blomqvist to investigate a 40-year-old mystery she helps unravel before bringing down both the depraved Martin Vanger and then infiltrating the bank of Blomqvist's enemy Wennestrom to expose his own crimes and criminal dealings. Later targeted by a government conspiracy and her evil father Zalachenko, Lisbeth is able to triumph, set up her old tormentors to face their just rewards and lures her evil half-brother into a trap to assure his assassination before finally achieving her own freedom.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
    • The Lord Ruler is the godlike emperor of the Final Empire who rose from humble origins to become a tyrant who united the known world under his rule and reshaped it in his image. Despite centuries spent struggling with Ruin's influence on his thoughts, the Lord Ruler remained determined to ensure the survival of humanity by any means necessary and set numerous contingency plans in motion. Even following the Lord Ruler's death his hand continued to work behind the scenes and would play a key role in Ruin's final defeat, and even centuries down the line his influence on Scadrial's history can't be entirely escaped.
    • Kelsier was little more than an arrogant master thief until he and his wife were sentenced to the dreaded Pits of Hathsin by the Lord Ruler. Escaping, he proceeded to hijack the rebellion as his private army and carefully spread his reputation as a quasi-religious figure across the empire, so that when he was killed his martyrdom would trigger a mass uprising that would topple the Lord Ruler - and The Secret History describes how even death couldn't keep him down for good as he continued his scheming as a cognitive shadow. Charismatic, brilliant, and more than a little mad, the Survivor of Hathsin would topple a thousand-year empire through sheer force of will and cunning and create a reputation for himself as an iconic figure that would endure for centuries.
  • Modred, A Fragment, by Edwin Arlington Robinson: By far the most eloquent and fully realized interpretation of the character, Mo(r)dred is the most treacherous knight of the Round Table whose machinations wrought the downfall of Camelot and demise of King Arthur. Wanting a diligent hand to set a trap for Lancelot and Guinevere, Modred meets with Sir Colgevance and twists the knight's vow and virtues against him into complete servitude. Doing so in a way that unnerved even Agravaine, the parent poem Lancelot goes on to show how shrewd, dark, and manipulative Modred had to be in order to fulfill the "black malady" resting in his heart.
  • The Monster of Elendhaven: Florian Leickenbloom saw his entire family die due to the cruel actions of the city of Elendhaven during a plague and concocted a scheme to take his ultimate revenge. Becoming an accountant to the city's elite, Florian carefully manipulates them into bleeding the city dry all while playing as a naive and innocent victim. Florian, with the help of his assistant/lover Johann, helps in the creation of a new plague to destroy the city for its ills, even skillfully deducing when a mage hunter is onto him and with his dying breath, Florian transfers his magic to Johann allowing his beloved to be able to live and be free.
  • Monsters Among Humanity: Gabriel Moreau, also known as Midnight, is a highly intelligent veteran vampire hunter. Believing that vampires are evil, Midnight wishes to protect humanity from them, so he tracks vampires and hunts them down, having killed over thirty vampires in his career. Suspecting that Cassie may be a vampire, Midnight follows her to Japan and begins to observe her, using various methods to slowly gather information about her. After Cassie is exposed and escapes, Midnight puts a bounty on her head in an attempt to flush her out. Midnight forms a partnership with Derek and Heather to hunt their targets together. However, Midnight quickly comes to dislike Derek due to his vile intentions, even being shocked at his intentions to blow up the village. Midnight pretends to go along with Derek's plans, but then phones the cops, pretending to be a terrorist so they arrive faster. After Midnight sees Cassie defuse a bomb, Midnight begins to realize that not all vampires are evil, and then turns on Derek. After turning himself in, Midnight becomes a Bounty Hunter to take out criminals and protect humanity properly.
  • Morganville Vampires: The town of Morganville has several morally ambiguous and intelligent masterminds who defend it:
    • Amelie is the serene, cold and polite queen of all vampires and the founder of Morganville. A master at playing people, Amelie will go to any length to protect vampirekind, which include: outplaying her monstrous father by faking a defeat to trick him into poisoning himself, assassinating an innocent woman who nearly exposed Morganville as a haven for vampires and staging the death as a suicide, and embarrassing and defeating the anti-vampire supremacist Rhys Fallon by mentally showing him to be a fool in front of his followers, leading them to turn on him. Amelie is as empathic as she is ruthless and truly cares about the town and Claire, despite employing morally ambiguous methods to defend it, such as trying to destroy the town in order to wipe out the Draug. Facing down her enemies, Amelie defeats all challengers for her throne and forces them to kneel before her while ending the series victorious and in the arms of her lover Oliver.
    • Oliver himself is Amelie's ruthless right-hand man and the only one who can match her brilliance. Having once charmed his people into killing their king before the series, he later became a vampire in his quest for power. As a rival of Amelie, he tries to set up a False Flag Operation by killing a vampire using a Vampire Hunter to sow concerns in the vampire population to use it to usurp her. When he loses, he takes his defeat in stride. Oliver acts as The Mole and feeds false information to Amelie's nemesis Bishop, leading to his defeat and later staring down the master of the Draug before outwitting and killing him. Oliver is ruthless but also empathetic at times, and even helps save the heroes at various times using his wits and fighting prowess. A master of charm and armed with sarcastic wit, Oliver eventually falls in love with Amelie and ends the series as her loyal lover, helping her to decide when ruthless actions are needed over empathetic ones.
    • Myrnin is an insane and charismatic vampiric scientist who has a love for bunny slippers and has a pet spider he named Bob. A master at tricking people into underestimating him due to his insanity, Myrnin uses this to infiltrate Bishop's organisation by faking a surrender and feeding info to his best friend Amelie, gathers blood from Bishop in order to create a cure for a deadly virus infection threatening the town and drains a guard dry to escape when she underestimates him. A master at building awesome gadgets, Myrnin helps to create various weapons such as silver guns to defeat the Draug and helps Amelie turn Rhys Fallon's vampire cure into a way to free his brainwashed prisoners instead. A man who rose from nothing under an abusive parent, Myrnin mixes ruthless drive and unyielding charisma.
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho: Signor Montoni is a ruthless Iitalian bandit seeking to gain the heroine Emily's inherited fortune. Using a scheme to pose as an Italian noble, Montinu seduces and marries Emily's aunt, kidnapping the two to bring them to Udolpho where he attempts to trick and force Emily into signing over her inheritance to him. Despite his ruthlessness, he keeps Emily safe, even wounding his own ally for attempting to force himself upon her and sends Emily away when a siege comes. When his end comes, Emily finds she could mourn him if not for the crimes he has committed.
  • Nadia Stafford: Nadia Stafford herself is the series's genius hitwoman. Having once suffered a horrific past at the hands of the monstrous Serial Killer Sebastian Koss and his friend, Nadia reinvented herself as a streetwise assassin and now takes on assignments from both the mob and other paying customers who wish to remove the truly evil from their lives. Nadia is utterly ruthless and not above tricking opponents into revealing information by promising to let them go, only to kill them afterwards anyways. Over the series, Nadia has defeated a group of Human Traffickers, staging their deaths to make it seem like they killed each other, and tricks Sebastian Koss into confessing to his crimes by offering him a headstart she wasn't going to give him. With an unshakeable moral code, Nadia now dedicates her life to protecting the innocent and ensuring the guilty meet a rightful end at her hands.
  • Neverwhere:
    • The Marquis de Carabas is a ruthless, brilliant man of the London Below who deals in favors and manipulation. Tricking others to place them in his debt, the Marquis participates in helping Lady Door and Richard Mayhew due to a debt to Door's late father, who even considered him "a bit of a monster" himself. Proving to be loyal, if cagey and dangerous, the Marquis approaches the monstrous assassins Croup and Vandemar, knowing they will kill him, but having left his life and soul with the Old Bailey to later recover since he knows Croup cannot resist bragging about the entire plot to a soon-to-be-dead man.
    • Hunter is a skilled warrior whose greatest desire is to kill the "Great Beasts" of the world. Having already slain several of the Great Beasts, Hunter sets her sights on the Beast of London next, becoming the bodyguard of Door under supposedly benevolent reasons. In truth serving as a spy for Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, Hunter leads Door into a trap, betrays all their allies, and obtains her payment in the form of a powerful spear from Croup and Vandemar, with which Hunter intends to kill the Beast. Even when taken hostage by the Marquis de Carabas, Hunter leads him and Richard into the Beast's lair and sacrifices herself to help Richard kill the Beast, dying satisfied that her life's mission has been completed and offering Richard advice and power both as she passes.
  • A Night in the Lonesome October: The Count, Dracula himself, is a ruthless player of the Game. Despite being an evil vampire, the Count intends to preserve the world rather than allow the Openers to destroy it. Faking his own staking to act in secret, the Count stymies the Openers, even murdering one of their members as a warning. Revealing himself at the end to the Openers' leader, Vicar Roberts alongside Jack and the Great Detective, the Count boldly declares his intent is "to close you out", being a perfect example of the cunning and charm one expects from a master player.
  • NiGHTS: Flying Through the Sky Without Wings, by Kyoko Inukai: Reala, chief enforcer of Wizeman the Wicked, makes his introduction goading NiGHTS into a seemingly innocent game before underhandedly imprisoning the fellow Nightmaren through Flaw Exploitation. Even with Visitor Elliot providing assistance to NiGHTS, Reala reveals their true origin to the boy before using the ensuing panic as a chance to undo their Dualizing. Although undone by the Red Ideya responding to Elliot's sudden courage, the sinister and smart Reala showed precisely why Wizeman assigned him to the job.
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:
    • "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer": The titular Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are a duo of highly efficient cat burglars, committing various thefts without being caught. Whenever one of their crimes is discovered, people realize that one of the cats is responsible — and that there's nothing at all to be done about that.
    • "Macavity: The Mystery Cat": Macavity, aka the "Hidden Paw" or "The Napoleon of Crime" is an elusive master criminal, who is so notorious that other notable criminal cats such as Mungojerrie and Griddlebone are considered mere agents of his. Whenever one of his crimes is discovered and the investigators reach the scene, not only is Macavity not there, but he also has an alibi for whatever time it took place, with one or two to spare.
  • L'Ordinatueur, by Christian Grenier: Achille Vidal is the illegitimate son of Monsieur de Chiron and of Mrs. Vidal. Frequently visiting the Grimoire Castle — which belonged to his father — Achille lost his father at age 5, and was abused by his stepfather Jean Boulazac. Years later, upon noticing objects from Grimoire in the Boulazac home, Achille deduced that his stepfather looted the castle and figured out he couldn't have done it alone. Deciding to punish Jean and his collaborators for stealing art, Achille created a Grimoire Castle simulation game named LTPG. In the game, Achille, as "Pyrrha", guided the players to the mysterious treasure. Jean and his collaborators, attracted by Pyrrha's intricate knowledge of the castle, played it, using amphetamines to stay on the computer and play LTPG for a long period of time due to being middle-aged, before finding the Treasure: an unknown horror that would kill them through a psychological effect, just as Pyrrha predicted. Through LTPG, and months after his death at age 24, Pyrrha killed the six people responsible for looting Grimoire Castle, succeeding in his goal before the case could even be solved.
  • Orlando Innamorato: Brunello is a cunning thief working for the Saracen army under King Agramante. Fully aware of his king's desire to conquer France for himself, Brunello learns they need the captive knight Ruggerio to give themselves a fighting chance. Embarking on a quest to the fortress of Albracca, Brunello steals the magic ring belonging to Princess Angelica of Cathay, the steed of King Sacripante, and the sword of the warrior Marfisa. Enraging the latter, Brunello is forced to rely on his quick wits to successfully evade her wrath. When he and the army arrives a glass wall in the garden containing Ruggerio, Brunello constructs a brilliant "tournament of champions" ruse right outside to manipulate Ruggerio into abandoning the garden. When the knight pleads for his horse and armor, Brunello sets the terms for a deal that finishes what "the cheat" started.
  • The Otherworld:
    • Jeremy Danvers is the Alpha of the North American Werewolf Pack. Rising from humble beginnings, Jeremy helps to create a system to weed out threats to his kind being discovered and helped either cover up the crimes of the werewolves or discipline them to avoid detection. Jeremy instigates a coup against his abusive father and later helps to catalogue and discover "Mutt werewolves" and their personal lives to better take them on. In order to instill a sense of fear in the Mutts against The Pack, Jeremy drugged a feral one and had his son Clayton mutilate him in order to make Clayton into the bogeyman of the pack. Jeremy also helps to bring werewolves back into the greater magical community and create alliances that will help his people for decades to come. Taking Elena Michaels under his wing, Jeremy helps to groom her as his successor as Pack leader and steps down gracefully to her when the time comes for retirement.
    • Karl Marsten is an amoral, charming werewolf and thief who's famous for his daring James Bond-style jewel heists. Marsten infiltrates territory he desires, researches the weaknesses of the werewolves that already live there and then wines and dines them. Afterwards, he gives them a polite offer to leave the territory, and if they refuse he kills them. After joining up with Daniel Santos' attempt to destroy The Pack, Marsten is content to lie back and play both sides, and even backstabs the vile Thomas LeBlanc by playing off Thomas' sadism and causing the pack to give him the territory he desires. Widely considered one of the most dangerous enemies of The Pack for never giving anyone a chance to see his weaknesses, Marsten keeps this ability even in his eventual reform and becomes one of The Pack's most loyal allies.
    • Benecio Cortez, the head of the Cortez Cabal is a powerful sorcerer renowned for making his mafiaesque cabal the most powerful one in the world through a mix of pragmatism and his genuine charming affability. Benecio always remembers the names of everyone in his office and charms them with his silver tongue, allowing him to manipulate their emotions for his own criminal ends. Desiring for his son Lucas to succeed him, after various attempts Benecio eventually succeeds in getting him to agree. When he learns Lucas is in danger from a vampire, Benecio tricks the heroes into thinking that he was safe in a party before using a doppelgänger to leave and then finishes off the vampire himself by eternally damning him. Willing to go to extreme lengths to protect those he loves and keep his organization on top, Benecio is one of Otherworld's most formidable allies.
    • Aratron is a calm, cunning Eudemon (Order demon) who strives to bring progress and order to the world. At one point, Aratraon spread deadly plagues so as to hasten humanity's progress and scientific discoveries in response to them. Discovering the rise of the monstrous Gilles de Rais, Aratron subtly helps the heroes to stop his threat. Aratron takes advantage of a slip of the tongue by Savannah Levine to take her powers away in order to better train her now that she doesn't have them to go against Gilles. Aratron helps to co-ordinate attacks on the various members of Gilles's organization. Taking advantage of the death of one of Gilles's partners, Aratron suggests replacing him with a shapeshifter to be able to infiltrate his base and uses this to help the heroes right the balance and defeat Gilles for good.
  • Our Man Weston: Professional spy Richard Knight is the villain of the story but is also its most cunning and impressive figure. Knight figures out the various secrets and suspicions of the various other guests and employees at the hotel where he's staying with minimal effort, even while the Only Sane Man remains blind to most of them. Knight finds the whole situation Actually Pretty Funny and refrains from doing anything with that information due to how far off base the amateur detective's suspicions are and because trying get the young detective fired would draw attention to himself. While he's quick to threaten his incompetent accomplice, Knight never goes through with hurting the man, nor does he harm an innocent. Their theft of an experimental military plane only fails due to an unlucky twist of fate. When his plans are foiled, Mr. Knight pulls off a cunning escape and comes across as a Graceful Loser. Knight then disguises himself as a police officer to rescue his captured accomplice before departing the story as free as a bird.
  • Outbreak Company: Jinzaburō Matoba is a government worker in charge of subjugating Eldant through otaku culture via addiction and monopolization. Hiring Shinichi Kanou as a disposable pawn, Matoba endeared him to the Eldant royal family to establish his programs secretly intending to use it to take hold of Eldant. When Kanou learns the truth, Matoba breaks Kanou down by revealing him disposable if he defies the governments and when he does, Matoba sneakily covers Japan's intentions all the while setting up Kanou's many assassination attempts. When Kanou offers another way to maintain relations with Eldant without a full invasion, Matoba decides to side with Kanou believing his methods are far more effective than his superiors, fooling them into an unintended confession about their true motives and using it as blackmail to silence them. While an opportunistic bureaucrat, Matoba does what he believes is best for Japan.
  • Panchatantra's "The Ass Without Heart and Ears": The Jackal tricks the ass into approaching the lion's den twice. After the lion kills the ass, the jackal convinces him to leave him alone with the dead animal and takes the opportunity to eat its heart and ears. When the lion finds out what the jackal did, the latter claims that the ass never had either organ in the first place, because if they did, they would have been aware of the danger and wouldn't have returned to a place where they nearly got killed. Later versions have the fox eat the ass's brain instead.
  • Parallel Worlds anthology's "The Tragedy of John Metcalf", by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne: John Metclaf is an assassin magician known for pulling off skilled hits for the organization known as Management. Feeling guilt over his crimes over the years, Metclaf eventually swaps places with a version of himself from an alternate world to avoid capture and decides to use this second chance to atone, leaving his alternate version to die at the hands of his captors in his place. Metclaf rises as a star and helps make several life changing advancements to the world and when Management attempts to bring him back, shuts them down and makes himself look the hero, all to his adoring public eye.
  • Peril at End House: Nick Buckley may not have been the worst criminal Poirot ever faced, but she was the only one who ever manipulated him into helping her with her scheme. Faking a series of murder attempts on herself, Nick persuades Poirot to help investigate, convincing all of her friends, who had not otherwise believed her, that her life is in danger. Using this as a cover, Nick murders her cousin, knowing that Poirot will assume she was killed in mistake for Nick; she then pretends that it was she, and not her identically named cousin who was secretly engaged to the rich and recently deceased Michael Seton, setting herself up to inherit all his money. Found out because of a letter she could never know had been sent, Nick had Poirot investigating every outlandish possibility save the real one until the very end.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers: The Sword of Mercy: Cheeky O'Neal is quite the wry, cunning Determinator. He and his respectfully fearful accomplices strand themselves in a lifeboat near the island, posing as helpless, grateful castaways so they'll be rescued by the Mollusks and given access to their starstuff. When the natives become suspicious of them and send them off the island, they steal a boat and head back, with O'Neal triggering a small volcanic eruption to send enough smoke into the air to alert Captain Nezerra and a ship full of henchmen. He then helps hold Fighting Prawn's daughter hostage for the starstuff. When most of his companions flee after an ocean battle, O'Neal opts to swim back to the island, hidden under a tangled piece of sail to continue his quest, accompanied only by Nezerra.
  • The Princess Trap by Peter Darbyshire: Saleema, a shepherd girl orphaned by the notorious dragon is used as bait by the beast as a supposed princess to draw out knights so the dragon can fight them. Eventually utilizing her own cleverness, Saleema realizes the kingdom is devoid of royals and disguises herself as a knight, bargaining so that she was the one who appears to have slain the dragon so she may take over the kingdom. In turn, Saleema offers the dragon the chance to fight the finest knights when she rebuilds the knightly orders, a move that shall also ensure she is rid of any strong enough to challenge her for her throne.
  • Puss in Boots: The titular character is a suave and shrewd pet cat of a miller. When the miller's youngest son inherits the cat, the cat promises his new master riches if he gave the cat a pair of boots. The cat then makes occasional visits to the local king, paying him tribute in his master's name with animals the cat had hunted. Having his master masquerade as a noble, the cat proceeds to make sure that his lie holds up. He gets rid of his master's old clothes, lying to the king that they had been stolen while he was bathing. He then clears the countryside of its peasants, claiming it has his master's land. Finally, he comes across a castle owned by a shape-shifting ogre. Stoking the ogre's ego, the cat tricks the ogre into transforming into a mouse, where the cat takes the opportunity to eat the defenceless ogre. Claiming the castle as his master's, the cat succeeds in impressing the king. The king gives the master his daughter's hand in marriage, while elevating the cat as a lord. The cat, now having grown bored, then spends his time chasing mice for his amusement.
  • The Queen's Thief: Irene, also known as Attolia, appears to be a shy, dim girl, which hides her calculating mind. Following her brother's death in a suspicious accident, she is married off to a contemptuous noble, only to dispatch him on their wedding day via clever use of poison. Using her jewelry to buy the support of soldiers and mercenaries, when Irene's barons attempt to choose a husband for her, she has him summarily killed in front of them, announcing she will rule in her own right and choose her own way. Ruthlessly ruling her own domain, she plays the ambassador Nahuseresh, allowing him to think he controls her while setting him up to his defeat, even arranging for the fall of his army to strengthen her own position.
  • Raffles: Written as an answer to Sherlock Holmes himself by Arthur Conan Doyle's brother in law, AJ Raffles is a charming Gentleman Thief who frequently robs the wealthy members of Victorian high society, with a special emphasis on honorless 'new rich' types, one point even stealing a valuable artifact from a museum and gifting it to the Queen herself for the Diamond Jubilee. Cunning and charming, Raffles repeatedly pulls off heists while sticking to his own curious code of honor, his exploits chronicled by his loyal friend Bunny. Raffles is rarely at a loss and just as good at being a criminal as Holmes is at detective work.
  • Railhead: Dhravid Raven was once a digital demigod with many bodies, created after an ordinary man fell in love with a Guardian AI named Anais Six. Discovering that the Guardians were concealing the existence of alien life and precursors who built the K-Gates used by humanity, and after trying to leak this information to the public, the Guardians tried to 'delete' him. Surviving in a single body, Raven reverse-engineered precursor technology to build his own K-Gate, aiming to escape the Guardians for good. He later manipulated Zen Starling into recovering a precursor artifact needed to complete the gate, using the Imperial train in an elaborate Impersonation Gambit, leaving him unaware that the plan involved crashing the train and killing hundreds to cover Zen's escape. He keeps his word and rewards Zen handsomely, even though he could have solved a lot of problems by killing him, as aptly demonstrated when, as Raven is about to fire up the K-Gate, Zen reappears and derails his plan by threatening him, blowing up his train and inadvertently leading Railforce, along with a physical manifestation of Anais, to him. Raven hardly blinks, effortlessly disarming Zen and crushing Railforce using vastly inferior firepower, and once again is about to make his exit when he's killed by a wild animal. Nevertheless, he remains dignified and calm to the end, snarking at his surviving enemies as he lays dying.
  • Raptor Red: The young Utahraptor, "Raptor Red", is a skilled hunter and killer, opening by bringing down a much larger dinosaur with her mate who is tragically killed in the process. After wandering and meeting her sister and nieces, Red shows herself repeatedly as unusually intelligent even for a Utahraptor with numerous successful kills and ploys. Upon being attacked by enormous predators, Red lures one into the ocean to be seized by a Kronosaurus, later taking a new male as a mate and growing her pack to live free and peacefully.
  • Red Harvest: The Continental Operative arrives in "Poisonville" and sets about to rid it of the cruel gangs who control it. A ruthless, brilliant operator, the Op extracts incriminating information of the gangs and spreads them to their enemies to play all sides against one another, even revealing one bank robbery was staged by one mob group and the police to spark a gang war and bring the corrupt police into it. Playing the gangs into whittling one another down until he's finished them all, the Op blackmails one of the town's chief members who first hired him and invited the gangs there into calling the governor to send in the national guard, declare martial law and clean up the town to give the man his town back, while removing his control of it at the same time.
  • Red Rising: Fitchner au Barca is secretly the mysterious Ares, leader of the Sons of Ares. Once the runt of his family, Fitchner becomes a military leader among the high-class Gold society. Having fallen in love with a Red who was murdered by Golds, and left with only his half-blooded son, Fitchner declares war on the the Society, founding the Sons of Ares, trying to help the lower classes, and being entirely willing to cut moral losses and commit terrorist acts. Taking up numerous apprentices and choosing Darrow of Lykos to be his successor, Fitchner continues to deceive and manipulate his way through the Society, ruthless and brutal yet nonetheless helping his charges make their own ways through. Making his way into being the bodyguard of the Sovereign, Octavia au Lune, Fitchner only reveals his deception to save Darrow's life at the last moment, before being killed due to one of the Sons betraying him to the Golds. While a ruthless individual, Fitchner's machinations eventually allow for the destruction of the Society and the liberation of the lower classes.
  • Reflex, by Dick Stanley:
    • George Millsace is a racing photographer known for his cynical and mocking worldview and sense of humor, which carries over into the pictures he takes. George's wife and son adore him but are alone in that respect. Using his inquisitive nature and skills as a photographer, George discovers various crimes and scandals in the racing world. Instead of exposing the wrongdoers, he gathers evidence and then blackmails them for donations to a charity for injured jockeys while also forcing them to stop the activities he's blackmailing them over. George does this partially out of a sense of righteousness, but primarily out of a desire to "[extort] frustration". Even when he ends up killed by one of his victims, George has his photographs kept away from the obvious places where anyone but another photographer will look for them, while using different kinds of film for each picture so it will be harder for snooping laymen to develop. His pictures end up with Phillip Nore, who ultimately chooses to use George's work to blackmail a man into exposing various drug dealers, and keep another from engaging in a brutal for of Insurance Fraud.
    • Victor Briggs is the calculating and reserved owner of several gaming clubs and racehorses. He holds drug users in both pity and contempt and dislikes violence, but has no qualms about making his jockey, Phillip Nore, lose several races for gambling purposes. When Victor is found out and blackmailed by George, he responds by making a recording of their meeting to counter blackmail George, only to decide against using it when he finds George's terms to make a charitable donation and stop throwing races reasonable. After George's death, Victor tries to go back to throwing races but finds Phillip reluctant to do so even before Phillip gets George's pictures. He avoids using violence, bribery, or threats to try and suppress or destroy George's information like several other blackmail victims do, merely patiently waits for Phillip to approach him for a civil talk. Victor respects how Phillip refuses to throw races anymore but never tries to blackmail him and agrees to let Phillip run honest races while showing bemused admiration for Phillip and George.
  • Renegades: Nova Artino is the young niece of Ace Anarchy and infiltrates the Renegades as a new recruit, keeping her cover for months while spying on the Renegades. Nova manages to steal back Ace's helmet back and when Ace is captured she arranges to have him broken out at his execution. After realizing how deranged Ace has become Nova turns on him and helps defeat him.
  • La République des imberbes, by Mohamed Toihiri: Haïdar, his girlfriend Yasmine a.k.a. "Sourire-de-Fraise" and her best friend Faouziat are three young Comorians personally affected by the country's dictator Guigoz's crimes. Deciding to escape the dictatorship, the trio hijack a plane supposed to go to Anjouan. Leaving nothing to chance, Faouziat forces the passengers to stay put under threat of blowing up the plane, Yasmine holds them at gunpoint, ready to shoot dead anyone who protests, and Haïdar holds the pilot at gunpoint, forcing him to land to Mayotte for the hijackers, who reach mainland France from there and get away with their deeds.
  • Re:Zero: Echidna, the Witch of Greed, once viewed all living things as her children and despaired when she was unable to save them from death and suffering. Devoting herself to becoming an all-powerful protector, Echidna creates the powerful spirit servants, twists the nobleman Roswaal L. Mathers into devoting himself to her and researches soul transference to achieve immortality. Hundreds of years after her body dies, Echidna meets Subaru Natsuki in her spirit realm and puts him through a series of trials to confront his past and slowly gains his trust as she explains to him the mysterious nature of his "Return by Death" ability. Meanwhile having Roswaal attack Subaru and force him into a dire situation in the real world, Echidna nearly lures Subaru into signing a binding contract with her, only stopped by the sudden arrival of the other Witches. Saving her faithful Roswaal after he is injured and fighting on his behalf, Echidna even makes amends with her wayward "daughter" Beatrice, her soul resting in peace after accepting her.
  • Rick Brant's The Phantom Shark: Kenwood and van der Klaffens are longtime South Pacific residents who have spent years seeding a bed of cultivated pearls, which they harvest with a submarine made from a World War II plane and decide to sell them on the blackmarket. They assume the Collective Identity of the eponymous Phantom Shark, a supposedly Ambiguously Human murderer who robs rich pearl beds. Said murders only exist in the stories that Kenwood and van der Klaffens spread to explain the origins of their pearls, inflate their prices, and ease any qualms of conscience they have about cheating people who buy their pearls despite their supposed origins. They sometimes use their submarine, now outfitted with a shark fin, to pick up their payments. The two also have a henchman commit minor sabotage to keep a boat from finding their pearl bed but are appalled when he starts robbing their customers and help Rick chase and capture him. After being exposed, they compliment Rick and Barby's cleverness and agree to refund their latest customer before taking their leave.
  • Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Uranium Unicorns from Uranus: Uncle Unicorn is likely the smartest adversary Ricky and his robot faced. Deciding to incapacitate the robot before going to conquer Earth, Uncle Unicorn later tries to have him destroyed while the robot is still debilitated under a spell. When his Ladybot is shut down, Uncle Unicorn adaptively turns on his backup generator and grows her to gigantic proportions.
  • The Riddling Reaver: The titular Riddling Reaver is a trickster and master manipulator introduced killing Baron Bluestone of Kallamehr, then taunting the players to follow him by leaving behind a puzzle box. Using the puzzle box to lure players into his ship, the Twice Shy, the Reaver's magical ship transports players to the Southern Islands of Allansia, into the jungles where he will then greet them under the guise of the explorer, Waxley Speed. Leading the players through the monster-infested jungles and then a booby-trapped loaded pyramid, the Reaver, as Waxley, tricks players into retrieving the Pendulum of Fate from the pyramid, before immediately stealing the Pendulum right under the players' noses and escaping. Even as players pursue the Reaver to his hideout called the Reaver's Roost, the Reaver will leave behind a trail of clues to lure players into following him, so that he can continuously challenge them for his own amusement.
  • Riordanverse:
    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
      • Luke Castellan, while introduced as a friendly mentor figure, is The Dragon to Kronos. Holding a resentment towards the gods due to feeling abandoned by his father, Hermes, Luke manipulated countless other demigods into joining Kronos's forces, convincing Silena Beauregard to act as his spy by tricking her into believing nobody at camp would get hurt. Under Kronos's orders, Luke steals both Zeus's Master Bolt and Hades's Helm of Darkness in an attempt to start a war between the gods, convincing Ares to help him when the war god catches him. In The Lightning Thief, when Percy is claimed by Poseidon, Luke summons a hellhound to trick Percy and Chiron into believing that Hades is the true culprit. When Percy succeeds in his quest to find and return Zeus's Master Bolt, Luke lures Percy into the woods and poisons him with a pit scorpion, not taking the risk Percy beating him in a fight. In The Titans Curse, to have her serve as bait for the goddess, Artemis, Luke risks his life by holding the sky to trick Annabeth into taking his place when she holds it to save his life. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, Luke persuades the inventor, Daedalus, into giving him the string of Ariadne so that he can find a route for Kronos's forces to invade Camp Half-Blood. Luke later allows the spirit of Kronos to take over his body after gaining nigh-invulnerability from the River Styx. Despite Luke's manipulative nature, he truly believed he was doing what was best for demigods, and when he realized how much he hurt Annabeth, ends his own life to stop Kronos.
      • The Battle of the Labyrinth: Daedalus is a genius inventor from the times of Ancient Greece, infamous for constructing the self-aware and ever-expanding death trap that is the Labyrinth. After murdering his similarly gifted nephew Perdix in a fit of jealous rage, Daedalus lured King Minos into a trap to finally rid himself of the King of Crete's mad pursuit. Knowing he wouldn't be safe from Minos' specter Daedalus hid within the Labyrinth, transferring his consciousness into automaton bodies to ensure his immortality throughout the centuries. Approached by Luke in modern times with the offer to be made King of the Underworld should he help them navigate the maze and invade Camp Half-Blood, Daedalus takes up the identity of Quintus to observe the demigods and decide whether they stand a chance against the Titans. Eventually deciding to help Luke, Daedalus nevertheless leaves Percy his pet Hellhound Mrs. O'Leary to help the demigod. When betrayed by Kronos' forces Daedalus gives his life to destroy the Labyrinth and the Titan's army, content with his punishment in the Underworld as long as he gets to make amends with his nephew.
    • The Kane Chronicles: Set is the God of Evil, who upon being freed from his imprisonment immediately traps Osiris in a coffin. Possessing Amos, Set has him sabotage Brooklyn House's security so he can send his minions after Horus and Isis' hosts, Carter and Sadie Kane. Having Amos save the siblings from Sobek, Set lures them to his pyramid so he can use them to power his storm which will engulf the world. Later summoned and trapped in a jar by Vladimir Menshikov, Set exposes the invisible Carter so he and Sadie will be forced to free him to fight the more powerful Vladimir. Set gives Sadie the location of the last scroll of the Book of Ra in exchange for her ability to use his Ren, and departs in peace. To prepare for the battle against Apophis, Set teaches Amos his branch of divine magic and complies with his restraint when fighting the serpent's minions. Genuinely loyal to Ra, Set nevertheless stands by Horus' side when he ascends to King of the Gods, seemingly with another plot already gleefully in mind.
    • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Utgard-Loki is a powerful sorcerer and king of the Mountain Jotunn. Introducing himself by tricking Magnus into giving him his falafel and subsequently attacking him, the giant drags Magnus across buildings until he "swears by his troth" to bring him an apple of immortality. Utgard-Loki sends Magnus on a quest to go fishing for the World Serpent Jormungandr, which leads to them finding both an apple and the Sword of Summer needed to prevent Fenris Wolf's escape. Later killing Otis to try and prevent Magnus from falling into Loki's trap, the Jotunn king brings Magnus and his friends to his palace so he can tell them how to stop the trickster god and stave off the apocalypse. Knowing that his court would overthrow him if he helped the mortals for free, Utgard-Loki first puts them through challenges rigged against them so they can prove their worthiness by winning against all odds.
  • Rivers of London: Varvara Sidorovna Tamonina is a free spirited, quick-witted but ruthless Nochnye Koldunyi who stands out as both one of the Folly's most dangerous foes and most capable allies. Joining the Red Army to protect her homeland, Varvara's idealism was crushed by the brutality of World War II. Captured, she fools the Nazis into believing she is a harmless medic and survived until she could escape, later aiding the Guernsey Resistance. Following her youth being restored Varvara throws herself into the counterculture of the 1970s, building many connections within the Demi-monde, becoming a sort of mercenary. Employed by the Second Faceless Man, Varvara assists in his efforts to destroy Sky Garden Tower, easily proving to be more of a match for Peter Grant and Lesley May. Defeated in a mystical duel, Varvara congratulated Nightingale for living up to his reputation and charms her captors into making beneficial deals to her, helping take down her former employer. Later aiding the Folly with the abduction of Russian Oligarch's daughter, Varvara gave up her existence to the Russians to free Nightingale, despite knowing they would never leave her in peace, accepting that it was the right thing to do.
  • Robur the Conqueror: Jean Robur is a man who has conquered the skies. Showing off his perfected heavy flight craft, the Alabtross, Robur abducts several of his critics to show them the world in his aircraft and see if they will still belittle him and deny his genius. When they do, Robur arranges things to prove his genius to the world and ruin his rivals, departing into the skies, vowing to return and give humanity the secrets of flight one day.
  • Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure: The One-Eyed Wizard turns out to be the true Big Bad. After injuring himself, the Wizard decides to plot revenge on his brother, Santa Claus. Planning on attacking at his Ice Fortress, he gets the pure of heart Roland involved so he can open the secret entrance. Starting a snowstorm in his village, the Wizard takes advantage of Roland's mother leaving to get a shovel to hypnotize his neighbor into telling Roland that the White Warlock kidnapped his mother, kickstarting Roland's quest. When Roland and the Wizard finally cross paths, he fuels his fear of the White Warlock and summons a magical hand that aids everyone several times during the quest. Once at the Fortress, the Wizard reveals his true colors and fights Santa and the heroes, almost winning and only being stopped by outside help.
  • Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts: Lord Elric Kent is the Lord of the West and seeks to free his people from the crown's rule. Planning for years, Lord Kent establishs agents in the capital Lightspire while preparing his forces for war. After the war starts Kent has his agents wipe out the crown's leadership, allowing him to usurp the throne. Once his minion Miles overthrows him, he joins the heroes in their efforts to stop him, eventually joining them for good.
  • The Runaway Jury, by John Grisham: "Nicholas Easter" and his lover "Marlee", real names Jeff Ker and Gabrielle Brant, are a pair of mysterious figures seeking to influence the outcome of a lawsuit against a tobacco company. Nicholas gets selected for jury duty and sets himself up as a leader and friend to most of the other jurors while subtly influencing their opinions about key aspects of the case. Marlee, in the meantime, negotiates with the crooked jury consultant for the tobacco company, offering to sell the verdict while undermining his other efforts to blackmail or sabotage several jurors. While nice for the most part, they're willing to drug one of Nicholas's fellow jurors and make another afraid that she's being stalked to get them taken off the jury. In the end, it's revealed that the two are out to get a ruling against the tobacco company—along with massive punitive damages—in revenge for the deaths of Marlee's parents from lung cancer. They even return the tobacco company's bribe, although only after making a fortune by using it for investments. Expressing pride in what they've accomplished, they vow to take further action if the tobacco company goes too far in appealing the verdict.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant's "The Man Who Stared at the Sun": The farmer is a clever and determined man who wants to make his job easier by having the sun shine on his crops more, getting the sun to agree to a competition with the condition the sun would help his crops grow luscious if he won. After he attempts to trick the sun into a race, he agrees on a Staring Contest, immediately going blind after looking up. Even after being blinded, he is able to continue his plan by faking staring and resists the sun's attempts to trick him into looking away. After several weeks and the contest resulting in most of the world's crops dying, the sun loses and the farmer emerges victorious. After the farmer reveals his trick, even the sun, while still angry at being deceived, keeps his end of the bargain due to admiring the farmers sacrifice.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead: Welstiel Massing was forcibly turned into a vampire by his father Lord Bryon, the rapist father of series heroine Magiere. Despising his nature as one of the Noble Dead, Welstiel schemes to become human again by manipulating Magiere into becoming a Vampire Hunter. Arranging a test by setting up a war between her and relatively peaceful vampires, Welstiel then commits several vampire murders to pull Magiere where he needs and manipulates her into stealing an artifact for him and his plans with the monster il'Samar. Later luring the heroes to face him, Welstiel stops at nothing in his attempts to become human again, no matter who he has to destroy in his way.
  • Sailor Nothing: In their fight against the Yamiko, Himei Shoutan, Aki Komachi, Shin Kongou and their allies dealt with these ruthlessly brilliant schemers:
    • Dark General Cobalt, originally a suicidal architect's weak Yamiko, was tasked by the priestess to repair the Yami-gaia's city. Creating Yamikos out of skilled humans for that purpose, Cobalt stands out for his pragmatism, refusing to engage in his fellow Yamikos' depravity and peacefully sending a human prisoner he experimented on back home after the latter is no longer useful. Creating the Super Yamikos to target Himei and her allies, Cobalt consistently adapts to the formers' situations as needed, having enough information to kill Himei by the time a rampaging Yamiko destroys the Yami-gaia. When the priestess confronts him over this incident and reveals why she gave him that task, Cobalt and his trusted underling Ohta turn against the Yamiko, helping Himei and her allies from within by tricking two of his fellow Dark Generals into going after them and dying as a result. Working with the heroes, the priestess and Dark General Argon against the Yamikos in the final battle, Cobalt lives past the battle, becoming the sole surviving Yamiko at the end of the story.
    • A Shinto priestess, inadvertently creating the Yamikos in an attempt to purify herself and causing her boyfriend Aoshi's death, decides to make up for her mistake. Cursed with immortality by her Yamiko the Dark Queen and locked in the Yami-gaia, the priestess decides to free Dark General Radon from his Yamiko impulses and have him create the Sailors on Earth as a fighting force against the Yamiko. Noticing Radon's treachery, the priestess saves Cobalt, a young Yamiko and frees him from his impulses, disguised as the Queen to gain his trust. Promoting him to Dark General status, the priestess tasks him with rebuilding the Yami-gaia city, fully aware that the Yamiko would inevitably screw over Cobalt's task, driving his hatred for them to breaking points and leading him to team up with the Sailors. Working with him and Aoshi's Yamiko Dark General Argon in the final battle to help Himei and her allies, the priestess regains her mortality and is last seen at peace now that she knows Aoshi forgave her.
  • The Scar: Uther Doul is the mysterious, inhumanly skilled head of Armada's security force. A brilliant commander who leads raids to capture new citizens for Armada while executing the captain aboard Bellis Coldwine's ship, Uther later uses Bellis to foment a rebellion against the Lovers, the rulers of Armada. Keeping his involvement secret, Uther later puts the rebellion down, including his friend the Brucolac, resulting in the splintering of Armada's unity and allowing him to return to his own pursuits—which he does, just after ordering the Brucolac saved and returned to his own home.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones' "Maybe You Will Remember": The manager, front desk clerk, and in-house doctor at a posh Parisian hotel concoct a coldhearted yet brilliant coverup plot after a guest, June Gibbs, is diagnosed with bubonic plague. Knowing June's devoted daughter Rosemary is staying with her, the doctor sends her across town for some useless medicine, bribing the cab driver to take the longest route possible, then allows June to die. The manager then has the body moved, the room redecorated, and all employees involved told that they will be fired if they reveal the truth. When Rosemary returns, the clerk and manager insist they do not recognize her, and drive her to the brink of madness insisting that neither she nor her mother ever stayed there. The hotel staff even bribe the news and police to bury the matter, all in the name of preventing the panic that the return of the Black Death would bring.
  • Scavenge the Stars & Ravage The Dark, by Tara Sim: This pirate themed adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo gives us these brilliant operators:
    • Boon was once a brilliant counterfeiter named Aran Chandra who was later betrayed and nearly killed by his ally Kamon Mercado. Chandra transforms himself into an affable rogue, sets about revenge, and helps train his daughter Amaya Chandra in the arts of theft, conning and assassination. Boon knows how to charm people into doing what he wants and can manipulate situations with a few honeyed words. He expertly targets Kamon's family to get to him and later helps take down each of the people who've wronged him and his family. After a virus linked to his coins starts spreading throughout Moray, Boon helps to find the man who is now distributing them to shut down the operation and dies peacefully in his daughter's arms, telling her that he loves her.
    • Romara is the playful but sly daughter of the crime lord known as the Slum King. Romara has secretly positioned herself as The Mole in his organisation as she leaks his information to the Port Authority in exchange for helping to increase her own influence among the criminal underworld. Romara desires revenge against her father for exiling her mother and successfully mutinies against him. Taking over his organisation, Romara either rewards the loyal with great treasures or punishes the treacherous with imprisonment and torture. Genuinely helpful to the heroes, Romara ends up on the top with her own share of profits at the end of the series and reigns as the new queen of the Vice Sector.
  • Second Apocalypse: Anasurimbur Kellhus is a powerful Dunyain monk who implants himself in the holy War in opposition to the monstrous Consult. Scheming and manipulating all in his path, Kellhus engineers his own death and supposed rebirth to be seen as a great savior, eventually rising to utterly dominate the Three Seas as the powerful Aspect Emperor and prepare the world to fight the Consult. Manipulating almost everyone he meets, Kellhus heads the Great Ordeal, a grand crusade to completely break the Consult and even allies with a deadly God to destroy their conspiracy for good, vowing to conquer even damnation itself.
  • Secret Histories: Grendel Rex, real name Gerard Drood, is a man who desired to be a god and carve his face into the moon after the death of his beloved wife Elspeth. Trying to usurp and recreate humanity, Gerard allowed his family to defeat and seal him away so he could return later when they grew complacent. Gerard manipulates villains such as Edmund Drood, knowing Edmund will require the help of Gerard, and allow Gerard to usurp the plan later. After this, Gerard begins to put his plan into motion, only to cease when he meets Morgana le Fay, the two falling in Love at First Sight. Departing, Gerard leaves the hero Eddie with one last piece of knowledge: that the face he tried to sear into the moon was actually Elspeth's.
  • Sexton Blake, by Hal Meredeth: Blake's most memorable enemy, Zenith the Albino, is an elegant exiled nobleman who finds his thrills in danger and villainy. Creating new devices to assist his thievery, Zeno returns time and again to challenge Blake for the sheer joy of engaging his nemesis while nobody else can come close to besting him. At one point, Zenith even prints a fake declaration of war in the newspapers to massively short the stock market after causing a panic, to line his pockets. Zenith also possesses a curious code of honor, sometimes allying against brutal criminals and thugs while always keeping an incredible respect for Blake himself.
  • Shakugan no Shana:
    • Bel Peol, known as the "Arbiter of Reverse Reasoning" and "The Strategist", lead Bel Masque in the first two seasons. In the past, Bel Peol sacrificed her right eye as part of a plan to retrieve her master's body; later convincing a Denizen into going for a dangerous mission, resulting in his death for her cause. Trying to destroy Misaki City, Bel Peol nearly succeeds in all her attempts thanks to her tactical brilliance and pushes the heroes to their limits. Joining her master, the Snake of the Festival upon his revival, Bel Peol acts as his Dragon and together they usher in the creation of Xanadu, a paradise for Denizens and humans alike, fighting fiercely for it. A ruthless, goal-driven woman, Bel Peol nevertheless showed fondness to her underlings and exceedingly intelligence thinking in the field of battle, proving herself a worthy leader of Bel Masque.
    • The Snake of the Festival or "The God of Creation", is the original leader of Bel Masque. Summoned in ancient times by the Denizens of the past, the Snake tried to create a paradise for them before being sealed in the Abyss. In present convincing protagonist Yuji Sakai to become his vessel, the Snake retakes leadership of Bel Masque, giving a speech so powerful it gains him the complete loyalty of all the present Denizens. Leading the Denizens in the devastating Second Great War, the Snake oversees the brutal combat to have his body recovered from the Abyss. Returning to Misaki City to create Xanadu, the Snake uses his own body and a member of the Trinity as sacrifices to create his new world. Realizing the Denizen's wish for peaceful coexistence, the Snake completes his mission despite massive opposition and returns to sleep, wishing his vessel success for the future.
  • Shark Wars, by E.J. Altbacker: Takiza Jaelynn Betta vam Delacrest Waveland ka Boom Boom is a legendary betta fish whose mastery of sharkkata is only matched by his cunning. Disgusted to learn that his master Hokuu was conspiring with the Fifth Shiver to exterminate all other sharkkind, Takiza uses his powers to seal them away, but condemning Gray's father to be killed by them, something he remains unrepentant of. Searching for a worthy apprentice, Takiza trains Gray in the ways of sharkkata, putting him through ruthless exercises and assigning him on potentially fatal missions to test him. In combat, Takiza uses his unmatched wit and fighting prowess to overcome any opponent and help Gray defend the Big Blue. In the final battle with the Fifth Shiver, Takiza sacrifices most of his life energy to empower Gray and later kills Hokuu by employing trickery. Although the battle drains him, Takiza gracefully accepts his death, using his final moments to impart words of encouragement to Gray.
  • She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan:
    • The nameless peasant girl who takes the name "Zhu Chongba" from her late brother, along with his glorious fate. Disguising herself as a man to infiltrate a monastery, Zhu Chongba eventually becomes a glorious military commander feared and renowned for her strategies. Navigating the treacherous imperial court and surviving a brutal defeat at the hands of General Ouyang that costs her a hand, Zhu instead makes a deal with Ouyang to deal with both their enemies in the thick of battle, returns to court and kills the Prime Minister. Initially saving the Emperor's son with her loving wife Ma, Zhu realizes he is an impediment to her destiny and regretfully kills him, albeit as painlessly as possible to conclude her ascent to the throne and ensure her name will be remembered for all time.
    • Chen Youliang is the nemesis of Zhu Chongba and a political and general in the court of the Emperor. Navigating the treacherous court of his enemies, Chen Youliang effortlessly outsmarts the Guos, promising one assistance with his rebellion, only to betray him and see him painfully executed to remove him as a rival. Using his troop placements to assist and hinder Zhu Chongba to gain benefit to himself, Chen Youliang betrays her so the mongols will finish her and he can usurp the Emperor's favor and eventually take the empire for himself, forcing Zhu Chongba to ally with Ouyang just for a chance to best him.
    • General Ouyang is a Mongol "eunuch general," having suffered castration after the death of his family at the hand of Esen-Temur's father. Becoming the general and lover of Esen, Ouyang bides his time and plays along with the Mongols, plotting his vengeance among their own ranks despite an initial defeat by Zhu Chongba. Playing on Esen's suspicions, Ouyang slowly destroys his life and picks off his family. After outfoxing one of Zhu's plans, Ouyang takes Zhu on in single combat and severs her hand, and later allies with her to achieve their ends once it's clear she survived. Once he returns, Ouyang works with power-hungry nobles and officials to instigate a coup before ruthlessly executing Esen, securing his vengeance completely.
    • Lord Wang Baoxiang is the adoptive son of Chaghan-Temur, and General Ouyang's greatest rival and ally. A brilliant noble and official, he uses his role as an educated and passive nobleman to hide from scrutiny. Brilliant at analyzing and manipulating others, Lord Wang discovers and covertly aids General Ouyang's plot against his adoptive father and brother, showing great calm no matter the danger he's in. When Ouyang ultimately enacts his masterstroke, Lord Wang escapes Ouyang's wrath by pointing out that he's not part of the Temur bloodline and walks away having gotten everything he ever wanted.
  • Shotgun Nun, by Harrison Phillips: Sister Eloise is a nun turned vigilante. After being assaulted and raped by various members of the Wood Street Gang, Eloise sought revenge against her assaulters and the gang's leader, Trevor Dixon. Once released from the hospital, Eloise covertly buys weapons from the dark web and tracks down Dixon's gang by herself. Using a shotgun, knives, and explosives, Eloise gradually murders all of the gangsters, including those responsible for her assault. After killing Dixon and his crew and discovering Father David was secretly laundering money for the gang, Eloise catches him before he can flee the city and executes him.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: The titular Green Knight primarily serves as a judge and tester of knights and is tasked to have either discredited the legendary Round Table or reveal the true nature of their honor. A powerful figure clad in verdant green armor, the Green Knight waltzes into Arthur's court and issues a challenge, using a sharp tongue and biting wit to bait even the king himself into an obvious trap, only for Gawain to behead the Green Knight in his stead. Disguised as Bertilak de Hautdesert, the Green Knight sets up hunt after hunt to secretly test Gawain and even uses his wife to test the knight's chastity. With Gawain's single flaw being his fleeting hesitance towards death, the Green Knight spares and congratulates him, ending the story as mysterious but reasonable as he began.
  • Six of Crows: Kaz Brekker is a gangster, conman, bank robber, blackmailer, and all around criminal prodigy who uses his extensive knowledge of Ketterdam's secrets to shame richer and more respected men and women into helping him with his schemes. Kaz's plots range bluffing gunmen into backing down with fictitious threats against their families, to arranging breakouts from the two most heavily guarded prisons in Ketterdam and Fjerda respectively, and running a con on the entire government of Ketterdam that drags in King Nikolai of Ravka as coconspirator. Utterly unscrupulous, Kaz proves to Pekka Rollins, Jan Van Eck, and all his other competitors that he is the true kingpin of Ketterdam.
  • The Sneetches and Other Stories: Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the self-styled fix-it-up chappie, desires profit above all else. McBean first notices the plain-bellied Sneetches moping about being excluded from the star-bellied Sneetches various frankfurter roasts, picnics, and other parties, then offers to let them use a contraption which adds stars onto their bellies for a small fee. Upon noticing that the star-bellied Sneetches are upset by having their supposed superiority threatened, McBean offers to give them plain bellies using a different contraption. McBean repeats this process multiple times until he has successfully fleeced all of the Sneetches of their money, driving off into the distance while commenting on their gullibility.
  • Something Dark and Holy:
    • Pelageya Borisovna is a kooky Kalyzanian witch who leaves her country when she rejects her gods and goes to be an adviser in the war against the rival country of Travania. She orchestrates a series of events to warn of the coming of the omnicidal Chyrnog and stirs the heroes into coming together to defeat him. Pelageya acts as adviser to both High Prince Serefin Meleski and Malachiasz Czechowicz, helping to push them onto the right paths and saves Nadya by giving her the amulet of the dangerous death God Velyos to unleash if she's in trouble. After Malachiasz is possessed by Chyrnog, Pelageya helps to transport his soul to a faraway region to stall for time, before Chyrnog consumes it, ultimately planning to manipulate the heroes into defeating him once and for all.
    • Velyos, the fallen God of the Dead and the Underworld, is a mischievous deity whose ambition was once so great that he sought to topple the heavens. Defeated and imprisoned, Velyos orchestrates a series of events to allow communication with Prince Serefin in order to manipulate him into freeing Velyos and the other fallen gods so, when free, he can get revenge on his jailers. Velyos also sees the coming of the omnicidal Chyrnog and creates prophecies and manipulates events to stop him and save the world. Velyos also acts as an adviser and later friend to Serefin, carefully pushing him to make the right decision to beat Chyrnog. Always seeking that which he does not have for amusement but at the same time being willing to genuinely help humanity, Velyos ends the series as its most successful character.
  • The Song of Roland: Blancandrin is one of the "cunning vassals" of King Marsile of Saragossa tasked with abating the Frankish threat. While suggesting conversion and vassalage towards King Charlemagne, Blancandrin formulates a more devious plan to remove Charlemagne and his Paladins from Spain for good. Noticing the hatred inside Ganelon, stepfather to Roland, he pushes the right buttons to earn himself an ally that helps strategize the Roncevaux army massacre. Selling the idea of a peace summit to both Saragossans and the Franks to hide his real intentions, Blancandrin's deceit successfully razes the Frankish rearguard in a move meant for the greater survival of his king and people.
  • Son of a Wanted Man, by Louis L'Amour:
    • Ben Curry runs an outlaw empire that contains almost 1,000 men and controls more territory than New York State. Ben he's a fearless gunfighter and brilliant strategic strategist who plans large scale robberies and rustling operations across the country, while leaving honest citizens in his own neighborhood alone and knowing how to avoid particularly tough and honest lawmen. Despite his capacity for violence, Ben strives to keep his operations as bloodless as possible, and keeps his mountain hideout is carefully constructed to provide Ben protection against threats from both outside and within. Ben has a secret family he plans to join full-time in peaceful retirement as soon as his adopted son Mike Bastion learns the necessary skills and values to succeed Ben as boss. Ben ultimately respects Mike's decision not to take the outlaw path and joins Mike in protecting his own family from treacherous gang members, prioritizing their safety over himself.
    • Rigger Molina is an outlaw lieutenant with a reputation for being the most Ax-Crazy members of Ben Curry's empire. However, acquaintances outside of the gang describe a different side of Molina, recounting his easygoing attitude, gentle nature towards prostitutes, and how he once carried the Sole Survivor of a gang fight several miles to a doctor after singlehandedly wounding the man and killing his four companions. Rigger's rivals send him to attack a heavily guarded gold train while they launch a coup against Ben and lie about how well-defended it is. Rigger sees through this Uriah Gambit and returns to protect Ben and seek revenge. Molina faces one of Ben's key betrayers in a duel and kills the man despite being outdrawn and mortally wounded, walking over to spit on the traitor's corpse and curse him before collapsing from his own wounds.
  • Son of the Mob: Anthony Luca, Vince's father, is a successful mafia boss known for his fair dealings, good treatment of his subordinates, and resourcefulness make it easy to forget his involvement in more sinister rackets like violent loan-sharking. Anthony is disappointed by Vince's decision to lead an honest life but respects Vince's wishes and intelligence. He helps his son out in small ways, like getting him a legitimate credit card. In the first book, Anthony stays on the sidelines, aside from bringing some Laser-Guided Karma to some associates who've been cheating two people Vince is trying to help. The sequel starts with him smuggling a bag of contraband past the FBI in a car the head agent's daughter is a passenger in. He pulls some strings so that Vince's college roommate Trey is the son of an opposing criminal, and the family can spy on Trey's dad. In book's climax, Anthony personally leads a mission to save a kidnapped associate. Then, out of sympathy for his defeated foe's confused son, he helps Trey from being arrested for grand theft auto by repairing and returning a damaged stolen car.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible: Doctor Impossible, born Johnathan, is a supervillain famed for his intellect and a frequent near-conqueror of the Earth who learns from the mistakes of his past as he is beaten by Earth's most powerful heroes, the Champions. Breaking out of prison, Impossible creates a device to take control of the planet's weather and force the world governments to submit to his whims, defeating each of the Champions as they come to apprehend him, including the mighty CoreFire. Stopped only by the sudden intervention of his ex-girlfriend, Impossible nevertheless remains undaunted and finishes the book with plotting yet another daring plan to escape and resume scheming for world domination.
  • Special Assignments' "The Jack of Spades": Momus is an extremely charming, clever, creative conman and Master of Disguise. He sets up grand, daring projects such as a fake bank or a fake lottery, going as far as to advertise in a police newspaper. Whenever Erast Fandorin and the police seem to catch him red-handed, Momus calmly says they have no actual proof of his involvement in the cons. Finally, after Momus's latest scheme helps Fandorin catch a cruel and dishonest general, Momus is Let Off by the Detective, but his beloved partner Mimi is arrested and tried for fraud. Disguising himself as a lawyer, Momus makes sure she gets acquitted, in addition, exposing the prosecution counsel as corrupt. Together with Mimi, Momus leaves Moscow in triumph.
  • The Spider and the Fly: The Spider is a voracious predator who uses charm and flowery language to lure unsuspecting insects into his parlour. When he sets his eyes on the fly, he becomes a gentleman, recommending the fly to come to his parlour by feigning concern for the fly's well-being. Not deterred by the fly's refusals, the spider changes tactics and appeals to the fly's inner vanity and suggests she look at herself in his looking-glass. He then crafts a web to snare the fly once he successfully enticed her to return.
  • Stephen King works, by release date:
    • The Crate: Professor Henry Northrup is a mild-mannered man married to the abusive alcoholic Wilma. The only friend of nervous Professor Dexter Stanley, Henry is the man Dexter confides in when he uncovers the mysterious crate containing a ravenous monster that devours two innocent men. Sensing a way to be rid of Wilma, Henry drugs Dexter, writes a letter to the gossip-loving Wilma claiming Dexter attacked a woman to lure her over to the university before feeding her to the monster, whereupon he waits for it to go to sleep and binding the crate with thick chains to transport it to the nearest lake and sink it there.
    • Nightmares & Dreamscapes' "Dolan's Cadillac": Robinson was once a mild mannered schoolteacher until his wife was murdered by crime boss Dolan. Robinson spends years plotting vengeance, joining a road crew and upon acquiring the knowledge, redirects Dolan so he drives over a deserted stretch of highway which Robinson has excavated it himself. The Cadillac Dolan drives plummets into the hole, killing Dolan's bodyguards and allowing Robinson to replace the paving so Dolan may die in darkness and madness, with Robinson never being caught.
  • The Suicide Motor Club, by Christopher Buehlman: Clayton Birch is an ancient vampire who not only operates in a far more pragmatic, merciful way than many of his kind, but also hides an artistic and romantic spirit. Having avoided the detection that normally gets vampires caught and killed simply by avoiding senseless murder or sadism, Clayton has survived for centuries and studied his fellow vampires out of a sense of curiosity. After a brief alliance with Luther Nixon's vampiric gang, Clayton turns on them all out of a sense of distaste at their evil as well as an attraction to their latest victim, Judith, who Clayton saves and allies with in ultimately ambushing and taking down Luther's gang. Though having promised Judith the opportunity to choose his fate by leaving himself defenseless in a coffin during sunlight at her mercy, Clayton is revealed to have changed his mind and deceived her long enough for him to slip away, leaving her cash and his mailing address, imploring her to "repay me if you must, write me if you will."
  • Sweet Dreams: Lolana, the story's protagonist as well as the affable and soft-spoken owner of a popular candy shop, is in truth a centuries-year old Polynesian woman who needs to feed on human flesh turned into sugar to survive. Over the years, Lolana kidnapped child predators for that purpose, also abducting her own lovers should she run out of "ingredients". Injecting her victims with a lethal chemical to turn them into sugar she can eat, Lolana nevertheless genuinely loves her lovers, sedating them to ensure they don't suffer throughout the process, giving her latest datefriend Quinn the best date she can think of before kidnapping them and later on reassuring them in a soothing tone during the whole procedure, allowing them to die peacefully despite them previously begging for their life.
  • Sweet Ermengarde: Ethyl Ermengarde Stubbs is The Ingenue, a Damsel in Distress, and the single most intelligent Gold Digger in the story. Coveted by a variety of romantic suitors for her beauty, the wicked Squire Hardman tries to force Ermengarde's hand in marriage by threatening to foreclose the farm of Ermengarde's parents. Ermengarde attempts to elope with a rich nobleman, only to show her true nature by figuring out his infidelity and pitching him out of the window of a moving train. Ermengarde manages to convince an old woman to make her her heiress, making her a rich woman—but not as rich as Squire Hardman. Even when it's revealed the old woman is Ermengarde's mother, Ermengarde instead brilliantly reverses the Squire's forced marriage scheme back on him to ensure she gets as much money as possible under the threat of prosecuting him for his prior crimes. When all is said and done, sweet, seemingly innocent Ermengarde is the only winner in the story.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Akihiko Kayaba is a brilliant programmer desiring a fully-immersive Virtual Reality simulation and creator of Sword Art Online, the world's first VRMMORPG: trapping 10,000 players within and setting it so they die in real life if they do in the game while preventing authorities from stopping his game. Disguised as Heathcliff, a charming leader of a group of players within Aincrad, Kayaba reveals himself when hero Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya deduces his identity and duels the latter, releasing the players and seemingly killing himself when beaten but in reality sending his Fluctlight to continue existing on the internet. Reappearing out of disgust for the next season's Arc Villain, Kayaba assists Kirito in defeating the antagonist and entrusts Kirito with his final invention: made to allow others to create their own virtual reality games and have it shared with the world. Returning once more in the Alicization arc, Kayaba helps save the virtual reality world the heroes are within by taking control of a robot in the setting, proving himself Kirito's most honorable foe.
    • Iskahn is the Tenth Champion of the Pugilists and their leader, as well as a member of the Dark Territory's Council of Ten. Iskahn's Goal in Life was to find a Worthy Opponent, making him very enthusiastic of going to war with the Human Empire. He is angered by Scheta Synthesis Twelve butchering the Pugilists with non-lethal wounds, so challenges Scheta himself and finds the Integrity Knight to be his equal. Gabriel/Emperor Vecta orders him to supervise the pugilists crossing a fissure via ropes, with Iskahn himself forbidden to cross via the ropes, where Iskahn is devastated at witnessing his people fall to their deaths in vain. Overcoming the Seal of the Right Eye by tearing his eye out, Iskahn takes advantage of Vecta's Exact Words to pull a Loophole Abuse by jumping over the fissure, then forming an alliance with the Human Empire against the invading Foreign Players, due to a lack of orders regarding both. At the conclusion of the War, Iskahn is left as one of the few surviving Lords, becoming the new Supreme Commander of the Dark Territory and forges a peace treaty with the Human Realm.
  • Tales from the Flat Earth: Azhrarn the Beautiful is the central figure of the loosely-connected saga and one of the most significant figures in the cosmology of the Flat Earth. As the Lord of Wickedness, he is the most powerful of the Vazdru demons - though all Vazdru are manipulative and alluring by nature, Azhrarn himself epitomizes these traits even more than his fellows. A being of vast cunning, he manipulates humanity across the centuries for his own amusement, sparking conflict and chaos often for no real reason other than to demonstrate that he can or because doing so will allow him to knock his fellow Lords of Darkness or the distant, apathetic gods down a peg. Spinning elaborate schemes that may take years or even centuries to unfold, he almost always comes out ahead no matter who his opponent may be. Nonetheless, he is not entirely evil, being capable of love in his own dark way but even more strikingly at one point saving the Flat Earth from destruction at the hands of an evil even greater than he, at great risk to himself, simply because he realizes that without humanity to give him context his life would have no meaning. Across the countless millennia of his existence, Azhrarn has proven many times over why he deserves his titles of Night's Master and Prince of Demons.
  • Tales of Kaimere: Trickster's Gambit: Indrakai is a trickster spirit of Pakardiant folklore renowned for his knack for bending the rules of nature to his whim without outright breaking them. He tricks and steals fire from the sky people so that the Kaimerans could use it to keep warm, later transforming a dying witch into a skin-changer to help ward off the demon Olikideu. Taking an interest in Ja'Kosi as she awaits the forest's judgment, Indrakai ingratiates himself to the girl, helping keep her alive over the three-day period and hearing her stories with the ulterior motive of getting her to admit to her act of murder. Killing her vengeful former lover Kiriq when he tries to murder her and make it look like a firebird did it, he succeeds in getting Ja'Kosi to confess to the crime, berating her for not owning up to her violent nature and punishing her by transforming her into a mindless demon to serve his interests, telling her that he held nothing against her and fading into mist with a grin on his face.
  • The Tamuli: Stragen is the chief of the thieves of Emsat, a councillor of the Kingdom of Elenia, a proud patricide, and an all around bastard. During Sparhawk’s sojourn in the Tamul Empire, Stragen’s varied talents prove invaluable, as he bullies the Thousand of Styricum into aiding their cause, transforms the thieves of Daresia into an intelligence network that answers only to him, and organizes the largest mass assassination in history, killing every enemy agent across the breadth of two continents. The first to admit that he’s a very bad man, Stragen is the single most devious, and most unrepentant member of a crew of professional soldiers, political manipulators, and criminals.
  • Teeth: Vampire Tales' "The Perfect Dinner Party" by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black: Jenny is a seemingly sweet vampire child who uses her intelligence and innocent looks to lure in unsuspecting victims. Usurping and killing her master after he threatens her brother, Jenny plans to rise to the top and take his position.
  • These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong: Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and the lover of White Flower gang heir Roma Montagov. Allying with Roma to save Shanghai from a plague of violent insects and madness, Juliette uses the skills she's accrued as a criminal to gather evidence, steal information, and talk through problems. Balancing both her hunt and her duties to the Scarlet Gang, Juliette helps eliminate the initial appearance of the plague and its bearers, following up by faking the death of Marshall Seo to satisfy her cousin Tyler's bloodlust, fooling everyone in Shanghai. Once the plague returns, Juliette once more allies with Roma, killing Tyler to save Roma's life and arranging their escape when fate seems turned against them. Despite being initially outwitted by her father Lord Cai and given to the Nationalist party for execution, Juliette manages to turn the tides by arranging for the freedom of her own allies and sacrificing herself in their place, strategically slipping Roma a vaccine via a kiss before annihilating the Nationalist leaders and the plague for good by destroying the entire building, dying with grace alongside the man she loves.
  • They Thirst: The Headmaster is the true power behind the vampire prince Conrad Vulkan and his dreams of conquest. A mysterious, ancient being who might well be the Devil himself, the Headmaster educated Vulkan after centuries and teaches him dark sorcery with artifacts to make his conquest easier, masterminding the downfall of most of Los Angelas to the vampires. Advising Vulkan and using him as needed, even as a "favored son", the Headmaster grows frustrated with Vulkan's immaturity and eventually departs when Vulkan denounces him, informing him that the kingdom he holds is solely because of the Headmaster and that Vulkan can only keep it if he is able.
  • The Thinking Machine's "The Missing Necklace": Bradlee Cunnyngham Leighton is a bold and clever Gentleman Thief, stealing priceless jewels literally under their owners' noses. The police are never able to arrest him due to constant lack of evidence, prompting them to admire him enormously. With an elastic cord hidden in his sleeve, Leighton steals Lady Varron's pearl necklace when she stumbles during a dance, and is the first one to call attention to the disappearance and to suggest a search. He smuggles the pearls to America, hiding them in the ship's drain pipe, and later uses his accomplice's homing pigeons to carry them from the ship to his hiding place. All the time, he is friendly and companionable with the investigator sent to track him and the customs officers, pleasantly allowing them to search him and his cabin as many times as they want. Even after his trick is figured out and the pearls are recovered, Leighton escapes after lightly wounding the investigator. The last line of the story states that "Leighton has not yet been caught".
  • The Three Investigators:
    • Victor Hugenay is a debonair art thief who once robbed the Louvre and shows up in Rocky Point twice, trying to get his hands on missing paintings. Hugenay is an intelligent man who, unlike other antagonists from the two novels he appears in, avoids showing his hand until he's in a perfect position to take control of the situation. On one occasion, he saves his henchmen from being arrested for Impersonating an Officer by ensuring that they're wearing the uniforms of a police department on the other side of the continent. Hugenay is quite happy to bask in his own intelligence but is equally impressed and amused whenever Jupiter, Bob, and Pete do something brilliant. Although he fails to get his prize in either of his appearances, in both books, he avoids arrest and is neither angry nor dejected over his loss. In his second appearance, Hugenay persuasively convinces Jupiter to join him in an Enemy Mine scenario and never betrays the young detective.
    • The Mystery of the Talking Skull: "Smooth" Simpson races against both the boys and a trio of hard-boiled thugs to retrieve the missing loot from a bank robbery. Simpson manages to bluff the boys into thinking that he's a bank investigator, enlisting their help in finding the money with the promise of a nonexistent reward. When Simpson's deception is revealed, even Jupiter is caught completely off-guard. When the other criminals capture the four, Simpson apologizes to the boys for putting them in danger and tells Jupiter not to feel bad about falling for his alias. When a group of heroic Romani show up to overpower his kidnappers and free the boys, Simpson quietly escapes his bonds and slips away during the confusion, being the only criminal in the story to avoid being arrested.
    • The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints: General Klas Kaluk is a veteran of the revolution which overthrew and murdered the exploitative Azimov dynasty of Lapathia. Lapathia becomes a military dictatorship with Kaluk heading the Secret Police but develops a noticeably higher standard of living for its people. Decades later, Kaluk is sent to Rocky Point to retrieve the long-missing crown of the Azimovs from one of their last loyalists, Kaluk's former friend Alexis Kerenov. When Jupiter investigates Kaluk, the general quickly sees through his misdirection and threatens to torture him in a way that makes Jupiter think that he has a lot of experience in that field. When he's being held at gunpoint by Alexis, Kaluk calmly convinces Alexis to let him go and to turn over the crown so the people of Lapathia can enjoy it as a museum piece. He also gently chides Alexis for neglecting his family for the dream of restoring a largely exploitative dynasty which could only hope to regain power through violence. Kaluk then leaves gracefully, telling Alexis that he hopes they're friends, and not enemies.
  • The Three Musketeers: Cardinal Armand Richelieu is the most powerful man in France, and the true ruler behind the throne. Seeking the betterment of France as a nation under his guiding iron hand, Richelieu schemes to strengthen the monarchy and to also start a war with England to further check Spain and Austria. In order to disgrace his rival, Queen Anne, Richelieu convinces the king to throw a party and request Anne wear diamond studs he gave her as a gift, well aware Anne has given them to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham, which will discredit Anne and begin a war with England. When the Musketeers recover the diamonds in time, Richelieu accepts it with grace, later deciding to have Buckingham assassinated and presenting the wicked Milady de Winter with a letter excusing her from all acts she commits in service to France. When Milady is executed by the Musketeers, young hero D'Artagnan thinks to save himself by presenting Richelieu with the same letter, only for Richelieu to display his own power by tearing it up. Impressed by D'Artagnan, however, Richelieu accepts him as a Worthy Opponent and a boon to France, writing him an officer's commission to the Musketeers before focusing on his next schemes to ever better France as a nation.
  • Tigana: Prince Alessan of Tigana is a Rebel Leader dedicated to the death of Prince Brandin and the restoration of Tigana. Working with a small rebellion, Alessan builds a network of information and sabotage against Brandin and his rival Alberico while enslaving mages to assist them as well. Alessan later formulates a plan to assassinate a key ambassador after sowing mistrust between the two tyrants with the intent of sparking a war to annihilate them both.
  • Timeline-191: In this alternate history of the early twentieth century, the United States, Confederate States, and the Red Rebellion, all produce some truly admirable blackguards.
    • African-American rebel Cassius was perhaps the deadliest internal enemy the Confederate States ever faced, launching a Red Revolution under the nose of his master, Anne Colleton, and establishing the Congaree Socialist Republic throughout much of South Carolina. Opposed by enemies who considered him subhuman and incapable of strategic thinking, Cassius confounded the Confederate forces sent to subdue him, and using threats against captured white civilians, forced his enemies to negotiate with him on an equal footing. Eventually killed after the fall of his Republic, Cassius nevertheless stuck a dagger in the side of the Confederate States of America, costing them the Great War, and in the long run, helping to bring the entire white power structure of the Confederacy crashing down.
    • Luther Bliss, head of the Kentucky State Police was a bitter, misanthropic old man who used every measure he had, legal and extralegal, to keep Kentucky within the United States of America. After Kentucky was returned to the Confederacy in a plebiscite, and the Second Great War began, Bliss returned to the state as the Union's single most effective spy, stirring up trouble for the Confederates with both the Red Rebels and white opponents of the Freedom Party, sabotaging Confederate war efforts behind the lines, and eventually triggering an uprising in occupied Covington. Hating everyone equally, Bliss was able to work with any and all enemies of the Confederate government, and proved a permanent and irremovable thorn in their side for the duration of the Second Great War.
    • Clarence Potter was a Confederate intelligence officer who had a chance to stop the Red Rebellion of 1915, but was prevented from doing so by his superiors. Years later, Clarence became an inveterate adversary of the Freedom Party, only to win admittance into its government when he killed an assassin who was after Jake Featherston at the Richmond Olympics. Concealing the fact that he had originally gone to the Olympics to kill Jake himself, Clarence became Featherston's head of military intelligence, providing infiltrators and saboteurs to spearhead the invasion of the USA during the Second Great War. When the war began to go badly, Clarence flirted with launching a coup against Jake, while simultaneously pushing for the completion of the Confederate atomic bomb project, and once the bomb was completed, delivering it to Philadelphia in the back of a truck and blowing much of the de facto US capital off the map. Exonerated of involvement in Freedom Party atrocities after the war, Clarence got off scott free, and retired to write his memoirs in peace, while the rest of the Confederate leadership paid for their crimes in full.
  • The Tinder Box: The soldier seizes the titular tinderbox and uses the magic dogs it can summon to make himself rich by having them bring him gold. A crafty man who can always think on his feet, the soldier desires to wed the princess and courts her in secret. When captured by the royal family for his attempts at wooing her, the soldier tricks a young man into bringing him the tinderbox and uses a request for a last smoke to summon the dogs and kill his enemies. As generous as he can be manipulative, the solider also gives freely to the poor, knowing what it's like to live in their shoes, and marries the princess to start a very prosperous and happy reign.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium works:
    • The Lord of the Rings: Ugluk is the leader of Saruman's fighting Uruk-Hai. A surprisingly intelligent and savvy Uruk who is wholly loyal to Saruman, Ugluk leads his "lads" to surround the Fellowship and capture the Hobbits while also causing the death of Boromir whom Ugluk is indicated to have delivered the mortal blow to. Keeping control of a divided force of orcs, Ugluk is able to keep ahead of the Rohirrim by his own tactics and seeks to deliver the Hobbits Merry and Pippin to his master in Isengard.
    • The Silmarillion: Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, is the second son of King Finwe and the first son of Finwe's second wife Indis. Believed to be the most martially skilled of his brothers, Fingolfin leads his host into Middle Earth, inadvertently participating in the massacre of the Teleri elves and committing his host over a dangerous trek that sees many killed. Inheriting the title of King from his late brother Feanor, Fingolfin is the one to establish elven presence in Middle Earth and maintains a siege of Morgoth's capital Angband for four centuries. When the siege is broken, Fingolfin personally challenges the Dark Lord himself and shows his skill and tactical prowess, wounded Morgoth so before his own death that he suffers eternal pain from his wounds.
  • To Welcome Oblivion: Father Peter Grallman, leader of the Cthulhian cult, is the founder of the Old Brotherhood, and a charismatic and genuine personality who truly seeks to give his followers the chance to revive their unduly-deceased loved ones. Grallman's descent into evil, starting with the murder of his beloved little sister Marissa, was authored by Nyarlathotep, who assumes Grallman to be a disposable pawn. Far from 'disposed of,' Grallman allies with the heroes, secretly manages to make a deal with Cthulhu himself, and allows the Great Old One into his body to personally beat down Nyarlathotep. Grallman throws Nyarlathotep into a shrieking, indignant Villainous Breakdown, exploiting the god's tendency to gloat to exploit a fatal vulnerability while ensuring the heroes themselves managed to make it out alright, and peacefully sacrifices himself while making sure the final thing Nyarlathotep sees is his triumphant smile.
  • Treasure Island: Long John Silver shows why he was the only man the ruthless Captain Flint ever feared. Getting himself hired by young hero Jim Hawkins, Silver converts the crew to his side and launches a mutiny, personally disposing of the only members who refused to join him. Silver proceeds to twist the events of the novel to his advantage to obtain the treasure he craves, while genuinely bonding with young Jim and becoming a mentor and father figure to the boy. When things go wrong and the crew betrays him, Silver promptly switches sides to the heroes and comes out on top, escaping their custody with a fortune to return to his wife a wealthy and free man. So charismatic and complex is Silver that even the heroes who have been under threat from him can almost hope that Silver will indeed escape justice.
  • The Trojan Cycle: The versions of Odysseus "The Cunning", King of Ithaca, who lack the offering of captured women to his men to rape, makes for one of the most classic examples of this trope in literature. As a soldier of Agamemnon, Odysseus serves as one of his most intelligent advisors, leading the war effort both in physicality and mentality through his fighting and guile. After masterminding the Trojan Horse to cause the sack of Troy, singlehandedly ensuring the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus attempts to return home with his crew, only to face years of hardships. Along the way, he blinds the Cyclops after tricking him into getting drunk, forces Circe to release his crew from an enchantment, journeys to the Underworld and comes out alive, and sacrifices six of his men to escape the legendary monsters Scylla and Charybdis. When he returns home, he deceives his way into the house so as to determine who in his household is aligned with the suitors, even impressing Athena with the strength of his deceit. After waiting for the precise right moment to strike, he does so with ruthless efficiency, killing all of the suitors and their loyalists in one fell swoop. With this done, he retires with his wife and son to his father's land, finally knowing peace after twenty years of hardships.
  • The Turkish Gambit: Anwar Effendi is a Turkish politician and spy, subtly manipulating the politics in his country and pushing for liberal reforms while always staying in the shadow himself. Under his other identity—brilliant French journalist Charles Paladin—he accompanies the Russian army in the Russo-Turkish war and, by skillfully feeding misinformation to the high command, makes sure to prolong the conflict. He pays a Romanian colonel, a gambler who is deep in debt, to assist him in his scheme, and then kills him under the pretext of a duel once he is no longer useful. He shoots an officer carrying a critically important message during a battle and frames another officer for that, killing him too and making it look like suicide. His last plot, luring Russia's best general into a trap, fails after Anwar is unmasked by Erast Fandorin, but Anwar knows that his main goal of weakening the Russian Empire is achieved. He calmly shoots himself, refusing to surrender. Combining his ruthlessness with genuine charm and Old-School Chivalry, Anwar hides so well in the guise of Charles Paladin that for a long time, Fandorin refuses to believe his own conclusions about Paladin's true identity.
  • Twenty-Five Tales of the Vetala: The Vetala/Betaal is a celestial being that resides in a corpse hanging from a tree. When King Vikram—upon request of a sorcerer—takes the corpse from the tree, the Vetala accompanies him and tells him stories that end with riddles, threatening to blow up his head if he doesn't answer and escaping back to the tree when he responds. After returning to his tree 24 times, Vetala promises to stay with Vikram after the 25th story, and reveals that the sorcerer intends to murder Vikram and use the Vetala's corpse to become immortal and powerful. After Vikram defeats the sorcerer using the Vetala's advice, the Vetala thanks the king by offering him a boon and his servitude.
  • The Two Cats and A Monkey: The monkey in this moral story shows how when two parties quarrel, a third party benefits. Upon seeing the two cats fight over a cake, the monkey offers to split it evenly so that each cat gets equal portions. However, he ensures that one piece is always larger than the other, taking bites out of the larger piece under the pretext of fairness. He repeats this till there is no cake left, leaving the cats with nothing.
  • The United States of Monsters: Red Room: Nathan Hawthorne, Derek's father, is a legendary agent of the Red Room and its greatest enemy. When his family was killed by the House decades ago, Nathan began plotting revenge, a plan which begins when he helps Derek ascend to the Committee. Later helping Derek destroy Protocol Zero and framing the Vampire Nation for it, Nathan then ensures Roland Cassidy's rise to power and has his son Stephen kill the other Committee members, ensuring that no one can cover up the supernatural chaos Nathan spreads throughout the world at the same time. Willing to die for his choices should it come to that, Nathan's plan works perfectly, with Derek successfully killing Roland and Stephen, the supernatural becoming public, and, although millions die in the process, a better world being created with himself becoming more powerful than ever.
  • Untold Tales of Spider-Man anthology's "The Ballad of Fancy Dan", by Ken Grobe and Steven A. Roman: Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, is as a clever and dangerous as ever. Seeking to expand his criminal empire, he convinces an Atlantic City crime boss named Martin Severino to kidnap Rudy Loyola, the adopted son of Severino's criminal rival, Joe Loyola. Kingpin then informs Spider-Man and ''Fancy'' Dan Brito (who is Rudy's biological father) of Rudy's whereabouts, with Spider-Man and Fancy Dan busting up Severino's operation, having Severino arrested by the FBI. With Severino arrested and Joe Loyola deciding to retire from crime, the Kingpin is able to take control of Atlantic City's underworld, with Spider-Man being tricked into doing the Kingpin's dirty work for him.
  • Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite, by Natalie C. Parker and Zoraida Córdova's "The Boys From Blood River": Silas, the leader of the Blood River Boys, is a vampire with the "face of an angel but the heart of a demon", who corrupts boys who sing his song into becoming members of his gang. Summoned by Lukas, Silas proves to be surprisingly charming and gentle with him, even saving him from a group of homophobic bullies, killing said bullies later and making it so their bodies won't be discovered for months. Silas later sincerely offers his condolences to Lukas over his mother's death, before almost succeeding in convincing Lukas to kill one of the only people in Blood River who is nice to him. When he is betrayed by one of his own gang and told by Lukas to leave, Silas accepts this with dignity, leaving while telling Lukas all he had to do was tell them to, but does tell Lukas he owes him for costing him the life of one of his gang.
  • Vasquez Private Eye: Professor Martha Vazquez seeks revenge after Firebird Airlines was acquitted for their role in a crash which killed her youngest son. Blackmailing her former student into making a drink mix which transforms people into the embodiment of their deepest desires, Martha uses it to disguise herself as lawyer Zachery Venshlin and proceeds to sabotage the court cases of the lawyers and judge from the Firebird case, while setting up evidence to implicate a wrongfully-fired Firebird employee to take the wrap for her. Even when caught and confronted for her crimes by her other son, Martha, adaptive to the end, sets up the scenario such that she will either get to kill him or he will have to murder her and live with the guilt.
  • The Villains Series: Victor Vale is an eerily polite, cunning genius who started off as normal university student who upon attempting to gain pain-based powers ended up killing his best friend and went to prison for it. A patient plotter, Victor seeks revenge against his other friend Eli Cardale who sent him to prison and for ten years planned his perfect escape. Upon discovering Eli has become a Villain with Good Publicity who hunts other powered beings with religious fervor, Victor destroys Eli's safeguards and then tricks Eli into killing him in front of the police, sending Eli to prison for life and totally ruining his life in the process and later uses his adoptive daughter Sydney to resurrect him. Victor upon becoming sick, later starts a Serial killing spree in order to cure himself and uses his expert skills to fend off the various other villains of the series. A true mastermind always with a new scheme when issues arise, Victor balances his evil with a genuine love for others and the desire in the end to atone for what he's done.
  • The Visitor, by Jose Guich Rodriguez: Copellius is a enigmatic man who travels across the world throughout the centuries to perform delicate surgeries on particularly vile people to extract their eyes and eat them, considering their eyes to be delicious. Fascinated by the moral depravity of Peruvian criminals during a dictatorship, Copellius targets the inmates of the most heavily protected prison of the country. Evading all security measures, Coppelius extracts the eyes of three inmates and spares their lives, making a dreaded criminal boss admit that he considers Coppelius merciful. When the Peruvian police manage to capture Coppelius thanks to an elaborate trap, Copellius congratulates the cops and berates himself for having underestimated them. During the interrogation, Coppelius escapes using a special device. Later, Coppelius targets the Asesor of the President, causing a political crisis that ends the dictatorship. Finally, Coppelius asks Detective Gandara for more criminals, making Gandara reveal the hidden location of the former President and telling Coppelius that his evil would make his eyes a banquet for Coppelius.
  • We Can Remember it for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick: Douglas Quail is a seemingly normal man who feels unhappy with his life and wants to visit Mars. Unable to escape from his situation through normal means, Quail goes to Rekal, Incorporated to get false memories of having been a secret agent on Mars; but soon learns that he actually was a secret agent for Interplan who pulled off a miraculous assassination on Mars before Interplan wiped his memories. Slowly regaining his previous memories, Quail uses his skills as an agent to escape from a pair of officers, only surrendering when he realizes he can't run forever. Quail offers to have his memories replaced again and upon learning that getting memories of a normal life won't work, surprises the agents by suggesting that he be given a fantastical life, which will likely work. The memories he's set to get have him saving Earth from aliens as a child, with the aliens refraining from invading as long as he's alive. It's then revealed that this is actually something that happened to Quail as a child, leaving him completely safe from Interplan in the end.
  • Welcome to Dead House: Compton Dawes is the realtor of a town called Dark Falls. The town was normal until a chemical leak killed the entire town and resurrected them as zombies. The citizens were now immune to aging but needed to feed on fresh human blood once a year to maintain their existence. Using his business skills as a realtor, Dawes began luring families into Dark Falls once a year by tricking people outside the town into thinking they inherited a house in the town from a relative of theirs. After the family moved in, the town would feed on them, preserving their undead existence for another year and turning the families into more zombies. During the book, Dawes lures the Benson family into the town, tricking them into thinking they aren't zombies, and then captures the children, Amanda and Josh, after the parents are captured. Dawes was able to escape the sunlight that killed off most of the town, and plans to repopulate it one family at a time.
  • The White Tiger: Balram Halwai was once a brilliant child robbed of the chance for a good education. Charming his way into the employ of a wealthy businessman, Balram plays to his prejudice to get the family's head chauffeur fired to take the job himself. Becoming friends with the man's younger son Ashok and his wife, Balram realizes the depths of Ashok's cowardice when he tries to have Balram framed for a hit-and-run his drunken wife committed. Also learning Ashok means to replace him, Balram lures out Ashok to kill him and rob the family, escaping to bribe the police and opening a massively successful taxi company and ready to become a major player in the Asian business world.
  • The Winter Queen: Lady Astair is the founder of a large chain of orphanages where every child's talents are discovered and nurtured. Those of her fosterlings whose gifts are best suited for politics, the military, or the police, she trains to rise to the highest ranks and push for the liberal reforms she feels the destitute world desperately needs. Through one of her alumni, a Femme Fatale, she manipulates two rich students into bequeathing their fortunes to her and then arranges their deaths: as she puts it, "One can't clean the Augean stables without getting dirty". She likewise uses her other various alumni to try killing and then brainwashing Erast Fandorin when he gets close to the truth in his investigation; when that fails, she calmly accepts her defeat and, before blowing herself up, even lets Fandorin go, making him promise not to hunt down her kids, arranging for a bomb to be sent to him should he break his word. A Granny Classic who genuinely loves her kids and genuinely respects and pities Fandorin, Lady Astair holds worldwide politics in her grasp for decades.
  • Wolverine: Election Day, by Peter David: Senator Steve Sanders is the running mate of Senator Winston Mazone who is running for President and is secretly an immortal who loves to cause chaos. He is also the secret master of the Dragon Corps, a group of mutant mercs. Sanders devises a scheme to become a President, having the Dragon Corps kidnap a child named Matthew Hayes and release a video where a masked man threatens to kill Matthew if the public re-elects the President. Sanders then has a shapeshifter pretend to be Mazone and videotapes him planning to kidnap Matthew. With Mazone arrested for the kidnapping and the President blamed for inspiring it, Sanders becomes a shoo-in to win the election.
  • A Woman's Work: Queen Arrabel eschews both needless violence and senseless honour, ruling instead with brilliant logic, having one enemy shot to death when he demands single combat and building a hospital and schools to keep her populace loyal and happy. Immediately deducing the nature of an assassination attempt, Arrabel moves to crush the king backing it, first sending disguised bards to sway swathes of his people from him, before marching on his lands to conquer it with tactical advantage.
  • X-Men: The Legacy Quest, by Steve Lyons: Sebastian Shaw, Black King of the Hellfire Club, uses and manipulates the X-Men throughout the trilogy. Attempting to gain a cure for the Legacy Virus, Shaw lures the X-men into his trap and betrays them as convenient to suit his own ends, though he teams up with them to defeat the monstrous Selene when she sees to turn New York into a hellish dystopia, only to reveal that he was secretly in league with Magneto and helped him to gain the cure the entire time. He promptly betrays Magneto again in service of his master plan and ends the series with everything he desired, free from any retribution and savoring his victory with the trilogy closing out on the words "The Black King had won."

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