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The Dreaded

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"Keaton always said, 'I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of Him.' Well, I do believe in God... and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Söze."
Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects


A villain or Anti-Hero whose primary characteristic is the fear the other side has of them.

To be the Dreaded, a character has to be far and away the most feared person in the story. These are people who make you quail not because of anything they are doing at that moment, but simply because you know who they are and what they're capable of... and sometimes the latter part is optional. Maybe this character has a reputation as a Hero Killer; a person who kills the other side's strongest and noblest supporters. Maybe they use fear as a magical effect which triggers panic in others. Maybe they've done so many horrible things that nobody ever wants to speak of them again. Maybe they are simply so mind-breakingly horrible even the strongest of hearts falter. But the defining trait of the Dreaded is that they are feared. Probably has a scary name, unless they use a really scary alias instead. If their ability in combat lives up to their reputation, then the only choice one has when facing them may be to Run or Die. When/if the Dreaded character dies, his/her/its death will almost certainly be followed by much rejoicing...if he's actually dead, that is (see the entry from Vlad the Impaler under the Real Life section).


Although there are exceptions, (particularly on the other side of the fence) a key characteristic of this trope tends to be invisibility. In general, characters—villains, in particular—who conform to this trope will not be seen directly the first few times they are mentioned. The show will tend to work on building up their perceived threat in the minds of the audience: a dark, shadowy something that's out there somewhere, but you don't know where, who or what they are, or even whether or not they can be killed, at least at first. As such, it usually involves acceptable forms of Character Shilling. It is possible for them to remain this trope after they come out of the shadows, but if they do not then beware Villain Decay.

Additionally there is a heroic equivalent called the Terror Hero, when there is a hero so renowned that the enemy would rather flee than possibly encounter them. They tend to be anti-heroes of some kind though (ranging from grades 2-4), due to audiences seldom associating dread as an emotion a pure hero inspires. Some criminals also tend to go for this in order to prevent anyone from informing on them.


Note that it isn't the audience's reaction to the Dreaded that matters, but the other characters' reactions to the Dreaded. Other characters think this person is pure Nightmare Fuel, whether they deserve this reputation or not.

See also Mook Horror Show; when The Hero is the dreaded to his enemies, this is a common way of demonstrating it. Not to be confused with characters who are merely dreaded, although both tropes may apply to the same character. Compare/contrast Respected by the Respected, where a character is defined by the respect other respected characters have for them. See Supernatural Fear Inducer for when a character can literally induce dread. See Hope Crusher where a character excels at snuffing out hope and/or spreading despair.

Examples subpages:

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    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • Zagreus. Even Death herself is frightened when she's suddenly humming his song, without any idea where it came from.
    Zagreus sits inside your head,
    Zagreus lives among the dead,
    Zagreus sees you in your bed,
    And eats you when you're sleeping.
    • The Dalek Time Controller is treated like this by the 8th Doctor, who considers them the most dangerous Dalek of all.
    • Then there are the Eminence, a Fog of Doom from the end of time who use the Breath of Forever to turn people into Zombies. They are so dangerous 8 is willing to work with the Dalek Time Controller against them, despite the Time Lords trying to use them against the Daleks.
  • Played for laughs in The Thrilling Adventure Hour; Frank and Sadie Doyle fear only one thing, and that is the bumblebee that got into their apartment through an open window. Whenever it is spoken of or remembered it is with horror and terror.

    Films — Animation 
  • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Her mere presence strikes fear in the hearts of everyone present, the queen fears her enough to call her "your excellency" to avoid offending her and the palace guards back down from their order to capture her simply because she raised her hands and commanded them to stand back.
    • Maleficent is so dreaded, in fact, that even Disney crossover materials go out of their way to show it—with other Disney villains, the reactions from the heroes tend to be mixed and often times they're confident enough to take chances. But when Maleficent shows up the response from everyone is almost universally pure terror. For example, in Fantasmic!, Maleficent's presence inspires more fear in Mickey than that of the Evil Queen, Genie!Jafar or Chernabog (who is pretty much Satan!).
  • Rattlesnake Jake from Rango. Even the Big Bad's minions are deadly afraid when told to contact him.
  • Monstro from Pinocchio is known throughout the village and is famous for swallowing whole ships; even the mere mention of his name is enough to send other sea creatures fleeing.
  • Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. Nearly everyone is scared of him, and the rest are Too Dumb to Live. He's stripped of this status in the sequel, what with his humiliation at the hands of Mowgli, and goes full-blown Knight of Cerebus trying to get it back.
  • Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda, a rogue kung fu master so scary that an entire prison was built specifically to hold him. When he escapes from said prison, everyone in the Valley is afraid of him, including his former master and The Chosen One.
  • Played completely straight with Chakal from The Book of Life, but also parodied with a Running Gag where the same child announces that him and/or his bandits are coming to others, usually by bursting through a door and yelling.
  • Sharptooth from The Land Before Time series, especially in the very first movie. The very word frightens any other dinosaur who hears it.
  • Night Furies from How to Train Your Dragon. Some vikings do not believe they exist, but those that do dread the idea of encountering one. They outrank nearly every other dragon in speed, strength, intelligence, etc. despite its size and they blend in with the dark. No one has ever encountered one and lived to tell the tale. Even the dragon manual says that should one ever encounter a Night Fury, they should "hide and prey that it does not find [them]", and this is a book that tells you that dragons that spit acid, turns you inside out and roar so loud that your ears explode should be "killed on sight."
    Hiccup: This thing never steals food, never shows itself and... never misses.
  • One example would be in one of Don Bluth's Lighter and Softer works, The Pebble and the Penguin. It is one of the rare works that portray Orcas as extremely dangerous predators, and they have some very effective buildup. Prior to their appearance, we see Drake, the monsterous Leopard Seal, and even the narrator mentioning that humans are worse than leopard seals. And Rocko, being the tough penguin that he is, isn't too afraid of them either, teaching Hubie how to fight them back. Until he brings up the killer whales, who mentions that they are much worse than the seal, being twice as big, twice as mean, and they always hunt in groups. He goes into despair the moment the Orcas show up, and they very quickly prove to be the most terrifying and dangerous presence in the entire movie, almost comparable to Sharptooth. Hubie even abandons the titular pebble that he risked his life to protect just to survive against the killer whales.
  • An example that lives up to the hype, The Secret Of Nimh features The Great Owl. He is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a gigantic barn owl made even bigger by being introduced relative the the protagonist, a small field mouse.
  • The Horned King from The Black Cauldron is a seriously underrated villain, Disney these days fail to give credit among others. Death here isn't sugar-coated either, for the King sought to create an army of the dead with the remains of fallen knights. Ultimately the Horned King failed, abusing the titular cauldron, and given perhaps Disney's most gruesome of deaths.
  • In A Bug's Life, the ants live in fear of the grasshoppers, who in turn are all afraid of their leader Hopper. However, everyone, including Hopper, is terrified of birds.

  • A typical feature of the main characters of Memetic Badass sites. Examples:
    • The most famous one: Bogeymen scare their children with stories about Chuck Norris.
    • The only reason Chuck Norris is afraid of death is because he knows Bruce Lee will be waiting for him.
    • The A-Team was originally composed of 6 versions of Mr. T, but they changed it after every criminal in the world was immediately vapourized in the first episode.
    • Neville Longbottom is the only thing that Dumbledore ever feared.
    • Death had to take him sleeping, for if Theodore Roosevelt had been awake, there would have been a fight.
    • When Ron Swanson eats, it is the food that is scared.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Typhon likely doubles as the original Hero Killer, storming Olympus by himself and driving the gods into hiding. When he first showed up to fight Zeus, all of the other Olympians except Athena and Enyo immediately fled in terror.
    • Hades was this to the Greeks themselves; he's the yardstick by which terrifying creatures in myth (like Typhon) are compared to. Typhon is so bad that he was not only scarier than Hades, he frightened him.
  • Zombies are always depicted as this. A walking, living, brain-eating corpse—any normal/sane person would definitely fear these creatures. And to make things worse, think of how many people have died, historically, and lie as waiting corpses beneath the ground... yes, consider us humans screwed.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • The children of Loki, including Jormungandr, Fenrisulfr, and Hel, were feared by god and man alike. Of the three, one is a serpent that wraps entirely around the earth and will kill Thor, one is a wolf whose jaws open wider than the sky and will kill Odin, and one is the personification of ignominious, dishonorable death.
    • Odin himself was dreaded by men to the extent that some effort might be made to avoid getting his attention at all. The chief danger in Odin is that his plans and interests revolved solely around himself and disregarded the cost to anyone else; being a champion of a god of death might sound great until you realize most of his champions met horrible ends and gained nothing, not even Odin's favor in the afterlife. Even the Einherjar (the chosen warriors who live in Valhalla) were not chosen for reward so much as recruited into Odin's personal (doomed, see above) army.
    • On a more conventional level, Thor was feared by many for his prowess in battle to the extent that in some tales his antagonists — usually giants — run screaming when they realize who they're really messing with. He was usually friendly to mankind, though.
    • The most dreaded being in all of Norse Mythology was Níðhöggr was an Eldritch Abomination that gnawed the roots of the world tree, would show up for Ragnarok (and evidently survive it), and was feared by everyone and everything, including the gods. If there is one Norse being you would rather never meet, it's Níðhöggr.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Apep/Apophis. He was so terrifying, the Egyptians built temples to prevent him from coming to them.
  • For centuries, many religions believed The Devil was especially this if not the original. Although mostly a story, one cannot help but think if there really is a creature of pure evil in this world. If so, then God help us all.
  • Folk Lore: The Bogeyman is this trope personified. Every child that has heard of him fears him, he can appear as the thing you fear most, and if you've been naughty, God have mercy on your soul.
  • For generations, Vampires of all kind are personified as this trope too. They are based upon the fears of rape, sexual assault and cannibalism, which are all real terrors. To add more danger to the name, such beings possess powers of great intimidation from turning into wolves, to raising the dead.
  • Native American Mythology: Skinwalkers are this to the Navajo and other tribes of the American Southwest. Shrouded in mystery (their true nature is generally only known to tribal shamans and medicine men, who are reluctant to share such information with outsiders), skinwalkers are, depending on the tribe and story in question, anything from a shapeshifting sorcerer who has renounced everything good about humanity to a Nigh Invulnerable demonic demigod who is an avatar of death and malice. Even asking about a skinwalker is a good way to get a Navajo to say Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and many stories of "victories" against skinwalkers merely involve the creature losing interest or turning away. In almost no stories can they be "defeated" conventionally like other monsters. Even outside of the tribes, skinwalkers have entered the folklore of the rural Southwest as the ultimate monster. If you live in a rural Southwest community (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, parts of Colorado) you will meet someone who swears to have encountered a skinwalker or to have had a friend/loved one who did the same. Such stories are considered happy if the person in question managed to escape, and always end with a few admonitions: a) don't take the legend lightly, and b) Don't Ask, Just Run is the only reasonable response to encountering one.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Monster heels are this by default, especially if they are inhumanly large. The definitive examples in the WWE would be The Big Show and Mark Henry.
  • The Great Khali was a special example, at least during his heel runs. It wasn't just his colossal size and strength, or his barely being able to speak; opponents also had to fear his Psychopathic Manchild tendencies, which could easily be exploited by his handlers. Khali could be told to do anything terrible - and by God, he would do it. Knocking down Undertaker with a single blow also helped his rep a great deal.
  • Brock Lesnar. As CM Punk put it, for all his physical gifts, Lesnar's greatest weapon was the sheer fear all of his opponents had for him, whether they showed it or not. Punk himself was not intimidated, because he wasn't after Lesnar — to him, Lesnar was just another obstacle in the way of his real goal, Paul Heyman.
  • Randy Orton is this for no other reason than his uncontrollable rage, his inability to be reasoned, and the fact that his finishing move can literally come out of nowhere. The fact that he Hates Everyone Equally means he's a danger to everybody, not just whoever has directly earned his ire at the time. He'll often RKO someone for no other reason than because they were hanging around the ring too long, or because the RKO has been banned at the next pay-per-view and he needs to get them "out of his system."
  • The Undertaker. It doesn't matter who you are, even if you're the owner and chairman of the biggest wrestling promotion in history — you do NOT fuck with the Deadman.
  • Vince McMahon is primarily this to authority figures, especially heel ones. For all their frequent abuses of power to stroke their own egos, as far as Vince is concerned, they are even more expendable than the talent on the roster and if they screw up, he has no issue making that very clear.
  • Kana/Asuka is probably the closest you can get to having someone be a Wrestling Monster without actually looking like one. She is feared for her notoriously stiff style which involves things such as reversing a simple slap into a flying armbar, a hip attack that has legitimately injured people, and managing to win multiple victories by straight up knocking the opponent out with a kick to the head. Also her creepy smile and primal screams mid match probably doesn't help. In her NXT run, she's also undefeated; the only person who has managed to even come close to being on her level was Bayley, and considering she was the NXT Women's Champion at the time, she had the best chance of any competitor there.
  • As far as stables go, The Shield. Comprised of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, all three future world champions, the Shield dominated WWE for the better part of two years, from their debut in late 2012 to their breakup in mid-2014. Every time their music aired, it would illicit an immediate Oh, Crap! from whoever was in the ring at the time. Even after they broke up, the idea of facing the full cohesive strength of all three members still terrified roster members who survived their Reign of Terror. In late 2017, when The Miz realized his actions caused them to reform, he went into a Villainous Breakdown, left completely agape outside the ring as they proceeded to destroy Sheamus, Cesaro, and the Miztourage before finally turning their attentions to him.
  • Braun Strowman has become this as well, having intimidated many superstars. The list of these superstars include Mick Foley, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. Literally the second act of the reformed Shield was to take out Strowman, who had been a pain in the ass for all three members of the stable individually for months. That's how dangerous Braun Strowman is.
  • VERY few opponents are willing to take the ginormous and dangerous WALTER, with some preferring to opt out of the ring the very moment Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 Step IV hits.

  • Bill Sykes in Oliver!. He gets a Villain Song that's all about how no one dares stand up to him due to his brute strength, and how they daren't even speak his name for fear of what he'll do if he hears them. Even his ally Fagin is terrified of him.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Grisaia no Rakuen, during the climax, Yuuji invades the floating fortress of Heath Oslo. Heavily outnumbered and arriving almost unarmed, he goes out of his way to fight in as terrifying a way as possible in order to sow confusion. He baits people and then destroys them, completely crushing the morale of his opponents.
  • Just about every prosecutor Phoenix Wright goes up against has a reputation as a terrifying, unstoppable badass who has never lost in court and will do anything to keep it that way. Even Butt-Monkey Winston Payne has the title "Rookie Killer", presumably for good reason (though we never get to see it). This even extends to Phoenix's ancestor, whose own rival prosecutor has a similarly dreaded reputation, though unlike the others it isn't because he's undefeated. Instead, every defendant he prosecutes who is found not guilty mysteriously winds up dead.
  • Sunrider:
    • The PACT flagship Legion is a three-kilometre long dreadnought that dwarfs every other ship in the setting, has enough firepower to take on entire fleets singlehandedly, and is so heavily armoured and shielded as to be almost invincible. When it first appears during the Battle of Cera, the Ceran admiralty knows right away that they’re outmatched and urges the civilian government to issue an immediate surrender, not that it does them any good. During the Battle of Far Port it takes out most of the Alliance’s Second Fleet with a single shot, forcing the survivors to take cover inside PACT’s formation so that the Legion can’t fire on them again without hitting its own ships. Most characters are understandably reluctant to face the Legion in battle.
    • Sunrider Liberation Day has the Nightmare Ascendant, an ancient Ryuvian Ryder piloted by Veniczar Arcadius. While nobody from modern times recognizes this ancient war machine, Sola recognizes it immediately and reacts with fear to its sudden arrival—and for good reason, as it promptly devastates an Alliance fleet with one attack and No Sells a direct hit from the Sunrider’s Vanguard Cannon. She quickly explains that the Nightmare Ascendant note  was powerful enough to destroy a fleet of a thousand Ryuvian ships singlehandedly, and fears that the Sunrider and their allies won’t be able to defeat it. The Big Bad herself gleefully talks it up as being so powerful as to make all of PACT’s previous weapons — including the aforementioned Legion and the Paradox Core, a Doomsday Device that can destroy entire star systems — seem like toys in comparison.
  • Reinhard Heydrich from Dies Irae has a tendency to invoke the feeling of fear in everyone who meets him. Even Wilhelm wasn't afraid to admit that he almost shat his pants first time he saw him. In fact he is so dreadful that simply having a premonition of being observed by him caused Ren to flee in a panic.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Meta. Given its utterly ruthless demeanor in battle, the massive gun it carries, and the the variety of additional abilities it can avail of from the AIs that it captured, it's understandable why the first instinct that many of the main characters who come across it is to run for the hills. It even manages to go toe-to-toe with Tex, who's renowned in the series as being a One Woman Army.
    • Speaking of Tex, the Reds are terrified of her; Her first impression on them was single-handedly taking Red Base by storm, and its only because Sarge got her by surprise that anyone survived. In Season 2, The Reds are in the midst of demanding the Blues' flag when they realize that the last time they got the flag was what caused Tex to attack them and change their minds. In Episode 9-10 of The Revelation, the reappearance of Tex sends the Reds fleeing in terror.
    • Caboose, meanwhile, is this to the Battle Creek Zealots. After his nonsensical Let's Get Dangerous! moment, they proclaim him "The Beast! The Anti-Flag, here to rule us for seven years!"
  • In Rubber Fruit's videos, Painis Cupcake tends to play this role. This is most prominent in Heavy's Tiny Picnic Adventure - Part 6, where the introduction of Painis Cupcake causes everyone to panic and stop their current petty conflict to help each other run for their lives.
  • Dreamscape: Melinda! Even arrogant, prideful characters like Melissa and Ethan (who mistook Melissa for Melinda in 'Possessor of a Dimension') are terrified of her.
  • RWBY:Salem is a dark and dangerous humanoid who possesses mastery over the Grimm, monsters that are instinctively attracted to negative emotions such as fear, panic, hate and grief, and which are attempting to hunt humanity into extinction. Although the Grimm dominate the world, her existence is not public knowledge. Her arch-enemy, Ozpin, is so convinced the world will descend into panic and chaos - empowering the Grimm and therefore Salem - if they knew, that he has created a global conspiracy network that functions at the highest echelons of power, to both search for a way to defeat her and prevent her existence from becoming public. Of those that know, Qrow describes her creations as fear itself, Ironwood is obsessively building an army he hopes can obliterate her, and Raven has abandoned Ozpin's cause to disappear into the wilds of Anima because she's so convinced Salem is unstoppable. Leo, Haven Academy's headmaster and Ozpin's oldest ally, is so terrified of Salem that she is able to secretly turn him into a mole for her side simply by implying the continued existence of Haven and Mistral depends on his co-operation. In Volume 6, Ozpin is forced to admit to his followers that he actually has no plan to defeat Salem because even he believes she cannot be destroyed; the news so demoralises the heroes, that they are left estranged from Ozpin and questioning the point of opposing Salem at all.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Known as the "Radio Demon", Alastor is feared by most as an all-powerful tyrant who destroys anyone who stands in the way of his cryptic goals.

    Web Comics 
  • The Irregulars from Tower of God. Normally, people who climb the Tower to get their deepest desire fulfilled have to be Chosen and are invited as Regulars. Not these guys. They came and kicked the metaphysical doors open by themselves and every time that happened, the Tower underwent drastic changes. Five Irregulars (not counting the Ten Great Warriors and Zahard) are known. One was a man-made god who defeated the entire ruling structure of the Tower and then simply disappeared. Before him came a person who slew a Physical God and could create life. The third supposedly followed the former into the Tower, climbed it ten times faster than anyone elsenote  and built a N.G.O. Superpower that rivals the government. The fourth one was almost completely immune to magic and could copy any spell on sight, doing what normally takes people decades in instants. And the last one was an incredibly normal girl who stabbed her best friend in the back. People are not very fond of Irregulars. They are afraid of them.
  • Kore in Goblins has a tendency to induce Oh, Crap! moments in those he meets, or even those who hear stories of him, particularly since he has utterly no qualms about killing anyone if he perceives them as evil, and is said to have fought entire armies and won. Even a fellow dwarf paladin refers to him as "the Cursed Scourge of the Realm". And then there's how he Would Hurt a Child.
  • The Photographer in The Chosen Four is feared by Ness, which is Played for Laughs. However, the Photoman is the most powerful being in the comic, per Rule of Funny.
  • Homestuck.
    • Jack Noir is a fairly light hearted take on this. Due to some alternate timeline stuff, not always so lighthearted.
    • Doc Scratch, who is feared by anybody knowing him (including Jack). He has nothing on his boss Lord English, though; even Hussie (the author of the comic) is afraid of him.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Para Ventura is a hilarious variant. That's how she got enlisted—Captain Tagon knows the cost of a good reputation (just for comparison, that was the incident which didn't impress the dock bot).
    • Sanctum Adroit, a much more principled sort of mercenary company that's often hired out as security for entire habitats, has gained quite a reputation thanks to their skill, ordnance, incorruptibility and watchful eye. As a result, when hired for a security gig in a large city, just the fact they're going to arrive deters nearly all crime that day.
      Colonel Menendez: We crunched the public surveillance taken during our precintory's arrival. The results were enlightening. Of the three thousand individuals surveilled, sixteen showed dismay once the Sanctum Adroit flag was visible. Eleven of those sixteen individuals discreetly fled public view. Eight of the eleven have already left Eina-Afa. You asked if we're ready to fight crime? Glib answers aside, we've already begun, and we appear to be winning.
    • Tagon's Toughs, of course, have gained quite a reputation as time has gone by, due to the sheer amount of incidents they've been involved with and survived, along with public opinion doing the rest of the work for them. Being one of Petey's favorite task forces (and the ones that let him form the Fleetmind), personally involved in incidents that destroyed two UNS Battleplates, destroyers of a Dyson Sphere and now personal task force for the Oafans does that to one's reputation. Particular examples among the Toughs are, of course, Tagon himself (the "Destroyer of Battleplates" and the only man badass enough to lead a group like this, complete with fanclubs composed of hardened mercenaries that look up to him) and the titular Sergeant Schlock (the single most dangerous mercenary in their employ, a carbosilicate amorph that's close to unkillable, can already kill just about anything unarmed and loves carrying plentiful tank-slagging weaponry on principle with zero trigger discipline).
  • In Our Little Adventure, Angelo invoked this feeling when he confronted Randi and Peganone during their quest to capture Umbria. He probably would have for Eva as well, but she retained her resolve due to her Paladin's fear immunity. What happened to Eva due to her not backing down and running away was accordingly horrifying.
  • In The Mansion of E, Uncle Frederick's bed-mate is called variously the Woman of Mystery or the Scary Lady.
  • Karin-dou 4koma: Seren is infamous as a brutal Person of Mass Destruction, with nicknames such as "The Human Solar Cannon" and "The Bomb Princess". Before Meguru actually met Seren, her mental image of Seren featured a Slasher Smile, glowing eyes, and claw-like fingernails. She's really not a bad person. She is still a Person of Mass Destruction, however.
  • Slade from Heart Core, The Dragon of Royce Lashiec. Not only does he love to cause even MORE pain than his master does, not only does Ame, the third strongest living demon so far, fear the mere thought of being in his presence, bu not even his own allies can be with him without fearing for their lives, knowing how he can at any point kill them just out of curiosity and boredom.
  • In Axe Cop: The Moon Warriors'', the Moon Warriors can't fight the Vampire Man Baby Kid on their own because he's too powerful and "scary". When Axe Cop sees him, even he says he's scary. Then they kind of forget about that and try to decapitate him in different ways.
  • In Rusty and Co., one very well-organized gang of villains had detailed dossiers on Rusty's crew and all the people who are likely to help them. When Princess shows up and they open her file, the mugshot shows her snarling at the camera from behind her oncoming fist and the notes "DO NOT ENGAGE. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. RUN." They stare for a while, and just leave calmly with plans to lay low, stating it's not worth the pay
  • The Old Heterodynes in Girl Genius were this. In a world filled with depraved Mad Scientist warlords, the Old Heterodynes were a particularly egregious example... Until the Heterodyne Boys, Bill and Barry, redeemed the family. The current scion, the titular heroine Agatha, has proven to have the capacity for good like her father Bill... and the capacity for brutality of her forefathers.
    • Apparently Agatha's uncle Barry did something to make the Big Bad fret at the mere offhand-dismissive mention of him, fearful that it might invoke another encounter with him.
    • On the Wulfenbach's side, there's the Dreen, strange, clawed cyclops with conic hats and veils that don't quite look that threatening. But once they enter the fray, general Zog's plan immediately turns towards getting the hell out of here. A reminder: These creatures scare the crap out of a centuries-old Super Soldier general who single-handedly shot down a carrier full of troops. And just to rub it in, one particular Dreen survived a stomp by a Humongous Mecha intact, and blew it up by touching it, immediately afterwards. It's later revealed they might be related to the enormous Eldritch Abomination currently threatening Mechanicsburg.
    • For reasons that haven't entirely been made clear, Oglavia Spüdna. Post-Time Skip, she's a fairly high-ranking spy, she's written a book...and a keeper of the Incorruptible Library breaks and starts begging to talk the moment she introduces herself.
  • The gleefully evil demon Xaneth Antaris of True Villains is this, knows it, and loves it.
  • Baskets of Guts: Pangreedi, the head of the Royal Secret Chancellory, is described as "a beast, not a human" with scars all over his face. It turns out to be quite far from truth though, so it's rather a subversion.
  • Misfile:
    • Kamikaze Kate, who, as the name implies, is known for racing in a suicidally reckless way. After her sister was killed by reckless racers (who got off scot-free), she started to act like she was trying to kill everyone on the track, including herself. She raced every single person who showed any talent, wrecked most of their cars and nearly killed several of them. Just hearing her name is enough to make Ash shiver. It turns out that a large part of Kate's advantage came from the fact that she was possessed by her sister's vengeful ghost, but she's still genuinely the best racer around.
    • Played for Laughs after Kate's sister is exorcised and she undergoes a Heel–Face Turn. Kate becomes a friendly and helpful mentor to Ash, even calling Ash "little sister" and inviting Ash to be the maid of honor at Kate's wedding. But Ash is still completely terrified of her, to the point that she can tell when Kate is near by the nameless feeling of dread.
  • Beneath The Clouds has the ikiryo, rare spirits caused by the bitterness and jealous of living people. Genza says that "a thousand armed men are no protection" against them.
  • Erfworld:
    • Charlie has built up quite the reputation as an unseen mastermind, and the world is generally convinced he and his side are entirely unbeatable; he has whole armies of the strongest units in the game and more raw cash than any side can even conceive, and the intellect to wield both perfectly.
    • Parson "Lord Hamster" Gotti himself, of course, usurped this position as the most feared thing in the entire world rather quickly. True, he's technically some creature from beyond with entirely different biology and thinking patterns, to whom the rules of the world cannot completely apply, and that would be enough to be afraid. But on top of that, his Munchkin tendencies, outside perspective and general knack for both RPG mechanics and general strategy and tactics give him an edge no one else in the world has, figuring out the rules so fast he was already causing terrain-changing carnage in the first battle he was brought in for (something usually reserved only for the creators of the world), and finding little exploits and optimal paths for every action he could take, many of which Erfworld's denizens simply cannot think about. Charlie, who can think of such and has the intelligence to understand just how dangerous Parson really is, is scared shitless of the guy and quickly became his sworn enemy, as none of his plans will succeed when Parson is around to counter them and he knows it. Even his own side thinks of him as someone who could break the entire world.
  • Boyfriend Of The Dead:
    • All the zombies are terrified of Alex, a perfectly ordinary human girl who decided that the Zombie Apocalypse was a great time to go shopping, since there are no crowds any more. She killed over a hundred just while applying makeup because they kept interrupting her.
    • Turns out it's not just the zombies. Claire (a human) kidnaps N, ties him up, and drags him into the human base to prove that her dad isn't infected. If she was wrong, she could have wiped out the last surviving humans in Tokyo. When N asks why Claire didn't just talk to Alex, Claire says Alex scares her. N can't argue with that.

    Web Original 
  • Near the end of Ruby Quest, one of the most dangerous and insane mutants is found crying in a corner because Ace is coming.
  • Whateley Universe: The Dragonslayers, a terrifyingly effective group of military or paramilitary soldiers who are reputed to be ruthless Cape Busters and mutant hunters. While the truth about the EQUALIZER force is a good deal more complex, their ability to take down superpowered threats using mostly baseline technology (and powers with only limited combat value , in the case of Highjacker, Heckel, and Jekyll) fully justified that fear.
    • Demons and Mythos Beings in general, especially given that the more powerful they are, the more likely their very presence is to serve as a Brown Note. When even a small part of a major demon is let onto Earth, it causes insanity and terror just by revealing its true appearance.
  • That Guy with the Glasses:
    • Atop the Fourth Wall: Lord Vyce. Interestingly, virtually no one except Vyce himself has heard of the far more dangerous Entity he was battling.
    • Less eldritch-y, but Todd in the Shadows visibly sinks lower every time The Nostalgia Chick tries to get him to spend time with her. Considering some of the things she's done, his fear is very justified.
    • Linkara himself, at least according to The Nostalgia Critic.
      "Keep your voice down, Sci-Fi Guy! He can smell geek!"
    • Hyper Fangirl has made Critic drop to the floor in fear of her several times. Her responses to this are usually anger or excitement.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-173 is a living sculpture that kills its victims when they break eye contact with it. What puts it firmly in this category, however, is that 682, the regenerating lizard that just doesn't die and hates all life on earth, only yelped in what appeared to be terror and stared at it for hours when put in the same room, growing new eyes when they were shot out so 173 could do its thing. When you scare the crap out of this thing, you know you're feared.
    • From Dr. Clef's 001 Proposal, this is a creature so powerful that Able refuses to go anywhere near it.
    • SCP-557 isn't an artifact but a location, an ancient prison somewhere in the desert that used to hold something horrible and only referred to as "bastard son of Apep" (see the Mythology folder). Used to.
  • Endbringers and Class S supervillains in Worm have this status: Nilbog and the members of the Slaughterhouse Nine. Of the latter, Jack Slash's superpower (being able to extend the cutting edges of his knives to a near-unlimited range) is not nearly as frightening as his ability to pull together a team of the most murderous sociopaths in the world and terrorize entire cities with them.
    • Among the Slaughterhouse Nine, there is one who inspires more dread than any other, even within their ranks: Gray Boy. He doesn't kill his victims, but for a few thousand years they'll wish he had. When Jack decided to have all the past members cloned by a factor of nine each, Gray Boy was the sole exception. Bonesaw guesses that one Gray Boy is all Jack could hope to control.
    • When he was running the Nine, King held this position.
    • Skitter is also starting to be added to the list by some circles, due to her creative use of her power and propensity for winning fights that are way out of her league.
    • Lung was strong enough to fight off entire cape teams on his own and was the main reason the ABB gained significant power in Brockton Bay. Nobody really wants to fight a guy who can go toe to toe with Leviathan and walk away.
    • The most feared of all is the Sleeper. When he portals to another world and "subsumes" it, everyone simply writes it off as a lost cause. Khepri, having gathered every cape she can find in every universe and the Endbringers to her service, sees him sitting peacefully on a lawn chair and decides to leave him alone.
  • The Slender Man is a walking Brown Note, a living Meaningful Background Event and the single most terrifying Invincible Villain of all time. He also looks creepy as hell. Understandably, no one goes near him willingly. Maybe.
  • In the Noob webseries and comic, Dark Avenger is heavily implied to have been the most feared Player Killer of the game before he got in his Mistaken for Badass situation with Sparadrap. The Game Master seen in the comic shows his "Wanted!" Poster alongside two other ones, which are for Tenshirock and Ash.
  • In Citadel there is a man called Monster. He got the name by slaughtering a bunch of random people and then forcing the lone survivor to record an answer to a simple question. Despite not having any obvious powers, though there's lots of theories, he's so feared that even the Citadel's most famous operative shudders at the thought of facing him again.
  • The Red Robes from The Adventure Zone: Balance are the mages responsible for creating the Grand Relics. They're originally believed to be dead, but then one shows up. The Director makes it very clear to the party that they are not going to win in a fight against one of these things if they show up, and instructs them to run away as fast as they can should one appear. Subverted in that the Red Robes are actually good people, and the one who shows up wants to help the party, because they're all Red Robes too, and so is the Director.
  • In Team Four Star's Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Hellsing's in-house reaction to learning that the Paladin Alexander Anderson has been dispatched is boiled down to:
    Walter: Alexander Anderson.
    Sir Integra: ...oh, fuck all kinds of duck.
  • Lady Wu is this in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. Sun Quan struggles to find a general who's willing to cross her daughter, and no one, not even him, dares to cross her.