He put the flat of his hand on her belly. She pulled away, backward, hard against the pole she was tied to. He shuffled forward half a step. "Oh man, this is unbelievable. Youre going to die with another mans child inside you."
Then he spun away. Stopped, and turned back. Shook his head.
"Cant allow that," he said. "Wouldnt be right. Well have to abort it first. I should have told Perez to find a coat hanger. But I didn't. So well find something else instead. There's got to be something here. This is a farm after all."
—Edward Lane, to his wife Kate, The Hard Way
- Tripwire: The man calling himself Victor Truman "Hook" Hobie is a man defined by his Lack of Empathy. Starting off as Carl Allen, a soldier in the jungles of Vietnam, his reign of terror began with him killing a commanding officer, and then stealing the real Victor Hobie's identity, framing the now-deceased real Hobie for murder when his escape from an infirmary cost the life of an orderly. Now a cruel Loan Shark in New York City, Hobie takes steps to ensure his secret remains hidden, having his men kill a private investigator hired to look for him and personally torturing the man's secretary to death. Having one of his own men killed when he fails to kill Jack Reacher and Jodie Garber, Hobie likes to play a sadistic game with his victims where he tells them to pick a number between one and ten; unbeknownst to them, this is how long he'll spend torturing them to death. He plays this game with two cops, and intends to kill his debtor Chester Stone, Chester's wife, and Jodie Garber in a similar manner before killing Reacher and stealing his identity as well. A cowardly sociopath who believes himself to be "the toughest man alive", Hobie set the standard for Jack Reacher villains.
- The Hard Way: Edward Lane is the psychotic head of an illegal mercenary operation, and the true Big Bad of the story. An egotistical Control Freak of the highest order, Lane had his first wife murdered when she attempted to divorce him, faking a kidnapping to throw suspicion off of himself. He ties up loose ends by abandoning two of his men to the mercy of a group of insurgents known to mutilate their prisoners, completely indifferent to the years of torture they are forced to endure. Upon remarrying, Lane keeps his new wife Kate in line by threatening to rape her five-year-old daughter with a potato peeler, a promise he attempts to make good on at the story's climax. Tying up Kate, his step-daughter, his wife's paramour Taylor, Taylor's brother Jackson, and Reacher's Love Interest Pauling to slowly torture each of them to death, Lane notices that Kate is pregnant with Taylor's baby, and immediately attempts a manual abortion, saying it "wouldn't be right" for her to die with someone else's child inside of her. Lane ultimately attempts to lure Reacher out of hiding by holding Jackson at gunpoint, intending to shoot him in the legs and make Pauling lick up the man's blood "like a dog" if Reacher doesn't surrender.
- Bad Luck and Trouble: Allen Lamaison is an ex-LAPD officer-turned corrupt director of security of military contractor New Age Defense. Lamaison sells 260 state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missiles to terrorists, completely indifferent to the countless lives that will be lost in nationwide terrorist attacks. He keeps his accomplices in line by threatening to have their children raped and killed, and even forces himself on one of these accomplices to "seal their understanding". When members of Jack Reacher's old unit start looking into his illicit dealings, Lamaison has them tortured and killed by throwing them out of a helicopter. He attempts to murder Reacher and the surviving members of his team, and ultimately abducts two of them to subject them to the same fate as their comrades. Treacherous and greedy, Allen Lamaison mixes arrogant self-centeredness with ruthless disregard for human life.
- Worth Dying For: Jacob Duncan runs a rural Nebraska farmer town like a tinpot dictator, along with his brothers Jonas and Jasper and his adopted son Seth. Jacob and his family run a trucking business whose service they force upon every family in town. Anyone who refuses or disagrees with them would find themselves beaten up and their properties ruined by a gang of ex-college football players on the Duncans' payroll. Jacob and his family use this business to smuggle children and others from Asia to the heartland United States and elsewhere for sex trafficking; they are all pedophiles who murder every child they've grown bored with and make a shrine and photographic memento of every corpse—about 60 in all, 2 or 3 every year. Even Reacher, a former MP who's seen all kinds of corpses himself, explicitly admits he regrets having taken a look at the barn where the Jacob and his family hold these shrines.
- Make Me: The man with the jeans and the hair lures suicidal people to the town of Mother's Rest, by offering them an illegal assisted suicide service which he advertises on the Deep Web. On the website he guarantees his client a completely painless death. However, once the clients are there, he and his goons capture them, and then murder them in front of the camera. It's a pay-per-view operation, and with extra charge customers are allowed to write their own script. Anyone snooping in their business would be murdered, either by themselves or by a gang of assassins on their payroll, who also go on to murder the snoopers' families to be certain nothing leaks. It is stated that he and his gang are responsible for 209 snuff videos, with titles such as Starved to Death, Pregnant and Bayoneted, Gut Shot, and Thin Man All Ribs Broken First. Categories included "Male victim, female victim, couples, young, old, black, white, cutting, stabbing, beating, power tools, extreme insertion, medical experiment, electricity, drowning, and shooting."
- Night School: "The American", real name Horace Wiley, is a cunning and arrogant thief who makes a living off of stealing weapons and selling them on the black market. Introduced strangling a prostitute to death, the American is the subject of a manhunt headed by Jack Reacher, and when one of his associates offers to turn him over to the police, the American coldly beats the man to death. As the hunt for him continues, the American bombs a hotel to distract the police, and is revealed to have stolen ten nuclear bombs, which he plans to sell to a group of terrorists who wish to use them to annihilate ten cities across the world, which, by Reacher's calculations, would make the American responsible for over ten million deaths. Willing to see the whole world nuked to oblivion just to satisfy his bottomless greed, the American proves to only care about himself, seeing everyone else as nothing more than tools for his own pleasure or profit.
- Never Go Back: The Hunter is a smug, egotistical former soldier-turned-hitman under the employ of General Harkness. The Hunter kicks off the plot by killing two of Major Susan Turner's soldiers, and then planting the evidence that gets Turner falsely thrown in jail for espionage. When Jack Reacher and Turner's lawyer Moorcroft start looking into the conspiracy, the Hunter tortures and kills Moorcroft, pinning this crime on Reacher. Relentless in his pursuit of Reacher and Turner, the Hunter callously murders anyone that comes into his path, including two policemen, the foster parents of Samantha Dutton (Reacher's supposed daughter), and even his own allies and subordinates. He goes on to state that killing Reacher "won't be enough", and says that he's going to kill Samantha personally, just to hurt Reacher. Even after Harkness is arrested and the conspiracy is uncovered, the Hunter simply replies that he "doesn't give a shit" and continues to hunt for Sam, eventually catching her and attempting to force Reacher to surrender by threatening to throw her off a building. A cold-blooded killer motivated solely by feeding his own ego, the Hunter is one of Reacher's most personal adversaries.
- Reacher: KJ Kliner is the son of mogul Kliner in the town of Margrave. The true head of the counterfeiting operation, KJ is a sadistic brat who loves to hurt others and murders Joe Reacher to guard the operation. Loving to torture and hurt others, KJ murders everyone else in his way, including a police officer and his pregnant wife. One unfortunate man, Paul Hubble, is forced to work with the counterfeiters after KJ had a man crucified and castrated in front of him with promises Hubble would see his wife and children killed. Murdering his own father in a painful manner when he deems him a loose end, KJ attempts to kill Reacher and all his allies for the sport of it.