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The Sociopath / Literature

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  • O'Brien from 1984. He takes the "deceptively charismatic" aspect of the trope so far that Winston finds himself feeling a begrudging admiration for the man even as O'Brien is torturing him. The ultimate goal of the Party is to create a world entirely of sociopaths, where any attachment between individuals will be eliminated and everyone will care for nothing except what benefits the Party.
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  • In Across the Universe, Luther is shown to be completely without remorse in any of the stuff he pulls, from trying to rape Amy to raping Vittoria in "revenge" after Amy escapes to trying to incite riots after the population is taken off their mass-spread sedatives to continuing to stalk and harass Amy, wanting to finish what he started. The only reason he seems to have for any of the things he does is that he enjoys having power over others. The only reason he changes his behavior at all is because Amy fights back and makes it clear she'll shoot him if he continues. Even then, he still enjoys scaring her.
  • And Then There Were None
    • Anthony Marston has zero remorse about running over and killing two children with his car and doesn't even seem to comprehend that the children's deaths may be more serious than the loss of his driving license. The Poetic Serial Killer selects him as their first victim because his complete lack of empathy meant that he was literally incapable of realizing that what he did was wrong and wouldn't experience the psychological torment and guilt the killer wanted their later victims to suffer through which means he would be incapable of feeling either guilt or even fear of punishment since he didn't even see why should he be punished.
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    • The Killer himself is revealed to be one in his confession letter. He admits that he's been fascinated with death since childhood, and revelled in torturing insects in the past. As he grows older, he wishes to sate his bloodlust on other people, and became a Hanging Judge for the pleasure of watching people squirm and suffer at their impending execution. Still unsatisfied, he wishes to commit murder by his own hands, but his odd sense of justice prevents him from killing an innocent. Thus, he gathered a group of people who had gotten away with murder and picks them off one by one, obviously relishing in the fear and guilt that would almost certainly overwhelm his would-be victims.
  • American Psycho: Patrick Bateman's entire personality is a sham to look good in front of other self-absorbed yuppies, which he achieves by obsessive grooming and droning on about superficial claptrap. On the inside, he's a sadist who hates everybody, especially himself, and brutally murders people for fun. Even with the implication that none of the murders are happening, all it changes is that he has incredibly graphic fantasies instead of outright deeds.
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  • A Brother's Price has Keifer Porter. Very vain, charming if he wanted to be, good at manipulating people, even though he was rather stupid otherwise, and ready to do horrible things with little or no provocation. He is also implied to have been easily bored. While he did sleep with his sister, he seems to have been unable to form emotional relationships, seeing as his wives adored him and did everything to keep him happy, which didn't stop him from torturing their little sister. And killing her father, and taking part in a conspiracy to kill them.
  • Kazou Kiriyama from Battle Royale has no qualms about letting a simple coin toss decide whether he'll play the game to win or try to fight it, killing multiple classmates of his in very painful ways and even seems impervious to a lot of pain that would cripple other people. He even cut his own arm open and taped a tendon differently so he'd regain usage of his index finger. It's revealed that his behavior likely came from a birth defect.
    • The movie version depicts him as more of a sadist, having volunteered for the program, relishing every moment of his violence. One moment in particular has him gunning down two people trying to call for a truce, broadcasting their screams of pain through a megaphone.
    • Mitsuko Souma is equally ruthless and seemingly remorseless as Kiriyama when it comes to killing her classmates, although she turns out to have one hell of a Freudian Excuse, as it's later revealed that she has, among other things, been raped and sexually abused multiple times since the age of nine. As a result, she feels dead inside and doesn't care about anything but protecting herself.
      • Kawada even compares the two, and correctly identifies that while Kiriyama was likely born an Empty Shell, Mitsuko's cold-blooded nature likely developed as a response to her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Blood Meridian: Judge Holden is a charismatic mass murderer who practically worships war and death. He charms and muscles his way into leading a gang of scalp hunters on a horrific and self-destructive journey through The Wild West for the apparent purpose of fulfilling his blood lust and preaching his Blood Knight ideals.
  • Hugo Lamb from The Bone Clocks is a textbook example. Outwardly charming, his inner monologue reveals him to be a womanizer, a consummate liar, a thief, and an expert manipulator, who has no qualms about using others for his own ends. Hugo eventually takes a level in evil by joining the Anchorites, an ancient brotherhood who make themselves immortal by destroying other souls.
  • The Brothers Grimm: The Wicked Stepmother from The Juniper Tree decapitates her stepson and psychologically manipulates her own daughter into believing that she was responsible for her brother's death. She then forces her to help her hide the body by making a stew from it.
  • Works by by C. S. Lewis have some villains who qualify.
    • The Chronicles of Narnia
      • Jadis the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is up there with Iago. Superficial charm? Check. Above average intelligence? Check. Pathological egocentricity? You betcha! Incapacity for empathy or remorse? "So much for love."
      • Prince Rabadash in The Horse and His Boy might well be a clinical psychopath. He is brave enough in war (even reckless, in fact), fairly intelligent, and can apparently be rather charming when he bothers to be, but this last is only a mask of sanity. When free to behave naturally among his subjects, he is unrestrainedly abusive both verbally and physically, insulting and casually kicking his father's kneeling advisors. He also lies and betrays people very casually, is implied to be a rapist about as strongly as can be done in a children's book, and his reaction when Queen Susan rejects him is to launch a genocidal war on one of Narnia's allies to punish her. Throughout, he is never shown to care about anyone but himself.
    • The Space Trilogy:
      • In That Hideous Strength, Major Hardcastle, head of the Institute's Secret Police, is a sadist, with a pathological need for stimulation (which she admits, saying it helps her willingly do her job), and in fact on the very evening Merlin sabotages the Institute, was looking forward to running another torture session.
      • Whichever devil possesses Weston's body in Perelandra. Charming enough to nearly sway the Lady, and when not tempting it tries to drive Ransom insane with a verbal variant of the water torture or else tortures as many Venusian critters as it can get Weston's hands on. And when Ransom finally confronts it, it asks, "Do you know who I am?" Ransom's Shut Up, Hannibal! reply:
        "I know what you are. Which of them doesn't matter."
    • The Pilgrim's Regress: Mister Savage. Lack of empathy? Looks forward to drinking blood out of the skull of one of the three silly Pale Men John and Vertue had met earlier in the chapter. Grandiose sense of self-importance? Sees himself as the greatest philosopher ever. And is compelling enough to win the loyalty of Utopia Justifies the Means fanatics.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado has Montresor. It takes a special kind of screwed-up to kill someone who seems to consider you a friend over an insult. (It's worth noting that we don't even find out what said insult was.) And it wasn't an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment thing done in a burst of rage, either — this is something that took a lot of preparation and planning, meaning Montresor thought this over for a good long time, and still went through with it. The killing itself is a truly horrific way to die, and anything but quick and painless. And he does this all with only a hint of remorse.
  • Alex from A Clockwork Orange (both the book and the movie). Although considering the Crapsack World he lived in, the general deconstruction of human morality, and Alex's own status as an Unreliable Narrator, it is debatable exactly where he falls on the in-universe scale of Chaotic Evil.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • Nyarlathotep is the mind and soul of the Outer Gods who, unlike his eldritch brethren, is fully aware of mankind and takes sheer joy out of tormenting them. He uses propaganda and manipulation to trick people into worshiping his many avatars; drives people to madness; and destroys civilizations for fun. His ultimate goal is to release the gods and wipe out mankind, but he staves it off to further indulge in his need for stimulation. In his debut, he drives the inhabitants of a city out to the country when the narrator heckled his performance thus also displaying a grandiose sense of self-worth.
    • Y'golonac, created by Ramsey Campbell for his short story Cold Print, is the God of Depravity and Perversion who seeks those who read forbidden literature in the hopes that they would read a chapter of The Revelations of Gla'aki that bears his name and release him so he could freely rape and kill all in his path.
  • Discworld:
    • Jonathan Teatime in Hogfather. According to the book, he "sees things differently from other people, in that he sees other people as things." He even spent a significant amount of his time theorizing how to kill the various holiday entities of the Disc, like the Hogfather, the Soul Cake Duck, and DEATH himself.
    • Witches Abroad: Lady Lillith has shades of this as well, what with being a high-caliber Tautological Templar. While not quite as Ax-Crazy as Teatime, she's likely done at least as much harm in the long run, most of it presumably more long-lasting. Never once does she stop to think if her idea of "good" has anything in common with other people's.
  • Though many of the supernatural creatures in The Dresden Files exhibit elements of sociopathy (notably vampires who fully embrace their predatory nature and many of the nastier Winter Court sidhe), the most obvious example is the all-too-human Nicodemus, a man so thoroughly and unapologetically (and yet often politely) evil that a Fallen Angel works with him as a genuine partner. In Skin Game he even refers to himself as a sociopath (correcting Dresden, who called him a psychopath). Nick's wife Tessa and daughter Deirdre are also candidates.
  • In Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson, Sherlock Holmes comes to believe that Jack the Ripper is this, despite the idea being radical for its time. He’s later proven horribly right when he meets the Ripper face to face.
  • East of Eden: Cathy Ames is a consummate liar and master manipulator, considers herself superior to everyone else, is completely self-centred and has no empathy or shame. In the chapter where she's introduced, the narrator all but mentions the trope by name in describing her, claiming that in the same way some children are born with physical deformities that leave them missing arms or unable to see, Cathy was born with a deformed soul that left her missing a conscience and morals.
  • The villain in Eden Green is infected with an alien needle symbiote that takes over his mind and acts to ensure his (their) survival. When under its influence, he becomes manipulative, immune to guilt, and casually vicious. Later, the title character is infected and begins to succumb to the same effects.
  • "The Eighteen-Wheeler" by children's poet Calvin Miller gives us Sarah Pooter, who from childhood into adulthood got a thrill from careening along, mowing down anything in her path, with the Mad Libs Catch Phrase "You stupid [X], what can I say? You should have kept out of my way." Laser-Guided Karma comes in the Always a Bigger Fish vein.
  • The eponymous character from the novel Elmer Gantry. Elmer is a charming, jocular preacher who is motivated entired by self-interests and appetites. He has no moral qualms about lying, marital rape, or moral hypocrisy. The film version depicted Elmer more as a loveable scamp than an outright sociopath.
  • Deconstructed with Amos Burton in The Expanse and its television adaptation. Amos is keenly aware that his mind does not work the same as most people, and his decision-making ability is compromised as a result. He tries to work around these problems, such as looking to other people he trusts for a moral compass to follow. Amos displays a degree of I Just Want to Be Normal on occasion, but he is intelligent enough to understand how extremely unlikely it is for any effective treatment to exist.
  • A Frozen Heart:
    • Averted with Prince Hans in this Tie-In Novel to Frozen, an adaptation that fleshes out his backstory and gives a strong reason why he becomes a miserable person in the first place. While he does show aspects of sociopaths and is confirmed to be one in the movie by the creators, this Perspective Flip makes him a more three-dimensional Tragic Villain. This is mainly through a strong Freudian Excuse and having people that he genuinely cares for, his brother Lars and their mother, on top of the self-loathing and Inferiority Superiority Complex that he's been harboring for years. It's implied his decision to act like one are him mirroring his family's abrasiveness in order to earn their respect and to hide his perceived shortcomings.
    • Played straight with Hans' father, the King of the Southern Isles. He cares nothing for neither his family (including his wife and 13 sons) nor his subjects, as he's a petty tyrant who uses Disproportionate Retribution against anyone who refuses to pay taxes or insults him. He also sees his family as disposable tools he can abuse on a whim, using emotional manipulation to warp his sons into his sycophants and deliberately picking favorites amongst them.
  • Ghost Roads: Bobby Cross is a very charismatic individual but is described as a man who'd murder the world if he got to live a little longer. In order to keep himself immortal, he's destroyed the various ghosts he's met over the decades by feeding them to his car in order to outrun mortality itself. He is also devoid of any remorse for this and is a manipulative killer whose willing to dispose of anyone who is not of use to him.
  • Caine from Gone is confirmed by Word of God to be a sociopath. His Lack of Empathy becomes clear early on, but his status as this is confirmed when he tells a pack of mutated coyotes that they can feed on young (some daycare-age) children because . . . there was no reason not to. He actually manages to be a nuanced character, though; the real monster is The Dragon, Drake.
  • Nick Dunne in Gone Girl has shades of this, and even admits to some of the traits. His wife Amy, however, wins the Olympic gold medal in sociopathy. She faked her death and framed her husband for murder as revenge for his infidelity and their crumbling marriage, going to absolutely astonishing lengths to pull off the "perfect crime", and it's hardly the first time she's carried out Disproportionate Retribution against somebody who wronged her (or who she merely thought had wronged her), nor is it the last. She checks off nearly every one of the traits: she's a Consummate Liar and a Manipulative Bitch with a distinct Lack of Empathy and an inability to forge personal connections. And she's damn good at hiding it.
  • Steerpike from Gormenghast is played completely straight with absolutely no effort to humanise him. Peake manages to write the character so well that he becomes strongly likable to the reader even though they can hear his inner monologue and know exactly how monstrous he is. His crimes include very effectively faking emotion to flatter his way up through society, burning down a library to emotionally cripple the duke (said burning also inadvertently kills an old man and he barely seems to notice, only pausing to steal the man's skull in case it might come in useful), rewrite the ancient law of the castle to benefit himself (which in universe is a lot more serious business than it sounds) and conspiring to kill the new duke (a child), burning and drowning his teacher to death, leaving his two co-conspirators to starve to death trapped in a single room and finally making the duke's sister fall in love with him purely for the power such a union would give him. He manages to do all this whole only arousing mild suspicion from other people in the castle because he's simply that good at it. When he eventually is outed as a monster he retreats into the depths of the castle and a giant manhunt is commenced to find him. He proceeds to kill any guards who find him alone and proves to be an incredibly dangerous force based purely on his willingness to kill others.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Lord Voldemort is a textbook sociopath. In his younger days before he became Obviously Evil, he was a canny manipulator brimming with superficial charm. He does not understand love, viewing other people - including his own followers - as merely tools to serve his ends. Also, the "persistent killing" part fits him pretty well. The book does posit a reason for his sociopathy, though. His mother seduced a Muggle with a love potion, and it was a completely loveless union. Riddle Sr. did not truly love Merope back, displaying affection only under the influence of the potion. This absence of love in Voldemort's conception was the reason for his complete inability to love. Dumbledore also believes that had his mother not lost the will to live and died in childbirth, but instead raised Voldemort and loved him, his sociopathic tendencies might have been avoided or at least curbed to an extent.
    • Dolores Umbridge enforces the law as she understands it, takes any opportunity to dominate those under her station or rid herself of perceived opposition, lacks any sense of morality (especially towards people with non-human bloodlines like Hagrid or Remus Lupin, and in the final book even Muggleborn witches and wizards), uses likeminded people for her own ends, and sees everyone as expendable in service towards her goals.
    • Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr aren't far behind Voldemort. Both are unrepentant serial killers and torture tacticians, fanatical racists, mentally unhinged, both having murdered family members of their own (Bella killed her cousin Sirius, while Barty killed his father Barty Crouch Sr) utterly devoted to Voldemort who they seem to revere as a deity and may be their only true "attachment." Case in point, Bellatrix is married but does EVERYTHING she does for Voldemort, whom she is said to "love." Barty on the other hand, is not stated to have loved either of his parents, completely disregards the fact that his mother sacrificed herself to get him out of prison and immediately sought to rejoin Voldemort. Upon re-entering the services of Voldemort, he begins torturing, manipulating and killing again. It can even be construed that his tears during his trial were a farce in an attempt to manipulate his dad to not throw him in jail.
  • While Patch from Hush, Hush is intended to be heroic, he also shows quite a few signs of being sociopathic, particularly in the first book. He frequently engages in dangerous fights and such just to amuse himself and shows little to no remorse over the fact that he stalked Nora and made several attempts on her life. By Nora's own admission, he's disturbingly good at hiding how he feels and manipulating her. He also shows no remorse or regret over enslaving a Nephil for several centuries, essentially condemning the poor guy to an eternity of having his body stolen by Patch for two weeks out of every year, usually for the purpose of sex with unsuspecting women.
  • Caligula from I, Claudius. The TV adaption plays up his delusions, but the book emphasizes a closer-to-earth depravity.
  • In the gruesome flashback scenes in the Inspector Lynley novel This Body of Death, one of the three boys shows most of the listed traits. As an adult and one of the murder suspects, he turns out to be innocent and eventually dies redeeming himself. Since the author has a degree in psychology, this may well be intentional.
  • John Wayne Cleaver is a deconstruction of a sociopath: he's completely aware that he is nothing less than a nascent serial killer who has yet to kill anyone, but is also every bit as aware that acting out his fantasies of killing would ultimately lead to his arrest and execution. Having to kill someone to save his mother's life at the end of the first book seriously fucks him up, and leads into the plots of the other two.
  • Julian's brother Gallus can mark every square on the checklist. He gets far worse when he becomes Caesar.
  • Ivar Ragnarson of The Last Light of the Sun. He doesn't see people as people, murdered his sister for laughing at him, sheds no tears over his dead brother, has to keep reminding himself to speak to people as though they were equals, and loses his temper when irritated. At one point he murders a captured earl just to make sure the mercenaries he's hired won't think of just ransoming him and going home; Ivar has lots more For the Evulz murder and mayhem planned for them. He's the bad guy.
  • Lord of the Flies has Roger, the right-hand man of the book's main antagonist, Jack Merridew. Roger is a quiet, reserved, depressive boy, and although it takes a while in the book, it eventually becomes clear he's vicious and sadistic on the inside. He tortures and kills other boys on the island without showing any remorse whatsoever. As if that isn't enough, it's stated in the book that the only reason he didn't act this way off the island (and in the beginning of the book) was because he was aware of the consequences his actions normally triggered and did not want to be punished.
  • Zack State, the central character of The Mental State, is a clinically diagnosed sociopath. His condition is triggered by being forced to watch as his girlfriend is raped by street thugs. Following this, he adopts many of the traits commonly associated with sociopathy that prove to be useful when he is sent to prison. He becomes paranoid about his own safety and distrustful towards other people, which helps him to spot an undercover cop trying to infiltrate the gang he becomes a part of. His knowledge of psychology enables him to manipulate both the inmates and the police officials as he pleases. His charisma enables him to win the respect of the other prisoners and his grandiose sense of self-worth motivates him to upend the entire prison system from within. Also, he can pretty much get away with anything because of his knack for lying, devious schemes and utter ruthlessness.
    • Saif Dhu Hadin is described as a Psychopath and shares many of the same qualities as Zack. However, Zack is keen to point out the differences between the two of them. Saif is completely self-absorbed, as opposed to Zack who still seems to have a moral code and is hinted to still care for others in his own twisted way. He was also born without emotions or empathy, unlike Zack who lost his emotions through his traumatic experience. Saif also never recovers from his Psychopathy, whereas Zack is eventually able to reconnect with his emotions after he is forced to confront his girlfriend again and breaks down in tears before her.
  • The Most Dangerous Game: Zaroff insists that what he does is not murder, it's just hunting... and seems to genuinely believe this.
  • The Night Mayor: The villain, criminal mastermind Truro Daine. The prison warden offers the protagonist a summary that hits all the key points, including lack of empathy and a need for stimulation:
    For Truro Daine, human life is a poor commodity. Like many great men — and I do not begrudge him that epithet — he has a deep-seated belief that other people aren't real. In his solipsism, he has experimented with murder on an unprecedented scale, convincing himself with each zilched life that he alone is truly sapient. That is a crucial insight. Tag it well. Of course, his basic problem is common or garden homicidal mania. It's been treatable for fifty years. It would lead another man to become a mercenary or a serial killer, but Truro Daine is not another man, he is the third or fourth loftiest intelligence in the world. Had he chosen to live within the fold, he would undoubtedly become richer through the income of his patents than he was through theft, extortion, terror-for-hire, blackmail and the black economy. He could have been very high in the Gunmint. But that would have bored him zoidal.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has Nurse Ratched. She seems nice at first, but she is actually a very controlling and manipulative woman. She cares nothing for her patents and wants to remain in control of the hospital. Ironically, in real life, a person like her would be in a mental hospital for treatment.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt has Edvard Löwenström in her debut novel Överenskommelser. He was a sadist, who enjoyed hurting women for pleasure. He made a deal with a fellow sadist that he would get his cousin, even though he knew that she would suffer. He made a 14-year-old girl pregnant, but still abandoned her. When she died after an abortion, he felt no remorse. And when his sister was seriously ill, he felt no sadness about it. He practically wished that she would die, so his parents would think about something else other than his atrocities. He made sure that his cousin was separated from her love interest, which gave her no other choice but to get married to the disgusting man, to whom he and his father had promised her. When his cousin was raped and almost killed on her wedding night, his response was that she only had herself to blame! And he also raped at least one woman, even if that was off screen. Edvard never felt any remorse for anything he did, and he was unable to feel love even for his family. Neither could he feel gratitude. He was too easily bored, which actually is another sign of sociopathy.
    • Roland Birgersson in "Betvingade" seems to fit into this trope as well. He has already murdered a woman and now plans to murder her son (who happens to be Markus Järv, the story's male protagonist) as well. And he's prepared to also murder Markus's wife and/or let Markus's six-year-old daughter drown to get his way. And to make things worse, it also turns out that Roland is Markus's father.
  • John Dread of Otherland is explicitly described as a sociopath, complete with a psychologist telling the police how he was the scariest person he'd ever attempted to treat, because he could tell that Dread did not see him as a person, but merely an object, to be evaluated on his usefulness and killed without a second thought if he became too inconvenient. Dread is given the Freudian Excuse of a drug-addled prostitute mother who brutally abused him in order to turn him into a weapon against the world she hated. It worked.
  • In the Privilege series, Kaitlynn Nottingham is this. She kills her best friend's dad, who happens to be her lover, and has no qualms with killing one of her classmates so she can get into a secret society.
  • In the RCN series, Adele Mundy's assistant/bodyguard Tovera is a complete sociopathic monster who knows she needs Adele to act as her conscience to keep her functioning in society, and enjoys, as much as she can be said to, serving Adele (and by extension, Daniel Leary) because it gives her plenty of opportunity for authorized mayhem. For her part, Adele is very scrupulous in not asking Tovera what she does in her free time for amusement when she disappears into the city's slums.
  • In Rebecca, the titular character, the deceased woman the narrator has been constantly comparing herself to after taking her place in her estate, is revealed to have been a cruel manipulator who cared for no one, building up her house and reputation while tormenting her husband and cheating on him and threatening him with an heir from that relationship. He killed her and sank her body on a boat, but this revelation brings a great relief to the narrator, who now knows she was never being negatively compared to Rebecca by her husband.
  • In the Red Dwarf novel "Last Human", the alternate Lister is a full-fledged sociopath, nicely outlined in his psych profile.
  • The Talented Mr Ripley: The movie's central plot essentially is the interplay of two sociopaths. Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) is a rich kid who's bumming around Europe on his plutocrat father's dime. Tom Ripley is a young blue collar musician willing to impersonate a fellow Princeton grad, defraud Dickie's father of a rather nice expense account to "convince" Dickie to come back, then play Dickie off his father to bum around Europe. Both display a great deal of superficial charm, little remorse about lying and manipulating others, quick tempers, a willingness to lash out violently when it suits them, and no qualms with defrauding the old man. Dickie has no problem blowing off a young Italian girl he impregnated, and when she is Driven to Suicide, he seems more upset at how this affects him. Tom lies his way into high society and is willing to lie, steal, and murder to stay there. Marge, Dickie's girlfriend, describes how when Dickie takes note of you it's like being in the sun. This is a common trait among sociopaths. Tom has a similar trait and facility for lying. The few moments where either shows an emotion similar to remorse may seem to break the mold, but even real sociopaths are not completely inhuman. Sociopathy exists on a sliding scale.
  • The young adult series Rod Allbright Alien Adventures has BKR, a villain who thrives on inflicting cruelty (the worst crime in existence by galactic standards), to the point that he's willing to use a literal time-bomb to destroy time, simply because everyone else would be frozen alongside him for eternity.
  • In the Young Adult novel Rosebush, it turns out that Langley Winterman is this, as she's the mastermind behind the hit-and-run and she casually uses and manipulates people to get what she wants.
  • Count Olaf of A Series of Unfortunate Events. He burns down a hospital to cover his tracks, kills at least one person per book to further his agenda, seems to view violence as rather entertaining, is extremely narcissistic, has a sense of entitlement to a fortune that isn't his and is able to manipulate and charm anyone but the children. Oh, and he's perfectly willing to kill children.
    • Subverted in book 13 when we find out he loved Kit Snicket and he saves her life long enough for her to give birth, even as he himself is dying. Also, he has a Freudian Excuse - it's implied that the Baudelaire parents killed his parents with poison darts.
  • In the backstory of Shadow of the Conqueror, Dayless the Conqueror sealed away his emotions in order to exact his revenge on the aristocracy who killed his family, allowing him to carry out his Final Solution on them, children included. When it was over, he found that he couldn't even feel remorse or empathy anymore, and quickly became an outright Evil Overlord who displayed the worst of every sociopathic trait: so egotistical that he set out to Take Over the World, such a manipulative mastermind that he was able to subdue half of it through a series of betrayals and conquests, and in need of such stimulation that he became a sadistic Serial Rapist.
  • Richard Lopez of Ship Breaker is a drug-addicted, Axe-Crazy, Archnemesis Dad who suffers from massive mood swings and a severe inability to connect to other people. He has no qualms about threatening to maim his son, or cut out a girl's eyes, and eventually tries to sell Nita's organs on the black market. His attitude towards his son, Nailer, is especially volatile, shifting from almost fatherly affection to an attempt at Offing the Offspring at the drop of a pin. He kills without remorse, and no one, not even Nailer, is sad when he dies.
  • Dr. Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs, a Serial Killer, an Evil Genius and a Magnificent Bastard Übermensch, is arguably the Trope Codifier for the stereotype of The Sociopath as an exceptionally charismatic supergenius who is simply just perfect. In Real Life, most sociopaths have been shown to have low IQ, though the "Hannibal Lecter archetype" has been so ingrained in popular culture that everyone thinks all sociopaths are Hannibal Lecter. See Analysis for more.
  • Andy Evans from Speak starts off as seemingly just the typical Jerk Jock who bullies Melinda Sordino for no apparent reason, but it is later revealed that he had a prolific history of sexually assaulting and raping high school girls, and refuses to view it as rape rather instead attempting to convince himself that he was free to have any girl he wanted.
  • The Spirit Thief: Sara is almost a textbook example, exhibiting all five traits described on the main page. She's completely unbothered by the fact that she's torturing sentient spirits for her own gain; she manipulates people around her to let her continue her experiments; she collects "odd" humans and wants to know everything about the spirit world; she's convinced her lab is the most important thing in the Council Kingdoms and she should always be prioritized when it comes to funding; she has no affection whatsoever to her husband and son, and considers them little more than a dead weight and another curiosity, respectively.
  • Stephen King:
    • The Green Mile has Percy Wetmore, a sadistic prison guard who only got the position out of a morbid curiosity at seeing live executions. He then deliberately botches an execution by keeping the sponge dry. Besides him there was also William "Wild Bill" Wharton, a psychotic death row inmate who establishes his unpredictability by pretending to be in a drunken stupor before attempting to choke one of the guards to death. He spends the remainder of his time trying to cause as much mischief as he could before his execution. His worst crime is the rape and murder of the two girls John Coffey had been accused of killing.
    • Henry Bowers in IT by Stephen King is a prime example of a sociopath, as he matures from a schoolyard bully to a murderer. Had he not been institutionalized, he likely would have ended up eventually going on a shooting spree.
      • In the same book, Patrick Hockstetter is explicitly described as a sociopath, with no grasp of the fact that others are, in fact, real, and at five years old killed his baby brother for disrupting household routine. IT even has trouble finding a humanoid form that Patrick will comprehend and become frightened of, briefly turning into a writhing, amorphous blob.
      • It itself is a sadistic interdimensional predator who, despite feeding on children, also takes its time to instill as much fear into its potential victim for as long as it could to make their meat taste sweeter. In addition, It has a grandiose sense of self-importance where it views humanity as below him and even the Turtle, another being from the Macroverse that it begrudgingly accepts as an equal, is nothing more than an old fool.
  • The Stranger: How the court interprets Meursault's stoic demeanour, especially after they find out he's atheist and didn't especially care for his mother. On one hand he fits most of the criteria: he doesn't feel grief, doesn't understand things like love, is in a state of constant boredom and only appreciates immediate pleasures such as hot chocolate, smoking and sex. On the other hand however, he lacks a typical sociopath's Manipulative Bastard tendencies, seeing no point in lying and being bluntly honest. He also lacks a sociopath's high sense of self-worth, as he is capable of taking responsibility for his own mistakes and knows how insignificant he is. Plus, he killed the Arab not for amusement but because he doesn't see why he shouldn't do it (so he lacks a moral compass but doesn't actually derive pleasure or satisfaction from it). Some authors argue that he might be in a state of Anomie.
  • Sun, Moon, and Talia: The Evil Queen orders her chef to cook the two children her husband received from his infidelity into several dishes and then feed them to him. She later tries to have Talia burned to death but not before stealing her clothes.
  • While the word is never used to describe him in-universe, Erik from Tangerine definitely fits this trope. Arthur Bauer probably counts as well.
  • Trainspotting:
    • Francis Begbie. An Ax-Crazy psychopath who beats someone to a pulp just for spilling his pint, he carries around sharpened knitting needles because they have less chance of hitting a rib cage, and often beats up his girlfriend for minor reasons.
    • Sick Boy is a borderline example. He exhibits all the traits of a sociopath, such as a distinct Lack of Empathy, a highly manipulative streak, a grandiose sense of self worth, and is superficially charming. However, there are a few instances that suggest otherwise. Ultimately, it is left up to the reader to come to their own conclusions.
    • Alan Venters is a pretty clear cut example. A rapist and wife beater who knowingly infects someone with HIV and shows no remorse for his actions, his only redeeming quality is that he genuinely loves his son.
  • Shelly Longpeire in The Troop displays the classic signs; Lack of Empathy, manipulative streak, tortures small animals to death for fun, etc. He even tricks Ephraim into skinning himself alive.
  • In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Simon Legree has zero empathy and has set himself up as a tinpot tyrant. He regards other people as things to be used (and unfortunately the law gives him a group of people to use). It is also heavily implied that he sometimes rapes and tortures slaves to death For the Evulz.
  • In Vampire Academy, Victor Dashkov doesn't care that much about his only daughter turning Strigoi and being staked. In addition he's anti-social, selfish, manipulative, vain and outwardly charming. Subverted in his later appearances where it's implied that he is badly affected by Natalie's death, but puts on a mask to prevent others from seeing it.
  • Merricat from We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a textbook example. She murdered her entire family except her sister Constance (who was the only one who cared about her) and her uncle Julian (who managed to survive) all because she was always sent to her room without supper for misbehaving. Also, she did this when she was twelve. That she's a sociopath fuels the plot of the book and is one of its main themes.
  • Kevin Khatchadourian, the eponymous character of We Need to Talk About Kevin. A teenage school shooter and torturer, he has been a monster ever since he was a young child. Kevin has a severe case of APD/sociopathy; his disorder results in him never relating to other people and finding everything to be dreary, pointless and uninteresting. Every day of his life. By the time he is a teenager, he exists in a constant state of And I Must Scream.
  • Jobe Wilkins of the Whateley Universe. At age fourteen, he's already a threat to everyone who gets in his way. He views his family as opponents. He discovered a new cure for dysentery by experimenting on unwilling prisoners. He provided a way for his father to have mine workers by developing a serum that turned people into big green Ork-like creatures. He has all the empathy of a tarantula. Fortunately, he's not a Karma Houdini.
  • Somerled from Juliet Marillier's Wolfskin. He commits genocide, fratricide and rape, has no empathy, and his only reaction to human pain and sufering is mild curiosity. He also thinks Despotism Justifies the Means.
  • The Woman:
    • Chris Cleek kidnaps the titular cannibalistic feral woman and makes her his sex toy under the guise of "civilizing her." He also raped his own daughter frequently and when her teacher inquires him about her pregnancy, he feeds her to his dogs and his cannibalistic, eyeless daughter that he kept locked away. He is a raving He-Man Woman Hater who saw all women as being there to service men and gut punches his wife when she was criticizing him. While he seems to have some care for his son, it is apparent that he condones his actions on the grounds of him being a male.
    • Brian is Cleek's sadistic son who assists his father in abusing the woman and even contemplates having his way with her.
  • Worm:
    • Regent falls under this, as apparently do most of his siblings. It's implied that this is partially the result of his father's method of punishing unruly children: Flooding their mind with an overdose of terror or similar emotions. Regent does eventually develop an odd relationship with Aisha, enough that he sacrificed himself to save her.
    • Bitch is assumed by most people to be a low-functioning sociopath, having no regard for social customs and acting out violently. Lisa and Taylor suss out that her power overwrote her social knowledge with that of dogs. As a result she can't read human body language or differentiate between tones; this makes interacting with people confusing and she tends to fall back on violence in response.
    • Coil. Oh, Coil. Brockton Bay's most patient and calculating supervillain, he has most likely caused more pain (remembered by the recipient or not) than almost any other parahuman in the setting, excepting possibly the Slaughterhouse Nine. This is enabled by his power, which allows him to split the timeline and experience his actions in both simultaneously. This means he can get away with literally anything, then cancel the timeline it took place in and still feel the satisfaction of doing it. He's drugged and addicted a young girl, killed his former commanding officer for physically being in his way, and attempted to murder our protagonist several times. When Taylor and Lisa outsmarted and killed him, readers cheered.
  • Kennit from the Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb is a textbook example. Superficially charming, extremely manipulative, a grandiose sense of self-worth and he views everyone around him as playthings to be used for his own personal amusement. When he is psychically connected to Wintrow, he does start caring about him, but mostly because he views Wintrow as an extension of himself that he wants to keep safe as his own personal prophet.


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