The Dreaded

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    "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 Soze."

    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've done before... and sometimes the latter part is optional. Although there are exceptions, (particularly on the other side of the fence) a key characteristic of this trope tends to be invisibility. Villains in particular who conform to this trope, generally will not be seen directly the first time they are mentioned, and usually not for a while afterwards, either. The show will tend to work on building up their perceived threat in the minds of the audience; they're 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.

    It is also possible for them to remain this trope after they come out of the shadows, and most of the heroic examples are not invisible; they're just so monumentally Badass that they generate the same level of fear in villains anyway. If a villain does keep this trope after coming out of the shadows, beware Villain Decay. The Borg from Star Trek are probably the single most prominent example of this trope later being emasculated, as mentioned below. Generally when it happens, it sucks.

    Maybe this character has a reputation as a Hero-Killer; a person who kills the other sides strongest and noblest supporters. Maybe they use fear as a magical effect which triggers panic in others. Maybe they are simply so scary looking 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.

    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 grade 2-4), due to audiences seldom associating dread as an emotion a pure hero inspires.

    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. Sometimes, however, Dude, Where's My Respect? may still be in play.

    Examples of The Dreaded include:

    Anime and Manga

    • In Bleach, strangely enough, it's the warm-hearted captain Retsu Unohana that has this effect on pretty much the entire soul reaper army. We've never seen exactly why this is so, so it remains a bit of a Running Gag.
      • Supplemental material has shown that she can be a nightmare if you ever dare speak ill of Squad Four. Also: she's the Captain of Squad Four - the only captain it's ever had.
      • Another example would be Barragan, the second Espada. His release is terrifying enough to scare Soifon into losing her cool.
      • Another straight example is Ulquiorra. Just sensing his Reiatsu makes Ichigo drop to his knees, and Uryu is so freaked out that he wonders if it's even Reiatsu at all. Aizen takes it a step further, Ichigo actually refuses to fight after feeling his power.
      • Nanao Ise can terrify anyone, even Mayuri, by taking her glasses off.
    • In Naruto, Orochimaru has this effect on people, freaking out even the likes of Ibiki Morino.
      • Pain. Jiraiya nearly shat himself when he heard that Pain had defeated Hanzo,who a younger Jiraiya had failed to defeat even with the support of his team. He goes to his Super Mode to counter Pain's power but sadly it's not enough.
        • Sometime later pain makes the whole of Konoha wet their pants when he effortlessly destroys Konoha.
      • Likewise, the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, was this for the enemy troops. He was so powerful and feared that the shinobi of Iwagakure during the Third War were ordered to cut and run if he was so much as spotted anywhere near the battlefield.
    • Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara!! is this to all of Ikebukuro, having a well-deserved reputation as super strong berserker who no one in their right mind should cross (unless its Izaya). He's recognizable by his bartender clothes (even if he isn't one anymore), and Tom thinks that anyone who lives in Ikebukuro but doesn't know him are probably public school dropouts.
    • "Oh shit! It's the Teacher!" from The Sky Crawlers.
    • Evangeline A. K. McDowell from Mahou Sensei Negima qualifies. She has a bounty of millions upon her head, and most people are terrified by her. An example can be seen in Anya's reaction to discovering that Evangeline, the Queen of the Night, the Doll Master, the Maga Nosferatu, the Apostle of Destruction, is teaching Negi magic. "She's gonna eat me alive!"
    • Great Demon King Chestra, the Big Bad of Violinist of Hameln manga, inspires this reaction both through his reputation and his magical power. The entire armies are literally frozen in terror by his mere presence, implacably courageous characters doubt aloud whether they have a slightest chance against him, and greatest heroes of humanity see him in nightmares even after he is defeated.
    • Seiichirou Kitano from Angel Densetsu has this sort of rep. He really doesn't deserve it.
    • Erza Scarlet in Fairy Tail is a rare heroic example. The entire guild freaks when it's announced she's returned from a mission, and nobody dares step out of line when she's around. Even Natsu and Gray stop bickering and pretend to be best friends.
      • Apparently, Mirajane used to be this.
      • A villainous example, is Bluenote.
      • Black Mage Zeref to the Magic Council. The mere mention of his possible return is enough to convince the first Magic Council to authorize a Kill Sat strike.
      • Acnologia the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse. Representatives from the second council immediately flee Tenrou Island when they hear Zeref mention Acnologia and when he appears the whole Fairy Tail pulls a Mass "Oh Crap".
    • Yuu from Holyland wants to become this so that the bullies and gangsters will stop making trouble for him. It's not working out yet.
    • Zebra from Toriko. The entire world panics when he is released from prison. Just news of his release causes massive economic and social upheaval. And he hasn't even done anything yet.
      • What he DID do to get him into prison was Cause the extinction of 26 SPECIES. Said species were damaging the ecosystem, but still!
    • The Tokiwadai Dorm Manager in A Certain Magical Index, well actually A Certain Scientific Railgun to be precise.
      • Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index has this effect as well, just his arrival can scare the hell out of anyone who might have pissed him off.
      • Touma also has this effect to the magic side, to the point many magical organizations start sending assassins after him. All fail.
    • Vash the Stampede is well named, as whole townships have been known to evacuate at the rumor of his approach. He has defeated Mooks and resolved conflicts simply by announcing his presence. Not bad for a Technical Pacifist who just wants some donuts. (In the manga, it's not the man himself civilians are afraid of, but the terror and destruction that inevitably follow him)
    • Johan Liebert is this in Monster, and FOR GOOD REASON!!! Anyone who has any knowledge of him (who's still alive that is) will generally begin to shake uncontrollably even thinking about him.
      • A psychopathic serial killer even kills himself when he's shown a picture of him.
      • When Anna, his own flesh and blood, confronts him with the intent on killing him, she falls to pieces as soon as he says hello and tries to kill herself.
    • In Rurouni Kenshin this is a common reaction to finding out the title character was once Hitokiri Battousai.
    • "IT'S A Gundam!!!!" - inspiring this reaction in enemy Mooks since 1979.
    • One Piece
      • The Three Admirals are this for most pirates. Only the strongest of pirates don't immediately run screaming at the mere sight of an Admiral. And with good reason, considering all three are nigh-invulnerable elementals with abilities that cause massive devastation.
      • Whitebeard’s sole declaration of ownership of an island is enough to keep it out of harm’s ways and people with his mark on their back are deemed untouchable, because he is famed for going on Roaring Rampage of Revenge against anyone, who has laid even one finger on his crewmen. Many characters have an Oh Crap moment, when they hear that the World Government decided to publically execute Portgas D. Ace, which means an open declaration of war against World's Strongest Man.
      • Other pirates of sufficient power can be this trope. The people of Fish-Man Island become terrified when they realize how close they are to experiencing the wrath of someone on Whitebeard's level of power. The marines of G5 (A Navy branch full of Jerkass' that love to torture pirates and refuse to obey headquarters) panic at seeing Trafalgar Law, a member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea who sent the Government 4 hundred hearts to join. Back in the East Blue, people are scared of the idea of pirates like Krieg and Arlong coming.
      • Shanks; he was able to stop the battle at Marineford simply by showing his face. Even the aforementioned Admirals hesitate to confront him and Mihawk (who tends to fit this Trope himself) turns and leaves, advising the Marines to do the same. His reputation is such that even the Five Elders agreed to grant him an audience. A big reason for this seems to be his mastery of all three types of Haki, particularly Haoshoku Haki, though some have commented that he gains much of his reputation through charisma alone.
    • Seimei of Loveless is definitely the most feared of the series. Usually used with a pretty little topping of Oh Crap. What makes him even more creepy is that just about this entire trope applies to him. The Fearless Fool does indeed cry in fear, and The Pollyanna does indeed despair over The Stoic being defeated, who also lost his cool. In fact, his appearance alone isn't the only way he causes genuine fear - he uses words to, effectively, freak. People. Out.
    • In Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro is known to most of his enemies as "the man with the seven scars", and mentioning this nickname is sometimes enough to make the mooks run in terror.
    • Guts from Berserk is this when he was known as the Hundred-Man Slayer before the Eclipse, and post-Eclipse when he is now known as The Black Swordsman.
      • Nosferatu Zodd is well-respected/feared by mercenaries as the "god of the battlefield". And they don't even know that he's a powerful demonic Apostle.
    • During the final arc of Eyeshield 21, Donald "Mr. Don" Obermann of the American Pentagram takes on this role. A seven-foot Genius Bruiser and Juggernaut, Mr. Don plows through the cream of the Japanese team as if they were so many bowling pins, a fact that leaves most of the other characters shaking. He terrifies Sena, Monta, and the rest of the Deimon players, manages to put the fear of God into Agon, and leaves everyone with the impression that he cannot be stopped; the only one who doesn't fear him is Gaou. During the Kantou Regionals Arc, Agon and Gaou themselves had this status, terrifying both opposing players and their own teammates.
    • Lina Inverse the Dragon-Spooker. Pretty justified, considering the trail of destruction she leaves behind her and her questionable motivations.
    • Yujiro Hanma from Baki the Grappler makes even strongest characters in the series poop their pants in fear. His presence alone has made polar bears and lions run away like puppies. The average human reaction to him ranges from wetting your pants in fear to instinctively punching yourself in the face so he won't do it himself.
    • Dragonball Z: Frieza and Majin Buu. Even the gods are terrified of them. When King Kai finds out that Frieza is also searching for Namek's Dragon Balls, he basically tells Goku to grab the Dragon Balls and run for his life, because if Frieza finds out he will hunt him down and kill everyone on Earth. Buu managed to kill all but one of the Supreme Kais and is fully capable of destroying the universe. Guess what he tries to do after turning into Super Buu.

    Comic Books

    • The Joker - just mentioning him to any superhero and villain in the DCU other than Batman (even to some of the most powerful villains and heroes in the DCU) instantly kills a conversation, and even supervillains keep healthy distance from him. As The Trickster said: "When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories."
      • There's a reason Batman has been called "The Scourge of all Evil" and "the most dangerous man on the planet." Much like The Joker, Batman is able to kill any conversation among villains, even many Superman villains. You'd think he wouldn't be so dreaded seeing that he never actually kills anyone. His solution to this is to merely point out that if he has killed people, no one would ever know. The Joker, unfortunately, sees through this to Batman's true nature quickly.
        • Interestingly however, if Batman: Arkham Asylum is to believed, Joker will cheerfully play up Batman's schtick to scare his mooks, either for shits and giggles or to make them work harder. Likely leading to at least some OTHER villains and mooks believing maybe some of what Joker says.
        • A Sinestro Corp ring once tried to conscript Batman. This means that the ring judged Batman to be one of the scariest beings in the entire space sector. Even if that just effectively means Earth, that's still really impressive.
    • Rorschach from Watchmen, even more so than Dr. Manhattan. During the riots people argued with Doc, but the rioters cleared by Rorschach simply walked away once he made his appearance.
    • Judge Fear is made of this trope.
      • Literally - the sight of his face will kill any normal human. Fortunately, Dredd isn't a normal human:

    "Stare into the face of Fear!"
    "Stare into the fist of Dredd!"

    • Darkseid. There are very few people in The DCU who can face him alone knowing what he is capable of doing without showing a hint of fear. If he wasn't one of these before Final Crisis, he probably is now. Put it this way for those of you unfamiliar - he's the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Platonic Ideal of Tyranny. And has the power and influence to match.
      • Shown brilliantly in the penultimate episode of Justice League Unlimited when the rest of the villains try to resurrect Brainiac but accidentally resurrected Darkseid. The Oh Crap faces they all make speaks volumes.
    • On a more humorous note, the tiny alien dragon Lockheed is this for the Brood.
    • Subverted by Venom, the Evil Counterpart to Spider-Man. In his heyday, Venom was widely feared in the supervillain community, although this was typically due to how well he did against Spider-Man. On the other hand, he got his ass kicked by C-listers like the supervillain Styx and the superhero Darkhawk. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you remember that Venom had some major advantages against Spider-Man. He knew Peter Parker's secret identity, which meant he could torture Peter in his civilian identity as Eddie Brock, and he was also immune to Peter's spider-sense, which screwed with Peter's usual fighting style. When he goes up against someone like Darkhawk, who's not psyched out by Eddie Brock and whose powers are not hindered by him, Eddie loses all his trump cards and becomes a much weaker foe.
      • Though being a stronger version of Spider-Man, who unlike Spidey is perfectly willing to kill, is in and of itself rather formidable.
    • The Punisher, for every reason you could believe. The very mention of the name "Frank Castle" is enough to scare the bejeezus out of the toughest, meanest thugs, killers, and mafiosi. At one point in the MAX series, a hardened mercenary from the Balkans drops to his knees and starts sobbing and praying at the mere sight of the white skull.
    • Sabretooth is a sadistic, completely unhinged psychopath who treats everyone not allied with him as prey to be hunted down and slaughtered. This would be enough to make a lot of people nervous, but the worst part is that the bastard is smart. Not only is he a centuries-old professional soldier/mercenary who has been trained by countless agencies and fought in innumerable wars, but he's an exceptionally adept manipulator who can play almost anyone like a puppet without their even knowing. Just mentioning his name or the fact that you hired him is enough to cause alarm in a good portion of the MU.
      • Wolverine got similar treatment in one storyline when the Hand resurrected and brainwashed him into being an agent of HYDRA. This makes perfect sense, since evil Wolverine essentially is Sabretooth.
    • The Fantastic Four. There is barely a single supervillain out there who hasn't at the very least heard horror stories about their terrifying badassery and feats of awesome. Like the Doctor below, they have entire races of aliens, most of whom they don't even remember meeting, who tell tales about them as mythical bogeymen to scare their children with. Case in point:

    Reed: It turns out they speak trinary code. So I said to them, 'I am Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and I...'
    Sue: Go on...
    Reed: Actually, that's as far as I got. It was enough to send them running.

      • Even among people who've never actually met the Four, the prospect of facing people who defeated Galactus (more than once!) would legitimately be terrifying.
      • In the Ultimate Universe, Reed Richards goes through a Face Heel Turn and effectively becomes Ultimate Doctor Doom complete with facial scarring. The storyline covering this is titled "Ultimate Enemy" for good reason.
    • All the Gauls, but especially Obelix are this to the Roman legionnares and pirates.
    • Dormammu. Dimension Lord/Eldritch Abomination from his own demonic dimension. There's a reason they call him "The Dread Lord".
      • Always a Bigger Fish; the demonic living superweapon Zom scares the hell out of Dormammu's sister, Umar(who's roughly his equal in power), and took the combined efforts of Dormammu and Eternity(along with unnamed others) to seal in a can. Imagine how Dormammu must feel about Zom if he was willing to work with Eternity to stop it.
      • Bizarrely enough, Shuma Gorath is a lesser example of this compared to Dormammu and Zom despite being a Lovecraftian horror more powerful than Dormammu and on par with Zom (if not stronger). This is due to Shuma Gorath's Charm Person powers that make everyone it rules over revere it. Everyone not under its influence and aware of its existence fears it.
    • The DC Universe has the Anti-Monitor. Only rarely seen as an actual Big Bad, he's referred to often as a greater threat than whoever is at the moment. How bad is he? Well, after defeating Death itself in Blackest Night, Ganthet tells the Green Lantern that they've actually lost because the Anti-Monitor has been freed.
    • In some stories in both DC and Marvel universes, humanity (and/or Earth) itself. In the Marvel Universe various alien races are simply flat out-terrified by the sole planet that has not only forced Galactus to leave...multiple times, but has beaten off invasions by galaxy-spanning empires. In one notable case, when this information was brought to the attention of a soon-to-be-invading fleet's commander, the fleet immediately turned and got out of the area as fast as they could.
      • At the end of the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy by Warren Ellis, Nick Fury sends Vision out into space not only with directions on how to defeat Galactus, but also with a little message from Earth: "Human beings can kick the hell out of anything."
    • In All Fall Down, nearly everyone fears the Ghoul.
    • While not explicitly mentionned as such nor shown to be one (mainly because most people usually believe him dead), Darkhell from Les Légendaires is strongly hinted to have been a symbol of fear in all Alysia during his time as the ruler of Casthell. His mere presence as the enemy usually is enough to get everyone becoming serious. Considering all the abominations he did, that's strongly justified.
    • Deathmonger from Empowered.
      • The only reason Willy Pete isn't this is because he likes to keep a low profile. Though after singlehandedly wiping out an entire team of superheroes, that's likely to change.
    • One of the requirements to be part of the Sinestro Corps is that you need the ability to inspire great fear. They aren't kidding. Their ranks include a hulking drill instructor who happily eats those who fail, an emotionally numb crustacean who can snipe from three space sectors away, an alien who kills parents and takes their children, and an insectoid Eldritch Abomination Energy Being who possessed the Green Lantern's greatest hero. And again, a Sinestro Corps Ring tried to recruit Batman.
    • The Incredible Hulk scares the hell out of the rest of the Marvel Universe. The most powerful heroes - even knowing full well he's not evil, just misunderstood - take his arrival as seriously as that of someone like Doctor Doom, if not more. Given what a rampaging Hulk can do, it's not without reason. He could get angry, you see. And you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
      • In recent[when?] stories, people are starting to wonder if Banner is actually the more dangerous one. He is.

    Fan Works

    • Princess Jody from Super Milestone Wars has become this throughout The Multiverse ever since she became a Multiversal Conqueror
    • In Tiberium Wars, the Black Hand inspire nearly reflexive terror in GDI troops, thanks to a combination of their fanaticism, combat skill, enormous black Powered Armor that resists anything short of anti-tank weapons, and flamethrowers.
    • The Rosario + Vampire fic He Who Fights Monsters has Tsukune of all people becoming one of these after singlehandedly killing, in self defense of course, five students, including Inner Moka herself!!.
    • In Nobody Dies, Zeruel is this to the other Angels, the people of NERV that know of him, and the readers on the forum. So much so that when he showed up in chapter 65 and finally started trashing Tokyo-3 at the end of chapter 68, the Rebuild track for him was cited.
    • Much like the Joker from DC Comics, the hideous monstrosity called Psyko terrifies even the other hardened psychopaths of Earth-2706. Psyko can emit deadly, murderous insanity, which causes the inanimate objects it affects to take on a twisted, perverted life of their own under his control, not unlike what Sleepwalker does with his own warp vision abilities. It's even worse when he affects other living creatures with them, as his victims suffer a brutal Mind Rape that forces them to continually experience their worst nightmares over and over again while he controls their bodies. His first attack on New York caused him to spread mass insanity and death across the city, and Sleepwalker only managed to subdue him after a bloodbath of a fight from which the alien hero emerged more dead than alive. For the second go-around, he mentally enslaved a horde of his fellow supervillains and turned them loose on New York City, even as he spread even more madness and suffering than he did the first time.
    • The Touhou fanfiction Imperfect Metamorphosis has both Yuuka Kazami and the Shadow Youkai. The former is an impossibly ancient and powerful force of nature that even the local Reality Warper has trouble dealing with, with numerous characters voiding themselves at the very mention of her name, a reputation that she very much earns. And while the latter is known only by a few, having a habit of leaving no survivors of its rampages, as basically the Anthropomorphic Personification of death and destruction those that do know of it have no desire to face it again.
    • Drake from The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn is this to the Gargoyles and Naga, who are both rather frightened at the prospect of fighting him. Turns out that despite they've got every reason to be afraid of the guy, he's actually a very nice guy. Still counts, however, in that the Gargoyles still have every right to be terrified of him.
    • The Dalek Inquisitor General from A Hero is this for other Daleks to the point that Dalek Sec, survivor of the Time War, is careful not to think too hard of him, lest he suddenly be there.
    • Several examples in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fanfic The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13:
      • The war god Link Sr. (father of the Link we know) is feared by most of the other gods for being a murderous, disrespectful bastard who doesn't hesitate to kill someone if they offend or annoy him.
      • The rare physical appearance of Fate and Destiny tends to get lesser gods on edge.
      • The most well-known (in-universe) example would be the Originals, a two hundred thousand-strong unit of mindless, violent gods - so powerful even Fate and Destiny, the two supreme beings of creation, had to settle for locking them away in an old ruined dimension.
      • Link himself is a literal embodiment of this trope after awakening as the God of Fear. Not only does his new status invoke fear on its own, but his first act after ascending to it? Annihilating the aforementioned Originals, and then Fate, without breaking a sweat. And then, when a several thousand strong army of lesser gods attempt to stand against him, he paralyzes them all by blasting them with fear.
    • Mr.Evil's Original Character Fredi Heat. His own teammates are terrified of him and would consider drinking battery acid than go against him (this due to the higher chance of survival). Not that they are wrong.
    • In the Team Fortress 2 fanfiction The Lessons, Frank the Pyro is feared by everyone in the story to the extent that the narrator at first doubts his existence.
    • The Wizard in the Shadows: Harry Potter, the Black Wizard, a.k.a. The Moristar, the Darkness Slayer. Since he's vaporised people who pushed one or other of his Berserk Button and actively hunts the Nazgul, this is hardly surprising. The Dunlending's use him as a sort of Bogeyman for the children, sort of like a Batman who's willing to kill. This makes it a bit of a shock when one Dunlending actually meets him.
    • Josh from Blood in The Water, specifically. In Dance of Destiny and Let The Flames Begin, he was a Terror Hero, scaring the pants off any Plasma or Galactic Grunts he ran into. After he finally achieved Fallen Hero status, he began a reign of terror that was centered on Konar, but the aftereffects of his deeds reached the other regions and continued to inspire fear in people all across the world. He was so feared that the Konar Champion, Naomi, who was essentially the Big Good of the story, freaked out when the protagonists told her they wanted to take him on. Giovanni had a massive Oh Crap reaction when Josh appeared in his window. Even after his death, people were still terrified if they saw a Rayquaza flying around, any more than a few believed he wasn't actually dead.
      • Word of God also says that if Josh hadn't been killed in that final battle, he would have grown up to enslave the rest of the world with his power.
    • In the Ranma ½ fic The Bet: Study in Scarlet by Gregg "Metroanime" Sharp (part of The Bet fic cycle), Akane Tendo is thrown into the far distant future after an ill-worded wish. The story is about what happens when she finally finds a way back -- but in the several centuries she spent finding a way to do so she became known as "Scarlet", a legendary and universally-feared villain in that era, whose very name struck terror into the hearts of even other villains.
    • Taylor Hebert becomes this to the Death Eaters in the Worm/Harry Potter crossover A Wand for Skitter, even though she's been reincarnated into an 11-year-old witch's body without her shard -- to the point that even before Christmas of her first year she's gained the nickname "The Terror" among them.


    • Rattlesnake Jake from Rango. Even the Big Bad's minions are deadly afraid when told to contact him.
    • Darth Vader. Throughout the course of the three original Star Wars movies he actually does very little. He begins A New Hope with an established reputation and kills several people, but proceeds to exercise a hands-off management style in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The expanded universe goes to great lengths to establish his awesomeness by making him a more active and dynamic character.
      • The Empire Strikes Back shows well how feared he is: when they see him on Cloud City, Leia and Chewbacca (who is a two-meters tall mass of muscles capable of ripping arms from a droid and has never showed fear before) immediately get an Oh Crap face. Han try and shoot him, but after seeing he can deflect blaster bolts with his bare hands and take the blaster from him starts getting scared too...
      • The deliberately melodramatic opening crawl for the movies always refers to something as "dreaded"—the "dreaded Imperial Starfleet", the "first dreaded Death Star"...
    • The Agents in The Matrix serve as this, at least in the first one.
      • Agent Thompson was still no slouch in the second.
    • Played for laughs in The Three Musketeers 1993, when some Mooks run into one of the title characters.

    Mook: It's Porthos the Pirate!
    (A few Mooks scream and run for it)
    D'Artagnan: Pirate?
    Porthos: I told you I was famous.

    • Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. A Scarily Competent Tracker Badass Psycho for Hire with his own moral code that could lead to you being killed merely for making small talk with him. NOT somebody you want to mess with.
    • In The Dark Knight Saga, The Joker is feared by EVERYONE (with the possible exception of Batman though even he underestimates the Joker). The mob, cops, and politicians all fear him and for very good reasons. It really says something that, despite having by far the lowest body count of any Joker adaptation since the one opposed by Adam West (in fact, he only kills two people other than felons, and maybe another dozen or so of those), he manages to be seen by fans as one of the scariest.
      • Erm, two people besides felons? Maybe, if you're only counting the ones he killed with his own hands (even then, I doubt it). By my count, he gasses a bank manager, feeds the previous commissioner acid, blows up a judge, tortures, kills and hangs the man on a videotape, shoots a cop point blank with a shotgun, goes on a rampage that involves, among other things, shooting an RPG at a police car and bringing down a chopper, then a cop (who mentions Joker has killed six of his friends) has his throat slit during a jailbreak that involves bombing the police station, definitely killing a number of cops, and he sets up a bomb that blows Rachel Dawes to hell, shoots another cop point blank in the hospital. And it's likely not totally safe to assume his hospital bombing and time with his hostages yielded zero additional deaths. After that, we can add probably over a dozen fellow criminals and mafioso.
      • It primarily has to do with how utterly f'ed up his philosophy on life is. It perfectly matches the comic which is part of what makes him so terrifying to both the audience and characters in the film itself. Life has no meaning and is all a joke, so the only way to live is in a world without rules in a total dog-eat-dog world. He's unpredictable and has no motives making him impossible to track (and why he gives Batman such a difficult time), goes from being funny to being a serious sadist in two seconds flat, often without much provocation and can't be controlled by anyone, as the mob found out.
        • Heath's Joker actually does behavior patterns, and fairly predictable ones, if you pay attention. He's primarily an evangelist for his own condition, or failing that, he attempts to use no-win situations for the purpose of forcing people to discover their genuine moral alignment.
    • Davy Jones (and his pet, the Kraken) in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
    • The Usual Suspects gives us Keyser Soze, an infamous mob boss who isn't actually seen on screen for the majority of the movie. The mere mention that he's involved in the plot elicits an Oh Crap from almost every character. From what we see of his actions, it's completely justified. Or not.
    • Brick Top in Snatch. Merely poking his head through a door is enough to make hardened killers soil themselves.
      • At one point, Sol and Vincent hire "bad boy yardie" Lincoln with a confirmed body count to help them dispose of Frankie's body, and Brick Top pops his head in and simply asks, "Do you know who I am?" Lincoln simply adopts a solemn look, bows his head, and with deep regret, tells Brick Top he does.
    • The Terminator: The T800 in the first film, although the T1000 in the second film is arguably much more effective at this.
      • The T800 is this even in the second film, at least for Sarah Connor. Her first reaction upon seeing a T800 again before learning it's on her side is to scream "No" over and over as she desperately crawls away in fear. She handles the more powerful T1000 much better.
    • Hickey from Last Man Standing is widely feared by the Doyle and Strozzi gangs for being a Psycho for Hire.
    • The Avengers: Nearly every character treats the transformation from Bruce Banner to The Incredible Hulk as a threat comparable to that of a nuclear bomb.
      • The Stinger of the movie shows that humans have reached this status among the Chitauri by beating the crap out of their invasion force in less than a day before nuking their mothership. And according to Thor, the Chitauri have this reputation.


    • Nazgul in The Lord of the Rings do this because of their nature. They just scare people, it's what they do. Pretty awesome fighters in their own right, but their main application is to frighten the other side until they're too scared to think straight any more. Sauron also scares the pants off opposing forces, by reputation this time. And the ghosts Aragorn leads to battle have this effect by both reputation and appearance.
      • It's a facet of all undead, Nazgul included, in Tolkien's legendarium. Their only true power is the fear that radiates from them, typically driving most of their foes insensate so that they are easily cut down/dragged into a barrow/etc. This fear is specifically noted to be the fear of death itself, and as such elves tend to be immune to it seeing as how they don't die (even if 'killed' they just 'respawn' back in Valinor).
      • The Balrog and Shelob were also thoroughly dreaded. Enough so to frighten even Gandalf.
    • The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.
    • Sharrakor of The Seventh Tower elicits this reaction even from Ebbitt, the resident Crazy Awesome Cloudcuckoolander.
    • In the Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork, criminals consider Sergeant Detritus to be this. Justified since he carries as a hand weapon a crossbow that would put a bazooka to shame and has chronic trouble with Mister Safety Catch, and on top of this he has been known to nail drug dealers to the wall by their ears. Apparently small riots can be cleared by shouting that Detritus is on his way.
      • Also, Commander Sam Vimes. The criminal underworld is so afraid of him that when he leaves town on a diplomatic mission, the crime rate goes down. Why? Because if things fall apart while he's gone, when he gets back, he will not be pleased. "And when Sam Vimes is unhappy, he tends to spread it around with a big shovel." It gets to the point that the Assassins' Guild in town won't even take assignments out on him—both because he spends his free time turning his house into a deathtrap for anyone trying to sneak in, but also because they're terrified of what would happen if anyone got close. (They do, however, send overconfident Assassins in training after him, with instructions to just get him in crossbow sights... as a lesson in humility.)
      • Vorbis from Small Gods, a Sinister Minister and perhaps the biggest monster in the series (yes, that's including Teatime). He scares Brutha more than their god. And yet Brutha, being the local Jesus / Buddha analogue, still takes time to save him from hell in the afterlife.
      • Granny Weatherwax. Trolls refer to her as "She Who Must Be Avoided." In Dwarfish her name is "Go Around the Other Side of the Mountain." So yeah.
    • Most monsters from the Cthulhu Mythos have this effect on humans. Speaking of that, so do Eldritch Abominations in general, but these particular ones drive you insane at the sight of them.
    • He Who Must Not Be Named, from Harry Potter. AKA: Lord Voldemort. A huge part of his power is that the Wizarding World is so ludicrously afraid of him, which makes them screw up many times. It's present throughout the story, but becomes more obvious after book 4, and is taken Up to Eleven in book 7.
      • Although by no means a villain, Dumbledore seems to be this to Voldemort and his followers, and with good reason. It is outright stated that Dumbledore is the only wizard that Voldemort ever feared and during their duel (a chapter appropriately titled "The Only One He Ever Feared") Voldemort ultimately fled rather than try to fight him any longer. Prior to this, when Dumbledore arrived in the Department of Mysteries, none of the Death Eaters even bothered to try and stop him. They just ran.
    • Agramon in City of Ashes is made of this trope. Of course, he is the Greater Demon of Fear within the setting and kills people by appearing to them as their greatest terror. Gets narmtastic when he appears to Jace as Clary's corpse, despite the many, many other things that would make more sense with Jace's backstory.
    • Fistandantilus from Dragonlance gets this reaction from people. Like Voldemort above, most prefer to avoid even saying his name, calling him instead by a variety of titles, the most common of which is "Dark One" (no, not that Dark One).
      • Also the dragonfear, a supernatural aura surrounding - yes - dragons. It can be overcome with sufficient discipline or determination, however.
      • Lord Soth also qualifies, as he is nigh unkillable and can pretty much kill anyone at will with his powers. Obviously, no one even wants to try and fight him. It takes a goddess stripping away his undeath, followed by a collapsing castle, to finally end his existence.
    • Pavel Kazakov from the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class. A powerful Russian oilman rumoured to be a high-level Mafiya boss and druglord, even the Russian higher-ups don't dare to take him lightly.
    • Readers of The Dresden Files know that Harry Dresden is a Hurting Hero and Sad Clown. Everyone else in The Verse? Not so much. They know him as a possibly-not-so-former warlock who shows a glaring disrespect for Faerie Queens, Fallen Angels, the highest nobility of the vampire courts, and even his seniors on the White Council and gets away with it, continually gaining more power in the process. As far as they're concerned, he's the guy that killed the Summer Lady, fought off Outsiders, and stopped the Darkhallow with a zombie Tyrannosaurus, succeeding Morgan as the "Most Infamous Warden on the White Council." This reputation is enough to give a half-dozen Wardens pause when they're told to arrest him. Near the beginning of Changes, one of the world's most feared vampire assassins sees him, screams in terror, and runs the fuck away.
      • Let alone what will happen now after Changes...
      • Opposing Harry, several recurring villains get this treatment, most notably Nicodemus, Queen Mab, the Red King and skinwalkers as a race (though mercifully, only one of those last has put in an actual appearace). Cowl, who may or may not be the series Big Bad, isn't a widely known figure, but among those who do know him he's feared as well.
        • Word of God says that Nicodemus is absolutely terrified of Harry after their last confrontation. For those that haven't read the series, this is because Harry nearly strangled him to death with the item that makes Nicodemus immortal.
    • Fenris the Feared in The First Law. The fear he generates is actually implied to be magical in nature. Of course even if that weren't the case, he's still gigantic, incredibly strong, and apparently invulnerable, to boot.
      • Then there's Black Dow and the Bloody-Nine. Children in the North break into tears when they learn the former is in their midst, and the very idea that the latter is on the opposing side has caused hardened warriors to retreat in battle.
    • Honor Harrington is this in the series of that name.
      • The Royal Manticoran Navy too, generally. Miscreants when they are about their honest business of piracy and slavery are always worried,"What if the Manties find us."
      • Victor Cachet is this to anyone watches him. He can convince anyone that he will do anything to get what he wants done.
    • Wesley from Andrew Vachss's Burke books. Although in the books proper he's already dead by his own hand, back in the day he was apparently the perfect killer, never seen coming and never pinned down for any of his kills. Partly because would-be rats feared that they would be next.
    • Tywin Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. His Death Glares are legendary and make warriors quiver, his ruthlessness led him to annihilate entire Noble Houses that defied him and leave their castles empty, wrecked, haunted ruins, (it's noted at one point that when someone else thinks about giving Tywin trouble, Tywin responds by sending a musician to play the song that was written about him exterminating those Houses, causing the troublemaker to immediately surrender) and the sight of him nearly smiling sends a terrible chill down the spine of one of his sons. Summed up in the following line from A Storm of Swords:

    It seemed that Tywin Lannister could cow even The Stranger.

      • While Tywin is this as far as lords and battle commanders go, (though he knows the value of mercy so long as the defeated had not betrayed him in some fashion, even telling Joffrey that you must lift a man up if he bends the knee to you) his servant Gregor Clegane is this on the battle field. Here's a a quick summary of what you need to know about Ser Gregor: he's the World's Strongest Man, a Blood Knight, an animalistic, conscienceless and sadistic psychopath who kills anyone without warning or remorse, and he's systematically murdered or maimed nearly his entire family and multiple wives. The only person not afraid of Gregor is Oberyn Martell, whose sister Elia was raped and murder by Gregor, and her infant son was also murdered. Gregor kills Oberyn with his bare hands despite being impaled by Oberyn's spear at the time.
    • The Malazan Book of the Fallen: Icarium Lifestealer, Annomander Rake, and Kallor have all held this position at one point or another.
    • Belgarath the sorcerer in The Belgariad is the stuff of nightmares to all Angaraks. But because of his self-effacing appearance, most don't recognize him right away. It can be quite satisfying to see how they react when they catch on. Lampshaded in the story itself when Belgarath suffers an illness that might have stripped away his powers. Everyone in the know keeps acting like everything is normal because they fear the result if the Angaraks ever realise Belgarath's lost his power. Belgarath hadn't lost his power.
      • In The Belgariad's sequel, The Malloreon, Belgarath's "grandson" Belgarion commands considerable amounts of respect, awe and fear himself. It might have something to do with his title. Care to cross blades with the Godslayer, anybody?
    • Also from David Eddings, in The Tamuli series, the Delphae, better known as the Shining Ones. Due to some ancient celestial disagreements, said glow is now a warning that their very touch can kill you, and in a particularly gruesome way (the flesh melts off your boneswhile you're still alive). Most Tamuls are a sophisticated sort who don't get scared easily, but they'll scream in terror and run like hell at the sight of a Delphae.
    • In the Posleen Wars Series, the combat engineers instill this trope to the Posleen. It culminates in the Posleen routing at the sight of the insignia outside Fort Belvoir.
    • The Mistborn trilogy has the Steel Inquisitors. Even the Born Winner mistborn (rare individuals who have won the Superpower Lottery) are terrified of them. The general reaction to their appearance is to Run or Die.
    • Lord Vile from the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Nobody knows where he came from, or who he was (Except he was a Necromancer), but he fought in the war for 3 years on the evil side. He was said to have massacred thousands. Then, one day 'he went away' and vanished. There's lots of fear and rumour around him, with everyone agreeing that he was crazy powerful. The tailor Ghastly sums it up best he can (Paraphrased).

    Ghastly: We had a rule in those days: You didn't take Vile on alone. You gathered your army behind you, attacked at the same time, and hoped one of you got lucky.
    Valkyrie: Is that really true?
    Ghastly: Who can say what's fact and fiction about Lord Vile? There was a lot going on.

    • Herbalist Angela from Inheritance Cycle is hinted to be one. She is allowed to enter Farthen Dûr without getting her mind probed, even though everyone else, including Eragon, has to go through that whole process. The Twins are clearly afraid of her and she causes the high priest of Helgrind to scream in terror by only whispering her name to his ear. The werecats don’t want to associated with her either. Unfortunately for readers, we are never told why she is so feared.
    • By the middle of the war with Haven, Honor Harrington has become THE boogeyman to the navy and political leadership of the People's Republic. Pierre ruefully admits that half his analysts believe her being present at most of the critical confrontations between Haven and Manticore over the preceding decade, and winning them (even after apparently being killed in one of them), is due to pure chance. The other half believe she's in league with the Devil.
    • The Hunter from Septimus Heap is mostly described as an efficient and dreaded hitman.
    • The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks. Allanon is this to the demons. When he finally kills the Dagda Mor in combat, the only thing holding the demonic army back from slaughtering the elves and their allies is their absolute fear of Allanon. This forces Allanon to pretend as though nothing's wrong, mount his horse and ride back across the entire battlefield to his side's lines without giving away the fact he's so drained of power and strength he's functioning on willpower alone.
    • In Vorkosigan Saga Barrayaran Imperial Security is this and it cultivates the image. Inside it is a respectable if highly competent intelligence agency but outsiders see it as something terrifying.
      • Simon Ilyan as one of the directors of ImpSec is of course this.

    Live-Action TV

    • Game of Thrones: The White Walkers.
    • The Reavers from Firefly. Of note is that when the otherwise unflappable Operative is confronted by them, he outright panics.
      • The Hands of Blue have a similar effect, at least on River, and they rapidly pick up this status with Jayne once he hears the effects of what they do to "witnesses."
    • The Doctor in the new series of Doctor Who is referred to by even the Daleks as The Oncoming Storm. He is also known as the Last of the Time Lords, The Lonely God, The Trickster, The Phantom, and The Sainted Physician, and some languages translate his name to mean 'Warrior'. Some species, including living carnivorous shadow swarms, will run just at the mention of his name. In fact, he has become so feared that the entire plot of Series 6 of the revival is people rebelling against him out of fear.
      • The Daleks, in turn, are treated by all who know them as the bogeymen of the Doctor Who universe. Even the Doctor, who's battled and defeated them uncountable times, always treats their arrival with a mixture of grim determination and just plain old fear. Best seen in the end of the first part of "The Stolen Earth". When the first broadcasts of "EX-TERM-IN-ATE! EX-TERM-IN-ATE!" reach Earth, the former companions and allies of the Doctor such as Sarah Jane, Martha Jones, and even Jack Harkness—some of the bravest people in the universe, one of whom is outright impossible to kill—are stunned into a state of tearful panic.
    • Lex Luthor has evolved into this on Smallville. Simply knowing that he's out there and that he knows their secret identities has Clark, Oliver, and the rest of the Justice League shaking, and the possibility of his return is spoken of in tones usually reserved for The End of the World as We Know It. Not bad for a Badass Normal and (as of his last, Season 8 appearance) Evil Cripple.
      • Season 10: Smallville's version of Darkseid. In fact, that's the whole point of him: as long as you have fear or doubt in your soul he can control you.
    • Guerrero from Human Target has managed to interrogate people just by introducing himself. Of course, being prime time they have to keep most of the stuff that got him the reputation off screen.
    • Star Trek examples:
      • The Borg Collective. Despite appearing rather infrequently in the series where they first appeared, their sheer implacability, utterly relentless nature, and single-minded goal to assimilate everyone and everything that they come across led to The Federation considering them, as Captain Picard puts in Star Trek: First Contact, "our most lethal enemy". Even Guinan is afraid of them, what with them having assimilated her home world. The suspense that builds up around their incursions into Federation space is particularly indicative of this. It's less so in Star Trek: Voyager, where Voyager encounters them so frequently without being in much danger that the Borg end up exhibiting Villain Decay.
      • In the first season of TNG, the Ferengi were treated this way. It didn't last long.
      • A variation occurred in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Face of the Enemy", where Troi was kidnapped by a Romulan underground movement, and subjected to surgery so she could assume the identity of an operative in the Romulan Tal Shiar named Major Rakal. (The real Rakal had been covertly killed by members of the movement for this very purpose.) Troi quickly found that other members of the Romulan crew were terrified of her because of the reputation of both Rakal and the Tal Shiar; apparently, they have the authority to execute other Romulan officers for any reason they see fit, and are quite liberal (and at times cruel) with this privilege. In fact, that's the exact reason resistance member N'Vek chose her for the part; he thought that she could play the role well and not give herself away. He was right; they never suspected a thing until it was too late, with N'Vek making a Heroic Sacrifice to finish the mission and get Troi back to the Enterprise.
    • Kamen Rider Delta, initially.
    • In Kamen Rider Kiva, Wataru develops into this after recovering from his Heroic BSOD, as demonstrated where he begins sends Fangires fleeing in terror simply by staring them down. Without transforming into Kiva.
    • The Pirhana brothers, in Monty Python's Flying Circus, are so dreaded that when word gets out that they're out of prison, the totality of London's population scurries for safety.
    • The main character in Burn Notice develops this kind of reputation over the course of his spy work before the series starts. One agent admits his agency always assumed "Michael Weston" was just a code name for a group.

    "I'm Michael Westen... yeah, that one."

    • Sylar from Heroes. When a gaggle of supervillains are released from their cells and have the chance to take revenge on Noah Bennett, the guy who locked them up, Noah only has to say one thing to scare them into teaming up with him: "Sylar's in the building."
      • Bennett was pretty dreaded himself at first. He's a Badass Normal who used to work for The Company and was very good at it. Sylar is in fact the only thing more feared than "the man with the horn-rimmed glasses."
    • Omar Little from The Wire. An absolutely Badass stick-up man who robs drug dealers for a living. The drug dealers generally see him as more of a force of nature. Even CHRIS AND SNOOP get shaken when they realize he's after them.
      • By extension, Chris and Snoop also count.
      • Brother Mouzone is possibly an even bigger one than all other mentioned. Even the thought of bringing this guy into help them scares the shit out of Stringer and Prop Joe.
    • Theokoles, the Shadow of Death, from Spartacus: Blood and Sand. This giant, undefeated gladiator terrifies everybody when he's announced to be coming out of retirement. Everyone assumes that Spartacus and Crixus are doomed when they are announced as his opponents.
    • From Dexter: When one of George King AKA 'The Skinner''s employees is brought in for questioning about a series of murders, he has a near panic-attack, and would rather go to jail than convict him, and for good reason.
    • Grimms are The Dreaded of the Wesen world. Whenever someone realizes Nick is a Grimm for the first time, they are terrified and often beg not to be killed. Monroe explains it: "You're the monster under the bed! [...] You're not real! You're a scary story we tell our kids! Be good or a Grimm will come and cut your head off..."
      • And like Harry Dresden or the Doctor, he's beginning to earn a reputation for himself one encounter at a time as people get wind of what he went up against and what the outcome was. He'd deny being one of the baddest badasses out there, but the scorecard says he is.
    • In Fraggle Rock, a Poison Cackler is such a dangerous beast that simply discovering an unhatched Poison Cackler egg causes the Fraggles to evacuate until it hatches and leaves.

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

    • Typhon in Greek Mythology, who likely doubles as the original Hero-Killer, storming Olympus by himself and driving the gods into hiding. 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 actually frightened him.
    • Jormungandr and especially Fenrir in Norse Mythology. When there's prophecies running around about how you're going to end the world you tend to get this.
      • Odin himself. If you see an old man with an eyepatch walking around, mind yourself.

    Tabletop Games

    • In Forgotten Realms, the Simbul used to throw Red Wizards into mindless panic just by appearing. Mostly because of her bad habit of killing them on sight. That, and being probably the most powerful magic user on Toril. Others don't run for cover, but still instantly sober up at a mention that she may or may not be involved—like Cormyreans did in All Shadows Fled.
    • Pick a name from Warhammer 40,000 and you'll find a few billion people (and xenos), at least, shitting their pants in fear from the mere thought of them. Maybe a few 'Crons, a few 'Nids, some Dark Eldar or someone straight from the Eye of Terror, and even heroes of great renown find that they have to draw on every ounce of their resolve not to run away or die.
      • Special mention to the Night Lords. Entire solar systems have surrendered rather than battle them (tip: this doesn't stop them from butchering you).
      • Kharn the Betrayer gets points for being so Axe Crazy that even other Khorne Berzerkers have been known to freak out when he shows up. It's not just that he's an unstoppable murder machine, he's a teamkilling unstoppable murder machine.
      • Within the Imperium, Inquisitors. Not just because they're personally Badass, although they are, but because they have effectively unlimited power. They can order your whole planet sterilised or just take you away to torture, and no one will, officially, say anything. Just the sight of their badge of office has been known to make people soil themselves.
      • The Necron Pariahs have this as their entire hat. In a certain area around them, almost any creature experiences crushing, debilitating dread. In a Ciaphas Cain novel, the crack Stormtrooper squad that had been shown to be far and away more cohesive, ruthless, and cunning than any Guard squad Cain had ever fought with falls completely apart in the presence of Necron Pariahs, gibbering and crying and so forth while the Pariahs casually slice them apart.

    Video Games

    • This is how the Karma Meter works in Medieval: Total War, with a Chivalry-Dread axis. Generals earn Dread points by fighting dishonorably, executing prisoners of war, or exterminating the populations of captured cities. On the strategic map such characters will reduce a settlement's growth and tax income, but increase public order. On the battlefield Dreaded generals reduce the morale of opposing forces, and a sufficiently infamous general can cause entire armies to rout simply by charging. These characters often pick up appellations such as "the Tyrant," "the Wrathful," or "the Merciless."
    • Someone in Fable or its sequel who is both famous and evil will cause non-combatants to run at the sight of you. Particularly if you start attacking, or if you've just been for a bit of town-burning previously. You'll never be totally feared though, some brave (and foolish) soul will summon up the courage to call you out on your crimes, and the guards will always do their best even when its a lost cause.
    • Eventually, you'll end up becoming this in Far Cry 2.
    • Giygas of EarthBound is a physical manifestation of people's fear.
    • .hack//GU: Haseo, the hero, is nicknamed "The Terror of Death". Most Player Killers he runs into throughout the game will invariably be terrified at the sight of him, and even some random normal players will react in fear upon passing him in the streets. It doesn't help that he styles his usual look after The Grim Reaper and wields a massive Sinister Scythe as his weapon of choice.
      • Amusingly enough, Haseo becomes the Epitaph User of Skeith, the first Phase of the Wave from the first series of games, whose boss subtitle was "The Terror of Death".
    • All the protagonists of the Ace Combat games eventually grow into this. Just from the PlayStation 2 titles: Mobius One is known as "The Grim Reaper"; the Wardog Squadron are the Demons of Razgriz; Cipher is the Demon Lord of the Round Table.
      • A particularly illustrative instance from The Unsung War: When the Wardogs are ambushed over November City and Chopper crashes, the three remaining planes scare away a virtual airforce of enemy fighters without any kind of ground support and even before the first reinforcements get there.
        • A little bit more detail. The enemy fighters are at first ecstatic when they shoot down one of the famed "Demons of Razgriz", thinking that it will demoralize the remaining three. However, this quickly turns into absolute terror when they realize that it had the opposite effect; the members of Wardog go quiet, obviously trying to hold back tears, and begin effortlessly decimating the enemy forces. Over the radio, the enemy muses that they must really be fighting the Demons of Razgriz, the demons having taken over the pilot's bodies. Even Wardog's allies are freaked out.
    • Dynasty Warriors: The phrase "It's Lu Bu!" strikes fear into even the mightiest player! And every other general on the field... "Do not pursue Lu Bu" indeed.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is spoken of with a combination of hate, reverence, and fear; the suggestion of his presence is enough to cue an Oh Crap from the heroic characters, especially Cloud, who knows him best.
    • The eponymous character in Iji. As you progress through the game, the alien logs reveal many of their soldiers to be pants-wettingly terrified of the implacable "human anomaly", especially if you've been killing everything that moves. Also Iosa The Invincible.
    • Master Chief of Halo is eventually referred to as a "demon" by The Covenant. You get that kind of reputation after massacring hundreds of Covenant forces and utterly destroying one of their most sacred (and seemingly indestructible) installations.
      • The Primordial/Captive/ Precursor/Gravemind could possible be considered one. He's not really a publicly known figure, but every single person who does know of him has Oh Crap moments upon realizing he's loose.
    • Pyramid Head is this to the other monsters in Silent Hill 2. It's so bad that if James equips PH's Great Knife, turns off his flashlight and drags it along, the signature scraping sound will cause enemies to flee.
    • Luca Blight from Suikoden II, a genuinely terrifying combination of Complete Monster, Ax Crazy, and One-Man Army. To the point that even his own kingdom fears him and hardened warriors such as Viktor and Flik, who in the previous game faced down an Eldritch Abomination, don't even consider battling him unless they have an entire army on their side.
    • Assassin's Creed: Altaïr is implied to be viewed this way in general, but it's definitely shown how much he freaks some of his targets out the further you progress into the game, to the point where one of them is so paranoid that he brutally slaughters a defenceless, elderly scholar simply because the man is dressed in white.
      • Assassin's Creed II: When it comes to his enemies, Ezio inherits Altaïr's genes of terror. He's not just an assassin, he's the Assassin, and even in a city as huge as Venice, finding out that the Assassin's come to town makes all of the remaining Templars a little nervous. At this point, Ezio is barely into his twenties and only four years into his Roaring Rampage of Revenge... which lasts for twenty-three years. There's a reason that some trained killers run like hell as soon as they see him. If they see him. As an individual, he's quite possibly more feared than Altaïr ever was, because the Templars know that it's only one man doing all of this, they know why he's doing it, and they know that he is never going to stop until they're all dead or he is. And Ezio is really hard to kill.
        • In the sequels this is downplayed...since most of Ezio's enemies are dead. The only one left from the first game in Ezio's story is the only one with the good sense to avoid picking a fight with Ezio. The rest are either too arrogant, too stupid, or just ignorant of Ezio's reputation.
    • Nemesis from Resident Evil.
    • Metroid Prime uses its Pirate Logs to refer to Samus as "The Hunter." They are absolutely terrified of her, and will resort to all manner of desperate measures merely to slow her down - and for good reason. Pirate Command policy is to consider any unit sent to engage Samus to be assumed lost right out of the gate, and in the sequel, their Oh Crap reaction on finding out about Dark Samus and thus realizing there is another Hunter is priceless. "Truly, we are cursed."
    • Judging by the Enemy Chatter, Commander Shepard has become one in Mass Effect 2, though his/her reputation was probably soiled by the Plotline Death. This explains why there are still Mooks suicidal enough to attack even after recognizing him/her and shrieking in terror.

    Project Guard: Shepard is tearing us apart!

        • Later on, a Project guard manages to trap Shepard in a maintenance area - for all of a few seconds.

    Williams: I've got Shepard sealed in the maintenance tunnels. S/He's not going anywhere. (Shepard comes around the corner) Shepard's out! GET ME SOME BACKUP!

      • It's gotten to the point that the Reapers are doing everything they can think of to kill off Shepard, and have finally gone from taunting her/his insignificance to admitting their extreme annoyance.
        • Shoting a soldier on foot with a giant beam meant to destroy dreadnaughts in a single hit sometimes is justified.
      • The fact that no one questions the fact that Shepard is back from the dead when told tells you all you need to know about his/her status as The Dreaded and Living Legend: everyone, including the Reaper who arranged for the killing in the first place, assumes that of course death should only be a minor inconvenience to someone like that.
      • Mass Effect 3 also gives you a moment of this, right after you take down a Reaper on Rannoch

    Destroyer: Shepard.
    Shepard: You know who I am?
    Destroyer: Harbinger speaks of you.

      • The first time you encounter Cerberus troops in Mass Effect 3 one of them screams "Holy shit, it's Shepard!"
        • Made more impressive that they're revealed to be heavily indoctrinated, having next to no free will by this point. The sheer sight of you showing up still manages to utterly terrify them.
    • In Yggdra Unison, most people who are not Bronquian or didn't serve alongside Gulcasa at some point are scared shitless of him—and this reaction is fairly well-deserved. Being Unison, this is Played for Laughs—most notably in how Pamela tries to turn tail and run every time they meet, even when she's the one invading his land.
    • Nathyrra in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark used to be one, before her Heel Face Turn.
    • The Darkspawn of Dragon Age. Their numbers, sheer evil, hideous appearance, and the plague they carry are just some of the reasons ordinary people are terrified of them.
      • The player character gradually becomes one of these as the game progresses, to the point where they can scare off attackers by identifying themselves, though it backfires once or twice, either with characters who try to collect the bounty on your head or who attack you out of sheer panic.
        • The best example of this is in the Expansion pack, Awakening, where merely mentioning your name to a group of hostage takers will send several of them jumping off a cliff, rather than fight you.
      • Hawke in Dragon Age 2, to a lesser degree, as the enemies are usually smaller groups that Hawke slaughters before they have a chance to shit themselves, but the Arishok certainly fears Hawke enough that the first move of his attempted conquest of Kirkwall is trying to neutralize him/her. An odd example too, since in Qunari culture fear and respect often go hand in hand.
    • The Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Darksiders scare everyone. Heaven, Hell, and even their own superiors fear and respect their terrible power. The entire plot of the game takes place because nobody wants to cross all four of the Horsemen. In-game when Mooks encounter War their reaction is basically a Mass "Oh Crap" while they desperately charge you.
    • Bowser of Super Mario Bros. scares everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom who isn't named Mario, Luigi, or Peach. In Super Mario RPG Bowser's presence in the party actually frightens away his former Mooks who have defected to Smithy. Yes, his mooks fear him more than they fear the living weapons factory from beyond the stars.
    • By the time of Half-Life 2, the feats of Gordon Freeman in the first game have been told and retold to such an extent that most of the planet is either in awe of him or intensely fears him, to the point where a mere glimpse of him in City 17 is enough to put the Combine on high alert.
    • F.E.A.R. 3 has The Creep. How bad is he? Alma is afraid of him. ALMA. For a good reason, too. It is the personification of the worst traits of her father, Harlan Wade.
    • Play Fallout: New Vegas right, and get the right perk(s), your character can become this for any one (or more) of the warring factions. The easiest group to do this with is the Powder Gangers when you attain the Villified Status, when one of them refers to you their personal "Grim Fucking Reaper."
    • In Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, Whirlwind's backstory mentions she went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the trolls who hunted both the species she's descended from. This earned her this trope among the forces of evil. Yes, the dragon/unicorn hybrid whose main weapon are rainbows is The Dreaded.
    • The Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is literally one to the Dragons, being a mortal who has all of their powers and the ability to devour their souls. Listen carefully during your first fight with one and you can hear it realize who it's dealing with.
    • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: Both subverted and justified with Valvatorez. Subverted in the fact that he is actually a very nice fellow to be around. Justified in the fact that he really is powerful enough to warrant that reputation. Infinitely more so in his Tyrant state.
    • Sepulchure in Artix Entertainment games fits this trope really well. In fact, anyone who isn't the hero or any of his/her allies or even King Alteon himself, or doesn't affilate with the Shadowscythe in any way is afraid of him. Even some of the Pactagonal Knights are scared shitless of him and his flying Dracolich fortress of Shadowfall.
    • Diablo, the titular antagonist of the Diablo series. Appropriate, given that he's the Lord of Terror.
    • Youkai in Touhou generally try their hardest to be feared by humans and commonly value their worth by how successful they are at it. The most successful in this department has to be Yuuka Kazami, who garnered a terrifying reputation for her overwhelming power in combat and hatred of humanity, although this last part is probably overblown considering her frequent visits to the Human Village without incidents. Not even other youkai would risk angering her (except fairies, maybe).

    Web Comics


    Maxim 16: Your name is in the mouth of others: be sure it has teeth.

    • 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.
    • Girl Genius has a few people with fell enough reputation. Oglavia Spüdna (Gil's spy) turns out to have some book to her name - the title is open to wide interpretations, but a librarian's reaction rates it very high (though Cheshire Cat Grin probably helps too).

    Web Original

    Western Animation

    • Megatron is this in Transformers Animated. The Autobots regard him as a bogeyman who is reputed to eat protoforms - baby Transformers, basically. The other Decepticons are viewed this way as well. The Autobot leaders are so afraid of them that Ultra Magnus and Sentinel Prime would rather deny the Decepticon presence on Earth than cause a panic among the populace.
    • General Grievous in Star Wars: Clone Wars. His near-victory against five (albeit exhausted) Jedi established him as a fearsome enemy. Count Dooku actually taught Grievous to use fear as a weapon, telling him that without it he wouldn't stand a chance against the best of the Jedi.
    • Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Even Princess Celestia is on edge when she finds out he's escaped from the stone prison she and Luna left him in over a thousand years earlier. Despite what he looks and seems like on the surface, it's quickly very clear that her fear of him was justified...
    • Breach from Generator Rex becomes this in "Lions and Lambs". Everyone who knows what Breach can do fears her. When Six notices the Providence troops are trembling, he asks Rex if they have any experience with Breach. Rex says that's the problem, shuddering as he remembers what Breach did to him.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Amon the leader of the Anti-bending Equalists is this, thanks to a combination of his creepy masked appearance, his even creepier minions, and his ability to permanently remove a person's bending. Korra is terrified of him and sees him in her nightmares.

    Real Life

    • Vlad the Impaler (otherwise known as Vlad Dracula) achieved this reputation with the Ottoman Turks. According to records of the day, not undeservedly so. For example, he once stopped a Turkish army that greatly outnumbered his by ambushing its vanguard (away from the rest of the force) and mounting them all on spikes—not their heads, the entire person, usually still alive and screaming (hence Vlad's nickname). The rest of the Turkish army was so appalled at the sight that it decided it didn't want to fight anymore. The man was so dreaded that upon Vlad's death, the Ottomans had his head hung from the walls of Constantinople to help convince people he was actually gone for good.
      • Although interestingly, his own people (the Wallachians) were quite fond of him, because of the various social and economic reforms he made. Well, the Wallachians that were Christian anyway (and thus were loved by him and not a subject of his wrath).
    • Genghis Khan used this as his modus operandi. If you didn't submit the moment the Mongols demanded it, you were butchered. Simple as that. Genghis's subordinates were even worse than him in this regard; Genghis at least practiced a degree of brutal pragmatism in his campaigns in China. In the regions conquered by his generals entire countries were left utterly devastated.
      • It should be noted on his death bed he told everyone to make sure the enemies in the next battle didn't know that he was dead, so he could scare the crap out of people even when he was dead.
      • So did the pirates of the Atlantic in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you hove to and handed over the supplies and sailors they wanted (they ruthlessly took carpenters, coopers, and smiths especially) then they'd let you sail off. If you tried to run away or dumped valuables overboard... God have mercy, because the pirates wouldn't.
    • Josef Stalin made a science of this trope. After he took control of the Communist Party, the show trials he arranged to execute his political opponents filled his cronies with such dread that they were terrified of invoking the wrath of the Vozhd ("Führer" in German or "leader" in English) and would never dare try to depose him. Rumors abound that Stalin eventually died from being poisoned, which is pretty much the only way anyone could have stood against him.
      • There is also some evidence that his servants heard him dying but didn't summon any doctors for fear of what would happen to them if they were mistaken, making this something of a Deconstruction of this trope.
        • Or could it be that they didn't summon doctors in the hope that they were right?
      • Saddam Hussein was similarly surrounded by a group of yes men who were so terrified of displeasing him that they told him he could beat the US armed forces. In 2003. He couldn't.
        • He was so amazingly feared that during his trial, when he wandered in all disheveled and malnutritioned, the jury STILL reeled in horror. It's actually a testament to their courage they managed to find him guilty, so frightened were they of reprisals and reputation both. You can find accounts of the trial as footnotes in such books as Thieves of Baghdad, or on occasional history channel programs about Saddam post-war. Even after being found guilty Saddam felt he still had full control of his country and DEMANDED he be presented with a firing squad like a true soldier, but as we know, he didn't quite get his final wish.
        • Ironically, after the first Gulf War, Hussein felt this way about the American government. He was convinced that American intelligence agencies were functionally omniscient, and could track his every move.
    • To be completely honest, ALL South American and Latin American dictators are this. Fulgencio Bastista and Fidel Castro in Cuba, Augusto Pinochet In Chile, Jorge Videla in Argentina, Porfirio Diaz in Mexico, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Leonidas Trujillo in Republica Dominicana. Just ask anyone with any knowledge about them or lived during their term in power. Their names still chill our blood today.
    • Basically every notable warrior (and a couple government officials too) got at least one mention of them being regarded as this by one of the other sides in the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, but Zhang Liao got to truly live up to this trope as he was able to rout a force of 100,000 with only 800 men, and was said to be so feared crying children would grow silent in his wake.
    • Many Secret Police agencies are or have been viewed this way; in many cases, for very good reason.
    • Many successful military commanders have been this to their opponents. Napoleon terrified his enemies, as did Lord Horatio Nelson, to give two examples from the Napoleonic Wars.
    • The Wehrmacht was this in the early stages of World War Two. Indeed, after Operation Barbarossa bogged down in sight of Moscow, General Franz Halder invoked this trope. "The myth of our invincibility is shattered."
    • Edward Teach aka "Blackbeard" the most infamous pirate in the world, anyone who see's his ship the "Queen Anne's Revenge" they would surrender immediately than put a fight with him.
    • The Royal Navy was this to the Italian Navy in World War II: while the Italian high officers thought they could win and control the Mediterranean, the sailors and the officers who actually sailed against the Brits (plus a few of the members of the high command) openly admitted they were doomed and their success would be measured by the length of their resistance and the losses they'd inflict before the ultimate defeat. Interestingly, the special operation branch of the Italian Navy had the same reputation among the Royal Navy, especially after that time they sank two battleship in Alexandria's harbor, one of which had the commanding admiral on board (the battleships were recovered and repaired, but remained disabled for months and the Royal Navy didn't dare to lower its guard for the rest of the war).
    • The Gurkhas. The Pashtun of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan believe that the Gurkhas are immortal demons, who eat the bodies of the men they kill.
    • Mossad. They are great believers in Lex Talionis and have offed several terrorists as well as kidnapping Eichmann and bringing him to be hanged. Plus they have a really cool name.
    • On the dark side, innocent Jews who have had no intention of being spies have had conspiracy theories hung around them, such as the blood libel, or their supposed world domination through control of banking.
    • Leaflet raids often use this device. For instance a favorite tract dropped over Japan in 1945 said,"The companion to war is disease".