As NBC's Hannibal prepares to offer a new take on the infamous Hannibal Lecter, check out some of the other most memorable TV and movie mass murderers ever.
Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), The Following
Sure, The Following's Joe Carroll plucked out the eyes of 14 college co-eds before getting caught, but the thing that makes him really terrifying is his absolute charm. Yep, that's right: Even while in prison, the former literature professor managed to amass a cult-like following of devotees whose missions in life are to impress the man they admire so much with similarly grisly murders. Chilling!
Add to Watchlist: James Purefoy
Photo by: FOX
Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), The Silence of the Lambs
Perhaps the greatest movie villain of all time, "Hannibal the Cannibal" freaked out audiences not only because of his penchant for eating his victims, but also because of the Laser precision he used to psychoanalyze those who tried to study him. He seems to bury his psychopathy on the inside, and simply use his soft, but calculating tone to lure in and cleverly break down his subjects. Never has talk of lambs and fava beans been so unsettling.
Add to Watchlist: Anthony Hopkins
Photo by: Orion/ Everett Collection
John Doe (Kevin Spacey), Se7en
You know you're uber-creepy when you lord over more than three-quarters of a movie without being seen. When John Doe does appear (Spacey brilliantly insisted he be uncredited), he's even more terrifying, as the soft-spoken psychopath calmly and coldly explained the rationale behind his gruesome cardinal sins murders. But his most famous and chilling kill, of course, is when we find out what's in the box, provoking from Brad Pitt's Mills the final sin: wrath.
Add to Watchlist: Kevin Spacey, Se7En
Photo by: New Line Cinema
Dexter (Michael C. Hall), Dexter
Dexter might be a killer with a code (he's a blood-spatter analyst by day, vigilante killer by night), but he's still one of the scariest serial killers of them all. Why? Because he could be anyone! On the outside, Dexter is your typical friendly co-worker and a suburban single father. So the next time you see your neighbor unloading lots and lots of plastic wrap, beware!
Add to Watchlist: Dexter, Michael C. Hall
Photo by: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), Dexter
The Trinity Killer (aka Arthur Mitchell) upped the creepy quotient for a variety of reasons. His killing methods were based on how his own family was killed. Even worse, Dexter discovered he wasn’t a weird loner at all, but a seemingly well-adjusted, Christian, family man. Dexter was finally able to put him down, but not before Arthur murdered Dexter’s wife Rita by slicing her femoral artery and letting her bleed out in the tub with baby Harrison left screaming in a pool of his mother's blood. Just like baby Dexter.
Add to Watchlist: Dexter, John Lithgow
Photo by: Randy Tepper/Showtime
The Carver (Bruno Campos), Nip/Tuck
Plastic surgeon by day, a serial rapist-killer by night, Quentin "The Carver" Costa gives us chills because he's a guy you ought to be able to trust when you go under the knife. Unfortunately, he secretly can't stand superficial beauty, which is why he enjoys disfiguring his rape victims by "carving" out an elongated smile using his wicked-sharp knife. What a perversion of his profession!
Add to Watchlist: Nip/Tuck, Bruno Campos
Photo by: Warner Bros. Television/Everett Collection
Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins and Freddy Highmore), Psycho and Bates Motel
Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's suspenseful and truly terrifying take on Robert Bloch's novels, Americans were afraid to take a shower for the better part of 1960. But the bathtub murder of poor Marion Crane just unearthed the deeper secret of Norman Bates, who also murdered his controlling mother before slowly taking on her identity to kill others. If A&E's new series can explain how Norman got his killer instinct with half the terror of Hitchcock, we're in for some sleepless nights.
Photo by: Paramount/The Kobal Collection, Joe Lederer/A&E
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho
His yuppie killing spree may have all been in his head, but the eeriest thing about Patrick Bateman is that if you met him in real life, you'd probably get along. The two of you would listen to the latest Katy Perry song and like each other's posts on Facebook. Then, when you'd least expect it, he'd slam an axe into your head. And the worst part: He'd keep that freakin' charismatic smile on his face the entire time.
Add to Watchlist: American Psycho, Christian Bale
Photo by: Lionsgate/The Kobal Collection
Red John, The Mentalist
The fact that we've yet to lay eyes on the real Red John — or have we? — makes him one of the scarier killers on this list. Presumably using a network of assistants, he's managed to endlessly taunt the CBI and Patrick Jane, whose daughter and wife he killed long ago. Smart and cunning, he's a true nemesis to Jane, who always seems to be one step behind, even when he believes he's two steps ahead. And don't even get us started on that creepy red smiley face John likes to leave behind…
Add to Watchlist: The Mentalist
Photo by: Erick McCandless/CBS
Gormogon (Laurence Todd Rosenthal), Bones
This identity-shifting, cannibalistic serial killer taunted the team at the Jeffersonian during Bones' third season. But as creepy as his secret society-inspired tapestry and skeleton made of teeth-scarred bones were, what really got under our skin was something much more basic: He turned beloved squintern Zack Addy into his apprentice. Sometimes killers don't even have to kill to hurt us.
Photo by: FOX
Sylar (Zachary Quinto), Heroes
Encountering a serial killer is scary in and of itself, but a serial killer with super powers? No fair! Sylar's need to acquire the powers of the other "heroes" led to his killing ways, which almost always ended with him slicing open someone's skull with a flick of his finger. Yup, this was a killer with brains!
Add to Watchlist: Zachary Quinto
Photo by: NBC/Universal TV/The Kobal Collection
Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto and Dylan McDermott), American Horror Story: Asylum
A serial killer with severe mommy issues, Dr. Thredson's Bloody Face chose his victims based on their resemblance to his mother. But he was actually after their skin, so he could feel human connection. He wore his victims' hair and teeth in his famed Bloody Face mask — something he passed on to his own son, who desperately tried to emulate his father. Talk about a killer family tree.
Photo by: FX
Rene Lenier (Michael Raymond-James), True Blood
Harboring a deep hatred for vampires, Rene (otherwise known as Drew Marshall) decided to kill his own sister because she was a fangbanger, an act that set him off on a vampire-lover killing spree in Bon Temps. Sure, we relieved he didn't off Sookie, but his death saddened us — mostly because we learned his awesome Cajun accent was a fake. Never trust a serial killer…
Add to Watchlist: Michael Raymond-James
Photo by: HBO
George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), The Lovely Bones
Stanley Tucci's creepy pedophile is responsible not only for the murder of his 14-year-old neighbor Susie Salmon, who narrates the movie and the book from which it was adapted, but also several other young girls across the country. Playing George as a shlubby everyman, Tucci makes his ordinariness terrifying in itself. The worst part? Harvey doesn't even get punished for his crimes; he escapes Susie's Pennsylvania town and committing more murders until he's finally felled by a falling icicle (lame!) while stalking his next victim.
Add to Watchlist: Stanley Tucci
Photo by: Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection
Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), Saw franchise
What's disturbing about John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, is that he doesn't think of himself as a killer at all. In his mind, trapping his victims in timed mechanical devices that are rigged to maim or kill is all about renewing a person's appreciation for life. Not only is this logic twisted in the worst way (can't he just take them bungee-jumping?), but somehow he was able to convince "apprentices" to continue his work beyond his death. His other trademarks — using a swirly-cheeked white puppet and wearing a pig mask — just add to the bizarrely gruesome experiences.
Add to Watchlist: Tobin Bell
Photo by: Lionsgate/Everett Collection