There’s no shortage of fictional serial killers out there. And if you’re a “fan” of the most gruesome murderers, then our most horrifying fictional serial killers list is just what you need. They may be imaginary, but these sinister individuals have a way of haunting their victims in a very believable way; whether it’s in a movie, TV show, book, or video game.
1. Freddy Krueger
Type: Movie Killer
Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Year Released: 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Top-Billed Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon
M.O.: Freddy Krueger kills his victims in their dreams, using a number of ways to torment them. He feeds on their fears and attacks with his infamous razor sharp glove, causing them to die in the real world. His preferred victims are children (including teenagers), mainly the ones who live on Elm Street.
Character Summary: Sometimes compared to the Boogeyman, Frederick “Freddy” Charles Krueger is a dream-demon who only attacks victims in their sleep —and it’s nearly impossible to wake up in time. He kills whenever he wants, and as much as he wants, until someone stops him.
Krueger is known for his razor gloves, brown fedora, green and red sweater, and his burnt skin. He imagined his iconic weapon himself, and it’s among the many ways he kills.
In the first film he’s featured in, it’s revealed that Krueger is a child killer who gets captured, but is released on a technicality. He’s eventually hunted by a crowd of angry parents, who corner him in the boiler room where he used to take his victims.
The parents then burn him alive, which is how he got his scars, but his spirit moves on to haunt the children of those parents in their dreams. Kreuger can take on many forms in order to kill his victims. Each time he’s killed, it never lasts for long.
Type: Book/Movie Killer
Year Released: 1990
Director: Andy Muschietti
Top-Billed Cast: John Ritter, Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, Annette O’Toole
M.O.: Pennywise the Dancing Clown kills his victims in whatever way he chooses, and doesn’t have any particular preference. Like the Stephen King novel, Pennywise can shape shift, but normally takes the form of a clown.
Character Summary: It has been adapted into both the ’90s miniseries, and the hit 2017 film based on the same premise. In the miniseries, Pennywise is a demon who wakes up every 27 years to prey on children, and feeds for months at a time.
Though he will kill anyone he chooses, his primary targets are typically kids and teenagers. He can take on many forms in order to attack his victims, and can hypnotize them. Although he goes by Pennywise the Dancing Clown, he is also known as just Pennywise, or Mr. Bob Gray while in human form in the novel.
He’s known for lurking in sewers, and existed in a void in the universe known as the “Macroverse.” He hunts children because it’s easier to feed on their fears in many forms. He was defeated once before by the Losers, but returned, resulting in them banding together as adults to kill him again.
3. Jason Voorhees
Type: Movie Killer
Movie: Friday the 13th
Year Released: 1980
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Top-Billed Cast: Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon, Ari Lehman
M.O.: Jason Voorhees is known for brutally murdering his victims with a machete, but can naturally turn anything in his environment into a weapon.
Character Summary: Jason is known to be an urban legend, and the curse of Crystal Lake. He was deformed, and according to the story, he drowned as a child at Crystal Lake.
He wears his iconic white hockey mask to cover his deformities, and kills anyone who trespasses on the lake. He’s seemingly undead and immortal, killing to avenge his mother, who was decapitated by a camp counsellor 21 years after his drowning.
He has many powers, including superhuman strength, near invulnerability, regeneration, pain tolerance, rage, and tracking abilities. Despite being immortal, Jason believes he can still drown, making water his true weakness.
He was killed many times, and even fought Freddy Krueger in the 2003 slasher flick, Freddy vs. Jason. The character has also appeared in multiple films, comic books, and video games.
4. Dexter Morgan
Type: Book/TV Killer
TV Show: Dexter
Year Released: 2006
Director: Michael C. Hall
Top-Billed Cast: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas
M.O.: Dexter Morgan is a forensic technician for the Miami police, who kills using a variety of methods. Although he’s a serial killer himself, he only kills murderers, and uses his police ties to find them.
Character Summary: Born Dexter Moser to Laura Moser and Joseph Driscoll, he had an older brother named Brian. Dexter’s birth parents were drug addicts, and his mother acted as an informant for Detective Harry Morgan, who placed her in Hector Estrada’s drug cartel.
Laura was murdered in front of her sons by the cartel, so Harry eventually adopted Dexter and raised him as his own, knowing he had developed urges to kill from the time he was young. Harry helped him harness those urges and raised him to do good instead of evil.
Dexter has many aliases, including Sean Ellis, Dave Cutler, and The Beast. He’s a sociopath and often refers to other people as “humans,” as if he’s an exception or something else. Although he’s arguably a type of vigilante (killing only those who do evil deeds), he uses a number of creative ways to kill his victims, and enjoys it. But he can never stop his thirst for blood.
He first appeared in the book series by Jeffry P. Freundlich, under the pseudonym Jeff Lindsay, in 2004. Though the TV adaptation took some liberties with the character, many key elements remained; including Dexter preserving the blood from each of his victims in microscope slides that he keeps in a wooden box.
Type: Movie Killer
Year Released: 2004
Director: James Wan
Top-Billed Cast: Cary Elwes, Dina Meyer, Danny Glover, Leigh Whannell
M.O.: Jigsaw uses his keen intellect to set up elaborate puzzles and traps that eventually lead to the gruesome death of his victims.
He wears a pig mask when capturing his victims, and uses a red and white puppet named Billy to speak to them on camera with the catchphrase, “I want to play a game.”
Character Summary: The Jigsaw Killer ( who often goes by Jigsaw) was born John Kramer, a 52-year-old civil engineer who was diagnosed with cancer. Angered by the fact that he would die soon, he became annoyed with people not appreciating their lives.
He chose the name “Jigsaw” because he would cut a jigsaw puzzle shape into his victims to symbolize that a piece of their soul was missing. He has no powers, other than his intelligence, toy making, death traps, and lack of empathy for human life. His legacy was also continued by some of his surviving victims, who later took on the Jigsaw persona. Since his first appearance, the character of Jigsaw also appeared in a non-canon comic book, and multiple video games.
6. Frankenstein’s Monster
Type: Book Killer