Factual serial killers are scary. The idea that someone might be out there, on a deserted road or lurking in an alleyway, waiting to murder you is a horrible, horrible thought. But let’s face it: most of the time it’s the serial killers who keep you up at night are the ones that live on your television screen.
We’ve all been there: A Criminal Minds marathon on A&E, a Law and Order binge on Netflix instant... sometimes fictional serial killers are the creepiest ones of all. As Halloween approaches, I’d like to catalogue the 10 creepiest fictional serial killers.
10. Nicole Wallace (Law and Order: CI)
The episodes: 2x03: “Anti-Thesis,” 2x23: “A Person of Interest,” 4x04: “Great Barrier,” 5x01: “Grow,” and 7x22: “Frame”
The body count: 16 (at minimum)
The killer: Nicole Wallace and her various aliases appeared in five separate episodes of Criminal Intent. Nicole holds the infamous title of Goren’s arch-nemesis, and she spends most of her screen-time pushing Goren’s buttons in a way no one, not even Eames, can do.
Nicole’s MO is fairly standard. She murders people who threaten her way of life (the false ways of life she creates for herself), she murders her lovers, which she takes indiscriminant of age or gender, and she murders people to gain power.
No, what makes Nicole so creepy is her every-enduring smile, her huge brown doe-eyes and how easily she can crawl under Goren’s skin. The way Nicole calls him “Bobby” gives me chills. Coupled with the weird combination of mutual hatred and sexual attraction, Nicole Wallace is a seriously creepy woman.
9. Jenny (Law and Order)
The episode: 10x02 “Killerz”
The body count: 1 ½ (the ½ is for a cat). It’s implied that she will kill again.
The killer: With one human victim and one animal victim, Jenny isn’t technically a serial killer, but I doubt any of the killers on this list became murderers at the ripe old age of... ten.
Because that’s what makes Jenny so creepy--not her MO, but her age. Jenny is a sweet, blonde ten year old girl who targets younger boys in her neighborhood and murders them. She is a budding sociopath, which is part of what makes her fascinating. Most sociopaths, indeed most serial killers, are male. Like a true sociopath, Jenny knows how to manipulate the people around her. She presents herself to her family and the police as an innocent little girl.
Eventually, of course, the detectives see through her tricks, but it’s too late. Jenny isn’t sent to juvie for her part in the death of a boy from her neighborhood. In fact, in a true “Dick Wolf ending,” our last glimpse of Jenny is in the courthouse. She approaches a small boy, smiles, and starts up a conversation.
Jenny’s cool and calculating method of finding and obtaining victims would be chilling enough if she was an adult. As a ten-year-old it’s downright terrifying.
8. Gormogon (Bones)
The episodes: The Gormogon killer is the main conflict for most of Bones season three. He was first seen onscreen in 3x08 “The Knight on the Grid.” His last appearance was 3x15 “The Pain in the Heart.”
The body count: over 100, exact count unknown
The killer: If I’m completely honest with you, gentle readers, I have to admit that being a cannibal will earn you a one-way ticket to this list, and the Gormogon killer is no exception.
There are two specific things that make Gormogon so creepy. One: he’s a cannibal. Two: he has a set of false teeth made entirely out of canine incisors taken from his victims. Seriously. Canine incisors taken from victims. It’s quite possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Gormogon also preys on weak personalities and grooms them to be apprentices who take over his reign of terror when he becomes too infirm to carry on.
Gormogon’s exact body count is unknown. The master and apprentice keep souveniers by taking a skeleton with silver bones and replacing it, bone by bone, with singular bones of his victims. When Bones and Booth apprehend Gormogon they find two skeletons--one partially silver skeleton in process and one complete bone skeleton. This skeleton contained bones that were over 100 years old.
Gormogon is like the Dread Pirate Roberts--he passes down his name from master to apprentice. The Gormogon killer that Booth stopped may have only killed twenty people (which is still twenty people too many), but the Gormogon that came before him, and the one that came before him, killed so many more. I’m pretty sure the teeth are passed down too, but to be completely honest I’m too creeped out to ever watch the Gormogon episodes ever again.
7. The Grave-Digger (Bones)
The episodes: 2x09 “Aliens in a Spaceship,” 4x14 “The Hero in the Hold,” and 5x21 “The Boy with the Answer”
The body count: 4 deaths, 9 abductions total
The killer: The Grave Digger’s MO is simple: he kidnaps two people, buries them alive in a car or something similar. He calls the family members for ransom and provides them with the coordinates when they pay. The Squints’ first exposure to the Grave Digger is when he kidnaps Bones and Hodgins. Needless to say, Bones and Hodgins survive, but this is only the beginning of the Grave Digger’s involvement with our friends at the Jeffersonian.
One of the creepiest things about the Grave Digger is his complete clinical disinterest in his victims. He isn’t in it for the violence or because of a personal vendetta. He wants money and he wants power.
The other creepy thing about the Grave Digger is who he (or, as we learned in “The Hero in the Hold”) she really is. I don’t want to say more than that--but if you watch the episode, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
6. Floyd Feylinn Ferrell (Criminal Minds)
The episode: 3x08 “Lucky”
The body count: 14, possibly 15
The killer: I could populate this entire list with serial killers from Criminal Minds, but I didn’t want to scar you all. You’re welcome.
It starts out simply enough (for an episode of Criminal Minds, that is). The upper-half of the body of a woman is found in Florida along “alligator alley” Hodge points out that an alligator may have ripped her in half, but it sure didn’t cut off her fingers or slit her throat. It’s a murder!
The case gets really creepy when the ME finds fingers inside the victim’s stomach. It gets even creeper when the ME learns that none of the fingers (which include six index fingers) belong to the victim. The fingers were force fed to the victim while she was still alive. Right? Right?
It gets even worse. When the BAU finally locate the Un-Sub and identify him as Floyd Feylinn Ferrell, they realize that, not only was he part of the community, he volunteered for a search party for one of his victims. Instead of actually partaking in the search party, he served food to the volunteers.
To be more precise, he served chili.
To be even more precise, he served chili made from the meat of his latest victim.
I really wasn’t kidding about the cannibal thing.
5. The Miniature Killer (CSI)
The episodes: The Miniature Killer appears in, or is mentioned in, 7x01 and 7x02 “Built To Kill,” 7x07 “Post Mortem,” 7x16 “Monster in the Box,” 7x20 “Lab Rats” and 7x24 “Living Doll.” She also shows up briefly in season nine.
The body count: 6 (possibly including herself)
The killer: The Miniature Killer is not a midget who kills people. She’s also not a person who kills midgets. I know, I was a little disappointed too. Don’t worry, though, the real story behind the Miniature Killer is pretty freaking creepy.
The Miniature Killer was named because she left minature models of the crime scenes behind. Perfect, ½ inch scale models. As Sara pointed out--that level of detail would take weeks, even months to create. But that’s not all. The Miniature Killer stuck around after committing the crime and used the victim’s blood to mimic the actual blood spatter and blood pool in her model.
The Miniature Killer also had a strange obsession with bleach. After her first victim (her sister when they were children), she killed her victims in ways that spell out bleach: bludgeoned, liquid nicotine, electrocution, asphyxiation, crushing and hanging.
I don’t know what this woman has about bleach, but it creeps me out.
4. The Ice Truck Killer (Dexter)
The episodes: The Ice Truck Killer first appeared in the pilot of “Dexter.” He’s the main antagonist and mystery throughout season one.
The body count: 19, possibly higher
The killer: The Ice Truck Killer’s MO is simple: he kills hookers, drains their blood, chops them into pieces and wraps them in paper like a butcher. I think the creepiest part of that sentence is that after all that, the Ice Truck Killer is still only the 4th creepiest serial killer on my list.
Part of what makes the Ice Truck Killer’s reign of terror so evocative is the effect it has on Dexter. Something about the Ice Truck Killer draws Dexter in. He’s truly the antithesis of everything Dexter works so hard to be. He’s volatile where Dexter is controlled, emotional where Dexter is cool and vengeful where Dexter is resigned.
If you’ve seen the first season of “Dexter,” you’ll know why Dexter and the Ice Truck Killer have such a kinship. If you haven’t seen the first season of “Dexter,” what are you waiting for? It’s not on Netflix Instant for nothing, you know.
3. Danny Jennings (House M.D.)
The episode: 7x17 “Fall From Grace”
The body count: 13
The killer: Tell me true--when you think “TV episodes with serial killers,” I bet House M.D. is the furthest show from your mind. I’m right there with you, until the season seven episode “Fall From Grace” rolled around.
“Fall From Grace” starts ordinarily enough: a homeless man sleeps in a park. Suddenly a bunch of hooligans (it’s always hooligans) shoot off some fireworks and hit the poor homeless man. Just when you think it’s going to be just another episode of Law & Order, the homeless man says that his burning flesh smells like blueberries. Whoa. House snaps up the case, naturally.
Things get a little fishy when they discover bone fragments in Danny’s bloodstream, but he tells the doctors that he eats leftovers (including bone) at a Thai restaurant. House also realizes that the primarily vegetarian diet Danny has been eating at the hospital has been causing most of his symptoms.
House cures him and everything seems hunky-dory... until Danny checks himself out of the hospital and the FBI arrives, looking for him. The Feds tell Dr. Masters (House’s Cameron replacement) that Danny is wanted for a string of 13 murders. And also that he eats his victims.
Let’s re-read that sentence. He eats his victims. And most of his symptoms were caused by his vegetable deficiency. Because he eats his victims.
I told you. One-way ticket.
2. Earl (Criminal Minds)
The episode: 5x06, “The Eyes Have It”
The body count: 7
The killer: When you hear “taxidermist” in conjunction with “serial killer,” what do you think? Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill, some creepy guy who preserves his victims? Well the runner-up of our disturbing little contest and the second creepiest serial killer is a taxidermist and a serial killer, but his MO is much more creepy than you will ever guess.
When Hodge and our other friends at the BAU start investigating a killer who takes the eyeballs of his victims, Spencer Reid has a lot of different ideas. Maybe he eats the eyes. Maybe he keeps them in jars. Maybe he likes torture. However, when the BAU learn that the un-sub works at a taxidermist shop, however, all bets are off.
Now can you guess what a taxidermist would do with a collection of eyes perfectly--nay, surgically--removed from his dead victims? He put them into his taxidermy animals. You read that sentence correctly. Earl (the un-sub) was concerned with how “real” his animals looked. The glass eyes just weren’t doing it for him. He needed something more real. And since no one makes a habit of preserving eyeballs (human or animal), poor Earl had to take matters into his own hands.
As though taxidermy animals weren’t creepy enough.
1. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
The films: “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal,” “Red Dragon,” “Hannibal Rising.”
The body count: at least 20, possibly more
The killer: Oh come on, you knew this was where my list was headed. Given the number of other fictional cannibals with which I’ve populated this list, who else could occupy my number one spot? In the interest of full-disclosure, I’ve only seen “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal,” but there are enough creepy events in those films to fill at least three of these lists.
“The Silence of the Lambs” showcases Buffalo Bill’s cruelty more than Lecter’s, but in “Hannibal” we see his truly disgusting artistry. In “Hannibal” Lecter disembowels a man, talks a servant into throwing Gary Oldman to a pakc of maneating boars, feeds a victim pieces of his own brain, and then, at the end of the movie, feeds the human brain to a small child, possibly turning him into a future cannibal.
This doesn’t even cover the flashbacks, where we learn that Lecter carved off a child molester’s face with a mirror. I’m not saying the child molester didn’t deserve it, but jeeze, man. Plus I know there’s a scene somewhere, during one of these movies where he kills someone and feeds his sweetbreads to company.
The creepiest part of Lecter? That he does everything with a smooth, charming smile and a truly beautiful vocabulary.
Who is your favorite (or least favorite) fictional serial killer? What gives you the squicks?