1. Elsevan Dupris, Roswell High (Melinda Metz)
Most iconic scene: Dupris, torturing people in a replica of the Brady Bunch home while 1950s sitcoms play in the background.
Cover: Actors portraying Michael Guerin, Max Evans, and Maria DeLuca.
2. Iago, Othello (William Shakespeare)
Most iconic scene: When I think of Iago, I don't think of a particular scene as such, but of these lines: "I hate the Moor; And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets he has done my office: I know not if 't be true; but I, for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as if for surety."
3. Aubrey, In the Forests of the Night (Amelia Atwater-Rhodes)
Most iconic scene: A repeated visual of Aubrey standing in front of Risika, staring at her with cold, smug eyes and tossing a silver knife carelessly in his hands -- daring her to attack him.
Cover: I believe that is Aubrey on the cover of Demon in my View, but I always imagined him as David Foley from "Blast from the Past"...but sinister and evil. I think it's because of their dress sense. Aubrey is always described as a deliberate dresser with a particular style, and one of Foley's suits reminded me me of this.
4. Count Olaf, A Series of Unfortunate Events (Daniel Handler)
Most iconic scene: Olaf, stuffed in a cage and promising the kids that if they betray their mutual hosts/captors and let him out, they can be his servants once he defeats the villagers and declares the island they're stranded on to be Olaf-land.
5. Clarence Potter, Timeline-191 series. Harry Turtledove
Potter serves as a foil to Jake Featherson, a Hitler-figure who takes over the southern confederacy during the Second Great War. (What do you mean, you have no idea what I'm talking about?) Intelligent but patriotic, Potter swallows his pride and contempt for Featherson's beliefs and demagogic approach to gathering power because he believes Featherston can be used to restore the Confederacy to its pre-Great War glory. He becomes an intelligence officer and one of Feather's few confidants. Potter remained likable for most of the series, but his actions in the endgame soured on me. I never liked what he fought for, but I respected him for it until he led an atomic attack on Philadelphia.
Most iconic scene: Potter planning to assassinate Featherson at a rally, and having instead to save the man's life from an incautious socialist revolutionary to prevent chaos from ensuing.
I should note that the above image is not of Potter, but of a rebel artillery captain from the film Gettysburg, played by James Patrick Stuart. I always used his face for Potter, in part because I liked the characters. Stuart shows up immediately as the artillery commander in this clip.
6. Courtney Massengale, Once an Eagle. (Anton Myrer)
Most iconic scene: I haven't read the book in four, perhaps five years, so many scenes and their details have left my mind. The introduction of Massengale sets the stage, as the snobbish lieutenant turns his nose up at bedraggled Sergeant Sam Damon and his men, fresh from the front lines of the trenches.
7. The Mule, Foundation and Empire. Isaac Asimov.
Most iconic scene: The Mule was mostly a grim spectre in Foundation and Empire, rarely showing up in person. (That the reader knew of!) There are thus few scenes with him in the book, but I first realized how good he was at getting his way when he managed to turn his prisoners into his personal bodyguard, and the ship he'd been held in irons on into a personal transport.
8. Cataline, Cataline's Riddle. Steven Saylor; Conspirata, Robert Harris.
9. Great Benefit, The Rainmaker. John Grisham.
The financial officers of Great Benefit have figured out the perfect way to make lots of money: sell cheap insurance to low-income families and automatically deny any and all claims filed to collect on that insurance. Even if their 'customers' could overcome their distrust of lawyers, they probably can't afford to pay one to sue on their behalf. On the off-chance someone does sue, employees who know anything and who are willing to talk can be shut up through legal and illegal means.
The Rainmaker is the story of a young, wet-behind-the-ears law graduate who takes on a massive insurance company and exposes their methodical plan to prey on those who can't defend themselves. It is one of my two favorite Grisham works (the other being The Last Juror), in part because profiteering corporations are a lot more likely to hurt people than a Hitler-wizard. And speaking of which...
10. The Malfoys (Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling)
Honorable Mention: Dolores Umbridge is similarly contemptible, personifying everything anyone has ever disliked about government officials or authority figures. She deserved much worse than she got.
Most iconic scene: The Malfoys were contemptible every time we saw them, but sending Hagrid to Akaban and nearly getting Buckbeat killed in Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban were particularly...mean-spirited moves. Jason Isaacs is so very good at playing contemptible characters.