The 13 Most Notorious Figures in Human History

While we may want to believe that human nature is inherently good, the truth is that there is a darker side to it. Statistically speaking, it’s likely that out of every 100 individuals, at least one has displayed signs of being somewhat psychopathic. While it’s not common to encounter a full-blown psychopath in our everyday lives, most would agree that these individuals can be sly, self-serving, eccentric, impulsive, and above all, capable of great evil. The age-old battle between good and evil seems destined to endure. In light of this, below is a list of some of the most nefarious individuals to have ever existed on our planet.

1. H.H. Holmes

Herman Webster Mudgett, born in 1861, was widely known as Dr. H.H. Holmes – a name that strikes terror into the hearts of many as he was America’s first documented serial killer. Despite his horrifying reputation, Holmes was a highly intelligent individual who had harbored a desire to become a doctor since his childhood. He reportedly experimented on animals in his early years as a means of satisfying his curiosity.

At the age of 25, Holmes secured a job at a pharmacy in Chicago. While working there, he constructed a secret room where he proceeded to carry out heinous acts of torture, brutality, and murder on his unsuspecting victims. In 1895, he was convicted for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, and during his trial, he eventually confessed to having killed at least 27 other individuals in the same manner. A year later, he met his end by hanging for his monstrous crimes.


2. Leopold II of Belgium

While King Leopold II is widely recognized for his role in establishing Belgium as a colonial power in Africa, his legacy of wrongdoing and cruelty towards the people of Congo Free State is often overlooked. During his reign from 1885 to 1909, Leopold oversaw a period of intense oppression and exploitation. The extraction of ivory and rubber were key economic activities, but the brutality of his methods extended far beyond these practices.

Leopold’s private army subjected millions of Congolese people to forced labor and torture, and women were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. Tragically, an estimated 3 million people lost their lives under his dictatorship.

Leopold II of Belgium

3. Amelia Dyer

Amelia Dyer is considered one of the most chilling serial killers in English history. Over the course of three decades in the Victorian era, she allegedly murdered a significant number of infants while posing as a nanny. Her modus operandi was to target vulnerable women with newborns, accepting employment as their caretaker before ultimately taking the lives of their babies.

Despite evading authorities for a considerable length of time, Dyer’s gruesome crimes were eventually discovered when doctors began to take notice of an unusual spike in infant mortality rates under her care. She was subsequently arrested, prosecuted for her heinous actions, and ultimately met her end on the gallows in 1896.

Amelia Dyer

4. Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler’s name is often used today as a synonym for evil. He is widely regarded as one of the most infamous and despised figures of the early modern era. As the leader of Nazi Germany, Hitler was known for his cunning intelligence, ruthless creativity, and utter brutality. It is widely acknowledged that he was the mastermind behind World War II and the Holocaust.

Hitler believed that Jews living in Europe were an inferior race and treated them with unspeakable cruelty. His atrocities led to the deaths of at least 40 million people, cementing his place in history as one of the most powerful and evil individuals to have ever lived.

Adolf Hitler

5. Ivan IV

Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible, was a feared and infamous figure during his time. He held the title of the first Tsar of Russia and had immense power and control over a significant part of the world. It’s been reported that he witnessed the execution of around 500 to 1000 people on a daily basis, along with his son.

His cruelty was not just limited to his enemies, as he was also known for physically assaulting his own pregnant daughter-in-law. It’s said that when his son expressed his disapproval of Ivan IV’s treatment towards his wife, Ivan IV even went as far as killing him. Such acts of barbarity were not uncommon for him.

Ivan the Terrible-min

6. Kim Jong Un

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as North Korea, is notorious for being one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. For over 70 years, the people of North Korea have suffered under its harsh rule. The current leader, Kim Jong Un, is just as ruthless as his predecessors. North Koreans have been indoctrinated to revere him and his family since they seized power.

The citizens of North Korea continue to endure unimaginable atrocities at the hands of their own government. These include intentional starvation as a means of asserting control, a lack of investment in the country’s development and infrastructure, and the execution of those who disobey the regime’s strict rules. These brutalities persist to this day.

Kim Jong Un

7. Vlad the Impaler

Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler, is believed to have inspired the character of Dracula. He ruled as a ruthless dictator in Wallachia, facing enemies on all sides. He employed extremely cruel methods to instill terror and fear in those who dared to oppose him.

His savage punishments became infamous throughout Europe in the 15th century. One such method involved impaling his enemies through the buttocks and not ceasing until the pole emerged from their mouth. He inflicted many other sickening brutalities upon people as well.


8. Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is infamous for masterminding and orchestrating the September 11 attacks on the United States, which led to a strong counterattack by the US on this terrorist act.

The attack caused a massive loss of life, with almost 3,000 people losing their lives. From 2001 to 2011, Osama bin Laden was the most wanted individual on the United States’ radar. In 2011, he was found and killed by former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neil during Operation Neptune’s Spear in a safe house in Pakistan.


9. Idi Amin

Idi Amin is primarily remembered for his presidency of Uganda and the brutal regime he imposed on its people. He was a former military officer who allegedly used his cunning and scheming to take control of the country, and he employed extreme force to maintain his grip on power.

Amin’s oppressive tactics targeted anyone he perceived as a potential threat, including ethnic groups, journalists, judges, intellectuals, and anyone who dared to oppose his dictatorship. Despite being eventually exiled, this ruthless dictator never expressed regret for the actions of his regime.

Idi Amin

10. Joseph Stalin

Hitler is widely considered the epitome of evil in the past century, but there was another figure who was equally monstrous during that time period. That person was Joseph Stalin, the general secretary and ruler of the USSR. For around 30 years, he imposed incredibly high levels of suffering, misery, and death on the people.

It is estimated that as many as 10 million Russians lost their lives during his reign. However, his oppression extended far beyond just the Russian people. Shockingly, around 1.5 million German women were subjected to rape during his brutal regime spanning over 30 years.

facts about Joseph Stalin

11. Elizabeth Bathory

Elizabeth Bathory was a prominent Hungarian noblewoman who holds the dubious distinction of being recognized as the most notorious female killer in history by the Guinness World Records. According to legend, she mercilessly murdered at least 600 individuals between 1585 and 1610. Despite her barbaric actions, it’s believed that she was shielded from any consequences because of her noble lineage and never faced any trials for her crimes.

Elizabeth Bathory

12. Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein served as the fifth president of Iraq and is widely regarded as the most infamous Middle-Eastern dictator from 1979 to 2003. He was responsible for ordering the executions of numerous high-ranking soldiers within his own country.

The death toll from his atrocities is estimated to be around 2 million people. It’s been alleged that he even went so far as to record the killings of individuals for his own twisted enjoyment and viewing later on.

Saddam Hussein

13. Nero

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the fifth recorded emperor of Rome, renowned for his indulgent lifestyle, merciless persecution of impoverished Christians, and ruthless political assassinations.

In the year 64, a catastrophic fire engulfed the entire city of Rome, resulting in widespread destruction and significant loss of life. Nero was widely believed to have been the mastermind behind the blaze. Throughout his reign, Christians were subjected to brutal torture and execution as part of his oppressive regime.


There are numerous other beings who, just because they think they were right, crushed humanity like it was nothing.  Their deeds still haunt us as they can never be changed.

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