Forget the femme fatale of noir lore. The five females in this list take dangerous and ruthless to the next level.
5. Bellatrix Lestrange
(The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling)
Yeah, yeah, Voldemort is the megalomaniacal Dark Lord. But is he even half as loopy as Bellatrix? She creeped me out in the books even before I saw Helena Bonham-Carter's completely unhinged performance in the films. Those clothes! That hair! And she gleefully murdered her own cousin! (Do not even begin to think about complaining - it's not a spoiler when the book and film have been out for years.)
4. Morgan Le Fay
This is going back a bit, but Morgan is definitely one of the more twisted characters to come out of the later cycles of Arthurian legend. In these versions, she immerses herself in the black arts and seduces her half-brother (ewww) in order to get what she wants. Bitch crazy. Depending on which account you want to believe, the mad cow title may also be awarded to her sister Morgause, mother of the traitor Mordred.
(Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro)
SPOILERS Ruth, for her sins, never stood much of a chance. Growing up sequestered in the chilling Hailsham grounds with the other "special" children, her views of right and wrong must have been pretty skewed. But her decision to come between her best friend Kathy and her soulmate Tommy, to keep them apart for precious years of their short lives, is truly heartless. Ruth justifies her actions by saying she was frightened of being alone - and this is exactly how she dies. Alone.
2. Lady Macbeth
(Macbeth by William Shakespeare)
"Out, damned spot!" The calculating, manipulative would-be queen that we meet early on in Shakespeare's play soon becomes a shadow of her former self, driven to madness by the consequences of her actions. Proof, perhaps, that ambition isn't everything.
1. Annie Wilkes
(Misery by Stephen King)
She's the kind of person that makes the word "fandom" a chilling thing indeed. While a part-time writer such as myself might dream of one day receiving adoring fan mail, the reality in Stephen King's novel is less rosy. The moment that author Paul Sheldon's rescuer is revealed to be his "number one fan", the reader feels a growing unease. Annie Wilkes is magnificently characterised, slowly shedding layer after layer until she is exposed at the novel's climax in all her deranged, deluded glory.