The Discworld novel series by the late and great Sir Terry Pratchett is best known for their scathing wit and humor. I mean, what else do you expect from a world resting on the back of four planet-sized elephants, who are themselves standing on the back of a sea turtle the size of a gas giant swimming endlessly through the cosmos?
However, not all is fun and games on the Disc. In fact, Discworld can get downright terrifying at times. In those moments, you’d think the book had taken a dip into horror territory. And the main reason for that sudden shift into terror? The villains. For all that it’s humorous at heart, Discworld features some of the most terrifying villains ever to grace the literary world. I’ve prepared a short list of the 5 most terrifying ones just for you this Halloween.
A quick word of warning though: below contains major spoilers for various Discworld books. If you plan on reading them, I suggest you stop here.
Now for everyone else: enjoy!
5. Mr. Teatime
At 5th place here is the dark star of Ankh-Morpork’s Assassin’s Guild: Mr. Teatime.
Teatime is the main villain of Hogfather, and he’s one of those people you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.
His parents died when he was young. Hogfather implied that he helped. He was likely one of those kids who tortured animals for fun, given how he carried out an assassination in-story. We never get the exact details of Teatime’s assassination of Sir George, but we know it involved his head being found several feet away from his body, and the dog nailed to the ceiling. Under those circumstances, I think we can all agree that the details are best left unknown.
Even other Assassins are disturbed by Teatime’s…antics. Their rules state to minimize as much collateral damage as possible, but Teatime delights in doing the exact opposite while still technically staying within the Assassin’s Guild’s regulations. The result is that other Assassins are probably too terrified of him to speak up about this.
And finally, note that Teatime was the one commissioned to assassinate the Hogfather: the Discworld‘s version of Santa Claus. Teatime’s plan? Force his way into the realm of the Tooth Fairy, collect the teeth of all the children in the vaults, and use sympathetic magic to erase their belief in the Hogfather.
Oh, and his name is pronounced “Teh-ah-tim-eh”. Don’t ever call him “Tea-time”. Not unless you want to find out what your insides look like from a dozen feet away.
Yeah, this is one seriously twisted dude, but the fact that he’s 5th on this list should tell you that the others are so. Much. Worse.
At 4th place, we have the unseen mastermind of the rats of Bad Blintz: Spider the Rat King.
At first, it appears that the rat catchers were the villains in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, but as we reach the climax of the story, it becomes clear that the rat catchers were merely puppets. The real mastermind was the being that called itself “Spider”.
Once upon a time, there were 8 rats. They lived their normal rat life as best as they could. That all changed when an apprentice rat catcher caught these 8 rats, and tied their tails together into a rat king in order to prove their worth to the Rat Catchers’ Guild. It was unfortunate that this unnamed apprentice chose 8 rats. Strange and terrible things happen when there are 8 of anything in the Discworld, and Spider was no exception.
The mystic number caused this particular rat king developed both sapience and psychic powers that allowed it to control the minds of other beings. Not only that, it hated humans with a passion due to how it was made. Thus, it used its psychic powers to mind-control the rat catchers, turning them into its puppets. It then used the rat catchers to terrorize the town of Bad Blintz, and to breed larger and larger rats to use as soldiers. Its ultimate goal? To build up an army of rats to cleanse Bad Blintz of humans, and then eventually work its way to the rest of the Disc.
Yeah, a psychic rat king that dreams of genocide. If it weren’t for a brave clan of rats and one reluctantly heroic cat, the Disc would definitely have been in a bad way. Definitely scarier than a single psychopathic human, but not as scary as the others.
3. Summoning Dark
At 3rd place, we have the shadowy avenger of the dwarves: the Summoning Dark.
The Summoning Dark is the sort-of villain of Thud!. I say “sort-of” because I find it difficult to classify as a villain, despite how utterly terrifying it is.
The Summoning Dark is an ancient being, dating back to when the dwarves first started writing mine signs thousands of years ago. The wizards of Unseen University classified it as a “quasi-demonic being”, which would technically make it a god of sorts.
The Summoning Dark is invoked when a dying dwarf draws its mine sign in his own blood. That symbol causes the Summoning Dark to manifest, allowing it to possess a nearby suitable host to use at will. What will, you may ask? Why, the Summoning Dark’s will is to take revenge on whoever committed the heinous deed that caused it to be summoned in the first place. This is why I have trouble classifying it as a villain, especially since it doesn’t go after innocents.
However, once it’s on the hunt, it never lets up. It makes its host track down the perpetrator over any distance like a relentless predator. And once it’s done, its host typically dies from the strain and injuries. Not only that, it gains power in the darkness, which is why you must keep the symbol in the light. Which is a bit difficult to do, because the Summoning Dark’s host will manifest the symbol all around them.
Hard to keep a symbol in the light when it’s moving. Even worse? The Summoning Dark itself is immortal and unkillable. You can only kill its host, and then it will just find a new one until its quest for vengeance is complete. It’s why the dwarves fear this creature most of all, and why you should too if you catch its ire.
2. The Cunning Man
At 2nd place, we have the eternal witch-hunter: The Cunning Man.
The Cunning Man is the twisted villain of I Shall Wear Midnight, and is the deadliest foe a witch can face.
The Cunning Man was once an inquisitor who really hated witches. He hated them so much that he burned any he could find, and anyone who didn’t help him. His subordinates were so terrified of him that they burned women they knew weren’t witches just to keep from being tossed into the fire themselves. Eventually, the Cunning Man met his end at the hands of a genuine witch, ironically, who pulled him into the fire when he strayed just a bit too close.
That should’ve been the end of the Cunning Man, but it wasn’t. Somehow, his hate for witches was so strong that it lived on after his death. It attained a life of its own, and now hunts witches just like he did. Worse, it’s unkillable now. Even worse, it can now manipulate the emotions of those around it, sending them into fits of rage, fear, and paranoia that make them easy to form into a mob to burn its target for it.
Yeah, at this point, I’d call it a demon. And yet, there’s another, more terrifying creature than even the Cunning Man.
1. Auditors of Reality
At 1st and most terrifying on our list, we have the Auditors of Reality.
The Auditors are anthropomorphic personifications of natural forces, just like Death. In the Auditors’ case though, they govern the forces of the universe like gravity, and make sure that they work as intended. Sounds like they’d be good guys, right? Well…
The Auditors dislike chaos because it’s messy and it makes their jobs harder. Unfortunately, life itself is the ultimate source of chaos. It’s why the Auditors despise all forms of life. They only like (insofar as they can like anything) humans because we can be persuaded to shoot ourselves in the head. Indeed, that’s what the Auditors try to do. Repeatedly.
They have a number of weaknesses, but they are as immortal and infinite as the universe itself. Sooner or later, something with an infinite number of chances is going to get something right. Unfortunately, that something is the end of all life itself. Not the death of life. Just merely that life stops. Even if it means breaking time itself.
Scared yet? And remember, the only thing that stands between the Discworld and them is Death.
It’s very fortunate that he likes people. And cats. Cats are nice.