A good book has a protagonist that you cheer for. Some titles have such compelling antagonists (making you root for the hero even more!) that they stick with you long after you’ve finished the story.

Here’s a list of some quite despicable school bullies in literature that have helped shape our favorite heroes:


Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (Grades 4-6, Level T, Lexile: 760)


Marion Hawthorne

Bullies: Marion Hawthorne and
Miss Elson’s Sixth Grade Class from The Gregory School

harriet the spy

Hero: Harriet M. Welsch

Marion is the posh, spoiled classmate of Harriet. She typically uses intimidation tactics with her icy glares to get her way. Marion has a knack for saying just the right things in her haughty tone to get under Harriet’s skin.  One day Harriet’s most secret journal is discovered and read to the entire class. The journal contains her observations on classmates, some that are not very nice. Marion uses Harriet’s reaction after the journal debacle to cause more trouble, including a big initiative to take down Harriet with the rest of the class. Despite Marion’s and the class’ mischievous antics, Harriet overcomes and accepts the consequences of her actions, making her a stronger friend in the end and an overall better person.


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Grades 4-12, Level V)



Bully: Carmelita Spats


Heroes: Sunny, Klaus and Violet Baudelaire

“If you were going to give a gold medal to the least delightful person on Earth, you would have to give that medal to a person named Carmelita Spats, and if you didn’t give it to her, Carmelita Spats was the sort of person who would snatch it from your hands anyway.”
A fitting description for a ‘vile’ bully, Carmelita doesn’t have a nice bone in her body and never hesitates to call the Baudelaire children the ultimate diss: cakesniffers. Her insults to the siblings don’t cut deep; they act as a reminder that as long as they have one another, the Baudelaires can make it through any situation that comes their way. We never really find out what becomes of Carmelita at the end of the series, but what is known is that Carmelita is the biggest, baddest bully Prufock Preparatory School has ever seen. A title she would wear proudly, I’m sure.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Grades 4-7, Level U, Lexile: 790)



Bully: Julian


Hero: Auggie

Julian is the playground bully that Auggie has to face every day at school. We later learn in an exclusive chapter, not included in the original book, that Julian’s attitude stems from his own troubles and insecurities. This doesn’t take away from the cruelty of Julian’s behavior towards Auggie, which deeply hurts him. Auggie discovers his bravery and resilience through the taunting and realizes that kids like Julian don’t define or control his feelings. Julian is a complicated and hard character to get behind in Wonder, but he’s necessary in showcasing the reality of bullies that appear in many schools.


Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd (Grades 9-12)



Bully: ‘A’


Heroes: Hanna Marin, Spencer Hastings,
Emily Fields and Aria Montgomery

‘A’ is a bully like no other, harassing the four main characters in this series, at times almost to the death! After their friend Ali goes missing, the once close group of friends go their separate ways. One day, ‘A’ appears, bringing the gang back together. The girls constantly receive secret messages from unknown numbers and find themselves in dangerous situations all at the hands of this mysterious ‘A.’ Throughout the series, the girls find solace through their strong friendship. It’s their bond that gives them the confidence to start taking back their lives, combating their bully and figuring out just what happened to Ali. Known as a bully with a bit of flare and witticisms, ‘A’ is the ultimate relentless tormenter that tracks the girls both inside and outside of school.


Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (Grades 4-12)


draco malfoy

Bully: Draco Malfoy

Harry Potter

Hero: Harry Potter

Arguably one of the most well-known bullies in literature (how many of these lists boast his name?!), Draco is a classic bully with deep, conflicting layers. Draco leads his band of cronies to annoy and provoke Harry and his friends throughout the series, highlighting the fact that Harry is an orphan. You can almost see the spit fly off the page when he spits “Potter!” However, his tomfoolery slowly turns darker and more disturbing as the series continues. Escalating events throughout each book reveal an unsure Draco – having a difficult time deciding to turn his back on his classmates and go “all in” to the evil wizard Lord Voldemort’s side or not. With this conflict, Draco’s bullying begins to go much further than surface-level pranks. Harry never lets Draco get the best of him, often standing up to him on behalf of his classmates. As both Draco and Harry mature throughout the series, Harry finds strength to fight back with the love he has for his friends, who have become his family. Not only does he fend off Draco’s bullying, he leads the budding wizard war against Lord Voldemort to combat the hatred against muggles (wizards born to non-magical families) with love and acceptance.