Professor Moriarty is not only fiction’s first master criminal, he’s also the creepiest. Who could ever forget the way Holmes describes him in "The Final Problem"?
“He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward and is forever oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion.”
There have been a number of fine Moriartys on stage, screen, and television, but to me none of them quite lives up to this description for sheer creepiness.
Interestingly, Holmes reaches for another herpetological simile when he describes “The Worst Man in London,” Charles Augustus Milverton in the short story bearing his name:
“Do you feel a creeping, shrinking sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents in the Zoo and see the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that’s how Milverton impresses me. I’ve had to do with fifty murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.”
It’s almost as if Holmes is describing the serpentine villain Lord Voldemort of the Potter saga. Or maybe he just had a negative thing about snakes, reminiscent of Indiana Jones. What do you think?