Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Kubrick’s adaptation have garnered a reputation for extreme violence, appearing regularly on lists of ‘banned’ works and being implicated in ‘copycat crimes’. This paper traces the development of this reputation. Both film and book were very warmly received on first appearance, the first public ‘outrage’ being manufactured by British tabloids two years after the film’s release. The paper goes on to use the theory of the ‘folk devil’ to reassess the text itself and ends by investigating how the moral panic had a positive effect by stopping the torture of prisoners in California.