The article focuses on the transformations of concept of totalitarianism—a specific form of autocracy that has come into existence in the 20th century. Its aim is not just to lay out the milestones in its history, but to assess its place in the context of the current political discourse. The journey starts in the 1920s when the concept was invented in Italy and Germany. Then its critics, the European public intellectuals stepped into the debate before and during World War II. The Cold War era opened another chapter in the history of this concept and produced its standard definition, and also the distinction between totalitarianism and authoritarianism. The “retreat” from its use was suggested in the 1960s. A decade later, Vaclav Havel brought it back to life, analyzing the totalitarianism's strange metamorphosis after the unsuccessful attempt to endow Soviet-style socialism with a “human face” during the Prague Spring of 1968. The rise of China in the first decades of the 21st century is connected with the evolution of a specific Chinese variety of the species. The final word in the ongoing totalitarianism debate is given to Hannah Arendt, undoubtedly the most challenging, the most provocative, and the deepest author in the field.