Whether it’s a movie, TV show, video game, or whatever, people seem to be more fascinated by villains and bad guys rather than the heroes. What makes a good villain is hard to say. For me personally, I like all kinds of villains. I like the ones that have the grandest of aspirations such as world domination. The crazy villains are always fun too. And sometimes I just like the comedic villains.
Well I’d like to offer my personal favorite top 25 villains. And I’m not messing around here. My bad guys come from all mediums in entertainment including movies, TV, comics, books, video games, or whatever tickles my fancy. Be prepared, because I may spoil whatever series these guys are involved in. Also, there is a lot of Batman on here…deal with it.
25) Dark Helmet (Spaceballs)
-The feared Commander of Spaceball 1. Maybe his decisions were a little off at times, like going to ludicrous speed and not wearing a seat-belt. And he has a propensity to play with dolls. But trust me: you don’t want to be on this guy’s bad side. If anyone screwed up, Helmet would take his Schwartz ring and…you don’t want to know. He was also a skilled fighter despite getting the downside of the Schwartz.
24) Punch-Out’s Mike Tyson (Punch-Out!)
-Nearly impossible to beat, Tyson drove video gamers mad. The first 90 seconds of the Tyson fight is dodging punches. One hit and you’re down. That’s just not fair.
23) Judge Doom (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
-A man consumed with hatred for toons, but who would have guessed he’s a toon himself! Who drew this mad man? What really makes him villainous is that he actually created a liquid that destroys his own kind – “the dip.” Not only that, he’s willing to wipe out his own people in order to build a highway. Now that’s a villain.
22) Newman (Seinfeld)
-“I’ve looked into his eyes…he’s pure evil.” That’s a quote from Jerry Seinfeld on his arch-nemesis Newman. Not only was Newman a mail man who “controlled information,” he was a devious jackass who was more selfish than Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer put together. But he was always a thorn in Jerry’s side. How about the time he ratted him out to his barber that he was getting haircuts from someone else. Or how about when he told Jerry’s parents he and his girlfriend were making out during Schindler’s List. Always be aware of Mr. Newman, especially when there are chunky wrappers around.
21) John Kreese (The Karate Kid)
-We all remember the line: “Sweep the leg.” This man wanted nothing more than to ruin with the lives of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi. How can you not fear the man who’s leader of the Cobra Kai dojo? Although he gets humiliated by Miyagi on several occasions, he always comes back for more. “Cobra Kai…never die!”
20) Chong Li (Bloodsport)
-He’s notorious for killing an opponent in the previous Kumite. He holds numerous Kumite records. That is until Frank Dux comes to town. But what really made him scary were his last two fights before going up against Dux in the finals. He ripped off Ray Jackson’s Harley-Davidson head band and put him in the hospital. And then in the semi-finals, he kills his opponent and shouts at Dux, “You are next” while the entire room is still observing a moment of silence for the guy he just killed. Wow. What a jackass.
19) Krang (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
-The Ruler of Dimension X. He’s literally the brains of the operation. Yes, Krang is actually a brain. Constantly surrounded by stupidity and always looking for an energy source to power his beloved Technodrome, Krang didn’t seem all that threatening. But whenever he personally fought the turtles, he was pretty bad ass. Whether it’s using his molecular enhancer chip to grow over 100 feet tall or morphing his hands into deadly weapons, Krang was one evil ruler you didn’t want to cross.
18) Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
-He’s just your ordinary everyday villain who was created with alien cells. But it’s not until the very last fight when you crap your pants and say “OMG.” Let me sum up Sephiroth with this: He has an attack where he summons a Super Nova.
17) Scarecrow (Batman)
-The Master of Fear. Probably one of the greatest weapons ever forged by a super villain: the fear gas. One spray sends anyone into a hallucinogenic state where everything around you is your greatest nightmare. Although, I guess if you punch him before he sprays you, you’re fine.
16) Biff Tannen (Back to the Future)
-What a “butt-head.” In the first Back to the Future, he’s just kind of a jackass. But in Part II, he’s the evil corporate ruler of a deranged alternate timeline. This is all because Marty had to buy that stupid sports almanac. In this alternate timeline, not only does Biff off Marty’s pop, but he marries his mother. It doesn’t get more evil than that.
15) Bane (Batman: Knightfall)
-Known famous in the Knightfall comic storyline, he’s the man who broke the bat. What other Batman villain can say, “I discovered Batman’s identity, broke into his Batcave, beat the crap out of him and then broke his back.” Not much else to say.
14) Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman)
-Whether it’s the Batman Begins version where he wants to “tear Gotham apart with fear” or in the animated series in which he basically wants to erase the world and start again, Ra’s Al Ghul is one bad dude. You also have to give props to the guy for living for hundreds of years via Lazarus Pit.
13) Lex Luthor (Superman)
-I love this character because he just hates his enemy (Superman) so damn much. It’s “Mind over Matter” for Mr. Luthor. He’s very similar to Ra’s Al Ghul in that he wants to destroy and re-make the world. Gene Hackman played him to perfection in the first two Superman movies, but I have to say a close second is Michael Rosenbaum on Smallville. I’m not kidding.
12) Two-Face (Batman)
-He decides his victim’s fates by the flip of the coin. This is probably the first villain on the list who has a truly tragic story. When I think of Two-Face, I usually think of the Two-Face from The Dark Knight. Although he was overshadowed by the Joker in that film, make no mistake – he becomes pretty damn evil.
11) Voldemort (Harry Potter)
-He doesn’t even know what the word remorse means. This guy is so evil that killing people is part of his plan to live forever. But what it all boils down to is that he was so feared, wizards couldn’t even speak his name even after he “died.” Now that’s respect.
10) Ivan Drago (Rocky IV)
-First of all, he kills Apollo Creed. He’s definitely a bad buy who says more with this actions than with his words, but when he speaks, it’s terrifying. He essentially has only four lines in Rocky IV, and this is what they are: “You will lose.” “If he dies, he dies.” “I must break you.” And then he shouts towards the Russian politburo, “I win for me…FOR ME.” Bad Ass.
9) Bowser (Mario Brothers)
-How many times has this guy survived? He’s been dropped in a lava pit. Then he falls off the ledge of his own castle in Mario 3. His clown-chopper goes out of control at high altitude. He’s been rammed into countless spiked bombs. He just keeps coming back, no matter how many times Mario defeats him. Although his minions are morons, he is not. But I think his most devastating act was his most recent in Mario Galaxy when he attempted to create his own Galaxy that hovered directly over the Mushroom Kingdom. And make no mistake…he puts his enemy (Mario) through some pretty ridiculous puzzles and death traps.
8 – Big Boy Caprice (Dick Tracy)
-He may have been an eccentric crime lord, but he was a good one. Not many crime lords can say they consolidated all their rivals and made himself boss with virtually no challengers. He has a solid right hand man in Flattop and is very crafty in all his dealings. With a love for walnuts and the ability to always pull out a great historical quote, it’s no wonder Dick Tracy was obsessed with bringing him down.
7) The Riddler (Batman)
-Willing to kill people just to fuel his obsession with puzzles and games. He loved to play with Batman, claiming he was the only one worthy of his riddles. Ultimately, he wanted all the knowledge in the world, and thrived on knowing answers to questions that no one else did. Not many of Batman’s villains tortured him with words, but the Riddler did.
6) Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
-Whether you follow the cartoon series or live-action movie or whatever else, Shredder was always a bad man. With an entire costume made up of spikes and needles, this ninja master caused so many problems for the ninja turtles. Although he could ultimately never defeat his rival Yoshi/Splinter, he always destroyed the turtles, and even defeated them all at once. But by far his scariest moment came in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze when he drank an entire canister of ooze and became Super Shredder. I was seven years old when I saw this, and I was scared out of my mind for the turtles.
5) Season 1 Sylar (Heroes)
-Yeah, yeah, I know everyone hates Heroes. Fine. Just forget the recent seasons where Sylar is trying to find himself and think back to Season one only. This was a villain no one had ever seen before. He opened people’s brains and took their special abilities. His super power of “understanding how things worked” is to this day one of the most intriguing super human abilities ever introduced in any movie, TV or book. Although later in the series he dealt with mommy and daddy issues, and is even good at times, there is no denying this guy’s evil nature in the first season. His quest for power was fascinating to watch.
4) Magneto (X-Men)
-Some may even argue he’s not a true villain. Well, he is. But he’s the only villain I know who works with his enemies from time to time. How can you not be interested in a villain who when his greatest enemy was killed, mourned him terribly. More than any other villain on this list, you understand his anger and frustration at the world. Although he is wrong for doing what he does and you want the X-Men to defeat him, you still sympathize with him to an extent.
3) Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)
-Maybe the greatest master plan of all time. This Sith Lord was an evil genius twenty years in the making. He orchestrated the events of an entire galaxy for years. And when you think back to the prequels, he didn’t just win…he won with authority. The Jedi Council, supposedly this all knowing group of great warriors, were taken out in a matter of minutes because of his doing. Yoda and Mace Windu were 100% clueless. He makes the Galaxy his Empire. He steals the Jedi’s “Chosen One” in Anakin Skywalker. He ruled hundreds of star systems for decades. Out of all the villains on the list, he was the most successful.
2) The Joker (Batman)
-We’ve all seen The Dark Knight. We know the Joker is a very different kind of villain. He doesn’t care about world domination. He doesn’t want to just kill his enemy. In fact, he thrives on keeping Batman alive so he can torture him for all eternity. This is a villain who just wants the world to be as crazy as he is. Not only is he a raving lunatic, but his fighting style is unpredictable. Whether it’s an electric hand buzzer or knife in the shoe, Joker always has to battle with style.
Whether it’s Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill in the animated series or simply just the comic books, Joker is always demented and driving everyone he meets to the brink of insanity.
1) Darth Vader (Star Wars)
-He slices his son’s arm off. He destroys entire rooms with a single thought. He force chokes people from miles away while talking to them on a television monitor. And best of all…he’s voiced by James Earl Jones. And it’s not just the voice that cements him as the greatest villain of all time. He utilizes that voice with some bad ass lines. Check these out:
“All too easy”
“Impressive. Most Impressive”
“I find your lack of faith disturbing”
“Apology Accepted, Captain Needa”
I’m kidding about the last one, but regardless, when I think of villains, Darth Vader is the first one that comes to mind. And even though he ultimately redeems himself at the end, this is one evil dude who destroys people with the greatest signature move of all time. But the voice truly makes him not only the most memorable bad guy, but one of the most memorable characters in any medium period. Even though you never see his face till the very end, you could always feel what his emotions were behind that mask because of that cool ass voice. His breathing will be iconic till the end of time. Darth Vader is the only choice for #1. His mask is a symbol for evildoers everywhere.
So that’s my list. How ironic that the list began with a parody of my #1 villain. As Neo would say, “Whoa.”