Top 20 Best Villains Of All Time
A Good Guide to the Bad Guys we Know and... Love?
Villains are one of the most important characters in all forms of storytelling. Movies, TV, Video Games, Comics, Anime, Books. You name it, they’re always there, causing mayhem in their own unique and disturbing way, to everyone around them or to one, single individual. Below are some of the best villains in fiction, in my own opinion, of course. Some of you will agree with me. And some of you will call me evil for not including your favourite ones on here. But hey, isn’t that the point of villains in the first place?
“We're goanna need a bigger boat.” – Martin Brody
As iconic as its theme song, this oversized Great White Shark is the epitome of why you should be careful at every beach you go to. The mere sight of its fin would foreshadow the horrors yet to come, and would make anyone run, scramble or swim away in fear, and that’s assuming you can see it coming. If not, well, that sinking feeling in your gut will be the least of your worries.
“Thanks for your cooperation.”
A Terminator is basically a horror movie villain, only they can speak coherent English and use bullets. Also, they’re very relentless and hard to kill. And if shapeshifting, transforming into liquid metal and having blades for arms wasn’t bad enough, even against the original movie’s villain, a cybernetic Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is a literal embodiment of an unstoppable killing machine.
“I’m going to enjoy watching you die, Mr. Anderson.”
Originally an obstacle for Neo to overcome on his journey to becoming “The One”, Agent Smith ended up evolving into something much, much “more”. Literally. In the digital reality he’s forced to resides in, he can replicate himself by using innocent people, effortlessly creating an army of Hugo Weavings until all that remains is a billion of him and one Keanu Reeves to fight for the future of mankind. Poor CGI aside, this rogue security protocol is not one you’re meant to fight against, but one to run away from.
“You will be baked, and then there will be cake.”
GLaDOS is a female, video game adaptation of the infamous HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Forced to perform tests for eternity with only one human to perform each test at a time, the mental state of this AI, who wasn’t even an AI to begin with, slowly deteriorated to the point it actively tries to kill you. But the test subject doesn’t know that, and with her as the only voice to depend on for instructions, what can you trust?
“I was cured, all right!”
Everything this beyond-troubled youth does after a swig of drugged milk is despicable. As if beating, killing and having sex his victims was somehow not bad enough, he does so to the tune of “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” and “Singin’ in the Rain”. And even when brainwashed into a model citizen, that evil side of him still remained within him and when that brainwashing faded away, he couldn’t wait to start his spree of terror, again and again.
“Don’t forget to smile.”
After being experimented on in the past, there was no hope for redemption for this supervillain. Armed with the deadly ability to make anyone do what he says, Kilgrave can make you shut up without issue, make you physically harm yourself if you annoy him, or force you to kill someone on his behalf. Never has a voice made you literally stop dead in your tracks like this before.
“I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
The moment you see this man, having chills running down your spine is an understatement. A cannibal who uses psychology as his weapon, there’s no telling what he’ll do next, or if what he’s saying is even close to the truth. Even behind the safety of prison bars, whether or not you’re safe or next on the menu is entirely up to him and him alone. Never have dinner with this man, even if he offers to make all the arrangements.
“You’re the bad guys. And I...am the goddamm hero!”
Delusional to the point of insanity, and in charge of his own private military, Handsome Jack wishes to wipe out all the filth in the universe by any means necessary. That does make sense, since they were responsible for what happened to him under that mask he wears. And yet, despite all the atrocities caused by his actions, he still thinks he’s the good guy in all of this. We all know everyone is the hero of their own story, but Jack here takes this trope way too far.
“Everyone is mine to torment. You’d do well to remember that, you little monster.”
Disclaimer: As of now, I have yet to watch Game of Thrones, but even I knew this little shit was to be despised and hated. A little research reveals his love for putting people’s head on pikes, making people beat others to near death with a crossbow pointed at them and arranging for barbaric acts of torture and murder to happen simply because he’s entitled to. This kid who would be king truly deserved every slap in the face Peter Dinklage gave him and whatever fate eventually does befall him.
“Detective! You’re looking for me.”
Keven Spacey is always destined to play the villain in every movie he’s in, and this one is the creepiest of them all. Committing crimes revolving around the seven deadly sins too gruesome to mention or even to look up on google, he’s able to create his ultimate masterpiece from start to finish, to the point of goading a hot-headed police officer into killing him out of personal rage rather than justice. And honestly, we don’t envy any of the good guys for wanting to do so.
“Long live the king!”
Jealousy is a major sin, especially among the animal kingdom. Even when we knew he was evil, I mean just look at him, no one was prepared for the moment when he killed his brother Mufasa, tossing him off the cliff to be trampled to death by a startled herd, making the protagonist and every child who saw this movie cry. This also led him to become king of the Pridelands and ruined it to the point of famine with his army of hyenas. And does he care? Those who get what they want rarely do.
“This... is god.”
Horror movie villains are the stuff of legend and nightmares, especially for the latter with this creep. Already an evil man before his death at the hands of his victim’s parents (yes, he was THAT bad), he soon gained the power to harm and kill his victims in their nightmares. That’s right. If he kills you in your dreams, you’ll die for realsies. Good luck sleeping when this creep’s around. Oh, wait. You can’t.
“Get away from her, you bitch!” - Ripley
Everything about these Xenomorphs literally screams “dangerous predator”. From their birth as face-huggers who can impregnate anyone (men included), to being the undisputed masters of stealth when stalking their prey. Armed with acid blood and a tongue mouth with teeth that can creak through your skull and eat your brain, this is one extra-terrestrial you don’t want to encounter in the cold depths of space.
“I will become the God of this new world!”
The only anime character on this list, this Grade-A student’s discovery of a notebook, that can kill people simply by writing their name down, leads him onto a crusade against crime. His actions have attracted loyalists to his cause, but also the attention of some of the greatest detectives in the world to try and take him down, creating one of the best cat-and-mouse shows to watch. Oh, and he was the protagonist.
“SUPERMAN! I’m here to kill you.”
Here's the thing: if you're responsible for killing superman, you'll definitely end up high on someone’s list. Just like mine! Not to mention that he's nigh-indestructible, meaning if you somehow kill this thing, it'll come back to life IMMUNE to how it was killed. Truly an unstoppable force AND an immovable object to be reckoned with.
A timeless foe for the immortal, time traveling alien known only as The Doctor, The Daleks would always be there to conquer or eradicate any who stand in their way. And despite their dominance over the heroes, and even some of the other major villains, the worst thing they’ve ever done was forcing The Doctor, the galaxy’s greatest hope, to resort to committing genocide on his own people just so he could win a war against the Daleks. Truly evil indeed.
“No, I am your father!”
The first Star Wars villain ever to appear on a movie screen, and he sure was a force to be reckoned with. Seemingly cold-hearted as the metal on his body and limbs, this Sith Lord terrorised an entire galaxy, and even his own children, to the point where hope seemed all but lost. And despite the tragic tale hidden beneath his mask, there is no escape from this menace and there is no underestimating the power of the dark side within him.
“Life... dreams... hope... Such meaningless things... I’ll destroy them all!”
What would happen if a mad clown became a god? Kefka is one such clown, and a really messed-up one too. He’s the type of clown who’ll poison rivers of nearby towns just so he can dance to their dying screams. And when Kefka finally obtains godhood through genocide and betrayal, he succeeds in destroying the world, all in an effort to prove that all life and all the emotions associated with it are meaningless.
“Balanced, as all things should be.”
Wherever he goes, death follows. Whether it’s carrying out the will of Death incarnate or wiping out half of all living things in the universe with a snap of his fingers, Thanos is one of the most dangerous villains ever created, and managed to outshine every other villain within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to become the ultimate adversary to the heroic Avengers. Also, he made The Hulk his bitch, which didn’t make a lot of us feel so good when that happened.
“Why so serious?”
If you didn’t think Mr. J wasn’t gonna be on top of this list, you’re joking. The ultimate arch-enemy to the Goddamm Batman, this psychopath has been terrorising people, in fiction and real life, for decades. Unpredictable as his backstory, clever as he is crazy, and insane beyond all logic and reason, The Joker has cemented himself as one of fiction’s undisputed villains of all time. No explanation needed; he is the greatest and anyone who says otherwise is clearly telling a bad joke.
Also, an honourable mention goes to zombies. Why? Because it’s a no-BRAINer! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
About the Author
Adrian Colby is a freelance creative writer whose dreams are bigger than his word count. While he likes reading a lot, he prefers stories with unique settings, smart twists and engaging storytelling that makes you learn something new every day. And when he’s not looking at a book, mobile, computer or TV screen, he likes hanging out with his friends, collect Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading cards, play video games and making people laugh whenever he can. (Caution: May tell jokes about chickens using the children’s crossing.)