10 Villains to Love-Hate

Since the world is celebrating romance today, I thought I would celebrate my lifelong romance with villains instead (I’m a brat like that). These are my top 10 Villains ranked according to their level of “evil,” in terms of how much destruction they wreak.



Honorable Mention: Kylo Ren, Star Wars

This boy turned his back on his parents and the Light Side of the Force to join the Dark Side, then went on to commit genocide against entire planets. That would knock him higher up the list, except for his indecisive attitude toward his own evil. Will he stay a villain? Kylo wants to be evil, but undermines himself through his continually unstable, erratic, intense emotions. At least his grandfather, Anakin, had a reason to join the Dark Side—misguided though it may have been, he wanted to save Padme. But Anakin didn’t murder his own father.

missyvillain10. Missy, Doctor Who

The mistress of chaos herself, the female regeneration of the Master, the Doctor’s most notorious adversary, introduces a level of chaotic hilarity, insults, double-betrayals, petty bitterness, jealousy, and randomness into Capaldi’s run. From her “Evil” Mary Poppins to her final moments, she was pure fun to watch. And lest we forget she’s evil, she killed one of the most adorable recurring characters on the show — Petronella Osgood.

hannibalvillain9. Hannibal Lecter

If this were a “most famous villains list,” Hannibal would be at the top – an intelligent cannibal and a mastermind at mental games. Out of all the villains on this list, the idea of having him free is the most terrifying. He could eat your liver with some fava beans and Chianti. Politely. Remember, he eats the rude first. So mind your manners. And the knives. Anthony Hopkins made the role infamous, but Madds also turns in a terrifying stint in the television series Hannibal… which is not for the faint of heart.

lokivillain8. Loki, The Avengers Franchise

Sarcastic, full of himself, emo, manipulative, and a little sadistic, what is not to love about the whiny, self-absorbed, L’Oreal Paris Hair “Best Thing About the Avengers Movies” Villain? If you want melodrama, look no further. If you want an insult, he has them in spades. I am still laughing about him mocking Captain America. But do not underestimate him — if a million people have to die in his quest for power, so be it.

michaelcorleonevillain7. Michael Corleone, The Godfather

Far more ruthless, opportunistic, and violent than his father, one could justify many of Michael’s actions as “necessary” given his family business (kill or be killed) but he also had his poor, stupid older brother killed for betraying him. He keeps the family “on top” through nefarious deals, intimidation, and revenge tactics, and runs a criminal organization that profits off casinos, political maneuvering, and prostitution.

jokervillain6. The Joker, The Dark Knight

Some say the worst evil gains and accomplishes nothing except destruction. In the film’s own words, “Some people just like to watch the world burn.” The Joker’s chaotic insanity makes Batman’s life miserable, and he gleefully sets a mountain of cash on fire to prove he gains nothing from his schemes except pure enjoyment… but despite his actions, he does not have an enormous collateral damage body count. Except Rachel. (Did anyone care that she died? No? Moving on then.)

tavingtonvillain5. Colonel Tavington, The Patriot

This sadistic bastard unleashes hell on the family and friends of patriots in a desperate attempt to get his hands on the “ghost,” Benjamin Martin. He shoots Benjamin’s son in cold blood during an arrest, burns his daughter-in-law alive in a church full of innocent townspeople, targets Benjamin’s unarmed, defenseless children in an attempt to get at him, and then kills his eldest son – all out of sheer sociopathic meanness.

scarvillain4. Scar, The Lion King

He manipulated and murdered his brother in cold blood to steal his throne, then psychologically traumatized his nephew into taking the blame before he ordered his death. His mismanagement of the Pride Lands turns it into a barren wasteland and devastates the animal population, but he does not care as long as he sits on Pride Rock. Scar is a magnificent, arrogant, manipulative, drop-dead gorgeous hellcat.

littlefingervillain3. Petyr Baelish / Littlefinger, Game of Thrones

Petyr only personally throws his annoying wife out the moon door (who can blame him?) – but he also orchestrated all the events that caused Ned Stark’s death and the resulting war, with the specific desire of his own advancement. If “chaos is ladder,” he intends to climb it all the way to the Iron Throne – manipulating, betraying, and using people along the way. Petyr is indirectly responsible for almost every major death in the series, since if he had not set these events in motion, most of them would not have happened.

cardinalmusketeer32. Cardinal Richelieu, The Musketeers

Richelieu is behind every nasty, nefarious thing in France, from attempting to assassinate the queen to wanting to blow up the Court of Miracles to framing innocent people for his crimes. He never apologizes for it, either, because he has rational (albeit immoral) reasons for everything he does. If the spoiled rotten king wants a brand new armada, well, he’s got to provide it, and if that means burning a bothersome duchess as a witch, that’s a price he’s willing to pay.

frollovillain1. Claude Frollo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo may be the most evil Disney villain. He spends years grooming Quasimodo into a fearful boy full of self-loathing, preying on his weaknesses and kindnesses through two decades of emotional abuse. He intends to use his power to commit genocide on a “lesser race” (the Romani). And he burns half of Paris to get his hands on a woman who refuses to sleep with him with the intent of giving her a choice between his bed and burning to death on pyre. And Disney put this in a kid’s movie!!

If I had ranked them according to personal favorites, Scar and Petyr would come first.

So there you have it, some of my favorite villains. Did any of yours not make the list?

18 thoughts on “10 Villains to Love-Hate

Add yours

  1. See, I was wondering if you were gonna put Scar at the top, cuz I know he’s your favorite 😉 But if this is a “destructiveness” list, it makes total sense that Frollo is #1.

    My favorite villain is Thanos, because he’s one of the very few villains who’s actually made me sit up and take notice of him. Most of the time I’m just like “ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh get off my screen, would you?” But not Thanos!! I actually relished his scenes because I was secretly debating his evil plans in my head the whole time.

    Also, I like that he has ONE solution to ALL the problems of the universe and is utterly convinced it’s gonna work perfectly. Like . . . no, buddy, but at least ya tried. 😉

    1. I was originally going to do a favorites list (and I would have even had a different top ten) and Scar would have been at the top, but then I started thinking in terms of collateral damage — and in that way, the top five are interchangeable. All of them cause massive damage to fuel their ambitions or egos, but Frollo has the added evil of mentally abusing a disabled person, so… yeah, he comes out as the ‘worst’ one.

      Thanos is very much a Hitler-esque villain — over-simplifying global issues into one “fix” — that is, eliminating half the population. Hitler over-simplified all the world’s evils into the eradication of the Jewish race. The interesting thing about Thanos is that he has no control over the end result — he doesn’t seem to know or care, but leaves it up to destiny, who “disappears” from the universe. In his shoes, I’d at least want a guarantee that a) I am not going to be one of the people who will disappear, and b) the people I hate will be gone. 😉

      1. That makes perfect sense. Frollo’s damage is both large-scale/impersonal AND intimate, in a way that many of the others aren’t.

        Yes. Which is why Hitler is the ultimate INFJ villain, isn’t he?

        Hmmmmmmmmmmm, I rather fancy Thanos saw a certain “romance” in leaving it up to chance–an imagined quixotic “fairness,” if you will?

        1. Frollo and Scar have a fair amount in common, when you think about it — both use emotional manipulation and psychological abuse (Frollo with Quasi, and Scar with Simba) and both’s actions have catastrophic fall-out on their kingdoms (Paris burning to the ground, the Pride Lands devastated by hyenas), but Frollo’s abuse is more malicious and long-term. Scar’s was “hit and run.”

          Yes, unfortunately that is true — Hitler was very much an Introverted Intuitive, who over-simplified complex things into too narrow of a scope. And in his unrealistic, idealistic desire to “fix” society, he went too far. I think all villains are terrifying in their own right, but the ones who believe they are doing good while justifying evil actions are singularly frightening, because they are completely deluded about their actions and justifying them in a banner of righteousness.

          I suspect Thanos would have been okay with vanishing himself, if the stone chose it, because that would be entirely fair — and his primary concern was to bring balance back to the universe by eliminating half the population, which includes himself. At least he’s noble in that way — he does not appear to value his own life above anyone else’s.

          1. Frollo just . . . Takes the Cake in Every Category, doesn’t he?

            And Hitler, too, was ESPECIALLY dangerous because he had the charisma to sell his deluded ‘solutions’ to huge, huge numbers of followers.

            He is . . . weirdly noble . . . while still being UTTERLY HORRIBLE. Maybe that’s why I have such a fascination with him 😉

          2. He really does. I still marvel that Disney had the guts to Go There in so many ways — all in ONE movie!! They haven’t had the guts since, IMO. 😉

            Yes. Hitler was aided by the fact that after WWI, so many people were depressed and felt marginalized and oppressed. He understood their need for nationalist pride, as something to think about / care about and focus on, and used that to motivate them into action. Nationalism has its place and is in many ways valuable (especially in context of the real differences between various cultural upbringings) but it can also be extremely dangerous when you utilize it as Hitler did. I think it was the “perfect storm” — a moment in history where everything came together in a massive, negative way and it all “clicked.” Hitler being so charismatic (and delusional), a public ready to listen to him, a world that did not want another war and dragged its heels in being proactive / stopping this before it got massive, etc. It’s all mind-boggling until you realize that humans are by their nature, passive and do not like to tackle “small problems” — they tend to wait until they are too big to handle. 😛

            Thano is a pretty decent villain, that’s for sure. 😉

          3. No, they certainly nave not. 😉

            EXACTLY. It wasn’t just the one man, it was the very specific historical context in which that one man operated . . . the same context that allowed Stalin to flourish.

            I read a book in grad school that covered both Hitler’s AND Stalin’s atrocities, which you would think would be this enormous, impossible feat–until you realize they both focused on ravaging the same territory: Eastern Europe. (being as the vast majority of the Jews Hitler killed were from Eastern Europe and not Germany, and that Stalin starved the population of E. Europe much more so than Russia . . . etc.) It remains the only history book I’ve read where a place itself became a main character in the story. It was called “Bloodlands” and I don’t think I will ever forget it.

            Compared to most . . . and yet, he kills so many people . . . idk anymore, man 😛 😛

          4. Sounds like a fascinating book. If I am ever in the mood to be seriously depressed and horrified, I shall read it. (Which… if you know me at all, means I actually will read it. :P)

            All proper villains kill people. Thanos did his job rather well considering he managed to get rid of most of the Avengers…

          5. Erm, yeah. It was probably the most depressing book I read for college. (And yup, I bet you will. 😉 ) It was GOOD though. Timothy Snyder is a wonderful historian. And he humanizes things even as he’s in the middle of showing you all the horrors; which is important.

            I’m honestly worried about what it will take to defeat him in the next movie. I do NOT think that such tremendous losses can be reversed without serious & permanent sacrifices on the part of Earth’s remaining defenders.

          6. I think you are going to write about stuff that serious and inhumane, you need a good historian who can reach people in a heartfelt way. So I’m glad it sounds like the right one tackled it.

            I am glad as a writer, I do not have to figure out how to get the Avengers out of this mess. 😛 Because they ARE in a mess. I have honestly no idea what will happen, or how they will reverse it, and I was frankly shocked when Strange disappeared, since I would have thought he’d be a key component in reversing it.

          7. Absolutely. It takes great care to do something like that right.

            They are in SUCH a mess. And yep, without Dr. Strange’s expertise, they’re going to have to muddle through creating some kind of Infinity-Stone-fueled solution all by themselves . . .

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