Villians don’t have to be male to be effective, remember that.
If one were to make the attempt to name and detail every movie villain in existence, even just the greatest among them, it would take a substantial amount of time, not to mention effort, to convince anyone that their choices are sound and that there’s no room for argument. So that’s why I won’t bother saying that those on this list are the absolute best for this reason or that, but I will say that they’re the best of all time since they have something that other villains don’t have and in some cases, their story is far more tragic than many others because they were made into villains to develop a story and for no other reason. When taking in the backstory of a large number of villains it’s easy to talk about personal responsibility and accountability. But there are a few out there that might be able to be given the benefit of doubt since they weren’t exactly given a reason or choice to be the type of people that they might have wanted to be.
But a good villain is one that can’t be easily humanized since they represent the darkest and most vile aspects of this world that bear thinking about. The best villains of all time are those who don’t bother with motives and simply do things more often than not. Even those who do have solid motives for being bad don’t necessarily need to worry that much when it comes to being held accountable for their actions since they’re bound to be seen as the villain no matter what they do since this is the life they chose and the role they were bound to play. Great villains are those who lean into the part that they’re meant to play and give rise to the belief that there’s not much of a reason to repent and start becoming a do-gooder. The convictions that great villains possess help them to become known as some of the most impressive antagonists that have ever been written into a script.
Listen to me waxing on here, one would think that I like rooting for the villain and wouldn’t even think to worry about the protagonist. The truth is that an epic villain is worth watching and worth hoping for since they bring a flair to the story and a convincing arc that makes it easier to fully enjoy the tale that’s being told. Good villains can create a fun story that people will want to watch more than once, while great villains will make it necessary for people to watch a movie just so they can see if the villain is every bit as bad as people have said. Admit it, you get a thrill when the bad guy is absolutely evil and not just kind of bad.
With that in mind, here are some of the most epic villains of all time.
10. Samara-The Ring
It’s tough to think that children can be born bad, but that does appear to be the case with Samara since alive or dead, this girl is a problem apparently. The unfortunate part is that alive or dead, she’s still dangerous, and as a dead girl, she’s even more so since there’s no stopping her. Even tossing her down a well, burning the videotape that allows her to haunt others, and even sealing her in the well again doesn’t get rid of her. One can’t help but wonder if it would take divine intervention to stop her.
It’s a little confusing to think of how a legend can die, but apparently, it’s possible since the Candyman has been vanquished a few times now. But when the legend proves to be a little more resilient even when it’s forgotten, one has to think that it could live on and on and adapt as is needed to become even stronger and infinitely more insidious.
8. Annie Wilkes-Misery
Crazy comes in many forms, but sometimes it can take the form of one’s greatest admirer since, well, why not? Annie Wilkes has gone down in history as one of the most vicious villains to ever exist, and she’s accomplished this in a way that’s kind of impressive. She was never immortal, she was not a ghost, and she didn’t have any particular power or skill that would allow her to overpower anyone. The fact is that her prisoner, Paul Sheldon, was injured and unable to fight back in a capable manner, and she was just crazy enough to keep him on his toes.
When talking about otherworldly characters that have supernatural abilities and are absolutely frightening, the Cenobites are in a league that isn’t all their own but is still impressive enough to keep a franchise going, no matter how many terrible movies have been made. The original is still one of the best out there, and to be fair, the reboot isn’t all that bad, even if it’s not quite the same as the original.
6. Pamela Voorhees-Friday the 13th
What’s funny about this character is that she gets forgotten every now and then in favor of her son, who would go on to become the immortal killing machine that might not have been the original intention. Her role as the first killer in this franchise has been glossed over in such a way that one might find it just a little frustrating since she kicked things off in a big way and handed credit over to her son without question.
5. Freddy Krueger-Nightmare on Elm Street
This is one of the few villains who would make just about any list when talking about the bad guy since humanizing Freddy would be like trying to make a great white shark go vegan. Out of all the villains ever created for the movies, this guy has a sadistic streak a mile wide and doesn’t care; in fact, he revels in it and would keep killing if no one ever figured out how to destroy him. But because of that one glaring weakness, his arrogance, in other words, he’s a perfect example of how an immortal creature can paint itself into a corner.
4. Anna Ivers-The Uninvited
What makes Anna so terrifying is that she looks and sounds like a young woman that has nothing to hide and is simply happy to be home. But until one gets the gist that she’s not all there in the head, they’re led to think that those around her are the problem and that her stepmother is the villain, when in truth she’s just another victim in waiting since Anna’s mind has split down the middle and the worst half is in the driver’s seat.
3. Hannibal Lecter-Silence of the Lambs
Geez, where to begin with this guy? He’s intelligent, he’s ruthless, he’s brutal, and worst of all, he’s the patient type who will take his time when it comes to getting back at people. Not only that, but his knowledge of anatomy and the fact that he can manipulate and psychoanalyze people makes him a true threat that doesn’t need to be super strong or quick. He just needs to hit the right nerve, and unless a person is able to withstand his ability to strike when one least expects it, they’re next on the menu.
What must it be like to have a childlike appearance when one is well into their twenties or thirties? It feels as though it might be a serious impediment to one’s life, but Esther has made it work for her throughout a couple of movies now, and if the actress can make it work again it might be that we’ll see another movie along this line. True, Esther was finally killed in the initial movie, but it does feel as though this might be an idea to bring back once or twice in the years to come.
1. Xenomorph Queen-Aliens
Some folks might want to argue that the xenomorph queen isn’t exactly the typical villain since she’s a creature that’s following her nature and on top of that, there are more queens out there in the Aliens franchise, thanks to the predators and because these creatures are survivors. But there is something insidious about this race, and the fact is that the queen is a mean bitch that knows how to seek payback, even if her attempts at survival aren’t seen as anything but vile and evil by the humans her drones set up as living incubators.
WTR? (Why’s That Radass?)
Villains are necessary for a good story and some of the best have been turned into vicious, uncaring creatures who don’t necessarily need to be given pity since they choose to be this vile. But then again, some of the best do have qualities that would make them decent beings if they acted upon them. Thankfully for movie lovers all over the world, that’s rarely how the script goes.