The 100 Greatest Movie Villains

Monday, April 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

For any movie hero to be successful, he needs a dastardly villain to match wits with. This has taken many forms over the years, from henchmen and aliens to faulty computers and deranged fans. In an effort to expand your cinematic horizons, I’ve compiled this list of the 100 greatest movie villains. If you want to get good at being bad, these guys (and gals) can teach you a thing or two.

Greatest Sci-Fi Movie Villains

1. Darth Vader (James Earl Jones/David Prowse) from The Empire Strikes Back – The greatest villain in the history of cinema, Vader remains tragic despite his penchant for evil.
2. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from The Terminator – This cyborg from the future guns down cops, housewives, and anyone else who gets in his way. The role that made Ah-nuld a star.
3. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) from The Matrix– A cold-hearted computer program, Agent Smith tracks down Neo and his friends with ruthless efficiency. Weaving’s great vocal work really puts this character over the top.
4. Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – A genetically engineered tyrant with a major grudge against Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Check out that great ‘80s hair. Kiiiiirrrrrkkkk!
Movie Villains5. Hal 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain) from 2001: A Space Odyssey – When it comes to whacking astronauts, nobody’s better than this pleasant-voiced killer computer.
6. Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) from A Clockwork Orange – Sneaky and sadistic, Alex DeLarge is everything that’s wrong with the youth culture all rolled up into one sneering package. He loves his Ludwig Van, though.
7. Godzilla from Gojira – The first movie monster to wreak destruction on a wide scale, Godzilla remains king after all these years.
8. The Xenomorph (Bolaji Badejo) from Alien – From the facehugger to the alien queen, this acid-blooded species is more than a match for battle-hardened space marines. Only brunette science officers seem to stand a chance.
9. The Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) from Predator – You know you’re a badass when it takes Arnold Schwarzenegger to bring you down. It’s funny to think that Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast in this role.
10. Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) from the Back to the Future Part II – A poster boy for moronic bullies, Tannen terrorized Marty McFly in all three Back to the Future films.

Greatest Western Movie Villains

11. Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – The archenemy of Blondie and Tuco, this blue-eyed killer would do anything to get his hands on a stash of stolen gold.
12. Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) from Shane – Gunning down innocents with a creepy grin on his face, Jack Wilson was the perfect foil for the noble Shane (Alan Ladd).
13. Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – The epitome of an Old West bully, it took the combined courage of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart to bring him down.
14. Frank (Henry Fonda) from Once Upon a Time in the West – Killing children and cripples alike, nobody on this list is more ruthless than Frank. Crime does pay, however, as he managed to bed the insanely hot Claudia Cardinale.
15. Rufus Hennessey (Burl Ives) from The Big Country– Hennessey, a desperate rancher, gets a lot of people killed in his feud with another cattleman. But he eventually admits his mistake, and we’re treated to two old men blasting away at one another. Burl Ives won an Oscar for this role.
16. Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone) from Hombre – Stealing and kidnapping–it’s all in a day’s work for the crude Cicero Grimes.
17. Asa Watts (Bruce Dern) from The Cowboys – He killed John Wayne, for crying out loud. If that doesn’t deserve a spot on the list, then what does?
18. Calvera (Eli Wallach) from The Magnificent Seven – This scummy Mexican bandit torments a farming village and steals their food, but it’s curtains when men like Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen come to their aid.
19. Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) from Unforgiven – If you come to Little Bill’s town causing trouble, expect a whipping, beating, or worse. Not much of a carpenter, though.
20. John Herod (Gene Hackman) from The Quick and the Dead – About as vile as they come, Herod will kill anyone who stands in his way (including priests and his own son). A flashback involving a sheriff and his young daughter cinch Herod’s place on the list.

Greatest Horror Movie Villains

21. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) from Psycho – He’s a boy who loves his mother, but he also loves stabbing hotel guests to death with a butcher knife. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
22. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) from A Nightmare on Elm Street – After being burned to death by angry parents, this child killer returns to murder teens in their dreams. A legitimate horror icon.
23. Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – He’s not real bright, but this hulking country boy does carry a massive chainsaw. He’s also a transvestite for at least one movie.
24. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) from Saw – Dying of cancer, the Jigsaw Killer wants to make others appreciate life. Apparently, this is best accomplished by placing people in gruesome deathtraps. Who knew?
25. Michael Myers (Nick Castle) from Halloween – Pure evil in a human form, this infamous slasher has the blackest eyes…the devil’s eyes. Still, he wasn’t actually as creepy as Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence).
26. Dracula (Christopher Lee) from Horror of Dracula – Tall and giving off all kinds of erotic vibes, the Christopher Lee version of Dracula still reigns supreme.
27. Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) from Jason X – Whether he’s wearing a potato sack on his head or killing teens in outer space, no slasher can boast the body count of Jason.
28. Pinhead (Doug Bradley) from Hellraiser – The leader of the Cenobites, Pinhead’s got a real thing for making people suffer. The British accent also helps the creep factor.
29. Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) from Friday the 13th – When her son drowns due to the neglect of camp counselors, Mrs. Voorhees goes looking for revenge. She gets it, and a horror franchise is born.
30. Chucky (Brad Douriff) from Child’s Play – As if guys in hockey masks weren’t terrifying enough, Hollywood decided to bring us Chucky. This pint-sized terror is actually the spirit of a serial killer trapped in the body of a child’s doll. The creepy voice of actor Brad Douriff really seals the deal.

Greatest Thriller Movie Villains

31. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) from The Silence of the Lambs – A brilliant doctor, an expert on the arts, and a complete nut with a taste for human flesh. So why do we still root for him?
32. Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) from Blue Velvet – It’s hard not to like a guy who sniffs nitrous oxide just before banging Isabella Rossellini.
33. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) from Cape Fear – The ultimate deranged redneck, Cady puts his former lawyer’s family through hell–even going so far as to seduce his teenage daughter.
34. John Doe (Kevin Spacey) from Se7en – This deranged killer actually pulls off all his murders before finally being dispatched at the time and place of his choosing. “John Doe has the upper hand.” No sh*t.
35. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) from The Shining – Jack Nicholson is at his leering best as a struggling author slowly driven mad by the haunted hotel he’s staying in. “Here’s Johnny!”
36. The Shark from Jaws – His first on-screen appearance made Roy Scheider–and audiences around the world–jump out of their skin. Even to this day, his theme music makes swimmers slightly nervous.
37. Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) from The Night of the Hunter – A crazed preacher and serial killer with the words “Love” and “Hate” tattooed on his knuckles. This was Robert Mitchum’s favorite role, and rightfully so.
38. Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier) from Marathon Man – What’s more terrifying than a deranged dentist? Try a deranged Nazi dentist.
39. Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) from Misery – While seemingly calm most of the time, this literary groupie was capable of going nuts in an instant. The scene where James Caan is hobbled remains a classic.
40. Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) from Fatal Attraction – Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. That pretty much sums up this crazy rabbit murderer.

Greatest Action Movie Villains

41. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) from Die Hard – The ultimate movie villain, Hans is devious, fashion-conscious, and everything than John McClane isn’t. It’s amazing to think that this was Rickman’s first movie role.
42. Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) from The Professional– Popping pills and gunning down entire families, Gary Oldman plays this crooked cop with mind-bending gusto.
43. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) from Full Metal Jacket – Charged with preparing young soldiers for Vietnam, this tough-as-nails drill instructor drives one of his students over the edge. But payback, as they say, is a bitch.
44. Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) from Lethal Weapon – With a high pain threshold and mastery of the martial arts, Mr. Joshua proves to be a fitting nemesis for Martin Riggs. Being played by Gary Busey also gives this villain an extra level of crazy.
45. Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) from Kill Bill Vol. 1 – This one’s probably a stretch, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include this hot Asian assassin and her fantasy-inducing schoolgirl outfit. Too bad she couldn’t have triumphed over Uma Thurman and her gnarly-looking toes.
46. Staff Sgt. Bob Barnes (Tom Berenger) from Platoon – Barnes kills a Vietnamese villager and then murders one of his own to cover it up. He’s also got a bitchin’ facial scar in case anyone gets confused about who the villain is.
47. Chong Li (Bolo Yeung) from Bloodsport – Not satisfied with just beating his opponents, Chong Li delights in crippling and killing. But even his tricky white powder couldn’t beat the slow-motion fury of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
48. Jon (Ken Lo) from Drunken Master II – When the original actor suffered injuries, Jackie Chan’s bodyguard stepped in and participated in one of the greatest fight scenes to ever be filmed.
49. Sho’nuff (Julius Carry) from The Last Dragon – The baddest man in Harlem, Sho’nuff even has glowing kung-fu hands. Nobody from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo can make that claim.
50. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) from Rocky IV – When he kills Apollo Creed in the ring, you just know that this big Russian is going to get his comeuppance courtesy of Rocky Balboa.

Greatest James Bond Movie Villains

51. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) from Goldfinger – “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” Classic Bond villain with a major gold fetish.
52. Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) in From Russia with Love – Tough as nails, this old battleaxe was way more dangerous than she looked.
53. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) from You Only Live Twice – A creepy scar and a white cat, Blofeld inspired multiple generations of diabolic geniuses.
54. 006 (Sean Bean) from Goldeneye – What could be more dangerous than a villain with all of Bond’s training?
55. Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) from Goldeneye – Tall, sexy and crazy. At least she gave her victims a roll in the hay before she killed them.
56. Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) from A View to a Kill – Christopher Walken played him, so you know he’s nuts.
57. Jaws (Richard Kiel) from The Spy Who Loved Me – With his great strength and steel teeth, Jaws actually fought Bond in two movies and lived to talk about it.
58. Oddjob (Harold Sakata) from Goldfinger – The Asian henchman with the flying hat. Classic stuff.
59. Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) in From Russia with Love – This badass killer almost had Bond’s number. Great fight sequence in a train compartment.
60. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith) from Diamonds Are Forever – A bizarre pair of assassins who bickered like an old married couple.

Greatest Animated Movie Villains

61. The Queen (Lucille La Verne) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Obsessed with killing Snow White because some crazy mirror thought the girl was more attractive.
62. Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson) from 101 Dalmatians – She kills dogs?! That’s enough to make the list.
63. Light Yagami (Mamoru Miyano) from Death Note – Just by writing someone’s name in his special book, Light could determine when and how they died. Originally meant to only kill criminals, it soon extended to anyone who got on his nerves.
64. Griffith (Toshiyuki Morikawa) from Berserk – Handsome and well-mannered, Griffith turns out to be a power-hungry madman willing to rape his own friend.
65. Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) from Sleeping Beauty – After being snubbed for a christening, this powerful sorceress begins to obsess on the innocent Aurora. She looked kinda hot, though.
66. Orochimaru (Kujira) from Naruto – An evil ninja with a desire for immortality. Is there anything worse?
67. Lucy (Sanae Kobayashi) from Elfen Lied – She looks really cute until she’s using her wacky powers to throw your severed arms across the room.
68. Yakushiji Tenzen (Sho Hayami) from Basilisk – An ageless ninja who shares his body with a demonic parasite, Tenzen is a skilled swordsman and master manipulator.
69. Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) from Aladdin – A devious sorcerer and politician who eventually got the powers of a genie.
70. Scar (Jeremy Irons) from The Lion King – Murders his own brother in a mad quest for power. Jeremy Irons just oozes evil in this role.

Greatest Crime Movie Villains

71. Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) from Goodfellas – Whether he’s shooting neighborhood kids or stomping rivals to death, Tommy is definitely the most volatile character even captured in a mob movie. Even more impressive, Pesci manages to actually make the guy likable from time to time.
72. Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotton) from Shadow of a Doubt – A serial murderer who marries women and then kills them for their money, Uncle Charlie eventually turns on his own niece when she begins to suspect. Hitchcock’s favorite film.
73. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) from Training Day – King Kong ain’t got sh*t on this corrupt L.A. narcotics officer.
74. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) from Scarface – A criminal from Cuba, Tony immigrates to the U.S. and begins to live the American dream–with disastrous results.
75. Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) from The Usual Suspects – Spacey gives a great performance as the cowardly crook with more than a few secrets.
76. Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) from M – A sympathetic child murderer? Lorre really outdoes himself in this role.
77. Micky Knox (Woody Harrelson) in Natural Born Killers– Like a murderous force of nature, Micky kills everyone who gets in his path. Expect the usual Oliver Stone weirdness.
78. Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) from Reservoir Dogs – Whether he’s dancing around with a straight razor or killing cops, this big psycho will have you rooting for the bad guys.
79. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) from No Country for Old Men – He’s got a dorky haircut, but everything else about this hitman is 100% evil.
80. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) from American Psycho– A deadly yuppie with an obsession for personal hygiene, business cards and Phil Collins.

Greatest Fantasy Movie Villains

81. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) from The Wizard of Oz – She employs flying monkeys as henchmen, and she seems obsessed with killing a young girl and her dog. And what’s up with the green skin?
82. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – The boogieman of the Harry Potter series, He-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named murdered Harry’s parents and tried to do the same to our young hero.
83. Sauron from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – I got goosebumps when Sauron appeared on the battlefield and starting kicking ass.
84. Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) from Legend – No doubt driven mad by his oversized horns, The Lord of Darkness gets it in for a young Tom Cruise.
85. David Lo Pan (James Hong) from Big Trouble in Little China – One part elderly Asian businessman and one part badass Chinese sorcerer.
86. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from It’s a Wonderful Life – Nothing but a scurvy little spider.
87. Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) from Conan the Barbarian – One of the rare opportunities to see James Earl Jones cast as a villain. It’s certainly worth it.
88. The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) from Highlander – With his shaved head and neck held together by safety pins, this immortal warrior is a sight to behold. Too bad Christopher Lambert had his number.
89. Beetlejuice (Michael Keeton) from Beetlejuice – The ghost with the most, Beetlejuice delights on terrorizing the likes of Alec Baldwin and Robert Goulet.
90. Viktor (Bill Nighy) from Underworld – While he may look a little sickly, this vampire ruler can kill with the best of them. And he also got to bite Kate Beckinsale on the neck. Yum.

Greatest Comic Book Movie Villains

91. The Joker (Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight – While Nicholson played it for laughs, Ledger went in a whole other direction. Gotta love that magic trick in his opening scene.
92. Magneto (Ian McKellen) from X-Men – Ian McKellen as a super villain? Sign me up.
93. Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) from Constantine – When it comes to sheer nuttiness, it’s really hard to rival this servant of God, especially when she’s looking to unleash Satan’s son onto Earth.
94. Nuada Silverlance (Luke Goss) from Hellboy II: The Golden Army – A badass elf who tires of humans messing up the planet. He’s also got a hot–but kind of creepy-looking–twin sister.
95. Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) from 300 – Big and freaky with a love for bling, Xerxes is the guy you hope you don’t meet in a prison shower.
96. The Joker (Jack Nicholson) from Batman – “This town needs an enema!” Not nearly as dark as Ledger’s version, but still a lot of fun.
97. Lee Woo-Jin (Yu Ji-tae) from Oldboy – Based on a manga, Oldboy features the vengeful Lee Woo-Jin, a handsome fellow who’ll imprison you for years and then hypnotize you into falling in love with your own daughter. Talk about payback!
98. Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) from Spider-Man – Dafoe is great at playing crazy, especially when he’s talking to himself in a mirror.
99. Kevin (Elijah Wood) from Sin City – Who would’ve thought that Mr. Frodo could be so creepy as a near-mute serial killer?
100. General Zod (Terence Stamp) from Superman II – He tries to make Superman kneel, but this baddie from the Phantom Zone gets his in the end.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 2:44 pm and is filed under Movie Megalists, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “The 100 Greatest Movie Villains”

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April 20, 2009


I like this list very much. I like how you divided the villains up by categories.

Thank you for including a link to my UNFORGIVEN review.

April 20, 2009

Shane Rivers

Glad you liked it, Jason. Thanks for the kind words.

April 21, 2009

Jim Daniels

LOL. Great list quite accurate I must say!

April 21, 2009


Wow! Nice work! Phew! I wouldn’t have the patience.

April 22, 2009

Mr. Man

saw? harry potter? whew.

March 11, 2012


where is Don Vito Corleone?

March 11, 2012


I never thought of Don Corleone as a villain. Sure, he’s involved in organized crime, but he’s presented in a sympathetic light. I would think Sonny or Michael would be more of a villain.


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