My Favorite Fictional Bad Guys & Gals

Whether scary, campy, or amusing, villains are often as important as the heroes. And sometimes they steal the show. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’m trying to improve the villains in my own novels. I don’t always have an easy time inventing them – or at least inventing what I consider to be good villains. So I’ve been dissecting some of my favorite bad guys and girls and here is the result.

Mr. Tulkinghorn from Bleak House. You usually want the bad guy to go down, but I really wanted this guy to go down. He was pure evil. I’m not a huge Dickens fan, but I have to say he did create one of the most memorable villains.

Ursula from The Little Mermaid totally stole the show. I always thought she was much more interesting than Ariel. As a kid, Ursula was one of the only Disney villains that scared me (and fascinated me at the same time). Plus, hands down, she got the best song in the whole movie.

Another favorite female villain is Rapunzel’s mother in Tangled. (While we’re on the subject, I have a thing for female villains. I think they’re often scarier than men.) Hardly good parent material, she was manipulative and ruthless. Not to mention, pretty clever.

Unlike Rapunzel’s mother, Cruella De Vil didn’t really try to hide her true evil self. I always enjoyed that she was crazy and she has a fabulous meltdown at the end of the movie.

Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood had the most awesome meltdowns. One of my favorite moments is after the tournament when he finds a drunk Sir Hiss and flips out, tying him around a pole.

While we’re talking about Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham in the BBC series is one of the only versions of the Sheriff I’ve come across who wasn’t a complete moron. He was actually an intelligent match to the hero himself. That coupled with his black fingernail polish, silk pajamas, and constant whispering into Guy’s ear quickly made him one of my favorite bad guys.

I know Megatron is supposed to be scary, but he just makes me laugh. I love that he repeats his name during his smackdowns with Optimus, and in Transformers 3 I was especially fond of his head covering. I guess that was meant to help him blend in with the locals.

The Joker in The Dark Knight was possibly the most disturbing villain I’ve come across. I’ve never watched the entire thing all the way through again since I saw it in IMAX, which was a life-altering experience, but I think Heath Ledger’s performance is a brilliant mix of completely disturbed villain and comedic relief.

Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender is another terrific, intelligent female villain. She’s conniving and underhanded as female villains often are, but she’s also a physical match for just about anyone. I do wish Zuko had beaten her at least once.

This is hardly comprehensive and I’m sure if I kept thinking about it I’d come up with a whole new post. But I’ll leave it at that and let you continue the list. Who are your favorite villains? (And they don’t necessarily have to scare you!)

Photo by istolethetv

9 thoughts on “My Favorite Fictional Bad Guys & Gals

  1. J. A. Paul

    Great list, Amy! I think that as a reader you have to feel a lasting hatred or animosity for a villain in order for them to be memorable. But then, what Rowling did with Voldemort, bringing him back from next to nothing over the whole series, was quite effective too. 🙂

  2. Shay

    Ok, seriously tho:

    The Daleks from Doctor Who:
    Their only reason for living, their only joy in life, is to wipe out all other forms of existence. They can’t be bargained with. They have no interest in money, women (are they male? lol) or politics. They have no mercy. They simply want to exterminate the universe! Leads one to wonder what they would do with themselves if this objective was ever accomplished? Would they start exterminating each other?

  3. Shay

    Senator Palpatine (aka the Emperor)

    You can kinda sympathize with Darth Vader, but the Emperor is shameless. Nothing was ever more satisfying than watching Darth give him the old heave ho down that ever-present, mysterious, bottomless electrical shaft that serves some unknown purpose in the Star Wars movies lol.

    1. amyandthepen Post author

      Three really good suggestions. I somehow missed all Doctor Who references this round, but I really liked Lady Cassandra from seasons 1 and 2 now that I think about it.

  4. Shay

    I should also give a shout out to the Weeping Angels. Downright creepiest bad guys ever. Don’t blink!

  5. Sam

    The pic with the Baddies from Batman, the backgroung looks awfully familar. Reminds me of the Javits Center in New York City.

    Sorry, got off topic. My favorite baddie would have to be Moriarty. Outthinking the protagonist is something I really admire in a baddie. It challenges the hero and shows you that true evil isn’t born from insanity but from something more sinister, an evil will.



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