View Full Version : Good at being bad

2012-06-28, 10:40 PM
This is a debate I've had on many forums in the past, spawned originally by a highly drunken conversation that I shared with a group of my friends (we are all unashamed nerds). The original thought was that villians tend, for the most part, to be more interesting than heroes; the villian is, after all, central to the conflict and is usually why the hero is needed in the first place. They're the catalyst that drives the story, while the hero is the reactionary force that comes after. This developed into an argument of who the greatest villian of all time was, which was too damn hard to pick for a thousand different reasons. And so, it was changed to the same question I put to you all here:

Who are your three greatest villians?

You can pick from any source - movies, television, comics, games, folklore, anything you like. And you can pick anyone who reasonably presents themselves as an adversary to the protagonist(s), be it the Big Bad of that storyline or merely a particularly entertaining henchman. You can even give brief honourable mentions to ones you considered. You can choose villians that others in the thread before you have chosen. But you must name your own personal ultimate three, say where they're from, and most importantly, explain why you chose them.

To get the ball rolling, here's my three...

The Joker
DC Comics Universe

Yes, I'm taking the obvious one first up. Why take the obvious one? Because he's so damn obvious. Look, anti-villians or sympathetic villians or justified villians are awesome. No question. But sometimes, a truly great villian should know exactly how evil he is, and he should be goddamn proud of that fact. And that's the Joker. No shame, no hesitation, no beating around the bush, he just straight up kills people and delights in random destruction because he damn well can. And there's no question - he's just good at what he does. There are many interpretations of him, some better than others; for me, it'll always be the Joker as voiced by Mark Hamil that tops the list. But in all his incarnations, the psychotic, sadistic, frighteningly intelligent and terrifyingly evil clown will always be a favourite example of just what a villian could and should be.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

Split personality villians are hard to do. Mostly, I think that's because writers just say, "Yeah, there's two people in his head, one's evil, go with that." Whereas the division between Smeagol and Gollum was much more clever than that - they really were broken pieces of the one person. Smeagol retained the few happy memories, the ability to feel, the desire to be free. Gollum was the hate, the anger, the all-consuming desire for the Ring and for revenge on the world that had, from his perspective, wronged him. While as a whole, he was a sympathetic villian, it was Smeagol who deserved the former and Gollum who deserved the latter. Villian and victim. And to have this shattered creature thrown in front of the hero of the story - be it Bilbo or Frodo - it was to make Gollum a direct opponent of the hero, someone they could see themselves as, someone who threatened them not as a faceless swarm of goblins, but as an individual and very personal nemesis. And, in Frodo's case, a constant reminder of what he was going to become if he failed. For pure malice, Gollum is unmatched in my mind.

The Toad
Marvel Comics Universe

I know a lot of you will raise an eyebrow at this, but let me explain. See, I think Joker is the ultimate version of the Complete Monster who makes no apology or excuse for being so. Gollum, on the other hand, is the ultimate version of the Corrupted Villian who's been forced into becoming something terrible. To round off the trio, I'm also very fond of the Justified Villian who not only has a damn good excuse for fighting the protagonist, but is in many ways not even all that evil. And I know that there's lots more famous than Toad, but you see, that's exactly the point.
Toad's something we never see - an underdog villian. In a universe populated by beings with infinite power and incalcuable intellect, he barely rates a mention. His enemies can fly, control the elements, kill him by thinking about it, shoot frickin' lazer beams, punch through solid steel, heal from any injury, and a thousand other things. Toad, in contrast, is exactly as powerful as you'd expect an unusually large frog to be... and yet the heroes are scared of him. When this weirdo with arguably the least impressive powers in the Marvel universe walks onto the battlefield, the uber-powerful Class 5 mutants sit up and take notice, because he uses what power he has to brilliant effect. He's been one of the X-Men's most persistent and recurring villians since his creation because of this. In the 2000 movie, he fought Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey all at the same time, and he was formidable enough to incapacitate all three of them, even if the plot required he lose after this. And what folks don't realise is that he's been doing that from day one.
But that makes him a tough mook, not a great villian. It's his life that makes him great. See, Toad's a visible enough mutant that he'll never be able to live a normal life. To get by he'd have to become a criminal because he could never have a normal job to pay the bills, but the second he committed a crime he got put on every list in the world as a super-powered criminal. He has no obvious family or friends that give half a crap about him, and no life beyond his presence on the Brotherhood, because how could he? There is literally no upside to his life. But when he decides to join the fiht properly, look at what he does - he doesn't serve Apocalypse to wipe out and enslave humanity, he doesn't join the Morlocks to avoid humanity entirely, though he could join either. No, he joins the Brotherhood to force a change, to fight for Mutants to be recognized after the abuse they suffered. And when you consider where he is in life and what he must have gone through as a massively-underpowered freak, you're hard-pressed to argue he doesn't have a point. He does what he does because he legitimately believes that it's the right thing to do, and from his perspective, it honestly sort of is. But he's not the Big Bad that leads the army, he's not the huge and elite warrior that's sent out to fight the biggest battles - he's just a soldier, fighting for a cause he believes in, because it's his goddamn job. And he just so happens to be pretty freaking good at it. And it also just so happens that this pits him against the protagonists, who otherwise you could easily see him joining. I love that idea.

Honourable Mentions:
The Master (Doctor Who)
Baron Harkonnen (Dune)
Cardinal Richelieu (The Three Musketeers)
Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
Crowley (Supernatural)
Loki (Classical Norse Mythology, not the Marvel character)

So those are my three with a few favourites tossed in for good measure. Now... what are yours?

2012-06-29, 12:58 PM
Oh geez, I can only pick three?


Joker - For all the reasons you mentioned and more. All the different versions of the Joker had their pros and cons, but to add on what you mentioned earlier there are two aspects in particular I feel need to be brought up, 1) Maybe it's because it was animated, but you could actually laugh at Mark Hamill's Joker. He balanced the comedy and villainny perfectly. He'd pull some crazy antics that you'd be chuckling at, and then straight up murder someone. It made for some serious mood whiplash because his jokes and light-hearted demeanor could actually lull you into a false sense of security. 2) Heath Ledger's version's anonymous backstory. Now that I've seen it, I feel that any version which has the Joker as a guy who fell in a chemical vat to be just wrong. What makes Heath's Joker so terrifying is that there is no explanation for his behavior. No chemical accident, no tragic past, no intense training, nothing that so defines Batman. The Joker is just this primal force of anarchy and chaos, and at any time he could just walk up to someone and murder them with a handshake, and no one could predict it. And what's most frightening about that is that he's completely human. Not some Cthulu-esque deity or otherworldly entity. The Joker is completely human and still capable of everything he does.

Also honorable mention goes to the fact that he's basically the inspiration for the greatest Final Fantasy villain, Kefka, who won't be on this list due to constraints.

Magneto - This really depends on how he's being written at the time. Sometimes he's just a generic "kill all humans" type of villain and that's boring. Other times he plays the politician; the righteous extremist who does what he does because the X-Men are wrong and his race will be exterminated if he tries to play nice. This Magneto is willing to compromise as long as that compromise involves protections for mutants, but when someone pulls another sanction against mutantkind or a mutant gets killed in a riot, Magneto retaliates, because he knows what happens when the persecuted race stays quiet.

Bowser - Hear me out. Bowser comes across initially as the big, dumb bruiser dinosaur/dragon-thingy who kidnaps the Princess, but I submit to you that Bowser is not only incredibly powerful and a charismatic leader, but an evil mastermind as well. First of all, what is Bowser's goal. Usually it's just to kidnap Princess Peach. Sometimes there's some extra stuff thrown in there, but it's almost always just to kidnap the Princess. And you know what? He's already succeeded before you even press the start button. Every Mario game has Bowser accomplishing his goal as Mario's just getting started. Bowser's already won. On top of that, while Bowser might seem like a big dumb bruiser, he's one of the few villains who actually learns from his mistakes. Take the first Super Mario Bros. Bowser's setup is on a narrow lava bridge that's the only way into the vault of his castle where the princess or princess decoys are kept, and Mario has to beat him by manuevering around him and grabbing the axe to destroy the bridge. It's actually a very clever setup on Bowser's part. He has no reason to suspect his enemy will be a lone underdog with super-jumping capabilities and the ability to manuever around him on a narrow bridge. He's expecting armies from the mushroom kingdom. And if said armies manage to get past his waves of minions and platforming deathtrap puzzles, they still have to get past Bowser who's plenty strong to take on waves of soldiers. And if Bowser does start losing, he can just back up, destroy the bridge, and still win anyway. It's an ingenious setup. Fast-forward to Super Mario Bros. III (since he wasn't in II), he's brought an airship fleet, but in the final battle with Mario, since he knows how he got beaten last time, there's no bridge, no axe, and no lava. Just Mario and Bowser, man versus koopa, and Bowser has no reason to think he can't simply overpower Mario in a physical confrontation. Unfortunately, he overestimates the strength of his castle floor and gets beaten that way. Super Mario World: Falling seems to be an issue, so he'll just take to the skies in his ROFLcopter. Seems logical, he's got all the high ground and manueverability, but even that fails. So in Super Mario 64, all those Stars Mario's been using to become invincible? Bowser steals and absorbs ALL OF THEM and turns Peach's castle into an interdimensional labyrinth. In each game he actually tries a new plan that works fairly well and takes a great deal of effort from Mario to stop it. Though by far the most villainous plot of his was in Super Mario Sunshine. In it, we are introduced to Bowser Jr., who was raised from birth to believe that Princess Peach is his mother and that Mario is the kidnapping villain, causing Bowser Jr. to go on a righteous campaign to frame Mario and rescue the Princess. And even though this is debunked after the credits, Peach doesn't deny the possibility, which suggests that either there's more to Peach and Bowser's relationship or Peach just doesn't know how babies are born. Sure, Bowser is beaten regularly, but he's already won at the start of the game, it takes Mario being beaten, mauled, dropped down bottomless pits, and other creative hazards sometimes hundreds of times before Bowser goes down, and Bowser suffers basically no ill consequences for his actions. He's still leader of the koopas and is still on good enough terms diplomatically speaking to play sports, go go-kart racing, and play party games with Mario and company. Bowser wins each time and suffers no real consequences of his actions. Truly diabolical.

2012-06-29, 01:34 PM
David Xanatos- Gargoyles Animated Series
Ok, so he's a villain from a Disney cartoon series way back in the 90s, but this guy had it all. Billionaire Genius Playboy Philanthropist with a healthy understanding of magic as well, after the secret to immortality and extending his legacy into eternity. He's not really worried about conquering the world, just expanding his influence and economic empire and developing superscience technology for his own personal gain as well as that of the rest of mankind. Why is he such a great villain? Because he's completely undaunted, unflappable, and the picture of a cool customer. Everything is always going according to plan, and even when the Gargoyles are victorious, it still serves to advance Xanatos's overall agenda. He always comes out on top, hence why he is the trope namer for the Xanatos Gambit (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit).

Darth Revan- Knights of the Old Republic
Now this one is a little contentious I know since:
The player is Revan as the protagonist at the same time.
But here me out:
Darth Revan is a diabolical figure who lead the republic to victory only to turn on them and lead the most devastating war against the Republic has seen in centuries. He strikes the Republic while their weakest and worse still, is such a charismatic leader that he turns even the paragons of light and justice of the Republic to the Dark Side, along with a good portion of their standing military. He is a brilliant strategist and a nightmarish tactician to face in battle, not to mention one of the most proficient lightsaber duelists and powerful Force Users in the galaxy at the time. But that's just his resume, the real genius behind Revan is that no matter what, Revan wins. As Darth Revan he is an enemy of the Republic, but his real goal is to defeat the Sith Empire currently hiding in the Unknown Regions of space, and to do that, he needs the Republic to be strong. So, either A) Revan will defeat the Republic, turn the remaining Jedi to his side, and transform the Republic into a powerful military force capable of defending itself against the Sith Empire, or B) The Republic will get it's ass in gear and finally muster the defensive forces it needs to not only defeat him, but defend itself against the waiting Sith Empire should they decide to invade.

(Kind of a running theme to my villains at this point, but I really have to respect the mastermind villains whose convoluted plans can't fail, even if they're really more gray than black on the sliding scale of evil).

2012-06-29, 01:55 PM
Kerrigan from Starcraft. What's not to love about Kerrigan? She started as one of the few good guys among a bunch of mean bastards and then got fed to the monsters they were fighting since her boss didn't trust her to stay loyal when he uses the same monsters against his enemies to make himself come to power. But instead of being eaten, she got transformed and not only made it to become a General of the Zerg but effectively took over leadership of the entire species. She hates what the Zerg did to her, but also the people who abandoned her in the first place and uses her power to go after her old boss but also to eliminate anyone who could potentially be a threat to her monster army. She does let people go who are no threat to her and don't want to fight her, but in the world of Starcraft those are not many. So she tours the galaxy making offers and alliances with other people against their common enemies, only to stab them in the back when they are worth less than the trouble they'd make in the future. She hates it and she loves it, and since there's nothing she can do about the past, she makes the best of her situation.
Which is to conquer her part of the galaxy.

Lucy from Elfen Lied. What I like most about her is that she is first introduced as this poor little mutant who gets tortured by the evil scientists and had everyone being mean to her, and she's really only fighting back with her telekinetic powers. But as the chapters unfold, it pretty soon becomes obvious that she is completely evil and that the people hunting and imprisoning her do have really good reasons for their actions, even though they are a lot more cruel than neccessary. There is some good in her, but as her mind fractures into two parts there is nothing good left in the half that is Lucy. All the hate, contempt, and violence is in her, as well as the natural instinct to
end humanity and replace it with her mutant race of telekineticists.
The interesting part is, that though her actions are clearly wrong and cruel, you can also see that it's completely understandable given her situation. The other mutants are suprisingly well adjusted despite their natural instincts and the way they are treated. But with Lucy having all the good traits split off into another identity, she is just the monster that the scientist made her. And she's perfectly okay with this since she is going to kill them all.

[Yui Ikari] from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Given the way the show is, it might even stretch it a bit to call her a villain, but I think it still counts as being the great mastermind whose whole idea everything was and who started the whole mess to begin with. The greatest thing about her is, that she does not appear villainous at all.
She's just that mom in the t-shirt with the toddler in the stroller.
And it's not as if she did what she had to do in order to save the world from a comming catastrophe. Her motivation was "I think it would be great if I could remake all life on earth by my own design".
And Gendo, the cool mysterious mastermind with the evil glasses who pulls all the strings without caring for anyone else? He's just doing what his wife told him to before she turned herself into a 100 meter tall giant death monster of destruction. So the whole world is pretty much destroyed and experiences a horrible invasion of giant horror mosters... That's part of the plan. People will understand when all life on earth is turned into a liquid hive mind. As it is meant to be.
I love that. You can't really get any higher on the scale of villainous plans and at the same time be such a plain normal everyday person and un-villain-ish.

2012-06-29, 04:48 PM
Bester from Babylon 5
The moment Bester shows up you know everyone else is going to have a bad day. Why? Because he's there to do a job, and he's in full authority to do so, and to top it off it's a job that usually needs to be done. Of course it doesn't help that everyone else at least, technically, are required to stay out of his way and preferably help him, but when he's done there will also be a few bodies to clean up.
He's manipulative, unlikable, and operates completely within the law, he's technically not even a villain, but he sure is an antagonist.

The Master from Doctor Who
Highly intelligent charming and perfectly willing to take a personal vendetta to cosmic levels. That's the Master in more or less all his incarnations (okay, some of them were less than charming.). He's also fairly insane. But what makes him so appealing compared to the other classical Doctor Who villains is that he's more than a match for the Doctor. Sure the Daleks are the nazis of the universe, killing everything that isn't dalek. But the Doctor can beat them, he always does. And even the daleks know it, they fear him. Cybermen? More or less the same. To even stand a chance the other villains form alliances to defeat the Doctor. But the Master? Not him. He's not only the Doctors equal, but in many cases he's superior to him. He'll outsmart him, out manipulate him, turn his own weapons against him or just plain have a better version of it. He spots flaws in the Doctors normally solid (or at least working) plans and beat him. And he really should have permanently beaten him a long time ago if it wasn't for them apparently having to much history together to actually want to get rid of each other. (And the writers can't really kill of the main character. XD)

Meandor and the Dark Elves from Age of Wonders
I realize this one is obscure, and for those familiar with the games they might disagree, but he's still far up there on my list. Meandor was the heir to the elven kingdom when the humans invaded, made it to the court, killed those of his family that didn't escape in time and left him for dead. But he made it, and ended up not only founding a cult dedicated to killing of all the humans and restoring the "proper order" of things, but also founded an entire new race of elves, and was quite involved in bringing back the undead. Through everything he was more or less constantly opposed by his younger sister, who in the end managed to kill him, only to have him come back from death simply because, well death had enough common sense to not get between him and revenge. His an utterly clichéd villain/anti-hero mix, but I love him for the sheer scale he operates on and still manages to be believable.

2012-06-29, 05:41 PM
The Joker: I've said it before, the Joker is not just my favorite villain of all time, he's my favorite fictional character of all time. What other character can get you to laugh, then suddenly stop as you realize just how terrible the thing was that you laughed at? When I was a wee little lad before I even got into comics or reading I watched BTAS and found Mark Hamill's portrayal absolutely fascinating. It's to the point whenever I read the Joker in comics I hear Hamill's pitch perfect voice. And, rather surprisingly he's incredibly versatile. If I want to laugh, I can read a Joker story. If I want to be frightened, I can read a Joker story. His plans always have you guessing, his methods always have you either horrified or in hysterics, and at the end of any given story his goal can be anything from the complete destruction of Gotham City, or getting a pie for free. And yet, it all somehow works.

Honest Iago: The pinnacle Shakespeare villain. And oddly, now that I think of it, a bit like the Joker in that there is no real reason for his villainy. Well he gives like 3 reasons, each of which is either self contradictory or dis-proven by the end of the play, with the exception that he was passed over for a promotion, which is the flimsiest reason of all. This woman hating, racist sociopath plays everyone against everyone else. All while acting delighted as they dance for him (alone of course, when with others he's the sorrowful helpful man everyone can trust). This Janus-faced schemer is amazing to watch, and Shakespeare knew it too, as he gave him the largest amount of lines (and all his lines are the best) in the show.

Alex DeLarge: As you can probably figure out, I enjoy a villain that likes being a villain. The wild, violent, sociopath type of villain. Not to say that I don't like other kinds, but they tend to be a step lower, and most of the best ones will be seen below. Alex, is another sociopath. But does he love being it. Watching his story in Clockwork Orange was amazing in it's brutality and was perfectly acted by the McDowell. One of the most interesting portrayals of a psychotic ever on screen. Yes, I know that in the book he has his redemption or whatever, but I for one am glad they left that out.

Honorable Mentions
Amon Göth: Dude's ****ed up. And a Nazi.
Nurse Ratchett: Hate her with a passion. So obviously great villain.
Joffrey Baratheon: I love to hate this little ****nugget. He is a perfect portrayal of a spoiled brat given power and winds up becoming the biggest spoiled brat of them all
Tywin Lannister: Everything Joffrey is not. Cold, calculating, and intelligent. He's the villain you have to respect, if not approve of.
Darth Vader: Only not in the top 3 position because of the prequels. I just can't
Vito/Michael Corleone: The villain protagonists of my favorite movies, of course they're on here.
The Wicked Witch of the West: "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!" come on, that line deserves to be mentioned in any villain list.
The Daleks: The problem is the change too often from being unstoppable murder machines to complete jokes.
Edmund: Shakespeare's second greatest villain.
Big Brother: Because it's always watching, and it's everything we fear about government going bad in one horrible example.
Magneto: He can be a great villain, but he's switched sides too often, been proven wrong too often, and holds the idiot ball too often to return to being evil. Like the X-Men continuity in general, it was a cool idea that just collapsed under it's own weight and because some important bits just don't make sense.
Kerrigan: There is no reason why she is not a top 3 villain other than I like the top 3 more. She's perfect. A fantastic villain and the best in any game I have ever played (well, except certain games that feature the Joker but that's just not being fair)
Moriarty: Especially as portrayed by Andrew Scott. Just awesome. Though, in honesty his appearance in The Final Problem by Doyle is incredibly lackluster.
Godzilla: Oh no, there goes Tokyo.
Gothmog: He killed Feanor! Honestly for that fact alone I should be putting him on a list of the best heroes of all time...

2012-06-29, 10:47 PM
Hee hee. This is what I love about this particular discussion - I'm either torn between "Gah, why didn't I mention that villian? They're awesome!" Or else, I learn a totally new one and then have to start looking them up. I'll read or watch or play something totally new if the villian seems cool enough, and there's always some great ones get listed. :D

Keep 'em coming!

Moff Chumley
2012-06-30, 05:00 AM
Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter.


2012-06-30, 06:51 AM
In all honesty, it would be immensly difficult not to place Joker on the list. His version from Drak Knight was especially scary - being a complete monster is one thing, but pushing regular law-abiding citizens in the same direction is a whole another level. That's what he was about: making other people as wicked as he was.

Darth Vader was great thanks to James Earl Jones and a spiffy costume - he wouldn't be half as memorable without his looks. A version of Anakin Skywalker from Darths & Droids (http://www.darthsanddroids.net/) on the other hand is way better, then anything Lucas laid his hands on.

I'm not sure, if he's a straight-up villian, but William Foster from Falling Down is a great character - the proper mixture of being right about many things and being very, very wrong about solutions.

2012-06-30, 08:41 AM
any villain played by Christopher Lee
like so:

any villain played by Alan Rickman
like so:

any villain played by Tim Curry
like so:

honorable mentions to:
Annie Wilkes in Misery (Katy Bates)
Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lamb (Anthony Hopkins)
Roy Batty in Blade Runner (Rutger Hauer)
Cruella De Vill in 101 Dalmatians
Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (Marlon Brando)
Nurse Ratchet in one flew over the cuckoo's nest (Louise Fletcher)
Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes novels
Patrick Bateman from Psycho

2012-06-30, 09:21 AM
Snape is a villain? What? :smallannoyed::smallconfused:

2012-06-30, 09:52 AM
Snape is a villain? What? :smallannoyed::smallconfused:

well.. a grumpy moron then :smallbiggrin:
yeah, yeah..I know.. but still.. we "didn't know for sure" until late in the series..so he still qualifies, and what matters to me and is the reason for listing him is the performance of Alan Rickman.

2012-06-30, 10:41 AM
Brutus, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. In reality, the play is somewhat misnamed, because while it is ostensibly about the death of Julius Caesar, in reality it's about the decline and fall of Brutus, a man who does the wrong things for the most honorable reasons imaginable. While every other person plotting against Caesar does it because of envy and desire for power, Brutus does it because he genuinely believes he must save the Republic from his friend. His explanation for his deed "It was not because I loved Caesar less, but because I loved Rome more" is both true and heartbreaking. And indeed, it is his sense of honor, first preventing Cassius from killing Antony and then in allowing him to speak after him, that brings about his downfall. His flaw was that he couldn't imagine people might respond to honor with dishonor and a search for advantage.

Henry F. Potter, It's a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra. The thing that always hooks me in about It's a Wonderful Life is it's realization of the character of George Bailey. Most writers of such a morality tale would try and beatify Bailey and turn him into a saint. He's not a saint: he can be abrasive and moody, he has a quick temper, and he sometimes lashes out at those who don't deserve it. What he is, though, is a good and decent man who will then calm down, think things through, and sacrifice for his fellow man.

Which sets him perfectly against Henry F. Potter who, if Brutus is a villain with almost entirely redeeming qualities, is one of the most loathsome beings ever presented on film. Calm and erudite, he is also utterly without mercy or compassion, operating solely for the sake of his own greed without concern for any other human. When he steals $8,000 from the poorer George, and then hears him take the blame for misplacing the funds from his Uncle Billy, his heart is not moved with tenderness for such an unhesistantly noble act. Instead, he tells the man that he's worth more dead than alive and swears out a warrant for his arrest.

2012-06-30, 10:43 AM
Three greatest villain in all fiction? Answering the question three greatest villains in one specific genre or medium or in some cases just a series is hard enough. But to go through thousands of years of human story telling and narrow it down to three is near impossible.

2012-06-30, 11:22 AM
Three greatest villain in all fiction? Answering the question three greatest villains in one specific genre or medium or in some cases just a series is hard enough. But to go through thousands of years of human story telling and narrow it down to three is near impossible.

Fortunately, I am willing to accept that you have probably not heard every single story ever told in the entirety of human existence, and am therefore only asking for you to list the three that you found most entertaining and memoriable in the few stories you may have encountered in the course of your own life.

Seriously, you posted on the thread only to observe that there are a lot of stories in the world, but not to name a single villian you like. Why?

2012-06-30, 01:34 PM
I am now shamed. Somehow, someway I forgot Wilkes and Lecter. Kathy Bates was amazing in her role, probably the best performance in a King movie, ever. And Lecter, well what can anyone say about Lecter that hasn't been said before 100x better? He's an awesome villain.

2012-06-30, 03:57 PM
One that hasn't been mentioned (and there have been some great villains so far) is Angus Thermopylae from Stephen Donaldson's Gap Cycle. I would hesitate to call him purely a villain, Donaldson plays around with the idea of Villain, Victim and Hero throughout his story and Angus takes on all three roles at different points, but as a villain he is especially excellent. Menacing, dominating but simultaneously deeply flawed. His driving motivation of fear, whether it is fear of others, the unknown or even fear of himself than a more grandiose ambition makes his villainy more approachable. Also you spend a lot of time viewing his actions from his POV, which is very rare for a villain, especially one as deeply reprehensible as he is.

2012-06-30, 05:56 PM
Fortunately, I am willing to accept that you have probably not heard every single story ever told in the entirety of human existence, and am therefore only asking for you to list the three that you found most entertaining and memoriable in the few stories you may have encountered in the course of your own life.

Seriously, you posted on the thread only to observe that there are a lot of stories in the world, but not to name a single villian you like. Why?

Just expressing my opinion.

2012-06-30, 07:43 PM
Kerrigan from Starcraft. What's not to love about Kerrigan?

The fact that her "brilliant" plans work only because everyone else suddenly becomes 50 IQ stupider? Her design, which is obvious fanboy pandering? The fact that she's the Generic Blizzard Fallen Hero, only as a hot chick?

Yeah, I really don't like Kerrigan, just like I really don't like most Blizzard villains. They're pretty bad at writing bad guys who have more to them than just chewing the scenery.

Bulldog Psion
2012-06-30, 08:17 PM
Although he's pretty obscure, I'm going to have to put in a good (?) word for Glaurung, the flightless dragon from Tolkien's Silmarilion. He's extremely powerful and destructive, but he absolutely delights in not killing his victims, but hypnotizing them just enough to put an incorrect idea into their minds which will ultimately torture and destroy them. For example, he puts his "dragon spell" on Turin so that he'll loathe himself and also think that the elves betrayed him. At another time, he puts a spell on Turin's sister, Niniel IIRC, so that she won't recognize Turin. Since Turin hasn't seen her since she was a kid, he meets her as an adult and they end up marrying and Turin gets her pregnant.

THEN Glaurung takes the spell off Niniel so that she realizes Turin is her brother, and they both end up committing suicide in horror at what the dragon has ensorcelled them into doing.

Now that's deep-dyed villainy. It's not enough to just kill his opponents -- Glaurung has to ruin their lives over a long period of time, then reveal what he's done and cause them to kill themselves in despair.

2012-06-30, 08:35 PM
Although he's pretty obscure, I'm going to have to put in a good (?) word for Glaurung, the flightless dragon from Tolkien's Silmarilion. He's extremely powerful and destructive, but he absolutely delights in not killing his victims, but hypnotizing them just enough to put an incorrect idea into their minds which will ultimately torture and destroy them. For example, he puts his "dragon spell" on Turin so that he'll loathe himself and also think that the elves betrayed him. At another time, he puts a spell on Turin's sister, Niniel IIRC, so that she won't recognize Turin. Since Turin hasn't seen her since she was a kid, he meets her as an adult and they end up marrying and Turin gets her pregnant.

THEN Glaurung takes the spell off Niniel so that she realizes Turin is her brother, and they both end up committing suicide in horror at what the dragon has ensorcelled them into doing.

Now that's deep-dyed villainy. It's not enough to just kill his opponents -- Glaurung has to ruin their lives over a long period of time, then reveal what he's done and cause them to kill themselves in despair.

Along the same lines Melkor's treatment of Hurin (and his kin) is some of the more effective pieces of villainy I've seen. Using Hurin to betray all he held dear and making him watch what his actions resulted in was pure evil.

Bulldog Psion
2012-06-30, 09:21 PM
Along the same lines Melkor's treatment of Hurin (and his kin) is some of the more effective pieces of villainy I've seen. Using Hurin to betray all he held dear and making him watch what his actions resulted in was pure evil.

Yes, Tolkien's villains are extremely nasty, cruel, and exceedingly, cunningly sadistic. You're right that Hurin's fate wasn't really any better than his son's, and in some ways was worse, since he spent most of his life chained in stone chair on a mountaintop, unable to die because of Melkor's power being upon him, then being released as an old man to destroy what little was left of his life thanks to Melkor's lies.

2012-06-30, 09:54 PM
The fact that her "brilliant" plans work only because everyone else suddenly becomes 50 IQ stupider? Her design, which is obvious fanboy pandering? The fact that she's the Generic Blizzard Fallen Hero, only as a hot chick?

Yeah, I really don't like Kerrigan, just like I really don't like most Blizzard villains. They're pretty bad at writing bad guys who have more to them than just chewing the scenery.

I think you mistreat her and her designs. If you look at who allies with Kerrigan and why it makes sense.

At first the Protoss: Kerrigan tells them of the new Overmind. It is in their best interest to wipe it out, and other than the fact that Kerrigan is hideous she has a real reason to join with them, threat of being mind controlled again.

By the time that Aldaris uncovered what Kerrigan's motives were (she wanted the Cerebrates wiped out so she could gain control of the swarms), it was already too late. The Protoss had to use the temple to wipe the Zerg off Shakuras, just as Kerrigan hoped. Also, yes Aldaris did act like an idiot, in the dumbest way ever to get his point across. However, that is unfortunately complete consistent with Aldaris' character. The guy was the biggest moron of SCI from the very first scene you see him.

Then the UED happen and gain the control of the Overmind. They are big, powerful, and appear to be able to wipe out any faction by themselves. Hell the Zerg were almost able to do it last game. Again she informs them of something they don't really have a choice in the matter: They need to get rif of that psi-disruptor. It's a pretty non-negotiable issue. It just so happens that also strengthens Kerrigans position. And hey, as a show of good faith, she even takes the hardest section on the attack of Korhaul.

It was only then that she really betrayed them. While the dialogue could have been a bit better to determine these points. Kerrigans success mostly comes because it just so happened that the necessary tasks for defeating the larger enemy made her stronger, and by throwing all her dice in one very big, very brutal betrayal.

And even then, it's not like they made her a Villain Sue. As it's really obvious to the player that Kerrigan is still just another piece being used by someone playing a much bigger game.

2012-06-30, 10:26 PM
The fact that her "brilliant" plans work only because everyone else suddenly becomes 50 IQ stupider? Her design, which is obvious fanboy pandering? The fact that she's the Generic Blizzard Fallen Hero, only as a hot chick?

Yeah, I really don't like Kerrigan, just like I really don't like most Blizzard villains. They're pretty bad at writing bad guys who have more to them than just chewing the scenery.

Kerrigan probably wasn't one of the greatest villains of all time, I'll agree, but I wouldn't lump her in with the Blizzard villains of the last couple years (ie Diablo 3 and WoW). As far as I'm concerned they wrote their last good villain with WC3 Arthas. I don't know if the MMO format is just terrible for writing a compelling bad guy or if their writing team lost their mojo (though I suspect the former), but nothing they've come up with have been as compelling as Arthas' slow, gradual, nuanced descent into evil.

2012-07-01, 02:39 AM
Just expressing my opinion.

And I respect it! I'm just saying, on a forum devoted to nerdy interests, the guy with a Dr. Horrible avatar can't name a villian he likes? C'mon, join the fun. :) All the cool kids are doing it.

2012-07-01, 12:16 PM
Doctor Doom

THE villain from Marvel universe. He wears a mask, an armor and a cloak. He's megalomaniacal and arrogant. He's a super scientist and a super sorcerer. He's a king. He is Doom.

There is no one who is as much of a villain as Doom. Of course, he wouldn't agree to such a narrow definition and most definitely wouldn't say to someone: "We're not so different, you and I."

Even his name is villainous. Doctor Victor von Doom. That's his birth name. Except the doctorate. That he bestowed upon himself when he conquered his native Latveria.

He doesn't wear black. He wears green.

Some say Darth Vader was inspired by him.

He's not a villain to just one group of Marvel heroes but to all of them. At least eventually.

He tries to, brace yourselves, take over the world. Of course!

He has a diplomatic immunity.

Did you defeat Doom in battle? Why, that was a Doombot and not Doom himself. Some say he is a comic book villain who has never even appeared in comic books.

(I might list two other villains later.)

Man on Fire
2012-07-02, 06:48 AM
For me this changes on dayily basis, depending what I recently watch or read. Few honorable mentions should probably include:

Anti Spirals from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - Anti-Spirals really stands out among anime and manga villains, when you think about it. Most of those guys are incredibly selfish, care for nothing but their own desires and goals, wants power for the sake of power and rebel against estabilishment, especially shonen villains (Aizen, most important Naruto bad guys). Anti-Spirals are the opposite - they don't want to tear down the estabilishment, they want to enforce it, have supressed their own rise to power to do so and their motivations aren't selfish - in fact, they are motivated by altruism and good of the Universe. It's pretty terrifing how far they are willing to go for that goal. They also have very fun and simple design, made all really creepy because they're just animated in different way that everything else, to show how wrong and out of place they are.

Nyarlathotep from Cthulhu Mythos - Crawling Chaos, Black Pharaoh, based on Nicola Tesla, Nyarlathotep is probably the most interesting from all of his creations. All the monstrous gods that his incredible imagination have given birth to aren't really evil - they are just alien and care nothing about humanity, they would step on us and not even notice, if they could advance some goal unfanthomable for us and have no emotions or feelings we could relate to. Except for Nyarlathotep, who was described by Lovecraft as the sadistic, cruel and spiteful, represents the worst in humanity. Other dieties drives you insane because they are, he drives you insane, because it's fun. He brings all the fears prevalent in Cthulhu Mythos down to personal level, because he will destroy you personally, just for fun or some scheme. All other Lovecraft's Gods aren't evil, they are just blasphemous to everything we know about the Universe. But he is simply evil. it ays something that there is one god who is willing to help humans in need in entire pantheon, namely Nodes, and he is doing it only because he hates Nyarlathotep.

Redcloak from Order of the Stick - I love Goblins, they are my favorite race in all fantasy. Way to often they are threated like a bunch of idiots and easy XP fodder. Redcloak is pretty much a logical conclusion to the unfair threatment they get - it's quite obvious that if some group would be threated like that too long, then somebody would get pissed and go to revenge driven quest. What I like about Redcloak through, is that he had made a lot of mistakes and sacrifices for the plan, but has gotten to far to turn back, all just to improve the lives of his people. He had gotten long way and might even realize that, despite his power and genius, he might really be nothing but just a puppet of really spiteful diety. It's hard not to cheerfor him, even if you know he's extremist and would kill you without second thought. He is complex character and my favorite in Order of the Stick.

Honorable Mentions:
Soulcatcher from Black Company
Darkseid from DC Universe
Thanos from Marvel Universe
Doctor Doom from Marvel Universe
Green Goblin from Thunderbolts
Palpalepa from GaoGaiGar
Femto from Berserk
Kriss of Valnor from Thorgal
Incubator from Madoka Magica
Gilgamesh from Fate/Zero
Joffrey Lanistar from Game of Thrones (haven't yet read novels)
Joker from Dark Knight
Charles di Britannia from Code Geass
Balalaika from Black Lagoon (okay, not really that much of a villain, but clearly evil person)
Ladd Russo from Baccano
Izaya from Durarara
Tash from Chronolicles of Narnia
Main Villain from America's Gods
Bane from batman
Kindly Ones from Sandman
Fury from Captain Britain
Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizzarre Adventure
Raoh from Fist of the North Star
Maestro from Hulk
Doaskis from Septerra Core
Conquest from Invincible
Plutonian from Irredeemable
Jack Spicer from Xiaolin's Showdown
Ezekiel Rage from new Adventures Of Johnny Quest
Ungoliath from Sirmaillion
Doctor Horrible from Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog

2012-07-02, 08:19 AM
Gul Dukat

I think one of his writers can explain it better than I.

I don't think of him as being completely evil through and through to the point where every thought, every impulse is shaded by a nefarious agenda or horrid motive. We've seen other aspects to this guy over the years. He can be charming. He can be generous. He can do the right thing. All of that somehow makes his "evil" actions all the more despicable, because we know that there was the potential in there for him to be a better person. But sometimes the clichés are true: Hitler loved his dog. No human being (and by extension, no Cardassian) is one hundred percent pure evil. But there is a "critical mass", if you will, where the dark deeds attributed to one person become so overwhelming that they swamp all the redeeming characteristics. Dukat is a bad guy. A very bad guy. He has a lot of blood on his hands and it's hard to see how his smile and innate charm can wipe that clean.

I think the rest of my choices have already been stated.

2012-07-02, 11:09 AM
Darth Revan- Knights of the Old Republic
I'd say Revan is more bad at being good.

Beyond that, I have nothing to add. Joker, of course. Darkseid. Vader. Christopher Lee. They've all been said.

The Succubus
2012-07-03, 09:17 AM
This villain should, by many yardsticks, be an absolute failure. He is the walking embodiment of every single evil cliche in the book. He has appalling dress sense, is quite unbelievably insane, he even has a maniacal laugh.

Despite these handicaps, which stop just short of carrying a sign saying "I am a villain, for the love of God, lop my head off", he serves as the chief advisor to an unstoppable global superpower that has managed to conquer a fairly hefty chunk of the known world. He also has a vast amount of magical force behind him.

What makes him different from everyone else? He actually manages to destroy the world. All of it. This by far makes him vastly superior to almost every other super villain out there.

He is an evil cliche. And you will LOVE him for it.

[Kefka - Final Fantasy VI]

2012-07-03, 09:58 AM
Woo-jin from the movie Old Boy. This guy takes revenge to a level I don’t think most people were willing to explore or were able to fathom.

Imagine one night you are kidnapped and help captive for fifteen years by an unknown jailor with no reason given. During your captivity, you learn that your wife was murdered and your daughter sent to foster care. One day, you are simply let go and immediately seek revenge. While seeking the truth, you meet a young woman at a restaurant and start slowly building to a relationship.

While rampaging, you meet your captor who tells you that, unless you figure out why you were held captive for so long, he will kill your new girl friend. However should you succeed in learning the motive your captor will kill himself with a remote switch that turns off his pacemaker, thus ending this mess. As you search, you get a little hot and heavy with the young girl sympathetic to your plight and meet up with an old friend. Unfortunately, this meet up is fatal for your friend who is killed soon after. All the while you learn that your captor wants you dead because you witnessed he and his sister engaged in an incestuous relationship when all three of you were high school and you told one person, one (your now dead friend).

You leave your lady friend in the hands of people you trust and go off for a final confrontation with your captor. When you arrive, you are presented with a photo album. The first page shows your baby daughter. As you flip through, you see photos of her as she grows older and older, until you recognize her to be your new girlfriend (uh oh). The people you trusted with her safety while you went to end this mess? They actually work for your captor and are threatening to harm her. You beg for her safety and for her to never learn the truth, that she is your daughter. Your captor agrees only if you cut out your tongue, so you do.

So you think you won right? Factoring in the cost of knowing you slept with your own daughter and the loss of your tongue, you ended this mess and your captor will now kill himself, right? You discovered his motive and he should kill himself to honor the agreement. He produces a remote control, one you believe will shut off his pace maker. He hits the only button and the room is filled with the sounds of you and your daughter…yeah.

Your captor simply walks off and shoots himself in the head but out of sight of you so you don't garner any satisfaction from his death. You try to see a hypnotist to erase the memories and live as the lost guy this girl met instead of the broken father who reunited with his daughter and the results are ambiguous.

Woo-jin everybody!

2012-07-03, 10:09 AM
Doctor Doom

Even his name is villainous. Doctor Victor von Doom. That's his birth name. Except the doctorate. That he bestowed upon himself when he conquered his native Latveria.

That is the best way to get a doctorate that I have ever heard of. *Begins gathering army to conquer small country and save on five years of college in PHD program*

2012-07-05, 08:43 PM
Hans Gruber from Die Hard. Charming, intelligent, and entirely amoral. It's one thing to plan a major heist and not care if a lot of people get hurt in the process; it's quite another thing to actually intend to cause a large body count, just to cover your tracks.

Darth Vader from Star Wars (the original). He looks evil, he sounds evil, and--yeah, he's EVIL. Specified the original (Episode 4) because Episode 5 humanizes him just a tiny bit, then the final movie redeems him at the end (a mistake, IMO). Let's not even talk about the prequels.

J. R. Ewing from Dallas. The ultimate corrupt businessman and guy you love to hate.

2012-07-06, 06:38 AM
The First Law trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie, has a two of the greatest villains out there.
One is one of the protagonists, but he's so villainous I can't help but list him as one, Sand Dan Glokta. He used to be a selfish, vain, pompous git until he spent two years being tortured. Deep down, he's got a good soul that he deliberately pushes down by torturing other people. He's a man so convinced he's beyond redemption that he doesn't bother to try, and yet his small acts of kindness ring out more truly than any of his villainies do.
And he's a terrifying psychotic maniac who tortures and dismembers more characters than anyone else in a book series that takes "grim" to a new level.
"Life is the misery we endure between disappointments."
The next is the actual villain of the series, who is simply the most diabolical villain I've ever read. He crushes all opposition to dust while turning on his allies one by one for minor advantages. And anything more would be a spoiler. The quote is slightly spoilerish, but it's the one that truly names the series.
"Power makes all things right. That is my first law, and my last. That is the only law that I acknowledge."
As for a third? I can think of no one who can match up. Abercrombie made his other books too ambiguous to bother finding a villain, and no other author is quite as good at villainy.

2012-07-26, 06:55 PM
Kane from the Command and Conquer video game series.

What's not to love about him? He's bald, has a masterful goatee, is a sharp dresser, is charismatic enough to have created a world-wide nebulous religious state with himself as the chief prophet, uses Xanatos gambits constantly to ensure he wins even if it looks like he's defeated, and he's immortal!

Kane giving a speech after apparently returning from the dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKy4BdOVsZI

David Xanatos has already been mentioned but he's another one of my favorites.

Another character I enjoy is Lysaer s'Ilessid from The Wars of Light and Shadow book series. Originally an upright and moral prince blessed with the power to control elemental Light, he is cursed by a powerful mistwraith to eternal hatred of his brother, Arithon s'Ffalenn the master of shadows. Interestingly, Lysaer is charismatic, charming, a seeker of justice, and still controls his light powers even after he has been cursed, though the curse twists his values in subtle ways. On the one hand he might free a bunch of slaves because slavery is wrong and he won't allow it, but on the other he will send hundreds of men to their deaths in an almost holy war against his brother merely to satisfy a vendetta. But his charisma and charm allows him to spin virtually any situation to make him appear as a paragon of light even when he does terrible things. The series makes it clear that while Arithon is the misunderstood 'good guy', none of the characters are spotless and are often forced to do immoral things in order to survive.

Lord Tyger
2012-07-26, 10:24 PM
Javert from Les Miserables. "Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand." Javert is a character so dedicated to his black and white morality that he blindly pursues Valjean regardless of all the good the latter has made of his life, so sincere that when he believes he has wrongly accused Valjean (then mayor) he demands that Valjean dismiss him, believing that to simply resign would leave him with too much dignity, and so unable to compromise that when he finally accepts that Valjean defies his categorizations, he can see no solution but suicide.

Fu Manchu "Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government-- which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."

Don't get me wrong, Sax Rohmer was a xenophobe whose defense of portraying Chinese immigrants exclusively as criminals boiled down to, "Well, there are an awful lot of criminal Chinese," but Fu Manchu is such a larger than life character that one feels he would rise to threaten the world regardless of conspiracy theories about all Asian cultures secretly ganging up on the West. And he's dryly humble to boot.

“ I am a Doctor of Philosophy from Edinburgh, I am a Doctor of Law from Christ College, I am a Doctor of Medicine from Harvard; my friends have the courtesy to call me Doctor.”