Movie villains are a staple of cinema. They are the bad guys who we love to hate and sometimes even empathize with, as they have their own motivations for doing what they do.

Villains can be terrifying or comedic, but either way, these characters come in all shapes and sizes.

We all know what a hero is. The protagonist who we cheer on in the story and root for to win in the end, but what about that other guy? That’s right, I’m talking about the villain!

Villains are important because they give us something to root against too. They’re often more interesting than heroes because as much as they want to succeed their mission, there’s always an underlying motive or reason why it really matters so much.

What do you think makes someone a movie villain? Do you have any favorite villains from your favorite movies that you love to hate?



What Are Movie Villains?

Movie villains are an essential part of any film. They often provide a character that is not only the most morally corrupt but also the one with the greatest potential for change.

Villains are often more interesting to watch than protagonists because they have a lot more depth and complexity in their personalities.



What Are Movie Villains?

The term “villain” can be traced back to Shakespearean times when it was used as a general term for an antagonist in any kind of drama or novel.

The modern definition of villain has evolved over time, but there still remains a common thread: Villains are usually bad people who cause problems for other people (usually heroes).

However, those who study film know that this is not always true! In fact, many movie villains have compelling motivations and complex personalities that make them far more interesting than your average two-dimensional antagonist.

Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, “Wow, that guy is such a nightmare?” or “The villain in this movie is really getting on my nerves?” If so, then you’re not alone.

Best Movie Villains

Best Movie Villains Of All Time

It’s a common belief that the best movie villains are those who don’t have any redeeming qualities, but this is not always true.

In fact, some of the most memorable villains in history have been so popular because they were flawed human beings who did horrible things yet we still empathized with them.

The villains of Hollywood movies are some of the most iconic characters out there. From Darth Vader to Scar from Disney’s animated film The Lion King, these bad guys have been around for decades and will certainly be with us for many more years to come.

Darth Vader

Darth Vader is a fictional character that was created by George Lucas and has become one of the most iconic characters in film history.

He is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise, first introduced in 1977. He is an evil Jedi who later turns to the dark side of The Force.

His costume and voice were created by special effects artist Rick Baker.

He is one of the primary antagonists of the original trilogy, but later becomes a sympathetic protagonist in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and also appears as Luke Skywalker’s father once again in The Force Awakens.

Darth Vader is one of the most iconic villains in film history. His rise to power, his redemption, and his fall are all captivating parts of this character’s journey.

Filmmakers have used Darth Vader for the last 40 years to symbolize evil, while also capturing our imaginations with his mystery.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) (Packaging May Vary) [Blu-ray]
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  • Mark Hamill, Hayden Christensen, Harrison Ford (Actors)
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The Joker

The Joker is a fictional character, created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, who first appeared in Batman #1 (1940). The Joker is the archenemy of Batman.

As Batman’s nemesis, he has been portrayed as a master criminal with a clownish look, although his appearance has varied throughout the years.

The Joker is known as the Clown Prince of Crime, a man so crazy that he can’t be killed. He has no superhuman powers, but his cunning intellect and razor-sharp wit make him one of Batman’s most formidable foes.

The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in modern culture. The character has been a staple of pop culture ever since his introduction.

One thing that sets him apart from other supervillains is his sense of humor. He’s often portrayed as a clown or an entertainer who uses jokes, wordplay, and pranks to terrorize Gotham City.

Joker (Blu-ray)
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz (Actors)
  • Todd Phillips (Director) - Todd Phillips (Writer) - Michael E. Uslan (Producer)
  • English, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character in the novel and film, The Silence of the Lambs ss well as other films in the franchise.

Hannibal Lecter is a fascinating character. He’s intelligent, charming, and has an appetite for murder.

He’s a serial killer who eats his victims, but he uses good manners and has an urbane demeanor that makes him seem like he could be just another person at your dinner party.

Hannibal Lecter is one of the most famous fictional characters in history. He’s been portrayed on screen by Anthony Hopkins and was created by Thomas Harris.

His intelligence makes him one of the most feared serial killers in history because he doesn’t just kill for pleasure or to fill some void in his life; Hannibal kills with purpose.

Hannibal Lecter is one of the most famous fictional serial killers in history. His life and crimes have been portrayed in various movies, novels, comics, video games, and even an opera.

But it’s not just his gruesome murders that make him so terrifying; it’s his intelligence.

Hannibal Lecter Anthology [Blu-ray] [Blu-ray] (2009)
  • Anthony Hopkins (Actor)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Michael Myers

Michael Myers, the fictional serial killer from the Halloween franchise has been terrorizing people for years.

He was convicted of murdering his sister when he was just six years old and spent 15 years in a mental hospital before escaping to murder again.

Michael Myers is one of the most iconic horror movie villains to ever grace the silver screen. So what makes Michael Myers so scary?

Michael Myers, as portrayed in the Halloween movies, is a killer who stalks and slays his victims with knives. He is known for wearing a white mask that only covers half of his face.

Michael Myers was created by John Carpenter in 1978 to be the main antagonist of the movie after noticing there weren’t any other major horror villains at this time.



The T-1000 is a fictional character from the Terminator series of films. It was introduced in James Cameron’s sequel to his successful film, The Terminator.

In the second Terminator movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an updated version of his iconic role as the Terminator. This time he is pitted against Robert Patrick, who plays a human-like android with shapeshifting abilities called a T-1000.

The T-1000 is a fictional humanoid robot created by Skynet as an improved version of the T-800, which was made to be a perfect killing machine.

The T-1000 has many abilities that make it much more dangerous than any other terminator or human in existence.

One of these abilities is mimicking the appearance and voice of anyone it chooses, making infiltration easier.

Another ability allows it to take on the form of liquid metal at will and flow through small openings such as keyholes or vents without detection.This T-1000 has the ability to shapeshift and mimic other objects.

In the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a liquid metal machine is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor and her son John- two people who would change history.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick (Actors)
  • James Cameron (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

The Predator

The Predator is the main antagonist in the 1987 film Predator. The creature was played by actor Kevin Peter Hall, who stood at 7 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 325 pounds.

Predators are hunting machines that use their cloaking abilities to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. They then kill them with a combination of stealth, agility, and brute strength.

He has been one of the most iconic villains in cinema history and has helped to define what it means to be a movie monster. The creature itself was designed by Stan Winston.

The Predator’s origins are unknown but it appears that they have evolved through natural selection into becoming the perfect hunter: intelligent, strong, agile, fast, and ruthless.

They appear to have no qualms about killing humans other than for sport. They also seem not to fear death or injury as their own deaths result in them exploding and potentially killing anyone nearby.

The Predator (2018)
  • Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay (Actors)
  • Shane Black (Director)
  • English, French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Freddy Krueger

Freddy Krueger is a character in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Known for his signature sweater and bladed glove, he terrorizes victims in their dreams, killing them while they are asleep.

The character was invented by Wes Craven and has been portrayed by several actors including Robert Englund, Jackie Earle Haley, and Nick Castle.

He first appeared in Wes Craven’s 1984 horror film of the same name and has since been featured in nine other installments, as well as various spin-offs.

Freddy Krueger is one of the most iconic horror movie villains to date.

Freddy Krueger was a serial child killer who preyed on the children of Springwood, Ohio.

He committed his first murder in 1968 when he slit the throats of 11-year-old twins Jason and Karen Stubbs after they had been sleeping over at their friend’s house.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 & 3 (Freddy's Revenge / Dream Warriors) (2-Movie Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Mark Patton (Actors)
  • Jack Sholder (Director)
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Agent Smith

Agent Smith is a fictional character from the film The Matrix. He is a sentient computer program, created by the machines who have taken over the human race.

Agent Smith’s goal was to destroy Neo and all of Zion.

Matrix, The 4-Film Déjà vu Collection (4K UHD + BD + Digital)
  • Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne (Actors)
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Norman Bates

Norman Bates is one of the most famous fictional characters in American cinema. He was created by author Robert Bloch and has been portrayed by Anthony Perkins, Hitchcock’s favorite actor, in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho.

The character is loosely based on a real-life serial killer named Ed Gein who had also murdered his mother.

He is a psychopathic killer who was born with an Oedipal complex, meaning he had strong sexual feelings for his mother that began when Norman’s father left to fight in World War 2.

Norman Bates is one of the most iconic villains in cinema history. He first appears as a shy, sensitive man who is being pressured by his mother to marry a woman he doesn’t love and live a life that doesn’t fit him.

His mother’s control over him eventually drives Norman down the dark path to psychopathy.

Bates Motel: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
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Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, was a Sith Lord who led the Galactic Empire for over two decades in the Star Wars franchise. Palpatine forged an empire by manipulating and eliminating his enemies in various ways.

He became Emperor of the galaxy after he manipulated the Trade Federation into waging war on Naboo, with Queen Padme Amidala being captured and held hostage at Theed Palace.

The Sith Lord Palpatine is a very influential character in the Star Wars universe. He was born on Naboo, but became Emperor of the Galactic Empire for over twenty years. At the end of his reign, he was killed by Darth Vader (his apprentice) and Anakin Skywalker (his son), who would later be redeemed as Luke Skywalker.

He is one of the most iconic villains in all of Star Wars lore and his influence can still be felt even after his death at the hands of Darth Vader.

  • Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver (Actors)
  • J.J. Abrams (Director) - Derek Connolly (Writer)
  • Spanish, English (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

The Sheriff of Nottingham

The Sheriff of Nottingham is a very famous character in English folklore, appearing in many of the Robin Hood films throughout cinema history. He was the lawman for King John, and he collected taxes from people who crossed the river to go into Nottingham.

The legend goes that he would collect more money than what was required by law, and also steal goods from people as they crossed the county.

Robin Hood
  • Taron Egerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Foxx (Actors)
  • Otto Bathurst (Director)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Nurse Ratched

Nurse Ratched is a fictional character from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. She is described as an imposing woman who fits her name with her stiff demeanor and cruel personality.

In the book, she takes over running a mental hospital where patients are supposed to be free to do what they want without rules or punishments.

Under Nurse Ratched’s rule, however, patients have stricter schedules and more punishments for breaking the rules.

In the film adaptation of the same name, she was played by Louise Fletcher.

In both versions of the story, Nurse Ratched is an authoritarian figure who controls every aspect of life at a mental hospital. She takes pleasure in her power and can’t imagine being replaced as head nurse.

When newcomer, Randle McMurphy arrives at the hospital, he disrupts this carefully constructed order by challenging Nurse Ratched to play a game of cards with him and refusing to submit to her authority.

He quickly becomes friends with many of his fellow inmates including Chief Bromden (an American Indian), but Nurse Ratched will not let them be happy for long.

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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In The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, Sauron is an evil being that seeks to control all of Middle Earth with his One Ring which is more powerful than all others. 

He was a Maia spirit who fell from Valinor and took shape as a Dark Lord because he wanted power over everything else in Middle Earth.

Sauron wants to dominate other beings through fear and intimidation for his own sake rather than any particular goal or ideology.

Sauron was one of the evilest and most powerful beings in Middle-earth. He is depicted as being tall, having a terrible dark appearance, black eyes with red pupils, wearing a crown on his head, and having nine fingers.

Sauron’s only purpose is to conquer all of Middle-earth for himself by any means possible.

The Lord of the Rings: Original Theatrical Trilogy (Triple Feature BD) [Blu-ray]
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The Hobbit is a timeless tale that has captured the imagination of many generations. It’s a story about Bilbo Baggins, who was sent on an unexpected journey by Gandalf to reclaim treasure from a dragon named Smaug.

Along the way, he meets Gollum, a dark creature of unknown origin. However, he was actually a hobbit called Sméagol before being corrupted by the One Ring that he possessed for centuries.

Gollum is a famous character in the world of Tolkien. He is an intelligent, cunning creature that has been known to show great love and affection for his “precious”.

After his corruption, he changed into an ugly creature with large slimy skin and no hair on his head or face. His voice sounds like he’s choking because of his throat being dry.

The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition) (Blu-ray)
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The Alien

The Alien, more commonly referred to as the Xenomorph and sometimes referred to as a Bug, is a fictional endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species that is the eponymous antagonist of the Alien film series.

The species made its debut in the 1979 film Alien and reappeared in its sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997).

The species also appeared in the two Alien vs. Predator films, Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), where they are led by an Empress, as well as their crossover with the Predator franchise titled Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species (2010). In addition, the Alien appears in various literature and video game continuities.

The “Alien” creature itself was designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed many of the film’s other aspects.

  • Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser (Actors)
  • James Cameron (Director)
  • Spanish, English, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)


Voldemort is a popular character in the series Harry Potter. He was born on December 31, 1926 to Tom Riddle Senior and Merope Gaunt. Voldemort’s father abandoned him after he learned that he was bewitched by Merope, but was later killed by Voldemort himself.

Voldemort is a character in the Harry Potter series. He was a powerful wizard, and one of the most dangerous Dark Wizards who ever lived. He was also known as Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Voldemort has a rich and storied history in the Harry Potter series. His story is one of tragedy and pain.

Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection
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Anton Chigurh

The movie No Country for Old Men, directed by the Coen brothers in 2007, is a perfect example of how a good antagonist can be an excellent way to create tension within the plot.

Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem in this film, has the ability to instill fear into anyone he comes across.

He is not only scary because of his ruthless nature and cold-hearted personality but also because he’s unpredictable. This unpredictability makes it difficult for people to defend themselves against him and they are constantly on edge wondering when or where his next attack will come from.

Anton Chigurh is one of the most terrifying characters in film history. He’s a hitman for hire and he acts with no remorse, killing anyone who gets in his way or even slightly upsets him.

His weapon of choice is a cattle gun that he uses to kill people by shooting them through the forehead. The only person he seems to care about is Llewelyn Moss as they are both hunters trying to outsmart each other.

But when it comes down to it, Anton will do anything necessary so that he can get what he wants…even if that means killing an innocent bystander just because she looked at him wrong.

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray + Digital)
  • No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray + Digital)
  • Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson (Actors)
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Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren is a character introduced in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He was born Ben Solo and is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa.

Kylo Ren was trained as a Jedi by his uncle Luke Skywalker. 

Kylo Ren’s real name was revealed to be Ben Solo, but he changed it to Kylo Ren after being seduced by Supreme Leader Snoke, who teaches him the ways of the Dark Side of The Force leading him to kill many of his fellow students at the Jedi Academy.

Kylo Ren has been called an anti-hero by director J.J. Abrams, but he might be more accurately described as a villainous protagonist.

Kylo then proceeded to join forces with General Hux’s First Order army in their quest for galactic dominance.

In the Star Wars movies, Kylo Ren is a character with dark intentions. He is portrayed by actor Adam Driver. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Feature)
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Rated PG-13
  • Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher (Actors)
  • J.J. Abrams (Director) - Lawrence Kasdan (Writer)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Hans Landa

It’s been said that the Nazis were a group of people so cruel and ruthless, that they made even Dracula look like a teddy bear. 

Hans Landa is a fictional Nazi known as an “expert” at interrogation and torture in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. The movie depicts how he, Hans, was able to capture many Jewish people and send them off to concentration camps.

He is portrayed as a cunning antagonist who often uses subtle manipulation, intimidation, and trickery in order to get his way.

Hans Landa is an SS Colonel, a member of the Nazi party, and the most feared man in France. 

In his time with the SS, Landa became infamous for his sadistic methods of extracting information from prisoners during interrogations.

He would often use fear tactics to scare them into submission before he resorted to more drastic measures such as starvation, beatings, or electric shocks.

Landa had no qualms about ending someone’s life if it meant revealing what they needed to know. 

Inglourious Basterds Blu-Ray Collector's German Edition im Steelbook
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Hans Gruber

Hans Gruber is notorious as one of the most famous villains in Hollywood. He was portrayed by actor Alan Rickman in Die Hard.

The film takes place on Christmas Eve as NYPD detective John McClane is faced with an impossible task: taking down Hans Gruber’s band of thieves who have taken over Nakatomi Plaza.

Hans Gruber is the main antagonist in Die Hard. He was a former member of West German gendarmerie who, after immigrating to the United States, became an art and security expert and, as the time progresses, a hardened terrorist.

Gruber was born on December 14th, 1955 in Geiselhöring, Bavaria, West Germany (though his gravestone states that he was born in 1959). 

In Die Hard, his plan involved using both physical and psychological warfare techniques against police and FBI units by using his men as well as some of their hostages as human shields. He was shown as being very calm and collected at all times and had a dry sense of humor but could also become extremely cold-blooded when he had to be.

Die Hard 5-Movie Collection [Blu-ray]
  • Bruce Willis (Actor)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)


Loki is the son of Odin and brother to Thor. He is known for his shape-shifting, lying, and mischief-making. Loki’s motives are always unclear; he was either an agent of chaos or a hero depending on what story you read.

Loki is the Norse god of mischief and trickery. Loki was also known for giving birth to nasty creatures like Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel.

Loki is a trickster, god of fire and magic. He is known for his dark humor, cunning intelligence, and immense knowledge.

Loki’s evil deeds are generally blamed on the fact that he was raised by giants who were not kind to him and didn’t teach him any moral lessons; but according to Norse Mythology though, it is suggested that Loki’s father was Odin himself.

Marvel Studios' Thor: The Dark World
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  • Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston (Actors)
  • Alan Taylor (Director) - Christopher L. Yost (Writer) - Kevin Feige (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Criteria For Our Best Movie Villain List

In our culture, villains are sometimes the most popular characters.

Villains have an inner strength that people can only admire in their darkest moments of despair. We all want to be like them because they defy authority and do what they want without consequence.

We’ve all seen the worst of the best. From Freddy Krueger to Hannibal Lecter to Darth Vader, there are plenty of movies with their own villains that we love (or love to hate).

But what makes them so great? Why is it that they’re so memorable and often times more popular than the heroes themselves?

What exactly separates these movie baddies from your average villain? What sets them apart and why do audiences continue to be drawn in by their charismatic demeanors and evil plans throughout countless sequels?

After much discussion, we found out that some key characteristics define an iconic movie villain: intelligence, charisma, determination, and a strong sense of self-preservation at all costs.

The best villains are the ones that have a strong motive, such as power and revenge.

Villains who want to rule the world or destroy it also make for great antagonists in movies.