25 Most Dreadfully Entertaining Villains of All Time

Who's the best villain you've watched in a movie or television series? After polling the internet, these are the top-ranked twenty-five villains of all time.

1. Ian McShane as Al Swearengen in Deadwood

One person suggested, “Al Swearengen from Deadwood, played by Ian McShane. It's the story of a villain defending his village. He's so good that the entire series pivoted to being about him.” “He's a bad guy you'd want on your side, that's for sure. My favorite TV character,” a second confessed.

2. Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca in Better Call Saul

“Lalo Salamanca in Better Call Saul. When he jumped down that cliff, I knew he was a maniac,” claimed one. A second said, “He was so well-written and a charming devil.”

3. Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

One user noted, “Gul Dukat in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He goes from evil Hitler type to loving father on the run from his government to crazy possessed madman in a single series.”

4. Darth Vader in The Star Wars Franchise

“Darth Vader” shared one. A second admitted, “I'm shocked I needed to scroll so far for this. He was only in the original Star Wars for nine minutes and made a global impact.” A third agreed, “I'm astonished this isn't the top comment. He's one of the best-written villains, let alone a cultural icon.”

5. Hannibal Lector

“Hannibal Lector. Anthony Hopkins from the film franchise and Mads Mikkelsen from the series both did a fantastic job,” suggested one. “This was instantly my first thought. So unbelievably scary but equal parts intriguing, and the intelligence and likability of his character were so interesting,” a second added.

6. Andrew Scott as Moriarty In Sherlock Holmes

Someone shared, “Andrew Scott as Moriarty In Sherlock Holmes. I kept thinking, ‘I don't like this actor,' and then I saw him in other roles. Finally, it hits me that it's not that I don't like this guy. His specific acting as Moriarty is so good he is subconsciously bothering me in a way that no one had managed to do before!”

7. Walton Goggin as Boyd Crowder in Justified

“Boyd Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) in Justified,” shared one. “He's not particularly strong in season one, but by season two, you want him to keep getting away to have more. That he's Raylan's frenemy and not just a generic evil guy was such a nice touch.”

8. Gary Oldman as Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2

One person volunteered, “Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2.” Another admitted, “I love the way they create characters in these movies. A literal bird was the villain; A BIRD.”

“He was somehow more terrifying and threatening than any other villain in the trilogy. Birds like him aren't supposed to be so powerful, yet Dreamworks convinced me otherwise.” Finally, a third added, “That's also the power of Gary Oldman.”

9. Vincent D'onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Daredevil and Hawkeye

“Vincent D'onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Daredevil and the Hawkeye Marvel series on Disney+,” shared one. Others noted he was also a fabulous villain in The Cell, Full Metal Jacket, and Men in Black

10. Grey DeLisle as Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender Series

“AGREED. I was searching for that comment. The way she NEVER looked into a mirror until the episode she went crazy and all those other tiny little details… She was, is, and always will be the best villain in cinematic history,” expressed one.

11. Eartha Kitt as Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove

“Eartha Kitt as Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove is a remarkable and underrated Disney villain,” suggested one. After several people quoted the film, one stated, “That whole movie is just so quotable. Eartha Kitt killed it as Yzma.”

12. Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained

“Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained was on point,” one expressed. However, “Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) was also pretty great, and if anything, was the real villain in that movie,” a second user argued.

13. Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore

One person suggested, “Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore is easily one of the best villains of all time.” However, another argued, “I would go further and say the caretaker (Ben Stiller) at the old folks home was worse.”

14. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

“Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest just because of how implicitly she tortured the inmates. She was such a good, evil actress, and I instantly hated her as Kai Wynn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, too,” one said. Another noted, “She apparently couldn't watch the film for years because of her performance. Imagine playing a villain so well that it psychs you out.”

15. Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men

One person volunteered, “Javier Bardem, as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.” “Chigurh is terrific not only because he's a terrifying psychopath, but he holds the delusion of being an agent of fate – then the car crash which nearly kills him happens in the end. Chigurh isn't immune to fate. He's just insane,” a second added.

16. Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter

“Dolores Umbridge,” one replied. “The thing with her is that she is such a REAL, COMMON character to everyday life. For example, you're not going to encounter a Darth Vader or Lalo Salamanca, but chances are that you have already met someone like Umbridge. She is almost the perfect definition of a lawful evil character.”

17. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Die Hard

“Hans Gruber. Alan Rickman portrays him so well,” one noted. “This needs to be higher! Rickman was also an incredible villain like The Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but Hans Gruber in Die Hard is the greatest villain of all time,” a second professed. 

18. Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto From the X-Men Comics and Films

“Magneto. There are times when you can sympathize with him, and his actions almost seem justified. The most likable villain,” said one. A second added, “How can you go wrong with Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender? The combination did an outstanding job as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, undoubtedly one of the best younger and older acting combinations ever.”

19. Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones

“Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones,” said one. “Let's all be honest. Jack Gleeson did an outstanding job acting that we all hated him.” A second shared, “Joffrey, please put some respect on this tragically messed up character who made Jack Gleeson take an acting hiatus.”

20. David Tennant as Killgrave in Jessica Jones

One user admitted, “I found Killgrave in Jessica Jones to be a fantastic villain. David Tennant nailed the role! Which is strange after only seeing him play good characters like The Doctor.” A second stated, “Easily one of the best Marvel villains who doesn't get enough attention.”

21. Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in Breakign Bad

“Gus Fring helped me understand that Walt was genuinely evil. For example, when the villain is more honorable than the protagonist, there may be a problem with the protagonist (morally, not thematically),” one suggested. A second added, “I came here to say this, and more broadly, Giancarlo Esposito. He plays villains who are so nuanced and terrifying.”

22. Ellen McLain as GLaDOS From The Portal Video Game Series

Someone suggested, “Everything GLaDOS says is pure, sarcastic gold. She can pull all of it off so well. “A second confessed, “I'm playing Portal for the first time, and I've known how GLaDOS is pretty sarcastic, but I still got pleasantly surprised and just a little hurt by her dialogue. I wasn't expecting the fat jokes.”

23. Antony Star as Homelander in The Boys

Someone volunteered, “Homelander from The Boys is one of them. Whenever I thought he couldn't get any worse, he'd do something even more depraved. He is selfish and self-centered and gets away with it because he's so powerful. Oh, and what makes him the most dangerous is that he's pretty dumb.”

24. Matthew Goode as Ozymandias in Watchmen

One user quoted Ozymandias from Watchmen, “You don't think I'd explain my plan if there were the slightest chance you could stop me, do you? I did it 35 minutes ago.” A second added, “This was a brilliant piece of meta-dialogue. They didn't break the fourth wall entirely, but it was a great way to address what is often such a silly movie trope.”

Popular Reading: 10 Significant Things Inaccurately Depicted in Movies and Television

25. Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds

“Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds is the first that came to mind,” confessed one. “Hans Landa was terrifying in so many ways. This actor is insanely good,” replied another. 

What do you think? Did Reddit get this right, or is your favorite villain missing from this list?

More From Finance Quick Fix

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock – lev radin

About the Author

+ posts