Much as we love to cheer for the main character, there are certain villains who are so well written and acted, or just so iconic, we can't help loving them. Whether it's Darth Vader, the Joker, or Cersei Lannister—there are certain characters who take on an almost iconic status in our minds and imaginations. Who is the best villain you've ever watched? This blog post will explore some of the top contenders across popular films and TV shows—villains that made us shudder, but we couldn't admiring their presence on-screen. 

1. Ozymandias

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.

One user posted, “‘You don't think I'd explain my plan if there was the slightest chance you could stop me do you? I did it 35 minutes ago.' Purely based on that, Ozymandias from Watchmen.”

Another user added, “This was a brilliant piece of meta-dialogue. They didn't break the fourth wall completely, but it was a great way to address what is often such a silly movie trope.”


Photo Credit: Portal Fan Films.

A Redditor posted, “GLaDOS—'We both said a lot of things you're going to regret.'”

Another user added, “Everything GLaDOS says is pure, sarcastic gold. Fat jokes, adoption jokes, passive (and active) agressiveness, she can pull all of it off so well. ‘How are you holding up? Because I'm a potato.' 2nd place goes to Cave Johnson though. who else could rant so well about lemons.”

One user commented, “Fun fact: Posting that rant on Facebook can earn you a trip to Facebook Jail for ‘inciting violence.' By talking about burning a house down. With non-existent combustible lemons. Ask me how I know.”

3. Gus Fring

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One Redditor shared, “Gus Fring.”

Another responded, “Gus really helped me understand that Walt was truly evil. When the villain is more honorable than the protagonist, there may be a problem with the protagonist (morally, not thematically).”

A third user commented, “I came here to say this, and more broadly, Giancarlo Esposito. He plays villains who are so nuanced and just…terrifying. As Gus, he has an amazing ability to go from affable, mild mannered, and at times even warm. But then suddenly…ice cold. Terrifying. His brain is constantly 10 steps ahead. He never takes a cheap shot. He is meticulous and deadly calm in his rage, and that makes him all the more frightening. When they poison Don Eladio, and it also includes himself and Walt…whew. I've never hated anyone enough to poison myself.

“He also is amazing as Moff Gideon in the Mandalorian. His speech about ‘Why should you trust me? You shouldn't.' Perfect. He's less reserved than Gus by miles, but still calm and ruthless.” 

4. Hans Landa

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

One user posted, “Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds is the first that came to mind.”

Another added, “Hans Landa was terrifying in so many ways, this actor is insanely good.”

One user replied, “Playing both an extremely racist military officer, and a very not racist bounty hunter, and nailing both perfectly was so impressive.”

Another user confirmed, “Yep, he even says he doesn't see the comparison of Jews to rats as a bad thing. The rat is a hardy and tenacious creature. It not only survives, but thrives, in a world entirely hostile to it where so many predators will try to kill it on sight. He's just good at his job, and he enjoys being good at his job.”

5. Nurse Ratched 

Photo Credit: Netflix.

One user commented, “Nurse Ratched just because of how implicitly she tortured the inmates.”

Another added, “She was such a good evil actress I instantly hated her as Kai Wynn in DS9 too.”

One replied, “She was a great villain as Kai Winn, too. So passive-aggressive and hateful. One of my favorite loves is to hate characters.” 

Another commenter added, “She apparently couldn't watch the film for years because of her own performance. Imagine playing a villain so well that it psychs you out.

6. Homelander

Photo Credit: Prime Video.

One Redditor shared, “Homelander is definitely one of them.”

Another added, “Antony Starr as Homelander is my favorite unhinged villain of all time. He's putting on a great performance.”

“Watching his interviews makes it very obvious why they chose him,” one commenter replied. 

Another user replied, “Anthony Starr is a gift that just keeps getting better.”

7. Hans Gruber

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

A commenter shared, “Hans Gruber. Alan Rickman portrays him so well.”

One user replied, “He's magnificent as the sheriff of Nottingham as well!”

Another added, “Because the command seems so nonsensical that repeating it in another language—and with a shorter sentence—will really show you mean it. Nothing to do with non-German speaking viewers. Move along.”

8. Gul Dukat

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive.

An online user posted, “Gul Dukat. He goes from evil Hitler type to loving father on the run from his government to crazy possessed madman in a single series.”

One added, “His two hander with Sisko (‘Waltz') is the most impactful hour of TV I've ever seen. When I was a teenager I didn't know that TV could be that immersive or that I could care that deeply about the characters. I had grown up learning that Star Trek episodes involved clever, heroic characters using their wits to solve interesting problems in one episode, occasionally two. And then Deep Space Nine slowly pulled this apart with ongoing stories and the possibility that thinking you are the good guys isn't always the same as doing the right thing. By the time Gul Dukat goes full crazy it was a palpable relief after wading through so many shades of gray. Whilst Marc Alaimo is mesmeric, I don't think Avery Brooks is any slouch either and the two of them just elevate each other. It's a testament to them that by the finale they were simultaneously wrestling each other into heaven and hell and this didn't seem bonkers, it just worked.” 

9. Boyd Crowder

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

One Redditor posted, “Boyd Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) in ‘Justified'. He's not particularly strong in season 1, but by season 2, you just want him to keep getting away to have more. The fact that he's Raylan's frenemy, and not just a generic evil guy was such a nice touch.”

One user also added, “Justified was stuffed to the gills with great villains. The Bennetts, Wynn Duffy, Robert Quarles, Nicky Augustine, Avery Markham, Boone, etc. Even the one-offs like Glenn Fogel were fantastic. And then there were the more morally ambiguous characters like Limehouse—people who couldn't really be called villains, but definitely someone you don't want [to anger].” 

Another user commented, “I am in the middle of rewatching this and… the writing is so good. The first season is more of a villain-of-the-week kind of thing, but you can already tell the series is higher quality than most similar shows simply by how it introduces villains, having them be actually memorable and entertaining even though they are never going to be seen again.

“But then in season 2 Boyd Crowder really gets going and it just keeps getting better and better. ‘I've been accused of being a lot of things. Inarticulate ain't one of them.' Also, I have never laughed as much from a scene in a show as when that guy charges Givens with a knife after spending most of a season talking about how he could take a gunfighter with his knife.” 

10. Shooter McGavin

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

One user commented, “Shooter McGavin. Do I need to even describe why?”

Another replied, “You eat pieces of [crap] for breakfast?”

One commenter replied, “I would go further and say the caretaker at the old folks home was arguably worse.” 

Original Reddit thread here.

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