As the saying goes, the greater the threat, the greater the hero. Saving lives every now and then would not have been a day job for fictional heroes or superheroes if their villains never decided to start a ruckus. Not denying the fact that there is always the presence of charisma and much fascination in the bad guys, take a look at the greatest movie villains of all time who are bad to the bone:
20. Agent Smith
Actor Hugo Weaving is a natural when it comes to playing villains in movies and that is where Agent Smith comes in. As the terrorizing force in the Matrix franchise, Smith breaks every rule in the book and includes laws of physics too.
With the ability to dodge bullets, jump long distances, punch through concrete, and run with super speed and amazing strength, Smith was a worthy opponent for Thomas A. Anderson aka Agent Neo.
If Count Dracula was from the darkest pits of hell and had dozens of nails all over his face, the character would be Pinhead – a cenobite from an extra-dimensional realm with the aim of harvesting human souls.
The Pope of Hell is an extremely powerful being and has supernatural abilities. Utilizing chains and hooks by mental control to tear his victims apart by pulling them in different directions, Pinhead is a master of torture.
18. Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Though the origin and true form of the monster known as “It” was never revealed in the miniseries adaption of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Pennywise takes the form of a sadistic clown to attract and kill innocent children.
Portrayed by Tim Curry and achieving universal acclaim, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is perhaps the scariest, creepiest, and evil yet greatest character ever created by the legendary author King.
17. Michael Myers
Before Halloween was just a fun night of festivities, the mysterious character of Michael Myers added a lot of spice to it by becoming the merciless antagonist of the horror franchise of the same name.
With the mantle of the kitchen knife-wielding mass murderer being portrayed on-screen by more than ten different actors, the menacing Michael Myers has a strong place in the hearts of people who are enthralled by slasher movies.
16. Freddy Krueger
Responsible for making teenagers give a second thought about sleeping, the burnt serial killer is known for employing a glove armed with sharp razors to kill his poor unsuspecting victims in their dreams.
Jackie Earle Haley might have portrayed the Springwood Slasher in the 2010 reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street but Robert Englund made Krueger a character to be feared by portraying him in eight installments of the original franchise.
15. Bill “The Butcher” Cutting
Despite Leonardo DiCaprio being the lead actor and hero of Gangs of New York, all eyes were on the knife-throwing, mustache-twirling Civil War-era gangster Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. Portrayed by none other than Daniel Day-Lewis, it was the actor’s first role after a five-year break from acting and he stole the entire movie.
Despite being backed up by gang members, the magnitude of Cutting exhibits that his knives do all the work when it comes to making a point. Do not let the nickname fool you as he would kill you in a blink of an eye with his knives if he has a score to settle. Day-Lewis won the BAFTA Award and was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his spectacular work.
When criminal Charles Lee Ray transformed his soul into a doll in an attempt to save himself from eventual death, a horror icon was born who made little children rethink owning a toy doll.
Bent on becoming a human again by transforming his soul into his child owner, multiple murders become evitable yet everyone was skeptical to believe that a doll could actually be alive.
13. Jason Voorhees
The machete-carrying maniac from Camp Crystal Lake has been portrayed by numerous different actors and has cemented his legacy as one of the most recognizable villains in horror movie history.
Driven by the immoral actions of his victims coupled with rage over the fact that he drowned as a child, Jason Voorhees is a killing machine and even his signature hockey mask has become a source of fear.
Slowly dying from an inoperable lobe tumor, former civil engineer John Kramer learns the value of life but just to make sure that other people feel the same way about it too, he puts his unsuspecting victims in bizarre “games” in which they have to self-inflict pain in order to escape.
Given the name Jigsaw Killer by the authorities due to the fact that he cuts a puzzle piece shape of flesh from the victims who fail in his games, the sadistic torture obsessed Kramer is not a villain anyone would want to get on his bad side.
11. Davy Jones
Bound on the sea with the duty to carry the ones who died at sea from the world to the afterlife, Davey Jones is merciless and sadistic as they come. As the main antagonist of the second and third installments of Pirates of the Caribbean, the caption of The Flying Dutchman proved to be one tough pickle even for the wit of Captain Jack Sparrow.
Based on the superstition among the sailors in the 18th century, Davey Jones’ appearance is as mean as his deeds. Thanks to the heavy voice of Bill Nighy and excellent CGI effects, the sea devil was brought to life and even won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
10. Lord Voldemort
The magical world trembles with fear when it comes to the matter of Lord Voldemort to the point of referring to him as “You-Know-Who” and even “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. Described as “the evilest wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years” by J.K. Rowling, Voldemort has been killing muggles for decades for the sake of his own pleasure.
Responsible for murdering the parents of Harry Potter, the Dark Lord is evil to the bone and made his intentions very clear to get rid of the wizarding world of muggles and reign supreme in both worlds. Known for pure wickedness, the character has been compared to many real-life politicians as well.
9. Wicked Witch of the West
Arguably the greatest female movie villain of all time, the Wicked Witch of the West terrified everyone as a child who watched the beloved musical fantasy movie The Wizard of Oz.
While countless fictional witches have been shown in media such as in the Harry Potter franchise, it was Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal that made the character part of the pop culture.
8. Saruman the White
Though not much of a vitalized character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, fate could have been much different for Saruman thanks to Peter Jackson’s direction and Christopher Lee’s acting, the evil wizard stands out as one of the most iconic and feared movie villains of all time.
As the creator of the One Ring to bind them all and rule them all, Saruman was an expert when it came to black magic and dark wizardry in order to make sure that no one dared to cross his path, and that included rival wizard Gandalf as well.
7. Alex DeLarge
Portrayed by Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, Alex DeLarge is not the kind of person you would want to meet in a lonely alley late at night. With an unpredictable nature, Alex’s fury also reaches his very own gang members. Bent on hurting people for absolutely no reason, the motivations behind Alex’s actions are not due to prove his dominance but because he wants to.
The creepiness of the character can be imagined over the fact that he was fond of the Old Testament passages in the Bible that featured murder and torture. Though the young delinquent is apparently cured by the end of the film, robbing, terrorizing, raping, and assaulting people for his own amusement was an everyday activity for Alex.
6. Jack Torrance
Jack Nicholson sure knows how to get into character and his terrifying performance as the menacing Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was no exception.
With an ax in his hand, Torrance always had his intention of inflicting excruciating pain on people as he viciously murdered them without showing remorse of any kind.
5. Norman Bates
Back when television was in the black-and-white era, acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock came up with one of the most brilliantly drafted psychological thriller-horror movies of its time: Psycho.
With Anthony Perkins taking the role of the bad guy in the movie, it turned out that the seemingly ordinary boy next door was hiding the corpse of his dead mother and dressing like her to carry out several murders.
4. The Joker
Undoubtedly the greatest performance by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger, the role of the Joker stole the entire show as he drenched Gotham city with fear in The Dark Knight.
Unlike many villains from the list, the Joker never aimed for power or wealth. He wanted to wreak havoc and mayhem because some men, just want to watch the world burn.
3. Hannibal Lecter
Calm on the outside and a monster inside, Dr. Hannibal Lecter represents the exact definition of a sociopath. Known for employing scare tactics by horrifyingly staring at his victims and eating them, Lecter is a ruthless cannibal.
Anthony Hopkins brought the fictional character from the novel The Silence of the Lambs to life in the movie adaption of the same name to the point of winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Strictly believing that humans are an inferior species to mutants, Erik Lensherr decided to take the matter into his own hands – the hard way – once he realized that his race was considered a misfit in society.
One of the greatest comic book villains of all time, Sir Ian McKellen nailed the role of Magneto with perfection; excellently showing that his emotions do not get in the way of eradicating humanity.
1. Darth Vader
While the wrath of many villains is limited to a particular city, only a few are able to tremble the entire world with fear, and then there is only one supervillain who is feared by every single being in the universe: none other than the merciless ruler of the Galactic Empire, Darth Vader.
Portrayed by multiple actors in the original Star Wars trilogy and its prequel trilogy, the character shows no sense of sympathy during his combats whether he is battling a foe or his very own son.
This list of famous villains of the silver screen cannot be completed without mentioning these iconic villains also:
- The Predator
- Anton Chigurh
- Amon Goeth
Feel free to share your favorite greatest movie villains of all time in the comments below!
Roy Batty from The Bladerunner is just mesmerizing. Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs, HAL-9000 from A Space Odyssey, Kevin Spacey in any movie where he is a villain:D Then Annie Wilkes from Misery, Emperor Commodus form The Gladiator (I still hate him :)