Best Villains of All Time


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Who do you think is "The Best" villain of all stories?

Some villains are just better than others, some have petty reasons to do the things they do, some are just bad because the story they are in just don't make much sense. I'm trying to find who would be the Biggest Baddest Evilest Very Greedy, Heartless, Sadistic, Deceptive MF out there, who would be the last one standing if they were all ploting to destroy each other.

I'll list the ones I think are the best, list a few reason, and say a favorite in the end, not necessarily among the best, but just because I like it, and I ask you to do the same.

The Devil - This is just for perspective, but one could say Satan should be the most evil bad guy there is or was right? Although, I do find a lack of motive. The only reason he has to do evil is "just because", and that feels too simplistic.

Very Evil Cruel Sadistic Evil Bad Guy - A regular human, just a very evil one. I can't think of one specifically, but I think a simple very bad guy could be a very good vilain, with simple motives like money, power, pleasure, fun, these are all reason one can understand why somebody would do awfull thing to somebody else. If a simple human finds a way to trample over everybody elses's happyness in order to get some benefit, even if its a little, that should make a good villain, as long as the story makes sense, that the juice is worth the squeeze, unlike Nero from the new Star Trek, who wanted to destroy a bunch of planets to create a safe universe for his home planet, and the crazy crew that thought that was a good idea.

The Joker - Very "good" villain, authentic, his motives are consistent, he just want's to see the circus burn, and his relationship with Batman, where he's always trying to corrupt the Batman, see if he'll snap and try to kill him, and the fact that his crazy scheems are somewhat umpreditable even to the world's greatest detective makes him one of the best villains, in my opinion.

Lex Luthor - Different from the Joker, who's crazy, Luthor is one of the best Evil genious, creating very intelligent plans to achieve his goals. I loved how, in the smallville TV series, most of his conversations would end up with the other guy saying "What do you want, Luther?" and he's say "I want this, this and that.", like, he would always manipulate other to get what he wants. His motives are good too, he see's himself as a god among men, but when a "real god" shows up (superman) he can't accept that and keeps trying to find ways to become better than superman, to show his superiority over him, not just kill him.

Rapunze's Step-Mother - Again, I can't think of anyone better specifically, but I'm thinking of the type of villain that's very deceptive, lying to everybody to get what he wants, and sometimes the hero will even know the villain is lying to his face, but he's the only one who knows that and can't convice everybody else that the villain is lying. I find this type of villain very "true", now all it needs is a good motive for all these lies.

Favorite: T-1000 - I just love this guy. He's not evil, but his motive is simple. He's a machine, his sole purpose is to follow his programing. He has no emotion, no remorse, doubt, fear, no nothing, and he will stop at nothing to kill the poor soul he's after, not to mention he's literally a killing machine. On top of that, he's nearly indestructable, doesn't matter what the hell you try to do with him, he'll just "heal" himself and keep on coming after you, really unstopabble. And, how could we forget, he's made of liquid metal, I mean, how cool is that...

Silver Crusade

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Iago in Othello.


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*minor spoiler alert for the Dresden Files*

Gentleman Johnny Marcone. (Villian?...Anti-hero?...Strange bedfellow?) He's completely human in a world of wizards, demons, faeries, every fantasy monster imaginable. Yet he's usually the most powerful one in the room. He goes toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful beings in existence, and he carves himself a kingdom in both the mundane and supernatural worlds with perfect efficiency. All with little to no bloodshed, not because he sees anything wrong with it, but simply because it's not worth his trouble, bad for business. I love it.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Strahd.

Reggie.


As a villain category, I'd say: the ss-officer. A person who displays all the properties of a well bred and well educated person. But his cultured manners are merely a thin layer of veneer covering an utterly vile, depraved and sick personality.


I'm a big fan of the Record of Lodoss War lineup. Villains such as Ashram, Pirotess and Karla are definitly my favourites, primarily because they are not truly villains. They have somewhat logical motivation for their actions, or just happen to be on the opposing side to the heroes.


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Whenever he's written well, Magneto.

The scariest and best villains, I find, are the ones you almost WANT to win, because deep, deep down not only do you maybe agree with them, but actually think that they're right and the heroes are naive and wrong.

Bonus points if, like Erik, they are entirely AWARE that what they are doing is heinously evil, acknowledge it as reprehensible, and don't try to justify it by going "well I'm/it's not really evil, because" - rather, they simply recognize it as "necessary evil" because there is no other way, and welcome history remembering them as utter monsters."

Ozymandias is another good example.

Silver Crusade

bayaz, the first of the Magi, because of what chbgraphic arts said.


Some of my favourites:

Agent Smith (Matrix): He talks in an annoying slow monotone, despises all humanity and has no charisma or flair and yet despite all that is still one of the coolest villains ever, go figure.

Darth Vader (original trilogy): so awesome he has become the cliché for best villain, just ignore movies 1 through 3.

Keyser Soze (Usual Suspects): master manipulator, the devil in human guise.

Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz): No idea why, just think she is awesome.


I also like:

Loki (Norse mythology): The Loki in Marvel comics is okay too, but nothing compares with the original in my opinion.

Frank Underwood (House of Cards): Although there are in my opinion better villains, this character is really complex and you get to see the story unfold from the villain's perspective.

The Borg (Star Trek): Ruthless aliens with a disturbing kind of logic to what they do.


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For anyone who's read 3x3 Eyes, there's Kaiyan- Wang and his lieutenant, Benares

Benares spends the first half of the story being the main villain, but the specter of Benares reviving Kaiyan-Wang looms always overhead. Think of if Sauron had a much more badass general than Saurman the White, like if Ancalagon the Black and Gothmog the Lord of Balrogs decided to have a baby, and then feed that baby anabolic steroids all day every day for a millennium - that's Benares, and Kaiyan-Wang is on a whole other level of power than HIM.

So Benares spends basically the entire first half to 3/4 of the story being about CR30 with 5 Mythic Tiers or so and NOT killing the lv5 little piss-face main character because he needs him and the other main character, Pai, to not only help revive Kaiyan-Wang but also to give him the needed power boost so Kaiyan can literally rip apart the Universe.

And every time it seems like the main character, Yakumo's, got a leg up and may FINALLY have enough power to beat Benares and stop Kaiyan-Wang... NO SELL. Benares shows him, once again, that a lv15 ain't doing freakin' SQUAT in the grand scheme of things.

Then finally, it looks like Yakumo has a trick aaaaaaaaaaaand boom - All According to Plan (screw you, Light, this guy did it before you and WAY better), and here's Kaiyan-Wang. I mean, sh$t - you thought his Cohort was bad? Kaiyan-wang's a freakin' CR40 with a full freakin' 10 Mythic Tiers, and This Isn't Even His Final Form, so Kaiyan-Wang proceeds to take the poor lil' bastard Yakumo and throw him into an oxygen-less pocket universe to find the only remaining being like Kaiyan and Pai (Triclopses), so that Yakumo can bring that being back for Kaiyan to effectively eat and win.

Never mind that Yakumo is literally unkillable, as Kenny said "IT !@#$ING HURTS, KYLE!" and he has to go through the process of suffocating and burning to death over and over again for literally MONTHS while flying/falling through an empty void that may as well be the Event Horizon of a Black Hole.

When Yakumo FINALLY finds this final triclops, he ends up fuses with an unbelievably powerful being that gives him crazy magic who had been acting as the guard of this triclops, and they're brought back to our dimension.

And finally - OH CRAP - Yakumo's actually as freakin' powerful as Benares, sittin' on 30 levels of multiclassed Badass and !@#$-Yeah!, looks like he's FINALLY got an edge on Benares and can save Pai and kill Kaiyan...

Aaand then Kaiayan eats the third Triclops, sucks out enough of Pai's soul that he gets the power-up he needed, and boom goes the dynamite.

Oh, hey, look, - Kaiyan's CR60, has 20 Mythic Tiers, and like 27 Divine Ranks. Because, yeah, okay, why the !@#$ not.

K-boy here proceeds to turn basically everyone in the entire world into melted THINGS that would make Cthulhu retch, take Pai away from Yakumo, oh, and literally rip out the sources of all of Yakumo's power, immediately sending him back to Level 1 Commoner status. Yeah.

But Pai did manage to screw some things up for Kaiyan, so even though he's sitting here with enough power that he's could basically shove his hand up Yawg-Sothoth's non-euclidian rear-end and make a puppet out of him, it's still not QUITE enough to actually turn the universe inside out and break it, so there IS a very, very small resistance that builds up.

And poor Yakumo's got nothing - no magic, no immortality, and his triclops girlfriend is now missing.

But, being the freakin' biggest Determinator in the history of ever, including The Doctor, he decides that he's going to save Pai and STILL find a way to win.

And he finds Pai, and he rescues her, and he FINALLY gets some nooky RIGHT before she decides to offer herself as a meal to Kaiyan in a futile hope of maybe breaking him from the inside - which, honestly, was about the best plan they all had going for them.

But it doesn't really work, AND she gets completely eaten, AND Kaiyan causes the ENTIRE universe to star collapsing back in on itself, falling into a signularity, and the only beings left in the entire universe are Yakumo, who's managed to hold on through shear willpower alone...

Until Pai comes roaring back out and re-creates her contract with Yakumo, rebooting him back to how he had been PLUS giving him a freakisly OP boost caused by all the souls' energies she injected into him, turning Yakumo into some crazy-awesome gestalted-multiclassed lv20Arcanist/Cleric/lv20Bloodrager/Warpriest Mythic Gestalt Tier 10 Champion/Archmage monstrosity that Benares barely scratches really before getting disintegrated, and then proceeds to bum-rush Kaiyan-Wang and hit him so unbelievably hard that the universe-wide black hole Kaiyan had formed begins to dissolves back into the universe-proper, returning the bodies and souls of everyone Kaiyan had consumed back to normal, and absolutely obliterating Kaiyan - like, this surpasses the KABOOM of even Earth-2 Superman Punching The Antimonitor out of existence.

So, yeah final score was Yakumo & Pai losing for 99% of a 20-year-long series until after fighting tooth-and-nail, they FINALLY manage to pull off one gigantic last effort and not only veritably catch the golden snitch but then proceed to beat the OTHER team to DEATH with it.

---

Long story short, the best villains are also the ones that make the heroes work for every g~+!*+n level they gain and STILL seem absolutely impossible to beat even when the Party has passed Epic Levels twice over.


I always liked the "enemy of my enemy, who is also bad". Someone who has similar goals to the hero, or maybe his goals simply compliment the hero's, yet his methods are immoral, and often get innocents hurt or killed. The more effective this guy is at helping your goals, the harder it will be to justify completely taking him out of the picture, yet you'll know it's the right thing to do, eventually. The question will become "where's the line?" and you will be constantly questioning your judgement on if keeping him out of jail was the right thing to do.

I think Magneto best represents this category?


Vlad Tepes. Winner. Hands down.


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The clear winner is Casanova Frankenstein. The rest of you are just plan wrong. :-)


Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's Hikawa, the Reason-holder of Shijima. Hikawa is both crafty and competent, calm and calculating, but never really cold. Most of all, he believes in what he's doing. Plenty of villains in media tell the protagonist that they're alike and Hikawa does the same. The difference is that he's right. SMT Nocturne takes place in a world that's already been destroyed and the main plot is a fight between the most powerful survivors to decide who gets to rebuild it in their own image (which becomes their Reason, the ideal around which they'll reform the world). Though the protagonist cannot form his own reason, he's free to support whichever one he wants. This puts all the Reason-holders (and the protagonist) in the same position: they're all vying to create the world that they want. Hikawa's vision of what the world should be (a world of silence where emotion and differentia are subsumed by the collective will of mankind. All becomes one, and the voices off all sing out in harmony with the universe) is no more right or wrong than any of the others'. Hikawa's an effective villain because the only possible justification for trying to stop him is because you think you have a better plan for what the world should be, which really makes you no better than him.


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My vote goes to Funny Valentine from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, quite possibly the sanest villain I have ever read about.


Dick Cheney!


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For all 3 people who played System Shock or System Shock 2 - Shodan. An artificial intelligence who manipulates the protagonists and is really, really creepy. The voice acting alone from 2 gives me the shudders.

The scariest villains, as people have said, are the sane ones. Especially the smart, sensitive sane ones who do evil things anyway. They always seem more dangerous than mad, cruel villains because they're not going to get goaded into revealing their plans, into showing the hero that they're his equal in a one-on-one fight etc.


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Judge Holden from Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.


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I have two favorites, and possibly for the same reasons:

Thanos the mad Titan from Marvel comics (hasn't really done much yet in the Marvel movies). His plans and machinations always seem to include predictions of what his enemies will do, and contingencies for those actions.

Scorpius from the TV show Farscape for much the same reason. Scorpius always seemed to be two steps ahead of most everybody.

Both are ruthless, and aren't afraid to use whatever resources at hand to achieve their goals, no matter what those resources are.


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Kchaka wrote:
The Devil - This is just for perspective, but one could say Satan should be the most evil bad guy there is or was right? Although, I do find a lack of motive. The only reason he has to do evil is "just because", and that feels too simplistic.

If you think the Devil lacks a motive, the first and greatest one, then you have never loved to distraction—either someone else, or yourself.


Victor FriesSure, he's willing to destroy half of gotham for that diamond, but he's got a really good reason for it. I mean, you don't want to let his poor, innocent wife suffer and die, do you?

Although I like a fair number of other villains (Dr. Octopus becomes more interesting when he becomes SpiderMan for a while and we get to see his viewpoint, learning that he's actually not so far away from hero as we might be comfortable thinking. He's just willing to take it to a whole other level akin to certain extreme versions of Batman...) and the Riddler will always be my favorite (it's less about the crime than it is about proving he's smart, specifically smarter than the one person who consistently foils him), for me the best villains are the kind that you can relate to. Someone who has some goal that it is perfectly understandable why they'd do anything to accomplish, but are willing to go to an all new level to get to. Someone we might see as a hero in a different light, or in different circumstances, or without quite as much willingness to break the wrong rules (I say wrong because Batman violates all sorts of laws and human rights in the pursuit of his version of justice.... So maybe Batman could be considered a villain as well. Certainly an outlaw at the very least...)

I also have to give props out to Madara in Naruto, and my personal favorite for the mysterious type, Orochimaru (Orochi refers to a mythological 8 headed snake monster, Maru means circle, which is a cool villain name). Madara just wants to save everyone in the world, even if that means destroying this world to do it. Orochimaru has hidden, inscrutable motives that remain hidden until such time as his plans come to fruition at which point there are layers and layers of other plot going on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is as tough and as personal a question as to what is your best hero.

The obvious one is the dark reflection - an antagonist that is equal in ability to the hero of the story. (Sherlock Holmes / Moriarty; Dr. Who / The Master; Indiana Jones / Belloq).

The two dimensional villain can be frightening as well, as you cannot negotiate with such a being. (Any serial character from an 80s horror slasher film). It is somewhat related to institutional evil, where the villains do what they do simply because it is their job (any dystopian future story, cybermen, Nazi war criminals, any medieval torturer).

My personal favorite is Magneto from the Claremont era X-men. He is a complex character that feels the ends justify the means, and is troubled at times with his own decisions. Unlike most fictional villains, his psychology is believable to me. It serves as a warning that if you aren't careful, you can fall and become something evil yourself. Magneto lives in a world of denial, where he justifies his worst actions - yet is human enough to be relatable. Granted, Magneto was rather two-dimensional in his first (and more recent) appearances.


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I have to go with Rubicante, the Fire Archfiend from Final Fantasy series. Of all of the games I have played he is the only villain who heals you before you fight so that he may prove to you that your best is not good enough.

Carnage would be next, he is down to his core Evil Incarnate. Destructive, Selfish, Chaotic, Maniacal, Sadistic, and Twisted.


Most terrifying: Light Yagami, from Death Note.


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The operative, "serenity"

Suave, charismatic, well spoken, driven. And epitomized by this exchange

The Operative: I'm sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don't murder children.
The Operative: I do. If I have to.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
The Operative: It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

Or this one:

The Operative: You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.
Dr. Mathias: Well, unfortunately, I forgot to bring a sword.
Dr. Mathias: [as the Operative pulls out his sword] I would put that down right now if I were you.
The Operative: Would you be killed in your sleep, like an ailing pet?

Sovereign Court

Perfect representation of a Lawful Evil.


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When I saw the Title, the first thing I thought of was Ourselves, and not in some poetic manner. I was thinking of a Champions game.

All the players (well, most), were power gamers and known to create over powered characters all the time. Before the game, the week before, they were told to come up with the most powerful 350pt characters they could come up with. At the game table they were told to hand them to the GM and were told that these were the Enemies and they were told to create their REAL characters. There was much silence as these power gamers were struck dumb.

As far as Movies and TV shows:
Babylon 5 The Shadows
Dr. Who The Weeping Angels

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In the Children's show department, I'd have to nominate Xanatos from Gargoyles! who gives his name to the trope Xanatos Gambit. If Bruce Wayne became a villain, that's who he'd be.

Sovereign Court

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Also Xanatos speed chess.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
The clear winner is Casanova Frankenstein. The rest of you are just plan wrong. :-)

He did this thing with his eyes...

I have to back the sentiment of any villain that you totally get.

For a specific villain, I have to point out classics like Vader, or overwhelming beings of evil like Tiamat/Takhisis. Villains that in truth the heroes can't go toe to toe with. Sure eventually Luke beats Vader, but the rest of the party in a straight fight with him? Not happening.

I also am fond of mercenary villains, just zero f's given, doing the job and not caring.

Sovereign Court

Tywin Lannister.


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In movies, I think my favorite villain might be the Devil, from Devil's Advocate. Or from the Prophecy. Potentially also Gabriel from the Prophecy. Or from Legion. I seem to have a thing for fallen angels.

From video games, Rubicant is pretty up there...along with Golbez, Magus and Kefka...Square did real good villains back in the day.

In TV, there is none more horrific than Griffith of Berserk, in my mind. That one really hurt, especially since in my first watch through, I missed the first episode that might have let me know that was going to be the end result. Lionel Luthor of Smallville might also take a place.

Books, I'm going to go with Quar and Kaug, from Rose of the Prophet. They were this close to taking over the world. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those darn djinn.


Glinda the Good Witch


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I quite liked Adrian Ripburger, of the Lucasarts game Full Throttle.


My favorite villains of all time from literature?

Hmm...

In order of when they popped into my head...

Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. Clearly the most evil character in any of Shakespeare's works.

Captain Ahab from Melville's Moby Dick.

Darth Vader from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Dracula from Bram Stoker's original novel.

Ernst Blofeld from the James Bond movie franchise. He set the archetype of the mastermind of an evil criminal organization who always manages to escape at the end.

The Shadows from Babylon 5. Creepy, unknowable, manipulative, and nearly all-powerful.

Dr. Hannibal Lechter from the novel and film The Silence of the Lambs. The idea of a someone who is both a brilliant psychiatrist and a sociopathic serial killer is simply chilling.


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Rennaivx wrote:

*minor spoiler alert for the Dresden Files*

Gentleman Johnny Marcone. (Villian?...Anti-hero?...Strange bedfellow?) He's completely human in a world of wizards, demons, faeries, every fantasy monster imaginable. Yet he's usually the most powerful one in the room. He goes toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful beings in existence, and he carves himself a kingdom in both the mundane and supernatural worlds with perfect efficiency. All with little to no bloodshed, not because he sees anything wrong with it, but simply because it's not worth his trouble, bad for business. I love it.

How is it that so many people seem to have intimate knowledge of my case files? Damn it, Bob!

Shadow Lodge

chbgraphicarts wrote:

Whenever he's written well, Magneto.

The scariest and best villains, I find, are the ones you almost WANT to win, because deep, deep down not only do you maybe agree with them, but actually think that they're right and the heroes are naive and wrong.

Bonus points if, like Erik, they are entirely AWARE that what they are doing is heinously evil, acknowledge it as reprehensible, and don't try to justify it by going "well I'm/it's not really evil, because" - rather, they simply recognize it as "necessary evil" because there is no other way, and welcome history remembering them as utter monsters."

Ozymandias is another good example.

Fully agree. The best bad guys are righteous people paving the path to hell. Darth Vader is a character of evil (old trilogy) and a snotty self absorbed brat (prequel trilogy) motivated only by selfish desires. Magneto is a idealistic fanatic with a cause. He has hopes and dreams for others based on the horrors of his own past; not just a desire to rule or a need for power. He does what he does because he believes the alternative is infinitely worse.

In the same respect, Paul Muadib from the Dune series of books is a great classic villain (yes, he is a villain and he knows it). He knows what he is doing will cause untold suffering in the future and looks for a better way, but in the end delivers the universe into the hands of his son who does much worse; all in the name of human survival.


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I would certainly like to throw in Admiral Thrawn from the Thrawn Trilogy.

“But," he whispered, "it was so artistically done.”

Seriously, one of the best villains I've ever experience. Calculating, rarely betraying his emotions, not prone to fits of anger or rage, and even accepts his death with a smile, all because it was part of the game. His motivations were pure, and unlike many villains, they were believable.


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<Circe enters the thread, strutting her stuff.>

Ahem...You pigs are forgetting someone.

<struts on out of the thread.>


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Circe wrote:

<Circe enters the thread, strutting her stuff.>

Ahem...You pigs are forgetting someone.

<struts on out of the thread.>

Care to explain what makes Circe of all the villains in the Odyssey, one of the greatest villains of all time? Her villains status is debatable, and was conquered quite easily via a plant. A plant. I mean, even the suitors can be argued as better villains, and they were slaughtered wholesale.


She may be referring to Circe's turn in Wonder Woman, where she's far more formidable.

Silver Crusade

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Alien from the movie of the same name. In space, no one can hear you scream.

H.A.L. from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Thing from the film of the same name, by John Carpenter. Doppelganger story that really brings out the fear of ourselves.

Dracula from the book. An undead lord.

Already listed above, but worth mentioning again: Darth Vader.

Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek. Both Ricardo Montalbán and Benedict Cumberbatch nailed their performances of this singular villain.

Abagail Williams and Reverend Samuel Parris from Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible.

Dr. Moriarty, super-genius and foil to Sherlock Holmes.

The Operative from Serenity. Best human representation of lawful evil ever, I think.


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Moriarty, Johnny, Nemo and Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I certainly hope they never get it into their heads to make a movie adaptation of that one.

Silver Crusade

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As Haladir mentioned the Shadows from Babylon 5, that reminded me of another villain I liked: Alfred Bester the psi cop.

Sovereign Court

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Sissyl wrote:
Moriarty, Johnny, Nemo and Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I certainly hope they never get it into their heads to make a movie adaptation of that one.

Yeah, that movie would be horrible.


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Hama wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Moriarty, Johnny, Nemo and Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I certainly hope they never get it into their heads to make a movie adaptation of that one.
Yeah, that movie would be horrible.

Pft. I'm sure if they were to ever make one, it couldn't be that bad.

/sarcasm

Sovereign Court

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Zova Lex wrote:
Hama wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Moriarty, Johnny, Nemo and Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I certainly hope they never get it into their heads to make a movie adaptation of that one.
Yeah, that movie would be horrible.

Pft. I'm sure if they were to ever make one, it couldn't be that bad.

/sarcasm

You underestimate their power.


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Yagyu Retsudo from the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. Especially in the last chapters of the manga where Retsudo displays the intriguing complexities of a character who is undeniably ruthless and manipulative but also subject to the strict tenets of Bushido.

Spoiler:
What would you do as a villain who has just succeeded in killing the one man who has made it life's mission to destroy your family (successfully!)? You respect him so much you let his son stab you in the chest and dying(?) so you can continue the fight in the afterlife


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Oh, right, Mother Gothal from Tangled. For once a SMART villain, if perhaps with not the grandest scope of plans.

As for Final Fantasy, I nominate Artemisia from VIII. She's what remains of someone who loved with all her being, but that love died, leaving her a hateful, withered husk of a person.

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