The 50 best movie villains of all time

Go to the dark side with our ranked list of evildoers.

0

Comments

Add +
  • Movie villains: Click to the next image to see our 50 best movie villains of all time

  • Movie villains: Dean Wormer, National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

  • Movie villains: Cobra Kai Sensei, The Karate Kid (1984)

  • Movie villains: Roy Batty, Blade Runner (1982)

  • Movie villains: Asami Yamazaki, Audition (1999)

  • Movie villains: Hank Quinlan, Touch of Evil (1958)

  • Movie villains: Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas (1990)

  • Movie villains: Lord Voldemort, The Harry Potter movies (2005–11)

  • Movie villains: Baby Jane Hudson, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

  • Movie villains: Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (1979)

  • Movie villains: Lars Thorwald, Rear Window (1954)

Movie villains: Click to the next image to see our 50 best movie villains of all time


Do we love our scoundrels more than our saints? Certainly at this time of year, with Halloween just around the corner, we do. Then again, this collection of baddies boasts a stunning eight Oscar victories (and a couple more if you allow for special-effects wins). In considering the worst of the worst, TONY's Team Film was careful to sift out contenders who were merely antiheroes: Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, for example, is too well-intentioned. Instead, we went for true terribleness. Whatever you do, just keep telling yourself: It's only a list, it's only a list. And if we forgot your favorite heel, get mean with us in the comments.

RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to Halloween, NYC haunted houses, and costume shops

50
DEAN WORMER, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

Dean Wormer, National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

"The time has come for someone to put his foot down—and that foot is me," John Vernon's dastardly dean declares. This nincompoop head of Faber College took impotent authority figures to a new level, making him the ideal foil for the Deltas. He exemplifies gross-out comedy's golden rule: The more smug you are, the more likely you'll be vomited upon.—David Fear

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

49
 COBRA KAI SENSEI, THE KARATE KID (1984)

Cobra Kai Sensei, The Karate Kid (1984)

Fine, so he might not be all the way up there in the pantheon of evil, but this character definitely haunted our nightmares. Mercy and honor are mere playthings to him, as he firmly tells Daniel-san's opponent to "sweep the leg." Actor Martin Kove's squashed features add unsavoriness.—Joshua Rothkopf

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

48
ROY BATTY, BLADE RUNNER (1982)

Roy Batty, Blade Runner (1982)

The bleached-blond replicant of Ridley Scott's milestone sci-fi thriller is nearly unstoppable—poking out eyeballs, head-butting walls and reducing Harrison Ford's hard-boiled cop to a quivering, broken-fingered mess. But there's more to this bad guy than seething menace; the great Rutger Hauer invests him with a wide-eyed soulfulness that ultimately breaks your heart.—Keith Uhlich

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

47
ASAMI YAMAZAKI, AUDITION (1999)

Asami Yamazaki, Audition (1999)

Everyone knows actors are crazy, but our hero can't have expected this level of limb-slicing extremity. To be fair, he's holding a fake casting call just to meet chicks—a move that would infuriate anyone. But after deceptively meek Asami (Eihi Shiina) shows up, this is one player who's about to get a forcible re-edit.—Joshua Rothkopf

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

46
HANK QUINLAN, TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)

Hank Quinlan, Touch of Evil (1958)

Though he'd eventually resemble a mountain with a tiny head on top, Orson Welles actually added belly padding and pounds of makeup to play the corrupt cop of his noir classic, a lawman with no qualms about planting evidence, wandering out of his jurisdiction and even raising his cane on occasion.—Joshua Rothkopf

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

45
TOMMY DEVITO, GOODFELLAS (1990)

Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas (1990)

Joe Pesci took home Oscar gold for his firecracker portrayal of a short-tempered gangster in Martin Scorsese's thrilling Mafia drama. The character always wants to be the center of attention, but it's what he does when all eyes are on him—those uncomfortably drawn out am-I-fucking-with-you-or-not? pauses—that assures his place in the scoundrels' pantheon.—Keith Uhlich

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

44
LORD VOLDEMORT, THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES (2005--11)

Lord Voldemort, The Harry Potter movies (2005–11)

From his serpentine face (the missing nose is a perfect touch) to the bone-chilling way he hisses his arch-nemesis's name—"Haaa-ryyy Pahhh-ter!"—Ralph Fiennes turned J.K. Rowling's fallen wizard into the personification of that old black magic. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named doesn't really need a moniker; he simply answers to evil.—David Fear

 Buy on Amazon

43
BABY JANE HUDSON, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962)

Baby Jane Hudson, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Bette Davis throws subtlety to the wind in the flamboyant title role of this aging-starlet standard. Her psycho former child actor sticks in your mind not only for her memorably schizoid outbursts (parakeets, beware), but for the ferocious way Davis battles costar and real-life archenemy Joan Crawford for the spotlight.—Keith Uhlich

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

42
COLONEL KURTZ, APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (1979)

Lording over a compound of Montagnard mercenaries like some demented slaveowner, Brando's bald, batshit colonel one-upped Joseph Conrad's conception of Kurtz as a mere colonialist run amok; you believe this guy actually possesses a heart of darkness. Whether reading T.S. Eliot aloud or decapitating soldiers, this military madman truly communicates the horror of Vietnam.—David Fear

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

41
LARS THORWALD, REAR WINDOW (1954)

Lars Thorwald, Rear Window (1954)

He sits in his darkened apartment, smoking a cigarette. Outside in the courtyard, a neighbor wails about her dead dog. And across the way, two more observers know that Lars (an unusually subtle Raymond Burr) is up to far more than offing pets. Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant thriller simply wouldn't work without a stone-cold killer.—Joshua Rothkopf

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video


  1. 50–41
  2. 40–31
  3. 30–21
  4. 20–11
  5. 10–1

Users say

101 comments
Martinette L
Martinette L

In which universe is Sallieri more evil than Lord Voldemort?

I mean, he killed his parents, how can you say such a thing? TT

chris d
chris d

Darth Vader. All in black,German helmet. Come on guys

Roger
Roger

No Keyser Soze? O_o

Claire
Claire

Louise Latham, mother of Marnie. Marnie (1964).

Chuck G
Chuck G

I would include Monique's character from "Precious" high atop the list.

Sarah
Sarah

Missing a couple like, The Joker (From The Dark Knight), Bane (From The Dark Knight Rises) and Valentine Morgenstern (From The Mortal Instruments series) but still goos list tho:)

Joe
Joe

Vader has always been at the top of my list as best villains...far and away. But my #2 didn't make your list, Keyser Soze. Surprising too since "John Doe" is on your list...both played by Spacey, the films were released only weeks apart from each other.

Tom
Tom

Missing a few: Patrick Bateman Keyser Soze The Joker Daniel Plainview Agent Smith

Josh
Josh

I'm not saying this is not a good list. It is. But you must be mad not to include Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York. Also Heath Ledger as the Joker in the Dark Knight. Dead or alive it was very memorable. Not worthy of the Oscar that year (Robert Downey Jr. should have won), but one of the most memorable villains in the 21st century.

Rick y
Rick y

This list is awesome for just one reason and that is Darth Vader at #1. No other movie villain is better. Great job

Shawn
Shawn

Actually came here after tossing and turning, thinking about how much I hate hearing about the Joker just because Heath Ledger had to be a failure of a drug addict.

carl draina
carl draina

how about the kurgen played by clancy brown in the first highlander movie

Bigdave
Bigdave

Wow! I can't believe you would leave out one of the greatest villains EVER seen on film - Rutger Hauer as John Ryder in The Hitcher!!! He plays on of the most chilling villains ever portrayed in film!!! Absolutely chilling!!!

Peter
Peter

I agree completely, Emperor Palpatine was truely evil, and way more powerful than Darth Vader. Darth Vader turned good in the end anyway. Many things were wrong with this list. For example, Colonel Kurtz was not exactly a villain, neither was the drill sergeant from full metal jacket. The joker is missing, Hal 9000 is too low in my opinion, and even though Alex de large from Clockwork Orange was not exactly a villain either, he should go on this list based on how the list is written.

choke580
choke580

This dude ran galaxys and had them all fighting for him the greatest Villain of all time is Emperor Palpatine and not even an honorable mention who rates this stuff anyway!!!!!!!!!!

Kalah
Kalah

Hello??? The Dark Knights joker is painfully missing from this list.

LR
LR

Where is scarface? Another pachino role how about Michael corleone? Or Vito corleone? The joker has to be on the list played by ledger, he is at least top 50.

Julia
Julia

@Spectrobes Princess, I don't recognize all of them either, but seriously, it's kind of sad if you don't know Angel Eyes (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), Goldfinger (James Bond!) and Mrs Danvers (Rebecca, Hitchcock, come on!) at the very least...And Freddy Krueguer, Dracula and Hannibal Lecter are definetely not geeky/nerdy...Last but not least, if Darth Vader doesnt ring any bells you have lived a sad, sad life, my friend...

justin
justin

mmmmmm LORD VOLDEMORT 44 ON THIS LIST? what the heck?!?!?!? he is on my top five at least ten.

justin
justin

mmmmmmmm Lord VOLDEMORT 44 ON THE LIST? should not be that high up at all, he is like at least in my top five or tens list.

Ped
Ped

Maybe I missed it but ray from nil by mouth should at least be in the top 20. He's bloody terrifying and unpredictable in that film

as140
as140

@ Spectrobes: How can you not recognize Darth Vader? I think Vader should be replaced with the Emperor because he is the evik genius in Star Wars and was never any good.

Spectrobes Princess
Spectrobes Princess

I only reconized, like, 6 of them (The Evil Queen from Snow White, Gollum from Lord of the Rings, Voldemort from Harry Potter, The Wicked Witch of the West from Wizzard of Oz, and Cobra from Karate Kid) I guess I'm not as big of a geek/nerd as I thought I was! I'm a little surprised that King Haggard wasn't on this list...he was a little creepy (but not REALLY creepy.....he was obsessed with unicorns for cryin' out loud!)

Boschman
Boschman

I'm sad that Lady Iboshi from Princess Mononoke didn't make the list.

Jack
Jack

Everyone complaining about The Joker not being on the top 50 list needs to calm down and realize The Dark Knight only came out 5 years ago. Give it another 5-10 years and we'll see if Ledger's portrayal was as memorable as this generation claims it is.

crazyaverage
crazyaverage

i guess they wanted to make a doublepost for the Joker (1989/2008) as first place. But you know bugs are everywhere and most times about 50cm in front of the screen^^ but worst "villain" is Sarah Connor. Or you forget the moment where the Terminator (the star role) get squashed and he not could kill her? I really had to weep about this tragic end.

Joker
Joker

Joker from the dark night??? He should be in top 5 !!!!!!!!!!!!

Colin
Colin

Alan Rickman's Hans Grubert at #28 is a complete joke.

Rudy
Rudy

wheres the shining/ Jack Nicholson...???...

shannon
shannon

The Kurgan from Highlander? Stansfield from The Professional? Zorg from The Fifth Element?

Ben
Ben

John Doe in Se7en is the scariest villain of all time...obviously

Naglifar
Naglifar

The best villain of all time is Night Slasher in Cobra (1986), (BRIAN THOMPSON), but nobody put him in the list.

RocknRolla
RocknRolla

C´mon!! How about Mr Blonde from Reservoir Dogs??

Trub
Trub

Yeah you forgot: 1) the Joker (Heath Ledger) 2) Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt in Fight Club) 3) Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire) 4) Johnny Friendly (On the Waterfront) I know this one is a protagonist but: 5) Christian Bale (American Psycho)

Josh
Josh

So no Joker then? Not even in the #50 spot? Lets think for a minute and edit this list.

Matt
Matt

Alex de large?!?! Clockwork orange he was great in that movie he should be in the top 20

Flo
Flo

Percy? The green mile?

Jalon
Jalon

You can't really be serious I mean you can't argue with Vadar #1 but NO JOKER AT ALL!!!! He had the single greatest performance for any villain ever in a movie.

roger
roger

All these nobody's! Where TF is Clarence Boddicker?

CaptainP
CaptainP

One GREAT villian who is so often overlooked...the Warden from Shawshank Redemption. Total evil...in a prison full of hardened criminals, he was the worst person there.

vishwajeet singh ranawat
vishwajeet singh ranawat

where is JOKER from the movie the dark knight. He is the best villian ever nd must be on no 1

Gary
Gary

Really was hoping Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" would've been hiding in the bushes at around 28-ish. Cerebral and acid-tongued, she's a devious destroyer of mental faculties, a perfect outer manifestation of inner turmoil. "You make all sorts of excuses. Maybe tomorrow you'll be dead. Maybe tomorrow He'll be dead. All sorts of excuses."

Elizabeth`
Elizabeth`

Umm I think Hannibal Lecter should be #1 just saying. Best villain ever

Johnny Dicktits
Johnny Dicktits

You forgot 2 villains who deserve a spot in the top 10.. Heath Ledger in Dark Knight and Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

HYDINGNEWWORLD
HYDINGNEWWORLD

WHERE IS THE JOKER(HEATH LEDGER) in BATMAN : THE DARK NIGHT???????? #STUPIDLIST

Steph Fahey
Steph Fahey

P.S Norman Bates is a great villain though very creepy.

Steph Fahey
Steph Fahey

Are you kidding me??? No Joker? did you people even watch the original Cape Fear? this list is a joke.

blah
blah

you know, i normally keep my mouth shut on these things cause theyre so subjective, but really, where. the. hell. is heath ledger's joker?