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Obelisk ze Tormentor 2011-12-23 14:06

Villains Who Are Truly Great and Villains Who Could’ve Been Great
I don’t know if this kinda thread already exist or not. I’m sorry if it does. Just want to share my thoughts.

We often met these kinds of phenomena where great and memorable villains are created with only a humble purpose of posing a threat, while on the other hand, there are villains who the makers made all efforts to make them great and hyped them up but totally failed.

Some examples of truly great villains would be (not in order):
Darth Vader (Star Wars original trilogy), Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), The Joker (The Dark Knight), Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds), Light Yagami (Death Note), Sasaki Kojiro (Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi novel), Freddie Kruger (the original Nightmare on Elm Street), Gollum (TLOTR), The Predator (the original Predator), Frieza & Cell (Dragon Ball manga), Hao (Shaman King manga), Vampire Lestat (Interview with the Vampire), Pain, Orochimaru & Kabuto (Naruto), Hisoka (Hunter x Hunter), Magneto (X-Men), Snow White’s stepmother/the Queen (Disney’s Snow White), and few others.

Some examples of could’ve-been-great villains would be (I don’t really care if they’re in order or not :heh:):
Cobra Commander (G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra), Scorpion King (The Mummy), Dracula (Van Hellsing, Blade Trinity, and MANY other vampire movies), The Fallen (Transformers 2), Hades (Clash of the Titans remake, Disney's Hercules & Saint Seiya anime), Almost all top-tier villains in Samurai Deeper Kyo (both manga & anime) and Black Cat (manga), and A LOT others.

Of course, the above are just my opinions. There’s no way to measure the exact ‘greatness’ of a villain. So, what do you think guys? Who are the successful villains and failed villains according to you? They can come from any kind of media: movies, animation, animes, mangas, comics, games, novels, etc.


Ok folks, to better appreciate your input, I have listed (hopefully) all of your addition since this thread was first made. Remember that the lists below are solely based on opinions. Thus, the same character can be listed in both “Great Villains” and “Failed Villains” lists. I hope I don’t miss anything. Tell me if there’s a mistake in the characters’ names or the sources. As for those who suggested IRL “villains” (e.g. George W. Bush), that wasn’t my intention when I made this thread. I will still add them to appreciate your input, but I hope there won’t be anymore IRL figures mentioned here :heh:. Anyway, the lists will be updated whenever there’s a new input.

Thank you for those who have shared their opinions, and I hope it won’t stop here. All your input have really broaden my horizon. :)

Due to a request, now there are vote numbers beside the villains’ names indicating how many members supporting the villains (both “great” and “could’ve been great”) with their posts. Wanna support your favorite villains? Do it by posting the names of the villains you like from the list. You can also add new villains not present in the list. One member can only vote one villain (in each category) once. But your one-vote can be spread into many villains in the lists. So, you can support more than one villain.

Result so far:
Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars) is leading the "great villains" with 5 votes :D
Darth Maul (Star Wars) is leading the "failed/could've been great villains" with 3 votes :D

NOTE: Please be aware that the lists may contain spoilers.

Spoiler for Great Villains:

Spoiler for Failed Villains:

KOapps 2011-12-23 14:27

Haha, as soon as I read the title of this thread, Zanto from Zelda Twilight Princess came to my mind. He was thought to be a new pretty cool boss in the game but many people were dissapointed with his behaviour in the end and declared him as plain stupid.
I guess it's a matter of taste but I personally didn't find him that great either.

Kokukirin 2011-12-23 14:55

Failed villian - Voldemort from Harry Potter.

There I said it.

Endless Soul 2011-12-23 15:01

Oh, so we're talking about fictional characters?

  • Emperor Palpatine -He just is.
  • Dr.Evil - Do I need a reason?

Could Have Been Great:
  • Darth Maul - In my opinion, he wasn't explored enough and was killed off far too early.
  • Adam Sandler - Once a hero, now turned to a so-so villain because he keeps starring in his own movies.

Endless "Could have been great" Soul

DonQuigleone 2011-12-23 15:09

I'd prefer to avoid making this a list thread. Though it may be interesting to discuss what makes a villain "great", and what makes them dissapointing.

For example, I find most Final Fantasy villains to be on the whole dissapointing. Take Sephiroth, despite how emblematic and famous he is, ingame he's really quite dull. He doesn't say much, doesn't really have much reason for what he's doing, and he just kills a lot of people. How can I even try to understand him? Hojo, in the same game, is actually a lot better because he's a mad scientist who did genuinely creepy and grotesque experiments.

If we go one entry earlier, to FF6, we actually have a much better villain in Kefka. For one thing he's bonkers, talks a lot and has no morality whatsoever. Heck he's gleeful as he kills people left right and center. That's a villain you can get behind. Not only that but he's present from the very start, and is just a somewhat psychotic low level functionary. You think he's just some kind of low level boss, while the real boss is the emperor or something. That you build up a relationship throughout the game was a very good way to build him up as a villain. And to top it off, it's completely unexpected when kills off the emperor, and becomes the main villain. He's not quite as good after that (mostly because he's sitting on his tower waiting for you), but his actions as de-facto god are totally in line to his previously established vain and arbitrary character. A good villain.

Generally, the really good villains manage to get a little admiration from the audience, and maybe even occupy enough of a morally grey position that some may see him as in the right (Light Yagami of Death Note is a good example of that). That or they just seem so cool that you admire them (a good example is Darth Vader). Either way, the villain really needs to be present they have to drive the story forward. Distant villains who are orchestrating things unseen far away just don't cut it. They have to be in your face cackling with abandon. Otherwise, they're really just a bit dull.

The only exception might be a force of nature, with some sense of innevitability. Like Lavos in Chrono Trigger. However Chrono Trigger also had a lot of minor villains to fill in the gaps.

So a villain has to have a decent amount of face time, of course the hero has to dominate, but there isn't really an upper limit. You can even have the villain take up the majority of the screen time (a la Death Note) and things will still work out. Though you have to make sure that you don't shaft the hero completely. A bad Hero is just as bad as a bad Villain.

Ithekro 2011-12-23 15:23

Two from Space Battleship Yamato:

Desslar Soto of Gamilas (the classic honorable heroic villain who can be either an enemy or a friend, and is sometimes both.) - known as Leader Desslok in the US, who has one of the more...unique, villian voices in English.

Zordar of the Comet Empire (the only one the heros never defeated on their own accord. Pretty much claims to own the whole Universe and has the power to back up his claims.)

Obelisk ze Tormentor 2011-12-23 15:24


Originally Posted by DonQuigleone (Post 3915607)
I'd prefer to avoid making this a list thread. Though it may be interesting to discuss what makes a villain "great", and what makes them dissapointing.

Oh no, it doesn't have to be a list thread. You can also state what you like and don't like from certain villains, just like you did :). Still, the thread that discuss "what makes a villain great" is already exist. That's why I made this thread to be more specific in naming great and failed villains ;).

DXMichael 2011-12-23 15:31

One villian that could have been great springs to my mind straight away. Megatron from the 3 Transformers movies.

In the first Transformers movie, he was perfect. Menacing, dominate, power hungry and demanding. He really showed that he was the leader of the Decepticons and someone who should be feared. He brought concern when his name was brought up. However, it became tumbling down hill in the second movie when everything was thrown out the window, and he was suddenly the second in command that suddenly couldn't take on Optimus. Then, the third movie sealed it and he became Sentinal Primes bitch and was killed by a battered, one armed Optimus.

A great villian was Sephiroth from Final Fantasy. Another would be General Raam from Gears Of War.

Nightbat® 2011-12-23 16:21


Originally Posted by DXMichael (Post 3915625)
One villian that could have been great springs to my mind straight away. Megatron from the 3 Transformers movies.

TF the animation, one of the better villains was Starscream
Megatron became a 'good' villain in TF the (animated) movie, but only because he blew away half my favorite autobots (he did have that good sadistic side in the series too I must add)
Galvatron otoh wasn't even close to either, I enjoyed his occasional psychotic rages, but in general he looked more like an incompetent clown,
whereas Cyclonus looked more fitting as Decepticon leader (though missed the ' absolute evil' part)

DonQuigleone 2011-12-23 18:18

RE Megatron: I don't know, I think it's difficult for a machine to make a good villain, particularly a transformer. Difficult to empathis with and all that.

That said, HAL was a pretty good villain. There's also Whatsitname from System Shock. So I guess you could make an exception for malevolent AIs. And Terminators. but those weren't nearly as distant as Megatron was.

Vena 2011-12-23 19:50

While we're on the subject of Megatron: Beast Wars Megatron. The hammiest ham of a line of hams, bonus ham point for his English voice actor who takes ham to its apex. I remember that show from my childhood, fondly to this day, and he was a great villain. He had every vice, a perfectly twisted voice and smile, and was a T-Rex!

On the subject of Beast Wars, does Dinobot count? He's technically both villain and hero, and probably the most memorable character in the show. :heh:

Ahh kid's shows, how I miss your breed. Today's kid's shows aren't even for kids.

Endless Soul 2011-12-23 20:17

Ah,so no lists? My bad.

I'd like to put up another character for consideration. This would be Kamjin from Macross (also known as Khyron the Backstabber from Robotech). Bold, violent, a touch crazy and ruthless to the point of not caring if he kills his own troops to achieve his objective. Yet, he was always held in check by his superiors who feared that he would go too far. This assured that he would never earn the victories he could have had quite easily. I'm sorry, Kamjin, you could have been a great villain.

Endless "The Backstabber" Soul

Obelisk ze Tormentor 2011-12-23 23:27


Originally Posted by Endless Soul (Post 3915929)
Ah,so no lists? My bad.
Endless "The Backstabber" Soul

Endless Soul, you didn't do anything wrong. I said that this thread doesn't have to be a list-thread. It means that it's okay if you only post a list of villains while it's also okay for those who want to explain what they like/dislike about their chosen villains. :)

Although I'm a bit confused when you mentioned Adam Sandler in the previous post. :eyespin::D

Endless Soul 2011-12-23 23:50


Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor (Post 3916143)
Although I'm a bit confused when you mentioned Adam Sandler in the previous post. :eyespin::D

Ah, that's just my strange sense of humor coming out. :)

Endless "Funny guy" Soul

Aqua Knight 2011-12-24 00:02


Originally Posted by Endless Soul (Post 3915603)
Oh, so we're talking about fictional characters?

  • Emperor Palpatine -He just is.

Yeah. One of the best manipulators ever.

Kyuu 2011-12-24 00:06

Kefka from Final Fantasy 6. Devious. Psychotic. Does everything. And succeeded in destroying the world, before he gets taken out.

Sephiroth has nothing on this guy. :eyespin:


Originally Posted by DonQuigleone (Post 3915607)
He's not quite as good after that (mostly because he's sitting on his tower waiting for you), but his actions as de-facto god are totally in line to his previously established vain and arbitrary character. A good villain.

He probably got bored and decided to just wait up there... Lolololololol. Too bad he didn't at least take some pot shots at the airship as it flew to the tower. Heck, flying some minions to the airship would have sufficed too.

Obelisk ze Tormentor 2011-12-25 12:12

Another addition of great villains are Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. Both are classic stories by Jules Verne and Herman Melville. They’re unique since they become the villain of their own story much like Light Yagami from Death Note.

Oh yeah, this is really unexpected, but this year’s summer movies also produce some great villains that is worthy to be mentioned. They are Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto from X-Men: First Class. Those guys are full of charisma, has good motivations and have some kick-ass moments. The most surprising thing is, those good movies are sleeper hits that comes from 20th Century Fox who is well-known for producing nothing but crap since, maybe, 5 years before 2011 (Dragonball Evo, anyone?). I guess those Fox Execs DO learn from mistakes.

sa547 2011-12-25 14:23

Someone forgot to mention QB.

Demongod86 2011-12-25 14:52

Arcturus and Sarah (especially Sarah) from the original Starcraft series. SC2's story though...left a bit of wanting.

Dark Jean Grey of course was her spiritual birthmother, who herself made for a very interesting villain (temporarily), but more as an endless source of angst to make the original Jean that much more sympathetic.

Magneto I'm not quite sure I'd classify as a villain. The guy is a bit extremist, but considering he's an expy of Malcolm X in some ways, I'm not quite sure villain status applies to him.

Illidan Stormrage was a very interesting one in warcraft 3, considering he more or less toed the line of heroism/evil in search of ever more power--but then Blizzard just completely derailed his character in WoW.

Generally, anytime you see a character that can pull off the whole sitting-on-the-fence-of-antihero-and-antivillain (and it takes quite a bit of work to do that well), they'll qualify. Essentially, they're a "WILL YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY?! GOOD, OR BAD?" You know you have a good character.

Though if you simply want Ham and Cheese villains, then Albert Wesker, M Bison, and Beast Wars Megatron all qualify with flying colors.

As DC Douglas put it:

"I don't need anyone else...I have big balls! And soon, we will be at Vader's Death Star, and George Bush will be released into the atmosphere, resulting in"

Dhomochevsky 2011-12-25 16:00

I don't think good villians have to be ambiguous.
That might be more realistic concerning the average human, but if you want realistic, there are more than enough examples of unbelievable atrocities out there, commited by real humans.

It is much more important, that they have a good motivation. And for that, actual gains work a lot better for me, than things like "revenge" or a grudge.

That also helps to explain why they have underlings following them. I always find it incredible stupid to have hordes of those super loyal minions suicide in order to fullfill their masters random ego trips.

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