The 100 greatest movie villains of all time

Villains, scoundrels, cutthroats, rogues, crooks, criminals and outlaws - where oh where would the cinema be without its moustache-twirling, appendage slicing bad guys? And they come in so many distinct flavours! There's the Machiavellian, a scheming subset of hare-brained thinker out to out think the hero. Then, there's the bruising dimwit, as likely to knock himself out as our intrepid leading man. After that comes the 'old bud turned bad', 'the quivering coward', the 'bizarro hero' and more, much much more.

The gift of an iconic villain is the gift that keeps on giving, elevating even the most mediocre of films to cult status, and transforming good movies into truly great ones. This list celebrates a whopping 100 of these scintillating scallywags, from the debonair to the downright depraved. Sometimes it really is good to be bad.

100. Mr. Joshua

As Played By: Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon (1987)

The Villain: As a sadistic enforcer to a drug baron, you might womder what it is about Mr. Joshua that distinguishes him from all the hundreds of other action movie bad guys that fit the same profile. The answer is simple. Hes played by Gary Busey, and the others arent. End of discussion.

Meanest Moment: Refusing to accept that hes been bested by Riggs in a fair fight, Joshua overpowers his police escort and fires off one last shot at his enemy. Sadly for him, he doesnt get the job done

Nicest Quality: Hasnt he got nice teeth? Oh no, hang on

99. Eve Harrington

As Played By: Anne Baxter in All About Eve (1950)

The Villain: As a ruthless, fame-hungry actress, Eve is representative of bitchy Hollywood wannabes everywhere, taking every opportunity to stab her would-be friend Margo in the back in order to snaffle her stardom. Blackmail, deception, sexual shenanigans: you name it, Eve does it.

Meanest Moment: Within days of Margo inviting Eve to live with her, the ungrateful so and so has made a pass at her lover! The cheek of it.

Nicest Quality: All she wants to do is become famous. Who are we to judge?

98. Mark Lewis

As Played By: Carl Boehm in Peeping Tom (1959)

The Villain: Whilst Norman Bates might be the poster boy for psychosexual violence, theres no doubting he was heavily influenced by Carl Boehms murderous voyeur. Poor Mark Lewis can only get his jollies whilst murdering young women on film. Understandably, it makes finding a girlfriend kind of tough...

Meanest Moment: The murder of the trusting Vivian, and the unceremonious dumping of her body in the props trunk. Nice.

Nicest Quality: He is willing to die for his art, as he proves at the films grisly conclusion.

97. The Queen

As Played By: Lucille La Verne in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

The Villain: The ultimate narcissist, the wicked Queen embarks upon her dastardly plot to kill Snow White purely on the basis that she might upstage her in the looks department. And where does she get this idea? From an enchanted mirror. Shes mad.

Meanest Moment: That business with the poisoned apple is fairly hard to overlook.

Nicest Quality: She is stunningly beautiful. Although shes no Snow White, obviously.

96. Liberty Valance

As Played By: Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Villain: As the definitive Western bully, Marvin imbues Valance with a swaggering braggadocio, backing up his barbed tongue with a lightning-quick trigger finger. It says something for his durability that it takes the combined efforts of Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne to finally put him down.

Meanest Moment: The public humiliation of Stewart at the local restaurant. Stand up for yourself man!

Nicest Quality: Hes a confident public speaker. Although then again, so was Hitler

95. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman

As Played By: R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket (1987)

The Villain: Yes, we know hes only doing it for their own good, but theres no debating that Hartman derives a sick enjoyment from the physical and psychological torture he inflicts on his Marines. If theres any debate as to whether hes a legitimate villain or not, consider this? Did you, or did you not cheer when he got his comeuppance? Case closed.

Meanest Moment: The decision to punish the whole platoon whenever Private Pyle messes up is an exercise in calculated cruelty.

Nicest Quality: Hes preparing men for war, dammit. Nice doesnt come into it.

94. Wade

As Played By: Kevin Bacon in The River Wild (1994)

The Villain: Not the most dastardly villain on this list, but certainly one of the most menacing. The way he subtly infiltrates Meryl Streeps family holiday is excellently drawn, as is his bullying approach to husband David Strathairn. Played with Bacons trademark charm, its easy to see how he could worm his way into the nest

Meanest Moment: When he laughingly hunts Strathairn like a dog, taking pot shots at him as he desperately tries to scramble to safety.

Nicest Quality: Hes certainly very charming, and hes even good with kids!

93. Janine Cody

As Played By: Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom (2010)

The Villain: Whilst eldest son Pope carries out the bulk of the films dastardly deeds, its monstrous matriarch Janine who truly makes the skin crawl. Ordering murder with a rictus smile on her face, shes the real driving force behind the Cody family business.

Meanest Moment: The point at which she smilingly reasons that grandson J has to go. Talk about a heart of stone

Nicest Quality: She doesnt hold grudges. So long as it suits her purpose, shell welcome anyone back into the fold with open arms. In Js case, that willingness to backtrack turns out to be very costly indeed.

92. Norman Stansfield

As Played By: Gary Oldman in Leon (1994)

The Villain: We couldnt compose a list of big-screen villains without finding room for Gary Oldman somewhere! And whilst corrupt cop Stansfield might be a little too OTT for some tastes, you couldnt ask for a better portrayal of batshit craziness than Oldman turns in here. As sadistic law-enforcers go, hes right up there.

Meanest Moment: His taunting speech as he readies himself to kill Natalie Portmans young heroine. Do you like life, sweetheart? he begins. That's good, because I take no pleasure in taking life if it's from a person who doesn't care about it.

Nicest Quality: Like many a psychopath, hes well-versed in classical music, particularly the works of Beethoven. Always a tell-tale sign


George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.


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