A great hero is nothing without a great villain. Honestly, who cares about the kid picking up a sword and going on an adventure if there isn't some evildoer waiting at the end of the trail? It's the villain that makes the hero; the role of the "bad guy" is the most important of them all.
We've gathered up 100 of the most dastardly ne'er-do-wells that gaming has to offer. The serial killers, the lunatics, the monsters, and the maniacs are all represented. Where does your favorite foe rank on the list? Well, there's only one way to find out.
We've now updated with the final entries based on your many votes in the comments. 100 through 91 are are there because you demanded them, making this feature complete at last. Let us know if you're happy with the final list.
100. Master Hand (Smash Bros.)
In his first appearance on the title screen of Super Smash Bros., Master Hand just seems like some whimsical, disembodied hand that likes to bring trophies to life. In reality, he's a maniacal masochist that likes to watch Nintendo's cute mascots battle to the death. He watches as brothers fight brothers and rivals pummel each other into oblivion, laughing as our favorite video game characters duke it out in a no-holds-barred battle royale. Plus, his twitchy, alter-ego, Crazy Hand, is the embodiment of evil hand gestures. Just the way Crazy Hand's contorted fingers move about the screen gives us the creeps.
99. Nemesis (Resident Evil 3)
You think Wesker's bad news? He's nothing compared to Nemesis, the hulking BOW engineered to hunt down surviving S.T.A.R.S. members. Not only could Nemesis probably kill you with its haunting visage alone, he's also a walking tank practically incapable of dying and 100-percent capable of brutal murder (just ask poor Brad Vickers, who received a piercing tentacle through the face). There's nothing worse than thinking you've finally escaped Nemesis' relentless pursuit, only to hear a guttural "Stars..." just up ahead.
98. Doctor Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot)
That stubby frame; the sulfur-colored complexion; the clownish hairstyle; the "N" permanently stamped onto his forehead. No wonder N. Cortex is always so mad. This evil scientist compensates for his ghastly appearance by being as brilliant and maniacal as possible, constructing robots of mass destruction faster than most people put together furniture. In a delightful twist, Cortex is actually the creator of his hated enemy Crash, after zapping the bandicoot with his Evolvo-Ray. Even as you're foiling his dastardly plans, it's hard not to feel bad for the little lunatic.
97. The Reapers (Mass Effect trilogy)
Defeating the Reapers should have been impossible. If the Reapers invaded Earth in real-life like they did in Mass Effect 3, we'd simply be dead--because these colossal machines have wiped out all life in the universe multiple times. Staring down a single one is intimidating enough, like going toe-to-toe with a laser-blasting, skyscraper-sized cuttlefish. The thought of countless Reapers hibernating in dark space, just waiting to repeat the cycle of exterminating galaxy-wide existence, is a cosmic, unimaginable horror on par with H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. Their incalculable power is enough to corrupt noble(-ish) champions like Saren and effortlessly snuff out the most advanced alien civilization that ever was.
96. Caius Ballad (Final Fantasy XIII-2)
Don't let the feathered headdress fool you: Caius is a no-nonsense kind of guy whose sole interest is bringing about the apocalypse. As the immortal guardian of the seeress, he's been around the block a time or two, wielding a humongous sword with unparalleled skill. His intentions, oddly enough, are tragically pure, as he merely wants to end the suffering of the woman he's sworn to protect. Unfortunately, doing so means Lightning, Serah, Noel, and the goddess Etro must die--and everyone and everything else along with them.
95. Ghetis Harmonia (Pokemon Black/White)
The protagonist in Pokemon is usually tasked with dominating the Pokemon Leagues while simultaneously thwarting the plans of a team of elite thieves. Black and White shook up that formula with Team Plasma and its leader Ghetis by making it an ideological battle. Ghetis rallied a cult around the idea that it’s wrong to imprison Pokemon and make them battle. Before his scheme was found out, it had us asking tough questions about the sport of Pokemon. Of course, Ghetis ultimately reveals himself to be a manipulative asshole that’s out to steal the world’s Pokemon. Even after you defeat his brainwashing, he still finds a way to endanger society. There has likely been no larger threat to the world of Pokemon than Ghetis, so here’s hoping that he stays beaten this time.
94. Dahlia Hawthorne
The Ace Attorney series has a deep rogues’ gallery of colorful characters. Some are selfish morons, others are sadistic con men, but Dahlia is Phoenix Wright’s most insidious. Beneath her smiling persona and girlish face lies a sociopath that will do anything to get what she wants. She killed her sister and boyfriend in an attempt to steal an inheritance, and was willing to kill many more while she kept lying to everyone. You see, beyond her murderous intent, she was a master at subterfuge, creating seemingly enough false leads and red herrings to save herself. It took almost all of Wright’s friends and a lot of luck to send her to death row, though she even haunted the lawyers from beyond the grave. Believe us, once you see underneath her spritely façade, there’s no looking back.
93. Luca Blight (Suikoden 2)
Known as the Mad Prince, Luca didn't have too great of a childhood. For one thing, he watched his mom get raped by a group of ruffians while his cowardly father ran away in fear. When he grew older, he became a leader of the Highland Kingdom, eventually waging war on the city-state of Jowston. During his campaign he commits atrocious war crimes, burning villages and killing innocents by the drove. One of his most devious acts involved making one villager beg for her life by crawling on her hands and knees and acting like a pig. After she asks if she could go free, he says, "Die pig!" and brutally kills her with a slash of his sword.
92. Saren Arterius (Mass Effect)
In the grand scheme of things, Mass Effect's Saren turned out to be not so big a deal. Really not much more than a minor asshole, truth be told. He is, after all, the equivalent of a put-upon redneck--or in Mass Effect's terms, a known space racist. It's his Turian-supremacist ways that made him susceptible to Sovereign's indoctrination, and it's that indoctrination that spurred his intergalactic killing spree. So, yes, Saren was a pawn. But considering the mountain of bodies he created, he was a pawn to challenge kings.
91. The Boss (Metal Gear Solid 3)
It always sounded like the Big Boss was, well, the big boss of the Metal Gear franchise. But when we were placed in his shoes in Metal Gear Solid 3, we met his teacher, The Boss. Their relationship quickly became a reverse of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, where the teacher betrayed the student (and America) for a cell of terrorists. The Boss takes it easy on you at first, but eventually she stops playing nice with Naked Snake even though they’re former lovers. As the game continues, you find out more and more that Boss might be the best soldier that ever lived, one that even her enemies respected. When you learn all her secrets by the game’s end, you come to realize she’s likely the most honorable opponent you’ll ever face. No wonder Snake ended up saluting her grave; she deserved no less.
90. Mario (Donkey Kong Jr.)
One of the greatest heroes gaming has ever seen wasn’t so great in his second appearance. After besting Donkey Kong in the arcade classic of the same name, Mario locked the dumb animal in a cage and continually whipped him. And when DK’s cute ape of a son tried to rescue his papa, Mario sprung a multitude of death traps on the child, intent on murdering him a dozen times over. Once DK was freed he gave Mario a swift kick for his troubles, which seemed to have taught the plumber a lesson about animal cruelty that he won't soon forget.
89. Grue (Zork)
Let's be clear about this: It's pitch black, and you are likely to be eaten by a Grue. Now, not to alarm you or anything, but the Grue, which kept adventurers honest and stocked with torches in the seminal 1980 text-based adventure game Zork, is known to have slavering fangs, razor-sharp claws, and, yes, would even make horrible gurgling noises. The Grue is a villain's villain, whose looming presence alone served to dissuade the hero from accomplishing his goal. And he was made all the more sinister by the limitations of early gaming hardware, as the game's text-based nature left the player's imagination to run wild. What is this Grue? What is this slavering? Oh my god, where's the torch?!
88. Ryder White (Dead Island)
Admittedly a misanthropic, hardened military type (who ‘passed’ a psychometric test by agreeing--in principle--to kill his own wife if required to) he certainly made life even harder for Dead Island’s heroes than it already was, ultimately turning into a hulking great Infected abomination and trying to kill the lot of them. But the Ryder White’s Campaign DLC reveals that many of his underhand actions were actually to the end of saving his infected wife Emily from a life of lurching about and munching on human livers. So maybe he wasn’t all bad. But he was still quite bad.
87. Hazama (BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger)
Hazama has two sides to him: exquisitely smooth criminal, and maniacal killer. By all appearances, he seems cool, calm, and collected, with his dapper suit, sly grin, and his modestly threatening twin butterfly knives. But when he shows his true colors and unleashes his Yuki Terumi persona, you're as good as dead. If his knives aren't enough to shred you to pieces, his snake-headed Geminus Anguium chain will slice you in twain. Then again, Hazama would probably get a kick out of a prolonged fight, seeing as he delights in the pain and misery of others. He's the kind of guy who smiles from ear to ear while he's torturing you.
86. Lionel Starkweather (Manhunt)
Starkweather is a former movie producer who now directs snuff videos in which he pits one man against a gang of psychopaths to see who wins, capitalizing on the sheer brutality of life-or-death encounters. It’s like Smash TV, only way darker. He’s the cruellest of cruel villains, repeatedly tricking you into doing things for his pleasure (and financial gain) before breaking his promises and making you watch him kill your family. But, when you finally meet him in person, it turns out he’s just a fat bloke with squishy bits that come apart easily when they’re introduced to a chainsaw. Yuck.
85. Darth Malak (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
The only thing more dangerous than a Sith is a cocky Sith. And that’s exactly what you have in Darth Malak. After years under the tutelage of Darth Revan, Malak eventually decided he was too good (or bad) to remain under the shadow of his master, and double-crossed him with an underhand assault during a fierce battle against the Jedi. A Sith worse than his own Sith Master is quite the Sith indeed, and Malak confirmed his reputation following the betrayal with a spree of planet destruction, torture, and the seduction of Jedi to the Dark Side. What a guy.
84. King Pig (Angry Birds)
Yeah, we know, it's popular to hate on Angry Birds, but there's no denying that King Pig is a jerk. The big, green idiot laughs and smiles as your flung birds bounce ineffectively around, and the stupid grin he cracks when you fail is infuriating. Or, if you want to hate him for another reason, you can consider him responsible for the Angry Birds phenomenon--he's the one who commanded the pigs to steal the bird eggs, so he's technically responsible for the whole series.
83. Death Adder (Golden Axe)
Probably the most rounded and deeply flawed--tragic, even--villain on this list, Death Adder was a poor, put-upon child who only turned to a life of evil when he failed to receive the Barbie Malibu Dream House he had requested for Christmas four years in a row, having dutifully subsisted on a diet of coal and beatings for his entire infant life up until that point. None of which is actually true, but it does fill out the word-count quite nicely when what we’re really dealing with here is a fairly generic (albeit memorable and amazing) genocidal maniac from an ‘80s Sega beat-‘em-up.
82. Jecht (Final Fantasy X)
Poor parenting is just one of Jecht's many shortcomings. Spoiler alert! In case you didn't know already, Jecht is on this list because he is Final Fantasy X's final villain--sort of. The real culprit who is trying to destroy the world is the beast known as Sin, who had merged with Jecht in an earlier encounter. Minor details aside, Spira's former blitzball star still wasn't exactly an upstanding citizen or parental figure. Jecht was a borderline alcoholic with intimacy issues who was always emotionally abusing his son, Tidus. Granted, neither of these guys were technically "real" since they were made up of memories of the citizens of Zanarkand, but Tidus' emotions were, and you can't help but feel sorry for the kid--even if he did whine a lot.
81. Monster (Papo & Yo)
Monster is your friend in Papo & Yo, but he has has a bit of a frog problem--by which we mean when he eats a frog he tries to beat the hell out of you. It's not unlike alcoholism, except... actually, it's just alcoholism. Monster is an alcoholic. The game's creator had a troubled childhood with an abusive father, and the game's story is symbolic of that. The knowledge of the real-world events sprinkled throughout the game makes it even more depressing, and makes Monster even more horrible.
80. Tom Nook (Animal Crossing)
How could a Raccoon be evil? They’re stripy, furry and cute. But this one is an absolute bastard. He’s obsessed with making money. And he does it through the worst methods. He’ll give you something lovely and then ask you to pay for it. Of course, you know that paying this off will immediately unlock the next house extension, but all that does is get you into even more debt. Tom Nook loves it when you owe him. Tom Nook can go to Hell.
79. Molluck (Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee)
Picture all the stereotypical Wall Street fat cats you've ever resented in your life. Now combine them, make them supremely ugly, and put them in charge of the profits for a meat processing plant that uses slave labor as both its workforce and meat supply. That's Molluck in a nutshell: a ruthless, intelligent, cigar-smoking Glukkon, and the head of Rupture Farms 1029. All he cares about is meeting the bottom line. If that means feeding defenseless, enslaved Mudokans into a meat grinder, or arming Sligs with machine guns and instructing them to shoot anything that moves, so be it.
78. Heihachi Mishima (Tekken)
Be thankful that Heihachi isn't your dad. Because if he was, and you showed any sign of weakness or compassion, he would throw you off a cliff. He has his reasons, of course--you're only his son if you survive the fatal plummet and climb back up the mountain. As the owner of the Mishima Zaibatsu empire and the host of the Tekken tournament, Heihachi is far more menacing than his spiky white hair would suggest, thanks in part to the almighty Devil Gene that courses through his veins. Even if you manage to scratch him, he'll simply tag in his grizzly bear buddy Kuma to utterly maul your face.
77. Emperor Doviculus (Brutal Legend)
How could something so metal be so intrinsically evil? Doviculus isn't satisfied with simply ruling over the demonic legions of the Tainted Coil--no, he wants all existence in the Age of Metal to serve him. While some villains would like you to believe that they're heartless, in the case of Doviculus, it's actually true. In fact, just to spite you, he rips out your love interest's beating heart and slaps it into his own chest cavity, which comes complete with quick, interlocking rib cage access. That's also where Doviculus stores his four-necked electric guitar, which is undeniably badass.
76. Queen Slug for a Butt (Earthworm Jim)
With a full name like The Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-butt, the giant Queen Slug-for-a-butt (for short) probably has one of the best villain names in video games. But besides having the most villainous and disgusting name ever, she's also a genuine villain. Her diabolical plans include utterly destroying Earthworm Jim and reclaiming his power suit, which she will then use to take over the universe. We're not exactly sure how she'll fit her big ol' butt in Jim's suit though.
75. The Master (Fallout)
When humanity reverts to its base state after the inevitable apocalypse, you can be sure there will be some bad mama jamas running about. Case in point: The Master from Fallout. A scientist-turned-biomorphed blob god, The Master built an army of so-called genetically perfect super mutants, ostensibly to prevent another life-ending war. And by "built an army," we mean, "dipped humans in a vat of Forced Evolutionary Virus in order to transform them into mindless, sterile freaks." And considering humanity was barely hanging on after near-extinction, that's the last thing it needs.
74. Zachary Hale Comstock (BioShock Infinite)
Lord Comstock is a religious madman. One who thinks he can create a floating city and use it as some kind of modern-day Noah’s Ark while he cleanses the world below with fire. He’s a nutcase. But while that would be enough evidence alone to justify his inclusion on this list, it’s the twist at the end of the game that makes his character utterly brilliant. The old, bearded, cancer-wracked body suddenly becomes an object of fascination once you realise what you’re actually looking at...
73. Ladja (Dragon Quest V)
You’ve probably never heard of Ladja, so here’s a quick rundown of the evil he happily commits: He threatens to murder children. He kills the hero’s father right in front of the hero‘s eyes. He sells the hero into child slavery, where he’s trapped for EIGHT YEARS. Much later, just as the hero is about to get hard-earned vengeance, Ladja turns the hero and the hero’s wife into stone, where they remain for more than a decade. Ladja is no generic fantasy bad guy, he makes things very personal.
72. Mother Brain (Metroid)
Disregarding Mother Brain's terrible television version that was one of the main characters on the Captain N show, Mother Brain has been a constant, looming threat in the majority of the Metroid series. Originally just a massive brain in a jar, Mother Brain is able to control her horde of Space Pirates from deep inside her underground lair. At the end of Metroid Prime: Corruption, we find out that Mother Brain is actually an advanced Aurora supercomputer. Ever the formidable last boss, her appearance in Super Metroid is definitely the most memorable. In it, she demonstrates her ability to morph into her bipedal monster form that shoots laser beams from her eyeballs.
71. Carmen Sandiego (Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?)
Not much is known about this elusive thief, considering you spent the majority of your time in this edutainment series talking to other people in order to catch the sly villain. With an army of criminals at her disposal, it required some serious sleuthing (and a giant almanac) to bring her to justice and return all of the world's precious artifacts. (We did however, learn a lot about geography!) Even though we don't condone stealing, we have to hand it to Carmen--she was pretty damn good. Who else is capable of stealing the snow from Mt. Fuji? Or Gandhi's glasses? K2?! Stealthy, clever, and always fashionable, Miss Sandiego is one villain who just kept getting away--hence all the Where in the X is Carmen Sandiego games.
70. King Bohan (Heavenly Sword)
Truth be told, Heavenly Sword's King Bohan wouldn't be the villain he is were it not for Andy Serkis' performance capture prowess. The actor, whose skills were also seen as Golem in Lord of the Rings and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, brought to life King Bohan's court and the sheer hedonistic insanity that it exudes. As for Bohan himself, well, he's a run-of-the-mill psychotic ruler out to gain ultimate power. His true crime? Running afoul of the scintillating Nariko.
69. Wheatley (Portal 2)
Wheatley, as voiced by Stephen Merchant, is part of a long and proud tradition of classic British bad-guys. Loveable and bumbling at first, he eventually reveals himself to be a homicidal maniac--and you sort of put him in charge of the Aperture Science facility half-way through the game. Oops. Although he continually tried to destroy us with lasers and turrets, we couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Wheatley. He’s just an AI driven mad by loneliness and power. We even tried throwing ourselves off the ledge when he suggested it, because he was so polite.
68. Ramon Salazar (Resident Evil 4)
Poison midget Ramon Salazar is that most annoying of bad guy archetypes; the cowardly weakling. With a creepily shrunken stature, the frilly little git is all too aware of his physical inadequacy when compared to Leon, and so avoids a direct confrontation until absolutely inescapable. Sniping Leon with rasping pithy venom at every opportune moment, but only ever when safely out of punching distance. Salazar is free to spend the entire castle section of Resident Evil 4 flexing his arrogance from behind the safety of tricks, traps and foot soldiers. Fortunately, he later makes the error of forgetting that that it's unwise to leave rocket launchers lying around near a man who survived Raccoon City.
67. Wario (Super Mario Land 2)
Currently Wario’s less of a villain and more of a rude jerk that Mario still invites to parties and sporting events, but he started out much more evil than that. When he first appeared in Super Mario Land 2, the fat oaf stole Mario’s castle and all his possessions. Wario didn’t stop there, as this hypnotic propaganda video attempted to replace Mario with Wario in the hearts of gamers. Based on Wario’s current star power, it seems to have worked on some level.
66. Darth Vader (Star Wars: Force Unleashed)
The Dark Lord of the Sith from the movies was a true villain. He has his secrets, he tortures people without asking them any questions, and is just an all around bad guy. In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, he gets even worse. Sure, he lets Galen Marek (Vader's secret apprentice) live when he finds him as a child, but only so he can manipulate him to his own ends. After sending his apprentice against his enemies, resulting in the extinction of the last Jedi Knights, Vader rewards his student's loyal service with multiple betrayals. One of which started with a lightsaber through the gut and ended with a Force push out into space. That's a Sith Lord's gratitude for you.
65. Zeus (God of War)
Spoiler warning, Kratos kills Ares in the original God of War. He opens Pandora's Box, turns into a giant, and beats the piss out of him. So, how are there two games after that? Simple--turns out Zeus is kind of jerk, too. After watching Kratos beat up a god , Zeus becomes paranoid, and begins plotting to destroy his son (oh, Kratos is his son, by the way) before the newly crowned God of War turns on him. He doesn't care how many die in his plot, either, and his paranoid delusions lead to the deaths of millions as he attempts to avoid reaping what he (literally) sowed.
64. Fleming (Shadows of the Damned)
Immortal and seemingly unkillable, Fleming earned his spot as the top man in hell over millennia, and he won’t let any rebellious demon hunters dethrone him so easily. His plan to kidnap said demon hunter’s girlfriend and hide her at the top of a castle is hardly new to video games, but what we really like about him is how Fleming threatens the protagonists manhood all the while. In a game all about phallic imagery, Fleming surrounds himself with it as he proclaims his superior virility, which gives a comedic touch to such a gruesome bad guy.
63. Frank Horrigan (Fallout 2)
When you meet Frank Horrigan in Fallout 2, he's in the midst of senselessly murdering a band of defenseless apocalypse survivors. But what can you expect from a "genetically engineered cyborg psycho total homicidal maniac"? Of course, just murdering teams of innocents is hardly grounds for inclusion in this countdown of most infamous villainy. No, what makes old Frank's crimes so heinous is the fact that in this post-apocalyptic world, there's basically no humans to spare. The last thing civilization needs at this point is a nigh indestructible power armor-clad sadistic mutant running amok. But in Frank Horrigan, that's just what it got.
62. Lance Vance (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)
Damn it, Lance, you broke our hearts. You were supposed to be the Tubbs to our Crockett, letting us soar through the clouds in your sweet helicopter. But no--you had to go and ruin our friendship, just because you wanted a bigger slice of the cocaine pie. What makes Lance so villainous is that he had been so likeable, acting as the light-hearted criminal balancing Tommy Vercetti's strictly business attitude. That makes it all the more shocking when he betrays you in Vice City's final mission, all for something as petty as money. We loved Lance like a brother, and he stabbed us square in the back.
61. Senator Steven Armstrong (Metal Gear Rising)
Senator Armstrong is America personified. No, we're not attempting to make some sort of political statement here or reaching for an analogy--he's America in a tie with a flag pinned to his suit. He's a big, buff politician filled with nanomachines that make him into the Incredible Hulk. His plan? To end the war economy by... causing a giant war, and reigniting the war economy. Does it make sense? No, no it doesn't. Does it make for an oddly compelling, insanely evil enemy? Sure does. God Bless America.
60. Skull Kid (The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask)
Skull Kid was your average living scarecrow before he found a mysterious mask that transformed him into a destructive trickster. The creepy-looking character has the personality of a murderous clown, and he intends to crash the moon into the Earth, obliterating the town of Termina Field. And unlike most of the evil plans on this list, this one succeeds! Sure, Link eventually goes back in time and prevents it, but that still makes this oddball one of the more successful bad guys on the list.
59. Kain (Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver)
Kain lives in more of a grey area than most of the villains on this list, but he definitely deserves his spot as one of the top 100 villains. The anti-hero was killed by a group of assassins and reborn as a vampire out for vengeance. Though his new life started as a quest to regain his humanity, it was the desire for power contained in the sword Soul Reaver, and his eventual rise as monarch of Nosgoth that pushed him over to the villain side of the fence. From there it was all about manipulating former comrades, making selfish decisions, and messing with time-travel. You know, the usual bad guy stuff.
58. General Victor Serrano (Bulletstorm)
Bulletstorm’s General Serrano is another villain you love to hate. He’s probably the most obnoxious, creatively potty-mouthed character in any game of this generation. He uses Echo Squad to kill innocents, he sacrifices his troops at will, and he double-crosses everyone. However, he shines as a villain with his mouth open, inventing fresh, hilarious insults with every one-liner. “Sushi-d**k”. “Mud-f**ker”. They’re two of his more family-friendly catch-phrases...
57. Dogeyes Lin (Sleeping Dogs)
Though you might think the Chinese Triad doesn't play by the rules, it actually does--it just plays by its own. There are specific things that keep the different groups vying for power in check, and stop the crime factions that make up the Sun On Yee from devolving into madness. And Dogeyes Lin breaks those rules and goes way too far. We're going to avoid outright spoiling his most devious acts, but trust us when we say he proves that there's no honor among thieves.
56. Hector LeMans (Grim Fandango)
Greed is a powerful motivator, even in the afterlife. Hector here is as evil as film noir villains get, acting as the crime lord who pulls all the strings on dirty dealings in the Land of the Dead. Only, he deprives innocent skeletons of something much more substantial than money: their chance at eternal peace. LeMans uses the Department of Death as a front for stealing Number Nine tickets, the golden passes to board the train that whisks good souls to the tranquility of the Ninth Underworld. That's like St. Peter greeting you at the pearly gates to Heaven, gut-checking you, swiping your wallet, then kicking you back into Purgatory.
55. The Didact (Halo 4)
For all the tortured motivations of this list’s evil elite, there’s still something satisfying about a good old-fashioned space opera lunatic. A galaxy-hopping, single-minded psychopath, hell-bent on the total global genocide of (obviously) Earth--an entirely justified pursuit as he saw it--The Didact managed to trick Master Chief into freeing him, wipe out an entire science research station, and even in failure took out the population of an entire Earth city. He was a total badass, utterly relentless in his quest, and with a whole new trilogy just getting started, don’t think for a second that his death is certain.
54. Killbane (Saints Row the Third)
Killbane’s a masked wrestler that cheated his way to the top of the Luchadores crime family. He eventually assumes control of all criminals in Steelport, save for the rebellious Saints. He tries his best to destroy them while also running a deadly wrestling competition (pro-wrestling is real in Saints Row). Killbane is a damn fine showman too, entertaining the public as the operator of said wrestling federation, so instead of confronting the Saints at some boring shootout, he battles them in a brutal(ly entertaining) wrestling match.
Dessan is probably one of the lesser known dark Jedi in the Star Wars universe, but that doesn't make him any less evil than the Dark Lords of the Sith or any other fallen Jedi. As the main antagonist in Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, Dessan murdered his fellow student at the Jedi Academy in cold blood, fake murdered Jan Ors (Kyle Katarn's sweetheart), and laid waste to Luke Skywalker's new school for the Force-sensitive with an army of Reborn. Still not convinced he's a really bad guy? Well, get this: He's got a Tyrannosaurus Rex face for a face. That's the most evil of all Dinosaurs! A T-Rex faced evil Jedi fueled by the power of the Dark Side? Now that's a badass villain!
52. Ares (God of War)
If you know your Greek Mythology, you’ll know that Ares is the God of War. As you’d expect, a God is not like a mortal when you meet him in the flesh. Ares just happens to be as tall as a skyscraper, has fire for hair (and beard) and has six razor-sharp bladed tentacles secreted in his back, which he uses to stab ungrateful whelps like Kratos. He also wears a skirt, because he’s badass enough to know nobody would dare laugh. He’ll even trick you into killing your own family and then make you watch them die a second time, cause he’s just that mean.
51. Akuma (Street Fighter Alpha 3)
The spiky red hair. The murderous, crimson glint in his eyes. The tendency to teleport onto an opponent before brutally battering them in a flash of bright light. Everything about Akuma (aka Gouki) suits his name, which translates to Devil or Great Demon. Like Ryu, he harbors the dark power of the Satsui no Hado, with the same basic principles taken to the absolute extreme: fight anyone and everyone to perfect his technique. He differs from other villains in that his motives aren't inherently evil--but if it comes down to a duel, he has no qualms with killing his teacher or his own brother in combat. Akuma craves power, at any cost.
50. Vyers (Disgaea: Hour of Darkness)
The evil Vyers is a confident demon, and often refers to himself as "Dark Adonis." Laharl, the protagonist of Disgaea, has a different name for him: Mid-boss. This nickname enrages Vyers, causing him to continually try to derail Laharl's journey by attacking him at every chance--only to be beaten, blaming his loss on "cramps" or other manufactured injuries. It's for this reason that Laharl continues to refuse to acknowledge him as anything him as but what he is. Once a mid-boss, always a mid-boss.
49. Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong)
This ape’s villainy is obvious because he stands at the top of the screen chucking stuff at you in an attempt to stop you reaching your goal. This iconic plight has been lovingly lampooned by everything from LEGO City Undercover to Borderlands 2. Interestingly, the exact origin of his name ‘Donkey’ is debatable. Some say it was a simple mistake intended to be ‘Monkey Kong’, others say it was deliberately given to him to emphasise his stupidity. and stubborness We don’t think he’s that stupid. We love him. Especially now his punk descendants get all the limelight.
48. Vladimir Makarov (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)
Vladimir Makarov is a man with purpose. A moral man, one with ideals. Unfortunately, being the sociopath that he is, that moral compass of his doesn't exactly point North, and in a bid to return Russia to its USSR glory days, he sets off a nuke that kills more than 30,000 Marines. Later, he also coordinates the infamous Zakhaev International Airport attack, which brought civilization to the brink of World Word 3. But don't worry, Makarov gets his, courtesy of one Cpt. John Price.
47. Giygas (Earthbound)
You don't earn the title of "Embodiment of Evil" without working pretty hard towards your villainy. An alien born to human parents during the early 1900s, Giygas wants to destroy Earth and cast all reality into darkness, and attempts to do so by using his evil influence. Every enemy you fight in Earthbound is affected by his power, turning regular animals (like crows or mice) into possessed monsters (like Spiteful Crows or Rowdy Mice) as he attempts to prepare the planet for an alien invasion. And destruction. Lots of destruction.
46. Clockwerk (Sly Cooper)
Jealousy can turn a normal man into a monster--or, in the case of Clockwerk, a machine. This scheming fiend stalked the Cooper clan for years, despising them thanks to the infamous reputation they garnered for their thieving abilities. His hatred grew so powerful that he eventually replaced his mortal body with that of a mechanical bird, which granted him eternal life and immense strength--which he used to murder Sly's family in cold blood. What a monster.
45. Don Paolo (Professor Layton and the Curious Village)
Professor Layton is the perfect gentleman, always willing to help out anyone in need--everyone loves him! Well, actually, that's not entirely true. His nemesis, Dan Paolo, would see him burn. The criminal mastermind is Layton's Moriarty, serving as a foil and opting to live by a code of deception and evil. Though he's always thwarted by Layton's hard work and patience, he's a great foe, and one of the only men capable of going brain-to-brain with the Professor.
44. Bill Williamson (Red Dead Redemption)
John Marston wasn't always the most heroic of video game characters. He and Bill Williamson were in a gang together, robbing the innocent, murdering those who got in their way, and doing all the evil things that varmints do in the Wild West. While John eventually turned from his unlawful ways, Bill was evil to the core and not a guy you would want to call a friend. After leaving John to die during a botched bank robbery, he leaves Marston for dead a second time, has alluded to having an affair with Abigail Marston, and is known as the county's worst bandit. This is one bad guy we didn't hesitate to gun down when we had the chance.
43. Andross (Star Fox 64)
Odds are when you think of Andross, you think of a giant monkey head floating in space with oft-vulnerable hands. But he wasn't always that way--Andross Oikonny was once a brilliant scientist with aspirations to help the universe. But absolute power corrupts most of the time, and he eventually found himself exiled to the planet Venom after his research was proved to be, you know, freaking evil. But his villany doesn't end there; he's responsible for countless deaths, including that of Fox McCloud's father, explaining why he often finds himself at the business end of Star Fox Team's Arwings.
42. Origami Killer (Heavy Rain)
Killing young boys and then leaving an orchid and an origami in their hands is creepy. Seriously creepy. Stop reading now if you haven't played the game, but when you find out who the killer is and his motives behind the killings, it's disturbing and a little sad. Unfortunate things may have happened to the deranged murderer in his childhood, but because his own father let his brother drown, he grows up and decides to re-enact the same scenario with a few unlucky kids? Talk about some serious daddy issues. It's not often we get this much insight into a video game character, but in this case, it may have been more than we wanted to know.
41. Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)
The Metal Gear Solid series has a stable of awesome villains, but none of them managed to get in our head quite as much as Psycho Mantis. Fighting him was like fighting a creepy gas mask-wearing ghost, as he could telepathically fling furniture and control the mind. His tactics relied less on brute force and more on destroying the people you care about--in the case of Solid Snake, that meant Meryl (thankfully he didn't succeed). Regardless, it's impossible to forget Psycho Mantis' haunting visage, or his incredibly creative boss mechanics. His ability to read a PS1 memory card was just as creepy as his ability to make people shoot themselves in the head.
40. Officer Tenpenny (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
Before he was kicking snakes off of planes and assembling the Avengers, Samuel L. Jackson was berating CJ in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A corrupt cop whose hobbies include racketeering, corruption, possession (and use) of narcotics, and sexual assaults, the foul-mouthed officer is a perpetual thorn in CJ's side throughout the game, showing up just in time to make his life miserable. He's also responsible for the city-wide riots late in the story, caused by his arrest (and subsequent acquittal), proving that the entire police force was incredibly, irreparably corrupt, and throwing Los Santos into chaos.
39. Fawful (Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga)
Bowser will always be Mario’s greatest enemy, but the verbose Fawful dominated the Mario & Luigi series. The small, fury-filled bean went from henchman to vengeful dictator over the course of the series, eventually vanquishing the Mario Bros. and conquering both the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser’s castle. And he captured our hearts with unforgettable quotes like “You inhaled like a hungry syrup pig at the free pancake buffet,” and “Your lives that I spit on are now but a caricature of a cartoon drawn by a kid who is stupid!"
38. Yeti (Ski-free)
Think back to 1991--a time when people wore neon-colored wind suits and listened to Paula Abdul unironically. An era in which "using the Internet" meant you were a hardcore techy, familiar with newsgroups. And every PC gamer told stories around a campfire about how they almost escaped that f***ing yeti in SkiFree. He was always lurking just beyond your sight, waiting for you to pull off that sick jump so he could gobble you up and ruin your score. Worst of all, he always did, even though you knew he was coming.
37. Ansem (Kingdom Hearts)
Ansem’s creation is confusing (in typical Kingdom Hearts style), but his evil intent is crystal clear. He kidnaps princesses to unlock the door to Kingdom Hearts, which will grant him the power to plunge the universe into darkness. First Ansem possessed pretty boy Riku to do his dirty work, but he eventually amassed enough power to take on Mickey Mouse one-on-one. Even after his defeat, his evil still lingers in both Riku and various time travel plots, securing him as a continual annoyance to the saps living in the many Disney worlds.
36. Pauly Franchetti (The Darkness)
Jackie Estacado has just turned 21. To celebrate, his "uncle" Pauly Franchetti tries to have him killed. Worst. Birthday present. Ever. That alone would probably assure Pauly of a place on this list, but the worst is yet to come. Hours later, Franchetti and police chief Eddie Schrote kidnap Jenny Romano, the love of Jackie’s life, and brutally execute her while Jackie helplessly watches on. The Jackie / Jenny romance is one of the most compelling in modern video games (it’s continued in The Darkness 2), making Jenny’s death all the more shocking and cementing Pauly Franchetti’s place in virtual infamy.
35. Pope Rodrigo Borgia (Assassin's Creed II)
Pope Borgia is a real figure from history, as is his son Cesare (who's featured in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood)--though we doubt he kept a secret star-map under the Vatican. While Cesare is the more mentally unstable of the pair, Rodrigo was the most cunning. In Assassin’s Creed II, he busts Ezio’s handsome chops by nabbing the Apple of Eden and manipulating several plots from behind the scenes to keep the Assassins busy. He’s the typical fat-cat, manipulative politician of a villain, which makes the scene at the end--where you punch his chubby face--all the more satisfying.
34. Purple Tentacle (Day of the Tentacle)
How can you not love a sentient, purple appendage called the Purple Tentacle? As the main menace in Day of the Tentacle, this villain was born with evil intentions--and a unibrow. With little else going for it, it decides that it wants to take over the world. Lofty ambitions for a tentacle with flaps for arms. This sends its creator, the mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison, and his friends on a chase through time to stop this bizarre creation from wreaking havoc on everything it touches. Purple Tentacle is no dummy, either. It learns how to use the Dr.'s time machine, so you can only imagine where this story goes…
33. Calypso (Twisted Metal 2)
Wish-granting genie, the Devil himself, or both? The mastermind behind the Twisted Metal tournament is an enigmatic character--but the way he rewards winners is gloriously sadistic. Space and time mean nothing to Calypso; he'll happily fulfill the wishes of even the most deranged psychopath, as long they can claw their way to the top of his murderous demolition derby (itself a cause for countless fatalities worldwide). But there's one catch: Calypso never fails to somehow twist your deepest desire into a living nightmare. As you curse his name with an impotent fury, his cackling, disfigured mouth will bellow his trademark phrase: "I am Calypso, and I thank you for playing Twisted Metalllllll!"
32. The Fog (Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4)
Oh, let's just turn on the television and... well, that's weird. There's our best friend, dancing around on TV and singing a silly song. Odd. We'll ask him about it tomorrow, and, huh? He's not at school today. Oh. He's dead, his body hanging from an antenna. And the fog is to blame? Oh, that's just wonderful. Better grab a sword and jump into the TV to beat up demons, because it's Persona 4 and that's apparently what's going on.
31. Lavos (Chrono Trigger)
Lavos is basically the ultimate evil incarnate of the universe, a devourer of worlds, and a terror on every planet he encounters. He landed on earth in the year 65,000,000 B.C. with the intention of cultivating the planet with a vast population of life just so he could suck everything up in his own version of a highly nutritious protein shake. When he's done, he moves on to another planet and start the cycle over again. In order to stop him, Crono and his friends had to embark on a quest that transcended time and space, and in one ending the hero even had to sacrifice himself to defeat the evil entity.
30. Dr. Fetus (Super Meat Boy)
Dr. Fetus is a dick. Super Meat Boy opens up with the antagonist--a fetus floating in a jar, wearing a suit--beating up Meat Boy, kidnapping Bandage Girl, giving Meat Boy the finger, then running away and hiding his captive in a series of horrifying death traps. For the rest of the game, Meat Boy is constantly within an inch of saving his girlfriend. But nope--the good doctor always shows up, steals her, flips the bird, and leaves. Seriously, screw that guy.
29. Dr. Wily (Mega Man)
Mad scientists are a dime a dozen, but Dr. Wily brings a certain flair to his evil schemes. He builds or repurposes armies of robots, installs elite bosses into each base, and still finds time to build a multi-leveled lair and his own super-powered vehicle. Also, no matter how many times Mega Man destroys Wily’s machines, the doctor soon returns with even fancier creations. He also built Zero, a hyper-advanced android that rivals future Mega Man models, cementing his legacy as one as one of the top evil geniuses of any time period.
28. Dr. Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog)
If we were to go down the villain checklist, Sonic's arch-nemesis, Dr. Robotnik, would cover all of the bases. He's an evil genius, has dreams of world domination, is a master of robotics, and likes to steal really big jewels. But the main thing that makes him stand out from the crowd of villains on this list is his complete and utter disdain for the adorable, fluffy creatures of Sonic's world. Robuttnik doesn't use gasoline or battery power to run his mechanical contraptions. Nope. He enslaves rabbits, squirrels, and birds, then shoves them in robots designed to kill the speedy hedgehog. Who knows what horrors those cute little animals have to endure in those machines. PETA would have a field day with Dr. Robotnik's amounts of animal cruelty.
27. Dr. Breen (Half-Life 2)
Dr. Breen is that most hated of wartime villains: the spineless collaborator. Selfish to the ultimate degree, he's more than happy to sell out his entire world if it means a relative degree of safety from his oppressors. Smug while others suffer, his place of privilege is earned through nothing but cowardice. Unpleasant, self-righteous, and presenting desperate self-preservation right up until his (presumed) end, he might not be the ultimate cause of the Combine invasion (the links to the Black Mesa Incident are still a matter of debate)--but he is the ultimate case of "If you're not part of the solution..."
26. Dormin (Shadow of the Colossus)
A disembodied voice that simultaneously speaks in a male and female voice? A house that’s actually a great big temple full of scary statues? The power to reverse death? Dormin is one heck of a creepy villain, not that you realize it at first. If only you’d thought about it, the evil would be plain to see. Why would anyone nice insist that you kill a bunch of colossi first? Two words: Ulterior motive. And one that you just don’t see until it’s way too late. Dormin? More like Dorm-win.
25. Kane (Command & Conquer)
Absurdly high IQ: check. Apparent immortality: check. The power to rule over the Brotherhood of Nod with an iron fist, while simultaneously exuding the charm and charisma that only a bald-headed man like himself is capable of: check with a capital C. Kane has terrorized the world a countless number of times, from the 19th century all the way to the 21st. He has no qualms executing his minions if they fail to respect his authority--because either way, his subordinates are expected to die for him. He will also kill you if you mistake him for the WWE wrestler--but with that gloriously shaven head of his, that hardly seems possible.
24. Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat)
There are plenty of bad guys in the Mortal Kombat games, but the Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, takes the wickedness cake. He's so malevolent that he doesn't just march his armies over the worlds he wants to enslave--he plays games with them first. He taunts humanity, saying if mankind can win his fight-to-the-death martial arts tournament, he'll leave Earthrealm alone (alas, that has never happened in the history of ever). If, by some miracle, a fighter defeats all of the Emperor's minions, he must then fight Shao Kahn himself. Between his massive hammer that materializes from nowhere and his incessant shoulder bashing, he can be quite the pain in the ass. It's no wonder that nary a single realm has ever won his tournament.
23. Mecha-Hitler (Wolfenstein)
There’s a lot to be said for a flat-out ludicrous villain. For example, Adolf Hitler is undoubtedly one of the most evil men in human history, but the sight of him floating around in spectral fashion, letting out a laugh Vincent Price himself would've been proud of, makes for one of the most nonsensically funny boss encounters in gaming. Doubly so when he pilots a goddamn mech. And when the chain-gunning Fuhrer finally croaks, uttering a mournful "Eva! Auf wiedersehen..." with a level of camp that only the German accent seems capable of evoking, it’s almost too hilarious to bear. Deeply, offensively insensitive maybe, but hilarious all the same.
22. The Joker (Batman: Arkham series)
It's not simply The Joker’s psychosis or sense of total anarchic freedom that makes him frightening--although they do allow him to operate on a level Batman can never tackle directly. Rather, The Joker is a powerful enemy not because he's so different from Batman, but because the two are such fundamentally similar. They act as skewed mirror images of each other, giving the other a purpose he could never have without his counterpart.
21. Porky Minch (Mother 3)
Take South Park's Eric Cartman, give him limitless power, take away his sense of humor, and you have something that resembles Mother 3's Porky Minch. After nearly destroying everything in Earthbound, he travels to the quaint Tazmily Village and starts messing with things there. First, he creates hybrid robot/animal monstrosities and sends them to attack civilians, because that makes them "cooler." Next, he sucks every ounce of innocence out of Tazmily, because he thinks it's boring. His master plan, though, involves awakening an almighty dragon and forcing it to destroy the entire planet, just because that's his idea of fun. What a freaking psychopath.
20. Kerrigan (StarCraft II)
It's a played-out trope, isn't it? Everyone's favorite character might turn evil! Ooh! Scary! Never gonna happen though. Right? But then... it does. Kerrigan, betrayed by her own people and left to die, becomes the corrupted Queen of Blades, with tentacle dreadlocks, boney wings, and an army at her disposal. And she's out for revenge in the way only the leader of a massive army could be: with war and total annihilation on her mind. She is every kind of badass.
19. Imran Zakhaev (Modern Warfare)
Imran Zakhaev has been fighting tooth and nail to bring the free world to its knees for his entire life. He eventually fails, but it's not before he secures his place as one of the most detested foes of all time in one, brief scene. We still remember the seething hatred we felt for him as he walked up to our allies, emotionlessly executing each of them. "Pass the gun," we remember thinking, "Slide it over." And then... there it is. Our chance. Never before did we feel so satisfied in ending a digital life.
18. Alma (F.E.A.R. 2)
Alma was creepy as hell in the original F.E.A.R., but by the time we got to the sequel she packed up her scary little girl visage in favor of a scary adult girl vibe. And while this, alone, is pretty unnerving, it's really her actions that place her so high on this list. At the end of F.E.A.R. 2 the main character is locked in a chair when she appears. She forces his mind into hallucination while she rapes him--in first person, mind you--impregnating herself before vanishing. So, yeah. That happens.
17. Dracula (Castlevania)
Mankind has always had this strange relationship with darkness. On the one hand, it's great for sleeping. On the other, vampires. Like a school bully that just won't go away, Dracula keeps coming back to pick on humanity century after century (except, you know, his bullying involves murder, the drinking of blood, etc.). He's the kind of dude that will make you work for revenge, too--that castle of his is sick nasty, full of devious traps and weird vampire stuff that'll kill you in seconds. He's a true embodiment of things that go bump in the night, and he's damn near impossible to kill. And if you attempt (and fail), he may subject you to a fate worse than death: eternal undeath.
16. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill)
Silent Hill 2 is ultimately an introspective journey about fighting personal demons, but you have a much more real threat in Pyramid Head. He appears sporadically throughout the game, brutalizing anything in front of him as he silently stalks the hallways of Silent Hill. Equipped with just a spear, perplexing headgear, and seemingly unending fortitude, Pyramid Head looks as creepy as anything in the game, but he has the power to back up his threatening looks.
15. SHODAN (System Shock 2)
Long before GLaDOS existed, SHODAN was the feminine AI to fear. Her ever-watchful presence on the Von Braun spaceship meant you had nowhere to hide, and she had a similar penchant for making you her personal lapdog in between scathing taunts. But what makes SHODAN so exceptional is her relation to the player. You created her, and she's still plotting to kill you even during times of reluctant alliance. SHODAN didn't just sit around while The Hacker was sleeping in cryostasis, either--she conducted biological experiments that spawned parasitic entities, which then proceeded to kill or possess all your crewmates. That's gratitude for ya.
14. Illusive Man (Mass Effect 2)
In an age where racism and xenophobia are still, sadly, issues that rear their head on a daily basis, Mass Effect’s Illusive Man is a thoroughly modern villain for a thoroughly modern sci-fi trilogy. See, he’s morally ambiguous. He’s not this guy who machine-guns baby seals while dressed as Hitler--in his own way, he has the best interests of humanity at heart. Although the ending of Mass Effect 3 paints him as "the bad guy," you have the option to side with him throughout most of the game. A villain that holds up a mirror to your own morals? We like that. A lot.
13. Wesker (Resident Evil 5)
Wesker is known for a scarred psyche, superhuman strength and speed, and a sexy pair of sunglasses. He led the S.T.A.R.S. team in the original Resident Evil, but was a double agent for Umbrella. Wesker soon struck out on his own, making brief appearances in the next four Resident Evil sequels, continually plotting and scheming. By Resident Evil 5 he was ready to unleash a global viral infection as well as kill former teammates Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. It took hundreds of bullets, two rockets, and an entire volcano to stop him, but gamers won’t soon forget the man in black.
12. Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
Handsome Jack is a classic villain. Well-spoken, intelligent--even charming in a way. But there’s no mistaking he’s utterly evil with it. He thinks nothing of killing people or animals. Brilliantly, he lives in a Death Star-style satellite in the shape of an H (which stands for his beloved Hyperion Corporation), which is always visible in the sky, especially when it's firing lasers down onto the planet’s surface. Told you he was a classic villain! But yeah, he’s gotta die.
11. M. Bison (Street Fighter Alpha 2)
Vega, Master Bison, Dictator--no matter what you call him, anyone who harnesses the destructive might of Psycho Power energy has got to be bad news. The leader of Shadaloo is one of the most malicious baddies of all time, scheming to conquer the world when he isn't stomping his boots onto opponent's skulls. He also embraces malevolence on the small scale, including (but not limited to): capturing and torturing Ryu, brainwashing Ken, murdering Chun-Li's dad, killing Guile's best friend, and abducting teenage girls, including Cammy, to be part of his indoctrinated Dolls assassins. Most people don't commit those kinds of atrocities in a lifetime of evil--but for Bison, it was a typical Tuesday.
10. Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry 3)
Forget Jason Brody and his group of douchealicious friends--Vaas is the real star of Far Cry 3. His playful insanity, which can flip between harmless rambling and cold-blooded murder in a heartbeat, makes him the most memorable character in the game, and one of the best villains of this console generation. Even though he inflicts some truly horrific acts on the inhabitants of the island, you can’t help but relish every encounter with Vaas--he oozes charisma from every pore.
That persona is largely thanks to the sweet motion-capture setup at Ubisoft Montreal and the acting talent of Michael Mando, who pulled on the skin-tight suit to bring Vaas to life. "I think Vaas is in all of us. Just like all the monsters in the world, they're not inhuman, they're all human right?" he has said. He’s right, and that’s exactly what makes Vaas such a great villain.
9. Captain LeChuck (Secret of Monkey Island)
LeChuck is the most ruthless and feared pirate in all of the Caribbean, and rightfully so. Not only is he a dead man that still manages to terrorize the waters he sails on, but he likes to torture and murder entire ship crews and then force them into slave labor to boot. Every living pirate is scared ragged of LeChuck, and scurries into hiding when they know he's roaming the waters.
As the main antagonist in the Monkey Island series, LeChuck takes on various forms in the games, but two things seem to be consistent: His lust for power, and his obsession with Elaine Marley. Clearly, the dead guy can't take a hint, as she always gets away (with or without the help of Guybrush Threepwood) from his devious plans to marry her. Either way, LeChuck is one scary demon/zombie/ghost pirate and should be avoided at all costs.
8. Andrew Ryan (BioShock)
While there are plenty of video game antagonists that have commanded our fear, few actually demanded our respect. Andrew Ryan is the rare villain that does both. Building a sprawling metropolis at the bottom of the sea is a triumphant display of hubris, and though Rapture was a failed experiment that cost thousands of people their lives, its ambition is admirable. He wanted to do something crazy, and he almost made it work. That, alone, is worth acclaim.
But with his passion comes a dark, dangerous side. Andrew Ryan makes it clear throughout the game that he's a man, and you're a slave. You obey orders, you do what you're told, you follow anyone with a radio and a "would you kindly." He, on the other hand, is a man who does what he wants--even if that is to demand you beat him to death with a golf club. In the end, his stubbornness leads to his demise, making for one of gaming's most complex characters.
7. Revolver Liquid Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Solid Snake has been involved in some of the greatest boss battles ever developed, including a lengthy bout with Sniper Wolf and a trippy encounter with Psycho Mantis, but his ultimate foe's best skill wasn’t combat. It was deception. Revolver/Liquid Ocelot knew how to hide in the background, working as a double, triple, even quadruple agent from the early 1960s well into the 21st century. Born on the battlefield, Ocelot worked for at least one treasonous President of the United States, as well as the shadowy Patriots organization. When he finally made his move to betray them all and conquer civilization, he made it count.
After inheriting a new right hand from Snake’s cloned brother Liquid, Ocelot worked his way to the top of the war economy. He eventually controlled the five biggest private military corporations on Earth and did what Big Boss couldn’t: formed Outer Heaven, a mercenary’s paradise. However, in spite of his patience, Ocelot has an incredibly annoying sense of pride, which he usually demonstrated through his expert marksmanship and revolver twirling.
6. Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
It probably sucks to find out your existence is merely the result of a scientific experiment, so it makes sense that Sephiroth was a tad bit upset. Unfortunately for everyone on the planet, said experiment involved Sephiroth getting injected with the cells of an alien as a fetus, meaning he grew to be super powerful and thought himself a god.
Sephiroth's master swordsmanship and immense strength made him a formidable foe, and his eerily calm demeanor was terrifying to behold. Of course, his heinous actions were a critical component to his fame. The burning of Nibelheim, the attempted murder of Tifa, the actual murder of Aerith, and the fact that he summoned a huge meteor and set it on a crash course with Gaia gave us plenty of incentive to want to put him down once and for all. Plus, his theme song still gives us the chills.
5. Arthas Menethil (Warcraft III / World of Warcraft)
One of the things that makes Arthas Menethil such a compelling villain is that he used to be a righteous hero--one we watched fall into madness. Raised as a Paladin of Lordaeron, he had sworn to protect the citizens of his kingdom. But he was so loyal to his vows that he would risk anything, even his own humanity, to do so. That's why he took up the cursed rune sword, Frostmourne, which consumed him, eventually turning him into the greatest force of evil Azeroth had ever known.
The dark days began once he slew his own father turning Lordaeron into an undead-infested land of evil. Eventually he became the new Lich King, gaining an unfathomable power with which he raised a terrible army of ghouls, demons, and corrupt souls. Thousands were killed by his soul-consuming sword, millions more under his feared banner of death. Once a beloved champion, Arthas left only destruction in his wake.
4. Bowser (Super Mario Bros.)
It’s hard to challenge King Koopa's dominance in the world of gaming villainy. No other bad guy has appeared in as many games as Bowser--which makes sense, since he chases Mario into nearly every game the plumber appears in. Sometimes Bowser is out to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom, other times he just wants to best Mario in a game of tennis, but domination is always on his mind.
Bowser was an imposing force when he first appeared in the original Super Mario Bros., and he’s only grown more terrifying over the years. In fact, he’s gone from mildly enlarged beast to massive Godzilla rival over time. No matter his height, he has a number of tricks up his sleeve beyond breathing fire, and he’s backed up by a very dedicated army of deadly creatures. And despite his many losses, Bowser and his vast militia are always quick to dust themselves off and almost immediately resume their massive assault on the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s a dedication we could only dream of approximating.
3. GLaDOS (Portal)
Portal (and to a lesser extent Portal 2) is about the terror of being locked in a room with an unpredictable lunatic. GLaDOS is a scary, quietly murderous proposition in and of herself, but Portal's setup--with the deranged computer being the player's only means of understanding and dealing with the alien environment around them; one in which the sociopathic mainframe is essentially God--amplifies her threat to a nightmarish degree.
With GLaDOS in charge, navigating Aperture Science is like being a child with a lunatic mother. There's unpredictability and threat, but also an intimacy and sense of (mutual?) reliance that makes the player's relationship with GLaDOS far more uncomfortable than if she were a mere homicidal lunatic bent on world domination. You'll survive her, you'll kill her, and you'll escape her. But don't feel in the slightest bit surprised if you find yourself mourning her a little afterwards as well.
2. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)
Kefka is the most beautifully realised, nuanced, off-kilter, and flat-out terrifying villain in the entire history of Final Fantasy. He might not be a genetically modified, single-minded supersoldier or an omnipotent sorcerer capable of bending time and space to his will, but that’s exactly why he’s so scary. Kefka is a big bundle of psychosis and very human frailties who clawed together every last scrap of (ultimately apocalyptic) power he gained through his own desperate rage.
Long before that point though, he was still the most effortlessly cruel of all Final Fantasy bad guys, poisoning a besieged town’s water supply even after the battle was all-but won. Following that, he brought about the end of the world as a casual side-effect of his ultimate grasp for power, then spent the days after the end of days nihilistically torturing and destroying the world’s put-upon survivors simply for his own amusement. A horrific, anarchic nightmare of a man/god, Kefka is regardless far from unrelatable. Essentially an angry, petulant toddler in the body of an apocalyptic harbinger of destruction, underneath his countless atrocities there always lay a scared, sad, out-of-control kid just trying to make sense of his lot.
1. Ganondorf (Legend of Zelda)
There isn't one Link. Nearly every game stars a new incarnation of the Hero of Time, born again when the world needs him most. His courage is eternal, spurring a new boy to pick up a new sword, put on a new hat, and start anew the hero's journey. But while there are many Links, there is only one Ganondorf. When he's killed he's brought back to life. When he's sealed away he breaks his bonds. When he's cast out of Hyrule into a new world, he conquers it, returning more powerful than ever.
Ganondorf is darkness. Against the backdrop of the colorful, childish Legend of Zelda universe it's easy to discard him as another in a rogue's gallery of video game foes, but he's more than the sum of his robes and swords and scowls and laughs. He's one of the few to actually succeed in a plot for domination, and continues spread fear and darkness. Even the gods of Hyrule tremble at his arrival, once flooding the entire world just to delay--not to stop--his dangerous ascension. And then he came back, and brought with him all the evils of the world.
GamesRadar is the premiere source for everything that matters in the world of video games. Casual or core, console or handheld - whatever systems you own or whatever genres you love, GamesRadar is there to filter out what's worth your time and to help you get even more from your games. We deliver the best advice, the most in-depth features, expert reviews, and the essential guides for all the top games.