Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Animated Villains

As Disney’s infamous ‘Sleeping Beauty’ villainess Maleficent gets her own live-action reboot in theaters this week, we’ll use today’s Roundtable to highlight some of our other favorite animated baddies from movies and TV.

Brian Hoss

“This town ain’t big enough for the two of us!” Bugs Bunny had a real stable of rogues, but the Western outlaw Yosemite Sam was the fastest gun north, south, east and west of the Pecos. His visual design with those angry eyes, no face, and diminutive stature exudes cartoon villainy. In ‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again’, his shenanigans are as timeless as any Western to ever grace the silver screen.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

So many of the cartoons I grew up with stuck with very comfortable formulas. Oh no! This week, Skeletor is wielding the Diamond Staff of Whatchamadoozit! Aargh! It’s Mumm-Ra and the evil clone of Cheetara he’s sent to blah blah blah…

That’s why Cobra Commander and his gloriously insane schemes get the nod as my all-time favorite. One episode of ‘G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero‘ swirls around the Baroness and her Eau du Cobra mind-control perfume that was mixed together from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. They tried a variation of the same scheme by sneaking subliminal messages into the mediocre glam metal of Cold Slither.

In another episode, Cobra disrupted all other television programming, limiting the world’s broadcast entertainment to the Cobra Television Network. Not only did it empower Cobra to brainwash anyone who tuned in, but they extorted millions upon millions of dollars from advertisers by being the only game in town. At one point, Cobra Commander decides to not overthrow the United States but to use an obscure loophole in a treaty with Russia to lay claim to Alaska. Just Alaska. Later, Cobra hosted a telethon — complete with Destro doing stand-up comedy — to fund international terrorism. For crying out loud, Cobra shrank themselves to a few inches in height and donated themselves to a G.I. Joe toy drive. I could keep going, but I’d basically be recapping every single episode of ‘G.I. Joe’.

Luke Hickman

Although the movie itself isn’t often touted as being much, I sure enjoyed Disney’s last (and I mean “last” as in “the last ever”) traditionally animated princess flick, ‘The Princess and the Frog‘. I love the style, the music and the even the story itself. And my favorite part of it is the villain, Dr. Facilier a.k.a. The Shadow Man. It’s about time that Disney provided a genuinely creepy and disturbing bad guy. Using the dark magic of voodoo, his actions are evil and unpredictable. Truly adding fear to the character is the rich voice of Keith David. Even though his voice is deep and scary, it has a certain soothing charm that perfectly matches the conniving nature of the Shadow Man.

M. Enois Duarte

After racking my brain for a while (and after some light research to refresh my memory), I suddenly remembered a 1997 animated movie from Warner Bros. involving cats and the golden age of Hollywood. It’s called ‘Cats Don’t Dance’, and sadly, I don’t remember it being any good, except for one character in particular. Oddly enough, the villain Darla Dimple is quite memorable because she’s a screen diva at the height of her popularity and fame. Like a dark, twisted, conniving and ferocious version of Shirley Temple, Darla is the spoiled little brat of every parents’ nightmare – not because she screams and throws temper tantrums to get her way, but because she’s a despicably smart child who manipulates people while destroying the lives of others. There is absolutely nothing she won’t do to have the spotlight on her. She’ll show a sweet, innocent side one minute, yet instantly switch to a disturbed, vengeful miscreant the next.

Shannon Nutt

I’m by no means an expert on this topic (I never watched a lot of cartoons, even when I was a kid), but I can’t imagine any animated character more dastardly (or more fun to watch) than Mr. Burns on ‘The Simpsons’. Burns may be old, weak and pretty much out of touch with modern society, but he remains the richest and most powerful man in Springfield, and never fails to bring some form of misery to the town. His appeal among fans of the show may also be due to the fact that his character embodies what most of us think big corporate CEOs are really like. Yes, when it comes to pure evil, I find Mr. Burns’ brand to be, “Excellent.”

Junie Ray

I couldn’t narrow it down, so I’m going with the whole cast of villains from ‘The Tick’ television series: Chairface Chippendale (who literally has a chair for a head), Uncle Creamy the evil ice cream cone voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait, and the Idea Men fatally flawed by their inability to enunciate. There was also the Man Eating Cow, El Seed, the Guy with Ears Like Little Raisins, and more. Oh, it’s been too long since I watched this cartoon or read the comics… So good.

Josh Zyber

Adam kind of stole my thunder by picking the delightfully campy Cobra Commander. When I was a kid, I watched ‘G.I. Joe’ and ‘Transformers’ in a viewing block every day after school, so it seems only logical that I should move onto the latter here. Of course, with the ‘Transformers’ cartoon, you have to take the villainous duo of Megatron and his back-stabbing lieutenant Starscream as a pair. Ever plotting to wrest control of the evil Decepticons from Megatron’s hands, Starscream is a wonderfully duplicitous, Shakespearian character. Why Megatron put up with him for so long is never explained, but the eventual departure of both characters (at least in their original forms) during ‘Transformers: The Movie‘ was a huge loss for the franchise.

What are some of your favorite animated villains? Tell us in the Comments.

19 comments

  1. Gaston is one of my favorite villains. He’s such a meathead! It’s hard to not like him.
    Although I loved all the villains of Voltron, Haggar sticks out the most. Loved all her new tricks. If the live action movie ever comes out, I would love to see what they do with her.

  2. All the villains from Darkwing Duck: Negaduck, Megavolt, Liquidator, Bushroot, Taurus Bulba etc.
    Warren T. Rat from An American Tail
    Prince John & Sir Hiss from Disney’s Robin Hood
    Hexxus from Ferngully
    Ursula from The Little Mermaid

    • i loved team rocket. they were awesome man!
      jessi was hot too

      “To protect the world from devastation!
      To unite all peoples within our nation!
      To denounce the evils of truth and love!
      To extend our reach to the stars above!”

  3. shawn

    The Phantasm in Mask of the Phantasm has always been my favorite, though she might not be considered a villain near the end, I’ve always felt she was one. A striking figure that was mysterious and ominous throughout the whole film.

  4. Cruella DeVille. It’s hard to top the evil of woman who wants to make a coat out of cute dalmation puppies. I think she was even more disturbing because she seemed so real. I know I’ve met a few people who came across like her (minus the puppy-napping I hope).

  5. EM

    I don’t know why we should be looking beyond Maleficent, anyway. She’s superb.

    Sticking with the Disney theme, I’ll go with Chernabog, the archvillain in the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment of Fantasia. Pure malice, seemingly limitless power (after dark), an army of terrible minions. Not even words can (or do) convey his awesome villainy.

    Runners-up:
    • the Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    • the Master Control Program, Tron
    • Boba Fett, Star Wars Holiday Special
    • the animated monsters in the opening credits of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, plus Dracula during his transformation from bat later in the film

  6. William Henley

    Jaffar probably gets the nod from me as best animated villain. Evil, brilliant and psychotic. Great combination.

    Rasputain from Anastasia is also pretty good, Although I think they were trying to take Jaffar and turn him into a Russian.

    Ramseys in The Prince of Egypt is great.

    Going to Anime, I have to bring up Vegeta in Dragonball Z. This character is amazing, with such an amazing backstory, that he actually turns and becomes good.

  7. Jak Donark

    So many memories, GI Joe was my favorite cartoon growing up so of course CC was one of my favorite villains. So many others come to mind that have already been mentioned.

    But for an all time ultimate villain I would cast my vote for Scar from Lion King. Not only does he kill King Mufasa, but he also manages to frame Simba and Simba accepts the blame! He is a complete psychopath and sociopath, not caring about anyone else and will kill to get what he wants. His reign destroys the pride by using up all their resource and leads them all to ruin. Yeah, he’s pretty evil.

    My second is Samhain from The Real Ghostbusters. He was scary just to look at (a jack o lantern for a head!) but he also seemed like a real threat for the ghost busters. Always one of my favorite episodes ( he might have made two appearances, it’s been almost 30 years since I watched the show)!

    • timcharger

      There’s a comedian (I forget who) with jokes about Scar that is too funny.

      The real enemy isn’t Scar. It’s Scar’s parents.

      The parents have a 1st born son, who they named Mufasa.
      And when they have a 2nd child, they named Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar?!

      Scar’s parents were asking for trouble. No siblings can have a healthy relationship with those kind of parents.

        • Timcharger

          Josh, that’s pure conjecture. The film does not say either way (nickname or actual name), but let’s go with you for now…

          Again, bad parenting.

          The younger child-lion gets a scar, and the lion-parents allow that nickname Scar to be used?

          Big brother Mufasa gets away with calling his younger brother, Scar.

          When Mufasa has a boy, he has his boy Simba address his uncle as Uncle Scar?!

          If I had twins, I personally wouldn’t nickname one kid Duke and the other Cobra Commander, I have a funny feeling that might lead to tragic wildebeest event on day.
          🙂

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            In many tribal cultures, individuals are named (or choose their own name when they hit adulthood) after their distinguishing features.

            Also possible that “Scar” is merely the closest approximate translation from Lion-ese, in which the original name has a more subtle meaning. 🙂

          • Timcharger

            I love this game…

            Simba,
            Mufasa,
            Nala,
            Timon,
            Pumba,
            and…
            Scar.

            One of these things is not like the others,
            One of these things just doesn’t belong,
            Can you tell which thing is not like the others
            By the time I finish my song?

            —-

            You’re theory is quite possible, Josh.

            I heard that Mufasa was almost named Sounds Like Lord Vader or the This-Is-CNN Guy.

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