Villains come in all shapes and sizes. In the past, the monsters that populated film and TV were mostly dehumanized, there only to strike fear and be defeated by a brave hero. But as time went by, it quickly became clear that people wanted more form their villains. The affinity between viewer and villain grew as their back stories became more detailed and more significant to the story. We cheer when they lose, but we cheer when they win, too.
Everyone loves a good villain. Even truer, everyone loves a good villainess. While female villains tend to be motivated by a need for justice or revenge, and are often victims themselves, it doesn't seem to make their madness any less entertaining. Some are evil, others are just looking to be heard. Well, we hear them! Here are 12 of the most popular psycho ladies in pop-culture today.
12 Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne - Revenge
Although Amanda is not your traditional “villainess” (after all, she is trying to avenge her wronged father), it seems fair to say it takes a certain level of crazy to dedicate your entire being to revenge. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, ms. Clarke is stark-raving mad, and viewers love it; if only because it’s so rare that we get to route for the psycho without feeling guilt or shame.
Amanda is a trained assassin, thirsty for her own brand of vigilante justice. She is manipulative and two-faced, all in the name of revenge. If she has a line, only she knows where it is. Amanda will use anyone and anything to pursue her end-goals, and is shameless about it, at that.
11 Queen Ravenna - Snow White and the Huntsman
Anyone whose hobby is killing young girls from whom to steal beauty and life-force is most certainly certified crazy. In the latest adaptation of Snow White, Ravenna was brought to life in an unmistakably terrifying way. Her beauty was only surpassed by her evilness. Thriving on the sound of screaming girls, check! Power over an entire kingdom, including a weird brother, check! Lack of a conscious, double-check!
Ravenna is exactly the type of villainess that only the very twisted fairytales of the brothers Grimm could imagine. The film is unabashed in its ability to bring her toil in a way Disney never really could before. There might not be much that is scarier than a beautiful woman with bloodlust and zero limits. Fairytales are not for children.
10 Ingrid/The Snow Queen - Once Upon a Time
For generations, fairytales have been some of the most useful sources for pop culture. The supernatural, the magical, and the frightening; all can be found in any quick glance of a Grimm tale or, in this case, a Hans Christian Anderson book. The introduction of The Snow Queen (or Ingrid) storyline in Once Upon a Time, was a taste of how creepy these stories can get.
Although it’s all been very PG, consider what was really going on: Ingrid had become obsessed with finding replacements for the sisters she was “betrayed” by. To do so, she fixated on her estranged niece and a young girl she had never met. After sneaking into their lives she magically bound them together, and tried to destroy any other loved ones they had to ensure they would only be hers. Yes, that is kind of crazy.
9 Sarah Newlin - True Blood
Before she became the still-not-lovable-whatsoever, “Newby”, she was that psycho wife of that psycho Fellowship of the Sun bigot. Sarah fought with her husband for a more assertive leadership role in the Fellowship, an anti-vampire party that was full of hate (disguised as religion and love).
Sarah was dedicated to the destruction of vampires, her husband, and her God — until she met Jason and became a hypocritical sex-fiend. Needless to say, Sarah’s righteous ‘holier-than-thou’ act, paired with her exhaustive hatred, and two-faced behavior, is enough to make anyone see the crazy in her eyes. Add a lust for revenge, and the brutal high-heel murder and you've got a seriously unhinged villainess. Her sympathetic turn at the end of the series did little to distract from who she really was.
8 Jill Roberts - Scream 4
The fourth installment of the Scream series stayed true to its roots, a metafilm with just the right amount of parody, gore and twists. Like all good slashers, the anticipated killer reveal at the end is not quite what it seems. Finally, we realize our victim and new-age final girl has been Ghostface all along. Why? Because she’s a psycho.
While most teen girls are difficult to read and make poor decisions, Jill is an extreme case. She’s jealous of the victim-heroine-glory her cousin Sidney has been receiving for years, and believes by being the killer, she can reserve herself a spot in the hall of fame as being the sole Ghostface survivor. So, fame and fortune turns out to be the main drive behind this nutcase.
7 Fish Mooney - Gotham
In Gotham, Fish is only one of the mob-overlords running the city. Striking fear into the hearts of even the biggest most dangerous men, Fish runs a tight shift on her end of the city, aspiring to take it all over one day. Although she is desperate to prove herself among the big boys, she never lets her desperation show. Instead, she focuses on remaining one of Gotham’s most threatening forces, ruling with an iron fist.
She’s tough, manipulative, and has a bit of a mommy-complex. Treating her inferiors like children who need to be both kept and reprimanded, she is a pretty straightforward villainess. It’s never too difficult to figure out what she wants, or why you should give it to her… quickly!
6 Mary - American Mary
Like most female killers in pop culture, Mary’s murderous psychosis is the result of a trauma, fueled by a need for (twisted) justice. What starts off as a way to get back at her violent attacker morphs into a journey of self-discovery, empowerment and violence.
The surgeon-to-be finds that her passion for cutting can be put to some interesting uses: torture, of course, but underground body mods too. It’s fun to watch Mary grow into a trusted and respected surgeon, but it’s hard to forget she has the shell of a man locked up in the basement of that club. While Mary’s attacker is by no means sympathetic, it should be stated that a person has to have a lot of crazy in them to do what Mary does.
5 Terminus Mary - The Walking Dead
Though Terminus Mary had an admittedly small role in the series, it is a role that simply cannot be forgotten. Terminus had been imagined to be a sanctuary, and when the group arrives, it seems it really is. Mary, a sweet soft-voiced middle-aged lady, welcomes them with an eerie calm. Immediately, there was a sense that things were not right. And they were not.
Flashbacks give Mary a touch of sympathy; it’s clear that she was victimized by the men who used to run Terminus, and it’s nice that she empowered herself. What’s not nice, is theft, torture, and cannibalism. As the new leader in Terminus, Mary and her followers set themselves up a nice net to catch a feast, and what’s worse is she remains unapologetic until her last breath.
4 Rebecca Evans - The Roommate
In this modern retelling of the classic thriller, Single White Female, Rebecca is a force to be reckoned with. Once she becomes obsessed with her new college roommate, her mission in life becomes to destroy anyone who she sees as a threat to their “relationship” — and the includes Sara’s cat, Cuddles. Apparently, she’s not much of a sharer.
Rebecca has no sense of boundaries, no idea how to read social cues, and a dangerous sense of entitlement. That tattoo, hair dye, and necklace are all the clearest signs that Rebecca has completely lost it as she impersonates Sara in the mirror. Does she want to have her, or be her? It’s unclear, but what is certain is that she has left mental stability in the rear view mirror.
3 Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones
Loving mother, devoted wife, and loyal sister — Cersei really is the every woman. Of course, she’s also delusional about her terribly evil son, unabashed in her willingness to keep her bloodline in power, and (it follows) incestuous.
Cersei would have a million men, women, and children killed if it meant her family name would come out on top. As her world begins to crumble after the long-anticipated murder of her awful eldest son, she sinks to new lows. Even her brother/lover has had enough of her by now. It doesn't matter though, because as it turns out, she’s more than willing to threaten to take him down, even if she goes down with him. Cersei definitely has a corrupt view of family and honor, and yet we can’t wait to see how she’ll try to save the Lannister name this time.
2 Jennifer Check - Jennifer's Body
Before becoming possessed and murderous, Jennifer was hardly a sympathetic character. Her self-centered, self-motivated attitude was already bordering on villainous, and there was little to like. Post-possession, however, was a whole new (violent) ball game.
A Ginger (Ginger Snaps) for a new generation, Jennifer’s killing spree is unapologetic and gory. She uses her power of seduction to lure in the bait, and does not like to hear the word, "no". One thing stays the same though, and that’s her shameless ability to rely on Needy. In the end, she loses control, becomes an emotional mess, and gets herself stabbed in the gut.
1 Sister Mary Eunice - American Horror Story
Don’t let her sweet, gentle face fool you, she is the Devil, and proud of it. Sweets do lead to sin; as she becomes a manipulative, murderous, villainess, Mary had left her days of being a victim far behind. Instead, she is excited by violence and punishment.
Reveling in her own terrible acts, Mary became one of the most talked about AHS characters. Audiences gathered each week in anticipation of what insane thing she would do next — and she never disappointed. There have been many psychos and crazies to populate the AHS universe, but a devil in nun’s clothing offered viewers a whole new level of evil. The sister has even found herself a spot in Freak Show, offering a special brand of redemption.