Heroes are loved, but nobody forgets a chilling villain because unlike their enemies they do not have limitations. A villain will happily watch the world, and the people populated within it, burn to achieve their goals. Some hold interest for the duration of their screen time, but others last forever. So, what makes a villain great?
They need to have power and others must fear them, including us. They generally have the ability to turn on charm and making others feel comfortable before snaring them in a trap. They have memorable uniforms, a way with words, and even a sense of sick humour. And they are seemingly impossible to stop until a hero rises to the challenge and thwarts their empire mere seconds before the world enters a chaotic state.
This is a coveted list. It takes into account not only those villains that have stood the test of time, but also those that have shocked audiences in recent years. For a great villain has no restriction of era. A great villain is drawn upon for inspiration in future adaptations. But a great villain means they can also be so despised that drawing such an emotion from us enhances their reputation. And sometimes they do not even view themselves as a villain, but a man/woman doing the work for the better of the world...no matter how delusional it seems.
15 Alex DeLarge
"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence."
"Apes together strong!"
13 Nurse Ratched
"If Mr. McMurphy doesn't want to take his medication orally, I'm sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don't think that he would like it."
12 Anton Chigurh
"What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?"
11 Tony Montana
"You need people like me so you can point your ****in' fingers and say, 'That's the bad guy.' So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!"
10 Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting
"I'm forty-seven. Forty-seven years old. You know how I stayed alive this long? All these years? Fear. The spectacle of fearsome acts. Somebody steals from me, I cut off his hands. He offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises against me, I cut off his head, stick it on a pike, raise it high up so all on the streets can see. That's what preserves the order of things. Fear."
"Well, as far as brains go, I got the lion's share. But, when it comes to brute strength... I'm afraid I'm at the shallow end of the gene pool."
"I'll be back."
7 Hannibal Lector
I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye."
6 Ramsay Bolton
"This isn't happening to you for a reason. Well, one reason: I enjoy it! If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
"I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will ever again question my power. After tonight if they speak of you, they’ll only speak of how you begged for death. And how I, being a merciful Lord…obliged."
"Sauron has become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment."
“Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”
2 Darth Vader
"I am your father."
1 The Joker
"Oh, yes! Fill the churches with dirty thoughts! Introduce honesty to the White House! Write letters in dead languages to people you've never met! Paint filthy words on the foreheads of children! Burn your credit cards and wear high heels! Asylum doors stand open! Fill the suburbs with murder and rape! Divine madness! Let there be ecstasy, ecstasy in the streets! Laugh and the world laughs with you!"
When it comes to villains, The Joker will always be king. From film adaptations to graphic novels, to camp TV shows and iconic video games, The Joker is more loved than any hero despite his madness. As Batman's arch-nemesis, his character must constantly evolve to combat the ultimate hero. It is truly when a rock meets a hard place. Batman can't kill The Joker because of a moral code, and The Joker can't kill Batman because he is too much fun. But what makes The Joker a great villain? Well, first there's the look; a constant grin that never opens to sadness, a colourful outfit, and childish gestures. There's the wording; he is smart, he is funny and he knows how to influence others. He is formidable and despite not being a particularly trained fighter, his lack of a plan means he uses any means necessary to get what he wants, which is only anarchy and chaos. Every actor that portrays The Joker knows they must take it up a notch. Every writer who pens an origin story knows to do the same. Ledger, Nicholson, and Hamill added parts of themselves to the role, and we're about to add Leto to the list. It's an aspect of fiction everybody knows, and everybody cherishes. Every villain is compared to The Joker, and that just can't happen unless he's number one!
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