The 10 Best Movie Villains of All Time

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It’s these men that make the movie interesting. Villains have always been important for the success of the movie. Heroes need a villain to showcase their brilliance on the screen to captivate the audience and showcase that their character is really capable of committing atrocious crimes. Hence, playing a bad guy is more challenging than being the hero.

The following list consists not just actors who had a regular chance to be a villain but also some who made their first venture into bad guy roles and nailed them perfectly, making the audience remember them forever. These are the greatest, most vile movie characters we love to hate!


1. The Joker – Batman Franchise


The Joker is undoubtedly one of the best bad boys ever. The Jokers character is the perfect villain who is vicious, unpredictable, evil and absolutely bat-shit crazy. Several actors have played the Joker in the Batman franchise throughout the years; Cesar Romero (1966), Jack Nicholson (1989), Heath Ledger (2008) and the most recent Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016).

Heath Ledger completely redefined the Joker’s character in comparison to Jack Nicholson’s devilishly funny and cheerful lunatic. Instead, he managed to create a much more sociopathic, yet strangely like-able character, a weird psychopath who almost never laughs, and was conceived completely differently from his precursor. Ledger’s performance was deep, nuanced, calculated and succeeded in reinventing one of pop culture’s most popular personalities. From the smallest flick of his tongue, to the twiddle of a finger, every move was riveting.



2. Darth Vader – Star Wars Franchise

The most intriguing character in the Star Wars universe, a former Jedi, who was seduced by the dark side. More than three and a half decades have passed since his first appearance yet he remains a pop culture icon.

James Earl Jones (Left): The Voice of Darth Vader and Dave Prowse (Right): The Actor


Of course, it is certain that his status wouldn’t be so legendary if it wasn’t for his legendary voice, provided by none other than the great James Earl Jones. Darth Vader went on to become one of the most referenced characters in popular culture, and one of the most popular villains in cinema history.


3. Hannibal Lecter – The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

Ferociously intelligent forensic psychologist who gets inside your mind — then eats your body.. Anthony Hopkins received as Oscar for his performance as Hannibal Lecter even though he only got 17 minutes of screen time in the movie. Ever since his appearance in the movie, all eyes were glued on him. The way he stares at Clarice, never blinking, his fascinating vocabulary with intelligent sarcasm and frankness, and his cool, creepy demeanor, are always fresh and intriguing. Decision about giving him an Oscar was truly a piece of cake. It’s rare that a movie villain scares us with the things he says, rather than the things he does.


4. Anton Chigurh – No Country for Old Men (2007)

He may look funny with his unconventional hairstyle, but he is the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with. Ever! Anton Chigurh is capable of enduring great pain and is almost unstoppable when he wants to kill his victims. He is the perfect murderer who kills almost everyone he meets in the movie and feels no compassion or remorse towards his victims. The fate of his victims is decided by him by simply flipping a coin.

The character was played by Javier Bardem who didn’t think he was suited for the role as he hated violence, barely spoke English and drove badly. Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh won him an Oscar.


5. Jack Torrance – The Shining (1980)

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Jack Nicholson who also played Joker appears second time as Jack Torrance who slowly descents into madness after taking the position of winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel.

This brilliant movie won’t have been such a master class without Stanley Kubrick’s direction and Jack Nicholson’s performance. He starts out as a happy, grinning writer who winds up as a complete madman. Nicholson played the part with ease, his facial expressions, iconic voice and creepy conversations with everyone around him are truly hypnotic.

And don’t forget – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Heeere’s Johnny!”


6. Norman Bates – Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic seems boringly normal at first; a shy, stammering, over-polite boy who is into stuffed birds. Only in the final scene of the film do you realize how insane his Oedipus complex has driven him.

Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates; definitely the best performance of his career.  His brilliantly nuanced portrayal reflects the tormented soul that has suffered for years, and he manages to be creepy and unsettling, yet strangely charismatic and magnetizing, in almost every scene he is in.

This is probably the horror movie with the strongest central character to date, and beautiful, subtle character transformations that Anthony Perkins performs, are simply among the best ever to grace the big screen.


7. Alex Delarge – A Clockwork Orange (1971)


Few things make a villain more horrifying than when he (or she) mixes happiness with terror. And that’s exactly what happened when actor Malcolm MacDowell ad-libbed a version of “Singin’ in the Rain” while brutalizing a female victim.

This controversial role made Malcolm McDowell a household name back in the seventies. He is simply perfect as an ultra-violent veteran juvenile delinquent, who, although being the youngest member, leads a gang of droogs, which takes a perverse pleasure in robbing, beating and raping innocent people in near-future England.

Even though he is clearly meant to be detested, you cannot help being intrigued by his demented, psychotic mind. We can easily say that this is the role that inspired an entire generation, and it’s one of the most thought-provoking roles of all time.


8. Amon Goeth – Schindler’s List (1993)


Actor Ralph Fiennes received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of this horrible real-life murderer and war criminal. Nazi Lieutenant Amon Goeth is the cruel commandant of Plaszow death camp who uses Jewish prisoners for target practice.



His character is actually based on the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, and some viewers were genuinely frightened seeing him in the flesh, wearing a Nazi uniform, because he reminded them of the real Amon Goeth.


9. Agent Smith (The Matrix Trilogy)

Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of black-suited, inscrutable behind sunglasses and a man with a sole purpose of rebellion, Mr. Smith, is remembered by all. Agent Smith starts off as a human-hating weapon in the Man vs Machines war. But he goes maverick and makes it personal with hero Neo. Its the perfect battle between good and evil.


10. Tommy Devito – Goodfellas (1990)

Joe Pesci’s fast-talking manner fit him like a glove for the role of Tommy DeVito, a short-tempered gangster who doesn’t like to be called funny. His Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor was really a no-brainer, you can see while watching a movie that he really did his best to be as convincing as possible. Violent, profane, deranged and always ready to kill, he is a typical gangster of the time, but Joe Pesci gave such a haunting performance that you have to think that he put a lot of himself into it, even though you would say that a mad mobster with a dark sense of humor is not exactly his usual kind of role, but he did the job of his career in this one.


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The 10 Best Movie Villains of All Time

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