A good story needs to have a good conflict, and who usually drives that conflict? The villain of course! They’re the ones that threaten the world, kidnap the damsel and burn down your village, so the better the villain, the higher the stakes. In this list, I’m going to look at some of the best villains I’ve come across in the fantasy genre.
11) The Yeerks- Animorphs.
The Yeerks are disgusting slugs that crawl through your ears and control your brain. They could be anyone around you, even your own family. That combination of body horror, paranoia, and terror of losing control of your mind and being controlled made them a far scarier villain than we were used to seeing in our books and kids’ shows
10) Angelus- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There was a lot that was …very unfortunate… about the ‘sex turns you evil’ storyline on Buffy.
But Angelus was still a brilliant villain. He lost the vampire brooding act that he stole from Louis and became everything a vampire should be. He was terrifying; he was truly cold, sadistic and played horrible mind games with everyone around him. Yet he was devastatingly charismatic, dangerous and sexy. His dangerously, charged antagonism of Buffy was compelling to watch and made him the memorable villain of the series.
9) Child Lilith- Supernatural
Supernatural had a tonne of great villains.However, one of the best is child Alice. There’s something eerie about that childlike innocence being twisted into simple singleminded cruelty. Lilith is one of the most perfect examples of this. Just for kicks, she terrorises a family and forces them to play Stepford Happy Families while she kills them off one by one.
Honestly, what is it about little girls that makes them so damn terrifying?
8) Queen Jadis
Powerful, tyrannical and the terror of woodland animals and small children, Queen Jadis was the female character I most wanted to be in the book. While Lucy and the good girls were told that ‘wars are so ugly when women fight’ and never got to rule by themselves, Jadis got to be the sole regnant of Narnia, lived in a cool ice castle, and kicked ass in battle with no restraints. Plus, she killed feline Jesus. That’s one heck of a villainous achievement.
7) Dominga Salvador- Anita Blake
Reading the (first ten) Anita Blake books was an amazing experience. It was full of larger than life characters, had lots of action and an engaging plot. One of the best aspects of the books were the villains, who were always tyranical, strong and absoltely memorable. I could have put any one of them on this list, but I chose Dominga because there’s something awesome about a well mannered older lady who inspires so much fear and terror.
6) Princess Azula- Avatar the Last Airbender
“If I sense any loyalty, any hesitation, any weakness at all, I will snuff it out.”- Forget angst and endless monologues. Azula is one villain that doesn’t mess about
Princess Azula was a brilliant character. She was cold, charismatic, manipulative and single minded in her goals. In the series she was so powerful she could hold her own against all of team Aang and Iroh and was so manipulative she could fool a living lie detector.
But she wasn’t just powerful, she was ruthless and a brilliant tactician, actually able to defeat the heroes and genre savvy enough to know she shouldn’t rely on having killed them unless she sees the bodies. She was so driven, so talented and such a good planner that there were many times that a part of you actually wanted to see her succeed in her goals.
5) Lucifer- Supernatural
‘I will never lie to you, I will never trick you but you will say yes to me.’
Supernatural’s Satan is one of the best versions I’ve seen since the definitive fallen archangel of Paradise Lost. Cold, calm, and possessing a supreme arrogance dressed in the mask of sympathy, his confrontations with Sam were always chilling. . And, like Paradise Lost’s complex, failed rebel, he was tormented with his love of God and made some very good points.
4) Dolores Umbridge- Harry Potter
I’ve already discussed how brilliant Dolores is on my Harry Potter Top 11. Voldemort was our impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own deeply personal demon.
3) King Joffrey
In the rich, complex world of Game Of Thrones and A Song Of Ice And Fire, there are no true villains- except for this little shit (and the bastard of Bolton). Every mannerism, every smug look makes you want smack him, and you just hate him more and more with every sadistic abuse of power. Unfortunately, the downfall of this little shit wasn’t the glorious display that Dolores’ was, but for making us hate him more than we ever thought we could hate a fictional character, King Joffrey well and truly earns this spot.
2) Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
If there’s one thing that old school Disney did better than anyone else, it was creating compelling villains. They created so many brilliant antagonists, but the best has to be Maleficent. I mean even her name, Maleficent- a cross between malevolent and magnificent- sounds so beautifully devious. She’s incredibly powerful and (until the new movie anyway), is evil just because it’s so, so, so much fun.
Devoid of all the typical anime tropes, Berserk is a dark, complex high fantasy tragedy. It is a tragedy in the most Aristotelian manner possible, complete with the drama between friends and family, the characters whose fatal flaw causes their fall from grace and reversal of fortune. We have the ill- fated tragic characters; Guts, a brusque, straight forward soldier who for all his strength was helpless to do anything when it mattered most.
Casca, [SPOILER] the warrior maiden doomed to get her wish in the most twisted, nasty way possible.
Then we have Griffith. Griffith, like a lot of the best villains, is a perfect foil to Guts. Silver tongued, cunning and skilled, he oozes charisma and an almost otherworldly presence and you can see why people so readily follow him. However, his otherworldliness soon turns monstrous as the path of fate twists and turns and pushes the characters to perhaps the most gut wrenching and brutal climax I have ever seen.
The rawness and inevitability of Berserk’s tragedy, the complexity of Griffith and his genuine friendship with Guts make him my number one villain of the fantasy genre.