ByErin Estes, writer at
I am an aspiring novelist with a love for movies and anything Marvel. Writing is my passion, and movies are my obsession.
Erin Estes

As a young child, Disney movies were a large part of my life. I loved each of the characters, and they helped shape my childhood. I have always had a vivid imagination, and Disney helped give me inspiration. Peter Pan and I would go and defeat Captain Hook together in the backyard, and I would go on adventures with Pocahontas. Disney just knows how to bring that sort of imagination and happiness!

Now, I am older and I still love , but I have noticed something. While watching a Disney movie with little kids, I suddenly realized how scary some of these Disney are. Maybe they didn't seem as terrifying when I was little, but now I see them differently. Disney isn't always happy, dancing snowmen or singing, hook-wielding demi-gods. Sometimes, they are dark and a bit terrifying.

So, who are the worst? Who sends chills down my spine every time I see them on screen? Here is my list of the most terrifying Disney villains.

5. Cruella De Vil

'101 Dalmations' [Credit: Disney]
'101 Dalmations' [Credit: Disney]

Mean and scary, these are two words that describe this villain from . Her passions are furs and fashion. It’s . I’ve seen people crazy about fashion, but this Disney villain takes it to a whole new level.

  • Has a creepy look and horrific driving skills.
  • Has a mean, lean smile
  • Wants to kill puppies for their fur.
  • Wants to kill puppies for their fur.

Yes. I wrote that last one twice. What person in their right mind would do such a thing? Cruella de Vil is a mean and nasty woman. We are not given a lot of the background to her character, but judging by the way Roger and Perditta the dog react to her, she has done something very obviously disturbing. Also, the way she looks when she drives still scares me to this day. The bloodshot, crazy eyes burn holes into my soul.

4. Dr. Facilier

'The Princess and the Frog' [Credit: Disney]
'The Princess and the Frog' [Credit: Disney]

Talking about creepy, I have to skip a lot of because I can’t stand the voodoo villain, . In this more recent Disney movie, he wants to overthrow the richest man in town. Like most villains, he isn’t content with what he has, and Facilier wants more. What he does to get what he wants earns him a spot on this list.

  • Makes people trust him with promises, only to trick them out of their money.
  • Practices evil voodoo.
  • Has friends on the Other Side.

Not only is the man a sleazy and creepy dude, but he also sold his soul to the devil. The song that plays when he finally meets his end — and the "friends" who come to claim him — is one of the most terrifying scenes I have ever watched in a Disney movie. Voodoo is pretty scary stuff, and The Princess and the Frog didn’t shy away from the evil and darkness that comes with it.

3. Ursula

'The Little Mermaid' [Credit: Disney]
'The Little Mermaid' [Credit: Disney]

is The Sea Witch of Disney’s . She wants power to rule the seven seas, instead of King Triton. She tries to take him down by using his daughter, Ariel, against him. However, that is not why she made my list. Exactly what does she bring to the table?

  • Makes people sign their lives away to her.
  • Turns them into slaves in her garden.
  • She's an evil witch that can cast spells to get what she wants.
  • She's quite content to kill for what she wants.

Villains willing to kill for personal gain is a common theme, and is bad enough to get several of them on my list, but those top two reasons really put Ursula over the top. Like how Dr. Facilier sold his soul to the devil, Ursula does something similar, except she is the one reaping in the soul debts. She is diabolical and evil. What she does to those people is creepy, and a bit dark, especially when you think about how this is a kid’s movie.

2. Frollo

'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' [Credit: Disney]
'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' [Credit: Disney]

One of the darkest villains I have ever come across, ’s antagonist, , is no frolic in a meadow. There is just so much darkness surrounding this character. This movie takes place in The Late Middle Ages, a time of turmoil, especially in France. Frollo builds off of what is going on around him, and there are a few things that set him apart from the rest of the villains on my list.

  • Wants to eradicate an entire people group.
  • Abuses his "adopted" son.
  • Actually does kill people (shown on screen).
  • Believes he is right.

This is one of the few Disney villains we actually see kill someone. This instance, it was purely by accident, but he has no remorse over it. He kills Quasimodo’s mother, and doesn't think twice, simply because she is a gypsy. His vendetta against the gypsies is what makes him, in my opinion, one of the most well written and most terrifying villains I have come across. He believes what he is doing is right and good. He believes that God wants him to do this. What he does isn’t right or good, but in his mind he is the good guy. This makes Frollo terrifying. We all knew he would stop at nothing to finish what he started.

1. Shan Yu

'Mulan' [Credit: Disney]
'Mulan' [Credit: Disney]

Based on a true story, follows the story of a young girl who takes her father’s place in the army. The villain in this story is a Hun named . The Huns were a real group who reigned over China around 370 A.D. However, the legends of Mulan place this time around 470 A.D. This is during the time of Attila the Hun. Shan Yu is loosely inspired by this evil dictator. This greatly adds to his character, and it is what puts Shan Yu on my list.

  • He is ruthless and brutal.
  • His huge body dwarfs the people around him.
  • Human life is a joke to him.
  • He has a very loyal army.

By being based on a real-life villain, Shan Yu has an incredible advantage over the other villains on my list. In the story, we see his brutality and disregard for human life in a couple of different ways. First, the messenger. Only one of the two survivors is allowed to make it back, and he jokes about it. Next we have what is probably the most heart-wrenching moments: the village and the doll. He jokes about taking the doll back to the little girl, and we all know what happened to the little girl and the village around her. Shan Yu’s attitude towards human life is dark and formidable. It is the trait of an evil warrior, and that is definitely what he is.

When we see Shan Yu on screen, he is usually the most formidable figure in the frame. He towers over the smaller men (and woman) — definitely not someone you want to pick a fight with. However, as a single man, I don’t think he could have done this all by himself. That is why he needed his extremely loyal army. They joke with him and follow him without question. A man with this much power to back him up becomes a force that you really don’t want to see, especially an army that believes everything he believes.

Disney has provided us with some very intimidating and dark villains over the years. Each one is scary in his or her own right, but these are the five that I believe outdo the rest.

What do you think?


Who do you think is the darkest Disney villain?


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