ByNathaniel Perrier Sharer, writer at
Nathaniel Perrier Sharer

Hey there Moviepilot. This time, I decided to do a countdown of the greatest villains to appear on-screen. This list focuses mainly on how iconic the villain is to cinema and to their genre, as well as the skill with which they were executed. Excluding anti-heroes, monsters, and those villains who are, in fact, the protagonist of their stories, as well as narrowing the criteria to one villain per franchise, here are my choices for the top 15 movie villains.

15: Anton Ciguhr, No Country For Old Men

Coming in at #15 is Javier Bardem's Anton Ciguhr, a remorseless hitman who won't stop until he gets what he wants. While not as well-recognized as some of those that follow, his disturbing, relentless pursuit, and his strange habit of giving his victims the chance of a coin toss earn him a place on this list. Bardem recieved incredible acclaim for his performance, including an Academy Award, and his execution of the role was flawless.

What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?

14: Ralph Fiennes, Schindler's List

The 14th slot belongs to Fiennes portrayal of Amon Goeth in Spielberg's Schindler's List. A shocking, brutal portrayal, Fiennes gives an everlasting image of evil, and pure disregard for life.

This is very cruel, Oskar. You're giving them hope. You shouldn't do that.

13: Stansfield, Leon: The Professional

A lesser-known villain, but no less popular for it, Gary Oldman's portrayal of Stansfield is a favorite of all who have seen this film. While lesser-known, the film became a cult classic, due in no small part to Oldman. Oldman's performance is expertly carried out. Every scene is memorable, whether it be as shocking as gunning down families in time to Beethoven, or, of course the infamous 'everyone'.

12: Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street

The only slasher to make the list, Freddy Krueger lands in at #12 for his iconic status as the most famous of film slashers, beating out Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers. The claws, the scars, the sweater...just don't fall asleep.

What's wrong? Miss your wake up call?

11: Khan Noonien Singh, Star Trek II

The most famous villain of the Star Trek franchise comes in at #11. Portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán, Khan first appeared on TOS, before becoming the main villain in The Wrath of Khan. Smarter and stronger than any human, Khan remains one of the most memorable of the Star Trek villains. Sorry J. J. Abrams, but you just can't beat the classic.

I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral...

10: HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey

HAL 9000 introduced the world to the evil AI. A key part of Kubrick's masterpiece, his calm voice and red glow were the perfect touch to send this AI over the edge into 'disturbing' territory, and set a precedent for sci-fi to come.

I'm sorry Dave...I'm afraid I can't do that.

9: The Terminator, Terminator

Terminator delighted audiences with not only action, but killer robots, time travel, and artificial intelligence. Arnold cut an impressive figure as the T-800. His huge frame, dark glasses, leather jacket, and unmistakable vocals were just what was needed to sell the part of the unstoppable future killing machine. With Terminator 2 and the T-1000 only increasing the popularity of the franchise, Arnold's terminator is certainly a villain to be remembered.

I'll be back...

8: Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter

What? Ralph Fiennes again? Due the immense popularity of Harry Potter, Warner Brothers managed to sign many fantastic actors onto the cast, and Fiennes is no exception. Although almost unrecognizable, he once again brings a sinister, brilliant performance as the unforgettable Dark Lord.

They never learn. Such a pity.

7: Auric Goldfinger, Goldfinger

While not the most sinister Bond villain to look at, Goldfinger is perhaps the most iconic of the bunch. While the cat-loving Blofeld almost made the list, Goldfinger took the spot both for gold-covered corpses and for giving us what is probably the most memorable line a Bond villain has uttered.

'No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!'

6: The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard Of Oz

Absolutely iconic, and terrifying in her own right, the Wicked Witch of the West swoops in at #6. The earliest villain on the list, with a flying broomstick and an army of flying monkeys at her command, she terrified those who saw her onscreen, and her image won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Going so soon? I wouldn't hear of it. Why, my little party's just beginning!

5: Agent Smith, The Matrix

Cold, collected, uncompromising. Hugo Weaving delivers a chillingly brilliant performance as the rogue Agent Smith. The strength of the Matrix trilogy lies not only Keanu, but also equally on the scowling villain behind the signature dark glasses.

You hear that Mr. Anderson?... That is the sound of inevitability... It is the sound of your death...

4: Sauron, The Lord of the Rings

Given how massively popular Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy became, it's no surprise that the great eye of Sauron is almost instantly recognizable to most. While the eye itself is a fiction created by Jackson, not Tolkien, Jackson was spot on with his decision. A villain unlike almost any other, the final evil of Middle Earth is a fiery vision of evil, a symbol of the trilogy for years to come.

You cannot hide. I see you. There is no life in the void. Only death.

3: Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs

There are few things creepier than a murdering cannibal, except maybe a murdering cannibal who's also charming and highly intelligent. Anthony Hopkins portrayed Hannibal Lecter to an expert degree, terrifying and captivating audiences. Taking home an Oscar for his chilling performance, the low, gentle voice of Hopkins whispering and hissing and slurping has haunted the dreams of many.

Good evening, Clarice...

2: The Joker, Batman/The Dark Knight

The only Super-villain on the list, the joker places so high not only from his immense popularity, but from his instantly recognizable face. Whether it be Nicholson or Ledger you prefer, the smile of the joker is iconic. With two fantastic performances to back him up, the Joker is known and loved by almost everyone.

Do you wanna know how i got these scars?

1: Darth Vader, Star Wars

Obvious choice, I know. Darth Vader is the figurehead for some of the most iconic and popular movies ever made. From the moment he first entered the hallway of the rebel blockade runner, from the moment we first hear his deep, rhythmic breathing, we were hooked. Mysterious and sinister, Vader kept audiences on the edge of their seats. Yes, in the end he turned from the dark side, but Vader served as a villain for almost all of the trilogy, and he is remembered as such.The force-choking, light-saber wielding, half man half machine that was Darth Vader amazed and shocked audiences with the voice of James Earl Jones emanating from behind that implacable mask, chilling and delighting us.

No, I am your father...

Obviously, there are too many fantastic villains to put them all on a list. So many, in fact, that top 10 became top 15, just to include some more. These are just my choices for some of the most iconic, well-created villains seen on screen. What villains would you have put on the list? Who would you remove? Let me know below!


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