Villains come with just about every movie released in Disney's vault, and while some are far more popular than others, that doesn't mean they are all equal. We have had some pretty nasty villains in Disney's animated history and we've also had some that didn't place that sense of fear into us. I wanted to take a took at Disney villains because not only are villains my favorite, but not a lot of people give certain villains the credit they deserve. With this I wanted to reflect on which villains I find to be the best Disney has to offer while also looking at what made them so bad. Was it insanity? Was it greed? Was it just plain evil?
I will give a heads up that in this list you will only find villains that have appeared in animated Disney films. It will not feature any villain from Pixar or a live-action film and no, it will not include Frozen because it was pure garbage. They are also in no particular order, with one exception, so don't think the list is going from worst to best. Spoilers beware, these are all great villains!
12. Jafar - Aladdin (1992)
Jafar was in the time when villains turned more to sorcery than pure evil. The trusted adviser to the Sultan, Jafar used his mind powers and magic to hypnotize his subjects into doing his bidding and when he seemed to have it all, he went that much farther and had Genie grant him the wish of becoming the world's most powerful genie, thinking it would yield him unlimited abilities. Typical Disney fashion fell on Jafar as his demise was pretty much by his own hand.
I always liked Jafar as a villain because he mixed several different villain criteria and was overall menacing to deal with. Aside from being manipulative and hypnotic, he was able to disguise himself quite well and not lead on how dangerous he was.
11. Oogie Boogie - The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Oogie Boogie is a good villain for the sheer fact that he is fueled by his enjoyment and pleasure in making others suffer. The gambling boogie man that had Halloween Town's career trick-or-treat gang Lock, Shock, and Barrel do his bidding remained more of a legend and myth within his own holiday, let alone in any other town. Even Jack Skellington knew better than to involve Oogie in anything since he was always up to no good.
Oogie's carelessness was his own demise as he was simply outsmarted in his defeat, but he left an impact and made you realize how out of place the film's protagonist was in his own holiday.
10. Hades - Hercules (1997)
Not only is Hercules an incredibly underrated Disney gem, I always felt that Hades got the short end of the stick as well. He's not a completely unknown Disney villain and is somewhat popular among the theme parks, but he doesn't gain the amount of attention he deserves.
The quick to anger deity of the underworld is another villain with henchmen (Pain and Panic) and the cartoon adaptation turned him into a fast-paced, bitter deity voiced by James Woods. He is funny at times and I felt that really made the viewer clue into how nasty he can be. How he tricks Hercules is pretty priceless and the fact that he could go from a rather calm but calculating villain to completely insane with rage was a totally insane.
9. Cruella De Vil - 101 Dalmatians (1961)
Cruella is perhaps one of the most iconic Disney villains in the vault. Her true evil insanity and disregard for others makes her completely menacing and scary. Her desire to slaughter hundreds of dalmatian puppies just to get a fur coat was enough to scare people to the bones, especially once you realize there are actually people like that out there.
She is another villain who fell due to the actions of her own hand and was blinded by her own desire for power and for what she wanted. She's a classic for a reason. We also can't forget that her last name is devil, so...
8. Ursula - The Little Mermaid (1989)
Ursula is easily one of my favorite villains of all time, let alone a favorite in the Disney world. This octopus "sea witch" was another similar to Jafar who used sorcery in addition to being just plain evil. Ursula uses her sorcery, manipulation, and trickery to obtain Ariel's voice and you also catch a terrifying glimpse at her collection of lost souls of mermaids she has tricked in the past.
Along with her utter disregard for anyone other than herself and her eel henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam, she also possesses one of the best defeats, in my opinion. I mean, how many villains are impaled?
7. Madame Medusa - The Rescuers (1977)
Truly an underrated villain from an underrated film. The Rescuers tells the story of a mouse team that goes out to search and rescue a lost orphan girl. What you don't really know is the orphan, Penny, is essentially kidnapped by an owner of a seedy pawn shop and her partner, Mr. Snoops. Her sidekicks, aside from Snoops, include two alligators named Brutus and Nero.
Medusa is underrated for the fact that she isn't really a calculating villain. She is more fueled by her greed and lust for diamonds than any real evil, but that doesn't make her any less enjoyable. She is like a cross between Ursula and Cruella.
6. Scar - The Lion King (1994)
Scar is one of the only villains who is just plain evil. The brother of Mufasa, the king of the kingdom, his jealously only gets worse after his nephew Simba jumps in front of him in line for the throne. His utter desire and lust for power leads him to trick and deceive his way into making Simba run away after killing Mufasa. To this day one of the most heartbreaking movie moments of my generation was when Scar threw Mufasa down a cliff during a stampede. I'm an adult and I still cry whenever I watch The Lion King. It's heavy stuff for a kid's movie.
Scar's downfall was perfect as he is so self absorbed in his position that he fails to see how everyone else suffers. Either that or he simply doesn't care. The result was him being attacked and killed by his "loyal" group of minion hyenas.
5. Chernabog - Fantasia (1940)
Probably one of the scarier villains, back when Disney was unintentionally scaring kids to death, Chernabog appeared in the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Fantasia. The giant demon summons all of his minions, including ghosts and demons, to have a last mass before the dawn approaches.
There really isn't anything aside from Chernabog being a representation of pure evil and it is pretty menacing. After Fantasia, he has been expanded and featured in the video game Kingdom Hearts, House of Mouse, and the ABC television show Once Upon a Time. He's also a central villain in the Disney theme parks show, Fantasmic!
4. Gaston - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
This arrogant, overly confident brute served as the main antagonist of Beauty and the Beast and fit the part perfectly. You first see Gaston as he is shamelessly and arrogantly seeking Belle's hand in marriage and it gets worse as he goes as far as setting up a wedding before even proposing to her. After Belle's father tells the village the tale of The Beast, Gaston decides to use this as his perfect opportunity to "rescue" Belle along with killing Beast so he could add another head to his trophy collection.
Awesome, right? Not exactly. Gaston is another villain outsmarted and essentially killing himself slowly through arrogance and blood lust, as he willingly puts himself at risk just to try and kill Beast. As a result, he is last seen falling from the roof of the castle. Gaston's overall annoyance, misogynistic nature, narcissism, and just plain evil nature easily make him one of the great villains in Disney's vault.
3. The Evil Queen - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The Evil Queen (a.k.a., Queen Grimhilde) is no doubt one of the most iconic Disney villains of all time as she was the first animated antagonist in Disney film history. The Queen, obsessed with her own beauty, decides to hunt down Snow White and kill her so she may remain the fairest in the land. After her huntsman fails, she uses sorcery and dark magic to transform herself into an old, aging witch to trick Snow White into eating a poisoned apple.
We don't ever see what kind of ruler she is aside from seeing the occasional skeletons in cages, which leads you to believe she is rather ruthless towards her kingdom. She was the first to set the tone for the famous falling deaths of Disney villains as she is struck by lightning, falls off a cliff, and is crushed by a boulder.
The Evil Queen is another that has been portrayed in several different ways. She was played by Charlize Theron in the 2012 live-action film, Snow White and the Huntsman, and she appeared in ABC's Once Upon a Time.
2. Madam Mim - The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Madam Mim is no doubt one of the more amusing villains in Disney history, but she has always been a favorite of mine. The only witch that is equal in power to Merlin, she challenges Merlin to a wizard's duel to see who has the right to keep Wart (a.k.a. King Arthur).
Although she claims to be more powerful than Merlin, she is actually just a specialist of dark/black magic with a flawless ability to shapeshift into just about anything. Her desire to get her way and win any game she plays allows her to be tricked by Merlin and defeated. Madam Mim is a perfect combination of wit, humor, and danger.
1. Maleficent - Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Remember I said this list wasn't in any particular order? Well, here is the one exception because, in my opinion, Maleficent is the best Disney villain of all time. The evil fairy served as the main antagonist for 1959's Sleeping Beauty when she placed a curse on the infant Princess Aurora so she would fall into a fatal sleep on her 16th birthday.
This iconic villain is defeated by Prince Phillip after she transforms herself into a fiery dragon with all the powers of hell. She also possesses powers of telepathy and divination used to mock Prince Phillip after she captures him.
Similar to Chernabog, she is simply a representation of pure evil and is responsible for all the wrongdoings in King Stefan's kingdom. Her minions included a group of dancing demons as well as a black crow named Diablo. Forget that whole backstory they tried to implement with the live-action Maleficent movie, she wasn't supposed to have some sob story explaining her evil. She was just evil and that's what makes her such a great villain. She hurt and cursed people for fun and simply enjoyed being evil.
The Queen of Hearts - Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Judge Claude Frollo - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Lady Tremaine - Cinderella (1950)
Shan Yu - Mulan (1998)
Mother Gothel - Tangled (2010)
Ratigan - The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Horned King - The Black Cauldron (1985)
If you think I missed any more villains, or simply want to argue the case of your favorite, go ahead and take my poll! You can find it here.