We all love a villain. There’s no denying it. Heroes are great and all that, but they do tend to be a little bit, well… boring. The baddies though, that’s where it’s at; complex, stylish, vengeful, they may be evil, but we’re all a little bit in awe of them too. So here are 10 characters who really do have villainy down to a T:
1. Milady de Winter- Alexandre Dumas’ ‘The Three Musketeers’
Beautiful, mysterious, and ultimately very dangerous, Milady de Winter is a classic example of a Femme fatale, using both her wits and her looks to get what she wants. Undeniably evil, Milady is both power and riches hungry and makes numerous attempts to assassinate the main characters. In spite of this though, not only is she a rare example of female power to come out of the 19th century, in the modern BBC adaptation, The Musketeers (2014) she is a hugely independent, kick-ass woman, who can more than hold her own in a fight. #girlpower!
2. Prince Charming- Shrek 2
Ok, so this guy is undeniably a villain. He doesn’t like Shrek, and tbh, whoever doesn’t like Shrek we don’t like them. He tries to break up Shrek and Fiona, absolutely trashes Far Far Away, and makes serious efforts to publicly execute our favorite green hero. Not good. In spite of that though, Charming and his conniving fairy godmother mum make excellent comedy villains and brought us a rendition of “I need a hero” no one will ever forget. He looks a hella lot like Jaime Lannister too- and who doesn’t fancy the Kingslayer? Also, that hair?! Charming’s golden locks are undoubtedly the best hair that side of TV screens- golden, glossy, flowing. What is his secret? Seriously, what?!
3. Morgana- Merlin
For those who can’t remember, or didn’t watch BBC’s Saturday night fantasy series Merlin, you’re missing out. Full of myths, magic, and quests, the BBC at 8pm from 2009- 2012 was the place to be. Now, Merlin had its fair share of memorable villains, but none so much as the Lady Morgana, ward to King Uther, half-sister to Prince Arthur and possessor of a fantastic character arc from headstrong hero to indisputably evil villain over 5 series. Morgana certainly has her evil moments, in fact, she tries to kill every single one of the main characters, (and her former friends) more than once. But those velvet dresses, magic powers and the gorgeous evil smirk were all to die for.
4. Malfoy- The Harry Potter Series
Boy oh boy, there are so many good Harry Potter villains to choose from, but Draco Malfoy has to be one of the best. Snide, quick-witted and portrayed in the films by the now gorgeous Tom Felton, we can see the appeal. Malfoy is a character who over the seven books and their corresponding eight films, develops from high school bully to fully fledged death-eater, and an instrumental pawn in the machinations of Lord Voldemort. What’s so good about Malfoy though, is that we get to see his human side. Malfoy is a villain who shows fear, vulnerability, and ultimately loyalty to his family, and let’s not forget that he basically saves Harry’s life by refusing to identify him in Malfoy Manor, despite definitely knowing it was him. All in all, we’re glad J.K. Rowling gave him a happy ending. Aw.
5. Lady Macbeth- Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Now, this is one nasty woman. Do you lot remember the line when she talks about “dash[ing] the brains out” of her babies…because we do. Lady Macbeth is the orchestrator of all the crimes and woe in the play, in fact, it wouldn’t be too far to say that by the end she is basically a serial killer, apart from the actual- er- killing (her husband can do that). And yet, being a woman in power during the Elizabethan times makes her such an anomaly that you kinda have to love her, she outwits all those snobby patriarchal figures. Granted, she mainly gets rid of her adversaries by killing them, but her clear intellect and natural talent for scheming demands at least some admiration.
6. Scar- Disney’s The Lion King
Now here’s a villain to remember. Voiced by Jeremy Irons, Scar’s distinctive drawl rings out loud and clear from the long legacy of Disney villains. Vicious, sly, self-wallowing and hell-bent on revenge, Scar’s sarcasm is hilarious, while his temper can leave us downright terrified, and he has some of the best villain lines, the most memorable being: “Oh no Mufasa, maybe you shouldn’t turn your back on me.” Scar too has some scope for pity- for him “life’s not fair” because he is exiled, denied the chance of being king. Do we really feel sorry for him though? Of course not. Do we love him? Absolutely!
7. Irene Adler- Sherlock and Elementary
Though a character in the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Irene Adler is a figure who is fully fleshed out in series Sherlock and Elementary. Though in many ways a sexualized femme fatale much like her villainous predecessors, Irene Adler, portrayed in these shows by both Lara Pulver and Natalie Dormer, demonstrates just as much wit and intellect as Sherlock, in fact, *SPOILERS* in Elementary she is revealed to be none other than the criminal mastermind Moriarty.
8. Satan- John Milton’s Paradise Lost
Even for those who haven’t read this hefty old-time epic, the role of this antagonist is pretty self-explanatory: this guy literally is the devil. He’s vengeful, sneaky, and pretty much makes sure that human beings are denied perfect happiness for all of time. And yet, he’s kind of a cool guy- just hear us out. Satan is an inspirational leader- he doesn’t abandon his people when the going gets tough, he’s a hero- he sacrifices everything, including being an angel and living in Heaven for a cause he believes in, and he has some genuine moments of human remorse. Turns out Satan’s really not that bad after all. Maybe.
9. Cersei Lannister- Game of Thrones
You know you’re getting onto the evil of the evil when someone mentions a Lannister: the whole lot of them are selfish, backstabbing menaces. Except for Tyrion. And maybe Jaime isn’t too bad… Ok, maybe it’s not as black and white as all that, but Cersei certainly falls into the villain category. Her hunger for power leads her to systematically starve, detonate, and poison her enemies, not to mention the manipulative relationship she has with her lover- ahem- brother, Jaime. Throughout the TV series, her only redeeming quality is generally agreed to be her children, who *SPOILERS* are all dead by the final few seasons, by which point Cersei has a heart of stone. Despite being ultimately cold and heartless though, Cersei definitely has sass, in fact, she is actually the one character who manages to hold onto the iron throne for the longest, with the help of the backup team of Qyburn and the Mountain fondly referred to by fans as the “Unholy trinity”.
10- Villanelle- Killing Eve
The clue’s in the name: this girl is head, heart, and soul a villain. Jodie Comer’s irresistible assassin may be cold-hearted and vicious, but she’s also seamless at disguises, multi-gazillion lingual, and impeccably dressed- I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t kill for that wardrobe? Beautiful, hilarious, and undeniably a bit of a psychopath, this stylish serial killer is undeniably goals.