12 Most Badass Cinema Villains of All-Time

I like bad guys without a conscience; without remorse- bad guys who are actually bad and not some shameful shade of grey. That’s how cinema villains should be- merciless, cruel- completely badass. So here’s another list, because you guys loved the last one. This one chronicles a dozen badass villains from world cinema history. Now they don’t have to be the greatest villains or the most popular; but just the most bone-chilling. So Darth Vader doesn’t make it due to his sudden emergence of a long subsided Jedi conscience while none of the Bond villains are here on account of being just too sissy. So, here is the list of 12 most badass cinema villains of all-time.

12. DON LOPE DE AGUIRRE (The Wrath of God (German), 1972- played by Klaus Kinskie) 

“If I, Aguirre want the birds to drop dead; the birds will drop dead.” The trouble with period film villains is that they tend to go a bit over the top. But that is exactly what works for Aguirre. Portrayed menacingly by Klaus Kinskie, Aguirre is the purest form of evil- merciless, blood-thirsty, ambitious and megalomaniacal. The man wants to mutilate the bodies of his enemies and paint walls with their blood; he wants to rule the universe after starting a ‘pure’ dynasty by fathering an heir with his own daughter. Need I say more? But, he has no misconceptions about being a saviour of any kind. He knows he is evil and hence, calls himself the wrath of God.

 11. GABBAR SINGH (Sholay (Hindustani), 1975- played by Amjad Khan)

  The irritating thing about Bollywood villains is that towards the end, they all seem to develop a belated sense of conscience, as if they’re scared to be tormented in hell for all eternity. But this Chambal dacoit penned excellently by Salim-Javed and portrayed ruthlessly by debutant Amjad Khan changed all that. Gabbar was  ruthless; killing  women and children with ease, torturing helpless teenagers, and most importantly cold,  unrepentant and defiant  in death.

10. UNCLE CHARLIE (Shadow of a Doubt (English), 1943- played by Joseph Cotton) 

Although not a single drop of blood is shed in this Hitchcock classic, it has to be the most psychologically violent vintage classic. Charlie is the archetype suave monster, hiding layers of hideousness and a perverse hatred for humanity beneath a false exterior of charm and mild manners. What frightens one most is not his homicidal tendencies but his maniacal hatred and apathy for the human race. In Charlie, Hitchcock gives us our greatest fear- the baddest, meanest homicidal villain who could very easily be the polite gentleman living next door.

 9. LITTLE BILL (The Unforgiven (English), 1992- played by Gene Hackman)

When Sergio Leone introduced spaghetti westerns, he created a world where everyone was a little bad and no one was all good. Suddenly, the line between the good and the bad faded beyond recognition. It took another legend – Clint Eastwood – to change all that and give us arguably the greatest Western villain of all-time. Little Bill is powerful, menacing, egoistical, but his most dangerous trait is a blunt, shameless self-righteousness. No one in their right mind can ever start or even join a Little Bill fan club. He is meant to be hated, despised and condemned.

8. MILDRED RATCHED (One Flew over a Cuckoo’s Nest (English), 1975- played by Louise Fletcher) 

If you think that all nurses are nice, warm, loving and motherly; well grab a DVD of ‘One Flew over a Cuckoo’s Nest’ and you will find some illusions shattering for sure. Cold, manipulative, methodical and venomous, this mental asylum warden held on to her power and control over her dominion by ruthlessly crushing all that came in her way. Why Nurse Ratched is so evil is that despite her sense of devotion and duty to her work, deep down she is nothing but a maniacal control freak.

7. DR. HANNIBAL LECTER (Silence of the Lambs (English), 1991- played by Anthony Hopkins)

“If you’ll excuse me, I’m having an old friend for dinner,” hissed Lecter, and the world gasped. Hannibal the cannibal is one of cinema’s greatest villains and certainly one of the greatest screen performances by any actor living or dead. His ability to play the mind of his victims and experienced psychologists alike was what made him so intimidating. His eccentric, feline mannerisms took the focus away from his brutal eyes, which were actually the true windows to his bare soul, devoid of any human emotion except hatred.

6. PHYLLIS DIETRICHSON (Double Indemnity (English), 1944- played by Barbara Stanwyck) 

Whenever everyone talks about how memorable Sharon Stone’s Catherine Trammell was in ‘Basic Instinct,’ I make it a point to remind them that Phyllis Dietrichson was all that and more, and that too five decades before Trammell. She uses her sexual charm and body to get what she wants and doesn’t bother to fall for that thing called love. When she stabs her lover in the heart, she shamelessly admits, “I never loved you. I’m rotten to the core.” In Phyllis, Barbara Stanwyck went where no mainstream actress had ever gone before and set a precedent for many She-Devils to come.

 5. WONG CHI-HANG (The Untold Story (Cantonese), 1993- played by Anthony Wong)

This Hong-Kong crime thriller was marketed in some territories under the title ‘Human Pork Chop.’ That should be a clear enough indication that it is certainly not one of your candyfloss romances. Wong is your run-of-the-mill homicidal psychopath, who disposes of the bodies in quite a crude and unusual fashion that might not please the faint hearted. His cannibalism is not enigmatic like Lecter. It is downright filthy and gross. However, what makes Wong one of the most disturbing villains ever is that despite his brutality and cold-bloodedness; he is but human and the viewer tends to feel sorry for him. There lies the true masterstroke of this gore fest.

4. WOO-JIN (Oldeuboi (Korean), 2003- played by Yu Ji-tae) 

Now, I’ve seen countless acts of vengeance in the thousands of movies I’ve watched over the years; but none of them comes anywhere close in terms of its cruelty, brutality and patience as Woo-jin’s 15-year long torture of his erstwhile tormentor in the 2003 Korean cult classic, Oldeuboi. But it’s not for keeping Oh Dae-Su in captivity that earns Woo-jin a spot in this list, it is what he does afterwards, demolishing Dae-Su’s resolve and will, carefully and patiently. Woo-jin does prove the age-old saying; revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.

 3. THE JOKER (The Dark Knight (English), 2008- played by Heath Ledger)

Many say that Heath Ledger’s Joker is probably one of the most well-crafted negative characters of all-time. Well I don’t know about that, but he sure is the craziest. But, what is actually truly scary about this clown is that beneath all the seemingly random chaos, beneath all the craziness, beneath all the mind-numbing slaughter is a method, an order and a diabolic, anarchic brain hell-bent on bringing the world down to its knees. The Joker works because he plays his cards close to his chest; if he has his reasons, then he keeps them to himself, leaving all others in a cold, lonely dark.

2. AMON GOETH (Schindler’s List (English), 1991- played by Ralph Fiennes) 

Long before he paraded on the screen as a nose less dark wizard, Ralph Fiennes portrayed absolute evil in the form of a cold, sadistic and cruel Nazi soldier. Goeth was the personification of Nazi brutality. He shot prisoners for fun; he beat young women with his bare hands when they refused to bow down to his desires; he executed men to serve as an example to others. Amon Goeth had no regard for human life; and the worst part was that he was actually proud of this.

 1. ANTON CHIGURH (No Country for Old Men (English), 2005- played by Javier Bardem)

In 2005, Coen brothers created a whole new form of evil in their critically acclaimed flick ‘No Country for Old Men.’ Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh was death personified; an unstoppable, inescapable evil. Chigurh is a relentless, ruthless killer, executing helpless and unsuspecting victims with his strange, lethal contraption. He is a cold, merciless juggernaut with not an ounce of emotion in his eyes. What sets this unforgiving assassin apart from other cine villains is that he never once goes over the top. He does not rely on histrionics like the Joker; he does not resort to sexual violence like Goeth; he does not have a reason for his brutality like Woo-jin. He is evil, simply because that is how he is.


About Mad Crazy Hatter

Well, honestly the world ain't such a dull place after all. There are queer new developments happenin' everyday. I'm just one crazy fella who loves to observe, ridicule and dissect the craziness called life.

Posted on October 12, 2011, in The Lists. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Okay, am still reading it. But am highly impressed by the eclectic research and presentation. 🙂 Keep it up dude!

  2. Naaaaaiicee… WOO-JIN is the best… although great list :). I miss John Doe (Kevin Spacy in se7en) and Jigsaw 😦

    • Thanx man!!! 🙂
      Jigsaw was more enigmatic than real badass. John Doe would have been nice here, one of those who almost made it actually, along with Hans Gruber (Die Hard) and Col. Landa (Inglorious Basterds); but then Aguirre stole the show over them.

  3. Mugambo
    Sgt. Alonzo Harris played by Denzel Washington in Training Day
    Tony Montana played by Al Pacino
    Agent smith from Matrix

    would all be in my top 12


    • Agent Smith is one name that should have been here I guess…but this list is full of humans who are evil. Smith was a machine, a program rather. Tony Montana is another good choice, but I would prefer Gabbar and Aguirre to Mogambo and Sgt. Harris any day.

  4. But at the same time, great picks for top 3. Would be my top 3 as well. Thanks for not “blindly” putting the Joker at number 1.

  5. That’s NOT a picture of Barbara Stanwyck! That’s Audrey Totter….

  6. what about Bill the Butcher and I prefer Herod over Little Bill, nearly 2 years after last comment anyone reading?

    • I will admit Bill, the Butcher was an excellent villain. But in the end, I had to cut it down to 12 names (there is just no limit if I try to sneak in a few more names; it would be an unending list). And I found Little Bill more menacing than Herod even though Herod did kill his own son. But Little Bill’s self righteousness makes him more despicable!

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