Some games can get away with having a boring protagonist, but it’s far rarer to find a good game with a boring villain. Villains often steal the show and it’s no secret that “villains have more fun.” The best villains are characters that people love to hate. There needs to be a reason behind the hatred for a villain, preferably one with an emotional connection to the player. A great villain will remain memorable decades after completing the game he or she appeared in as their evildoings are not easily forgotten. The following are the 10 best villains in video game history.
10. Queen Slug for a Butt – Earthworm Jim
The Earthworm Jim franchise fared historically poorly during the transition to three-dimensional space. The franchise is now dormant, but it’s important to take time and remember the two Earthworm Jim titles that appeared on the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. Earthworm Jim was a breathtakingly fresh take on the platformer genre. The game was unlike any other and was outrageously funny. A resounding factor for the game’s excellence is the game’s final boss: Queen Slug for a Butt. This foe plans on taking Earthworm Jim’s space suit and using it to take over the world. Her plans are absolutely diabolical and involve a quest for world domination. Besides having one of the funniest names in video game history, Queen Slug for a Butt happens to be one of the meanest and most genuine villains to ever appear in a video game.
9. Giygas – Earthbound
Known as both “The Universal Cosmic Destroyer” and “The Embodiment of Evil,” Giygas on reputation alone seems to have the villain act rehearsed well. Giygas is an evil alien who intends to sentence all of reality to the horror of infinite darkness. We never get to see the real body of Giygas as players only ever encounter him as a background. He has lost his spatial form and is now only a swirling cloud of chaos. This form of “non-appearance” makes him all the more intimidating. Giygas affects every enemy that players encounter during Earthbound as Giygas possesses regular animals and turns them into monsters. Giygas’ influence in causing animals to become violent and distressed is unmatched in terms of pure evil. Giygas is a powerful foe that remains iconic during his final boss fight. There comes a point when the character “Paula” must begin praying in order to weaken him. Simple attacks are unable to advance the fight and the power of emotion must be used to destroy him.
8. Lavos – Chrono Trigger
Lavos may be the most sinister villain in the universe as he is a terror on every planet he encounters. Lavos has developed a cycle that includes landing on an abandoned planet and cultivating it while providing a vast population. After millions of years have passed, Lavos devours the entire planet and sucks up all the life he created. After he’s finished he has spawn created, which move on to other planets and repeat the process. In order to stop Lavos, Crono and company transcend time and space during Chrono Trigger in order to destroy Lavos. Lavos is one of the greatest villains in video game history for several reasons, the biggest of which is that he seeks complete human annihilation. That Lavos goes about his plan to destroy mankind while taking a very long nap cements the comedic aspect behind his villain prowess.
7. Dr. Albert W. Wily – Mega Man Series
Dr. Wily is a mad scientist attempting to take over the world with a powerful group of robots. No matter how many times Mega Man foils his plans and defeats his elite bosses, Dr. Wily will return in short order. Dr. Wily continually innovates, creating fancier creations than before and improving his own dexterity. However, regardless of how many improvements Dr. Wily has made, Mega Man continues to improve at a faster rate. Dr. Wily has a wild visual appearance and really embodies the crazy scientist stereotype. Fortunately for players, Dr. Wily possesses much more talent for mayhem than his profile suggests. Dr. Wily has appeared on many consoles and handhelds and is often the main antagonist in the Mega Man series. Dr. Wily is fun because he can act this stereotypical role, but still appear menacing and be a force among villains.
6. Albert Wesker – Resident Evil Series
Moving down the checklist, Albert Wesker has all the traits possessed by the worst villains. Great physique, superhuman strength and agility as well as an appearance that is undoubtedly attractive. He has worked as a double agent, reappeared and schemed continuously and eventually attempted to destroy the world. Albert Wesker, the most recurring antagonist during the Resident Evil series, certainly has a resume listed in a very convincing way. Albert Wesker’s selfish search for power has led him to become one of the most despised men ever depicted. Wesker has faked his own death and inherited superhuman powers on his quest to become a living idol for people to worship. Wesker’s most memorable role will always be the one in the original Resident Evil. Attempting to ensure the downfall of his other team members by luring them into traps, Wesker is unsuccessful in hiding his affiliation with the Umbrella Corporation. Future returns by Wesker would be grandiose and ambitious and ensure he is one of the best recurring villains to appear in a video game.
5. Ganondorf – The Legend of Zelda Series
Ganondorf continues to return after being sealed away, seeking to conquer Hyrule and become more powerful than ever before. Known as “The Prince of Darkness,” he has traveled the ages attempting to cast his black magic upon Hyrule. His ability to transform is unparalleled. His transformed self is Ganon and the human form is named Ganandorf. With the help of the Triforce of Power, it’s a certainty that his transformations will be a variety of powerful monsters. Ganandorf brings a chilling sense of foreboding with him and his evil plans of domination are as ruthless as they are cunning. Because he continues to feel fresh despite repeated exposure, Ganandorf represents one of the most talented villains in video games.
4. Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII’s brilliant villain appears charming and well-mannered but is one of the most despicable villains in video game history. Sephiroth is iconic for his long silver hair and longer sword. He also has one of the best soundtracks a villain has ever received, and overall is very deserving of being one of the best villains of all time based on appearance and personality alone. However, Sephiroth’s actions are so deplorable that he can only be labeled as pure evil. Sephiroth’s immense strength and master swordsmanship are due to a failed experiment which involved Sephiroth being injected with the cells of Jenova as a fetus. This gave him superhuman strength which makes him a very formidable foe. Famous for murdering a party member at the conclusion of the first disk, Sephiroth is one of the most loathed villains and therefore one of the most memorable.
3. Bowser – Super Mario Series
No character is associated with video game villainy more often than Bowser, the archenemy of Mario. The Koopa King is likely the first villain you think of when the term “video game villain” arises, and his popularity can be attributed to the sheer amount of games he has appeared in. These games include the vast Super Mario Bros. series as well as several spin-off games, totalling an impressive number of appearances. Bowser’s character is best depicted during RPG series such as Paper Mario where his villainy is really on display. Bowser’s appearances in the platforming Super Mario Bros. series are now parodies of themselves with his plot and story ark rarely having significant substance. Because of how iconic Bowser is, this Godzilla-like menace can get away with it flawlessly. Backed by a vast militia of dedicated creatures, Bowser commands respect and earns it appropriately.
2. The Joker – Batman Arkham Series
You can’t miss his cackle. The Joker’s iconic laugh and overall demeanor ensure he will always be one of the most memorable villains in history. During the Batman Arkham games, The Joker is voiced by Mark Hamill, who is famous for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films. Hamill steals the show in this tour de force performance that is absolutely legendary. The Joker as a character is known to overshadow the rest of his cast, and during the Arkham titles Hamill’s acting rivals the Oscar-winning performance of Heath Ledger. As a video game villain, superb voice acting and emotional (often psychotic) flair go a long way toward determining a villain’s status. The Joker is genuinely frightening, and during the Arkham games it’s fearful seeing the amount of control The Joker always manages to exert on every situation. One of the best performances by a voice actor ever solidifies The Joker in a tier among the greatest villains.
1. Kefka – Final Fantasy VI
Recurring characters in video game series would seemingly have the edge for creating better overall villains. If they appear in more games they become more memorable and therefore greater overall villains. However, the greatest villain of all time has only made one appearance in a video game and has never returned. Final Fantasy VI’s evil sorcerer Kefka is the most terrifying villain to ever be realized. Kefka is horrifyingly cruel, as witnessed when he poisons a town’s water supply for no reason and commits genocide on the magical creatures known as “Espers.” Kefka’s introduction during Final Fantasy VI is intentionally misleading. Kefka is presented as an ineffective ambassador and a non-threat. But his subsequent reappearances prove more devastating than the last as towns are burned and mass murders are committed. Kefka’s maniacal tirade is punctuated by his clever one-liners and outrageous dialogue. Because he successfully makes people love to hate him, Kefka is the greatest villain in video game history.