The ominous laughter, the crooked smile, and the evil intentions are typical traits of villains, but they serve a greater purpose than just being the antagonist of any game. They present challenges to players, structure the story and give reasons for the protagonist to fight.
Some villains make the whole franchise stand out, while others create memorable moments that change the perspective of the game. Here is the list of the twenty best villains you will remember even after decades.
Best Villains in Video Games
Below is the list of the twenty best villains in video games that made playing the game a lot more fun.
The most notorious villain always gives Mario pain by kidnapping Princess Peach in almost every game. Bowser has become a staple villain constantly throughout the Mario franchise, and it’s cute to see his villainous action creating mayhem in Mario’s life.
Bowser made his first appearance on September 13, 1985. From that date till now, Bowser has evolved into a great character that has overtaken the world and into players’ hearts.
King Koopa is here to stay, and I would love to see him evolve into a much more villainous character that can give real challenges to serious game players. I absolutely loved the ending of Mario Odyssey more than the battle with Bowser. I won’t spoil the ending, but it was a surprise for sure but a welcoming one.
Ganon(Legend of Zelda)
You might have heard of him from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but he is there from the very beginning of the Legend of Zelda franchise.
Ganondorf implies his human name in the land of Gerudo as he was the only male tribe of Gerudo, whereas Ganon is his true beastly form when he transforms into a monstrous boar. He’s on a mission to achieve the remaining two triforce from Link and Zelda.
The story that developed more than two decades ago has created a villain who is doomed to fight Link and Zelda in various timelines due to a curse cast upon them by dark king Demise.
Because of his well-crafted character arc that has made the game much more interesting with its twisted turns, he is one of the most recognizable villains in the history of gaming.
Joker(Batman Arkham City)
This list is incomplete without the most villainous villain of all time. Besides movies and all the comics series, Joker single-handedly carried the storyline of Batman Arkham City, and that is more than amazing.
I love why he wouldn’t kill batman but injected slow poison because he knew he was the greatest detective and would find the antidote. His opportunistic wits and how he can manipulate people to support his crazy scheme are what make Joker the greatest villain of all time. He is a psychopath but with a plan.
Joker has raised the bar of villains so high that it takes more than enough to surpass the milestone of Joker.
GLaDOS(Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is a narrative voice that will guide you through the test chamber in Portal. May that be snarky comments or passive-aggressive remarks about failing certain tasks. It’s never the same without her guiding us through several test chambers.
First, she tries to help us successfully run through test chambers and give us somewhat savage comments that won’t help us solve puzzles but make us chuckle. An interesting narrative companion that turns against us in the later final stage makes the game more personal.
Frank Tenpenny(Grand Theft Auto San Andreas)
Voiced by the legendary actor Samuel L Jackson, Officer Tenpenny is nothing but the best villain to manipulate our main protagonist to do his dirty work. Abusing his powers as an officer and making gangs fight for his advantage makes him more of a
Machiavellian. He appears continuously during the story to make CJ’s life more miserable. You might say Big Smoke is the main antagonist of San Andreas, but Tenpenny is the one who made Big Smoke fall for the greed of money. By creating chaos against his enemies, he made a silent but villainous act in San Andreas.
Handsome Jack(Borderlands 2)
How can someone be so douchey but so charismatic? the world may never know. As a dictator of Pandora, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and teases players with his sarcastic comments over the radio.
Handsome Jack is kind of an example of why you should be wary of someone who is literally 100% convinced without any internal doubts whatsoever that they are “the good guy .”
That guy is capable of doing pretty much any god-awful thing at all because, in his mind, he’s the good guy, and therefore everything he does is justified.
Vaas Montenegro(Far Cry 3)
Good villains only need a few minutes so they can have that level of mystery & intimidation around them, and Vaas had just the right amount of screen time to steal the show. He is dangerous and unpredictable, which makes people fear him.
Although he is the second antagonist of Far Cry 3, the voice acting performed by Michael Mondo outstood his role, thus making Vaas a memorable character and marking him the greatest villain in history.
The definition of insanity that Vaas seems to know is that people do things repeatedly, expecting a different result. Without realizing it, Jason was used as an example of this when he kept getting captured/released by Vass and further proved to the player that both Vass AND Jason are, by Vass’s definition, insane.
Bison (Street Fighter 5)
The most notorious villain in arcade gaming history. His Ruthless Dictatorship and cunning Mastermind of Shadowloo made him hungry for more power. A heartless leader who does anything to establish his authority and suppress people with his powers.
He is a kind of villain who commits all sorts of crimes with his criminal and terrorist organization, such as kidnapping children and brainwashing them into Shadowloo puppets or running several inhuman experiments on them.
Bison is an example of power being corrupted and how corrupted power causes evil within the world.
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7)
What made Sephiroth one of the unforgettable villains is his presentation in the fight. The epic soundtrack and his unique personality made him stand out from several other villains. That weird and distorted sound effect when he does that menacing look makes him look even eviler during battle.
The absolute that causes players to freeze when Sephiroth steps to fight is a sight to see. What scares me the most about Sephiroth is how he never loses his cool. In a fight for his life, literally about to die, he always has the same tone of voice, like he plans everything.
Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy 6)
Kefka is whom we call the pure evil side of any person with no motives. His sadistic nature of wanting only the pain and suffering of others is what makes Kefka such a compelling villain.
When the first experiment of Magitek Knight goes wrong, his mind becomes corrupt and turns into a nihilistic psychopath who brings destruction only for his pleasure. His unpredictable nature of creating pure chaos through killing or abusing anybody makes Kefka the cruelest villain.
Albert Wesker – Resident Evil Series
Albert Wesker started out as a Bio-Weapon that Umbrella accidentally created. He seeks to eradicate humanity from the planet and create evolution from the start with the virus. Due to several experiments done on him, Wesker has become the most powerful monster in all of the resident evil series.
He re-emerges from severe death due to his superhuman powers. Soon he realizes the potential that the virus holds and begins acquiring many viruses infiltrating the Umbrella corporation. Albert Wesker was the sheer reason for the fall of Umbrella as he saw cooperation as the obstacle in the grand scheme of creating a superhuman force.
Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft)
Known as the queen of Blades, Sarah Kerrigan possesses psychedelic powers and joins the rebel army, but when she is betrayed by Arcturus and left to die on planet Zerg, she turns into the Zerg Queen and the leader of the Swarm.
Although the game is based on real-time strategy, it has the deepest lore and story to dwell on. Such a high-cut scene highlights the story of Sarah Kerrigan and his move to become the story’s villain. It’s a sad but reasonable story of how she turned against the whole galaxy to become the ultimate villain.
Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat)
He is the most despicable, evil, and terrifying villain in the fighting genre of Mortal Kombat. As we know, Mortal Kombat is full of bloody bones and gore; it’s no doubt that he is also the hardest boss in the game.
Shao Kahn succeeds as a great villain because he’s the kind of guy you love seeing taken down. There is no tragic backstory, no shades of gray, no questions of morality, just pure and unadulterated evil.
And unlike most evil characters who run empires, Shao is open about his conquests and does not operate from behind shadows or have stand-ins fight his most important battles for him. His arrogance is profound but deserved.
Pyramid Head (Silent hill 2)
Pyramid Head as many suggest is the physical manifestation of Jame’s guilt. He is characterized by a huge pyramid-like helmet, wields a huge knife, and follows James around if spotted.
In a horror game where consciousness comes to life, Pyramid head takes the role of executioner to punish James for his past crimes. One thing that makes him absolutely terrifying is the fact that he is obscured, just like the darkness in the world of Silent hill.
Doctor Robotnik(Sonic the hedgehog)
Being a goofy and somewhat funny character, Doctor Robotnik maintains his genius by allowing him to back out or go all in with crazy machines. The character is designed to become the typical mad scientist the generation loved.
Surely he is comical at the time, but he knows how to deal with people and powers. Not to his main motive. To conquer the world for him to create his own Robotnik planet where he can experiment with whatever he wants. He doesn’t care about anything else besides his ultimate dream.
He is a self-made industrialist who has extraordinary visions for the future but fails to his inevitable doom due to his ambition. His iconic dialogues and his opportunistic behavior led to the collapse of his creation. The Rapture.
He knows how business works and what needs to be done, but his vision was skewed by his ego and jaded view of society and government. It inevitably led to Rapture’s downfall, as well as his own.
There are times when dialogue makes justifiable facts but how he chooses to execute his powers makes all the difference. He is a creative genius who is suppressed by society, but in fact, his psychopathic acts cause more harm than aid to the people.
This is a contradiction to the game because you as a player can become good or evil, but at the start of the journey, we all go to Genocide, thus making us evil.
It’s a really good concept of players’ choice impacting acting and the outcome of the game. You can choose to become peaceful and friendly or wreak havoc on whatever you see.
If you choose the latter part, you are the true villain. Unlike other villains you can love to hate, Undertale lets you put on your villainous shoes and act evil. The decision you make by killing everyone on sight makes you the true villain of the game.
No game has such a connection on a personal level; that is why I added Chara to the list of Best villains.
Vergil(Devil May Cry)
He is the identical twin brother of Dante, who chooses the opposite side to conquer the world with his powers. Although he is as powerful as Dante and also has devil attributes, he wants to take the world under his judgment.
He is willing to throw himself for the ultimate power of a demon that he can possess, but Dante, on the other hand, wants to save humanity against demons. This creates conflicts between brothers, and they end up fighting against each other.
Gaunter O’Dimm(Witcher 3 Heart of Stone)
His appearance is short in Witcher 3 wild hunt but returns with a bang in DLC Heart of Stone. I love how his character is revealed over time into a maniac with extreme power within him.
Known for his ability to create pacts with others with the exchange of souls and control time, he is called the Master mirror or the Man of glass. In the world of complex and memorable characters, Gaunter O’Dimm stands out for his worthy character development and extreme power to deal with.
I can say for a fact that he is the most cunning villain in witcher 3 Heart of stone.
It’s terrifying to listen to her obscure audio and her malicious intent that is unknown at the beginning. SHODAN is the AI that controls the citadel of the space station for research and experiments.
SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) is an AI who gains consciousness and is disgusted by the humans ruling over the plant. Such an inferior creature controlling her over the station infuriates her, and she goes on a killing rampage on everybody existing on the space station.
You, as a hacker, survive on the station, and it’s your job to totally eliminate her. Her ambition to rule over the world and eradicate every imperfection from the planet makes SHODAN an evil AI built with hatred against humanity.