We love Disney Princesses with their romantic, gloom-to-glory tales. By the end of the story, they’ll have captured the heart of the handsome Prince Charming and ridden off into the sunset, towards their immaculate hilltop castle. It’s the classic Disney formula—the princess ALWAYS prevails as the shining star… right? Well, not always. Sometimes, the villain is the real star. I mean, who doesn’t love a charismatic antagonist with a mission to crush the poor little princess’s dream? And these villains do it all while wearing some of the best makeup, costumes, and hairstyles we’ve ever seen in an animated series! On top of that, they deliver some of the most memorable lines from our childhood favorites. Let’s be honest—they make the story exciting. Love them or hate them, villains rule!
Let’s take a look at 15 of the most fabulous bad guys Disney has ever created.
No one could ever love Gaston as much as he loves himself. This muscular man with a pea-sized brain really believes the world revolves around him. His evil power is actually being a narcissistic and misogynistic jerk. He once said to Belle: “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and thinking.” Yikes! He’s afraid of women that read and think for themselves! Disgusting! If that's not enough to make you lose your lunch, how about the fact that he arranged a wedding before dating—or even proposing to—Belle? Why would Gaston even consider doing such a thing? Well, because in his archaic mind, a woman’s place is at home—cooking, cleaning, and worshiping him. She should be honored to be his wife, right? We’re literally shuddering at the thought of how fabulously despicable Gaston is. He’s the scummiest villain on the list. It’s no wonder Belle turned him down—we would, too!
It sounds like Mother Gothel, from Tangled, is describing herself—not the world—when she says, “The world is dark, selfish and cruel. If it finds the slightest ray of sunshine, it destroys it.” She kidnapped Princess Rapunzel when she was just a baby, and held her captive in the tower for 18 years. If she had it her way, Rapunzel would never leave the tower (and she even flat-out said that to Rapunzel). Why? Well, Rapunzel’s golden hair keeps Mother Gothel looking young. Talk about vain! Mother Gothel takes "mommy dearest" to a whole new level. She doesn’t want power or riches—she just wants to keep that youthful glow with no wrinkles or grey hair! But, if you ask her anything about her behavior, she’ll probably just say, “Mother knows best.”
When the bratty emperor that you’ve been shadily advising for years suddenly fires you, it makes you feel slighted, unappreciated, or thrown away like yesterday’s trash. For Yzma in, The Emperor’s New Groove, it makes her want to kill Kuzco, and rule the empire. “It’s brilliant, I tell you. Genius, I say," she says of the idea of killing off the emperor and becoming Empress. She can’t wait to see her image splattered all over the city. Unfortunately, she trusts her not-so-intelligent companion, Kronk, to get rid of Kuzco. When it comes time to finish him, Kronk has a change of heart. Leaving the llama emperor alive. There’s a lesson here: when you want something done right, do it yourself.
“All way’s here, you see, are the QUEEN’S WAY!” Spoken like a true villain. Alice in Wonderland’s the Queen of Hearts is a tyrannical dictator with an unapologetic blind fury. In Wonderland, she rules, and her rules are simple. Things are done her way, or you’re beheaded. Ouch! Such a severe punishment. There’s no coming back from that. The Queen has a short fuse, and when things don’t go her way, heads roll. If you plan on visiting Wonderland, I’m sure you’ll be fine, as long as you don’t disagree with her in anyway, only plant red roses, and it’s absolutely imperative that everything is done as the queen wants it. Remember, what the queen wants, she gets, or it’s off with your head!
If your thoughts are consumed with overthrowing the Sultan and ruling the universe, what should you do? How about: become the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, gain his confidence and trust, then try to hypnotize him into handing over his daughter's hand in marriage. That’s exactly what Jafar does in Aladdin. Along with his minion parrot, Iago. He uses Aladdin to get the hidden lamp, knowing the Genie can help him bring his master plan to fruition. He ultimately wants to be the most powerful being in the world. That’s a tall order. Draped in extravagant clothing and always walking with his jewel-encrusted cobra-headed staff, Jafar has a deep connection with snakes. “Perhaps you’d like to see how s-s-snake like I can be.” He hissed to Aladdin, before turning into a giant cobra. Watch out, you never know when he’ll strike.
Captain Hook made us root for him. We didn’t want him to kill Peter Pan, but we also didn’t want him to die. He’s charismatic, funny, and vulnerable and vulnerability is a quality that we’re not used to seeing in villains. After Peter feeds his left hand to Tick-Tock the Croc, Captain Hook becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on Peter Pan. And, Tick-Tock is equally obsessed with devouring the rest of Hook. This love triangle continues throughout Neverland. Despite his efforts, Peter Pan is always one step ahead of Hook. “I’ll get you for this Pan! If it’s the last thing I do!” The Captain cries (actual tears) at the sight of Tick-Tock the Croc. You have to admire a man that’s not afraid to cry. If a giant crocodile wanted to eat you for dinner, you'd probably cry, too!
Cinderella’s cold-hearted stepmother may not have supernatural powers, but she’s just as evil as the other villains on this list. They don’t call her the ‘wicked stepmother’ for nothing. Lady Tremaine, along with her biological daughters, Anastasia and Drizella, enjoy psychologically tormenting Cinderella. Piling on chores, calling her names, treating her like a maid, and isolating her. She locked her away in the tower like a prisoner in her own home. This mad matriarch has two goals: marry off one of her daughters to the Prince, and make Cinderella’s life as miserable as possible. The disdain for her stepdaughter is written all over her wicked face. Those sinister green eyes are haunting. If looks could kill, Cinderella would be dead!
Who needs friends or allies when you’ve got friends on the other side? Dr. Facilier, also known as The Shadow Man from The Princess and the Frog, is a witch doctor plotting to get rich quick, and become the most powerful man in New Orleans. The doctor has a presence and style that you won’t forget. Tall, slim, demure, with frightening purple eyes, he lures Prince Naveen and his valet into his voodoo emporium, promising to make their dreams come true. Of course, it’s a scam because it’s a voodoo emporium! Also, inside the emporium, he has his mother’s shrunken, severed head on display. A word of caution, don’t be fooled by his charm and false promises. Dr. Facilier’s friends on the other side are shadows and demons!
When your big brother appoints you as ruler of the Underworld, your outlook on life can be a tad drab. It leaves you wondering: where’s the love, bro, where’s the love? Understandably, Hades detests being Lord of the Dead as he finds it to be depressing and gloomy. He’s hell-bent on taking over Olympus and dethroning his brother, Zeus, king of Mount Olympus. There’s one small obstacle in his way, though: his nephew, the mighty Hercules. Not one to back down from a challenge, Hades has a plan. He just has to keep his temper under wraps. This volatile leader goes from 0 to 100, real quick. You don’t want to stand too close to him. When he erupts, everything around him goes up in flames. Hades is quite the hothead, literally.
Here's a riddle for you: she relishes in knowing that someone is sick and she hates horrible, wholesome sunshine. Who could this be? Why it's the magnificent, marvelous, Mad Madam Mim, from The Sword in the Stone. When Arthur calls Merlin the world’s most powerful wizard, Mim protests, “Why boy I’m the greatest. I’m truly marvelous. I find delight in the gruesome and grim.” Not lacking in confidence one bit. She’s not your typical villain, wearing frumpy clothes and living in a modest cottage in the forest. But, don’t judge a book by its cover. Madam Mim has the skills to rival the best of them. She challenges Merlin to a wizard’s duel. Turning into everything from an alligator, to an elephant, tiger, and dragon. Proving that she’s mad and a bit batty, but always ready to fight.
In the Disney fairytale, The Little Mermaid, Ariel, the mermaid princess, has her heart set on becoming a human. Who does she go to for help? Why Ursula the Sea Witch, of course. Because, when you want something done right, everyone knows a Cecaelia Sea Witch can get it done. Ursula is half-human, half-octopus, and fabulous in every way. Just like most villains, Ursula has her heart set on a few things, too. Like stealing Ariel’s voice, and replacing King Triton, Ariel’s father, as ruler over Atlantica. To all you poor, insignificant souls out there (Ursula’s words not ours) just remember: striking a deal with Ursula is like striking a deal with the devil. If you don’t cover your end of the bargain, she’ll own your poor unfortunate… what’s that word again? Oh, yes. Soul.
The Lion King is hands down one of Disney’s most traumatizing animated series. When Mufasa is murdered by his menacing jealous brother, Scar. Most of us cried—more like balled—our eyes out. Villains are supposed to be evil, but Scar not only took his big brothers life, he also tricked his nephew, Simba, into believing he killed his own father, forcing him to run away. Scar being the heartless gangster that he is, sent hyenas to kill his young nephew as well. Luckily Simba got away. This was all done so that Scar could be King of the Pride. Wow! Talk about a man on a mission. Scar obviously isn’t big on family since he throws shade, eye rolls, and hair flips like no other because in his mind, he’s king and we’re all idiots.
Cruella De Vil... the name says it all. She’s a cruel devil, obsessed with her one true love, fur. This diabolical diva will stop at nothing to get what she wants. What does she want? To skin 99 defenseless Dalmation puppies, all to make a new fur coat. Ugh, repulsive. Being the stylish, self-centered scoundrel that she is, faux fur is absolutely out of the question. Dead set on always having her way, Miss De Vil is the epitome of a villain. What we’re repulsed by, she finds delightful such as laughing hysterically at the thought of wearing her employee's dog. Someone get PETA on the line, stat. Just as they sing in the film, “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil, if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will!”
With one of the greatest entrances, Maleficent is one of your favorite villains. The “Mistress of All Evil” arrives, uninvited, to Princess Aurora’s christening in a blaze of green smoke and flames. Alongside her pet raven, Diablo (because every great villain must have a trusty sidekick), she serves us with the classic line, “Oh dear, what an awkward situation.” She commands everyone’s attention with her slay-worthy presence, eyebrows on fleek, green skin all aglow. Horns on point. The vengeful fairy holds a grudge like no other, casting a deadly spell upon the Princess, because she wasn't invited. Proving to be a total bad ass, Maleficent can shape-shift into a dragon. Yes, ladies and gentleman, a fire-breathing dragon. Need we say more? Maleficent, out! *Drops mic*
Queen Grimhilde, though you may know her as the Evil Queen, is from the Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Or, as I like to call her, the OG (Original G). Not only was she the first Disney villan, but she was so determined to be the ‘fairest of them all” that she drank a self-concocted potion, transforming into a wicked witch. Unrecognizable to Snow White, she tricked her into eating the poisonous apple. Future villains', take note. That took some serious dedication. As evil as she is, she’s strikingly beautiful. Makeup, flawless. Regal gown with a high collar, super fitting for a wicked queen. She traded it all in to disguise herself as a googly-eyed, hunched back, old hag. Bow down, bitches—the Evil Queen can teach you some things!