The heroes and princesses who live in the Disney universe are among some of the most iconic in the world. Heroes who slay the dragons and save the princesses have been the crux of some of these great films. When wanting to see someone live happily ever after, a great hero is necessary for this story to come to life. However, a hero's journey is only satisfying if it has one more component – a great villain to defeat.
A hero is only as good as the villain they are trying to overcome. Without a proper villain to break through, no fan will properly care about if a hero can win or not. If a villain has not been built up properly, the story will not be as satisfying in the end. The psychology of a good story is for a villain to be incredibly close to defeating the hero, only for them to come back and overcome the odds. This is what makes a film encapsulating for an audience.
The best villains in the Disney rogues gallery are those who have the strength, power, and intelligence (and even personality) to make them seem like credible threats to the heroes. Villains often cross in to "love to hate" territory when they are this good. Or sometimes they are even so despicable that they are respected by their villain. However, the other side of the spectrum features villains who are useless and uncoordinated in their plans. These do not equal a villain who is entertaining to watch and the overall film waivers.
When you wish upon a star, a great villain appears. Here are 10 Villains That Hurt Disney Movies (And 10 That Saved Them):
20 Saved: Scar
One of the marks of a good villain is when they do not have a single fan. While many Disney villains end up crossing in to "love to dislike" territory, Scar is not one of those. Disney fans would be hard-pressed to find any fans of this destructive lion. Scar's despicable qualities have made him one of the most disliked villains of all time, which actually has earned him a great reputation in the hall of villainy.
There are very few children who were born in the 1980s and 90s who were not "scarred" by all the things Scar did. Whether it was his infamous showdown with Mufasa, or even his battle against Simba, he earned his place as a despised villain. Hopefully, the upcoming film does his character the same justice (or injustice).
19 Hurt: Price John
While a good villain is one who has a solid plan, it is also one who can execute things on their own. When a villain requires so much assistance to complete their vision, they lose credibility in the eyes of viewers. For someone like Prince John to rely so much on his henchmen, it is impossible to see him as a credible threat. Prince John is hardly able to get out of bed on his own let alone take out Robin Hood.
Prince John is one of the most useless Disney villains that have ever been put on film. He does not conduct any plans on his own, and only relies on his Sheriff and advisors. Furthermore, when he is put into a position to take care of his own business, he loses in spectacular fashion. Shouldn't a good villain be able to do at least something on their own?
18 Saved: Lady Tremaine
The term "wicked stepmother" was coined because of Cinderella. On one hand, the film features a rags-to-riches story about a girl who finds her Prince Charming after a night of fun and magic. At the other end, Lady Tremaine cemented her legacy as one of the most intense villains in the Disney vault, and did it without lifting a finger. While other villains have had to resort to violence, Cinderella's stepmother only used her cold heart.
Without Lady Tremaine, Cinderella becomes just another princess fairytale. However, with a worth-while villain for her to overcome, the story becomes that much sweeter. Being able to watch Lady Tremaine's sour grin turn to sadness when Cinderella is chosen by the prince is the best moment of the film, all because she is so disliked.
17 Hurt: Queen of Hearts
There is no denying just how crazy of a film Alice in Wonderland is. With crazy critters and insane characters, the film is still heralded for being one of the most outlandish Disney creations. However, the main villain of the story still leaves a lot to be desired, and pales in comparison to the other characters. The Queen of Hearts' insanity may be driving the story, but she is little more than a one-trick pony in Wonderland.
Beyond her penchant for beheadings, The Queen offers little to the film. In fact, many of the other characters are on screen for much longer than her. Only appearing towards the end of Wonderland, the Queen ultimately has little impact on Alice's Wonderland experience. Fans may still like to scream "off with your head" in tribute to her, but she doesn't accomplish much else.
16 Saved: Hades
If there was an award for the most entertaining Disney villain of all time, it would go to Hades. While incredibly evil and fiery in his own way, his humor and self-aware behavior makes him very entertaining to watch. His sense of humor should not mean that we should take him lightly, as he is just as evil as anyone else on this list. However, he is certainly the highlight of Hercules.
Brilliantly voiced by James Woods, Hades has the distinction of being both frightening and entertaining. He may not show his true power and strength until late into his battle against Hercules, but he has the ability to take down the hero. If it were not for Hercules' heroic sacrifice to safe Megara, Hades may have been the first villain to triumph over a hero.
15 Hurt: Governor Ratcliffe
Some villains without any redeeming qualities stride the line between "love to dislike" and inherently despicable. From the moment that Governor Ratcliffe steps foot in Virginia, it is apparent that he is the latter. While certainly a strong villain who fans can relate to hating, Ratcliffe is not enjoyable to watch in the slightest. In fact, he may be one of the least-liked villains of all time.
With so many other charismatic villains in the Disney universe, Ratcliffe is also one of the most boring. Without so much as an entertaining line, his presence alone brings down the entire film. He seemed doomed to fail from the beginning, and even had his own teammates turn against him – not even they could stand him!
14 Saved: Stinky Pete
The Toy Story franchise is well-known for being able to tug at the heart-strings of anyone watching it – which should be the same for their upcoming film – which makes their villains all the more important. While most of the time, the villains are transparent about their intentions, such as Sid and Al, others are surprising for first time viewers. Seeing Stinky Pete as anything more than an old toy who has never left his box is surprising, but no one saw it coming when he was revealed as the mastermind.
As one of the first surprise villains in Disney's collection, this surprise turned the Toy Story sequel into one of the best of all time. If this film had featured just another human, it would not have been so successful. However, because the franchise continues to introduce great villains, it has stood the test of time.
13 Hurt: Gaston
Looking back on decisions that were made in the past can be unsettling when observing them through a different lens. When first released in 1991, little thought was given to Gaston as a villain other than him being generally unlikeable. However, when looking at his actions and antics with a lens of equality, it certainly hurts Gaston's brand as a villain. Some of the comments he makes regarding Belle's intelligence have not aged well, and make some of the scenes difficult to watch.
Not only has Gaston's patronizing and uber-masculine character not aged well, but he doesn't show an ounce of intelligence through the entire film. In fact, even the machines that Maurice makes have more intelligence than he does based on the comments he makes. All of these things combined have not stopped Beauty and the Beast from maintaining its status as a beloved film, but it does not do Gaston any favors.
12 Saved: Randall Boggs
While the crux of Monster's Inc is in the emotional relationships, it still benefits from having a very strong villain. The ultimate mastermind does turn out to be Mr. Waternoose, Randall Boggs is the real star from the dark side of this film. Other Disney villains have acted like monsters before, but Randall is the first literal monster to be a part of this group.
He may not be the strongest or most cunning villain, but he was good enough to offer some good action to this film. Fans were excited to see him get his comeuppance because of how much he scared Boo, but he was also cool enough to keep everyone watching. Plus, anything voiced by Steve Buscemi is bound to be awesome.
11 Hurt: Edgar
For a villain to be well-respected for their villainy, they need to fulfill certain criteria. A great villain must be good at what they do and have a chance at winning in the end. In order to win, the villain needs to be savvy, intelligent and confident in their plan to defeat the heroes. Unfortunately for him, Edgar does not fulfill any of these aspects.
Edgar's main motivation in The Aristocats is that he needs to eliminate his boss' family of cats because they are slated to receive Madame Bonfamille's fortune when she passes. This sparks his plan to steal the cats and release them into the countryside. However, it seems that Edgar didn't realize that the cats wouldn't actually be able to spend this money! Furthermore, he also loses the kittens before actually disposing of them. Every aspect of his plan failed because he was a bumbling fool, which does not equal a good villain.
10 Saved: Maleficent
While not every Disney fan agrees that Maleficent is the best villain, but she should certainly be the most respected. While other villains talk a big game about how powerful they are, Maleficent is truly able to walk-the-walk. With her possessing "all the power of Hell", she is the strongest villainess amongst the entire group. She has earned the title of being among the most feared women in film history.
Despite her evil ways, Maleficent deserves admiration for her power and strength. Without her being so feared, Sleeping Beauty would never be considered the classic film that it is now. Before Maleficent, no villain had held a candle to her powers, particularly her "true form" of a fire-breathing dragon. Other villains wish that they were as strong as her, or wish that they could been seen as iconic as Maleficent.
9 Hurt: Chernabog
Disney has always been known for pushing the envelope in the content of their films. Despite being the most well-respected children's production company, they have pushed boundaries before. Some of their content has been criticized for being too violent or scary. The poster-villain for being deemed too scary for a children's film is Fantasia's Chernabog.
With Walt Disney himself referring to Chernabog as "the devil himself", it certainly points to him being among the worst villains. Why would this hurt the film he is in? Fantasia is considered a children's film by many. By having something so frightening in the film, it pushed away a lot of potential viewers. Sometimes frightening is too frightening for the younger fans out there.
8 Saved: Lots O'Huggin' Bear
Just like Stinky Pete before him, Lots o'Huggin' Bear as a villain was a big surprise for viewers the first time around. As the first main-stream franchise to get a third theatrical installment, there was a high possibility that the film would crumble. However, Toy Story 3 has since become the highest-grossing film in the franchise.
While much of this can be attributed to the love of the series, there is no denying that Lotso played a part as well. By continually creating new villains for fans to enjoy, the Toy Story franchise remains relevant. What made Lotso even more special has been his comparison to The Walking Dead universe. While not something most fans would relate Toy Story to, it has made him a high profile villain.
7 Hurt: Hans
As with most villains on this list, there is one thing that separates the good ones from the poor ones - strong motivation. The reason that villains like Scar and Lady Tremaine are on the positive side of this list is because they wear their motivations proudly on their sleeve. Or, in the case of someone like Maleficent, their strength sets them apart. For someone like Frozen's Prince Hans, he doesn't have any of these skills to set him apart. In fact, he is often forgotten to be the actual villain of the story.
The reason that Frozen quickly became a beloved Disney film is because of the catchy songs and the relationship between Anna and Elsa. If anything, Hans' presence hurts the film because of how forgetful he is. Imagine if the movie had an even stronger villain to lean on. Then there would be nothing from stopping it from becoming the most beloved film ever. Now it will only be known as one big commercial for Let It Go.
6 Saved: Jafar
For a villain to even look like a snake, it puts them in the running as a top bad guy. With a consistent hunger for power, and the ability to almost defeat the heroes, Jafar is a worthy adversary for Aladdin. In fact, it even seems like he was incredibly close to accomplishing his goals. For fans to become truly invested in a hero's journey, it is imperative for them to believe that he may lose at any time. Throughout each of Jafar's appearances, it is clear that he was close to winning.
Jafar has not made a film appearance since 1994's Return of Jafar. However, he is still a high-octane dose of nightmare fuel. Do not forget that Jafar had the ability of turning himself into a genie, which essentially made him one of the most powerful villains in history. With the new installment of Aladdin coming out this year, it is exciting to think about how Jafar will show up.
5 Hurt: Sid
Sid Phillips had all the makings of being a great villain. The sight of him laughing while "playing" with his toys is haunting, and made him fearsome. When looking at all of his "creations" it is clear that Sid was sadistic and this could have made for a very interesting villain for the franchise. However, Toy Story made one big mistake with this mastermind - he turned into a big cry baby!
It must have been very traumatizing to see his toys come to life and admonish him for his wrongdoings. However, to watch such an imposing villain be reduced to a crying baby hurt what could have been a long-running villain. It was very satisfying to watch Sid get his comeuppance, but it would have been much better to continue the feud.
4 Saved: Claude Frollo
For a villain to still make people feel queasy despite only one movie appearance in 1996 is impressive. Claude Frollo is one of the slimiest characters to ever appear on film, and still sends chills down the spine of anyone that sees him. Without a single redeeming quality, he is the ultimate villain. While other villains on this list have fans, there isn't a single poster on anyone's bedroom featuring Claude Frollo.
However, despite how despicable he is, he does succeed at one thing - making The Hunchback of Notre Dame into a good movie. Frollo is one of the most complex Disney villains in history. With allegories featuring religion, infanticide and genocide, he is not only despicable but a great character study. Claude Frollo was one of the darkest villains in history, but that does make for a very entertaining film.
3 Hurt: Te Kā
A destructive lava demon should equal a very entertaining villain, however, Moana's main antagonist falls flat. While certainly very visually pleasing to see on the screen, the overall arc for the villain leaves much to be desired. The most successful villains on this list are both complicated yet strong-willed. While there is no denying Te Kā's power, she does not last as a villain.
While there is a rich back story to Te Kā, she is not an unstoppable force. In fact, she is "defeated" quite easily by Moana and Maui. Once her heart has been returned, she turns back into the docile Te Feti. Without so much as a climactic battle, Te Kā returns to her regular state. Other villains on this list put up a big fight to be defeated. All Te Kā needed as a hug from Moana to become peaceful again.
2 Saved: Ursula
If anyone reading this article is not singing Poor, Unfortunate Souls right now, then they do not understand the power of Ursula. As the most theatrical villain on this list, she has become incredibly popular over the years. Her flamboyance and confidence has made her an icon, and has helped The Little Mermaid stand the test of time. While the story has always been timeless, it has been Ursula's strength as a villain which keeps it relevant.
With other villains receiving stand-alone films over the years, it is surprising that Ursula has not. With such a large fan base, a film based on the half-human, half-octopus would be very well received. Perhaps fans will one day be blessed with a film featuring her, but until then they will have to settle for her Mermaid appearance.
1 Hurt: The Underminer
Fans have been waiting for over a decade to see the Parr family return as the masked Incredibles. After watching them triumph over Syndrome, the family donned their masks again for The Incredibles 2. Thankfully, the film began right after the first one had ended, which placed them in to battled against the debuting Underminer. With such a big debut at the end of the first film, fans were waiting to see him clash with against this team of heroes. In fact, when the sequel was announced, most fans thought that The Underminer would be the main villain.
However, everyone was unfortunately mistaken. The Underminer was certainly not the main villain, but wound up only being a day-player. With very little screen time in the film, he was a non-factor in the grand scheme of things. Some fans had been waiting to see if he would be the next great villain. But everyone was disappointed to find that he was just another nameless bad guy who quickly fell by the wayside.---Are there any other villains who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!