The best Disney animated villains of all time

Villains make or break a movie and, more often than not, cinema-goers are given flawed villains from the start with uninteresting motivations and rocky character development. Antagonists play a crucial role in film as they present the imperative challenges our protagonists need to overcome to propel the story to its riveting conclusion. That is why it is of the utmost importance that writers research deeply and delve into the minds of their villains to uncover universal truths that direct their actions and contest with the hero of the story. Fortunately, there are movies that have portrayed truly intriguing villains and Disney has consistently done an exceptional job with this.

Today we will outline some of Disney’s best animated villains of all time, showcasing the qualities that make them so treacherous and highlighting their absorbing motives.

Ursula, ‘The Little Mermaid’

The voluptuous ocean-dwelling villain Ursula and her two shocking eel sidekicks make for a fascinating antagonist with a complete disregard for life and self-serving motivation. In this seafaring outing, Ariel has to face off against an overtly wicked villain with a booming, hefty laugh that is made of nightmares and halt her fiendish schemes.

The best Disney animated villains of all time

Jafar, ‘Aladdin’

With little moral backbone and psychopathic tendencies, Jafar is a fearsome villain that will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Jafar is outright wicked with no redeemable qualities whatsoever, something that can be rare amongst antagonists as showrunners often leave room to route for a villain’s overcoming of their darkness.

Hades, ‘Hercules’

Against all odds, the creators of Hercules along with exceptional voice actor James Woods somehow managed to make the campy character of Hades in Hercules work as a genuinely threatening villain. The malevolent character uses all the tricks in his books to overthrow Zeus’ throne and his anger management issues surely make for uncomfortable outbursts.

Scar, ‘The Lion King’

Scar from The Lion King is a villain unlike any other, one possessing almost all the evil qualities used in antagonist archetypes of films. He is a villain with no remorse, a cunning and sly manipulator, an overbearing and extravagant prankster, and a backstabbing betrayer. Scar is the personification of resent and his villainous story is one with copious lessons to learn from.

Cruella de Vil, ‘101 Dalmatians’

Demons and monsters can certainly frighten viewers, but there are few antagonists quite as wicked and scary as Cruella de Vil. Presented as a fabulous fashion editor with a diabolical plan, Cruella’s villainous intrigue comes from her digression from traditional Disney villain archetypes who are generally calculated schemers. Cruella is impulsive and unpredictable, temperamental and outrageous – she is the embodiment of cruelty.

The best Disney animated villains of all time

Gaston, ‘Beauty and The Beast’

What makes Gaston so horrifying is that he is the kind of wickedness we bear witness to in the world every day. Rather than being a supernatural entity or powerful mad sorcerer, Gaston is just a regular human with some incredibly dark qualities. From typical ‘bro’ to immoral-mob-inciting commander, Gaston’s character arc represents the kind of elevated loathing that still sadly permeates through social divides across the globe. Gaston is an animated manifestation of us becoming our worst selves.

While these characters are wicked to the core, Disney does a wonderful job at teaching us that light and goodness always prevails at the end of the day!

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