The world of fantasy is a broad and all-encompassing universe in which our greatest dreams can be brought to life through literature, animation, film, performance, and graphic novels. However, many heroes are only as great as their strongest villain, so along with our dreams, sometimes comes incredibly complex and powerful nightmares. Sometimes these villains are so well conceived that they make their corresponding hero seem shallow or one-dimensional. Other times they do exactly what we need them to: create a strong, thoughtful antagonist to a well-developed protagonist. Using an extremely complex algorithm that combines fame and power level (basically… I winged it), here are 25 Diabolical Fantasy Villains That May Cause You To Shiver In The Night.
Gollum – The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings (Books / Films)
Let’s face it, as far as power goes, Gollum isn’t very impressive. Sure, he’s got a pretty nasty bite, but the only people who ever had trouble fending him off were Hobbits, and not ones that were accustomed to combat (spirit be damned). However, (especially due to his fantastic movie portrayal) he is known and recognized around the world, and his character was very well written regarding the perils the hobbits faced from the one ring.
Scar – Disney’s The Lion King (Animated Film)
Even as far as lions go, Scar isn’t all that strong. However, one must not underestimate his ability to manipulate others in order to either make his dirty work easier, or straight-up do the dirty work for him. Combine that with manipulation of social structure (otherwise Nala would’ve just ripped his face off) and an army of (mostly) loyal, savage hyenas, and you’ve got a near-perfect animated foil to the noble Mufasa.
Gaston – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Animated Film)
The comical, arrogant, walking pile of muscles and misogyny, Gaston is an excellent example of how the strong, popular figure can turn oppressive and dark when you get past the surface. Scar is more intelligent, but Gaston edges him out in terms of raw power (biceps to spare), established hunting ability, and the ability to whip up a frenzied, armed mob (extra points for the hilarious musical numbers, especially the stage-exclusive “Me”).
Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter Series (Books / Films)
The first of our Harry Potter references, we hate her. God, we hate her. Her slimy, evil character is so well-written that you root for absolutely horrible things to happen to her (which, it’s implied, happens). Her character represents the politicians you hate, the teachers you despised, and the racist ignorance exhibited by far too many people historically in power. To cap it all off, when push came to shove, she wasn’t even all that strong of a witch (at least compared to a number of other primary characters).
The Joker – DC Comics’ Batman (Graphic Novels / Films)
Though he’s had various incarnations over the years and has no real super powers, the Joker combines extreme cunning and intelligence with unpredictable insanity. This combination has allowed him to humiliate and effectively defeat both his genius nemesis, Batman, along with several other DC heroes with all manner of super powers. Though later reneged (as comics often do), the Joker brutally beat and killed Batman’s young sidekick, Robin, in what was one of the darkest Batman stories to that point, and it continues to reverberate throughout the Batman mythos.