In many stories, a great villain is often more important than an interesting hero. For the villain sets the stage, you see – laying out the challenges or obstacles for the protagonist to overcome. If Bowser hadn’t been snatching Princess Peach up all these years, Mario would be spending his days eating pasta and playing picross.
So it is with great (malicious) joy that I tip my hat to all of the baddies across history in this latest top 10 list. I’ll be looking at any fictional character from any medium, and no doubt I’ll have missed out on a few who really should have been included. In actuality, my list spread out to about 30 while I was compiling it, so just know that I’m incredibly upset that I had to omit Warwick Davis’ iconic portrayal of the evil leprechaun Lubdan. Golly, I loves me some Lubdan.
Be warned: Here there be spoilers. So watch your backs boys and ghouls, because we’re heading into some shady territory here that will leave you asking yourself if today… is Jimmy Shaker day.
10. Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors)
Deception is a keen tool in any villain’s arsenal, and this heinous alien species has gotten it down to a fine art. Appearing initially as an innocuous houseplant, it manages to convince its hapless owner Seymour to feed it blood. As it grows bigger and hungrier, it begins to talk, demanding greater sustenance. In short: it wants to feast upon the very flesh of human beings.
Seymour may not be too keen on this idea, but the growing fame of the curious flora is too enticing for him to resist. In the original ending, Audrey II eventually overwhelms Seymour and conquers the entire planet – a grim tale that shows the folly of mankind’s greed.
Equal parts charming and sassy, Audrey II’s unforgettable dialogue and unique voice (supplied by Levi Stubbs) make it hard not to love. Not to mention, in the revised cinema ending, it has the two greatest words ever uttered by a villain before death. I can’t repeat it here, but I hope your morbid curiosity will compel you to search for yourself.
9. Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice)
Perhaps more of an antihero than an outright villain, Tim Burton’s perverted wisecracking ghoul gets the nod on this list regardless. When newlyweds Adam and Barbara meet an untimely demise, their house is invaded by the Deetz family – every ghost’s worst yuppie nightmare. They choose to enlist the services of this bio exorcist, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
This role wouldn’t be half as good had it not been for Michael Keaton’s tour de force performance, bouncing off the walls in a bipolar fashion as he teeters between manipulative, repugnant and hysterical. I wish Michael Keaton played a villain more often, he’s so good at it – whether it’s as a deceptive spectre or a hamburger mogul.
As an aside, Betelgeuse also makes for a charming protagonist, as shown in the cartoon spinoff of the same name. Did you know that the voice actor of this interpretation, Stephen Ouimette, also played Pompadour in Babar? What a talented fellow!
8. Mr. Perfect (WWF)
Oh screw you, it’s my list and he’s going in there, whether you like it or not!
This wrestling character from the 80s and 90s was one of the World Wrestling Federation’s most hated figures. Arrogant, boorish and snide, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig was easily one of the most gifted athletes on the roster. Whether it was his in-ring theatrics or his uproariously cheesy vignettes, he had a panache for being detestable.
Alas, Perfect never attained the WWF heavyweight championship, joining such luminaries as Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase as elite heels who never got their moment on the top. Back in this more cartoonish era of wrestling, the good guys had a stranglehold on the belt; their rare losses just a placeholder until they could reclaim their glory. It’s just a shame that Hennig couldn’t have been among those placeholders. That would have been… well, perfect.