Some of the best parts of video games are the baddies. Without villains, most games wouldn’t have much of a premise or story. There wouldn’t be any princesses to save, battles to be fought, or worlds to protect. They may be cruel, but they’re a necessity. Plus, evil-doers can be extremely fun to experience in fiction of any kind.
Video game villains are a big deal, so let’s take a look at some of the best and most diabolical baddies out there.
Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, also known as GLaDOS, was created by the folks at Aperture Science and serves as Portal’s primary antagonist. GLaDOS is an A.I. that’s a little too smart and is willing to do anything for science, which includes killing Chell the test subject if she doesn’t comply with testing or once all testing has been completed.
The tests that she creates for Chell (and assumedly past test subjects) are extremely deadly just because she wants to see what happens. She builds vicious turrets and fills rooms with hazardous liquid that kills anyone who touches it. She has the ability to launch missiles at anyone who messes with her and even lies about cake. How much more cruel can one get?
Master Xehanort from Kingdom Hearts is a Keyblade Master who seeks to conquer Kingdom Hearts so he can recreate all worlds in his vision. Through splitting into different versions of himself and time travel, he’s responsible for the series of events that constantly threatens the destruction of every world. He killed his best friend, Master Eraqus, and is willing to do the same to anyone in his way.
His magic is much stronger than anyone else’s, he’s extremely skilled with a Keyblade, and can even teleport, making it seem impossible to take him down. He has deceived many people in his path to victory, and came uncomfortably close to reaching his goal after several games.
Ridley of Metroid fame is a Space Pirate and has the terrifying appearance of a demonic pterodactyl-dragon. He delights in death and destruction, seemingly just for the fun of it. He’s also responsible for the massacre of the colony K-2L. He slaughtered Samus’s parents and now attempts to kill her time and time again. He’s been seemingly killed several times, but always comes back even if it means turning himself into a cyborg known as “Meta-Ridley” in the process.
With his claws, teeth, spear-like tail, ability to shoot fireballs, and flight, he’s a perfect killing machine. Samus is lucky to be alive after so many encounters with this beast.
Ganondorf from the Legend of Zelda series has gone by titles such as the Demon King, Dark Lord, Great King of Evil, and Emperor of the Dark Realm, which all say a lot about how evil he really is. Ganondorf seeks the Triforce in hopes of using it to grant his wish of conquering the entire world. Until he can do so, he has staged coups against Hyrule and taken the throne by force. He often wields the Triforce of Power, which grants him near-immortality and the ability to transform into a terrifying beast.
With powerful dark magic and titanic strength, most heroes wouldn’t stand a chance against Ganondorf. He’s willing to kidnap, kill, and deceive his way to the top and is not to be taken lightly.
6) Dr. Wily
The maniacal Dr. Wily is the primary rival to Dr. Light and arch-nemesis to Megaman. He aspires to take over the world with his robot army. He betrayed his best friend and let that hatred for him grow until that hatred was the only motivation he had left to live. Dr. Wily had the opportunity to help Dr. Light create robots to help humanity, but instead built his own for world domination. He even stole a group of Dr. Light’s robots just to reprogram them to use against him.
Dr. Wily has even kidnapped the daughter of another scientist to force him to build robots for him. In the distant future, he keeps himself, or his consciousness, alive in the body of a robot just to make sure he can continue his attempts to destroy Megaman. He also created the Maverick virus that causes robots to essentially turn evil. Wily is so evil that he even built a robot called “the Yellow Devil.”
5) Dr. Neo Cortex
Dr. Neo Cortex is an evil mastermind set on taking over the Wumpa Islands, and then the world. He’s a tech expert who has created countless machines in order to destroy Crash Bandicoot and generally wreak havoc. He, along with his former assistant Dr. N. Brio, created the “Cortex Commandos,” which are mutated animals that serve as his henchmen. He’s also responsible for creating Crash Bandicoot himself. With lasers, jetpacks, and an army of lab assistants, mutants, and robots, he’s a true threat in just about every game he’s in.
Cortex literally attended a school for evil-doers, and he eventually teams up with Uka Uka the evil voodoo mask spirit. Cortex may be self-deprecating at times, but his evil laugh is enough to give anyone chills.
4) Handsome Jack
Handsome Jack is an absolute maniac and the primary antagonist of Borderlands 2. He serves as the president of the Hyperion Corporation and sets out to rule over all of Pandora. He owns a humongous space station from which he fires a laser cannon from at the planet’s surface to force citizens to do his bidding.
His other crimes include murdering the fan-favorite Roland and taking credit for killing the Destroyer. Even though he was only the villain in Borderlands 2, his role is so important that he’s had a major impact on other games, including Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel and Tales From the Borderlands.
Sephiroth is the most well-known antagonist from the Final Fantasy franchise and serves as the main villain of Final Fantasy VII. He was once a famous soldier before being driven to madness after discovering he was mutated by Jenova cells before he was born. He then sets out to become a god. He has murdered countless individuals and has attempted mass genocide. With his dark magic, high intellect, and comically long sword, it’s hard to believe that Cloud and his allies could actually defeat him.
In his side appearances like Kingdom Hearts, he’s so tough to beat that gamers would take turns with their friends trying to take him down. Plus, he absolutely has the coolest theme song out of anyone on this list.
2) Dr. Eggman
With an IQ of 300, Dr. Eggman is a super genius set on taking over the world and destroying a pesky blue hedgehog. He has built countless robots over the years, and though they all have different abilities, they’re all created for the purpose of destruction. His inventions are regularly a threat for Sonic and his friends, and are not to be taken lightly despite Eggman’s goofy demeanor.
Dr. Eggman originally used woodland critters he captured to power his machines, proving that he’s truly heartless. On top of that, his motivation in several games is to do all this just to turn the world into an Eggman-themed amusement park. His mustache must be so huge because it holds so much evil.
The big bad Koopa King, Bowser, is easily the most recognizable villain in video game history. He’s the central antagonist of the Super Mario series, the biggest franchise in all of gaming. He’s got a massive army always ready to take over the Mushroom Kingdom, a castle surrounded by lava, a platoon of flying battleships, and a sizable attitude problem. He continually finds ways to successfully kidnap Princess Peach and is usually a formidable foe for Mario and his brother Luigi. Let’s not forget that he’s terrifying. He’s huge, can breathe fire, and has razor sharp teeth, claws, horns, and spikes.
Bowser is so deranged that he teaches his own children to hate Mario. He even cheats at party games. He’s just plain mean. How can any bad guy top Bowser, the baddest of them all?
These video game villains prove that being bad can actually be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, not every bad guy could have made the list, so it’s worth noting that some clear runner-ups are Specter from Ape Escape, King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country, Wesker from Resident Evil, M. Bison from Street Fighter, and the ghosts from Pac-Man. Did your favorite baddie make the list? If not, who would you consider to be the most diabolical villains in video games?