Walt Disney is known for turning sketches of furry animals and people into likable, animated protagonists but many people often overlook his other talent: his ability to create bad-to-the-bone villains. While watching Hercules or Simba save the day is heart-warming, it’s hard to resist a well-written antagonist, especially if their name is Spike and they are half-vampire. What? Sorry, I lost my train of thought. Oh right, evil characters. Some of Disney’s villains are so cunning, it would be a crime to let their crimes go unappreciated.
1) Cruella de Vil – 101 Dalmatians
I can get behind any villain that has her own theme song, especially one that’s so darn catchy. Yeah, maybe she did want to steal 101 Dalmatian puppies and skin them for her own benefit. Sure, she might have had a slight smoking problem that turned her skin an unhealthy shade of gray. And perhaps she did say “Dahling” too much to be sincere about it. But anyone that can rock black-and-white hair that’s split perfectly down the middle like that needs to be given some props. She wasn’t appreciated in her own time, that’s all.
In this day and age, we should all really feel bad for Shere Khan. After all, Khan’s decision to pursue Mowgli stems from his desire to stay alive and help preserve the endangered tiger species. I mean, he never actually said that was his intention, but I thought his dedication to hunting the boy made it pretty clear. If Khan’s heroic defense of tigers isn’t enough to convince you that Khan is one of the best Disney characters, his perfectly evil British accent should help change your mind.
He’s tall. He’s macho. And he’s… a hopeless romantic? Gaston may have been rejected by Miss Belle the Bookworm but his persistent attempts to seduce “the Beauty” should get some recognition at least. He organized a wedding ceremony outside her house, for God’s sake. Does that scream “dedication” to anyone else? Of course, I’m ignoring the man’s inflated ego and his imposing figure that makes him look more like some sinister bodybuilder than a strapping young gentleman, but still. I’m trying to be optimistic here.
4) Jafar - Aladdin
Everybody knows Aladdin was the cutest Disney character but nobody ever seems to remember how terrifically terrifying Jafar was. Not only was he one of the most magical Disney villains ever created (it’s hard to top a guy that can turn into a giant, fire-breathing snake) but he also had one of the most well-groomed.
With that golden staff in hand, Jafar was only a few steps away from royalty.
5) Scar – The Lion King
Mufasa: That hairball is my son, and your future king.
Scar: Aw, well I should practice my curtsey.
Best known for killing his brother Mufasa, Scar from the Lion King also possesses a sense of humor that distinguishes him from other Disney villains. His witty remarks and snarky attitude would make even the most sarcastic characters proud. Often overlooked, though, is his ability to micro-manage his three hyena minions, who swallowed Scar’s orders without question until the end of the movie. That takes some serious leadership skills.
6) Hades – Hercules
Hades is like the cool uncle that you always wished would show up at holiday parties, with just a touch of “sinister” thrown in. Though he may have stolen his teeth from a Great White Shark, Hades’ outgoing personality was something all its own. Plus, what could be more unique than a guy who is literally always on fire? I’ve got to give the guy some credit, because I wouldn’t be able to put up with a hairdo that changes based on my mood. Being a girl is already hard enough.
7) Yzma – The Emperor’s New Groove
Yzma is the kind of woman who is never afraid to tell you what she wants. Though her evil musings can get a bit out of hand at times, she has the markings of an evil genius.
Before you get all up in arms about this, let me point out that Walt Disney Studios purchased Pixar in 2006 so technically, I’m allowed to include at least one character from that branch. The honor goes to the seagulls from Finding Nemo. If you don’t think they’re evil, then you obviously don’t remember this scene:
I’m a sucker for a good pirate, and Captain Hook is no exception. With one missing hand, Hook was still a better swordsman than half of the animated characters I’ve seen. Captain Hook also gets a spot on this list because his pointy, gravity-defying mustache has always fascinated me.
10) Si and Am – Lady and the Tramp
Singing cats. That’s it. That’s my reason.