The villains of the Disney universe are a very special group. Whether they’re animals, humans, witches, warlocks or demons, most of them share one thing in common: they’re just so charismatic. Often hilarious, too, in the case of Hades from Hercules (brilliantly portrayed by James Woods) as just one example.
They can be a difficult group to hate (however dastardly their deeds may be), because they’re just so enthralling to watch. Some Disney villains are far more interesting than others, however, and some terrible deeds are just unforgivable. Here are some of the evillest Disney villains ever, along with their most heinous act (in roughly ascending order of heinousness).
10 Gaston: Bringing A Mob To Kill The Beast
Now, on the surface, this might not seem like such a heinous act. After all, if your neighbor was a huge, terrifying, super furry animal (no, not a member of the band, although that would be a little worrying too), you’d be forgiven for feeling a little tetchy about the whole situation. It’s Gaston’s motives that make his attack on the beast so unforgivable.
Gaston is the kind of man who gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. Almost the movie’s entire cast adores him (beyond our two major players, of course), so when Belle spurns him and he learns that she loves the beast, he’s not going to take that remotely well. It’s not a righteous mission to protect the townsfolk from this menace, it’s just a jealous rage on his part.
9 Captain Hook: His Ruthless Pursuit Of Peter Pan & The Children
Captain Hook (especially Disney’s take on him) isn’t the most fearsome villain around. He’s a bumbling and fearful man, but he doesn’t want his crew to notice. He’s also completely single-minded in his hunt for Peter Pan and pursuit of revenge, and has temper almost as volatile as the Queen of Hearts’ own. All of this adds up to an antagonist who is far more dangerous than he might seem.
From his perspective, Peter Pan is the villain here: he did see to it that Hook’s hand was eaten by that persistent crocodile, after all. As a result, the Captain will stop at nothing to get back at Pan and his friends. Kidnapping, laying traps with time bombs and coercing Tinker Bell into revealing her secrets are just some of the lows Hook stoops to in his endless quest.
8 Cruella De Vil: The Infamous Puppy Plot
If you’ve ever… well, used the Internet at all, you’ll know that there’s no medicine quite as effective as a cute, hilarious or cute and hilarious dog video. In these troubled times, the sweet and innocent face of a puppy is the elixir that we all need a little more of in our lives.
Now, to be fair to the monstrous Cruella De Vil, she never actually succeeded in harming so much as one of those adorable little dalmatians. Further, it was Jasper and Horace who intended to actually commit the deed. De Vil, however, was the mastermind behind the whole thing, one of the most heartless schemes a Disney villain has ever devised.
7 Lotso: Sending Andy’s Toys To Their Deaths
As much as Toy Story may seem to be a cute, harmless, fun franchise about talking toys, fans know that it can take viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions when it wants to. In Toy Story 3, the devious Lotso (Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear) is responsible for one of the very worst.
He’s the ruthless leader of the Sunnyside Daycare Center’s toys, and when his villainy is discovered, he manages to send Woody and his friends on a (supposedly) one-way trip to the incinerator. It’s a heart-breaking moment, and it really does look as though it may be the end for a moment.
6 Mother Gothel: Imprisoning Rapunzel
Even if you’ve never seen Tangled and are unfamiliar with the story of Rapunzel, you probably know the basics: a beautiful princess is trapped in a tower, awaiting a bold and handsome princess to climb up her long and luxurious hair to release her. What you probably don’t know if how this whole sorry situation came about.
Well, you can thank the devious Mother Gothel for that. Unlike some more proactive Disney villains, she takes a more insidious approach. Gothel is very, very old, having survived to an incredible age by using the healing magic of a mystical flower. Its powers are bequeathed to Rapunzel, unbeknown to the princess, so Gothel poses as her mother, imprisons her and siphons its powers for herself, keeping Rapunzel ignorant of everything. That’s just the start of her villainous resume, too, which also includes killing Flynn Rider (although he’s soon revived by Rapunzel’s tears).
5 Judge Claude Frollo: His Whole Reign Of Terror
Speaking of extensive villainous resumes, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame might as well be one long showcase of evil from one of Disney’s most despicable villains ever: Judge Claude Frollo.
Supposedly in charge of meting out justice in Paris, Frollo’s ruthlessness knows no bounds. In one harrowing scene, he pursues and kills Quasimodo’s mother, and is seconds from dispatching her child too when he is interrupted. By way of punishment, he is forced to raise the baby as his own. Years later, he falls in unrequited love with Esmeralda, who is being held inside Notre Dame itself. When she escapes, Frollo burns down houses, bribes and threatens his way through Paris to try and find her.
4 Scar: Usurping The Throne And Killing Mufasa
Even if you’re not a Disney afficionado, you’ll surely be familiar with this one. The conniving, brutally brilliant Scar is one of the most notorious villains Disney has to offer. He exudes charisma, intelligence and evil in equal measure. You just can’t help but love (and hate) him.
As we know, the envious Scar plotted to murder his brother and the heir to the throne, Mufasa’s son Simba, before assuming power himself. He succeeded in all but one of these aims, helped by the hyenas, and brought Pride Rock to ruin with his misrule before Simba eventually returned. Even after being defeated, Scar tried to kill Simba with a cowardly sucker punch.
3 Man: Shot Bambi’s Mother
Next up, we have another of the most infamous villains in all of Disney, even if he is simply named Man. This anonymous hunter singlehandedly traumatised children (and adults, let’s be honest with ourselves here) around the world in that iconic, tragic scene.
The death of Bambi’s mother is one of the darkest moments in Disney history. The perpetrator isn’t a villain or a monster in the traditional sense, but when you consider that the story is being told from the point of view of the woodland animals themselves, things get even darker and more horrific. Nothing in the obscure sequel came even slightly close.
2 The Horned King: Summoning His Army
Disney may be known for creating magical adventures that delight the whole family, but when they want to go all-out horror, they definitely don’t hold anything back either. The Black Cauldron isn’t as well known as many of the Disney classics we’ve seen here, but it’s infamous for its villain: the Horned King.
The character hails from Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series (though he’s only in the first novel), and… well, you only have to look at him to know what an evil villain he is. His goal in the Disney movie is to create a monstrous ‘Cauldron-born’ undead army to take over the real and become a god, and we get to see his attempts at creating said army in grim, terrifying detail.
1 Hades: Set The Titans On Mount Olympus
In Greek Mythology, the Titans and the Olympians were mortal (well, not mortal, but you know what we mean) enemies. They waged fierce battles with Zeus and co., having been the resident gods before the Olympians.
Hercules, which loosely tackles Greek Mythology, sees a disgruntled Hades unleash the previously imprisoned Titans on the gods of Olympus. The Olympians are defeated and only Hercules’ return saves them. It’s treachery on a fiendish scale that few other Disney villains can touch.
NEXT: 10 Disney Villains Who Were Kinda Right