Currently, gaming has become a marvelous icon that rivals other forms of fiction and media in providing artistic and impactful responses. The gameplay aspect might be a winning factor for any people’s enjoyment. However, in the past 20 years, the world has seen some stories arise from gaming that has won their hearts.
There is, without a doubt, no one better to carry the storytelling aspect than the Protagonist and Antagonist. So join us as we discuss our list of the Top 30 best video game villains that redefined their franchises and are regarded as the greatest in their respective titles.
Best Villains in Video Games History
Whether it’s the man who brought the approaching storm or the terror of the One-winged Angel, villains in video games provide one of the most counteractive and thought-provoking storylines. Their persona instantly makes them definite fan favorites. They can be rivals to the heroes or even sworn arch-enemies of one another.
The ingredients that go into creating these villains are nothing short of pure magic and artistry. It is one of the many reasons why Video Games in our current era have become another medium to enjoy peak-tier fiction and dense narrative drama.
The List of the top-tier villains in each video game we have prepared for you is nothing of the greatest and best of their times. While we may have missed some of your favorites, we think the following 30 characters are still nothing short of the crown for being the most methodical and well-written villains in the entire industry.
Summary of all the best villains in gaming history:
|Villain||Game||Genre||Platform||Game Release Date|
|Officer Tenpenny||Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas||Action-adventure||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows||October 26, 2004|
|Gary Smith||Bully||Action-adventure||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows||October 17, 2006|
|Monokuma||Danganronpa||Visual novel||PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android, Windows||November 25, 2010|
|Shao Kahn||Mortal Kombat||Fighting||Arcade, various||October 1, 1992|
|Heihachi Mishima||Tekken||Fighting||Arcade, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, macOS||March 31, 1994|
|Dr. Willy||Mega Man||Platform||Nintendo Entertainment System||December 17, 1987|
|Alma Wade||F.E.A.R.||First-person shooter||Windows||October 11, 2005|
|Ganon||The Legend of Zelda||Action-adventure||Nintendo Entertainment System||February 21, 1986|
|Handsome Jack||Borderlands 2||Action role-playing||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows||September 18, 2012|
|Albert Wesker||Resident Evil||Survival horror||PlayStation, Microsoft Windows||March 22, 1996|
|Andrew Ryan||BioShock||First-person shooter||Windows||August 21, 2007|
|The Illusive Man||Mass Effect||Action role-playing||Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows||November 2007|
|Pyramid Head||Silent Hill 2||Survival horror||PlayStation 2||September 24, 2001|
|VAAS MONTENEGRO||Far Cry 3||Action-adventure||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows||November 29, 2012|
|Athena||God of War||Action-adventure||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4||March 22, 2005|
|Bowser||Super Mario Bros.||Platform||Nintendo Entertainment System||September 13, 1985|
|Dr. Robotnik||Sonic the Hedgehog||Platform||Sega Genesis||June 23, 1991|
|Dracula||Castlevania||Platform||Nintendo Entertainment System||September 16, 1986|
|General Shepherd||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2||First-person shooter||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows||November 10, 2009|
|Shodan||System Shock||Action-adventure||DOS||September 23, 1994|
|Akira Nishikiyama||Yakuza||Action-adventure||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows||December 8, 2005|
|Pontiff Sulyvahn||Dark Souls III||Action role-playing||PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows||April 12, 2016|
|Mohg, Omen of Blood||Elden Ring||Action role-playing||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows||February 25, 2022|
|Takuto Maruki||Persona 5 Royal||Role-playing||PlayStation 4||October 31, 2019|
|The Joker||Batman: Arkham City||Action-adventure||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows||October 18, 2011|
|GLaDOS||Portal||Puzzle-platformer||Windows||October 9, 2007|
|Dutch Van Der Linde||Red Dead Redemption 2||Action-adventure||PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows||October 26, 2018|
|Revolver Ocelot||Metal Gear Solid||Stealth action||PlayStation||September 1, 1998|
|Sephiroth||Final Fantasy VII||Role-playing||PlayStation||January 31, 1997|
|Vergil||Devil May Cry||Action-adventure||PlayStation 2, Xbox||September 24, 2001|
Officer Tenpenny (Grand Theft Auto San Andreas)
Without a doubt, Officer Frank Tenpenny is as classic as hateful villains can go in video games. At the same time, some people might argue that Big Smoke may as well be added here. Tenpenny was always the root of the evil behind every action in the story of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.
The gritty tone and corruption in his voice performance are excellently delivered by Oscar-winning Actor Samuel. L Jackson, as well as other cast members of the game. He along with Officer Eddie Pulaski constantly torments Carl as soon as he arrives back in Los Santos in the opening hours of the game.
Rockstar does an incredible job at foreshadowing Tenpenny and his “C.R.A.S.H” goons manipulating Big Smoke during the early missions of the game. CJ is then forced to help him out across his venture in the game. While making you do pretty much all of his dirty cop work and blackmailing Carl if he tries to be the hero.
However, Despite making rare occurrences throughout the game, you can feel the destain and hatred for the character. This is why GTA San Andreas pulls off an explosive finale where you end up killing Tenpenny alongside CJ’s Brother Sweet. It makes for a satisfying end to the best video game villains for every nostalgic fan.
Gary Smith (Bully)
Rockstar during the 2000s was known for releasing stellar games such as the GTA series and LA. Noire. But most fans deeply hold Bully as one of the most unique games crafted by them. It stars teenager Jimmy Hopkins and his venture at Bullworth Academy located in a countryside town based on the real-life “New England”.
However, Jimmy soon encounters Gary Smith, a narcissistic student who first greets him at the dormitory. Throughout your prolonged tenure at the Academy, you slowly but surely gain the trust and leadership of the game’s 6 main cliques; The Bullies, Preppies, Nerds, Greasers, Jocks, and the townsfolk street kids or ‘Townies’.
Gary despises Jimmy from the moment he entered the school grounds. His ideas consist of nothing but orchestrating unadulterated mayhem towards the end of the game. He successfully expels Jimmy and gains the upper hand at controlling the Academy and wreaking havoc on it.
Thankfully, Jimmy infiltrates the grounds and chases down Gary in an iconic showdown on the scaffolding roofs of the school building. He constantly taunts Jimmy and annoys the player as they are struggling to climb and reach him. In a befitting slobber knocker brawl, it is a befitting end to another great video game villain.
Danganronpa is easily regarded as the best Visual Novel title for newcomers and players looking for a fantastic mystery thriller story. The characters are exceptionally well written. But most of all, no one can deny the sheer antagonism that Monokuma the Bear brings to the Danganronpa Franchise.
He is known as the headmaster of your school, the main setting of the game. Monokuma’s entire face and body split into two different sides. It resembles the Yin-Yang symbol in which there is a balance between two opposite spectrums of Good and Evil. He can teleport throughout the school to taunt the characters.
Even looking at him as the mastermind of the murder sprees of the game. Many might call him oddly resembling Jigsaw from the horror movie franchise, SAW. Monokuma can turn from friendly to sociopathic in a second. He is a doll programmed to such incredible extents that it is impossible to get rid of him.
While the endings of the games have many spoiler-heavy twists and turns, there is no doubt that he is one of the most devious and psychotic villains in visual novels. You can never tell when he will change the rules of the killing game in Danganronpa. He will mentally detest the cast of characters with his wits and meta humor.
Shao Khan (Mortal Kombat)
There are a variety of villains throughout the Mortal Kombat Franchise. But there is without no one to question the might and sovereignty of Shao Khan, Emperor of Outworld. He is quite easily one of the greatest villains to grace the genre of Fighting video games. He has several appearances throughout the entire franchise.
The latest title for Kahn to be featured in is Mortal Kombat 11. Thankfully, Neatherrealm Studios continues to make him still feel like a dominant character despite many alterations and roster changes in the series.
Shao Khan might be a coward on the deeper spectrum. As is illustrated by his actions during Mortal Kombat Armageddon and Deception. He tricks several combatants with his clones and backstabbing foolery. He might be a ruler with various dirty tricks under his throne but you cannot deny his character and legacy in Mortal Kombat.
Shao Khan is notorious for being one of the most challenging final bosses in the arcade modes of the series. Almost frustrating players into beating him in his overpowered state during Mortal Kombat 9. His signature weapon is a giant hammer, and he opposes everyone within Earthrealm and mankind. Khan is one of the classic characters of the series. He is a beloved character by the entire fanbase and one that will remain so forever.
Heihachi Mishima (Tekken Series)
Speaking of fighting games, the Tekken franchise is known to have the most die-hard fans alive. It is a signature game apart of the annual Evo fighting games E-sports tournament. While most players can speak for it being one of the greatest fighting Video Game titles, you cannot underestimate villains of the game like Heihachi Mishima.
Although it can be said he is an anti-hero and sub-protagonist in some installments. Heihachi is the only best villain in the Tekken video game series solely because everything is connected to him. He is cold and ruthless and will stomp anyone in his path to glory and empowerment.
Even if it means throwing his son Kazuya off a cliff, murdering his Mother, Kazumi, or even trying to steal the Devil genes from both Kazuya and Jin Kazama in the later games. Heihachi has a prominent main boss role throughout the first-ever Tekken game as well as Tekken 3 and 4. While being on the sidelines in later titles.
In Tekken 7, the backstory between his family feud comes full circle when he becomes an anti-hero since Kazumi Mishima sought to bring his downfall. But deep down she was conflicted and wanted to love her new family instead of following her clan’s orders to kill him.
The final story-mode battle is truly a sight to behold as Kazuya and Heihachi duke it out one last time. It finally sees Kazuya getting the upper hand after exchanging several back-and-forths with each other. It is backed up with emotional flashbacks thrown amidst the fight and ends with Kazuya dropping Heihachi off a cliff, mirroring his father’s demise to his own back in the original Tekken.
Dr. Willy (Megaman)
Megaman is quite easily one of the most influential series created by Capcom. It is a staple among 2D scroller Metroidvania games. Megaman is a legendary character in Japan along with its other characters and adversaries. Dr. Albert Willy is the main antagonist of the series. He is the arch-nemesis of our hero, Megaman.
Mad scientist characters are often either comical and wacky or sometimes they may have diabolical motives. Dr. Willy is a man who enlists the utmost dedication in his line of work and research. He constantly finds new ways to build and enlist an army of elite robots to take down Megaman.
He is manipulative and devious as is seen by him tricking Dr. Light, the creator of Megaman by stealing his robots and using them for his means in Megaman 9. The most unforgettable moment is his encounters in Megaman 2. The fight has one of the most iconic and beloved soundtracks which makes the 2nd game that much special.
He is a proper no-good evil-doer with a character design that oddly resembles Dr. Emmet Brown from the Back to the Future franchise. Similar to Dracula from Castlevania, he is easily among the greatest villains in the side-scroller Video Game genre who has gotten the same love and appreciation as the hero from fans.
Alma Wade (F.E.A.R)
The Fear series is known to be a fan-favorite First-Person Shooter in the franchise. The slo-mo bum rush shooter has aged like fine wine and continues to live on in the hearts of many as an addictive game.
But the most renowned aspect of the game comes from its supernatural horror elements. Mixing up an incredibly smooth shooter with chilling atmospheric horror was a pure genius idea back for its time. Alma Wade is the main villain pulling the strings on the puppetry of the freak show you witness throughout the game.
As a child, she constantly toys with the player in the first game. Appearing and vanishing out of sight to distract and scare you including many other psychological smoke and mirrors. There is no doubt that her actions are nightmarish and vengeful, but unlike many villains, her reasonings for doing such cruelty have some justification.
The series has a couple of different protagonists throughout the series. But of course, hardcore fans of the second game cannot forget the absolutely disturbing sequence of Alma harassing and impregnating our main hero, Michael Becket. It is plain horrifying and gruesome to witness that moment for the first time.
It solidifies Alma as one of the few greatest horror video game villains that you will begin to sympathize with once you learn her backstory and full analogy. One that involves her being brutalized and abused from a young age due to being a lab rat and an experiment gone wrong.
Gannon (Legend of Zelda Franchise)
Perhaps another game that without any argument laid out the foundation for RPGs and Open-world Games. Before there was the Best-seller known as Elden Ring, Zelda was known as the king of exploration Video Games. Link and Gannon’s head-to-head battles throughout numerous titles are known to be legendary and special.
Gannon much like Bowser is as classic as traditional video game villains go in terms of character and power. He wants to rule over the entire world as well as plague it under his shadow and fearsome onslaught.
He first appeared in the 1987 N.E.S. title and since then, has appeared in nearly every game after that aside from a few which include Majora’s Mask and Legend of Zelda 2: Dark Link. The series manages to keep his presence and connection tied despite introducing new villains.
Of course, he is still featured as the central main evil of the recent critically acclaimed Breath of the Wild. It was heavily implied somewhere down the journey of Ocarina in time that Gannon is not meant to be a single character or bad guy of the game. He is an evil entity who will keep coming back to the world every single time.
Link and Princess Zelda cannot contain or completely abolish him from their world. No matter how many new shapes or forms he takes during each game, it will always be apparent to gamers of the world that Gannon was always there as the arch enemy and true end maker of Link and his allies.
Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
Perhaps the most charismatic on the list of villains here is Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2. He is quick-witted and is both books and street smart. He wears his pride on his sleeves. Jack is known to torment the Vault Hunter across their journey in Pandora. Going to any means to eradicate you, even if it means using his Daughter, Angel.
His backstory and character are further fleshed out in other game titles like the Pre-sequel of Borderlands. Not to mention the brilliantly written back-and-forth of him and Rhys in Tales from the Borderlands by Telltale Games. He is pretty much the embodiment of a villain who wins the hearts of the fans in a series or medium.
You can never know what Jack might have up his sleeve. Whether it’s taming and unleashing a gigantic phoenix or even backing down from a one-on-one fight as he lets loose the Vault Guardian in the final stage of the game. Fortunately, the true saving grace in Jack’s legendary character is his glory and pride as a treasure hunter.
But deep down, Jack is a character plagued by his insecurities and regrets. He is haunted by the death of his wife and vows to rule over the entire Galaxy as the richest and most powerful man. His monologues through the main journey, coupled with his condescending demeanor, make him one of the greatest video game villains out there.
Albert Wesker (Resident Evil Series)
The Resident Evil franchise is known to have the dearest and hardcore fans. At the same time, it has many memorable main characters like Leon S. Kennedy, Jill Valentine, and Chris Redfield. Albert Wesker proved to be one of the most iconic villains to grace the series’ early comings.
Donning a pair of sunglasses like the Terminator and having the ability of Superhuman strength and speed. You cannot help but love his cartoonish invulnerability in a grim and ruthless game such as Resident Evil. He led the original S.T.A.R.S task force in the first game but quickly backstabbed them as a double agent for Umbrella Corps.
He makes rare appearances and cameos throughout the next few games. Only being mentioned and name tossed by other characters as the big bad of the entire operation. Wesker slowly plans out his doomsday and motives to destroy the world as is apparent through the next 4 games before the fifth installment.
By the time we approach Resident Evil 5, he plans to unleash a Global Virus on the world. Despite taking on multiple Monsterous transformations, he is soon hunted down by the heroes of the game and his former teammates, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine in a tough but chaotic battle of epic proportions.
Andrew Ryan (Bioshock)
Bioshock was released back in 2007 and still gets praised beyond oblivion by fans for its mysterious and cynical storytelling. Andrew Ryan is the main Antagonist of the game and is quite a unique character of the game.
He is the man who created the underwater metropolis Rapture, the main setting of the game. Throughout the game, the player slowly unravels the mystery behind the blind ambitions of his tone and mentality. His charismatic and devoting audio logs create an idealistic man who has long forgotten his humanity.
The radio logs and recordings scattered throughout the ominous underwater city and terrain will leave you speechless as the game peels off the layers and sheds background on the real intentions and devoting persona of the man named Andrew Ryan, founder of Rapture.
Building such an enormous city at the depths of the sea was one thing. But becoming arrogant at the sight of the accomplishment and losing yourself in pride and ambition led Ryan down the gritty path of self-righteousness.
He hopes to build a society for mankind but instead ushers in a tragic travesty. The closing moments of the game become so memorable in the minds of every player. It’s hard even to forget the excellent writing of Ryan’s ideas, turning him into a ruthless and scary villain hellbent on building his very own society.
The Illusive Man (Mass Effect Trilogy)
The Mass Effect games from Bioware are known to be one of the greatest third-person shooter RPGs. They are the same creators of other historic western RPGs like Dragon Age and Knights of the Old Republic. The games feature rich storytelling and dialogue branching elements with a roster of amazingly written characters.
While the first game has Commander Shepard and their crew hunting a rogue Turian named Saren Arterius. Soon enough you are introduced to the Illusive Man and the ancient Reaper species. The Reapers are revealed to be the looming threat that was teased at the end of the 1st game and thus they become the ultimate threat.
However, it is not so easy to forget the Illusive Man either, who was a major character in the 2nd game and turned out to be an undermining villain in the third game’s shocking twists. Many consider him the greatest villain in the Video Game because he’s one of those exceedingly rare villains who does not simply underestimate the forces of good. Although despite of this, he chooses some morally unacceptable paths in Mass Effect 3.
Much of the fanbase dislikes how the complexity and depth of his character are ruined in the third game since he is just as bad as the Reapers. The moral contradictions between the Illusive man’s aims and what he does to plan out each move for Shepard’s journey make for an intriguing villain in the franchise.
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
While he can be a strong foe found throughout the series, it is no question to the fans of Silent Hill that his prominent role is within the events of Silent Hill 2. Pyramid Head, also known as the executioner, is a monument of your sins materialized into the shape of a grotesque nightmare.
He plays the aspect of a more passive version of Mr. X from Resident Evil 2 Remake as he hunts James around various places in the game. His creepy design and horrifying introduction make him feel like an ever-present terror while you explore the eerie town of Silent Hill.
Masahiro Ito is one of the lead art designers of Silent Hill who created Pyramid Head. He was pleased to have him portray a major role in the second game, albeit being displeased at the team reusing him for the later titles. He is still true to the teeth of being such a legendary character in horror games, you cannot help but admire him.
Pyramid Head’s recent inclusion in the multiplayer horror game Dead by Daylight is a tribute to his popularity as one of gaming’s greatest adversaries. One that truly induces goosebumps and chills in the players.
The character is known to be regarded as one of the best villains to manifest, mainly due to the Protagonist, James Sunderland, wanting to suffer for failing to protect his wife, Mary. That fact alone makes him one of the greatest horror game villains of the genre.
Vaas Montenegro (Farcry 3)
The Far Cry series from Ubisoft is most notably famous for its memorable villains. The game formula of Ubisoft might have gotten stale. But without a doubt, the villains of the series steal the show. Vaas is no exception to that fact, as his crazy and unpredictable nature is delivered by the fantastic performance by Actor Michael Mundo.
He is the Main villain of Far Cry 3, and in an instant, he became the face of the franchise. He torments the Gap Year students in the game’s opening while taunting Jason Bordy, our hero, with psychotic speeches. Furthermore, Vaas is a pirate and Drug Trafficker who finds pleasure in mayhem and enslaving the islanders.
Ubisoft even managed to sneak him as one of the core DLC villainous experiences available in Far Cry 6. It genuinely feels good knowing that the developers acknowledged him as being another pillar to the various villains in Video games for being sociopathic and downright insane.
Throughout the game, you will never know his next moves against you. He will glorify the need to question you on the definition of insanity. But most importantly, his legacy as a villain will continue to live on in the hearts of players who grew fond of his unhinged lunatic actions and bewildered craziness.
Athena (God of War)
While many would like to argue to put Zeus instead, Athena is the true antagonist for most of the greek mythology arc in the original God of War games. She is the Goddess of War who chose to align and help Kratos in rescuing Helios and putting a stop to her Brother, Ares.
Athena does her best to bring Kratos on the neutral spectrum throughout the events of each game. We are also shown a flashback during Ghost of Sparta of how she let Ares spare Kratos before Kratos became the warrior to wreak havoc on the pantheon. Athena tries the utmost to stop Kratos’s plans to kill Zeus in the second game.
Unfortunately, she is killed at the end of the game, and in her dying words, she reveals to Kratos that he is the Ghost of Sparta, thus making him an illegitimate child of Zeus. Kratos ignores this, and during God of War 3, her vessel is corrupted by Pandora’s box. It turns her evil so she manipulates Kratos into killing Zeus for good.
It is undoubtedly one of the most iconic moments in gaming as Kratos struggles to battle his inner ghosts of her in the new GOW 2018. She taunts Kratos as he once again dons his Blades of Chaos. But Kratos instead accepts his monstrous nature and vows to be better to his son. Solidifying her as one of the greatest villains in the PS2 era of Video Games. We can only hope how Kratos evolves heading into God of War Ragnarok.
Bowser (Super Mario Brothers)
It is no doubt that Mario has been a huge living component of everyone’s childhood on the NES. The game revolutionized the gaming industry in the late 90s and paved the way for future platformers. Bowser is so iconic in Video Games that he is easily befitting of the greatest villains in platforming gaming history.
Bowser first appeared in the 1985 N.E.S. classic Super Mario Bros. Since then he has appeared throughout every installment of Mario including every major spinoff and even in various crossover games and many more. He is the main rival of our friendly plumber, Mario. They occasionally team up in rare circumstances in other games.
He is known to always cause panic and trouble in the Mushroom Kingdom or enslaving fairies. His character design has become legendary just like Mario to the entire world. Almost to the point where he has parodies everywhere in other media and fiction. Quite awe-inspiring for a loveable cartoonish dragon like him.
While Bowser is known to be always on parole during each level of the game. He is notorious for hunting down Mario and keeping Princess Peach tucked away from his hands. It is no question that he can be funny and comical. This makes him an ideal villain who can be a delight to sore eyes for anyone.
Dr. Robotnik (Sonic The Hedgehog)
The Sonic franchise is the flagship series developed and published by SEGA. The games are known to have the most arcade-like platformer with rings to collect and enemies to pummel with the need for speed.
However, not everything is sunshine and rainbows for Sonic and his crew. Dr. Robotnik or commonly referred to as “Eggman” is constantly on the evil schemes of hunting them down and stealing the powerful Chaos Gems.
Dr. Eggman is another one of the “Mad scientist” stereotype characters but thankfully he holds a high standard in that regard in the genre. He strives in far-fetched beliefs that the entire world under his tyranny would benefit greatly in terms of success and civilization. But of course, those are nothing but chaotic and threatening ideas.
He is a villain and mastermind that enslaves other creatures and inhabitants like Sonic to use against him. He has a massive arsenal of ready-to-deploy drones and machinery to kill him at any given notice. His most memorable scenarios include inventing Metal Sonic; an almost identical combat android of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Thankfully, Sonic manages to thwart these plans time and time again and even befriend other foes working under him like Shadow and Knuckles. There is no questioning the fact that Eggman is just as symbolic as Sonic and fans all over the world of the franchise hold him dearly as one of SEGA’s best Video Game villains of all time.
Dracula (Castlevania Symphony of the Night)
Dracula Vlad Tepes or simply Dracula from the Castlevania series is kind of like the signature character of the entire Franchise even though he’s the antagonist of most of the games in the series. Castlevania was the original 2D scroller action game and paved the way for the genre “Metroidvania” with Nintendo’s, Metroid.
The main theme of the game is about Vampires and what better final boss to have in it than the famous and mighty Dracula. He was formerly known as Mathias Cronqvist when he was a human. Also interestingly enough, “Dracula” so a novel was written by Bram Stoker in 1897 which is the main inspiration for the game in 1986.
What made the man scum into the pits of darkness was the death of his love, his wife. With the help of the Crimson Stone, he unlocked the greater powers of immortality, with the only sole purpose of defying God for the death of his wife. ‘Death’ was one of its most trusted allies of Dracula.
Death helped Vlad Tepes by trapping Walter Bernhard’s soul in the crimson stone who was originally killed by Leon Belmont. ‘Death’ is also an iconic character in the whole series which is why the best boss fight of the game takes place in Portrait of Ruin where two of the best antagonists of the series duke it out against you.
Dracula and Death fight you together and later, Death infuses into Vlad Tepes, creating the Ultimate Dracula and one of the greatest as well as most memorable villains of the original Side Scroller Video Game genre.
General Sheperd (Modern Warfare 2)
Back when the Call of Duty franchise was at the height of its popularity, The original Modern Warfare 2 brought us one of the most iconic villains in the franchise. Unlike many of the other antagonists in this list, General Sheperd isn’t particularly likable he’s an utterly loathsome character for a few reasons.
Modern Warfare 2 does a fantastic job setting up Sheperd as a villain, while most of the game is primarily focused around stopping Makarov, you actively fight alongside Sheperd during a handful of missions, there’s trust there, and he helps you at least a few times throughout the campaign.
This is actively why his eventual betrayal near the end is considered among the most shocking betrayals in all of gaming, and he not only betrays you, he actively kills you and Ghost and then sets you on fire.
When it comes to making the player actively detest an antagonist, he easily sits among the very best. It all eventually leads to one of the best finales in the series as you play as Soap from the original Modern Warfare alongside Captain Price and actively chase Sheperd down in a chaotic final mission. It all culminates in an awesome knife throw that will define a generation of players and fans to come.
While the Modern Warfare series and even the Black Ops series have had plenty of incredible moments throughout their campaigns. It was Modern Warfare 2 that cemented the series as the juggernaut that no game could actively compete with back in the 2010s.
Shodan (System Shock)
It is said that the System Shock series paved the way for its spiritual successor, Bioshock. But before, there was Andrew Ryan and other manipulative villains. There was Shodan, the Artificial Intelligence that would send shivers down the spine of players. She goes rogue, and so you are tasked to eliminate her on the Citadel Space station.
However, she mercilessly hunts you down throughout your stay on the ship. She can track you down in every corner where you can choose to hide. She terrifyingly taunts you on every move that you try to make to steer away from her direction. She can always detect your presence on the ship.
Shodan’s character affected later game villains like GlaDOS and Andrew Ryan in more ways than one. What makes her one of the best and greatest villains to exist is solely the fact that she was the first of her kind to be the most cunning and sociopathic character to change the course of the future era of Video Games.
Akira Nishkiyama (Yakuza Kiwami)
The Yakuza series is known to have a niche audience and fanbase. But over time it grew and in today’s world of gaming, the series has made several landmarks known to its Western audience like fantastic spinoff titles like the Judgment series as well as releasing several Yakuza titles on the Xbox Game Pass.
Akira Nishkiyama is one such boss that manages to be a fan favorite for anyone who’s played the entire series. Whether you hated and loathed him in the original Yakuza on the PS2 or if you truly felt the emotional impact of the brotherhood between him and Kiryu throughout Yakuza 0.
Nishiki establishes himself as one of the greatest beat-em-up Video Game Villains. Justice was delivered to his character development with the remake title of the First game and the prequel, Yakuza 0, and Kiwami. He is the sworn brother of Kiryu and grew up in the same orphanage with him and swore to remain together.
Yakuza 0 manages to elevate his character and relationship with Kiryu beyond your imagination. The weight and depth of these two characters as they then square off in Yakuza Kiwami is truly a gut-wrenching moment. Throwing everything they have at each other while the game adds tear-jerking flashbacks during the brawl.
Not to mention the entire fight is topped with a cherry on top with one of the most stellar Soundtracks of the series re-made beautifully just for the sake of fighting your sworn brother in blood for one last showdown.
Pontiff Sulyvhan (Dark Souls 3)
At first glance, Pontiff seems like another dark soul boss who’s blocking your path to the first flame. Not only is Pontiff related to almost every lord of cinder in Dark Souls 3 but he is also the evilest character that FromSoftware has come up with since Nashandra from Dark Souls 2.
Pontiff is responsible for almost everything wrong in the world of Ashen One. His origins can be traced as far as the Painted World of Ariandel which is his true origin. He started as a young sorcerer from Ariandel but was quickly consumed by the profaned flame in the profaned capital.
This led to his madness of freeing Aldrich, the devourer of gods, and working with him to take over Anor Londo. In just a short period, Pontiff fed Gwyndolin to Aldrich while crowning himself the new lord of the region. Thus Dancer and Vordt of the Boreal valley were disfigured and enslaved by him under his rule.
All the Boreal Knights that we face in the game are tormented by Pontiff’s Curse. The beast that we face during our journey to Irrithyl was once human only to be mutated into something horrible by the Pontiff.
Pontiff was even the final boss of Dark Souls 3 during the early builds of the game but it was cut later for a more emotional fight with the Soul of Cinder. In conclusion, Pontiff Sulyvahn is responsible for everything bad and horrendous in the world of Dark Souls 3.
Mohg, Omen of Blood (Elden Ring)
Elden Ring is arguably one of the greatest games to have come out in 2022 and it’s got a huge cast of characters to back its claim. You will come across many fallen heroes, nobodies trying to become saviors, and legendary warriors awaiting you to battle you as venture across the glorious Lands Between.
The themes of death and despair have been the bread and butter of FromSoftware games. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki adds a villainous character in almost each of his games. But in Elden Ring, he created Mohg, a cursed Omen Demi-God who is rotten to the core.
Although the lore of the game is still not completely known to many fans. We can understand the heinous acts committed by Mohg from the item descriptions. Mohg stole Miquella, another Demi-God during the ‘shattering’ event. He stopped Miquella’s rebirth cycle and took him away from his sister, Malenia, and the Haligtree.
That wasn’t enough though, as Mohg decided to lay in bed with him who was cursed forever to be a child. Additionally, He and Miquella are Half-brothers as Queen Marika is the mother of both of them. As crazy as it sounds, Mohg made his half-sibling, who is cursed forever to be a child, his consort.
All of this is done to create his own Dynasty, something greater than the greater will itself. FromSoftware represents the villainous nature of Mohg with pure excellence in his Boss Battle. Everything from the music to the opening cutscene to his dialogue just adds flavor to his amazing character. Truly, Mohg deserves to be on our list of the greatest Video Game villains of recent memory.
Takuto Maruki (Persona 5 Royal)
Persona 5 Royal vastly improves over the original released back in 2016. It not only introduces a variety of new accessible content in its playthrough. But also one of the most compelling final bosses to grace its franchise.
Dr. Takuto Maruki is one of the main antagonists of the game. He is introduced to you during the early stages of the game as the “Councillor” Arcana. He is originally a therapist working in your school to help the students overcome any mental illnesses or daily problems. But his story and character go beyond deeper than anything.
It is revealed during the end stages of the game that Maruki was a scientist working on cognitive science. He vowed to help humanity in dealing with their incurable mental diseases and anxiety. Unfortunately, his research was denied, and his fiancee was struck with a severe mental trauma that left her with amnesia.
What makes Maruki stand out as one of the best JRPG villains all lies in his complex character depth. Maruki gains the power to alter reality and grant people their deepest desire and wishes. You the players, as well as the Phantom thieves, are challenged to bring him down or throw away your masks and live in pure blissfulness.
Maruki’s three-phase boss fights are all complimented with one of the most banger soundtracks produced by series composer Shoji Meguro. The lyrics reflect Maruki’s feelings towards his former pupils. He only wishes for mankind to live without a harsh or struggling reality. You cannot help but feel sympathy for him and emotions get amplified as Maruki and Joker fight away until the slumbering reality of serenity gets swept away.
Joker (Batman Arkham Series)
There is no doubt that the Joker character from the DC comics universe is the most profound and greatest villain with the best rivalries even in the Video Games medium. He is the arch nemesis of Batman, and in the Arkham Franchise, this rivalry is further transcended to greater heights.
He is voiced by the extremely talented Troy Baker, who is known for his multiple roles of character voices. Later on, after Arkham Origins, he is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, who was born to play his role. The performance is translated marvelously into the Joker’s classic psychopathic and violent personality.
The Arkham Game’s version of Joker is written amazingly with how the games build the dynamic between him and Bruce Wayne. He is the only true “bad guy” in the DC universe to reflect and torment the deepest weaknesses found in Bruce Wayne.
The characteristics truly begin to draw as Joker slowly and painfully haunts Batman in Arkham Knight as a walking ghost of the past. It almost ends up being a weirdly emotional sendoff to one of the Video Game’s best villains.
The Arkham Joker It is without any question that Rocksteady has just added more layers of Testament to the Joker’s accolades in being the most badass and well-written villains to exist in the comics medium and gaming.
So “GLaDOS,” or to be accurate, the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, is the main villain of the critically acclaimed classic title, Portal by Valve. It achieves the feat of being called the best villain in video games because of how they completely enthralled players with his over-the-top wicked sense of humor.
The quotes of the A.I, as you die trying to solve the puzzles in both Portal games, are hilarious and executed with perfection. The adventures you tread throughout Aperture Labs are highlighted by the equally snarky and depressing commentary by Glados. You can’t help but smile at the never-ending personal jabs taken from it.
In today’s era of gaming, the quotes are highly regarded as the greatest phrases spoken by a villain in a video game despite being mostly comedic in style. At the end of the day, Glados might not be as horrifying in retrospect as other villains of gaming. But it is indeed one that players will never forget for a long time.
Dutch Van Der Linde (Red Dead Redemption)
Few antagonists leave a lasting impression on the same level as the main hero. The same can be said for Dutch from Red Dead Redemption. He is one of the secondary villains of the first game, but soon enough, we would get the opportunity to see his downfall play out in Red dead 2, taking place before the events of the first game.
The entire world fell in love with Arthur Morgan in the 2nd game, instantly becoming one of the most beloved protagonists in gaming with his exceptional writing and character depth. However, that was only a single aspect of many that would shape Red dead 2’s story to be the greatest of Rockstar’s franchises.
Witnessing firsthand how Dutch crumbles from a bonafide outlaw to a man hellbent on preaching faith as some sort of peacekeeping accord among his peers is both intriguing and depressing. Eventually, the threats and failures push him further into extremism until he barely resembles the virtuous gunslinger he once was.
The transformation of an idealistic man with goals reminiscent of Robin Hood to a selfish man who turned his back on his best man in need of help is one of the best character alterations you’ll ever witness in a video game.
Revolver Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid Series)
If you’ve been on the internet for a while, there is no way you wouldn’t have heard of an infamous gunslinger who revolves a Colt Single Action around his fingers for a while before introducing himself. Revolver Ocelot is one of the few characters that has appeared throughout every single mainline entry of Metal Gear Solid.
Revolver Ocelot is quite probably the most complex character ever written by Hideo Kojima. He is a super smart, charismatic agent with affiliations to multiple secret organizations, always double-crossing one or another while having ulterior motives of his own. Making him quite an unpredictable character in the franchise.
The Final fight with his Liquid Ocelot alteration in MGS 4 is hands down one of the most emotional sequences fondly remembered by gaming fans. It is badass and adds weight to the impactful stories of Snake and Ocelot. Furthermore, the fight is a throwback to the Original MGS game fight between Liquid and Solid Snake.
As the series progresses, you will not only find him as a compelling villain but also a sympathetic man who will make you question if this man was a bad guy despite committing atrocious crimes. With these moral ambiguities, you will begin to cherish the riveting and fascinating storytelling ideas of Hideo Kojima.
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7)
There is no argument for the fact that JRPGs have produced so many captivating stories to share. Whether it’s the journey and its end in Dragon Quest or the power of friendship in Persona, the characters live in your hearts, forever iconic and memorable. Sephiroth and Cloud’s rivalry in FF7 remains to be the greatest of their time.
He is a master swordsman with strength and speed capable enough to match the might of the Buster Sword. But that is only the tip of the iceberg of his complex and malicious character. He has an eerily calm demeanor that makes him a terrifying sight even in the brand new Remake of Final Fantasy 7.
Fans who grew up with the original game have nothing but distaste for him. He might be an intimidating Commander for Soldiers, but more specifically, he is an experiment that went wrong in more ways than one.
Most importantly, fans dearly hold Sephiroth as the most sinister and diabolical villain of the JRPG era. His horrifying acts of genocide and murder of Aerith send fans in disarray to this day. The main theme of Sepiroth is still one of gaming’s most legendary OSTs to exist. We can only speculate how he turns out in the remake.
Vergil (Devil May Cry)
Lastly, it brings us to the villain, who can be called an Anti-hero. The man who lives on pure motivation. Vergil from the Devil May Cry series is easily one of the greatest action video game villains of all time. Just like his brother, Dante, He has also been an insanely popular influence on most action-driven titles and their fanbase.
His original appearance was in Devil May Cry 1, but the proper character of Vergil emerged in Devil May Cry 3. It is here where his popularity skyrocketed among fans of the franchise with his slick and confident personality.
The rivalry between Dante and Vergil is legendary across the franchises of gaming, like the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, Like Alpha and the Omega. Further character development and backstories were established during the events of DMC 5, and its special manga focused on the two brothers and other characters.
Most importantly, Vergil is one of the few rare instances in gaming who became a playable character in a series, and it only boosted his immense admiration in the industry of gaming even more than before.
What makes him so special as a playable villain is mainly the fact that his moveset is easily one of the coolest and most stylish arsenals in action games history. From crisp and spectacular judgment cuts to destroying enemies with Beowulf’s constant juggernaut jabs and kicks. He is truly the modern zenith of gaming villains and rivals.
The Villains in video games are critical to providing another layer of various proportionalities to our heroes. They are the direct opposite reflection of them or either their arch enemies. What defines one of the greatest Video Game villains can either lie in their characteristics, legacy, or even their impact of them on the fans.
There are some whom you might agree with and be on the neutral side. While some instead are the sickest and the most rotten beings of their universes.
The characters in our list are all villains who have shaped the culture and phenomena of Video games so much that each of them is considered the greatest in more ways than one.
We hope you enjoyed reading our comprehensive list of the best video game villains. Do let us know what your favorite one is and if we missed anyone, let us know down in the comments below!
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