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Top 10 Movies Where the Hero and Villain Never Meet

VO: Stephanie Ng Wan
Movies where the heroes and villains don't even talk to each other, let alone find themselves in the same room. WatchMojo presents the top 10 Movies in which the hero and villain never meet. Can you believe that Captain Kirk never meets Khan, That Luke Skywalker Never Meets Darth Vader? Watch to find out what we picked for number one!
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Sometimes “knowing thy enemy” is easier said than done. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the top 10 movies in which the hero and villain never meet.

For this list, we’re looking at films in which the protagonist and the “big bad” never actually meet face to face. They might share a phone conversation or have a close encounter in some sort of vehicular chase, but they never really get a proper “in person” introduction. Just so you know, a SPOILER ALERT may be in order.

#10: Robert Graysmith & The Zodiac Killer
“Zodiac” (2007)

Nobody does serial killer crime thrillers quite like David Fincher, who also gave us the excellent 1995 film, “Se7en.” He returned to the genre over a decade later, directing what many have called his unsung masterpiece. Telling the true story of an elusive killer who was never captured or identified is no small feat. For the task, Fincher enlisted Jake Gyllenhaal to play Robert Graysmith, a journalist determined to identify the killer. And, although Graysmith meets multiple suspects over the years, as history has shown, none was ever confirmed as the true culprit. Fincher spent a year and a half conducting his own investigations into the murders to prepare for the film. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing the story greater justice.

#9: James Bond & Ernst Stavro Blofeld
“Thunderball” (1965)

Dr. Evil is now probably more recognizable than his inspiration: the bald-headed, facially scarred, white cat stroking head of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. First appearing briefly in the 1963 film “From Russia With Love,” Blofeld really made his presence known in “Thunderball,” despite keeping his screen time to a minimum. Bond starts off the movie by pursuing and killing SPECTRE operative Number Six. He then squares off against operative Number Two for the majority of the film. However, as shown at the meeting of SPECTRE agents, where Blofeld ruthlessly sentences a fellow operative to death, Blofeld is the true mastermind behind the plot. Working from the shadows, he would continue to challenge Bond in future films.

#8: Bambi & The Hunter
“Bambi” (1942)

Disney has created many dastardly villains, but few are as reviled as the hunter. In film, nothing seems to upset viewers more than the death of an animal, especially an animated one. After he scarred a generation of children by killing Bambi’s mother, he and Bambi never come face to face. In fact, the hunter, or “man” as he’s also called, never even fully appears onscreen. You can tell whenever a scene will involve him, however, as a particular piece of music plays, signaling his presence. The film originally contained a scene in which Bambi’s father shows Bambi the hunter’s corpse, but unsurprisingly, it was cut after being deemed too dark.

#7: William Wallace & King Edward ‘Longshanks’
“Braveheart” (1995)

King Edward I and William Wallace may have led their respective forces at Falkirk, but as is so often the case in war, the leaders never personally clash swords. His troops defeated, Wallace makes a valiant effort of killing Longshanks, but the closest he ever comes is chasing after the king as he rides away. This attempted pursuit is intercepted by one the King’s lancers, Robert the Bruce, who, rather than killing Wallace as one might expect, brings him to safety. By the time William is captured and killed many years later, Longshanks is seemingly too old and sickly to attend his foe’s execution. As such, the mortal enemies never come face to face.

#6: Capt. Marko Ramius & Capt. Viktor Tupolev
“The Hunt for Red October” (1990)

We’ve all seen countless examples of Americans squaring off against Soviets in film. But Soviets against Soviets? In this Cold War action spy thriller, the two submarine commanders, Marko Ramius and Viktor Tupolev, already have a history as Marko was Tupolev’s mentor. But when you’re duking it out underwater, a face-to-face confrontation isn’t so easy to arrange. So mentor and pupil are forced to sort out their political differences separated by steel, titanium and a whole lot of water. The two captains lead their respective vessels in offensive maneuvers, ultimately resulting in the destruction of Tupolev’s submarine, the Konovalov, with some help from the American submarine Dallas. That’s what happens when you let torpedoes do the talking.

#5: Frodo Baggins & Sauron
“The Lord of The Rings” franchise (2001-03)

Frodo and Sauron may never meet, but the Eye of Sauron certainly spends a lot of time trying to spot the little hobbit. When Frodo first puts on the ring in the Prancing Pony, he gets a face full of Sauron’s incorporeal self, which is both awesome and terrifying. By this point in the history of Middle-Earth, Sauron is incapable of taking a physical form and thus has become much more ephemeral force of darkness rather than someone you can actually shake hands with. He knows that a halfling has the ring and that his name is Baggins, but which of the four halflings tormenting his minions is it? Fortunately for the Fellowship, Sauron fails to identify Frodo as the ring bearer until it’s too late.

#4: Sheriff Ed Tom Bell & Anton Chigurh
“No Country for Old Men” (2007)

They don’t make ‘em like Sheriff Ed Tom Bell anymore. He’s a relic from a simpler time in law enforcement, before crime became so vicious. His character might be defined by his world-weariness, but he’s ultimately a relatable, likeable man. Which is why audiences should be happy that this hero never actually got to meet the villain. If “No Country For Old Men” makes one thing clear, it’s that few people cross paths with Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh and live to tell the tale. The tension created by the distance placed between these two characters is palpable and central to the anxiety-inducing suspense of the film.

#3: Truman Burbank & Christof
“The Truman Show” (1998)

If you can’t find the villain in a story, look for the guy pulling the strings. Since infancy, Truman has lived on a set populated by actors as the unsuspecting star of a reality TV show. As the creator of “The Truman Show,” Christof is not explicitly evil, but his pursuit of art, success, and ratings has led him to treat another human being as a commodity. Despite his attempts to control every aspect of Truman’s constructed life, Truman’s curiosity changes the narrative, transforming Christof into the true villain of the show. In desperation, Christof pleads with Truman via loudspeaker not to leave the set, but that’s as close as they ever come.

#2: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

Darth Vader comes pretty close to shooting down his own son in the first “Star Wars” film, but apart from that close encounter, they don’t actually meet until the “Empire Strikes Back.” That doesn’t make the tension between them any less dramatic, though. Thanks to a self-sacrificial intervention by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke and company manage to escape without having to face off against the Sith Lord. Without a proper introduction, Luke’s initial impression of his estranged father is that he’s a tyrant who murdered his friend and mentor. That forges a connection, but not exactly the kind of father-son bonding experience one might hope for.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- David Mann & the Truck Driver
“Duel” (1971)

- Alex Rogan & Xur, Lord Kril, Ko-Dan
“The Last Starfighter” (1984)

- Korben Dallas & Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
“The Fifth Element” (1997)

- Maya & Osama bin Laden
“Zero Dark Thirty” (2012)

#1: James T. Kirk & Khan Noonien Singh
“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982)

Fans might not have liked J.J. Abrams’ reinterpretation of the dynamic between these two in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but few Trekkies can find fault with “The Wrath of Khan,” a fan favorite in the film series. Kirk and Khan certainly get the chance to exchange words, threats, and angry glares via view-screens and communicators throughout the movie, but Kirk and his nemesis never set foot in the same room. Allegedly, this wasn’t an intentional plot device, but rather a result of actor Ricardo Montalbán being unavailable for much of the main production. That limitation didn’t seem to hurt the end result, however, as it went on to become the defining chapter in the conflict between these sworn enemies.

Do you agree with our list? Can you think of any other memorable movies in which the hero and villain never come face to face? For more elusive top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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