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Top 10 Types Of Villains That Are in Every Movie!

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Written by Derick McDuff

Villain archetypes that appear in a variety of movies, borrowing from classic tales and some reinventing the character, these villains can be found in virtually every movie you've ever seen. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Villain Types. But what will take the top spot on our list? The Mastermind, The Equal, or the Machine, Watch to find out!

Big thanks to MikeMJPMUNCH for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Types+of+Villains

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Transcript
These are the bad guys. Welcome to WatchMojo.com ant today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Types of Villains.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most common villain tropes that keep popping up in popular culture.

#10: The Bully

Here’s a bad guy who’s less straight-up evil and more just a jerk. Of course that doesn’t make us hate the bully any less. This villain is cruel, not because they have anything to gain, but because it gives them some sick satisfaction to pick on someone weaker than themselves or someone they have power over. Maybe it’s because they got picked on so they’re getting back at the world, or maybe they’ve just always been awful. Either way, what really resonates with this villain is how true to life they can be, because while few of us know a Voldemort personally, everybody knows a Dudley.

#9: The Dragon

Not literally a dragon, at least not usually in modern stories, this villain isn’t the one pulling the strings, but is the one doing all the dirty work, and making life hard for the protagonist. Usually the second in command for a villain we don’t often see, this guy is the immediate threat to the hero and the one they need to beat. Just like their namesake, the dragon is incredibly tough and usually the last challenge for the hero to overcome. Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy is a prime example of the dragon, as a constant threat and primary focus for Luke and the rest of the Rebellion.

#8: The Vengeful

Perhaps Khan put it best: “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” and these villains are awfully chilly. While a good revenge story is great if the hero is the one doing the avenging, when the scenario’s flipped, it’s pretty terrifying. Things are personal with this villain, and they don’t care who they have to hurt, or even if they end up getting killed themselves as long as they make the one who did them wrong suffer. Often the villain has waited patiently for years to exact their revenge, and a quick death is not nearly enough; the hero must watch as the villain destroys everything they hold dear.

#7: Fallen Hero

One of the most tragic entries on our list, this villain once fought on the side of good, but ambition, weariness or tragedy set them down a dark path. Sometimes we meet the character while they’re still full of hope, only to watch their slow moral decay. Other times, we meet them as a fully formed villain and eventually get glimpses into their nobler past, as the reason they became corrupted slowly becomes clear. It’s difficult not to sympathize with a villain like this, knowing that they have good buried inside of them. Whether they return to the light or die the villain, we can’t help but feel for them.

#6: The Terrorist

Some of the most dangerous villains are the ones that aren’t in it for personal gain, but are fighting for an ideal or belief, and will do anything to achieve their goal. Often threatening innocent lives, or putting their own life at risk, this villain is tough to defeat without risking collateral damage. Occasionally, terrorists are even painted in a sympathetic light, giving the audience a new perspective to their point of view, but sometimes these villains will use terrorism as a red herring to distract from other sinister goals. More often than not, however, these villains are fanatics who’ve taken their goal too far.

#5: The Beast

The beast isn’t filled with evil or hatred; usually it’s just hungry. Or maybe it’s protecting itself or driven by instinct, but one thing’s for sure: it will kill you in a second. Pretty much any story where an animal is the antagonist falls into this category, with the shark from “Jaws” and the whale from “Moby-Dick” among the most iconic examples. Of course a beast doesn’t even have to be a real animal. Fiction is filled with all kinds of fantastical monsters, large and small. Themes of man vs. nature, pride, or science gone too far aren’t uncommon when this kind of villain is present, and survival is the name of the game.

#4: The Unhinged

These are the guys who just do bad things because they can. They’re deprived and are forces of chaos, with an unpredictability that makes them a tremendous threat. These villains rarely ever have grand plans to actually achieve anything, and when they do, it’s usually just to hold a mirror up to society and reflect the madness in all of us. More often than not, the disturbed show up in horror and thriller stories, with writers like Stephen King inventing a slew of iconic and deranged bad guys, highlighting their madness and devastated psyches.

#3: The Machine

Devoid of human emotions, these bad guys can’t be negotiated with or reasoned with and have a single-minded focus, killing whatever’s in their way. Like the beast, they lack regret and remorse. What really elevates the machine is its ability to think critically, as they usually have human intelligence or greater. Typically, this killing machine is just that, a machine like the unrelenting Terminator or the calculating HAL 9000, but this isn’t always the case. Any bad guy that moves forward with a single-minded determination to kill the hero falls into the same category, giving us unstoppable killers like Jason Voorhees from the “Friday the 13th” franchise.

#2: The Equal

A mirror image of our protagonist, this villain is so threatening because he’s so much like the hero. Particularly common in superhero films, this bad guy appears when our hero goes up against somebody with the same powers, meaning they need to rely on wit and ingenuity to overcome their match in terms of skill and strength. What’s even more interesting is when the equal not only shares the same skills, but also motives and morals - only slightly distorted. The heroes and villains of this story aren’t dealing in black and white morality, only slightly darker shades of grey, as perfectly described by Indiana Jones’ archenemy and fellow archeologist René Belloq.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Supernatural / Extraterrestrial
- The Criminal
- Evil Incarnate

#1: The Mastermind

A mastermind is the ultimate villain. Always multiple steps ahead of the hero, he’s the evil genius who usually appears towards the end of the story and has orchestrated everything the heroes have had to overcome. Even a previous victory for a hero will play into the mastermind’s plans. He has multiple contingencies for every situation, and a complicated plan that no one sees coming until it’s too late. The mastermind won’t get his hands dirty either, letting his underlings and the dragon do all the dirty work, moving them like pieces on a chessboard, even willing to sacrifice a few pawns. The mastermind is the perfectly deadly combination of sinister and brilliant.
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