Top 10 Movie Villains with the Saddest Backstories



Top 10 Movie Villains with the Saddest Backstories

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
They may not be justified, but we can't help but feel for the villains with the saddest backstories. Our countdown includes "The Wizard of Oz," "Harry Potter," "Candyman," and more!

Top 10 Movie Villains with the Saddest Backstories

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Villains With the Saddest Backstories

For this list, we’ll be looking at movie baddies whose backstory will make you saddies. We’ll be excluding animated and classic Disney villains, as those meanies already have their own list.

Do you feel sorry for any of these bad guys and girls? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Frankenstein's Monster
“Mary Shelley's Frankenstein” (1994)

Mary Shelley never gave the creature a name in her novel, but the moniker Frankenstein’s Monster pretty much sums it up - including the creature’s struggle for identity. Created by the scientist Victor Frankenstein, he cobbled together from various corpses. As such, Frankenstein had a responsibility to care for his creation. Instead, he attempts to kill him. Even when the monster tries to help, he finds himself attacked and shunned by society rather than accepted. The monster wanted to be good, but he really never had a chance.

#9: The Wicked Witch of the West
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

It’s easy to hate on the Wicked Witch of the West with her crackly voice, green skin and her hatred of the sweet and innocent Dorothy. But how would you feel if a stranger landed a house on your sister and then stole her magical shoes? Then she breaks into your home to steal your broomstick. Put yourself in the witches' shoes and you might find yourself feeling a little sympathy. To top things off, Dorothy commits another act of manslaughter when she accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East with a bucket of water. If you’re familiar with the musical “Wicked”, you’ll have even more empathy for this witch who fell from grace.

#8: Severus Snape
“Harry Potter” Franchise (2001-11)

Throughout the “Harry Potter” films, Snape is portrayed as an antagonist, but it’s eventually revealed that the story is much more complicated. The half-blood wizard’s cruel treatment of Harry goes back to the way that Harry’s father James bullied him as a child. Snape was also desperately in love with Lily, who wound up with James. Yes, he did become a Death Eater, but he later also became a double agent who played a key role in Voldemort’s defeat. In the end, he plays the ultimate price, his last thoughts of Lily. It doesn’t get much sadder than that.

#7: Sweeney Todd
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street” (2007)

Sweeney Todd wasn’t always a murderous barber. In fact he wasn’t always Sweeney Todd. He was just a happy barber, Benjamin Barker, married to his beautiful wife, Lucy. Life was good until the corrupt and evil Judge Turpin, who had a thing for Lucy, convicted Barker on false charges to get him out of the picture. When Barker finally returns to London after 15 years he’s told that, upon his exile, Turpin assaulted his wife, she killed herself, and Barker’s daughter is now Turpin’s ward. It is with this sadness and hatred in his soul that Barker becomes Sweeney Todd and begins his journey of murder and revenge.

#6: Erik Killmonger
“Black Panther” (2018)

The death of a loved one is often the catalyst that sends a villain on his dark path, and that’s exactly what happened to Erik Killmonger. Erik’s father N'Jobu wanted to share Wakanda’s weapons with people of African descent around the world to help them fight oppression. After N'Jobu is killed by his own brother T'Chaka, Erik becomes determined to get revenge and to carry out his father’s plan. What makes Killmonger’s backstory so sad is that the evil he does is all for a good cause, as he really does see his mission as ending injustice.

#5: Magneto
“X-Men” (2000)

When it comes to the X-Men, we all know that Professor X is the leader of the good mutants and Magneto is the leader of the bad mutants. But before this schism in the mutant world happened, there was a time when Xavier and Magneto were the best of friends. They both care deeply about mutants and want to protect them, but while Xavier thinks that this can be done in cooperation with humans, Magneto believes that the mutants must rule on their own. Magneto’s lack of faith in humanity is quite understandable given the time he spent in a Nazi concentration camp as a child. Evil turned him evil.

#4: Mr. Freeze
“Batman & Robin” (1997)

Limp Bizkit did it all for the nookie and Mr. Freeze did it all for the Nora. Before a lab accident turned him into Mr. Freeze, he was Dr. Victor Fries, and he was working on a cure for MacGregor's Syndrome to save his dying wife. They say that power corrupts, but not in this case. While most villains, no matter their sad backstory, generally become corrupted by power, Mr. Freeze never lost sight of his one true goal, saving his one true love. Everything he does is with that in mind. How can you not sympathise with that? And it might be even easier to do depending on your feelings about George Clooney as Batman.

#3: Harley Quinn
“Birds of Prey” (2020)

Harley Quinn is a badass, but the road that led her there was one filled with bad people. Her alcoholic dad never wanted her and eventually gave her away to an orphanage, where the nuns used corporal punishment. Then there were her college boyfriends who treated her poorly. And finally there was Joker: the worst of them all and the one she fell the hardest for. He was also the one that introduced her to the bad side. So, even once she got over him and found her voice and her power it was now the voice of a villain.

#2: Candyman
“Candyman” (1992)

The Candyman’s backstory involves horrible violence and racism. The origin of the character dates back to the late 1800s when a Black artist, the son of a slave, was hired to paint a portrait by a white landowner. The artist fell in love with the man’s daughter and fathered a child with her. This angered the landowner, who had the artist lynched and set upon by bees until he died. Well, before he died the artist was able to transfer his soul into a mirror, and throughout the ages has survived on the fear of his name and his legend. Like with Magneto, this is another case of evil making evil.

#1: Hannibal Lecter
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

It was the Nazis again who destroyed this young boy’s faith and unleashed his inner villain. When retreating Nazis kill their parents, Hannibal and his sister Mischa are left alone in a cabin. However, a group of Lithuanian looters, led by a Nazi collaborator, find them. They kill Mischa, eat her, and feed her to her brother. While Lecter survives, he’s irrevocably changed. When he grows up, he hunts down the men who murdered his sister, but they aren’t the only ones he kills. He ends up murdering … and eating … quite a range of victims. If his childhood hadn’t been so traumatic, he might have used his brilliant mind for good instead.