Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Disney Animated Villains

Behold, another awe-inspiring table!

After my post about Disney's animated animal sidekicks, the idea that most attracted me was doing my own villains list. I know, I know, I lose a lot of hipster cred doing something so totally mainstream ;)  I still think it is an interesting exercise trying to quantify WHY certain villains stand out. Descriptions below the break, and as always I am open to discussion, improvements, and filling in gaps for movies I don't remember well enough.

It turns out that 2 villains stand out far and above the rest, with 7 more also notably triumphing (>65 points) over other, mediocre villains (35-51). At the bottom, 5 fell far short of the others (<30)

Top Two (tied at 84/90)


Other villains who scored at least 65


Are you as surprised as I am that every one of the Top 10 either wears a black hat or has pointy hair? I will also point out that Jafar, Scar, Prince John, and Gov. Ratcliffe sport evil goatees, while Hook, Shan Yu, and Merlock have evil pointy mustaches. It is rumored that Ursula has a faint, evil mustache as well, but that they photoshopped it out at her request.

Updated: Added Ending

Cunn Str Evil Plan Song Able Hench Actor End DW Sum Chron
Ursula 8 10 10 8 10 10 8 2 8 10 84 14
Jafar 10 10 9 10 4 9 10 2 10 10 84 18
Dr. Facilier 8 6 10 5 10 7 8 10 10 74 33
Prof. Rattigan 10 6 10 10 6 10 4 5 5 5 71 12
Claude Frollo 10 8 8 2 10 7 6 10 10 71 22
Judge Doom 10 7 10 8 0 10 4 5 8 6 68 13
Syndrome 8 10 9 8 0 7 10 5 10 67 29
Scar 10 6 10 8 6 5 2 3 8 8 66 19
Maleficent 2 10 10 7 0 10 10 8 8 65 6
Captain James Hook 8 7 9 6 0 2 8 2 4 10 56 5
Lots-O'-Huggin Bear 10 0 7 4 0 10 8 4 6 49 35
Percival C. McLeach 8 4 7 2 0 8 6 5 5 4 49 16
Gothel 8 0 7 4 10 7 0 7 6 49 34
Charles Muntz 10 4 7 0 0 6 10 3 2 6 48 32
Shan Yu 3 9 10 2 0 10 10 2 2 48 24
Randall Boggs 8 8 7 7 0 5 0 5 6 46 28
Hopper 0 6 7 2 0 8 10 3 5 4 45 25
Merlock (Ducktales) 4 10 9 4 0 6 0 5 2 2 42 15
Queen Grimhilde (SW) 6 6 6 4 0 6 6 2 6 42 1
Prince John 2 8 4 2 0 0 6 5 5 6 38 9
Red Queen 0 8 7 0 0 4 8 8 2 37 4
Gaston 4 4 6 2 4 4 8 2 2 36 17
Shere Khan 4 9 7 0 0 8 0 4 4 36 8
Gov Ratcliffe 2 6 5 0 4 2 8 3 4 2 36 20
Stinky Pete 7 2 2 2 0 5 0 5 4 8 35 27
Lady Tremaine 6 2 6 0 0 6 4 4 4 32 3
Chef Skinner 2 2 1 0 0 2 4 3 10 4 28 30
Cruella de Vil 2 0 5 2 2 2 4 5 0 22 7
Madame Medusa 0 2 6 4 0 2 4 3 0 21 10
Brer Fox 4 0 3 2 0 0 2 6 4 21 2
Sid Phillips 0 0 10 0 0 2 0 8 0 20 21


5 most pitiful Disney villains. Let's face it, they were overthrown by mice, dogs, and a bunny. Not supervillain material.


How were villains scored?

1. Their cunning, their ability to deceive and manipulate others to do their will. Villains who are little more than thugs -who go in and break things - score 0. Maleficent's lack of style, finesse, or cunning is one of the two things keeping her from the top tier. The other is that she doesn't have a song.

2. Their strength: physical, magical, technological, or legal. How worried would I be if I got on their bad side? I tend to think villains with magical or tech powers are stronger than the merely physically or legally powerful, but on the other hand Facilier's henchmen (shadows) are more powerful than he is.

3. How evil are they? At a 10 they take delight in seriously harming others - lots of murder and torture of innocent bystanders. 5-8 they are willing to let innocents suffer or die for their goals, but don't necessarily delight in it and are willing to kill. If a villain is not willing to kill, they score below a 5. Low scores mean they are primarily counted as a villain because they block or have a grievance with the main character but are otherwise "mostly harmless."

4. I discovered doing this that a lot of Disney villains don't actually have a plan for how they intend to achieve their goals. They just do stuff as opportunities present themselves. The ability to have a REASONABLE plan (I'm looking at you, Shadow Man - have your henchman marry the Queen of the Mardi Gras to control her daddy's fortune and that will let you turn all of New Orleans to the dark side? Say what??) is apparently an elite characteristic. The only villain not in the top 10 with reasonable plan-making capabilities is Randall Boggs, and even he is more of a henchman to Henry J. Waternoose. If you would rather have Waternoose than Randall in the list, he gets mostly the same scores: 8 5 7 8 0 6 4 _ 6  for a total of 44. HOWEVER, once Monsters U comes out, he will get a bonus 5 for being voiced by Kelsey Grammar [see below] and we'll see how his other numbers change. He might enter the top 10.

5. Do they have a good evil villain song? Poor Unfortunate Soul, Friends on the Other Side, and Hellfire/Heaven's Light do a magnificent job of not only letting the villain wallow in it a bit and reveal their evil plan, but actually move the plot forward. Scar's Be Prepared and Ratigan's premature triumph songs accomplish the first two but not the latter goal and I have never tried to sing either for fun. I was surprised how few Disney villains have a meaty song. Jafar only gets a reprise, and Gaston and Ratcliffe share their big numbers. That's about it. I don't know enough about Hercules to include Hades, but his song is pretty weak too.

6. Capable. Do their evil plans actually work? I measured how inept the villain is and then reversed the score. Prince John and Brer Fox are constantly outwitted. Sir Hiss even tells the crown, "Your plans never work." On the other hand, Ursulla, Ratigan, Maleficent and others carry through their plans perfectly and temporarily achieve their designs. Lotso has been in charge of Sunnyside for a long time and Jafar is second in command.

7. Most villains are only as good as their henchmen. If you are really going to win, you're going to be able to attract significant help: Maleficent, Shan Yu, and Hopper have armies under their command; Jafar, Syndrome, and Maleficent have a henchman who is intelligent and brings their plans forward of their own volition. Then you have Judge Doom, Scar, and Brer Fox who might actually be successful sometime if it weren't for their stupid henchmen failing them left and right.

I was initially open to the idea that villains who do their own dirty work ought to get some credit (eg. Gothel), but if you can't even attract a couple comic relief henchmen, how impressive can you really be?

8. Bonus points for attracting a favorite (5) or celebrated (3) actor. Vincent Price, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar ... just knowing they're the villain lends it credibility. Personally, I think having George C. Scott as the villain is the single best thing about Rescuers Down Under. 2 bonus points if I gave the acting ability itself a little extra credit, even if the actor is primarily known because of this movie (Ursula, Jafar, and Hook).

Updated (suggestion by Mark Nichols): 9. How did the character meet his/her timely end? The highest score requires spectacular defeats. If they flee or are humiliated, they only receive a 2. Falling is too cliche: 2. Arrested is 3. Anyone still living scores an extra 2 points. If nothing happens to them, they score highly.

The surprising thing is that the best endings are for the best AND WORST villains. Only one of the bottom 10 dies, and even that is questionable. Meanwhile, only two of the top ten survive (Jafar is captured spectacularly and Hook flees) and only one has a disappointing end (Syndrome sucked into a jet engine anti-climactically). Shan Yu's fireworks would score higher, except he was one of only two villains killed by the comic relief, which has got to be very humiliating. Chef Skinner, as the only victorious villain, scores 10, pulling him out of the bottom 5.

10. Separate from the actor, how much do I "like" the character? I'm pleased to note that my score doesn't change the order much, though it does save Stinky Pete from joining the bottom 6.

11. Sum - add it all up and that's your score.

12. Chronological order.. May I suggest that one reason the Disney Renaissance became a Renaissance was great villains?

Judge Doom counts because he is animated part of the time. Queen Narissa belongs but I will again plead less familiarity with Enchanted until someone fills her in for me.