A good hero needs a good villain. Whilst there are many well known male villains, some of the greatest villains are female. From double-crossing, murder and outright chaos, to cerebral assassinations and even toe-the-line villainy, female villains can be as vicious if not more than their male counterparts. In this weeks Top 10, we count down our ten favourite female villains of all.
We’re not focusing on any one medium in this list – Instead, all mediums are welcome. From video games, through to comics and films, we focus on ten of the greatest female villains to ever come into existence… I didn’t want to use this line but here we go: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Urgh, cliché done.
10) Queen Slug-For-A-Butt – Earthworm Jim
It’s a hard life being the twin sister of the gorgeous Princess What’s-Her-Name when you’re a pulsating, bloated, festering, sweaty, pus-filled, malformed, slug-for-a-butt, but that’s not why there’s a rivalry between these siblings. Her sister’s relationship with the mechanically augmented earthworm is the final nail in a mysterious coffin. You see, by the standards of Insektan society, Slug-For-A-Butt is the pretty one of the family.
All the regal termite desires is the universe, and indestructible super-suit worn by Jim is her best shot at it. If only that pesky occupant would vacate it. With a legion of cronies, henchmen and wary allies at her disposal she has attempted time and time again to reclaim the mighty armour (which mysteriously fits her), but when each attempt inevitably fails she goes back to classic low-level villainous schemes like hypnotising Santa.
9) Kuvira – Legend of Korra
“The Great Uniter” doesn’t sound like the kind of nickname afforded to the villainous type, nor does Kuvira’s list of accomplishments: bringing together the fractious and divided Earth Kingdom and founding of the Earth Empire, the construction of a great rail network, led the defence of the city of Zaofu and helped bring the murderous criminal group The Red Lotus to justice.
All in the name of reputation, all to build an army, all to begin the gradual and highly legal conquering of the world, one town at a time. With the influence she gathers she manages to construct weapons of indomitable power and equipped them to walking metal titans controlled by finely tuned metal bending. Kuvira goes to war against her own adopted family, the Avatar herself! She’s as cold as the metal she bends, and twice as sharp.
8) Liliana Vess – Magic: the Gathering
Guess who’s coming back home?
A shadow is falling over Innistrad once again, demonologist and necromancer extraordinaire and mistress of the Chain-Veil Liliana Vess is coming back and will probably wreak a great deal more havoc than the last time she was there.
A little history, Liliana made a pact with no less than four demons, initially to save her brother’s life, but she rapidly gained a taste for the power and wandered the multiverse gathering much more. She’s made deals with Nicol Bolas, convinced Jace “Architect of Thought” Beleren to start a war with Tezzeret, and forced Garruk to go mad and hunt Planeswalkers. She’s even killed off two of her former demonic masters in an effort to rid herself of all bonds of servitude.
All in all she’s a multiversal menace. I wonder what she’ll do next…
7) T-X – Terminator 3
Okay, this one is actually a slight cop-out, however T-X has definitely had a female model. The issue is that T-X in general could potentially be many different models, so it’s not known if it’s exclusively a female model. Nevertheless the one we’ve all come to know and live is the one from Terminator 3.
T-X is a more advanced model of the Terminator, succeeding the T-950. Weighing in at over 150kg (or over 330lbs to you and I), these machines are deadly. They are packed full of weapons that would make the T-950 (and indeed the T-800) weep. Intriguingly, the T-800 is considered superior for being more human-like… But in my opinion, these are the greatest things Skynet produced and made for truly epic battles.
6) Cruella De Vil – 101 Dalmatians
If there’s one thing Disney knows how to do, it’s create a beautifully sensible villain. Cruella De Vil is an utterly contemptible woman whose only desire in life is to look as good as she can using the best furs she can. Does she actually look good? No! But she does have a damn find fur coat, but she really takes the biscuit when she decides that the best fur for her next fur coat would be that of a large number of Dalmatian puppies.
It’s grotesquely wrong, but that is why she’s such a loathsome villain. She winds you up the wrong way because of how distasteful her ideology is. She wants to get all of the fur off of these poor, innocent dalmatians and wear it on herself, regardless of the means of getting the fur! Besides, her name is literally a portmanteau of Cruel and Devil. She abuses her Persian cat and she thinks the only way to deal with animals is to drown them. This is one cruel woman… And we seriously hate her for it!
5) The Red Queen – Alice in Wonderland
Execution is a particularly effective means of dealing with crime. While the wrong-doer may never fully understand what they did wrong, learn their lesson, or get a fair trial, having their head lopped off will make absolutely sure they’ll never do it again. So goes the reign of The Queen of Hearts, who is free to indulge her surrealist whims and wants because her subjects know the response if every demand is not met.
While her motives may be inscrutable, or incomprehensible, there’s no denying that she’s got her kingdom firmly under her thumb. Her most grave concern is the troublesome girl who doesn’t do what she’s told! How dare she? And spouting her own opinions, and insisting that what the Red Queen is doing is wrong, and weird. The audacity! Off with her head. OFF WITH HER HEAD I SAY!
4) Mystique – X-Men
Half of the time, Mystique is a villain and the other half of the time she’s fighting the good fight. You really don’t know what you’re going to get from Mystique, who is one of the most enigmatic characters in the X-Men franchise. Mother of Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), she’s an incredibly obvious mutant which explains her involvement with the Brotherhood of Mutants. She also had another child, Graydon Creed… Who is most notable for forming the Friends of Humanity.
Mystique is all around a beautiful blue lady who is a heartthrob for many who see her. She’s a seductress (as evidenced by my previous paragraph) and she’s a powerful shapeshifter who might have one of the most useful powers in the X-Men franchise. Furthermore, whilst this is in no means a defining feature about Mystique, interestingly she’s the only confirmed bisexual villain on our list too… But let’s just say that retconning is a powerful tool.
Confusing, to say the least, but for the most part Mystique is a super villain as she’s an incredibly able assassin due to her shapeshifting powers. She’s formed her own Brotherhood of Mutants and she’s raised and left behind so many. You never know if she’s on your side, but if she is, she would likely be the most valuable asset in your team.
3) Harley Quinn – DC
Capering criminal, psychotic psychiatrist and the Joker’s favourite chewtoy, Harley Quinn is one deeply volatile woman. Originally assigned to analyse the Joker, she ended up falling down his mental rabbit hole and taking a novelty sized hammer to Gotham under his tittering tutelage. But that’s not why she makes the list.
After being made to realise how abusive her relationship with Mr. J was by Pamela Isely, she joins up with her and Selina Kyle in Gotham City Sirens. They indulge in some light criminal activity while keeping the flurry of more dangerous super-criminals following the death of Batman. Harley also ends a fight with Black Canary when she discovers that Canary is pregnant, and even visits in the hospital with a double arm-full of presents.
Quinn is a central member of the Suicide Squad, a genius tactician and cunning criminal. She’s a rich and complex character, and no mere airheaded bombshell (larf).
2) Mother Brain – Metroid
Before we get into what makes Mother Brain so awesome, you need to understand that she is literally just an oversized ‘brain-like’ entity. She was created but she’s got no true gender… however she was programmed as a female, so in my eyes that makes her a female. If you don’t like the notion of an entity being a gender when they are supposedly genderless, then we might need to have words. Mother Brain is one of the baddest female villains in existence and I will defend her as a female, programmed or not.
First of all, if you could chose what you looked like as a villain, being a giant human-like brain with spikes sticking out of it really might be one of the designs you come up with. Especially since the hide of her ‘brain’ is incredibly tough, able to take rockets for crying out loud! Her goal throughout Metroid, the reason she sided with the space pirates and of course Ridley is not because of anything too strange: She just wants to reset the universe back to zero, to help make it a better place.
1) The Borg Queen – Star Trek
The loss of individuality is one of humanity’s greatest fears, and the Borg bring a particular kind of terror to that sensation, although amidst the immense cybernetic collective, at the centre of the hive mind there is an individual. The individual, the one central mind that controls all others, The Queen. It is her dark intellect that has consumed over ten thousand species, and takes the Borg from glorified space-zombies to grim insect analogue.
Alone amongst the Borg she is also seductive, both Data and Picard succumbing – if only temporarily – to the Faustian deals she offers, and very nearly coaxing 7-of-9 gently back into the collective. It is insinuated that she lies at the heart of the Borg’s mysterious origins, and her purring voice and shrewd cunning probably helped get that Borg Sphere rolling across half a galaxy.
Little Sisters – BioShock
These annoying little runts are there for you to do what you want to do with, I hate to be so blunt about it. They cry, they feel fear, they are emotional… And they are bloody brutal and will gut you if they felt you had any ADAM. You can look after them and allow them to gather ADAM for you, or you can straight up kill them (and potentially their Big Daddy’s in the process.) The worst thing of all though, these are genuinely little girls who were raised in an orphanage and conditioned to be this way. Now do you feel good for killing these souls?
They are a weird one, as I feel genuine heartfelt sympathy for them each time I see them. They are no better than drones, but they are happy in being such. They are protected by their knights in grimy armour, so they have a generally good life. It’s a shame the Splicers want to hurt them as much as the protagonist. The only friends they have in this world are their Big Daddy’s… Or the protagonist if you go down that route, I guess. Still, it gets better for them when you actually get inside of a Big Daddy suit.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner – Warcraft
If there’s any more misunderstood a villain, it’s Lady Sylvanas. We all feel that she’s going to be one of the most dangerous villains in Warcraft should she turn on the Horde, but due to her being the leader of the Forsaken Undead, she’s immediately touted as a villain. Depending on the side you stand, you may see her as a hero or a villain. I personally see her as an anti-villain. She’s willing to do anything to ensure the survival of her Forsaken brethren, but she’s doing so in order to allow her kind to survive… Which isn’t a villainous trait in my eyes. I understand her plight… But perhaps not her methods.
Nothing goes past Sylvanas, who is considerably one of the most powerful characters in Warcraft. She shows a serious amount of respect for Warchief Thrall, but the moment the Warchief role moved over to Garrosh, there were some serious tensions. Couple this with the fact that the Forsaken have proven to be a wildcard, having turned on both Horde and Alliance in the past, it’s hard to determine the future for Sylvanas. She also is willing to do anything to be able to produce more Forsaken, because understandably they cannot reproduce. We mean anything.
That’s it for this weeks Top 10. Did you agree with our top female villains list? Did you like or dislike any of the entries? Is there anyone we missed that you feel should have been included? As always, join in the conversation below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. We love to read all of your comments, so please do get involved! Don’t forget to vote for what we write our Top 10 about next week.