You may root for the hero, but the most interesting and compelling characters in Disney animated movies are usually the villains. The Mouse House has always made a point of emphasizing bad guys that you just can’t help but love to hate, with the following 10 people standing head and shoulders above their villainous counterparts:
There are few figures within Disney's body of work that are as deliciously reprehensible and vile as Scar, as the character, so named for the mark on his face, callously murders his own brother and then orders the execution of his adorable nephew. Scar, accompanied by his minions Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, ruthlessly does whatever is necessary to seize power for himself, with the character’s blood-thirsty personality heightened by Jeremy Irons' gloriously smug voice work.
Claim to Infamy: He looked directly into Mufasa’s eyes before he pushed him to his death. How much more evil can it get?
The self-proclaimed mistress of all evil, Maleficent – a word that’s defined as “doing evil or harm” and “harmfully malicious” – is a conniving fairy who sets Sleeping Beauty’s plot into motion by placing a curse on Princess Aurora that will kill her on her 16th birthday. Maleficent, along with her villainous sidekick Diablo, keeps a watchful eye on her prey over the years, and even when it seems like the good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather have foiled her scheme by sending Aurora into a deep sleep, Maleficent goes one step further and imprisons the one man who can awaken the title character with true love’s kiss.
Claim to Infamy: She places a curse on what is, at the time, an adorable baby. Enough said.
Ranked 10th in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, The Queen is a scheming and aggressively vain figure who orders the execution of her step-daughter after her magical mirror exclaims that Snow White is now the fairest in all the land. When her assassin fails, The Queen takes matters into her own hands and successfully tricks Snow White into taking a bite from a poisoned apple, and then, in an effort at saving her own live, attempts to crush the seven dwarfs with an oversized boulder.
Claim to Infamy: She orders Snow White’s assassin to carve out her heart and bring it as proof that the deed as been done. Even serial killers aren’t that cold.
A vicious sea witch, Ursula’s primarily goal is to sieze power of Atlantica from King Triton – which she attempts to achieve by tricking Triton’s youngest daughter, Princess Ariel, into a signing a contract that will leave her a mute human. There’s no limit to how low Ursula will stoop to achieve her goal, as she goes so far as to disguise herself as a human in an effort at preventing Prince Eric from kissing the title character (which would, of course, break the curse).
Claim to Infamy: In the film’s final moments, Ursula grows to enormous heights and attempts to create a deadly storm in the water – which would have killed all the main characters and scores of innocent bystanders. Pretty nasty.
Cruella De Vil is certainly one of the most outwardly sinister characters within Disney’s list of villains, as the rail-thin millionaire’s smarmy demeanor is reflected in everything from her choice of clothing to her repellent smoking habit to her scowling automobile. But it’s Cruella’s desire to assemble a coat made out of puppies that cements her place on this list, with her nefarious scheme helped along (and eventually foiled) by a pair of bumbling henchmen named Jasper and Horace.
Claim to Infamy: Did we mention that Cruella’s primary goal was to assemble a coat created from the fur of dozens of cute Dalmatian puppies?
Otherwise known as The Wicked Stepmother, Lady Tremaine is a snooty opportunist whose hatred of the title character seemingly knows no bounds – as she continually abuses Cinderella and forces her into one humiliating situation after another. Tremaine’s disdain for her kind-hearted stepdaughter leads her to sabotage Cinderella’s ongoing efforts at getting close to Prince Charming, as she’d much rather see either of her spoiled daughters marry the handsome nobleman.
Claim to Infamy: Not only does she encourage her daughters Anastasia and Drizella to ruin Cinderella’s dress for the ball, but Lady Tremaine also attempts to prevent Prince Charming from identifying Cinderella as the love of his life by destroying one of the famed glass slippers.
Assisted by his wise-cracking parrot, Iago, Jafar is a villainous figure who would love nothing more than to wrest control of Agrabah away from The Sultan and his beautiful daughter, Princess Jasmine. To that end, Jafar eventually manages to steal the genie’s lamp for himself and wishes himself into the most powerful sorcerer in the world (and this is to say nothing of his ill-fated attempt at murdering the title character).
Claim to Infamy: Jafar’s list of misdeeds is quite lengthy, yet it’s his sleazy attempt at forcing Princess Jasmine to become his wife that sets him apart from his villainous brothers and sisters.
Though he’s ultimately not terribly threatening, Captain Hook remains one of the most iconic villains within Disney’s list of animated features – as the character’s flamboyant personality is heightened by his overtly villainous appearance. (The hook for a hand would be enough for most bad guys, but the Captain also boasts a sinister moustache and intimidating fashion sense.) Along with his loyal yet incompetent sidekick, Smee, Captain Hook spends most of the film attempting to murder Peter Pan – who he holds responsible for the loss of his left hand.
Claim to Infamy: Captain Hook aptly displays just how cowardly he really is when he attempts to knock off Peter Pan with a bomb, rather than confront his nemesis face to face.
Gaston is a handsome yet thoroughly reprehensible figure who has set his sights on the film’s heroine, Belle, although she sees right through his charming exterior and rightly refuses to have anything to do with him. Gaston inevitably becomes more than just a mere annoyance, however, as he attempts to blackmail Belle into marrying him by threatening to have her father thrown into the nuthouse. This is to say nothing of Gaston’s ongoing efforts at killing Beast, with the accomplished hunter’s cowardice exemplified by his decision to gather an angry mob prior to his confrontation with Belle’s beau.
Claim to Infamy: After Beast spares his life, Gaston turns right around and stabs his unsuspecting opponent in the back. Harsh.
It’s not a list of all-time memorable villains without a place for the god of the underworld, as Hades, voiced by James Woods, is portrayed as a power-hungry tyrant who is willing to do whatever it takes to snatch power of Mount Olympus away from his brother, Zeus. Along with his nefarious sidekicks Pain and Panic, Hades conspires to accomplish this feat by murdering Zeus’ son, Hercules. Extra points for Woods' enjoyably energetic performance.
Claim to Infamy: Hades’ determination to kill Hercules manifests itself in plenty of ways, and although it’s not explicitly stated, Hades would’ve certainly killed his nemesis while he was still an infant had his plan worked out.