Disney might be best known for its incredible heroes, but they wouldn’t be able to have those fantastic characters without having great villains to oppose them. Over the years, there have been a real variety of villains, from sorcerers to lions and everything in between.
While there have been some fantastic male villains, Disney has done a great job with making some very strong and fearsome female characters as well. There have been some truly excellent female villains, all of which have played huge impacts within their movies, providing great stumbling blocks for the heroes, but which of these characters are the greatest?
Updated on April 29th, 2021 by Amanda Bruce: During Disney’s reign as the supreme leaders in recreating fairy tales and fantasy stories, there have been a lot of villains. Very few of them get redemption at the end of their stories, but all of them can intimidate the audience. From beloved animation classics to modern live-action takes on familiar tales, Disney knows how to craft an entertaining and intimidating villain. The villains included here just happen to be truly iconic.
15 Queen Of Hearts (Alice In Wonderland)
The Queen Of Hearts is certainly a very scary character, which is mainly down to the anger issues and temper that she has. Her scenes are a lot of fun to watch and the fact that absolutely everyone within the movie is afraid of her really does make her a scary presence.
However, unlike the other female villains that Disney has created, she’s simply not around enough throughout the movie to be one of the best. While she does get hyped up during the movie, it isn’t until the end when she appears, therefore she doesn’t have as much impact on the overall story. Even the live action version of the character brought to life by Helena Bonham Carter is more entertaining than she is intimidating.
14 Queen Nerissa (Enchanted)
In a modern take on fairy tales, Disney brings the ideas that populate their animated movies into the real world with Enchanted. That fairy tale includes the evil queen named Nerissa.
Nerissa only ranks so low amongst a list of iconic women because she doesn’t truly stand on her own. Instead, she’s an amalgam of all the animated women who terrified the audience when they were children. There are shades of Maleficent, wicked stepmothers, and even the manipulative Ursula in the way she goes after Giselle. She’s absolutely memorable and entertaining, but she’s not unique.
13 Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Madame Medusa is one of the most underrated Disney villains of all time, and she is someone who works as the antagonist for The Rescuers. Because this isn’t one of Disney’s big blockbuster movies, there isn’t as much attention placed onto her, but she is still a great villain.
She is truly obsessed with gaining as much jewelry as possible, and her greed really does know no bounds. However, that is what makes her such a fantastic character, as she is unchained and desperate, which leads to her making lots of frantic decisions, with her temper making her truly scary.
12 The White Witch (The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe)
The White Witch is certainly an iconic literary villain, but she’s also one of the most manipulative Disney has brought to the screen. She zeroes in on Edmund Pevensie’s doubts and weaknesses within about thirty seconds of meeting the young boy, and she doesn’t let up in her machinations against Aslan through him.
The inevitable remakes of this story mean there will be multiple versions of this character eventually, but Tilda Swinton makes the White Witch cold and terrifying.
11 Sharpay Evans (High School Musical)
Sharpay might be one of the most iconic antagonists in the modern Disney era – one created for a Disney Channel movie instead of premiering in a theater. To be completely fair to High School Musical fans, Sharpay isn’t always a villain. She redeems herself and learns to share the stage over the course of the movie trilogy.
What makes Sharpay so great is her unabashed scheming in the first of the movies. She does everything she can to prevent anyone else stealing her spotlight. That includes changing audition times, not sharing music, and outright lying. She’s brilliant and it takes all of Troy and Gabriella’s friends to outsmart her.
10 Madam Mim (Sword In The Stone)
Madam Mim is a huge personality within Sword In The Stone, and she really does pick up the overall energy and tone of the movie when she appears. That’s what makes her such a fantastic character, but the fact she is also incredibly powerful helps too.
She’s able to go toe to toe with Merlin, who is deemed to be the most powerful wizard of all, and that showcases her power. However, while that is scary, it is the fact you never really know what Madam Mim is thinking that makes her truly scary, as she’s such an unpredictable character.
9 Te Kā (Moana)
Throughout Moana’s journey across the ocean, she believes that Te Kā is her enemy. She believes this entity is responsible for all the bad things befalling her people, and Te Kā is presented as the villain of the story for the audience.
What’s fascinating about Te Kā is that she’s only a villain because her heart has literally been stolen from her. Te Kā is really Te Fiti. Once Moana realizes the truth of Te Kā’s story, she’s able to return her heart, healing the pain, and “redeeming” the story’s supposed villain. It makes the story of love much more powerful than a story of revenge.
8 Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Lady Tremaine may not have any spells to cast, but that doesn’t stop her from being a very scary character. Better known as the Evil Stepmother, she is someone who provides a very stern presence and is incredibly cruel and wicked in the way she treated Cinderella.
While she’s not quite as powerful as some of the other characters, she is still very intimidating, and that’s what makes her such a great character. Her desperation to impress is something that gives her character an edge and a purpose, but it is also her major flaw.
7 Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
While Yzma is technically the villain of The Emperor’s New Groove, she is actually one of the funniest characters that Disney has ever created. Her personality is very over-the-top, and she provides some of the most hilarious moments within the movie.
Working alongside Kronk, the two of them prove to be an incredible duo, and even though she has evil intentions, her plans often end up with her and Kronk suffering. She might not be the scariest villain, but she’s certainly very memorable.
6 The Sanderson Sisters (Hocus Pocus)
A whole generation of children was once terrified by the prospect of the Sanderson sisters coming back to life on Halloween. Since Hocus Pocus landed in theaters in 1993, it’s become a holiday classic. New generations are introduced to the movie – and the trio of witches at the center – thanks to it airing on multiple networks and streaming platforms every year.
The Sanderson sisters aren’t evil because they’re jealous, or because they’re after power. They enjoy their horrible actions, love terrifying people, and just want to live forever. Winifred, Mary, and Sarah’s actions might be predictable for adults watching the movie, but for kids, they’re truly horrifying.
5 The Evil Queen (Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs)
The Evil Queen is essentially two characters split into one within this movie, and that’s what makes her so great. At first, you get the classic Queen version, using the magic mirror and all of her evil powers to try and end Snow White’s life, showcasing how vile she can be.
But then she switches things up to the Old Hag version of the character, which ends up tricking Snow White into eating the poisoned apple. Each version of this character is scary within its own right, and while she is the original Disney villain, she has remained one of the best.
4 Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations)
Cruella de Vil truly does live up to her name as one of the evilest and scary characters that Disney ever brought to the screen. Cruella has a huge personality, and it’s not a very nice one, which is what makes her a perfect villain, as she doesn’t seem to have a nice bone in her body.
While other Disney villains typically have a couple of redeeming qualities, that isn’t the case with her. She’s cruel and wicked and that’s the way she likes it, and while it doesn’t make her a nice person, it does make her a brilliant villain.
3 Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Mother Gothel might appear to be a kind and caring individual at first, appearing as a loving mother who wants the best for Rapunzel, that is all part of the facade. In reality, Mother Gothel is an incredibly cunning and dangerous individual who will do whatever it takes to stay youthful, including locking Rapunzel away and manipulating her.
The fact that she is so sly and smart is what makes Mother Gothel really stand out as a character. She is totally different from all the other Disney villains – in a good way. The fact that she is able to appear as a nice person while being evil on the outside makes her a compelling character.
2 Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
When it comes to Disney’s villains, few are more iconic and well-known than Maleficent. She’s a very powerful character who provides a real presence to the movie, with her cold personality making her very scary.
She is very intelligent and plans things very well, and while the normal version of the character is great, the fact she then transforms into a dragon makes her even scarier. Considering that Disney has gone on to create two live-action movies based around this character showcases just how popular she is.
1 Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
While Maleficent might be slightly more iconic, that doesn’t mean she’s a better character. Ursula takes the top spot when it comes to Disney’s greatest female villains, as she is someone with tons of power, who actually achieves their goal, even if it’s only for a brief moment.
She’s someone who causes her enemies a real problem, and that is what makes her such a great villain. On top of that, Ursula has a huge personality that is very easy to enjoy watching. She’s charismatic and brings with her one of Disney’s greatest villain songs. That doesn’t take away from her intimidating presence either.
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