Disney Villains Ranked by Scariness

I already ranked the Disney princesses, so I figured it was time to rank Disney villains, whom I tend to like more anyway!

Methodology: I started by ranking “Best Villain” but there’s so many facets to that, so I ultimately went with “Who scares me more?” This criteria was also difficult because a lot of these villains scared the shit out of me as a child, but, from my current viewpoint, less showy ones now seem far more sinister. So I ended up with a weird mix as I tried to take both scales of scariness into account.

Sample Size: I used as my sample size the villains listed as “Official list of Disney villains in franchise marketing“. But some of those were discounted through lameness and me not being able to remember them.

Disney Villains Ranked by Scariness

17. Mother Gothel (Tangled)

If this were a contest of Worst Disney Mother... she actually still wouldn't win

If this were a contest of Worst Disney Mother… she actually still wouldn’t win

Mother Gothel is not scary. She doesn’t really have powers. Her only goal is to stay alive. Yeah, she baby-naps Rapunzel, but then she… raises her as her own? She’s not a great mom, but that’s hardly terrifying, or unheard of in the Disney canon.

16. Captain Hook (Peter Pan

+5 points for style, though

+5 points for style, though

Captain Hook is a lot more bloodthirsty than Mother Gothel, so at least he’s got that going for him, scariness-wise. But he’s more silly and sad than anything else. Dude has serious PTSD from his brush with crocodile-death, and he can’t even manage to kill a bunch of children, so…

15. Dr. Facilier (Princess and the Frog)

I feel like this dude would be a lot higher if I'd seen this movie as an actual child

I feel like this dude would be a lot higher if I’d seen this movie as an actual child

Dr. Facilier or the Shadow Man is definitely creepy, and he has hoodoo spirit friends! He tricks you into making deals with him, and then uses his jazz age dance magic voodoo to trap you in ironic ways. I definitely would not want to cross him! But he doesn’t really have any power of his own; it all comes from his “friends on the other side”, who are quick to turn on him at the end.

14. Hades (Hercules)

But he might be at the top of People I Would Invite to my Birthday Party

But he might be at the top of People I Would Invite to my Birthday Party

We all know Hades is amazing, but he’s so funny that I rarely found him scary, even as a kid. However, he definitely has power (he’s a god!) and his plans to unleash the titans and rule the entire world would definitely cause a heavy body count.

13. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)

Also she literally named her cat after Satan

Also she literally named her cat after Satan

It seems dumb to put Cinderella’s step mom above Hades and Dr. Facilier on the list of scariness, but I can’t help it. I saw this movie when I was a lot younger, and I still remember being intensely creeped out by her. Something about her giant weird hair and her voice. And maybe even at that age psychological cruelty seemed scarier than someone hitting you.

12. Professor Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)

Pictured here in his scariest moment

Pictured here in his scariest moment

As a child, this dude was terrifying. Also, he was voiced by Vincent Price! But even Child-Me knew that he was just a rat, and I could probably step on him if he tried to be creepy near me.

11. Jafar (Aladdin)

Damn, those shoulder pads are on point

Damn, those shoulder pads are on point

The scariest thing about this movie is by far the Cave of Wonders, so Jafar already comes in second place in his own film. I think Iago the Comic Relief Parrot may also have detracted from his creepiness. Although he came a lot closer to his goals than a lot of Disney villains, so props for that, Jafar.

10. Scar (The Lion King)

I stupidly google-imaged just the word "scar" and that page might have been scarier than him

I stupidly google-imaged just the word “scar” and that page might have been scarier than him

Like Jafar, Scar’s scariness factor is inhibited by his comic relief hyenas always hanging around. The final fight scene between him and Simba was pretty scary as a child, but I think even then movies with anthropomorphic animals didn’t scare me as much because they didn’t seem as real. Like, I’m never going to meet a lion. Scar and his political machinations are happening far away from me.

9. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations)

cruelladevil

I saw this movie young, which helps up the scariness, but Cruella de Vil is still pretty terrifying as an adult. A lot of these other villains want power for themselves and their family, which I can kind of understand, but Cruella wants to murder puppies. You guys. Is there a more evil motive?

8. Claude Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Pictured here rolling his eyes with maximum sass

Pictured here rolling his eyes with maximum sass

Frollo is creepy, especially as an adult. His staunch religious convictions and focus on guilt and sin are the kind of attitudes that started atrocities like the Inquisition, after all. He ranks so high because he feels so real. History is littered with dudes like Frollo who are so inflamed with the supposed righteousness of their cause that they mow down innocent people without any remorse. Who believe that it’s the right thing to do. Scar and Jafar know they are the bad guys. Frollo thinks he’s the hero, and I think that’s what makes him more real and also more terrifying.

7. Prince Hans (Frozen)

But how could a guy with a horse BFF be bad??

But how could a guy with a horse BFF be bad??

I still can’t believe Disney had the balls to pull this amazing plot twist that also mocks the ridiculousness of some of their past canon (“You’re going to marry a guy you JUST MET?”). Prince Hans is hot and charming, and knows how to work those things to make people trust him. He tries to manipulate his way to power, and he’s way better at it than Jafar because he’s an attractive white guy instead of a racist caricature. You know Jafar is evil immediately because you’ve been socially conditioned to think brown dude+black clothes+facial hair+turban=EVIL SO EVIL. But Prince Hans never gets stopped by airport security, and he knows it. Like Frollo, this dude is too real, and that makes him dangerous.

6. Ursula(The Little Mermaid)

Eat your heart out

Eat your heart out

Ursula will wreck you. She’s a powerful witch, she has minions at least as creepy as she is, and she definitely doesn’t play fair when you come to make a bargain with her. Her lair is guarded by the rotting remains of her past victims, and the final fight where she becomes gigantic gave me nightmares as a child.

5. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Can't touch this

Can’t touch this

I’m only judging based on the original animated movie, not the new Angelina Jolie version. Maleficent is hella powerful and hella touchy. Don’t invite her to your party? CURSE YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE. Try to break that curse? DRAGON! DRAGON IN YOUR FACE! Plus, even her non-shape-changed look is scary. Maleficent doesn’t mess around.

4. Queen Grimhilde (Snow White)

Lesson: do not trust the elderly

Lesson: do not trust the elderly

Okay, I feel like almost all of this is coming from the scene near the end of the movie where the dwarves are chasing her up the rocky hill in the lightning storm, she tries to maneuver a giant boulder down on top of them, and then lightning strikes and she falls screaming to her death only for creepy vultures to start circling almost immediately. That is some creepy stuff for a kid. Plus, the Snow White ride at Disney World didn’t help.

3. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)

+5 points for being especially good at expactorating

+5 points for being especially good at expactorating

You already know a guy like Gaston. He’s kind of stupid, supremely arrogant, and too powerful. He’s had privileges all his life, people telling him how great he is, until now when he can’t see when he’s wrong. If some girl doesn’t want him, his reaction is to imprison her father and kill her boyfriend. Gaston would be a rapist if Disney movies weren’t rated PG.

2. Shan Yu (Mulan)

And that hawk is no cutesy Iago, let me tell you

And that hawk is no cutesy Iago, let me tell you

Shan Yu and his army are a terrifying force of nature. Even the animation style shows them in stark contrast to the good guys in the movie. They have no comic relief, no bumbling, no humanizing elements at all. Their motivation is simply to destroy, and it takes more than an avalanche to defeat them. They excel at both stealth and wholesale slaughter. Shan Yu is a stone cold villain, and it’s the first Disney movie I can remember that dealt with such a large body count so visibly.

1. Chernabog (Fantasia)

fantasia

You knew this was going to be at the top. This dude is a giant death demon the size of a mountain with an army of skeletal ghosts. Case closed, he is the scariest.

Previously: Disney Princesses

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