Worst Villain Cliches

The Top Ten
1 Wanting to rule over something
2 Evil laugh

I absolutely hated this cliché as a kid, and it definitely hasn't changed with age. The only time I've ever really enjoyed an evil laugh was when it was presented in an ironic way with a solid joke or punchline to back it up, like the self-aware, semi-absurdist humor of Emperor's New Groove.

3 Falling to their death
4 Extremely deep voice
5 Being crazy
6 Bad childhood

Naruto ruined this cliché. Does almost every single antagonist, main or minor, need a tragic past?

This honestly is a pretty good cliché and it provides a more three-dimensional personality and motive for a villain. But when it's overdone, as in the case of Naruto, then there's a problem.

This one is way too common. Especially the whole thing about the villain being bullied as a kid and wanting revenge on humanity for treating them that way. Even as a kid, I noticed this and hated it.

I feel like this is commonly overused in a lot of stories I read and isn't used in a sensible way.

7 Henchmen with low intelligence

Can't the villain hire better ones? Or are they like the antagonist's cousins or something?

If they want to succeed then they need good help. It's just common sense.

8 They give the heroes enough time to survive

I mean, movies like Saw, that's the point of it. But yes, it is kind of stupid when the villain purposely lets the protagonist get away for whatever reason.

As a kid, I always hated this cliche because I wondered why they wouldn't annihilate the protagonist quickly if they had tried so hard to get them.

This was perhaps the worst thing about Despicable Me 3. When Bratt is about to laser Gru to death, they change scenes with Dru and Bratt, and every time they change to Bratt, the laser is like three meters further away than it was the previous scene. I was like "WHY!" when I saw it.

9 The killer is thought to be dead but really isn't
10 They believe what they're doing is right

Judge Claude Frollo is probably the best example of this cliche. He's a noble, he holds a lot of social power, and he's a Christian. So, of course, he thinks he's the good guy. Coupled with the fact that Frollo's actions are downright inhumane, even murderous, that makes his death all the more satisfying.

UPDATE: Frollo is not symbolic of all Christian peoples. His morals are the exact opposite. A true Christian should never harm anyone else because of their religion, sexuality, racial background, but should embrace it and treat them like real people. Frollo is so vile and deluded that you just cannot call him anything but a monster.

The Contenders
11 The villain has an easy-to-escape death trap
12 Calling people "fools"
13 Dark clothing
14 "You will die"

On par with the CD-i Zelda games' dialogue, this is what happens when you're campy enough for a one-liner but not creative enough to come up with anything else.

15 Naturally evil
16 Killing their own henchmen
17 Being an animal that is commonly stereotyped as a villain
18 Wants to kill everyone or destroy the world

I never really understood this one. In realistic terms, nobody would ever try to destroy the world. Another cliché that's similar to this one is the villain wanting to rule over the world. That is also an unrealistic goal and anyone with a brain can understand that.

19 They talk rather than kill
20 Hates the protagonist more than he hates anyone else

Even cartoon villains must learn the hardest way possible.

21 Looking more effeminate or androgynous than the hero
22 They watch over the protagonists with a magic orb

This is almost exclusively for fantasy stories, so it's not too common overall.

23 They smoke
24 They are a family member of the hero
25 Associated with darkness
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