We might all root for the hero, but sometimes you just have to appreciate the cunning and evil nature of a female villain. From stepmothers and ex-wives to assassins and stalkers, these women are queens of meddling, manipulating and making us feel terrified when they appear on-screen.
While some are fictional, others are based on real people, making their roles so much more eerie. Sit back and grab the popcorn, as you remember the chilling nature of these greatest female villains.
Nurses don’t come scarier than Nurse Ratched from the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The sinister medical professional is all kinds of evil as she intimidates and abuses patients in a mental hospital.
The worst part of her is that none of the other nurses were privy to her inherently evil nature, until one of her patients tried to escape and Ratched’s true colors came shining through. Louise Fletcher’s role in the film won her Best Actress at the Oscars.
In Kill Bill, O-Ren Ishii has some very intimidating and highly skilled bodyguards who were trained assassins. But none of them were harder to beat than GoGo Yubari. Despite her minute and young girl like exterior, she is an absolute ruthless, violent and sadistic killer.
Just take the scene when she stabbed a man in the groin for flirting with her, she is not one to be messed with. Although she wasn’t in the movie for a long period, she definitely made her mark.
The 1981 film Mommie Dearest had audiences terrified at the evil and unmotherly nature of Joan Crawford, especially because the true story was written by Joan’s adoptive daughter Christina. Faye Dunaway played the unbalanced, evil and unfit mother and perfectly depicted some of Christina’s childhood.
The wire hangers scene became an iconic and disturbing scene that even traumatized actress Dunaway. Although the film was only based on Christina Crawford’s memoir, it was enough to give an insight into the unfit mother that Crawford was.
Bellatrix Lestrange plays the mud-blood thirsty right hand woman of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise. Played by Helena Bonham Carter, Lestrange considered herself the dark lord’s most loyal and loving follower.
Bellatrix was known for her brutal torture techniques, her sadistic and violent nature something that was seen at the hands of Neville Longbottom’s parents. She had no qualms about murdering her own family, Sirius Black and Tonks as they didn’t support Lord Voldemort. As a result, audiences loved it when Molly Weasley took her down.
Another one of Disney’s greatest female villains was Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Ursula desperately desired King Triton’s soul and his trident, so went after his daughter, Ariel.
After Ariel fell for Prince Eric on land, Ursula ended up tricking her into giving up her voice for life, something she could only overturn with Prince Eric’s true love’s first kiss. Ursula made every effort to stop this, even transforming into a beautiful woman to steal Prince Eric. Had Ariel not have stopped the wedding, Ursula would have succeeded.
All of the characters in the X-Men franchise possess a very powerful and destructive superpower, but none more than Mystique. The super seductive spy is one of Magneto’s primary and most evil sidekicks.
Arguably, one of the most unique and dangerous aspects of Mystique is the fact she can change her whole appearance in a matter of seconds and become absolutely anyone. Her ability to become anyone and gain their powers has made her a very threatening and wicked villain. In later years, she became a hero.
Annie Wilkes is the main antagonist of the 1990 film adaptation Misery. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for this role for good reason, being able to transform and embody a sociopathic stalker and serial killer who claims to be author Paul Sheldon’s number one fan.
The mentally ill and obsessive nurse ended up kidnapping him and confining Sheldon to her house where she forced him to write a new novel, as a result of her dislike for the last one he wrote.
We can all admit that at some point in our lives we have probably felt victimized by Regina George. The Mean Girls star is the epitome of the ultimate female high-school bully, from manipulating everyone around her, having a group of girls that worshipped her and being the ultimate two-faced, nasty individual.
From dissing every girl in her school in the ‘burn book’ to stealing Cady Heron’s crush Aaron Samuels, Regina was the ultimate mean girl. She got a harsh reality check when she was hit by a bus.
Ms. Eva Ernst
Roald Dahl was one of the most magical children’s novelists who had an incredible way of creating scary characters that lived on in kids nightmares. Ms. Eva Ernst was among the scariest from
The Witches, looking like a well put together woman on the outside, but it was just a disguise and in her true form she was a terrifying textbook witch. To make children’s nightmares even worse, Ernst planned to destroy all the children in the world and considered them a plague.
Cruella De Vil
Anyone that loves to capture animals and turn them into coats is probably going to be hated and feared by many. Cruella De Vil is probably one of the most evil Disney villains, instead of turning on humans, her game is innocent dalmatians.
Cruella doesn’t have any magical powers or evil spells to cast on people, she just goes around stealing people’s dogs to add to her fur coat collection, if that’s not inherently evil we don’t know what is.
Dolores Umbridge might appear as the adorable lady who loves cats and pink, but behind that exterior she is evil to her core. After infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge is appointed professor for Defence Against The Dark Arts at Hogwarts, proceeding to teach the witches and wizards about anything but dark magic.
Umbridge tortures students if they act out and eventually when she becomes headmistress and gets rid of Dumbledore, things get so much worse. She has her comeuppance by creatures in the forbidden forest.
Harley Quinn is the Joker’s accomplice and lover in the DC Universe. Initially, she was a psychiatrist and was assigned to the Joker at Arkham Asylum, but ended up falling in love with him in a turn of events.
She later emerged as Harley Quinn after electrocution and an acid bath, turning her into a crazed supervillain. Harley ended up being captured and imprisoned after helping the Joker murder Robin. However, she ended up being blackmailed into joining the Suicide Squad.
The Evil Queen
Who can be more evil than The Evil Queen herself? Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs portrays The Evil Queen as a narcissistic, jealous individual, asking her mirror to repeatedly tell her she’s pretty.
The Evil Queen’s mission is to kill her stepdaughter, Snow White, by poisoning her as she feels threatened by Snow White’s beauty. She ends up disguising herself into an old woman using dark magic and putting Snow White to sleep after biting into a poisoned apple.
In the beginning of David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Nick Dunne makes a vivid comment in which he describes wanting to get answers out of his wife. Despite being at the center of her parents’ successful life, Amy shows signs of a psychotic, jealous and crazy wife.
When her husband was unfaithful she went to the greatest of lengths to frame her husband in her murder. There was no detail missed out by Amy, who even hurt herself. The whole movie was like a master manipulation
The Wicked Witch of the West
When you think of a witch, The Wizard Of Oz’s The Wicked Witch of the West will always spring to mind. That green face, large, pointy black hat and broomstick just give off the most wicked of feelings.
While her human side comes out when mourning the death of her sister, the sadness quickly turns to revenge when the ruby slippers are mentioned. The Wicked Witch Of The West did not hold back in getting back those desirable slippers. How can anyone forget that wicked cackle?
There are spoiled daughters, then there is Veda Pierce. While she is not a traditional villain, her ridiculous demands and whining nature make audiences squirm every time she came on-screen in Mildred Pierce.
Her mother takes on back breaking work to ensure Veda gets everything she asks for, and even when she gets it, it is simply not good enough. To make matters worse, she refuses to be seen with her mother in her waitress uniform. The vile Veda went so far to romance and elope with her mother’s new husband.
“Baby Jane” Hudson
Joan Crawford and Bette David starred in the 1962 thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Jane was the child star who’s massive fame at a young age led her to insanity, all the while her older sister is receiving more attention at this pivotal time.
After a mysterious accident paralyzed her sister, Jane takes advantage of the situation and holds her hostage in order to get the spotlight back on her. When Jane has to hide the whole situation from the public, it drives her even further into insanity.
Another brilliant villain from Roald Dahl was Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull. The terrifying headmistress at Chrunchem Hall Elementary ironically despises children and even denies ever being one herself. Her past as an olympian in shot put, javelin, and hammer throw came in handy when throwing children out of the window.
Her students were often thrown in a horrifying tall narrow closet with nails called the chokey. Don’t even think about touching her special chocolate cake, she will make you eat it until you pass out!
The Sanderson Sisters
They might be three individuals, but they’re evil sisters so they basically count as one. Hocus Pocus continues to stand as one of the best Halloween films ever made, and one of the best characters in the movie was the Sanderson sisters.
Sarah, Mary and Winifred loved a wig, but no more than they loved eating children. Despite their nasty and very evil personalities, when the three sisters come together, you can’t help but love them in all their evilness.
The only woman who can’t be beaten by Thor himself has to be a pretty incredible villainous woman. The sister of Thor and Loki and daughter of Odin was the Goddess of Death, Hela.
Her limitless powers took Thor by storm, literally, and she is by far one of the most ferocious Marvel villains. Played by actress Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok, Cate brought her to life and brought on a whole new depth and understanding to the character.
The scenes of Fatal Attraction will forever be ingrained in the brains of anyone who has ever seen the movie. After having an affair with a married man, Alex Forrest quite literally went psycho, first attacking her lover, then stalking his family, then harming their pet rabbit, then trying to harm herself and then lying and claiming she was pregnant.
Alex simply wouldn’t accept her lover didn’t love her and is probably one of the scariest female villains of all time.
Batman’s Poison Ivy is immune to all poison, so basically she is superhuman. Ivy also has chemistry skills which allow her to use toxins in a way that is totally confused to others.
In addition, Poison Ivy’s ability to produce pheromones that can control minds is particularly effective on men, which is how Robin fell into her trap. With plants being controlled by the villain, she can use them to attack her opponents when they are least expecting it.
Before Regina George came along, there was Kathryn Merteuil. The evil stepsister in Cruel Intentions. Kathryn was the queen of manipulation and knew exactly how to control everyone around her, no matter what, and would often take it to great lengths.
Not only that, but Kathryn’s evil nature was even worse as she gained enjoyment out of controlling and demeaning other people. Played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, it was filmed in her prime career period in the 90s.
Elle Driver came onto our screens in Kill Bill, acting as a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Her signature was an eye patch and a samurai sword, and went by the name California Mountain Snake, giving us an idea from the get go just how evil she was.
After being devote to Bill, Elle was the one who eventually killed Beatrix and was an active member of the wedding day massacre. Unfortunately, we never got to find out Elle Driver’s end.
As if we thought the Evil Queen from Snow White couldn’t get any worse, Queen Ravenna was born. A more evil and devilish interpretation of the original female villain.
Ravenna is the tyrannical ruler of Tabor, and the evil stepmother of Snow White. Instead of becoming the “fairest of them all”, Ravenna took it to new levels and wanted to kill her stepdaughter and consume her heart. If it wasn’t for the Huntsman, she would have had her way.
Kids can be scary, but there is nothing scarier that a 33-year-old psychopaths stuck in a young girl’s body. This was the case for Esther in the horror movie Orphan and her real identity was a 33-year-old psychopath name Leena Klammer.
Leena looks so young as she suffers from pituitary disorder and her young appearance causes anger and frustration which she takes out on others, specifically men. The evil child was eventually stopped before she tried to kill her foster mom.
The resident evil woman in The Emperor’s New Groove is the awful Yzma. The power hungry woman used her position in power to get whatever she wants from the ruler Kuzco.
When she eventually get fired, she plots her revenge on the ruler and intends to turn him into a llama. After she is convinced that she has killed the ruler, she takes on the role as Empress, but failed and was taken over again by Kuzco. Eventually, she is turned into a cat.
Elektra was such an evil character in the Ben Affleck movie Daredevil that the studio eventually turned her good so she could star in her own movie. Elektra came from a very dark background and during her teen years, she lost her father when the cops accidentally shot him.
Following this, she fled to Japan to learn martial arts and learned to control her anger, later making a living as a bounty hunter and went on as a trained killer for hire.
Jadis the White Witch
The White Witch is the main antagonist of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She froze Narnia in the Hundred Years Winter, and when a creature went against her, she would immediately freeze them.
After the winter revolution, led by Aslan’s followers, her tyranny was eventually evoked and summer arrived, turning Narnia green once again. She famously manipulated Edmund and exploited his weaknesses into carrying out evil activities by giving him turkish delight to eat.
You can’t help but love to hate Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. The editor-in-chief of New York based fashion magazine Runway likes things done exactly her way, and she won’t hesitate to ridicule if something is not to her liking.
A simple look from Miranda could devastate any of her employees and Priestly’s cruel treatment of staff causes a high turnover rate among personal assistants. Andy eventually comes along as is one of the best personal assistants she has had, but Priestly still never manages to break a smile for her.
“Daddy, I want it now”, the famous words that would often come screeching out of the mouth of young spoiled brat Veruca Salt. The intolerable child from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory complained about everything and demanded everything else she wasn’t complaining about.
As for her golden egg, it seemed to be the end of Veruca Salt, so maybe she shouldn’t have asked for it in the first place. Sometimes, kids need to hear no otherwise they end up like Miss Salt!
Queen of Hearts
Anyone who demands “Off with their heads” constantly, has to be pretty wicked. The foul-tempered monarch is described as a “blind fury” for good reason. The queen from Alice In Wonderland was referred to as a card of playing cards.
When Alice first meets her, the queen is furious that Alice couldn’t tell her which was laying on the ground, and almost had her head severed before the King of Hearts reminded her that she was only a child and should be spared.
Quentin Tarantino had an amazing way of creating evil women and turning them into the scariest of assassins. This was the case with O-Ren Ishii and she was a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad known by her code-name Cottonmouth.
A trained assassin since the age of 11, she jumped through the ranks of Yakuza and killed some of the most highly killed assassins. O-Ren Ishii was one of the true female cold-blooded killers, but was unfortunately defeated by Beatrice in the end.
The main antagonist in the Twilight saga was Victoria, a thirsty blood-sucking female vampire who wanted nothing more than to get revenge on Edward Cullen by sinking her teeth into his love, Bella.
After her lover James was killed by Edward, Victoria stopped at nothing to get to the Cullens and Bella, even making a vampire army to try and destroy them. Played by Rachelle Lefevre in the first two movies, followed by Bryce Dallas Howard in the third, Victoria is eventually killed by Edward.
She may have appeared as an average, narcissistic high school girl on the outside, but Jennifer Check was a sadistic and vicious killer on the inside. The main character from Jennifers Body was sacrificed in a Satanic ritual by the wannabe indie rock band but was rejected for not being pure.
So in order to stay alive and strong, Jennifer feasted on men from her school campus. The demon in Jennifer was eventually killed and so were the rock band who turned her into this blood-thirsty demon.
“We love you Miss Hanigan!” The famous words that the orphan girls had to tell Miss Hannigan while they cleaned the whole orphanage and waited on her hand a foot while enduring abuse from the nasty caretaker.
Hannigan became even more evil when pretending to be Annie’s biological mother to steal Warbuck’s generous reward and stop Annie from having a wonderful life with the wealthy businessman. Luckily, her ploy with her brother was found out and she ended up with nothing.
We can all root for a baddie who turns good, but not so much the other way around. In Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle we se Madison Lee played by Demi Moore, a former Charlie’s Angel who turned to the dark side. She turned against Charlie and decided to work for herself, for her own agenda.
Brandishing two golden guns, Madison didn’t stop in her mission to get revenge on the agency she believed had betrayed her. In the end, she couldn’t beat the Angels and was killed.
Xenia Onatopp was a former soviet pilot and major antagonist in the James Bond film, Golden Eye. After the collapse of the USSR, she joined the Janus crime syndicate and became a ruthless assassin for the organization.
Known for squeezing men to death with her thighs, she tried this on Bond but failed. After a second encounter with Bond, Xenia almost kills him with her thighs claiming “the pleasure would be all mine”, but he escapes with the help of Bond Girl, Natalya. In the end, Xenia is ironically squeezed to death.
As one of the original Disney villains, Maleficent has terrified childhood audiences for decades, and then she was brought to life by Angelina Jolie in 2014. Maleficent was fiercely protective of the kingdom until the day she was betrayed so cursed the princess who then became sleeping beauty.
Maleficent’s plan was all going well until she realized that sleeping beauty held the key in peace for the kingdom. However, Jolie is about to bring back her malevolent nature in the upcoming film Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
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