11 Best Disney Villains (And Why They Weren’t So Bad After All)

in Disney, Movies & TV

Disney villains are notorious for wickedness, devious plans, and menacing charm. Yet, beneath their evil exteriors, many possess qualities that make them surprisingly complex and, in some cases, even relatable.

Psychologists have explored the mentality behind these characters, leaving us to explore the 11 best Disney villains and discover why, deep down, they may not be as irredeemable as they first appear.

Gal Gadot (left) and Evil Queen (right)
Credit: Inside the Magic

1. Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Why She Wasn’t So Bad After All: Maleficent’s desire for revenge stems from not being invited to Aurora’s christening. Her character showcases how grudges can consume and transform someone into a villain. Beneath her evil façade lies an essence that values respect and acknowledgment.

Related: Leaked ‘Snow White’ Footage Exposed Following Rachel Zegler Replacement News

'The Little Mermaid' (2023) and (1989); Ursula (2023) on the left and Ursula (1989) on the right
Credit: Inside the Magic

2. Ursula – The Little Mermaid (1989)

Why She Wasn’t So Bad After All: Ursula, the sea witch, is a master manipulator, but her desire for power and agency in a world that doesn’t value her adds depth to her character. She offers Ariel a choice, even if it’s not the wisest one, and ultimately, she wants to break free from her marginalized existence.

simba and scar the lion king
Credit: Disney

3. Scar – The Lion King (1994)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Scar’s jealousy and desire for the throne drive his villainy. While his actions are reprehensible, his ambition and intellect make him a compelling character. Scar’s cunning reveals the destructive nature of unchecked ambition.

Related: Disney Is Turning The Lion King into the Next Star Wars

Hades at Disneyland
Credit: MouseSteps

4. Hades – Hercules (1997)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Hades, the underworld god, is sarcastic and conniving, but his humor and wit make him oddly endearing. His desire for power and acknowledgment from his family is relatable, even if his methods are less than noble.

Gaston strokes his chin and stares at his reflection in the mirror
Credit: Disney

5. Gaston – Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Gaston embodies toxic masculinity and entitlement, but his unwavering confidence and charisma are captivating. His downfall serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of arrogance.

Related: Gaston’s Villain Song a Subtle Yet Clear Metaphor for AIDS Crisis

snapshot from 'Cruella'
Credit: Disney

6. Cruella de Vil – 101 Dalmatians (1961)

Why She Wasn’t So Bad After All: Cruella de Vil’s obsession with fur coats made from Dalmatian puppies is undeniably cruel. However, her obsession and disregard for ethics illustrate the dangers of materialism and vanity.

Captain Hook, an iconic Disney villain
Credit: Disney

7. Captain Hook – Peter Pan (1953)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Captain Hook’s fear of the crocodile is a source of comic relief. His relentless pursuit of Peter Pan stems from his desire for revenge, highlighting how obsession can blind individuals to reason.

Aladdin The Return of Jafar Animation Movie Poster
Credit: Disney

8. Jafar – Aladdin (1992)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Jafar’s lust for power and the genie’s magic lamp drive his actions. His character underscores the corrupting influence of power and the lengths people may go to satisfy their ambitions.

Related: Will Smith’s Future With Disney Revealed, Tom Cruise Involved

Mother Gothel and Rapunzel, an iconic Disney villain
Credit: Disney

9. Mother Gothel – Tangled (2010)

Why She Wasn’t So Bad After All: Mother Gothel’s selfishness and desire to retain her youth by using Rapunzel’s magical hair are reprehensible. However, her character reveals the destructive nature of vanity and the fear of aging.

Cinderella and Wicked Stepmother in mirror
Credit: Disney

10. Cinderella’s Stepmother – Cinderella (1950)

Why She Wasn’t So Bad After All: Cinderella’s stepmother is known for her cruelty. Still, her character reflects societal expectations and the pressures that can drive individuals to mistreat others to maintain their social status.

dr.-facilier-princess-and-the-frog a notable Disney villain
Credit: Disney

11. Dr. Facilier – The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Why He Wasn’t So Bad After All: Dr. Facilier, also known as the Shadow Man, uses dark magic for personal gain. His character highlights the dangers of dealing with the devil and the consequences of seeking shortcuts to success.

Related: Princess Tiana Makes Waves With New Animated Short

In Disney’s storytelling, even the most sinister villains can offer valuable lessons about the human condition and the consequences of their actions. While undeniably wicked, these characters reveal aspects of ambition, obsession, and vulnerability that can make them strangely relatable.

disney's queer coded villains through the years
Credit: Inside the Magic

Ultimately, Disney’s villains serve as cautionary tales and reminders that empathy and understanding can help us find common ground with even the most sinister characters.

Which Disney villain is the fiercest of them all? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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