10 Darkest Villains in Animated Movies Will Give You Goosebumps

June 09, 2024

Animated film has since its inception been home to some of cinema’s most iconic villains. The virtually boundless nature of animation leaves room for antagonists who are always a mighty obstacle in the hero’s way—And sometimes, an absolutely terrifying one, too.

Shan Yu — ‘Mulan’ (1998)

Shan Yu and his eagle looking menacing in the mountains
Image via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

In Disney’s animated classic Mulan, viewers follow a young Chinese maiden who, in order to save her father from death in the army, goes in his place and becomes her country’s greatest heroine in the process.

While Disney Renaissance classics may not be the first group of movies to come to mind when you think of the word “scary”, some certainly had their fair share of fear to generate. The villain of Mulan, the ruthless leader of the Hun Army, is certainly quite terrifying. Visually imposing and intimidating in his demeanor, Shan Yu is quite a force to be reckoned with.

Claude Frollo — ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (1996)

Image via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Despite how acclaimed it is, The Hunchback of Notre Dame still feels like one of the most criminally underrated Disney classics. A somewhat watered-down, but still pretty intense adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s dark and tragic novel, it’s about a bell-ringer who must assert his independence from a government minister in order to help a friend.

The vicious minister is Claude Frollo, one of the most genuinely horrifying villains Disney has ever created. What’s particularly scary about him is that he feels all too realistic—Manipulative, abusive, and purely evil, he’s a reflection of all the villains that have defined history.

Grigori Rasputin — ‘Anastasia’ (1997)

Grigori Rasputin summoning dark forces to take revenge on the Romanov family
Image via 20th Century Studios

One of the most romantic animated films ever, and one of director Don Bluth‘s most acclaimed works, Anastasia is the story of the last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family, who joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother.

While Anastasia struggles to find her family, the sinister Rasputin seeks her death. The villain’s design is creepy to say the least, and the scenes that show him at his most relentlessly violent should be enough to send chills down the spine of anyone who grew up getting nightmares from this antagonist.

Friends on the Other Side — ‘The Princess and the Frog’ (2009)

Voodoo masks from 'The Princess and the Frog' with illuminated purple eyes
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Disney’s second-to-last traditional 2D-animated feature, The Princess and the Frog puts a fresh spin on some traditional fairy tale tropes. It tells the tale of a waitress who, after trying to turn a frog prince back into a human, faces the same problem herself after kissing him, and has to set out on a journey to fix it.

Although the film’s main antagonist, Dr. Facilier, is intimidating enough himself, it’s his mysterious spirit friends who are the scariest presence in the movie. Based on Louisiana Voodoo elements, the spirits are so unpredictable and mystifying that it’s hard not to be scared of them.

Hexxus — ‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ (1992)

Hexxus from Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
Image via 20th Century Studios

Indie animated musical films aren’t all that common, which makes FernGully: The Last Rainforest an even more precious gem. It’s about the magical inhabitants of a forest, and their fight to save their home from a polluting force of destruction called Hexxus.

A beautiful film that celebrates love for nature, FernGully nevertheless isn’t afraid to scare its audience with a terrifying villain. With stunning animation and one of Tim Curry‘s best voice performances, Hexxus becomes a formidable entity that, for the majority of the film’s runtime, feels impossible to defeat.

Oogie Boogie — ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)

Oogie Boogie in A Nightmare Before Christmas
Image via Touchstone

One of the few true children’s horror movies that Disney has made, The Nightmare Before Christmas is typically regarded as one of their best and most unique outings. It’s about Jack, the king of Halloween Town, whose attempts to bring Christmas to his home cause confusion among his people.

Although he tends to be buried among more famous Disney villains, Oogie Boogie is both memorable and scary. Sadistic and spooky, he’s the scariest part of a movie that’s already frightening enough for children and adults alike.

Me-Mania — ‘Perfect Blue’ (1997)

Me-Mania from 'Perfect Blue' in front of screens showing Mima
Image via Rex Entertainment

Satoshi Kon was not only one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers of all time, but also a master of mind-bending cinema. Perfect Blue is his masterpiece, a mystery thriller about a pop singer who becomes an actress, but slowly starts losing her mind when she notices an obsessed fan stalking her.

The whole thing is a terrifying rumination on parasocial relationships, identity, and fandom culture. Protagonist Mima’s stalker, nicknamed Me-Mania, feels like he was ripped right off a horror film. Grotesquely animated, mysterious, and hard to understand, he’s not exactly a welcome sight.

Other Mother — ‘Coraline’ (2009)

Image via Focus Features

When it comes to horrifying animated villains, it hardly gets more iconic than the Other Mother from Coraline. Based on Neil Gaiman‘s legendary book, it’s about an adventurous girl who finds a parallel world that’s an idealized version of her frustrating reality, but with sinister secrets lurking about.

Coraline is one of the best horror films to watch with the little ones of the family, but remains just as magical and enrapturing when you’re all grown up and watching it by yourself. Other Mother never ceases to be a bloodcurdling villain, a creepy embodiment of twisted love.

All the Monsters — ‘Mad God’ (2021)

mad god image shudder
Image via Shudder

Puppetry master Phil Tippett took decades to make Mad God, a grotesque and surreal descent into a violent hellscape. It’s about the Assassin, a humanoid who travels through a nightmarish underworld of tortured souls forged from the primordial horrors of the unconscious mind.

Those who have the stomach to accompany the Assassin on his bloody, dirty journey will encounter a wide variety of monsters. Creatively designed to be as ugly and off-putting as possible, mixed with tremendous sound design and Tippett’s masterful animation, they’re genuinely terrifying villains that are consistently hard to watch.

Wolf — ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ (2022)

Puss meets Death, a wolf with a frightening smile and red eyes, at a bar in 'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.'
Image via Universal Pictures

One of the most pleasant surprises that animation has had to offer this decade so far, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is one of DreamWorks Animation’s greatest triumphs. It finds its eponymous protagonist discovering that his adventures have taken their toll, leaving him only with the last of his nine lives to find a mythical Last Wish that can restore the other eight.

All throughout his journey, Puss is stalked by the Big Bad Wolf, who turns out to be none other than Death itself. Hearing his now iconic whistle should be enough to scare anyone who has seen the movie, and the villain’s terrifying design and personality are just the cherry on top.

Source: Collider

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