13 Villains We Don’t Love With Our Hearts, But We Realize They Had Their Reasons to Be So Mean
Villains are many things: vile, greedy, and vengeful, but they also stay in our hearts. They’re the driving force that pushes the protagonist of a story forward. If well-developed, they inspire audiences to confront their own dark side. They may even make us wonder, “What if those villains we’ve consistently rejected since childhood weren’t really so evil?”
1. Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter saga
Dudley made Harry Potter’s life at the Dursley household truly awful, there’s no doubt about that. But his unfriendly behavior may come from his primary sources of influence: his mom and dad. Stepping back, we see a more compassionate angle.
It’s worth noting that the spoiled cousin also found himself on the wrong side of magic occasionally. The encounter with the snake at the zoo and his unwanted pig’s tail may have strengthened his distaste for Harry.
2. Maleficent in the movie of the same name
Maleficent was both the villain and the heroine of the film. Beyond good and evil, the story portrays the moment when she’s betrayed by her “true love,” a human named Stefan. He ends up stealing her wings to give them to the king, and later becomes the heir to the throne. Seeking revenge, the enraged fairy curses the princess into a deep sleep.
Maleficent gets to know the girl, finally regrets her actions and wants to protect her kingdom. The fairy tale highlights family bonds and female empowerment over the traditional romantic love between the princess and the prince.
3. Ruth DeWitt in Titanic
When we first watched Titanic, we saw Ruth De Witt as Rose’s strict mother and considered her one of the antagonists in the story. There’s no doubt that she behaved badly: she mistreated Jack and endlessly pressured Rose to marry Cal.
Sure, she was snobby, rude, and selfish, yet she loved and cared for and wanted the best for her daughter (can we blame her?). In the lifeboat scene, she refused to board without Rose and even shed tears after seeing the ship slowly sink into the ocean with Rose and many other passengers still onboard.
4. King Kong in the movie of the same name
King Kong is more than just a beast in a monster movie. People arrive on Skull Island after being lost at sea and unknowingly enter its territory. As the story advances, we see that Kong is capable of emotions, such as feeling protective of Ann.
While the humans do their best to capture, control, and profit from the gigantic primate, all the gorilla wants is to be left alone.
5. Loki in Thor
Loki had many reasons to be the villain in Thor. Odin had raised Loki from an infant, using magic to hide his true nature as a Frost Giant. Not only that, but he had to spend his whole life repeatedly in the shadow of Thor, his favorite son, who was incredibly selfish and irresponsible.
Finding out that he was adopted may have pushed Loki over the edge, but dealing with a brother like Thor for countless decades brought him to the point of true villainy.
6. Sid in Toy Story
Yes, Sid smashed, abused, and blew up toys for fun, but he didn’t realize the toys were alive. In reality, Sid was a little boy who didn’t get enough attention from his parents. We only get to see him as an evil giant because most of the characters in the movie are about 3 inches high.
To be fair, at the end of the movie, Woody and the other toys scared him to such an extent that he swore never to hurt a toy again.
7. Agent Smith in The Matrix
Agent Smith from The Matrix is one of the most prominent villains in science fiction. Like the rest of the agents in the simulation, his only goal was to antagonize Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus. However, Hugo Weaving began to give him much more complex personality traits, and as a consequence, Smith betrayed the other agents and the machines themselves.
To him, humans were a virus, something disgusting, and The Matrix was a prison from which he had to escape.
8. Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
Count Dooku was as iconic a villain as Darth Vader in the Star Wars saga. It’s not hard to understand his reasons for betraying the Republic.
To Dooku, the Jedi had fallen from grace as they could no longer keep the peace. The Jedi Order cared too much about intervening in politics, letting their arrogance get to them. Nonetheless, the Sith were not the best choice.
9. Sharpay Evans in High School Musical
Another unforgettable villain is Sharpay Evans from High School Musical. Although many of us may not be fond of her dramatic and rude attitude, one thing is certain: Sharpay had been acting in different plays since preschool, and she deserved a lead role in the high school play. Meanwhile, Gabriella and Troy had no experience except singing karaoke.
10. Scar in The Lion King and The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride
The evil brother from The Lion King is one of Disney’s most brilliant villains. He seemed like a vulnerable character, but he succeeded in his goal of deposing Mufasa and removing Simba from the line of succession to the throne. With his leadership and charisma, he thought kings should be selected based on their abilities and skills rather than birth.
Thus, Scar rejected Nuka in favor of Kovu as his successor, which was against tradition. However, it was the right decision because Kovu was indeed competent to be the future king.
11. The Evil Queen (Regina Mills) in Once Upon A Time
The Evil Queen is one of the key villains of the series, with which most of the storylines are connected. But there is a reason why she behaves this way, and it is quite clear that she cannot be written off as pure evil. In her youth, she was sweet and sympathetic, loved her groom Daniel and dreamed of getting married. The pain of losing a loved one changed her forever. Her heart began to fill with rage, a thirst for revenge. At first, she tries to fight it, but to no avail. Snow White’s betrayal finally turned her into the Evil Queen and she wants revenge and is afraid to be betrayed again.
12. Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
Joffrey is the most famous Game of Thrones villain in large part because he was a child whose cruel choices affected all of Westeros. But Joffrey became the way he is for a reason. He grew up in a dysfunctional family — his parents hated each other, his real father was not interested in him, and his domineering, selfish, paranoid mother regularly inspired that, as the future king, everything was allowed to him. Joffrey wanted to be a good king, but his idea of a ruler gets distorted and mutilated by himself.
13. Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
Iron Lady Miranda Priestly is considered the main villain of the film because she is a cruel and demanding boss. But for Miranda, work is her whole life, so perfectionism and unwillingness to compromise make her the highest professional.
Who is your favorite villain in movie history? Why do you think we sometimes are more attracted to villains than to heroes?