The Most Memorable Villain in Video Games

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TITLE CHANGED DUE TO REQUEST

Simple really, list who you consider to be the most memorable and iconic villain(s) in gaming history, and why.

My vote for the greatest villain of any game goes to Liquid Snake. From a terrible childhood by which he was literally created and brought up to have major resentment towards Solid Snake, made him a character I truly sympathised with, despite being quite simply evil, and especially when his intentions was partially to save what he considered to be his family.

Not only that, his intelligence was that even better than that of the hero, and all the other characters in the story, making him an enemy both feared yet respected, and to top it of, and his hatred wonderfully brought to life with some hammy dialog that is right up there with the greatest villains in action movie history.

What I also like, although I'm not certain this was the intention, is how his brainwashing may very well be a reference for how propagangda, or even religion, is sometimes used to influence people to do the worst of things, often beginning way back in their childhood, when first drummed into their head.

Being deliberately brought up to live with the notion that war was an important part of human evolution, and our existence (all more harrowing because there is at least an element of truth in there), whilst constantly being force-feed and inferiority complex, Liquid had a level of depth to his character I've not seen in any video game before, or since.

He raised the bar of video game villains, and may still be the most well rounded one seen in the game industry today.

Honourable mentions to Sephiroth of Final Fantasy 7, Dr Robotnic of Sonic the Hedgehog, and Bowser of Super Mario. However, in the case of the last two, they're merely iconic in that they've appeared in a lot of games, not that any (at least, not Bowser), appear particularly charming.

So, what's your favourites and/ or candidates for greatest gaming villain ever?

Iconic? Probably Bowser. In terms of pure units moved he probably has more cultural penetration than any other 10 villains put together.

Memorable? GLaDOS or SHODAN. Love those crazy female AIs.

Most recently I've been enjoying Vaas from Far Cry 3. Very well done villain.

What exactly defines iconic? The one everyone knows? Then yeah, it's gonna be Bowser, everyone knows that fucker and he's the very definition of Video Game villain. Who do we consider good villain? Well, I think truly good villain is the one who is either a victim itself, or who does not believe he's doing a bad thing.
Example, Ryoji/Nyx Avatar from Persona 3. I kinda feel sorry for the guy. Appearing one day from nowhere, having no memories of the past, discovering value of friendship and possibly love and then realizing that you are destined to destroy humanity. That's why I feel so sorry for him, he never meant to hurt anyone, but he literally have no choice but to bring The Fall and become monstrosity. Let's not even mention how freaking amazing Boss battle against him is. And Nyx itself is kind of interesting villain. Not hostile or malevolent she just decided to fulfill humanity's wish. It just so happens that humanity wished for Death.
I also really like main villain from Front Mission 3-guy named Lukav. He was genetically engineered to be a super human. To be stronger, smarter and be above human weaknesses, that's what he was told, so no surprise that one day he actually believed that.
Also, obvious kudos to Andreaw Ryan and John Konrad for delivering the most iconic speeches in video game history.

Yeah, "iconic" isn't a very good word to use there.

A villain I enjoyed very much was Jack of Blades, from fable 1. He outwitted, outmatched and outsmarted you at every turn. You were always there to see he succeed, while you failed. Always a step behind. You actually feared him, due to how how ruthlessly effective he was.

As far as iconic? Donkey Kong, seeing he was THE villain before he made a face turn and became my choice of character for Mario Party.

Personally? Archimonde for Warcraft 3. As a kid he was the first villain I took seriously, or at least got an emotional response out of. Plus he was a total badass, do you know how long it takes to bring that guy down?

Memorable? Definitely Colonel Konrad of Spec Ops: The Line. The reveal, at least, wow'd me. Runner-up is Andrew Ryan, just a fascinating and interesting villain really.

Jon Irenicus from Baldur's Gate 2 was pretty damned good, but most memorable has got to be SHODAN from System Shock 2 for me. She's just the perfect blend of intriguing and terrifying. A villain that we on one hand want more of, but are nonetheless still nervous to see pop up just because we're never quite sure what they might do next.

GlaDOS

Very few passive aggressive villains in videogames. And she did it all with just her voice.

Also Garry from Bully. What a conniving little shitstain he was... I love 'm.

And ofcourse Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet and Clank 3.

Oh GlaDOS is a great one. Bowser as well. To think of the greatest though could I say the flood. An unstoppable horde that will consume you unless you kill all life is pretty intense. I know they are not one being (not even the gravemind) but enemies that will eat my entire race into extinction are pretty bad dudes.

A memorable villain for the good reasons: Saren Arterius.

He's a well-written character with defined goals, motives, character development, and means of action. The way he's portrayal is well done, he's likeable as a villain, sympathetic without being overdone, and, were it not for him being indoctrinated and hating humans with a passion, would have been welcome on my ship.

A memorable villain for the wrong reasons: Kai Leng.

Kai Leng comes off as a whiny child of a character. With no development whatsoever in the game, no clear motive or goals other than being a puppet for the Illusive Man, his characterization is shallow and meaningless. Existing for no other reason than because Bioware wanted an active enemy with a face, he is kept alive again and again due to plot contrivance, not because he is capable, but because the game demanded it. In fact, the game shows Kai Leng as anything but capable, being easily fought against in close quarters by a man who can barely breathe, who had just made his way through the Citadel sounding like he was on his last leg. His need for constant backup during his fights with Shepard and co speak of how poor his skills really are, and only serve to make the game's insistence of his survival all the more contrived.

There's this video log that you can find while in the Illusive Man's base, where Kai Leng is whining, literally whining, at the Illusive Man about how he couldn't kill Shepard. It sums up Kai Lengs character perfectly.

Saren was a fallen hero, his only goal, that of saving his people, used by Sovereign to turn him against the very people he wanted to save.

Kai Leng was a whiny child with an inferiority complex.

Both memorable, but for opposite reasons.

distortedreality:
Wreck-It Ralph.

That's a good answer.

OT: Now, if you want most-memorable, then it's not about how GOOD they are - though they can be badasses - it's about how many people can know him or her right off. Glados is one, Cthulhu is another, and Sephiroth is a definite as well. It was never about what people think of any of them. It's about how many know or remember them. I love Persona 3, but the most memorable thing about the actual villain god was the fact that it was a giant eye made out of the moon...a fact that has no bearing on it being Nyx, a god. Of course, Star Wars fans or anyone who's ever watched the movies and know him to be in games...will pick Darth Vader.

I believe that out of them all, the one with the most exposure AND popularity would be one who has been in all kinds of media in addition to games and loved for his gleeful insanity: The Joker.

Taking a different route and instead of saying Vergil, I'm saying Arkham from Devil May Cry 3.

He looks a little plain aside from his scarred face and mismatched eyes, but that voice! That is the voice of evil incarnate.

It gets even better when you realise:

Kefka.

No other villian to me is more memorable than this character. He takes evil, crazy and gleefully murderous, cranks that dial to 11, then cranks it some more to the point where he just breaks it off. His laughter is one of the most recognizable sounds and it's one that, once it sticks in your head, is very hard to forget once you hear it. His motivations are pretty straight forward, he's comical when he's not being a downright asshole, and successfully wrecks the world he inhabits.

Say what you want about any other villian - Kefka, to me, is the most spiteful bastard of a villian and that's what makes him my most memorable.

Honorable mention goes to Lavos from Chrono Trigger, mainly because while it is the main antogonist of the game, not one of the characters nor the player can really identify with Lavos. It just is; but once you realize what it is, you know you're going up against a damnably strong foe.

CrazyCapnMorgan:
Kefka.

No other villian to me is more memorable than this character. He takes evil, crazy and gleefully murderous, cranks that dial to 11, then cranks it some more to the point where he just breaks it off. His laughter is one of the most recognizable sounds and it's one that, once it sticks in your head, is very hard to forget once you hear it. His motivations are pretty straight forward, he's comical when he's not being a downright asshole, and successfully wrecks the world he inhabits.

Say what you want about any other villian - Kefka, to me, is the most spiteful bastard of a villian and that's what makes him my most memorable.

Honorable mention goes to Lavos from Chrono Trigger, mainly because while it is the main antogonist of the game, not one of the characters nor the player can really identify with Lavos. It just is; but once you realize what it is, you know you're going up against a damnably strong foe.

Kefka... the villain who just keeps messing with you, at every turn. I still have nightmares about running into that bastard on the street and subsequently having my life ruined constantly by him. Thats how much a villain he was to me, and he wasn't even rendered in 3d... Says a lot about staying power.

First ever villain that scared me?
Sinistar. That voice...

The Elder God. He keeps the hero in the dark about his very existence until very end and even then, Kain still yet has to defeat him.

Casual Shinji:

Also Garry from Bully. What a conniving little shitstain he was... I love 'm.

Almost every moment of playing Bully was underlined by me muttering 'fuckin' Gary...'. Love the touch of him dressing up in an SS uniform for halloween.

I'm gon' go with Revolver Ocelot. Utterly ridiculous, but that's why I remember him.

A well-written villian is Doctor Breen from half-life 2. His speeches were quite good, Breen certainly was a intelligent person who was either in it for himself or because he truly believed he could better humanity through the Combine.

I have to cast my vote for Hazama from the BlazBlue games, He is so FUN! He so delightfully evil I can't help but love him.

His entire role in the plot is him basically rolling around other people's story modes ruining their day then showing up to wreck face in the final boss stage in his Unlimited Mode. He outclasses everyone in the cast by far, he never even considers them a threat to him pretty much. He is faux-modest about it just to be more hilarious.

"I'm not really the fighting kind of guy y'know?"

He only hates Rachel, not because she is one of the few who can match him in a fair fight but because she has a habit of saving his would be victims by teleporting them out at random.

"Damn vampire! You LIVE to cockblock me don't you?! Well UNlive. You get the point"

He is also one stylin' dude.

Tell me that isn't the most stylish suit you have ever seen?

The good ol' Bowser :D

Manfred Von Karma the guy is obsessed with perfection to the point that he will harbor a mean grudge,also has a rather twisted perception of "justice". What really makes him memorable though is unlike most other villains he has no powers and is just a prosecutor who will bend the rules to get his verdict.

The most memorable villian for me would be Ganondorf, he was one of the few villians to actually succeed in his goal to take over Hyrule.The only thing he did'nt count on was Link waking up from the Temple of Time but he ruled Hyrule for seven years.

I'd have to say The Prophet of Truth From Halo 2 and 3. He was clearly an asshole, but he was doing what he thought was right and had an incredible sense of Gravitas to him. One of his speeches can be found here. It starts at 1:58.

Tyrant_Valvatorez:
Manfred Von Karma the guy is obsessed with perfection to the point that he will harbor a mean grudge,also has a rather twisted perception of "justice". What really makes him memorable though is unlike most other villains he has no powers and is just a prosecutor who will bend the rules to get his verdict.

Agreed, made even more sinister by the fact that...

Truly, one of the most diabolical villains ever.

I want to say Majora... but more memorabe and importantly villainous (though not necessarily a sentient villain) was this:

image
"Oh, I'm sorry. Were you trying to sleep?"

No matter where you go in the game, this is always visible and always growing.

Also have to agree with Kefka - He's one of the few villains that actually succeeded in their evil schemes; all you can do is get rid of the guy so that at least part of the world can return to normal.

Second place goes to Ganon, even though whenever he does gain control it's nowhere near the scale that is Kefka's.

I've always been a fan of this guy:

image

Those that do not recognize this man... Well, I would have either no words for you or choice words.

Out of all of the games I have played, Kane sticks out in my mind as the most memorable villain. Perhaps it was the fact that he was so damned incideous. He would show up out of nowhere, and just when you thought you had finally vanquished him, there he was again, trying to destroy your base.

I will ignore the crap that was C&C4 though. They really screwed him over and did not do him any justice in that ending.

AgentLampshade:
snip

Now THAT was shakespearean. Othello anyone?

My pick would be Glados. Even when she is powerless and isn't trying to kill you, she is fantastic. A villainess that isn't confined to her final boss room nor the boundries of sanity. She is almost like the perfect housewife. Good with kids, neat with her house, and a damn good cook. Too bad she is married with science.

Kirby. That fucker has committed genocide on most of Dreamland. He's the ultimate serial killer.
image

Kerrigan in the original Starcraft.

The Wykydtron:
I have to cast my vote for Hazama from the BlazBlue games, He is so FUN! He so delightfully evil I can't help but love him.

His entire role in the plot is him basically rolling around other people's story modes ruining their day then showing up to wreck face in the final boss stage in his Unlimited Mode. He outclasses everyone in the cast by far, he never even considers them a threat to him pretty much. He is faux-modest about it just to be more hilarious.

"I'm not really the fighting kind of guy y'know?"

He only hates Rachel, not because she is one of the few who can match him in a fair fight but because she has a habit of saving his would be victims by teleporting them out at random.

"Damn vampire! You LIVE to cockblock me don't you?! Well UNlive. You get the point"

He is also one stylin' dude.

Tell me that isn't the most stylish suit you have ever seen?

Ah yes, fighting game baddies. The most charismatic of them all.

OT: I dunno about you guys, but senator Armstrong from MGR:Revengeance will be remembered by me for a long time.


There is just something about him that makes me like him despite him being a batard.

Also, Rugal Berstein from King of Fighters series


I just like villains that are elegant without being overly-feminine (yes, JRPGs, I am looking at you). Also, he has great moveset.

wintercoat:
-Snip-

Agreed on both points. Saren is a big part of why I love ME1 so much.

The Wykydtron:
-Snip-

Ninja'd! Hazama really is a great villain. They don't call him the "King of Trolls" for nothing.

"NOW GO KILL THE SHIT OUT OF AMATERASU!"

Fappy:

wintercoat:
-Snip-

Agreed on both points. Saren is a big part of why I love ME1 so much.

The Wykydtron:
-Snip-

Ninja'd! Hazama really is a great villain. They don't call him the "King of Trolls" for nothing.

"NOW GO KILL THE SHIT OUT OF AMATERASU!"

Thinking about it, would Mu count as a villain? She is a living weapon of epic proportions wielding the Sword of the Godslayer after all. She is the ascended form of (most certainly not villainous) Noel Vermillion but still... Being custom made to wipe out all life is a rather villainous trait.

Then again after getting wrecked by every single person online with her i'm beginning to doubt her godliness. I usually would put Style over Practicality but i'll make an exception in her case. SO SQUISHY! PUT SOME CLOTHES ON FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

The Wykydtron:

Fappy:

wintercoat:
-Snip-

Agreed on both points. Saren is a big part of why I love ME1 so much.

The Wykydtron:
-Snip-

Ninja'd! Hazama really is a great villain. They don't call him the "King of Trolls" for nothing.

"NOW GO KILL THE SHIT OUT OF AMATERASU!"

Thinking about it, would Mu count as a villain? She is a living weapon of epic proportions wielding the Sword of the Godslayer after all. She is the ascended form of (most certainly not villainous) Noel Vermillion but still... Being custom made to wipe out all life is a rather villainous trait.

Then again after getting wrecked by every single person online with her i'm beginning to doubt her godliness. I usually would put Style over Practicality but i'll make an exception in her case. SO SQUISHY! PUT SOME CLOTHES ON FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

She's just kind of a mindless killing machine and in the next game Noel supposedly has the ability to transform into Mu and retain her sanity, so I wouldn't really consider Mu a villain.

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