By Neal Taparia - 11/01/2023
Video games have given us some of the most memorable and diabolical villains in entertainment history. From the sadistic to the cunning, these antagonists have kept us on the edge of our seats, making us question our every gaming move.
But who are the most evil video game villains? In a survey of more than 800 video game players, Solitaired had gamers rank 50 popular villains to find the most (and least) sinister. We also asked gamers to rank the best video game villains of all time.
On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the most evil), the Joker from the Batman: Arkham series came in at number one with a staggering 4.29 evil rating. Pyramid Head, from the nightmarish town of Silent Hill, comes in second. With an overall score of 4.15, he haunts player’s dreams long after the game is over.
Two villains from the Resident Evil series tie for number 3 and 4 in the ranking. Albert Wesker, the sinister mastermind of the game series, scores a 4.03 in our ranking. His pursuit of power and manipulation of the Umbrella Corporation make him a formidable foe. Joining Wesker is the relentless Nemesis, sharing the same evil rating of 4.03. This hulking monstrosity will stop at nothing to eliminate all S.T.A.R.S. members.
Ganon, the embodiment of evil in the iconic video game series Legend of Zelda, earns a 3.89 evil ranking on our scale of most evil video game characters. Frau Engel, from the video game Wolfstein stands as a symbol of Nazi cruelty, earning her a 3.86 score on our list.
The list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about some of the least evil villains in video games. Team Rocket from the Pokemon series came in last with an evil rating of only 1.95. Their antics may come across as a bit humorous and light-hearted rather than malevolent to gamers.
We surveyed hundreds of gamers to uncover what qualities make the best video game villains and how these antagonists contribute to the gaming experience. According to gamers, personality, complexity, visual design, evolving threats and iconic moments all contribute to making some characters the best video game villains. These are the villains we just love to hate.
Interestingly, our survey revealed that 2 in 5 gamers actually prefer video game villains to heroes. Villains often provide the complexity and unpredictability that make a game truly captivating. However, the moment a gamer defeats a villain is legendary in its own right, and 81% of respondents reported feeling like a hero when they achieve this victory.
Defeating a well-crafted video game villain is no easy task. Our survey found that 84% of gamers have turned to the internet for guidance when faced with a particularly challenging antagonist. Online forums, walkthroughs, and strategy guides have become invaluable resources in the quest to overcome these digital foes.
Some villains are just legendary. Whether they're diabolical masterminds or terrifying creatures, these antagonists have left an indelible mark on gaming history.
Topping gamers’ list of the top video game villains of all time is Sephiroth, the iconic antagonist from the Final Fantasy series. With his striking appearance and god-like abilities, Sephiroth's complex character and epic battles have made him a legend in the gaming world. The Joker from the Batman: Arkham series, who came in at number one in our evil ranking, sits at number two in the greatest of all-time list.
No villain list would be complete without Bowser, the King of the Koopas, who has been a thorn in Mario's side for decades. Bowser's imposing presence and memorable boss battles have secured his place at number three on our list.
Other villains gamers consider some of the greatest of all time include Kefka, the mad jester from Final Fantasy, the relentless Xenomorph that keeps gamers in a constant state of fear in Alien Isolation, and the Lich King Arthas Menethil from World of Warcraft.
In August 2023, we surveyed 805 Americans who play video games and had them rate the ‘evilness’ of 50 popular video game characters on a scale of 1 to 5. Respondents were also asked questions about video game villains. Respondents were 46% female, 50% male, and 4% non-binary with an age range of 19 to 80 and an average age of 36 years old.
When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing Solitaired.
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