The world’s top 10 movie villains, according to an exhaustive online poll

An exhaustive new online poll, measuring data from Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia and Google, has determined the world’s favourite movie villains. Eliza Janssen’s goes through this wickedly good line-up.

Nothing would happen without them, they’re often more interesting than the hero, and we literally love to hate them. Villains rule! And an exhaustive new poll conducted by has ranked them for our geeky pleasure, raising some interesting questions about just what it is about baddies that makes them so appealing to pop culture fans.

See also:
* All new streaming movies & series
* The top 50 action movies to stream

Drawing on a combination of search engine data from Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia and Google, the team of statistics nerds have analysed how much each of film history’s most formidable villains have been looked up on the internet. This leads to such fun info as the fact that Mali’s favourite villain is Tony Montana.

The public’s search data for each villain doesn’t specifically indicate approval or fandom, just that there was some reason for people to search the villain’s name. Regardless, we’re here to break down the top 10 most beloved evil-doers as decided by this research, because who doesn’t love a bad guy?

#10: Lord Farquaad

Voiced by John Lithgow, this diminutive enemy of Shrek sneaks into last place in the top 10. The Joker would hate to hear this, but Lord Farquaad is certainly the funniest villain of the pack, with his iconic bobbed haircut and the fact that he’s less of a vindictive conqueror and more…just kind of a jerk? This is a guy that evicts weeping fairytale figures off his land and kidnaps Princess Fiona for marriage before she’s ever heard of him. Also I only realised recently that his name is meant to be a winking mondegreen of the word ‘f**kwad’. Exceptional stuff.

#9: Alien

That’s right: the Xenomorph is the only villain in the top ten who isn’t a white guy. Well, I guess Thanos is purple, but the point still stands! A parasitic, acid-drooling, two-mouthed terror, the Alien remains as truly ferocious as when it was introduced to us in Ridley Scott’s claustrophobic sci-fi/horror classic. Artist H.R. Giger’s concept of a being that’s part industrial, mechanical nightmare and part icky phallic creature is totally original, which explains why it’s been ripped off so many times in other ‘people trapped in an X with a terrifying Y’ movies.

#8: Palpatine

Emperor Palpatine may not have the same soulful depth and humanity as Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, but he makes up for it in sheer, cackling evilness. A cruel totalitarian leader seeking to corrupt the galaxy, Palpatine has been a formidable opponent to generations of Skywalkers at this point, thanks to his surprise appearance in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

#7: The Terminator

Worldwide, he’s seventh, but in the Republic of Congo, the T-1000 is the most popular villain by a thin margin. Something about the steely, merciless cyborg must appeal to Congolese audiences? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakout Hollywood role is still as muscular and thrillingly un-emotive as it was back in 1984, and when he told us he’d be back, we should’ve listened: that film built the career of James Cameron, and has spawned a bevy of sequels to varying degrees of success.

#6: Hannibal Lecter

That’s DOCTOR Hannibal Lecter, thank you very much! A few actors have played the cannibal psychiatrist, but the first performance that comes to mind is most certainly Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs. Other great portrayals include Brian Cox in Manhunter, and Mads Mikkelsen in the gory TV series Hannibal, but all of them amount to the same thing: an aristocratic, genius villain who would simultaneously be a pleasure and a terror to have over for dinner.

#5: Kylo Ren

With the complex melancholy of his grandfather Darth Vader, and the brooding emo-boy vibes of your pop punk first crush in Year 8, Kylo Ren was always a sympathetic villain. His constant tension with the virtuous Rey, and their ongoing battle between the dark forces of the Sith and the lost teachings of the Jedi? Perfectly moody bad guy problems for a great actor like Adam Driver to chow into.

#4: Lord Voldemort

Gen Y basically grew up dreading Lord Voldemort, from his most subtle mentions in the early Harry Potter books, up to Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal in the later films. In an often wondrous and family-friendly franchise, Lord Voldemort represents a very sinister and mature sense of evil, with his plans for world domination and his glaring lack of a nose.

#3: Joker

The Clown Prince of Crime takes the bronze, with decades of live action and animated film, comic book, and video game depictions all working towards crafting the perfect character foil for Batman. This is the first of two Oscar-winning bad guys on the list, thanks to Joaquin Phoenix’s gritty performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker film last year, and Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for The Dark Knight. Interestingly, the Joker was more popular than Thanos in around 20 countries including Greece, Japan and Afghanistan.

#2: Darth Vader

Who’s your daddy? The highest ranking of the three Star Wars villains in the top ten, you can’t beat the ongoing franchise’s first and best bad guy. The rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker was basically charted over six films, making generations of sci-fi nerds bear witness to his epic tale of villainy. Think of how many iconic, asthmatic Darth Vader line readings there are and you’ll agree that he deserves to be at the top of the list.

#1: Thanos

With an overall score of 81.05, the Avenger’s arch-nemesis Thanos is leagues ahead of the competition, claiming the throne with a mere snap of his fingers. A few years ago, only true comic-book nerds would’ve known who Thanos even is, but an appearance in the highest grossing film of all time plants the big purple genocidal maniac in the top spot. Australia and New Zealand both chose Thanos as their favourite villain of all time, as did just about every country. It’s a bit of a smack in the face for the rest of the list, considering Avengers: Endgame is one of the most recent films on there, which may have caused a recency bias.