The 21 Best Anime Villains of All Time, Ranked

Pierrot / Toei Animation / Crunchyroll / ONE37pm

Every good protagonist needs a despicable antagonist. That's just the facts! In order for readers, viewers, and gamers to feel compelled to take up the good fight, they'll need to come up against a horrible individual or group that inspires on to take revenge. In the world of anime, insanely powerful beings usually come to blows and highly intelligent personalities engage in battles of one-upping each other through pure wit. We've grown up watching some of the vilest and most vicious baddies to have ever reared their ugly heads in anime. And now we've reached into our memory banks to revisit the most impactful moments across our favorite series to put together this list of the 20 best anime villains of all time. We just love to hate these POS individuals.

RELATED: The 28 Best Anime Protagonists, Ranked

21. Shou Tucker

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Aniplex of America

‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’

Far from the actual most important antagonist in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Shou has a brief storyline that is one of the most memorably tragic moments in the series. The twist revealed at the end of episode four is one of the more upsetting things I've witnessed. If you haven't watched it, I can't in good conscience suggest you should check it out. The series is a masterpiece; however, this episode is a nightmare. - Charlie Kolbrener

20. Char Aznable


'Mobile Suit Gundam'

I'm taking it all the way back to the original Mobile Suit Gundam to speak on another one of the most badass villains in anime. Char Aznable aka "The Red Comet" played the perfect foil for the heroic Amuro Ray. One look at this guy and I could tell he was a dirtbag that doesn't have an ounce of decency to his name. This immaculately dressed bad guy made life extra stressful for the "White Base" crew and also devoted himself to getting revenge on the Zabi Family due to their involvement in the death of his father. His ability to be a villainous multitasker and slick-looking "Mobile Suit MS-06S "Char Zaku" has stuck with me since I first laid eyes on him. - Elton Jones

19. Isabella

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Aniplex of America

‘The Promised Neverland’

Once I found out what was truly going on with the young orphans in The Promised Neverland, I developed so much hate for this vile woman. At first, she comes off like the sweetest caretaker in the world - she tends to the kids in her care every need, which makes them place all her trust in her. But as I soon discovered, she's a horrid woman who's only out to deliver those poor kids to her superiors. I won't spoil who those bosses are, but just know this - they're always hungry. And to my immense displeasure, Isabella makes it her mission to raise all those unsuspecting orphans just to send them off to their doom. Isabella is pure scum, bruh! - Elton Jones

18. Muzan Kibutsuji

Aniplex of America

‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’

I love how overconfident and cocky the members of the demonic "Twelve Kizuki" clan are...until they run into their leader Muzan Kibutsuji. Every time that happens, I get a good laugh 'cause the demons underneath him instantly turn into cowering children that bow to him out of sheer and utter fear. I get it - Muzan is a horrifying figure that commands respect among both the human and demon worlds. When Tanjiro Kamado first encountered him and was unable to even lay a hand on him due to Muzan's human family being around him, I couldn't help but think how much of a bastard he truly is. Living comfortably among the very society he endangers makes him one of the most calculating anime villains. - Elton Jones

17. Pain

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‘Naruto Shippuden’

The unrelenting and mega-powerful leader of the Akatsuki is such a savage for bringing me to tears when he despatched Naruto's mentor, Jiraiya. What sticks out about Pain is his sorrowful origin and reasoning for doing what he did - the death of his parents due to war pushed him to make a world governed by any means necessary. I must admit - his employment of a collection of corpses called "The Six Paths of Pain" to do all his bidding is pretty dammed cool. Even still, I rooted for Naruto to put this in a pack for good! I totally understand Pain doing what he did, but that doesn't make him any less of a villain worth rooting against - Elton Jones

16. Yami Marik

Konami Cross Media NY

‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters'

When Yu-Gi-Oh! had me in a chokehold during its Fox 4Kids run, I was glued to my TV every Saturday morning during the "Battle City" arc. Yugi Mutou's alter-ego "Yami Yugi" engaged in the card battle of a lifetime when he squared off with Marik Ishtar twisted second personality "Yami Marik." And before that, he put his savagery on full display by trapping Mai Valentine's soul after a life-threatening "Shadow Game" and forcefully relinquishing Yami Bakura of his "Millennium Ring" after a hard-fought duel. He eventually got his comeuppance in the end thanks to Yugi's efforts. But he left a whole lot of pain and chaos in his wake before he met his end. - Elton Jones

15. Frieza

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Toei Animation

‘Dragon Ball Z’

"HELLO, MONKEYS!" What an extraterrestrial prick! The dude has done so many heinous things - Frieza forced the entire "Saiyan" race to bow to his will, made them work for him as nothing more than planet grabbers, and proceeded to nearly wipe their existence off the face of the galaxy when he felt like they were getting a bit too strong. When Goku rose up to blast Frieza to Kingdom Come and when Trunks cut him in half, I feel immense joy! He eventually came back in Dragon Ball Super, but he made sure to never change his ways (which I lowkey respect). - Elton Jones

14. Gendo Ikari

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‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’

This dude is just so mean. After abandoning Shinji throughout his childhood, his return to the protagonist's life is marked by coldness, distance, and just an overall icy vibe. Every move Gendo makes is marked by some calculated selfishness; even his son is inconsequential in his quest to construct the "Evangelions" and the "Human Instrumentality Project." - Charlie Kolbrener

13. Cell

Toei Animation

‘Dragon Ball Z’

You really gotta be a cocksure son of a b***h to put the fate of Earth and its people on the line during a martial arts tournament. Cell had the whole world shaken when he decided to do just that when he decided to take on Goku and his band of "Z-Fighters" in a one-vs.-everybody tourney. I love this dude just 'cause he's so full of himself - his English voice acting has made him such an unforgettable part of my childhood. Cell's fights with Goku and Teen Gohan still stick out as some of my favorite anime memories. And I can't even front - I wished death upon Cell when he managed to kill off Goku and still find a way to come back in an even more powerful state to terrorize the heroes of Earth just a little bit more. - Elton Jones

12. Dio Brando

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Viz Media

‘JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders’

Dio Brando held the ultimate grudge for hundreds of years. And after watching him wreak all sorts of havoc across two of JoJo's Bizzare Adventure story arcs (Phantom Blood and Stardust Crusaders), he stuck out to me as one of the most notorious anime villains of all time. He finessed his way into a rich man's home, antagonized that man's biological son, gained favor over him, and found a way to stay alive for as long as possible as a vampire. And once he resurfaced, he continued being a dirtbag by making life hell for Jonathan Joestar and Jotaro Kujo. It's crazy how the most villainous character in anime have an incredible sense of drip, as evidenced by Dio's getup. - Elton Jones

11. Hisoka

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'Hunter x Hunter'

What an absolutely weird dude. The first villain introduced in Hunter x Hunter (who somehow never actually becomes the primary antagonist), Hisoka is oddly likable while simultaneously absolutely disgusting. His abilities are unbelievably cool and their reveal is one of the first times you get to dive into the full potential of "Nen." His borderline-pedophilic tendencies are a horrible low point of his character, but somehow also contribute to his complex persona. - Charlie Kolbrener

10. Blackbeard

Toei Animation

'One Piece'

In a series that spans over 1,000 episodes, Blackbeard is one of the only consistent looming threats throughout its entirety. Introduced in a jovial way during his chance meeting with Luffy, they immediately set up the distinct ways the two view what it means to be a pirate. His original "Devil Fruit" power is insane enough (the fight between him and Ace is a high point in the series), and when he picks up another, it seems everyone else is in trouble. - Charlie Kolbrener

9. Younger Toguro

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‘Yu Yu Hakusho’

Toguro is epic because he's such a representation of old-gen anime power systems. At every turn, he flexes his muscles and gets a few percentage points stronger. In retrospect, it takes on an almost comical effect. After he is seemingly at the end of his rope, he reveals that he is at a mere percentage of his power, only to boost his strength again. He also has one of the craziest builds in the game. - Charlie Kolbrener

8. Sosuke Aizen

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Viz Media


Introduced as the captain of the "Fifth Division," Sosuke Aizen would go on to betray the "Soul Society," becoming the show's primary antagonist for a lot of its run. Aizen is a villain who derives his power from his methodical intelligence and tactics. As one of the main antagonists of one of the "Big Three," he's gotta be on the list. - Charlie Kolbrener

7. Light Yagami

Viz Media

'Death Note'

Getting into a discussion about the best anime villains brings me right to someone that doesn't really see themselves as inherently evil. In his mind, he thinks he's doing the world a favor by using his "Death Note" book to instantly wipe out random criminals. But with so much power in his hands and at his instant disposal, Light eventually goes mad and heads down a dark path that results in him morphing into a serial killer. I've always gained a sort of twisted appreciation for villains that believe in their cause and embrace the worst parts of themselves to see it through. Having his life end due to the very thing that helped him gain infamy is such a fitting end for Mr. Yagami. - Elton Jones

6. Vicious

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‘Cowboy Bebop’

Part of what makes Cowboy Bebop such an amazing show is how it deals with dichotomy. Vicious is Spike's foil; they both went through similar experiences but came out on the other side distinctly different. Even the way they look mirrors each other visually. The final showdown between the two of them is such an incredible culmination of the series. - Charlie Kolbrener

5. Donquixote Doflamingo

Toei Animation

'One Piece'

Dressrosa is one of the best arcs in One Piece, and a lot of its appeal is due to the presence of Doflamingo. Whereas other entries on this list are interesting because the villain is relatable or sympathetic, Doflamingo is the opposite. This dude absolutely sucks; he is the embodiment of pure evil. He also boasts one of the coolest "Devil Fruit" powers in the show, and his battle with Luffy is an exceptionally memorable face-off. - Charlie Kolbrener

4. Askeladd

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Aniplex of America

'Vinland Saga'

Askeladd is such an amazing character. There are moments in Vinland Saga when he is seemingly the most diabolically evil person in history, and then times when he possesses a surprising sensitivity and compassion. The series is largely an interrogation of violence and if any of it can be justified. Is Thorfinn more moral just because he is doing it out of survival? A lot of the questions posed in Season One begin to get answered in Season Two, and so much of the narrative force of the former is anchored by Askeladd. - Charlie Kolbrener

3. Griffith

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"GRIFFITH WAS RIGHT!" I hear a lot of madmen and mad women utter that phrase out loud at anime conventions whenever the topic of his action is brought up. In my mind, Griffith is a scumbag that deserves to be mentioned among the loathsome anime villains anyone has ever seen. He betrayed his loyal band of followers in the "Band of the Hawk" and performed a disgusting act on one of its members, Casca. After doing so much good, Griffith's life takes a sharp turn and his true intentions become clear - to amass unlimited power as a member of the "God Hand" and abandon his humanity to become the demonic being known as "Femto." Griffith's turn from a triumphant hero to a callous malefactor is the ultimate heartbreaker for me. - Elton Jones

2. Eren Jaeger

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'Attack on Titan'

It may be polarizing to put Eren on a villain's list; Attack on Titan is largely an exploration of the categorization of evil. That said, I am firmly of the Eren-is-a-villain camp. This doesn't mean that he isn't sympathetic or possesses qualities and goals that are understandable. However, fascism, mass genocide, etc. are pretty villain-coded, if you ask me. - Charlie Kolbrener

1. Meruem

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Viz Media

‘Hunter X Hunter’

One of the most powerful characters in all of anime, Meruem is my favorite villain across the entire genre. His introduction seems to suggest he will be an embodiment of pure evil, but as the "Chimera Ant" arc progresses, it becomes one of the most nuanced interrogations of the dynamic between monster and human I've come across in fiction. He becomes increasingly sympathetic; the horrifying monster you witness during his genesis becomes a memory of the past as Meruem becomes increasingly human—and the humans the inverse. - Charlie Kolbrener

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