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NEW YORK — Video games have introduced us to some of the most iconic and sinister villains in the realm of entertainment. These antagonists, ranging from the cunning to the sadistic, have consistently challenged players and added depth to the gaming experience. So, who is the most evil of them all?

Solitaired conducted a survey involving over 800 video game players to rank 50 popular video game villains, shedding light on the most sinister characters in gaming history.

Batman’s Greatest Foe Tops This Evil List

Participants in the survey were asked to rate the villains on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most evil. The results were illuminating:

  1. The Joker from the Batman: Arkham series claimed the top spot with an impressive evil rating of 4.29. Known for his sadistic nature and unpredictable behavior, the Joker has left an indelible mark on the gaming world.
  2. Pyramid Head, a haunting figure from the nightmarish Silent Hill series, secured the second position with an overall score of 4.15. His terrifying presence lingers in players’ minds long after the game ends.
  3. Albert Wesker and Nemesis from the Resident Evil series tied for the third and fourth positions, both earning an evil rating of 4.03. Wesker’s pursuit of power and manipulation of the Umbrella Corporation make him a formidable adversary, while Nemesis is a relentless force determined to eliminate all S.T.A.R.S. members.
  4. Ganon, the embodiment of evil in the beloved Legend of Zelda series, earned a respectable 3.89 evil rating, solidifying his status as an iconic gaming villain.
  5. Frau Engel, a symbol of Nazi cruelty in the video game Wolfenstein, received a 3.86 score on the list, highlighting the impact of her malevolent character.
video game villains
(credit: Solitaired)

On the other end of the spectrum, the survey also revealed the villains perceived as less evil. Team Rocket from the Pokemon series ranked at the bottom with an evil rating of only 1.95. Their antics, often humorous and light-hearted, contrast with the malevolence of other gaming villains. Also, they tend to lose to the good guy — all the time!

video game villains
(credit: Solitaired)

What Makes a Great Video Game Villain?

In addition to ranking villains, the survey also uncovered the qualities that make the best video game antagonists and how they enhance the gaming experience. Gamers identified several key factors:

  • Personality: A well-developed personality that elicits strong emotions from players.
  • Complexity: Multifaceted characters with depth and motives beyond simple evil.
  • Visual Design: Memorable and distinctive appearances that leave a lasting impression.
  • Evolving Threats: Villains who adapt and become more challenging as the game progresses.
  • Iconic Moments: Villains who create memorable in-game moments.

The survey found that two out of five gamers actually prefer video game villains to heroes. Villains often bring complexity and unpredictability to the gaming experience, making it more captivating. However, defeating a well-crafted villain is a legendary accomplishment, with 81 percent of respondents feeling like heroes when they achieve this victory.

Overcoming a formidable video game villain is no easy feat, and 84 percent of gamers admitted to turning 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 conquer these digital foes.

Forget Evil, Who’s the Best of the Bad Guys?

While some villains are evil, others are simply legendary. Gamers shared their picks for the greatest video game villains of all time:

  1. Sephiroth from the Final Fantasy series took the top spot. His striking appearance, god-like abilities, and complex character have made him a gaming legend.
    2. The Joker from the Batman: Arkham series, who also ranked as the most evil in the survey, secured the second position.
    3. Bowser, the King of the Koopas and a constant thorn in Mario’s side claimed the third spot.
    4. Other notable villains on the list included Kefka from Final Fantasy, the relentless Xenomorph from Alien Isolation, and the Lich King Arthas Menethil from World of Warcraft.


In August 2023, Solitaired 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 percent female, 50 percent male, and 4 percent non-binary with an age range of 19 to 80 and an average age of 36 years old.

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