Villain Special: Top 10 female Disney Villains

I originally wanted to do a top 13 female Disney Villains (it’s Halloween after all), but when I took stock I realized that there aren’t even that many of them. I guess because female Disney Villains tend to be so memorable, that most of them stick out – unlike the male villains, which are sometimes more on the pathetic side. To fill the list I would have been forced to add antagonists and sidekick, but today I want to talk about the most evil female characters in Disney’s canon. So, without further ado, here is my list of the…

Top 1o female Disney Villains

Off with her head!!!!

Despite being feature quite prominently in the Disney Villain line-up, she is not really one of my favourite villains. I guess mostly because there is no goal to her actions. She doesn’t even intend to make the life of her minions miserable, she is just some woman with a really bad temper who happens to have the power to get rid of anything which annoys her. While she relishes in the fear of her people to a certain degree, she is so devote of any agenda that she is in a lot of ways a footnote in Alice in Wonderland – though a very memorable one.

“Off with her head!!!!!”

I guess someone is not happy with her ranking….better go forward to the next one on my list. Fast.


09. Madam Mim

Puh, that was a narrow escape.  Madam Mim is another villain which doesn’t have any main influence on the plot of her movie, she doesn’t even manage to be particularly scary. But she gets the edge because she is fun instead (and the villain with the most transformations). If there is one thing I like about her, than that she doesn’t care at all what she looks like. tumblr_m2qihzwieE1r5wti9o1_500No disagreement here. But think about it, she could be beautiful, but she is self-confident enough just to be what she is. Which is a somewhat pathetic woman set on doing evil.


08. Madame MedusaMADAME_MEDUSA

Madame Medusa is the main reason why I developed a dislike towards  fake eyelashes. The scene in which she removes her make-up while casually breaking Penny’s heart has burned itself into my mind from a very young age. Though I was never sure why she was so obsessed with this diamond. I always got the impression that she didn’t even intend to sell it, she just wanted to own it. Nevertheless she is one of the more successful villains. Think about it, if not for those meddling mice, she would have won. Poor woman has to face heroes she doesn’t even notice as such. She looses points though for her over the top reactions to vermin.


Hey, hey, calm down! No reason to shoot up your own home!


07.  Lady Tremaine

Or miss evil eyes. Seriously, is there any other villain which can keep up with her death glare of doom?

tumblr_md5bpvLdCB1qzbqw1o1_500Yeah, exactly that one. (*shudder*). She is the master of non-verbal badassery to a degree, that I even decided against adding a quote for her because no quote can capture the sheer evilness of this one stare. Or her fake smiles. No quote can capture the tone of her voice either way.
But she is also one of the more stupid villains. I mean she already is well off, has two daughters she loves (though in a very unhealthy way), and yet she doesn’t know how to manage her own finances at all and has delusions of grandeur for both of her daughters.

06. Cruella De Vil17 Cruella

The villain who would literally kill of cute little puppies. As Roger so rightly texted:

“Cruella De Vil / Cruella De Vil / If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will.” 

Though, if you think about it, her appearance is not really that scary. Her body looks so frail, she seems to be close to breaking down under her fur coat. It is mostly her behaviour which makes her so threatening. Unlike other villains, who tend to be either very controlled or unashamedly evil, her moods can alternate from one minute to another. She acts very friendly (apparently unaware that the people she is talking to are well aware that it is just an act), only to start screaming and threatening people the moment her temperament is triggered. Which is, all things considered, a very easy thing to do. In short, most of the time she seems to be totally unhinged.  You are just waiting for her grabbing the next best weapon in a fit of rage in order to kill someone. And she has the crazy eyes to fit her short tempered personality. That is someone you better don’t cross, because her reactions are unpredictable and potentially deadly.


05. Ursulaursula3

I already hear the outcry. On most lists Ursula would be higher, perhaps even on place one. But let’s face it, we have a lot of competition for the top spots.

Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it?

Yeah, it certainly is, especially when it comes to the top half in this list. There is no question that Ursula has the best villain song of all the female villains. But her motivation is a little bit hazy. Well, her goal isn’t, she wants power and revenge, which, in my book, is one of the more boring motivations. But what exactly happened in the past? Apparently she lived in the palace at one point, so what happened? Did Triton throw her out? And yes I am well aware that in early drafts she was supposed to be Triton’s sister, but, well, she is a kraken. Either way, she is great, but not as thought-out as my top spots.


04. The Evil Queen

1 Evil Queen


I confess, I am not sure which version of her is uglier. Her “beautiful” face is so much like a mask, that I somehow prefer her old one. This looks at least like she could smile if she really wanted and not like a beauty operation victim. But no matter in which incarnation, I love the way she constantly breaks the fourth wall. Most of the time she is talking directly in the (virtual) camera. No other villain does this, but I think it creates a very intimate relationship to the audience. It is like she is offering the apple not to snow white, but to the watcher. Sometimes she seems to spring out of the 1 Evil Queen witchscreen any minute (and that without any 3D effects). No wonder she made children piss their pants during the first screening.
She is not a particularly layered character, though. Just a vain woman full of hate towards anyone who might steal her spotlight.

“Her breath will still. Her blood congeal… Now I’ll be fairest in the land.”

No, certainly not with this face. Though one should never underestimate the Evil Queen. The only reason she lost was because lighting decided to intervene, delivering to her what might be the most gruesome villain dead. Think about it, first she is (more or less) struck by lighting, then she falls down a cliff, then a big bolder is rolling on her and finally the vultures enjoy what is left of her. Someone really wanted to make sure that she has no chance to come back and haunt our nightmares.


03. Yzma40 Izma

Ever noticed that Yzma is only one step away from being a good guy? Think about it, she is someone who served faithfully her whole life, and is now stuck with a spoiled brat who doesn’t care about the state at all, and wants to dismiss her on the grounds of being too ugly. Can you really blame her for being angry? In another movie, she could be the hero of a revenge story in which the “old ugly woman” uses her knowledge to take over (in fact someone should make a this movie…now!!!!). What really puts her firmly on the side of evil is the way she heartlessly misuses her power, making her dismissal the right thing to do, even if it does happen for the wrong reasons. Well, that and her liking plotting a little bit too much.

“Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. I’ll turn him into a flea, a harmless, little flea, and then I’ll put that flea in a box, and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives… [laughs]…I’ll smash it with a hammer! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say!…Or, to save on postage, I’ll just poison him with this.”

Well, at least she went for the more straightforward plan in the end. Villains can be so complicated, especially the female ones.
I once read that the creators of the movie were very worried that Yzma’s voice actor, Eartha Kitt would be offended to voice a character who basically acts like she is one of the most attractive woman in the worls when she is in fact everything but that. But Eartha Kitt really enjoyed it, which makes her performance equally enjoyable. It is along the same line of why Madam Mim is enjoyable, with the difference, that Yzma plays a way bigger role in the movie and is way more dangerous. And her final fate – well, that’s what happens if a former Cat Woman is lending you your voice.
In the gallery of Disney Villains, Yzma sticks out in more way than one. Unusual design, unusual motivation (most villains want to get more power, not preserve the power they already have) and one of the few villains who manages to be both funny and threatening.


02. Mother Gothel50 Gothel

How many villain out there get actually defended by the fans of their movie? Not that I agree with the notion that Mother Gothel’s actions are in any way excusable. Nor do I think that she ever really loved Rapunzel. She loved her hair, and in fact, that is the only part of Rapunzel she ever caresses. But Rapunzel herself was just a tool for her, an amusing one, perhaps, but she never ever loved Rapunzel enough to put her wellbeing first.

“Great. Now *I’m* the bad guy.”

Yes, Mother Gothel, you totally are. But the fact alone that Mother Gothel’s motivations are discussed is something remarkable. It is not the main reason, why I put her so high, though.
See, the standard Disney Villain is pretty much over the top. I’ll certainly never fight a person who wants to turn my puppies into fur coats, if for no other reason that I don’t have any puppies, and magical abilities are also not something I’ll encounter anytime soon.
Gothel’s main power is not magic, though, the magic she has access to comes from Rapunzel. No, her weapon of choice is manipulation, and she wields it expertly. Especially emotional manipulation is something one encounters often in life, in a way, our whole society is built on it. The guilt we feel when we hurt someone else that is what keeps most people from becoming greedy, egoistical douchebags. And the worst which can happen is when someone uses this guilt against us. It is like the difference between someone asking for help out of a place of true need and the guy who tells us a sob story in order to con money out of us – and because there are so many people who do the latter, the person who is truly in need might get overlooked.
Mother Gothel hits really close to home. She gives me chills when she effortlessly puts Rapunzel down with arguments, which might be spoken in true concern from another person in another context. And that makes her one of my top Disney Villains.


01. Maleficent

Who else could deserve the top spot if not the Mistress of all Evil? Predictable, I know, but she is hailed as one of the great Disney Villains for a reason. She is practically the template to great Disney villains are measured on, the one who set the standards for all who came after her. She is elegant, sarcastic, temperamental, false friendly and just freaking terrifying in one package. When she calls “Aurora” I shudder to this day.
The great thing about Malificent is that she doesn’t need a reason to be bad. She just does it for lolz. And she is so delightfully sadistic about it. Just killing off Aurora would be way too easy, instead she curses her in a way that her parents will be worried for her life for years. Just killing off Phillip would be too merciful, instead she taunts him with a future which couldn’t be more depressing.  And when she isn’t busy making the whole kingdom miserable, she ruins Flora’s flowers just for fun.
She looses points for a having some of the stupidest minions ever but gains some for having at least one competent one. Not that she really needs minions. Taking her on is something which even the most heroic and badass prince (yes, Phillip is totally badass, just look how he scales a freaking mountain with only one arm while fighting a giant dragon!) needs three magical helpers to even have one single shot at her. No wonder, after all, he goes up against the most dangerous of all Disney Villains…

“and all the powers of HELL!”


41 thoughts on “Villain Special: Top 10 female Disney Villains

  1. Great list!

    As you know, I’ve never been too fond of Maleficent, so for #1, I’d probably have Lady Tremaine. I also don’t really consider Madam Mim a “villain”, per se. She’s more of a crazy old witch lady.

  2. Fun list! It’s interesting how many traditional fairytales have femaile villains. My sister took a women’s studies class where they said often these women are barren or spinsters and that was seen as suspect or unnatural so they became the villains. Just interesting.
    Madame Mim and Medusa are not favorites of mine but I can’t argue with any of your other picks. I love Yzma and glad she got so high! Maleficent is kind of the Disney version of Voldermort. She’s got freakin horns after all! Love her. That’s why I’m hesitant to watch the new movie and have her watered down.

    • I refuse to carry my money into Maleficent. I have too much respect for the character to do so. And there are other reasons why this movie bothers me.

      Well, some characters are simply on the list by default. That is more or less every single female Disney villain who is more than just a side-kick. Villains like Helga for example don’t really have much to offer and I see Aunt Sarah more as an antagonist than as a villain.

      • That’s true. I feel kind of the same way about Maleficent as I do about Legends of Oz I am 100% sure I will hate them but in order for me to have an opinion people will say “how do you know if you havent seen the movie”. So I will see both and try to have an open mind but I will be stunned if I like them. I certainly wish Disney would stop cannibalizing their own masterpieces. Alice in Wonderland was atrocious enough. That made me so mad!
        Does every character have to be turned into some lukewarm wimp…?

  3. For me I’d put ursula as number 1 because I actually think revenge is a very strong motivation. Of course I’ve been known to hold a grudge in my day so I guess I relate to it. I think the way she has to sell her plan to Ariel puts her at the top too because the others aren’t given such a tough challenge and forced to play nice. But that’s just me. I like your list!

  4. Hi – it’s Silverrose1991 from Fanpop. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a long time, and despite enjoying it so much, I never left a comment (well, I don’t know most heroines you talk about, but I still enjoy reading everything by you). So, I thought I should finally do the polite thing and leave my thoughts at least for once.

    I think your list is really good. I agree with the Queen of the Hearts being dead last. I love Lady Tremaine, but you make good points to explain her relatively low placement. I particulary love how you bring up her incompetence in administrating her finances, because this is the main motive she keeps Cinderella captive, after all. Sure, she is spiteful of her because of her beauty, grace, kindness and other good qualities, but if that was all, she could easily have thrown her out of the chateau.

    I think Ursula has style, but I agree her motivations is vague. Have you heard “Daddy’s Little Angel?”, a song written for the revised musical play when it was produced by StageEntertainment? It’s in Youtube. I love it because it gives further insight on Ursula and deepens the parallels between her and Ariel.

    Yzma (and Kronk and their dynamic) is easily the best part of The Emperor’s New Groove. Mother Gothel is my favorite! I find it very frustating when people (it’s mostly Conservatives, from what I’ve seen) defend her and claim she truly loved Rapunzel. Maleficent certainly deserved the top spot, though! She is the most iconic villain and her design and voice acting are spectacular. Plus, “Maleficent’s Evil Spell” is my favorite piece of score ever!

    Oh my, I’m awfully sorry for the overly long comment. Btw, I’ve been wondering if you are married and if you have children.

    • Hi! Nice to see you over here…(you are aware that I have a second blog with is more focussed on Disney? And a third just for Sherlock?).

      It was hard to place Lady Tremaine so low, because she has a really awesome design. And those eyes! She really knows how to do spiteful. But female Disney Villains tend to be stand-out characters, so it is always difficult to rank them.

      I totally agree concerning Maleficent’s Evil Spell. It just chills me out.

      I loooove overly long comments. I always like discussing with my readers. As a rule, though, I don’t spread personal information online. I don’t even have facebook because I value my privacy too much to simply put everything about me into the net.

      • Oh, I’m aware of your other blogs. I don’t know much about Sherlock, but just the other day I was rereading your article on Disney eras. I’m really impressed with your knowldege about art periods. I have to say, you are one of the most sophisticated people I know. I’ll try to start commenting there. Sorry for being rude for such a long time.

        I respect your wish for privacy and it’s really wise, tbh. I probably shouldn’t spread information so easily as a do (though the only network I currently am active in is Fanpop). Btw, I’m really looking forward for this blog’s December content, since it’ll be focused on Disney Princesses, no?

      • I’m guessing it’s Snow White then, since you wrote “Someone really wanted to make sure that she has no chance to come back and haunt our nightmares”, which is a bit ironical, since this fairyale has received a flurry of reincarnations since.

        Btw, in your article on Rapunzel, you mentioned that you only know two goods adaptations of this fairytale: Disney’s Tangled and a TV show episode. I’m wondering what TV series you’re talking about. Something tells me it’s either a German show or Shelley Duval’s Faerie Tale Theatre, but I could always be wrong.

      • Oh, somehow I must have missed that article. I remember once I was obsessed with “Aschenputtel” and was looking for movie adaptations on Youtube. There was this 1987 production which began wonderfully but then went a bit downhill. The other I saw was an episode by a recent TV show, which insisted in making the fairytale more realistic, but was overall pretty good. Do you prefer the Grimm’s or Perrault’s version of Cinderella? Are you excited for the Into the Woods movie?

      • I like both, but my favourite is the Russian version of Cinderella.

        There is a mass of Cinderella adaptations out there…which is one of the reasons I didn’t tackle her first. I normally would have, but I’ll do so in a December which has five Saturdays, so that I can discuss as many adaptations as possible.

        Into the Woods????

      • Russian version… Are you talking about Vasilisa the Beautiful, where the protagonist has a magical doll and there’s a witch named Baba Yaga? If so, I also like it very much;

        Into the Woods is a movie adaptation of a famous Broadway musical about the Grimm fairytales (it was inspired by Bruno Bettelheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment” – perhaps you heard about this book?), such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Ridding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk (which is an English story, I know). It’s produced by Disney and will be released this December. The trailer is already out, so you may want to check it out.

      • The only version with nuts I can think of is this ( but is is incredibly similar to the Grimms’ version, so I suppose it isn’t this one (plus, I don’t think it’s Russian). I will look through SurlaLune’s variants of Cinderella – I’m pretty sure I’ll find the Russian story there.

        I remember finding a movie about Cinderella and three nuts in Youtube, though I never saw it.

    • Hey silverrose. I don’t know if you remember me, but I am Jayden-G from Fanpop (who was banned almost a year ago). It is nice to see you. How is Fanpop? How is everyone over there?

      • Of course I remember you, Jayden! Fanpop is… alright, I guess? It’s a bit boring now, and a lot of users left: prussiaducky, MacytheStrange, LibelluleBleu, disneygirl, Lightning Red, princecatcher, Awinitarose, etc. Dclairmont still goes once in a while and princesslullaby is back. The old troll had been making some new attacks (which is ridiculous, because he had alreay admitted his identity long ago), but avatar_tla_fan (a new member) talked to Papa and now he’s gone.
        Well, I found a niche with some of the new users and it’s a place where I can debate and post my icons, so I guess I still like it a lot, but doesn’t feel like home anymore.

      • OMG, disneygirl, MacytheStrange, Libellule and even princecatcher left? I knew that some left, but I never knew it was that many, and that many important people. So even if I did decide to come back, I would not remember or know many people. I am sorry that it is boring over there now.

      • You are still there too. I remember that you said that you barely went on. It is such a shame that things went downhill since I was booted from Fanpop.

      • You could say that. There is still some highly intelligent users, like magnoliainmay or Tygers_Eye (digoenes also seem smart, though I don’t know her very well, seeing as she’s new), but the rest… they aren’t dumb (oh, beneath me to say anything like that), but finding thought-provoking articles/comments or an enjoyable article is becoming rarer . Most of them engage in petty arguments, tbh. Not that I’m mature or a skilled debater either.

        I was thinking of joining WordPress, but I don’t really have anything worth talking about (at least for now).

  5. Wow, I am really behind on reading blogs. Real life has been so damn busy.

    I agree with almost all of them but Maleficent being #1 (which I stated why in my Sleeping Beauty review). Yzma is definitely the most interesting female villain out of them all, and Mim and the Queen of Hearts are really pathetic. You stated everything so well. I hope you had a good Halloween.

    • Yeah, I knew you wouldn’t get behind Maleficent.

      Thank you, but, well, don’t really celebrate Halloween. And Today is just another free day for me. Next week is St. Martin. That will be my day of fun.

  6. Definitely agree with Maleficent being the top female villain, but I wouldn’t call her the best Disney villain period. In general, I’d put her at number 3 (just behind Scar and Frollo). Overall, though, a great ranking.
    Fun story: I was watching the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic about two weeks ago and couldn’t help but notice some Maleficent inspiration in the episode’s villain, Nightmare Moon.

    • Scar looses points with me for being not particularly intimidating one he is in charge. Frollo is certainly the most interesting male villain (with the best villain song), and would get it if the question were which one is more layered. But Maleficent will always be my number one because of you see her on the big screen like I did, she just towers over the other ones. And her design influenced a lot of villains which came after her, Disney and otherwise.
      I don’t watch My Little Pony, so I have to take your word for it. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

      • I’ve heard that argued a lot about Scar, but I think at that point, the story doesn’t leave much for him to do except be an irresponsible ruler. I still think he gets points for being one of the most successful villains.
        The only reason I decided to watch MLP was because of the brony hype that’s been going on to see if I’d find it worth watching, too (and after watching a few episodes, I do).

  7. Thank you SO much for putting Medusa on this list!!! Those fake eyelashes were horrifying when she pulled them off!

    • Medusa is certainly one of the more vindictive villains. I don’t get why she is normally rated so low. She is not one of the “big ones”, but memorable enough for me.

      Welcome to my blog.

    • I guess a lot of people wouldn’t have Yzma and Gothel that high, but I really enjoy those two for the stated reason. Yzma is especially unusual because she is one of the few funny and yet threatening female villains.

  8. Pingback: Some thoughts about villains…. | Honoring the Heroines

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