Often times it seems as if we live in a world where TV villains are almost exclusively played by men. Take a moment and think about some shows you enjoy watching. How many of them have a primary antagonist that’s a woman? Probably not many. However, despite this total lack of representation of powerful (and dastardly evil) women in television, when we do get female villains, they are always terrific! The best TV villains out there are women, so narrowing down a list to the top 10 is quite a difficult feat to accomplish. With some help from the good folks over on Reddit, I’ve complied a list (using some of their suggestions and including my own) of the 10 greatest female villains on TV.
10. The Evil Queen – Once Upon A Time
It’s pretty hard to convince people you aren’t a villain when your name is literally “The Evil Queen.” Going all the way back to Season 1 of OUaT, Regina proves time and time again that the “Evil” in her name is truly fitting. Throughout the course of the show, however, she does manage to redeem herself several times, right before slipping back into her wicked ways. She’s the type of villain that you want to love, that you want to believe can do the right thing, but deep down you know she will always be “The Evil Queen.”
9. Huntress – Arrow
Arrow has had quite a few notable female antagonists for our favorite TV archer. Among these powerful women are figures like Moira Queen, China White, Amanda Waller, Cupid, and of course Huntress. Unlike many of the other female antagonists, the Huntress is one of the few characters without any redeeming qualities. She started life out as almost an antihero, but quickly we learned that she had a much darker side. She has proved herself to be a master of manipulation and a difficult foe for Oliver.
8. Lilith – Supernatural
Another CW show, Supernatural has also graced our screen with several female baddies. From demons like Meg to the Mother of Monsters Eve, Supernatural rarely disappoints on delivering compelling villains, regardless of gender. One of the most powerful enemies we’ve seen the Winchester brothers tackle is the demon Lilith. Our first introduction to this seriously bad girl is when she takes on the form of a young girl and kills everybody in the police station. The scene was so unexpected, that the moment we saw the girl’s eyes go milky white, we knew something terrifying and horrendous was about to happen.
7. Sister Mary Eunice – American Horror Story
Sister Eunice is one of the scariest villains on American Horror Story, which is saying something given the show’s extensive list of cutthroat villains. Perhaps, she’s so scary because she seems so lifelike, she comes across as a victim, as an innocent young nun, but the truth about her is chilling. In reality, Mary is a murderous, conniving host for the devil (literally, she’s possessed by the devil). However, Mary actually enjoys the acts she commits while being controlled by evil, so where does the line blur? What is she forced do to because of the demon, and what does she do because she enjoys it?
6. Lily Gray – The Following
The Following is one of my personal all-time favorite shows (how can you be against something starring Kevin Bacon?). It was a show full of twists, unexpected deaths, and plenty of villainy to go around. One of the primary villains of Season 2 was Lily Gray, who created a cult so menacing it rivaled even Joe’s following. Her family of murderers were even scared of her themselves, which shows you how completely evil she was. She really just wanted to watch the world burn.
5. Azula – The Last Airbender
It seemed silly to create a listicle of the greatest female villains and not include any cartoons on the list. Ultimately, this firebender was perhaps the greatest villain Team Avatar ever had to fight. Coming from a family of evil, Azula managed to out crazy her father who, let me remind you, was hellbent on world domination. She lacks remorse and even from a young age showed sadistic tendencies. She is a fantastic strategist, an excellent manipulator, and perhaps the greatest firebender the world had ever seen (having the ability to wield lightning and control blue flames). As the show progressed, Azula descended further and further into madness before finally breaking into a maniacal laugh after being defeated by her brother and Katara in the series finale. As an honorary mention, the character of Kuvira in the spin-off Legend of Korra is also a fantastic villain.
4. Cersei Lannister – Game Of Thrones
Cersei Lannister remains one of the best (er, worst?) villains in TV history. She’s responsible for the death of hundreds of people, including the murder of her dear husband King Robert. Some might argue that her wickedness only stems out of love of her children, but you can only blame your children for so many things (and murder ain’t one of them). Cersei also brought Joffrey into this world, who is by far one of the most annoying, bratty, murderous people to ever come across our screens. She constantly plots to murder and overthrow. Without her manipulative ways, the Seven Kingdoms might still be living in relative peace under the dutiful guidance of the drunken King Robert.
3. Lilah – Angel
The spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel focuses on Buffy’s former lover, Angel, (probably saw that coming, right?). One of the greatest villains on the show was none other than Lilah Morgan. Lilah is also one of few villains to be human (although since she works for the Wolfram & Hart law firm, she is granted immortality). Lilah is an amoral, ambitious woman who originally tried to convince Angel to work for her evil bosses. In a world full of vampires and other mythological creatures, Lilah’s prowess (while lacking powers) marks her as one of the greatest TV villains ever.
2 . Drusilla – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
We can’t very well talk about the Buffy spin-off without talking about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are so many good female villains to choose from Buffy’s rogues’ gallery, but Drusilla is a clear standout. Dru was also a primary antagonist on Angel, as her and Angel have a complicated backstory together. What makes Drusilla most interesting is her compelling, childlike personality paired with her dark, sadistic madness. She loves to torture people, yet when she does she squeals and laughs like a young girl. Her dialogue is full of disturbing imagery such as “Spike, do you love my insides? All the parts you can’t see?” Or the equally creepy “Do you know what I miss? Leeches.” She’s truly unlike any other character we’ve ever seen, and that’s why we can’t help but love her!
1. Mags – Justified
Often described as the greatest TV villain of all time, it should come as no surprise that Mags Bennett tops this list. Mags was the matriarch of the Bennett family, a group of hillbillies that grew weed. Mags was manipulative, a psychopath, and would do anything within her power to get what she wanted. She murdered Walt just to convince his daughter Loretta to live with her. Mags was more concerned with losing Loretta than she was about her own son’s death, so distraught in fact that after Loretta shot Mags in the leg (a rather fitting punishment for somebody who killed your father), Mags decided to take her own life in the same way she killed Walter, with a glass of “apple pie” moonshine.
And there you have it! My top 10 picks for the greatest female TV villains of all time! Who would you add to the list? Who did I miss? Who doesn’t belong on this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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