This is a look at the best villains of animated movies in honor of ‘Despicable Me’, which stars a supervillain whose many exploits include a plot to steal the moon. But when three orphan girls start to see him as a possible dad, he just might change his evil ways. So to prove that Gru can change in ‘Despicable Me’, here’s a look at a few other “villains” of animated movies that have done just that:
Dragon from ‘Shrek’ – Dragons are almost always the bad guys in animated movies, and it looks like this fire-breathing beast guarding Princess Fiona’s tower is no different…until she meets Donkey. As it turns out, the perfect way to tame her flames is with a little loving, and after years of being loathed and feared, a few compliments and some sweet talk from Donkey go a long way. And so one of the most dangerous animated villains turns from friend to foe (and she becomes a great mom to a slew of adorable dronkeys later on).
Ken from ‘Toy Story 3’ – Just like Dragon, it looks like the way to win Ken’s cold plastic heart that’s way too into his closet is by making it melt with a little lovin’ (from Barbie, of course!). As one of the daycare center goons and one of the most unlikely villains of animated movies, it looks like Ken might actually just be in with the baddies in order to prove he’s more than a girl’s toy, but he eventually learns his lesson and realizes that there’s more to life than playing dress-up.
Kronk from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ – In this most creative of animated movies, muscle-bound Kronk appears to be just another meathead crony who follows the orders of a much more sinister power instead of trying to think for himself. Fortunately, Kronk is actually one of the villains of animated movies here who isn’t very good at his job, thanks to having a conscience that won’t allow him to carry out evil Yzma’s most sinister plots. And so by the end of ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ he’s transformed from a henchman into a leader (of a boy scout troop), and the movie’s “hero”, the selfish emperor, has also changed his own evil ways, proving that it’s never too late for despicable villains of all kinds to change.
The Huntsman from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ – He’s one of the villains of animated movies here that has the least screen time, but his change of heart (literally) does play an important part in this film. In one of the darkest requests made by a villain in a Disney movie, the evil Queen tells him to kill Snow White and return with her heart in a box. However, the Huntsman just can’t kill the terrified girl, letting her go and giving the Queen a pig’s heart instead (however, I hate to think of what happened to him after the Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive).
The sky pirates from ‘Castle in the Sky’ – Miyazaki is one of the best when it comes to creating multi-faceted characters in animated movies. The sky pirates here seem like villains at the beginning of the movie as they pursue our two young heroes in an exciting scene, but we later learn that there’s a lot more to this family of looters when old Dola seems to develop a motherly affection for the duo. Their line of living might not be legal, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently evil (and helping their young friends out pays off big in the end).
The were-rabbit from ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ – This is definitely one of the wackiest villains of animated movies, as a big bunny with an appetite for award-worthy vegetables hardly seems like much of a threat. However, it’s what Wallace and Gromit are up against in one of the best stop motion animated movies you ever see. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but if this is one of the villains here that seems the most harmless, just wait until you hear the hare’s whole story.
Beast from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – The beast from one of Disney’s best animated movies is one of the most interesting “villains” on this list. He begins the movie as a selfish, vain Prince, punished for his bad behavior by being transformed into a terrifying monster. At first he seems like a villain, holding poor Belle captive in his living castle, but her tenderness and love help transform him into a much better human than he’s ever been. He might not be the most despicable of villains on this list, but I love his complex character and who the real villains turn out to be.
The Bride from ‘Corpse Bride’ – When a man is about to be wed but ends up pursued by one of the undead, you’d think that the corpse determined to marry him would be one be of the most terrifying villains of animated movies. However, while the decaying Bride kidnaps her frightened groom and spirits him away to the world of the undead, keeping him from his living love, she actually ends up being a sympathetic character and the movie’s real victim. It’s one of the oddest animated movies you’ll ever see, but even though it’s full of decaying flesh, it feels amazingly fresh.
Meg from ‘Hercules’ – Meg is one of the villains here who is forced into doing evil by a higher (well, lower) power, as she sold her soul to Hades to save a man she once loved (who ending up leaving her for another woman). And so Hades has her try to find the great Hercules’ one weakness. As it turns out, this seems to be his heart, as he falls head-of-heels in love with Meg (and she, of course, returns the favor). She may not be one of the best villains of animated movies, but she once did hold the power to bring down the greatest hero the world has ever known.
Jack Skellington from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – Like some of the other “villains” of animated movies here, Jack’s intentions aren’t all bad, but kidnapping Santa Claus and making Christmas terrifying might make the skeletal King of Halloween look like a bad guy in many children’s eyes. Luckily, Jack eventually learns his lesson: that one Halloween is enough (wait, what kind of lesson is that?).
Charlie from ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’ – Okay, so like many of the “villains” on this list, Charlie isn’t the truly evil character in this movie. However, Charlie does live a life of crime; he pulls the ultimate con in Heaven (he’s only there because of the movie’s title; he hasn’t done a good deed in his life); and he first plans on exploiting poor orphan girl Anne-Marie to make a little money. Of course he somewhat changes his ways in the end, at least learning to be a little less selfish (kids will love knowing that even the most destructive “bad dog!” has a special spot reserved for him in the afterlife).
Dimitri from ‘Anastasia’ – Like many of the “villains” here, Dimitri starts out as a character with ill intent, in this case trying to pass off a poor orphan girl with amnesia as the long-lost princess of urban legend (unbeknownst to her, of course). But when Dimitri starts to fall for the girl he’s using a pawn in his scheme to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he regrets his bad behavior. So can Anastasia, who finds out the truth and is not too happy about it, ever forgive him for using her in such a way? (Well, what do you think?). Once again, Dimitri isn’t one of the most despicable of villains here, but his moneymaking scheme does pay off big time in the end for a lot of different people.
So while all of these characters may not exactly be the worst of villains, they were definitely up to some villainous activity in these animated movies, and all managed to mend their ways in the end. So what will Gru do in ‘Despicable Me’? Hopefully he’ll further prove that even the worst of villains can also play the good guy.