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The Best Rogues Galleries Ever

"A hero is only as good as his villain" is a maxim so timeless, we don't even know who said it in the first place. We have a slight addendum, though: A hero is only as good as his villains. No matter how compelling the bad guy, you can't have your good guy face the same malcontent in every episode, issue, or movie — that would get repetitive and dull. This is especially true today, with the most popular characters being featured across so much media (movies, TV shows, cartoons, cereal boxes) that they need new villains to keep things fresh. Comic book creators have known this forever, which is why most of the best rogues galleries in popular culture come from their pulpy pages. However, comic books aren't the only place to find charismatic villains — not by a long shot, in fact. 

What makes a great rogues gallery? The fancy-pants answer is a variety of villains who represent the myriad facets of the hero's psyche. They might also present grave threats to the good guy's attempts at normalcy, and force him to adapt each time they do battle. The other answer is considerably simpler: It's just a lot of villains who are really cool. However you define it, these collections of evil-doers are great at being the worst. These are the best rogues galleries ever!

Star Trek

"Star Trek" set a course for the final frontier back in 1966. Its "five year mission" ended in cancelation after just three seasons and 79 episodes, but the "Star Trek" brand went on to become one of the most enduring in the galaxy. William Shatner's James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock are cultural icons, with many of the franchise's other characters not far behind. The man on the street might not be a Trekkie, but he'll likely recognize the names Sulu, Scotty, Picard, Data, and Uhura.

But a brand doesn't last for decades on the good guys alone. While "Star Trek" does have some silly villains, especially the original series (give 'em a break, it was the '60s), the best "Star Trek" bad guys are truly legendary. Christopher Lloyd's Klingon Commander Kruge, Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson's sinister Borg Queen, and Marc Alaimo's Cardassian tyrant Gul Dukat are all notably strong baddies. One of the best, and certainly the most famous of the "Star Trek" baddies is Ricardo Montalban's vengeance-obsessed Khan Noonien Singh, whose wrath produced the greatest Kirk GIF ever. Benedict Cumberbatch's Khan isn't nearly as good in "Star Trek Into Darkness," which just goes to show how high the standards are for "Star Trek" villains.


Though it might seem strange today, for decades, the Marvel universe could be separated into three categories: "Spider-Man stories," "X-Men stories," and "everything else." The X-Men franchise truly is a mythology unto itself, with hundreds of characters spread across multiple timelines and even universes. However, whatever version of X-Men you're watching or reading, one thing is always the same: The villains are great

There are plenty of evil mutants to be sure, playing the yang to Charles Xavier and his X-Men's yin, including the shape-shifting Mystique, the feral Sabertooth, the slimy Toad, and the conniving Emma Frost. There are also non-mutants, like the unstoppable Juggernaut and the terrifying Sentinels. Time-spanning ne'er-do-well Apocalypse poses an intergalactic threat, and could easily go toe-to-toe with Thanos. The Phoenix Force could mop the floor with the purple-skinned bad guy. 

And then there's Magneto. While he may not be the most powerful or most famous X-Men villain, for our money, he's the best. Once a young Jewish boy scarred by the horrors of the Holocaust, he turns into a super-powered mutant with a deep-seated distrust of mankind. Magneto can shift from genocidal tendencies of his own to moments of genuine compassion for others. While Magneto is the most complex and charismatic, all of the X-Men's villains boast a depth that makes this rogues gallery one of pop culture's richest.

Star Wars

"Star Wars" heroes include household names like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Master Yoda, the Mandalorian, and Rey "Don't Call Me Palpatine", uh, Skywalker. But here's a hot take that's sure to inspire some serious nerd rage: It is the villains who make "Star Wars" the unprecedented success it has become. The best is Darth Vader (duh), the tragic savior-turned-cyborg-Sith who makes you question your own allegiances because he's just so cool. But what makes "Star Wars" so epic is that it's not just "group of good guys" versus "group of bad guys" — it's full of various villainous factions that populate the galaxy far, far away. 

Sure, these bad guys may form unholy alliances to take on the forces of light. But by and large, they're only looking out for their best interests, and we love them for it. Jabba the Hutt, the slimy mob boss who decorates his desert vacation home with Carbonite-frozen smugglers, is a great example. So is Boba Fett, the mysterious clone-turned-bounty hunter who became a fan-favorite despite doing nothing but evil and uttering maybe 20 words in the original trilogy. Not every "Star Wars" villain is great (some are even cringingly racist), but all serve to make the universe richer. "Star Wars" fans may fight about everything, but they can at least agree on this: The "Star Wars" rogues gallery is one of the best around.


Superman is basically an invulnerable space god, so the fact he has any villains is pretty impressive. The fact that his rogues gallery is one of the best speaks to the creativity of the writers and artists who have been telling the Man of Steel's stories since the late 1930s. Superman was born during the latter days of the Great Depression, so his earliest enemies were mob bosses, slum lords, and general jerks who exploited the working poor. As the times changed, however, his villains changed as well. Today, they're a diverse bunch of planet-enders, interdimensional twerps, and terrifying geniuses with billions of dollars.

While Darkseid may not have the most creative name, he burst onto the scene as an intergalactic tyrant about two years before Marvel debuted Thanos. The mindless monster Doomsday, who basically just destroys things, made headlines by killing Superman. On the other end of the evil spectrum is Mr. Mxyzptlk, an omnipotent space imp from the fifth dimension who Superman can only beat with his wits, not his brawn. The list goes on, including space despots (Mongul), warlords (Zod), evil robots (Metallo), clones (Bizarro), and a parasitic alien intelligence (Braniac). But of course, Superman's greatest foe remains a lowly human: Lex Luthor. It just goes to show what someone can accomplish with a brilliant mind and tons of money.

James Bond

You could make 20 different lists exploring the many facets of the James Bond franchise: The best Bond theme songs, the best Bond cars, the best Bond gadgets, and of course, the best Bond girls are all contenders. However, we're going to focus on arguably the most defining feature of the James Bond universe: the villains. With everything else the series has going for it, you wouldn't blame Ian Fleming (or the movie franchise's filmmakers) for being lazy and making the bad guys "Insert Vanilla Villain Here." But one thing the Bond series is not is bland. So, true to form, the series' villains are some of the most colorful in all of pop culture. 

We do mean "colorful" literally. Consider the man with the Midas touch, Auric Goldfinger. Then there's the man with the golden gun, Francisco Scaramanga — one of Christopher Lee's best villains, in a career full of them. Sean Bean made a memorable mark as Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan, in "GoldenEye." Daniel Craig's James Bond is positively spoiled for great villains, including Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale" and Javier Bardem's Raoul Silva in "Skyfall." The Moriarty to Bond's Holmes, Ernst Blofeld, head of the criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E., has appeared in several novels and films. And of course, you can't mention Bond villains without including henchmen like the hat-throwing Oddjob or the metal-mouthed Jaws. 

Dragon Ball Z

"Dragon Ball Z" is known for its epic fights — and five episodes of talking leading up to those fights. But you can't have an epic fight without equally epic adversaries. When it comes to bad guys, "DBZ" boasts a motley crew of intergalactic baddies, making up inarguably one of the best rogues galleries in all of anime. While he eventually becomes a good guy, Piccolo begins as a formidable foe for young Goku to take on in the pre-Z series "Dragon Ball." Vegeta is another villain whose allegiances switch faster than shots from his Galick Gun, but in his prime during "The Saiyan Saga," the prideful egomaniac is bad news for the good guys. 

While every "DBZ" villain can hold their own in a match of fists, Cell is just as impressive in a game of wits: He's just as likely to outsmart his opponents as beat the tar out of them. The most devastating villain in the series has  to be Frieza, however, whose 100-plus episode reign of terror is unmatched by any other "DBZ" villain — or any other villain period. Frieza is so bad, he forces Goku to go Super Saiyan, introducing the franchise's most famous trope and taking the series into wild new directions. Considering we're talking about "DBZ," that's really "Saiyan" something.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When your four protagonists are pizza-loving teenaged terrapins trained to be ninjas, you expect the villains to be just as wild. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" does not disappoint in this regard. The big bad is, of course, Oroku Saki, better known as Shredder, the helmet-headed leader of the Foot Clan. Like Darth Vader, he serves as a second-in-command to Krang, a sinister sentient brain who first appeared in the 1980s cartoon. Krang lives in a giant robot that looks like a pro wrestler. Like we said, it's wild. 

While Shredder and Krang are the turtles' biggest antagonists, there's no shortage of other outrageous adversaries. Doofus duo BeBop and Rocksteady serve as Shredder's henchmen. Tokka and Rahzar, a massive and mutated wolf and turtle, respectively, would be unstoppable but for one thing: They're literally babies. Dr. Baxter Stockman, a genius scientist who turns himself into a fly, has long been a fan favorite, as has the Rat King, a sewer-dwelling would-be tyrant who hopes to take over the world with a telepathically controlled army of rats. The heroes in a half-shell named after Renaissance painters couldn't ask for a more worthy rogues gallery.


If you're going to call yourself the King of the Monsters, you better have the rogues gallery to back it up. Godzilla definitely does, with a bevy of baddie behemoths that have transcended the tokusatsu genre to become pop culture icons in their own right. Some of Godzilla's co-stars get pretty kooky — which, let's be honest, is part of their appeal. Hedorah is a psychedelic smog monster made of toxic sludge. Ebirah is a giant shrimp-lobster creature. Gigan is a cyborg space bird with a buzzsaw in his belly. Gabara is an enormous ... well, we're not sure exactly what he is. As most American monsters look basically the same — seriously, the monster in "Cloverfield," the creature in "Super 8," the MUTOs in 2014's "Godzilla," and the Skull Crawlers in "Kong: Skull Island" could be cousins — we admire Godzilla's Japanese monsters for their originality. 

That said, the greatest of Godzilla's foes stand the test of time for their simplicity. Radioactive pteranodon Rodan, munificent moth deity Mothra, robotic doppelgänger Mechagodzilla, and Godzilla's greatest foe of all, King Ghidorah, are all fairly straightforward. Heck, we'll even add King Kong to the list, even though he's an American monster who arrived 21 years before Godzilla. We could add more (there have been 36 Godzilla movies to date), but we'll just say that on a list of rogues galleries, Godzilla's is one of the best — and definitely the biggest.


You can't talk about the best rogues galleries in pop culture and not include pro wrestling. Pro wrestling is a living, breathing comic book in tights. Nowhere are the bad guys more wild than in the WWE, formerly the WWF. First things first: Villains in pro wrestling are actually called heels, while the heroes are called babyfaces. Also worth noting is the fact that faces and heels switch allegiances so frequently, even soap opera viewers will throw up their hands in confusion. So some of these heels have also been successful as faces. 

There's the Undertaker, the undead cowboy zombie (not kidding) who became a Satanic cult leader (also not kidding), then turned into a badass biker, before combining all three — and becoming an MMA fighter to boot. Not even anime can compete with that. There's "the dirtiest player in the game," Ric Flair, who made his name with rival NWA/WCW, but did big stints in WWF/WWE. There's "The Game" Triple H, who literally hired a wrestler to run Stone Cold Steve Austin over. Eddie Guerrero fathered Rey Mysterio's son, then competed for custody of him in a ladder match. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Andre the Giant, and any of Hulk Hogan's adversaries during his '80s heyday also qualify. But the greatest WWF/WWE villain of them all? That has to be the real-life company chairman, Mr. Vince McMahon. We could list his character's crimes, but we're not sure you can handle it.


Spider-Man established himself as something special from the moment he swung onto the pages of 1962's "Amazing Fantasy" #15. Besides his colorful costume, quirky one-liners, and cool powers, Spider-Man is one of pop culture's most famous heroes because of his relatability. As a socially awkward nerd, some of his biggest "foes" are jocks, shyness, and getting dates. However, make no mistake: Spider-Man's stories aren't just the comic book version of "Saved By The Bell." His rogues gallery is not only one of the best in comics, but in all of popular fiction. 

Doctor Octopus, the mad scientist with four metallic arms welded to his spine, is unforgettable. Mysterio, the fish bowl-headed magician who produces powerful illusions has style to spare. Peter's beloved mentor-turned-reptile, the Lizard, is one of his most emotionally resonant villains. Scorpion. Kraven the Hunter. Rhino. Kingpin. We could go on. 

Spider-Man's most famous villain might be the tongue-lashing Venom at this point, who is such a big deal, his spin-off movie series is a blockbuster franchise of its own. Eddie Brock, Peter Parker's rival at The Daily Bugle, fuses with an alien symbiote to become the hulking monstrosity, who's twice as powerful as Spider-Man, but with none of his compassion. However, we think Spider-Man's true arch-enemy is the Green Goblin. Norman Osborn knows Spider-Man's secret identity and possesses zero scruples. He becomes Peter's worst fears personified, attacking the man in the mask and those he loves with glee.


We kicked off this list by clarifying that it isn't a countdown or a definitive ranking. There's a caveat: Batman's rogues gallery is the best in comic books, and arguably the best in all of popular fiction. Heck, you could say Batman's rogues gallery is the best just because of the Joker alone. Seriously, what other supervillain has inspired a billion-dollar, Academy Award-winning, Golden Lion-garnering movie starring Joaquin Phoenix? Not to mention Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's equally iconic turns. And that's just one Batman villain! The Clown Prince of Crime may be Batman's greatest and most famous foe, but the rest of Batman's rogues gallery would be number one on any other superhero's list. 

Batman's ally-turned-psycho Two-Face is a powerfully tragic figure. Monocle-wearing mob boss the Penguin is as odd as he is formidable. Catwoman is so intriguing, Batman comes darn close to marrying her every decade or so. Bane is the man who literally broke the Bat. The Scarecrow memorably preys on people's fears. The Riddler nearly pushes Batman to the brink with his witty crimes. Ra's al Ghul is an immortal sophisticate and leader of a centuries-old terrorist organization. Even the more outlandish villains pack purpose and pathos, like Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Clayface. Oh, and who can forget Harley Quinn, who started as Joker's henchwoman and has become a megawatt star all her own? No wonder Batman is so paranoid. With the best rogues gallery in popular fiction on the loose, who wouldn't be?