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The Best Animated Female Villains Of The 1990s

The 1990s were a time of innovation, expansion, and new technology for cartoons in several ways, per TVTropes. Programming was trying to move past simply advertising products, but this decade also gave viewers a plethora of new memorable characters and reincarnated established IPs. As the industry grew, cartoons were taken more seriously, embracing diversity, and branching out beyond Saturday mornings (via Ranker). This meant that fewer studios were trying to make gender-specific shows, but programming the whole family could enjoy instead. A wonderful side effect of all of these factors was the inclusion of more female characters, many of which were positioned as anti-heroes or even villains.

Disney's domination and the end of the classic age for animated programs set a specific tone for the '90s — all of the new kids in town wanted to show they were different but just as good, if not better. This created some spectacular dynamics and exposed audiences to a new breed of female villains. Not everyone was traditionally evil; motivations and relationships were more thoroughly explored, and the mold of the previous era's enemies had been broken. 

Catwoman in Batman: The Animated Series

Selina Kyle is an important part of "Batman: The Animated Series," and in some eyes, one of the best portrayals of the iconic Catwoman outside of the comics. Partially due to the success of "Batman Returns," an episode featuring her, "The Cat and the Claw," was selected to be the first adventure audiences saw of the new cartoon (via IMDb). The character's stock was so high at that time that she almost received her own spinoff series before Superman had his turn in the new animated universe, per CBR. Even though Catwoman only appears in a handful of episodes throughout the series, she is the center of many of the show's sensational stories. 

Why would someone born into wealth become one of Gotham's greatest thieves? For the thrill, of course. Selina is a complicated, amoral character who doesn't believe in the ability of the police to dispense justice. Her crimes and actions are usually against the rich or other unsavory individuals, with little to no collateral damage. She protects the weak and is deeply involved with activism to help animals. But Selina is still a mischievous criminal deep down often at odds with Batman, breaking the law for what she believes to be the right reasons. Though the romantic tension is thick between the two, Catwoman's actions often place her as one of the long-term members of the Dark Knight's Rogues Gallery, even if she plays antihero on several occasions and has even saved his life.

Dr. Barbara Blight in Captain Planet and the Planeteers

Super scientists often make for superb villains: always experimenting on themselves, giving birth to horrific creations, and violating every law in an effort to prove themselves right. Somehow, Dr. Barbara Blight manages to do all of these things and still be more of a cartoonish stereotype — and one of the best parts of her show. "Captain Planet" isn't a traditional superhero show, but Babs looks like a prototypical, femme fatale supervillain in a pink bodysuit with blonde hair and a signature white streak covering the mutilated portion of her face. 

Dr. Blight shouldn't be taken lightly. Her influence runs deep, having become the President's Science Advisor at one point, and she is enough of a genius to have built multiple time machines, using one of them travel back to WWII and sell nuclear weapons to Adolph Hitler (via Fandom). She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty either, kidnapping people and even getting into fistfights with Captain Planet himself. She's also assisted by her computer, MAL, who Blight considers to be a near-perfect creation and helps with her schemes. Their interactions are wonderful, and although both characters were performed by different actors throughout the show's run, Meg Ryan and Tim Curry did killer jobs in these roles. Blight is rotten to the core. The name says it all, but she's too good not to watch.

Carol Miller, aka Mom, in Futurama

A cartoon that definitely wasn't for the Saturday morning crowd, designed to show darker humor and more adult themes, is the perfect spot to find a villain. Carol Miller, better known as Mom, is one of the best reoccurring antagonists in "Futurama." She's everything bad about the bloodthirsty side of capitalism, buying up her competition and squeezing every penny out of the poorest souls, all while maintaining her public image. Mom excels at manipulating the masses and putting on a friendly face, but this is one cruel 120-year-old mother.

She's a woman who gets what she wants, either through outright purchasing, hostile takeovers, or intense scheming. It's rare that she's denied. This makes Planet Express, run by the show's heroes, the target of her mischief on many occasions, as they are the last thing standing between her and a monopoly. That and the fact that she and Professor Farnsworth used to date. All of the robots MomCorp creates have chips that make them do Mom's bidding, letting her use them to stage a coup to become Supreme Overlord of Earth of course. She also has three sons to use and abuse as well. But when muscle and buffoonery fail, one of her greatest weapons — and what makes her so entertaining — is her ability to dish out witty insults and quick retorts.

Mystique in X-Men: The Animated Series

Mystique in "X-Men: The Animated Series" is also a mother, one whose screwed-up family dynamic could rival most soap operas. Her son with her former lover Sabretooth, another mutant terrorist, grew up to head one of the largest mutant hate groups in the Friends of Humanity. She also didn't offer much to her blue-skinned offspring Nightcrawler and used her adopted daughter Rogue as a weapon. That's Raven Darkholme though: a cunning manipulator, instigator, and mastermind, who always has an evil intention behind every action. Mystique is never to be trusted.

She's also one of the slipperiest foes the X-Men face. Raven's skills in subterfuge and espionage are top-notch, and that's before she uses her shapeshifting abilities. Mystique could be anyone, and few people have the ability to sniff her out. Even if infiltration is often her mission, it is rare that she's alone. As the leader of the Brother of Mutants, Raven often has several henchmen to run interference for her, but her alliances with more dangerous villains are truly terrifying. A brief agreement with Mr. Sinister was formidable, but Mystique's servitude to Apocalypse shows how deadly she can truly be when the gloves are off. Through it all, Raven has her own motivations and desires, seeing herself as the sympathetic victim in most cases, and she won't stop until her goals are met, no matter how many times she has to try or how many people are hurt along the way.

Queen Beryl in Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon has a lot of villains, but Queen Beryl is arguably the best of them. This member of evil royalty is in charge of four generals and a slew of monsters, all representing the Negaverse/Dark Kingdom, and her intentions are to use all of the resources at her disposal to obtain the Silver Crystal and conquer the universe. Beryl comes close to achieving these goals, keeping the Sailor Scouts fighting and even killing a few of our main heroes in the process, but she's also considered one of their fiercest villains, having already annihilated the Moon Kingdom before the anime's timeline. It also doesn't hurt that she is the original antagonist and is mentioned several times after her demise, and people always remember their first.

Beryl is ruthless and cunning. She doesn't hesitate to kill those that stand in her way, unless they can be useful to her down the line. But it's often the queen's own soldiers that find death at her hands or are punished severely when they fail. Though her minions are monstrous as their true selves, Beryl is the real hideous creature, especially in her super form for the final battle. Even her normal look makes the queen seem quite imposing, with the dark crown, staff, and long purple dress. It's just too bad that a wish erased her from existence — but not from our minds.

Kootie Pie Koopa in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

Bowser, better known as King Koopa, is the main enemy in the "Super Mario Bros." games and a horrible parent. It's unclear who he had these seven children with, but they are all as rotten as their father, and the worst of them might be Kootie Pie for the tantrums she throws if nothing else. As the only female Koopaling, she stands out amongst her brothers, wearing pink shoes, a bow on her tail, a red necklace, gold bracelets, lipstick, and a giant pink bow with white dots on her head (even though she doesn't have hair). Those who play the games will know her better as Wendy O. Koopa, but in "The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3," she is given a ton of personality and gets up to some wilder things than just being a level boss.

Armed with her magic wand, Kootie Pie has the power and wants everything. Whether she's helping dear old dad or hatching her own schemes, she's always being loud and giving orders. Kootie Pie's plots are always ambitious; this vain reptile leaves the small-scale ideas for her siblings, who she is often heard bashing. She's tried to steal the city of Venice, conquer America, and kidnap Milli Vanilli and turn them into accountants. Like most spoiled children though, she's often defeated and even punished by her own father, but that's only after she's caused a kingdom's worth of trouble.

Carmen Sandiego in Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

Amateur sleuths have been trying to capture Carmen Sandiego for decades in the "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" video game, per The Strong Museum. But it wasn't until the animated show "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" that the infamous criminal in red was given a fleshed-out personality and backstory — as a former operative for the group charged with her capture. With her master plans and a slew of V.I.L.E. agents at her beck and call, Carmen never sets out to do anything small or easy and is always willing to test herself as the world's greatest thief. Though it isn't too often that her schemes succeed, this skilled crook always has a backup plan and four different ways to escape. After all, how can the ACME Detective Agency hope to imprison someone who was smart enough to build her own time machine?

This series sees Carmen running from two particular sibling gumshoes, Ivy and Zack, and their interactions with her and the cooler-than-cool attitude she exuded always helped this villain display her swagger, especially in the snazzy hat and coat. Sandiego isn't evil, or even cruel, possessing her own code of conduct for the criminal elite. Her crimes are about upsetting the natural order, stealing valuable items for the feat or to finance the next big plot, rather than collateral damage. She shows this by rescuing her pursuers a time or two along the way and even teaming up with them when needing to take down worse threats. The most dangerous thing in this show though is how much geography viewers might be tested on.

Poison Ivy in Batman: The Animated Series

The most beautiful flowers often hide deadly attributes, and Dr. Pamela Isley is the pure embodiment of that warning in "Batman: The Animated Series." Typically, she isn't after money or glory but is often fighting for someone else, even if it's on the behalf of plants and the environment. Her heart bleeds for nature, but this eco-terrorist's methods are lethal, even cruel. This makes her motivated and capable, but not quite the evil we are used to, even if she is willing to kill. She has a look that stands out — bright red hair and the layered shades of green on the costume — making the villainess known as Poison Ivy look like a prized rose. One of several female rogues Batman faces, Ivy is complex and fierce, but often sheds her thorns to show a softer side if only for an instant.

As one of Gotham's truly super-powered threats, Isley's ability to control plants extends past simple vines and giant Venus flytraps. At one point, this educated botanist was creating love potions, turning victims into plants, and even creating near-perfect plant clones of humans with their own personalities. Combine this raw potential with her intelligence, athleticism, immunity to poisons, as well as a miniature crossbow on her wrist when nothing else works, and she is a potent and resilient foe. Her final appearance in the cartoon does leave her fate a bit uncertain, but like any good weed, Ivy is always bound to sprout up again, and her appearance is always welcomed.

Hexadecimal in ReBoot

What could be more evil than a coded virus? Hexadecimal from "ReBoot" was designed to sow discord and wreak havoc on Mainframe, and this jumble of corrupted code beams from behind her mask the chaos she causes in this computer world. Residing on the Isle of Lost Angles with Scuzzy and her nullified sprites, this unpredictable menace is a powerful foe, perhaps even more so than her brother Megabyte, often having to be defeated by clever thinking rather than force. She isn't easy to trick or surprise, her motives are mysterious, and the character sees some in-depth development across the seasons, as fans watched her change in many ways and become something more than what her programming and others insisted she could do (via TheGamer). She even develops some feelings for Bob along the way.

"ReBoot" was the first full-length CGI cartoon, and it had to work with some limitations on its character designs, but Hexadecimal's appearance is incredibly memorable and quite frightening. She has the figure of a classic femme fatal, at least in digital form, but her tall and slender frame is covered in red and black most of the time, showing off a metallic exoskeleton that looks like it could double as a bondage outfit, corset and all. Her face resembles that of a theater mask, stark white with solid glowing eyes, and whenever Hex waves her hand in front of it, the covering changes to a different potent expression to show her ever-changing flights of fancy.

Demona in Gargoyles

It isn't hard to imagine a character is evil when the writers just took the word "demon" and added an A at the end. Demona from "Gargoyles" deserves more respect, however, as she's one of the most active, determined, and violent antagonists girls had to look up to in the '90s. She's old, immortal, and incredibly skilled in everything from combat, magic, advanced technology, and she can manage some finances. Demona is so good at what she does that she becomes one of the biggest threats to the Manhattan Clan, even when she's on her own. Her crusade against humanity almost feels sympathetic while still allowing this winged devil to remain ruthless, making her one of the greatest female villains a Disney Afternoon show ever produced, per The Mary Sue.

Adding to her complexity, Demona has taken many mates over the years, mostly for power or positioning, but her love for Goliath seems to have been pretty serious at one point. The two even have a child together, and this villain's motherly instincts weigh on her somewhat, hinting at the potential for her to be a kinder Angel of the Night. Demona's bitterness seems too great though; so much of her pain comes from all the years her immortality forced her to spend alone, watching and fearing humans, and it's easy to pick up on these important traits. The character was well-written, had a great look, and was wonderfully voiced by Marina Sirtis, giving Demona an astounding presence.