Animated Disney Villains Ranked

3. Jafar – Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin Review

The Sultan of Agrabah’s scheming advisor who seeks a magic lamp trapping a wish-granting genie in order to increase his power and influence.

The most compelling of Disney’s greedy villains by quite a distance, and one of the more formidable and wickedly clever figures of the Renaissance and beyond, Jafar isn’t wanting for ambition; not content with being able to cast mind control spells and being the power behind the throne of Agrabah, he wishes to be Sultan, to marry Princess Jasmine and to increase the reach of his dark magic. 

He sees right through Aladdin’s disguise from the start as nobody else can and seems more than a little annoyed that this “diamond in the rough” was required in his master plan to access the Cave of Wonders in the first place. A selfish man fuelled by ambition, Jafar would much rather do everything himself and only puts up with his Parrot sidekick Iago to have someone to rant at when things go awry.

Demise by: Survives but is trapped in the Genie’s magic lamp and launched into the desert.

2. Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

A powerful dark sorceress who takes her twisted revenge on the royal family for being snubbed.

Maleficent didn’t need rehabilitation or explanation in live-action, and works so much better as a terrifying, unknowable embodiment of malice. She probably has the best villain entrance in all of Disney when she arrives uninvited at baby Aurora’s presentation ceremony. 

Cursing an infant to die when she comes of age out of spite, her spell’s potency is only mitigated by the timely actions of Aurora’s fairy guardians who manage to make it so the Princess will only fall into a deep sleep that can be ended by a kiss from her true love. Like Jafar, Maleficent is an arch-manipulator, a master planner. She is powerful in her magic and takes the terrifying form of a black dragon to battle Prince Phillip who is rushing to Aurora’s rescue.

Demise by: Killed by the Prince in her dragon form.

1. Judge Frollo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Review

A cruel, hypocritical and zealous judge in Paris who acts as abusive guardian for Quasimodo and obsesses over the gypsy dancer Esmerelda.

Frollo is the most unequivocally evil figure in the Disney canon, taking the original dark character from Victor Hugo’s story and making him so much worse by putting him in the middle of a colourful animated world. He is driven by his fanatical belief system and is prepared to put anyone who contravenes that, or whom he deems a heretic, to horrible death – this is up to and including a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Paris. He imprisons and misleads Quasimodo, using his misshapen appearance as an excuse to limit his exposure to the world. However cruel and judgemental people can be, none are more harmful to Quasimodo as his supposed guardian.

He is, of course, also in love with Esmeralda and blames her for bewitching his heart with sin, claiming he is helpless in the face of her charms as seen in the darkest musical number in Disney. “Hellfire” sees Frollo bearing his soul to internal demonic tormentors, and is one of the best-written and most nuanced character songs.

Demise by: Obsessively chasing Quasimodo and Esmerelda during the siege of Notre Dame, he falls from a collapsed gargoyle on the cathedral’s roof.

Recommended for you: Disney Renaissance Movies Ranked

Were you always more won over by the baddies of Disney than the goodies? Which villain do you love to hate? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and X (Twitter) for more insightful movie lists.

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