As a medium, Anime is known for its extremely powerful heroes. It's jammed pack with people who can shoot lasers from their hands, cleave planets in half with their swords, or expertly play Ancient Egyptian children's card games. But a story, and its hero, is only as good as its villain. That's why Anime has just as many, if not more, strong and powerful antagonists to match wits and fists with the heroes. The villains have it all. They get the flashiest moves. They get the coolest costumes. They usually end up more popular than the heroes too. We just love to hate them.
But not all villains in Anime are created equal. For every world-ending despot or ultimate lifeform, you get a goofy weakling that barely provides a fight. Call it the nature of the best. The hero's got to fight somebody every week, they can't all be winners in the power department. But the weaklings have their own charm and occasionally, their lack of power disguises a greater capacity for evil. In their own way, the weak villains are just as memorable as the strong ones. If for the wrong reasons.
To that end, we've scoured the depths of Anime to find the strongest and the weakest of the bad guys. To make a list of those terrible villains who took 15 episodes to defeat and those who were taken down in half of one. These are our picks for the 20 Strongest Anime Villains Ever (And 10 That Are Ridiculously Weak).
30 Strongest: Frieza (Dragon Ball Z)
Honestly, we could have given this spot to any Dragon Ball Z villain. They're all massively powerful. But we're going with Frieza because he's the most memorable of all that classic series' rogues gallery. The purple menace's multiple forms, escalating in strength with each change, set a precedent for numerous series to follow.
Plus, Frieza just keeps coming back after every defeat.
Seriously, he's been vaporized, chopped into pieces, and then blasted into the afterlife. But he returns every time, stronger than before. If that weren't enough, Frieza blew up a planet by literally lifting a finger. How's that for power?
29 Strongest: Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam)
The infamous Red Comet himself. Char is widely recognized as one of the best pilots in the Gundam franchise, maybe all of Anime. His red mobile suits and three times faster speed make him a terror on the battlefield.
Even more impressive? He does it with nothing but skill.
Unlike many Gundam characters who are Newtypes, people with vague psychic powers that make them better pilots, Char is fully human. His outflies and outfights Newtypes through sheer talent. He's so talented that he can pilot multiple different mecha no problem. No wonder every Gundam series has a copycat of him.
28 Weakest: Emperor Pilaf (Dragon Ball)
For a series that would become known for strong, diabolical villains, Dragon Ball started off much different in that department. Emperor Pilaf was the first villain in the venerable franchise, and unlike later villains like Frieza or Cell, he was no match physically for Goku and company. Pilaf mostly just acted like a fool with delusions of grandeur, plotting to take over the world and harassing his followers Shu and Mai. After his wish on the Dragon Balls for world domination was foiled, he ceased to be any kind of threat. Pilaf and his gang were relegated to comic relief.
27 Strongest: Dio Brando (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure)
Dio was a first-class heel before he became a vampire. Somehow, becoming undead only made him worse. Doing so did give him plenty of ways to exact his centuries-long feud on the Joestar clan though. He's nearly invulnerable to all attacks, his dead icy skin freezes to the touch, and he can survive having his head chopped off. If Dio's vampire powers weren't enough, when he returned during the Stardust Crusaders arc he gained the ability to stop time. He used them to throw a steamroller at the hero Jojo. And Dio does it all with manic glee.
26 Strongest: All for One (My Hero Academia)
The Lex Luthor to All Might's Superman. Viewers of this popular series knew All for One was a big deal before he even made an on-screen appearance. He was the villain who dealt All Might the debilitating blow that limited the Symbol of Peace's powers.
But the reveal of All For One's own quirk made him more intense.
In a world where everyone has a superpower, All for One can take them away. Not only that, he can keep them for himself or give them to others. It's unknown exactly how many quirks he's stolen, or how many heroes have fallen to him.
25 Weakest: Light Yagami (Death Note)
Now, don't misunderstand us here. Light is a great villain (and yes, he is a villain fanboys). He's cunning, manipulative, and megalomaniacal to a fault. But strong? That's not really how we would describe him. The death note is powerful and Light gets up to some twisted business with it, but take the notebook away and what's left? Just a regular high school kid with above-average intelligence and a god complex. That fits the series he's in though. Death Note is a psychological chess game, not a kung fu fighting show. Light's strength is his mind, not his body.
24 Strongest: Griffith (Berserk)
Of all the villains on this list, Griffith has to be the most tragic. He began as a noble hero. As the leader of the mercenary Band of the Falcon, Griffith used his impeccable swordsmanship and great charisma to bring peace to the land of Midland. The first peace it had known in 100 years. But the betrayal of his best friend Guts broke something in Griffith, and his nobility vanished. He sacrificed all his soldiers to demons to join their ranks, becoming the despot Femto. Now, he is invulnerable to mortal attacks, possess telekinetic powers, and can even warp space.
23 Strongest: Meruem (Hunter X Hunter)
Imagine the most stubborn, hard to squish bug you've ever encountered. Meruem is worse. As the Chimera Ant king, he's basically the ultimate synthesis of all lifeforms. He was strong enough to knock someone's head off their shoulders with his tail the moment after he was born and only grew stronger from there.
How does he get stronger? Consuming human flesh.
Meruem's speed, reflexes, and ability to learn all match his monstrous strength as well. If that weren't enough, he doesn't feel pain either. He once tore off his own arm without any reaction whatsoever. This is one tough bug.
22 Weakest: Akihiko Kayaba (Sword Art Online)
Man, you've got to be weak if you have to cheat in a game you made. Kayaba was the game developer behind Sword Art Online, a VR MMO, and it was supposed to be his masterpiece. Turns out, it was actually a trap he held millions of innocent players hostage inside. That's bad enough, but Kayaba went into the game himself as a player, but messed with his code so he was basically invincible. No one's attacks could hurt him. Come on scrub, git gud. The worst part is he couldn't even remember why he did it
21 Strongest: Boros (One-Punch Man)
It feels weird to describe any villain from One-Punch Man as strong. They do exist only to get blown away by Saitama. But give credit to Boros. He was the first villain to survive one punch from the one-punch man. A parody of Dragon Ball Z-style alien invaders, Boros presented a unique foil to our bald protagonist. Both were way too dang powerful and searching for a thrilling opponent. He might not have been a match for Saitama, but Boros did make the bald hero put some effort in for the first time in the series. That's something.
20 Strongest: Blackbeard (One Piece)
If you're going to be named after one of history's most notorious pirates, you better live up to it. One Piece's Blackbeard more than lives up to his real world predecessor. Marshall D. Teach may have begun a simple member of the Whitebeard Pirates, but his ambition and ruthlessness have carried him to greater heights.
He's the only character in One Piece with two different Devil Fruit Powers.
Blackbeard has the Dark Dark Fruit, which lets him control crushing darkness, and the Tremor Tremor Fruit, which creates earthquakes. If anyone can challenge Luffy for King of the Pirates, it's Blackbeard.
19 Weakest: Bandit Keith (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Strength and Yu-Gi-Oh! don't really go together. It's a series about children's card games after all. Even so, the show had some colorful antagonists who stepped up their game with weird gadgets and magic powers. Not Bandit Keith though.
He was just a bully and a cheater.
He even beat up his own henchmen to win. Keith wasn't even a good cheater, he lost every duel he was in. This character was such a loser that he was a mind-controlled pawn of another villain in his last appearance. That's what happens when you're known for wearing a flag on your head.
18 Strongest: The Beast Titan (Attack on Titan)
The Titans were already creepy before this guy showed up. Unclothed human-eating giants with one, really hard to reach weak spot. But then the Beast Titan arrived and changed everything. We thought the Titans were just mindless monsters, but no.
They were being controlled by the Beast Titan.
He could turn people into Titans too. But the scariest thing about the Beast Titan was that he could talk. There was a mind in there directing this horrorshow. His Bigfoot-inspired look and lanky arms just made the Beast Titan even more pants-wetting to behold. His true aims are still unknown.
17 Strongest: Medusa (Soul Eater)
While Medusa was a physical threat to be reckoned with, a super fast witch with a venomous bite, her true strength was in her corruption. Everything she touched seemed to twist into a monstrous version of itself. Her child, Crona, she turned into a surgical guinea pig. Her paramour, Dr. Stein, she seduced into giving into his own madness. Nothing was too sacred for Medusa to corrupt. This intense witch even possessed the body of a little girl to survive a near-fatal blow, basically holding the child hostage until she got her way. She's a snake, pure and simple.
16 Weakest: Gato (Naruto)
A recurring theme in Anime is mastermind villains who hide behind much stronger henchmen. They tend to be smug and think they're invincible, until the minute their henchmen get defeated. Gato from Naruto was one of these villains. A corrupt businessman and drug smuggler, he was able to cow the Land of Waves into servitude through use of mercenaries.
He had no powers of his own.
So it's no surprise that when the heroes defeated his mercenaries, he didn't last for much longer. Cato was more of a speed bump than any kind of real threat.
15 Strongest: Johan Liebert (Monster)
Monster is a much more grounded, realistic Anime than most on this list. Its villain can't destroy planets or resurrect himself. But he is powerful in the most real-world sense. Johan Liebert is a sociopath with a genius-level IQ, an expert in manipulation and an all-around polymath. But his true strength, and true danger, lie in his astonishing charisma. Like many sociopaths, he has little difficulty making people like him and twisting them to his own sick desires. Liebert even convinced a small child to jump off a building for him. Don't let his angel face fool you. He is the monster of the title.
14 Strongest: Shishio Makoto (Rurouni Kenshin)
An assassin bar none, Shishio Makoto was one of the most memorable antagonists of this classic series. His mummy look is the result of being set on fire by the very government that created him. Because of those burns, Makoto can only fight for fifteen minutes at a time. But with his skill with a sword, 15 minutes is more than he needs. He often sets his sword on fire too, if he wasn't him metal enough. Makoto is more than a match for the ronin Kenshin. He might make good on his threat to conquer Heck from the devil.
13 Weakest: Tobigera (Outlaw Star)
You'd think being both a space pirate and a trained assassin would make someone a threat. In the case of Tobigera, you would be wrong. Despite being a member of the Anten Seven, the Kei Pirate Guild's most deadly operatives, Tobigera saw himself thwarted at every turn. Often by comedy shenanigans. He was assigned to hunt down and eliminate the outlaw Gene Starwind, but only managed the first part. Tobigera found Starwind on the hot springs planet Tenrei and all his elimination attempts failed miserably. The two never ended up fighting. This why you should never be the villain of a hot springs episode.
12 Strongest: Father (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Alchemy is the source of power in the FMA world and Father is the source of all alchemy. Though he started as little more than a demon in a bottle, he's used his knowledge to work his way up to god status. At least, that's his goal. Father's strength comes from his mastery of alchemy.
As its source, he can turn off other people's alchemy.
He also possesses the knowledge to make multiple Philosopher's Stones and Homunculi to do his bidding. By the series' end, he had nearly achieved his goal and could make a miniature sun in his palm.
11 Strongest: Aizen (Bleach)
Aizen sticks out in the memories of an entire generation of anime fans for his game-changing heel turn. Nobody saw him turning villainous coming, but he did it with style. Aileen made great use of his hypnotic abilities to cover up his conspiracy and his genius for strategy only helped him more. Not everyone is going to use their number two's attempted sneak attack on them as an excuse to go into hiding. Then again, few besides Aizen would have survived it anyway. On top of that, he's a master swordsman, magic user, and survived Hollowfication. Not bad for a quiet guy in glasses.
10 Weakest: Dr. Eggman (Sonic X)
Apparently not content to be an ineffectual villain in video games, Dr. Eggman took his efforts to anime as well. He was the main villain of the Sonic X series, where he and the Sonic gang were transported from their own world to Earth. Eggman decided he was going to take over this new planet.
Because he had such great success conquering the last one.
As usual, Eggman was thwarted by Sonic at every turn. He became the quintessential Saturday morning cartoon villain. He was so pathetic that he had to team up with Sonic to defeat a greater enemy by series end.
9 Strongest: Madara Uchiha (Naruto)
There's strong, and then there's ridiculously strong. Madara Uchiha is the latter. You'd have to be to come back from the dead multiple times. Aside from that though, he also has a chakra that allows him to fight for twenty-four hours before needing to rest. Madara was super fast and had a massive tolerance for pain. If he was injured, he was given a healing ability during his resurrection that also put him in his physical prime. That's barely scratching the surface of his huge number of powers. Shinobi beware.
8 Strongest: The Anti-Spiral (Gurren Lagann)
Made up of the psychic energy of an entire species, the Anti-Spiral made one heck of a final boss. And in a series that didn't know the meaning of Over-the-top, that's saying something.
His minimalist design belies the strength of his conviction and power.
He used black holes, surreal spaceships, and even psychic traps to stop Team Gurren. When all that failed, the Anti-Spiral got into an enormous robot of its own to battle head-on. It took our heroes the entire series to get a robot that big and he just did it. Plus, he uses galaxies as shuriken. Enough said.
7 Weakest: Queen Beryl (Sailor Moon)
Queen Beryl suffered from Power Rangers villain syndrome. While she was theoretically powerful, she mostly just sent flunkies and monsters of the week to mess with the Sailor Scouts.
She herself never really showed off much power.
To Queen Beryl's credit, she did have a super mode she could harness and did give Sailor Moon a run for her money. But she still lost in the end. Queen Beryl was also the main villain of the anime's first season, so she was soon eclipsed by others. Pour one out for the Negaverse, kids. They tried at least.
6 Strongest: Gotou (Parasyte)
The parasites of this horror anime were strong to begin with. They could take over a human body in seconds and shapeshift it into all manner of weapons. But when they decided to take over the world, that's when they got creative.
That's when they made Gotou.
A human body with five parasites inhabiting it, Gotou is the ultimate predator. Not only can each of his limbs operate independently, moving at super speed, he's also practically invulnerable. His hardened skin can take a direct hit from a grenade launcher. Gotou is the horrific amalgam of a Japanese salaryman and John Carpenter's The Thing.
5 Strongest: Nui Harime
Don't let her cute appearance fool you. This girl is deadly. Born from a womb of pure Life Fibers, Nui Harime may look human but her body is actually made of fabric. Because of this, she can recover from fatal wounds instantly and can create numerous copies of herself to fight. The Life Fibers infused throughout her also giver her increased strength, speed, and stamina. But Nui doesn't even need to fight her own battles. Thanks to her Mental Refitting ability, she can dominate people's minds and make them her puppets. A chic little sadist, Nui cuts like a razor.
4 Weakest: Buggy The Clown (One Piece)
Here's one clown you don't need to be afraid of. Buggy may have started out as a major antagonist, but his threat has diminished greatly as the series has gone on. His powers aren't much to sniff at. His Devil Fruit, the Chop-Chop Fruit, lets him split his body into pieces he can independently control and rearrange. Kind of intimidating, but his overall goofiness lessens the effect. Somehow though, Buggy keeps lucking into greater and greater positions of power. He even outranks Luffy now. It's for the best. Buggy works better as a comic recurring character.
3 Strongest: Naraku (Inuyasha)
His name literally means "Hell". That should tell you something right there. Naraku, a half-spider demon, was responsible for much of the misfortune in Inuyasha. It was him who tricked Inuyasha into betraying his beloved and later ended her life himself.
He was a mean, cruel bastard before he purged his human side.
After that, which he did by absorbing the power of the Shikon jewel, Naraku became even more powerful. Listing his powers would take all day. Some highlights include controlling swarm of demonic wasps and transforming into a giant spider form. Stay out of this spider's web.
2 Strongest: Kyubey (Madoka Magica)
This little bastard. Kyubey might seem like a cute mascot character, the kind you might find in any magical girl series. But it's all a lie. He's a manipulative, eldritch jerk. Kyubey uses his adorable facade to trick girls into making contracts with him, dooming them to lives of despair as witches. And he has the nerve to act like there's nothing wrong with this at all. Like we're the weird ones for being appalled. You just want to see him get what he deserves, only to learn he's immortal. Who knew the devil was so cute?
1 Weakest: Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Shou Tucker might be the weakest villain on this list, but arguably he's responsible for the worst act of any of them. See, Tucker was a state alchemist desperate to keep his government funding. He had to deliver a talking chimera or his life would be over. So what did he do?
He used alchemy to fuse together his young daughter and her beloved dog.
It was the most emotionally devastating moment of the entire series. Tucker turned his own daughter into an abomination for the most petty of reasons, money. That's reason enough for most fans to hate him.