It’s not often that a Castlevania game can reach its credits without a final boss fight against Dracula to cap things off. Even in games where Dracula is not a part of the main plot, he somehow finds his way in. That said, it isn’t as bad as, say, Dr. Wily or Sigma in their respective Mega Man series. Castlevania always contextualizes Dracula’s resurrection well, and it’s not like the series is hurting for villains.
While they're all mostly secondary, Castlevania has some pretty entertaining villains throughout. As the story goes on, the villains only get stronger. It makes sense considering Dracula canonically gets stronger with each revival. His lieutenants need to be able to keep up. Here we've ranked them all to see how they stack up.
One of the only villains (if not the only) to take over Dracula’s Castle with no intention of actually reviving the Count, Brauner stands out as one of the franchise's most interesting antagonists. The main villain of Portrait of Ruin, Brauner is his own independent vampire who uses the power of art to essentially assimilate Dracula’s Castle.
It’s a power move and one that actually gets Death himself involved. Brauner taking over Dracula’s castle speaks for itself, but he’s also presumably the last major threat anyone in the series faces before the Battle of 1999. It’s roughly half a century away by the events of Portrait of Ruin, so Brauner must naturally be quite powerful.
9 Dario Bossi
One of the main candidates to become Count Dracula, Dario Bossi was born on the day Dracula died and possesses flame abilities not too dissimilar to the Count’s. It’s possible that he could be a Dracula candidate, but unlike Graham or Dmitrii, Dario spends most of Dawn of Sorrow very clearly not Dracula’s reincarnation.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t strong, though. While he’s not Dracula given new flesh, he’s able to put up a decent fight against Soma, one of the strongest characters in the series. Not just that, Dario manages to survive a good chunk of Dawn of Sorrow, only being defeated at the Bad Ending split.
As Dracula’s right hand man, it goes without saying that Death is one of the most powerful villains in the franchise. At the same time, in a series where the later entries chronologically focus on the inheritors of Dracula’s power, he falls to the wayside. Death doesn’t even speak in Aria of Sorrow, relegated to a boss.
That makes sense, though. By the Sorrow duology, Death is no longer affiliated with Dracula– how could he when Mathias is dead? That doesn’t mean Death is weak, though. He may not have Dracula’s powers, but he’s still one of the hardest bosses in both Aria and Dawn. Even as just a regular boss, Death is no slouch.
7 Graham Jones
The most successful of the Dark Lord candidates other than Soma, Graham not only gets to inherit a fraction of Dracula’s power (so it seems, at least), he gives Soma the hardest fight of the three candidates, even corrupting Soma by the end of the battle– though that might have more to do with Soma coming in contact with the Power of Dominance in such an intimate manner.
It’s worth noting that Graham is something of an antithesis to Dracula, representing everything the latter hates. Graham is cowardly, a liar, and a shining beacon of humanity’s inherent treachery. It’s fitting that Soma, Dracula’s actual reincarnation, is the one to kill Graham and fully reclaim the Power of Dominance.
6 Dmitrii Blinov
While Graham is the most successful Dark Lord candidate villain, he’s not the strongest. That title belongs to Dmitrii Blinov, Dawn of Sorrow’s other candidate alongside Dario, but it’s not as plain as cut as Dmitrii just being stronger. Rather, he has the ability to mimic the abilities of others, allowing Dmitrii to essentially copy Soma’s Power of Dominance.
That makes him quite the powerful antagonist, but it’s ultimately not enough and Dmitrii is basically eaten alive by the power. It’s enough to surely give him an edge over Graham, but Dmitrii essentially doomed himself the moment he decided to copy Soma’s powers. He’s strong, but no true Dark Lord.
5 Richter (Possessed)
Widely considered the strongest Belmont in history (other than Julius who managed to permanently defeat Dracula,) it probably doesn’t need to be stated that Richter is quite the powerhouse when possessed by Shaft. That said, it’s entirely possible that Richter isn’t as strong as he normally would be.
While Richter’s emotions are genuine, his motivation isn’t. Even at his most insecure, Richter would never willingly bring back Dracula. Even then, a possessed Richter Belmont is still strong enough to fight Alucard one-on-one, so it ultimately doesn’t matter that much. He’s either very strong, or even stronger.
4 Count Dracula
The Dark Lord himself and Castlevania’s most prominent villain, there’s really no getting around Dracula. He’s the final boss of almost every single game in the series, even the ones where he’s not the main antagonist. The few games that don’t feature him make sure to feature his legacy and presence prominently. This is a series that lives and dies by Dracula.
But he’s not the strongest villain, if only because both the Sorrow games end up escalating things by not only introducing larger threats but the actual sources of Dracula’s power. Dracula is naturally quite powerful, but he’s bolstered by the Power of Dominance and Chaos.
Introduced in Aria of Sorrow, Chaos is the entity that gives Dracula his powers. It’s not quite right to call it a being, but it’s more than a concept as well. Chaos is a tangible being in Castlevania, one that likely can’t be killed, but can be subdued if nothing else – as proven by the true final boss fight in Aria of Sorrow.
Chaos is an inherent state of existence though, so it’s likely that the world’s natural order is still being watched over by Chaos, ready to consume Soma the first chance it gets. Dawn of Sorrow’s Bad Ending sees Soma fully turn, and the Power of Dominance hasn’t gone anywhere, so Chaos still rules in Castlevania.
Menace is a different story altogether. While it doesn’t have as relevant a role in Dawn of Sorrow as Chaos does in Aria, Menace is a perversion of the Power of Dominance, Dmitrii Blinov, and in some respects even Chaos itself. It’s an almost incomprehensible villain, but one that stems directly from pure evil.
Naturally, Soma defeats Malice in Dawn of Sorrow’s Good Ending, leaving the continuity on a slightly peaceful note. Chaos is still around, but Malice is seemingly defeated for good and with it the rest of the Dark Lord candidates. That said, Dawn of Sorrow does feature one other ending with a certain villain.
1 Soma Cruz
Following Dawn of Sorrow’s Bad Ending, Soma fully allows himself to corrupt into Dracula. This ends up unlocking Julius Mode, a bonus playthrough that canonically serves as a sequel to Dawn of Sorrow’s Bad Ending with Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades, and Alucard all serving as playable characters.The final boss is changed from Malice to Soma Cruz, and he even takes cues from his Rondo of Blood battle. It takes the combined efforts of three of the world’s strongest Vampire Hunters just to subdue Soma, and they’re silently watching his castle crumble when all is said and done – likely ready to revive another day.