Just like everyone has a favorite Disney princess, everyone has a favorite Disney villain. You may prefer the strong kind of villain, like Gaston, maybe a more calculating villain like Mother Gothel, or perhaps you love a good surprise villain, like Bellwether; no matter your taste in villainy, Disney has got you covered. Disney has no shortage of entertaining and interesting villains who add conflict and an iconic song or two to their respective movies. Sure, some villains could be more complex, but there is no shame on having a bad guy who is unabashedly into being bad; in fact, they are often the most entertaining to watch.
The rules for this list are simple; no sequels, no Pixar, and they must be powerful. Power can mean physical strength, sure, but mental ability and personality must be taken into account. What rank were they in their society? Did they have an army? Did they actually achieve their goal? All of these and more went into cutting the wheat from the chaff. It was like the Hunger Games, but for benevolence, and for a while it was anybody's game. Although there were some obvious choices, some entries will have you surprised. We present to you, a list of the most powerful Disney villains, ranked.
24 Tarzan: Clayton
Clayton was assigned to assist the Porters in a search for gorillas in Africa. While he did succeed in this, he had ulterior motives of capturing the gorillas, even ending their lives if he had to. Clayton is physically strong, capable of using firearms, confident in traversing the jungle, and has a group of armed men at his command; all of these factors aided in him achieving his objective. However, his single-minded determination to destroy Tarzan was what ended his life.
23 Beauty And The Beast: Gaston
Other people would put Gaston higher on this list and I understand why; he is incredibly strong for a human, has a magnetic and manipulative personality that ensnared a whole village and, ultimately, he would have won the fight with Beast if external forces had not intervened. Believe me, I am aware of these reasons; they are why he is on this list in the first place, but Gaston is ultimately a regular guy - no powers, no extras, nothing.
22 Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Lyle Rourke
Leader of the Whitmore expedition to Atlantis, Lyle Tiberius Rourke is an ex-military commander who is no stranger to adversity or long expeditions through tough terrain. He is physically strong, holds military training, is manipulative, and adaptable.
Rourke achieved his goal of discovering Atlantis and almost made off with The Heart. However, similar to Clayton and Gaston, he met his demise when he lost his cool in the midst of battle.
21 Oliver And Company: Bill Sykes
A literal crime boss and loan shark, Disney pulled no punches with him. While Sykes does spend most of his limited screen time in the shadows, we do hear him instructing someone on the phone how to brutally injure someone and end their life, so there's that. He is absolutely ready to destroy anyone who stands in his way, including children and animals. Sykes knows all of the influential people in New York and can even recall their addresses and phone numbers, considering he knows Jenny's family's information. He is one you do not want to cross.
20 Fantasia: Chernabog
A pretty obscure villain, Chernabog is the giant demon from the final act of Fantasia. With the power to summon monsters, demons, and ghosts to him in the depths of the night. He also uses Hellfire to create life, attracting harpies to his mountain. This sounds like a wild night, and it was, but Chernabog is defeated by the light of dawn and the sound of the Angelus Bell. The sun and a bell defeated him, so he does not rank higher.
19 The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan
The Moriarty of mousedom, Ratigan is a different breed of villainy. During his (underrated) villain song, he lists multiple evil plans he has pulled off, so he is a seasoned pro. In the movie, his plan is to remove the mouse version of the queen, install a robot copy of her, and be assigned as her Royal Consort. From there, he intended to rule over Mousedom which he does, introducing harsh new laws that were in place for only a few hours until Basil defeated him.
18 Pocahontas: Governor Ratcliffe
The man who led English explorers to the New World, Governor Ratcliffe was on a mission to prove himself. He openly admitted that he was not a popular man despite being a member of King James' court and being a close confidant. Ratcliffe was a social climber and saw the expedition to claim the New World as his last hope of winning over the court and gaining untold riches. Unlike the other entrants so far, Ratcliffe has low self-esteem underneath his confident facade. Being close to the most powerful man in the world immediately comes with power.
17 The Lion King: Scar
Scar has a lot going for him here; he commands an army of hyenas, is manipulative, intelligent, manages to end his enemy's life, and assumes the throne to rule over the Pridelands. He does a pretty bad job of maintaining the Pridelands and keeping his citizens, but he does rule over it for an extended period of time. However, physically he is just a regular lion and is ultimately defeated by a much stronger and younger opponent.
16 The Emperor's New Groove: Yzma
My favorite villain of all time, Yzma is iconic. From her looks to her voice, to her lines, she nails it every time. Yzma is the intelligent emperor's advisor who runs things behind Kuzco's back; even before she turns him into a llama, she had significant power. The fact that she knows enough alchemy/science/magic to turn people into animals for an extended period is amazing. However, she only rules the kingdom for roughly three days and is easily defeated by the power of teamwork and friendship.
15 The Princess And The Frog: Doctor Facilier
The suspicious voodoo doctor of New Orleans, Doctor Facilier does not look like much when we first meet him; he does some magic tricks and can see into the hearts (and wallets) of his clients. However, when he accesses a portal to his friends on the other side, that changes things. Facilier can just open a portal to another dimension and summon powerful beings from it to do his bidding, but not for free. After breaking the amulet, these so-called 'friends' summon him to their world and leave a tombstone where he once stood - yikes.
14 Meet The Robinsons: DOR-15
Originally designed to be a Helping Hat for humanity, DOR-15 soon decides to clone herself and take over the world. DOR-15 can not only control the minds of humans but also has levitation on her side.
Who says fashion is not deadly?
These are abilities great start, but it kind of goes downhill with the spy camera, metal claws and cloning ability. DOR-15 made it this high mostly due to the mind control and levitation since that's unique to her, but she was still defeated so that only takes her so far.
13 The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: Frollo
Also known as that creepy priest, Frollo is another complex villain. Being a high ranking religious figure in France in 1482, Frollo has a lot of power already. He can essentially command soldiers to eradicate groups of people and just sentence people to burn at the stake because they won't be with him.
Complex and powerful indeed.
He is emotionally and mentally manipulative towards the people around him, but especially to Quasimodo. He yearns for Esmeralda despite his desire to be a 'good' and spiritual person.
12 Big Hero 6: Robert Callaghan
Also known as Yokai, Callaghan hunts down those that did him wrong after cloning Hiro's tech. Being the head robotics professor at Sanfransokyo Institute of Technology, you know the man is incredibly intelligent. While it is his desire for vengeance that spurs his sinister actions, he does not see himself as the villain, but the hero. The damage he does with his telepathic control over the microbots is astonishing, but he is ultimately just a regular guy who decides not to end the life of his enemy.
11 Zootopia: Bellwether
Assistant Mayor Bellwether seems to be an overworked but sweet sheep doing all she can to help Zootopia, but she truly is a wolf in sheep's clothing. After years of being trodden down by predators, she hatches a scheme to make prey the dominant species. Although she describes herself as a glorified secretary, she has an entire network of criminals and practically controls the dark underbelly of Zootopia. Besides this, however, she is just a meek sheep with a tranquilizer weapon.
10 Aladdin: Jafar
Another high-ranking official, Jafar is the Sultan's advisor and, as the Sultan is not always the most focused, he essentially controls the whole of Agrabah. Jafar, however, wants to claim the title of Sultan for himself. He even asks Genie to make him Sultan and the world's most powerful sorcerer. This alone would have put him to the top of the list, but he then fell into a trap and sealed his fate as a genie forever, meaning that he has infinite cosmic power, but is not free to use it as he wishes.
9 The Sword In The Stone: Madam Mim
Another underrated villain, Madam Mim is a reluctant acquaintance of Merlin. A hater of all good things, she has a wizards' duel over Arthur and reveals her many powers. She can transform herself into a variety of animals including an actual dragon, alongside her regular spellwork. While becoming an actual dragon is a massive show of strength, she is defeated by Merlin who turns into a germ before infecting her. She also refuses to go into sunlight, so there's that.
8 The Little Mermaid: Ursula
Do I need to do this paragraph? One of the most famous and loved Disney villains, Ursula is a sea witch who steals Ariel's voice in exchange for the ability to walk. Ursula brags about people coming to her to fix their problems, meaning she has a suspicious but popular reputation did indeed steal Ariel's voice and gave her legs. In her cave are old clients who became shriveled up seaweed-looking creatures after falling for her trickery.
7 Beauty and The Beast: Enchantress
Another Beauty and The Beast entry, this villain is one that is not usually discussed. The Enchantress is framed as a villain in the movie and so I shall treat her like one. Not only did this Enchantress shapeshift into an old woman, but she also cursed an entire castle and its many inhabitants for decades, presumably from a long distance. That is truly powerful but is mostly a narrative device that only drives the story forward instead of causing true harm.
6 Mulan: Shan Yu
The most ruthless villain in the Disney canon, Shan Yu is not to be messed with. As the leader of the Hun army, he is a master strategist and fighter whether armed or not, as shown when he defeated Li Shang in battle. Shan Yu is not above ending the lives of enemies and civilians in a show of strength or making jokes about it. Shan Yu is also skilled in tracking and recognition, as he managed to gather enough strategic information on where and when to attack Shang's troops based on materials found on an old doll.
5 Wreck-It-Ralph: Turbo
Originally the namesake of the most popular game in the arcade, Turbo Time, the egomaniac Turbo let the green-eyed monster take over when another game grew popular. Somehow, he entered the other game and messed with its code, causing his original game and the new one to get shut down. He then disguised himself as King Candy and messed with Vanellope's code making himself king of Sugar Rush. This guy has access to any game's code, which in this universe is a god-like power. He also transformed into a giant bug thing and could essentially glitch into other dimensions.
4 Dinosaur: Carnotaurs
A long forgotten movie, Dinosaur saw some of the coolest villains ever; Carnotaurs. The Carnotaurus was a species of dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous period. I know I'm not alone when I say that dinosaurs are freaking awesome and that these Carnotaurs would destroy almost every single one of the other entrants in this list if they were put in the same room. Then again, they are just dinosaurs who eventually go extinct, so no top spot for them.
3 Fantasia 2000: The Firebird
Fantasia 2000 has a pretty rough time towards the end, as The Spirit of Spring awakened the Firebird, who was basically made of lava and torched the entire land and reduced the Spirit of Spring to ashes. This is yet another villain that would have destroyed pretty much everyone else, you know, since the Firebird is made of literal fire and lava. But it was ultimately defeated, The Spirit of Spring returned and the land regrew and flourished, so yet again, no dice.
2 Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent
So, to get real with you, Maleficent always terrified me; she just showed up, started cursing people and could turn into an actual dragon. Now that I'm older, I know she was disrespected by the Royals and should have been invited since other fae were present. She gave the Royals a bunch of opportunities to apologize and only started riling things up when they insulted her to her face. Not only could she bend the future to her will but her aforementioned abilities are quite daunting. Moana: Te Ka
Once the benevolent goddess Te Fiti, Te Ka became a fire demon after Maui stole her heart. Not only is Te Ka a fire demon, but she can also control and summon plants, project fireballs, regenerate herself and is super strong. Now, she does chill out and return to her Te Fiti form, but she could easily unleash this crazy power upon the world once again and would definitely destroy everything and end the world.
1 Hercules: Hades
Hades is an icon and we love him. Now, he is not as historically accurate, as Hades was not one for drama and would only come at you if you wronged him, but whatever. Hades, as we know him in Hercules, is still the god of the Underworld and the brother of the most powerful god in Olympus. He managed to drain all of Hercules' strength and controlled Megara's fate. While he did fail in the end and had to rely on the Fates for help at times, it doesn't matter; as the god of the Underworld, all of these villains will be ruled over by him eventually.