Top 25 Best Anime Villains Of All Time (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
You can’t really have a great anime hero if you don’t have a great anime villain.
This is why most of the popular shows, especially shounen, have this symbolic hero vs. villain scenario where each is fleshed out and amazing in their own right.
But what makes a villain truly the best of the best?
Let’s find out as we go over the best of the baddies of anime.
Anime: Ao no Exorcist
I’m going to start the list off with Satan himself. Because I feel like he wasn’t as fleshed out as some of the others on this list.
But his presence was definitely felt.
We’re never shown his true form in the show, but that only makes him more terrifying. You never know where he’ll attack from next.
Aside from that, he seems like pure hatred and evil manifested.
So you definitely won’t feel for this character.
But I’m certain that he sent a shiver down your spine when he first possessed a certain someone.
Anime: Black Clover
Okay, if you prefer long-lasting plot relevance then Patolli is probably the pick for you.
We really get to know his backstory, his motivations, and his character.
But I’m a sucker for some demon action so when Zagred came onto the scene, I was glued to my seat.
Not only does he look like pure nightmare fuel, but he also has some of the most busted abilities this show has seen so far.
And even though he pulled a Black Zetsu on us, I forgive him, based on his badass levels alone.
Anime: Akame ga Kill
Throughout most of the show, Esdeath was basically the Grim Reaper in a uniform.
Because everywhere she went death would soon follow in the dozens, if not hundreds.
And even our protag group had to evade her like the plague.
She’s definitely ruthless and beyond powerful. But was also fleshed out a bit more when she discovered hormones.
Was it a confusing love story? Absolutely.
But was it hype as hell every time she stepped onto the scene? You know it!
22. Ladd Russo
I feel a little weird to call anyone in this show a villain, as everyone seems to be on the opposite end of the law.
But Ladd is arguably the most evil in my opinion.
Sure, some characters might have done worse things. But it was to save their life or make a profit.
Ladd just really likes killing people. He’s livid to stop someone from living.
But this trait of his is done well, making him this maniacal person who you can never truly understand, nor can you predict what he’s going to do next.
Mad Ladd Russo definitely deserves a solid spot on this list.
I’m really treading the line with this one, as I do believe Tahoumaru can be considered a villain but only by circumstance.
This is because it was his father that made the deal with the demons, and the demons are the one who Hyakkimaru usually fights.
But I still couldn’t resist putting Tahoumaru on here.
Because at the end of the day, he did basically order someone to forfeit their happiness so that his land may thrive… not very heroic, now is it?
And his clash with his brother was one of my favorite fights in anime. So at least a medium-tier villain in my book!
20. Shou Tucker
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist
Okay I’m going to excuse FMA from my one character per series rule, as I just have to mention this guy.
Even anime fans who have not watched the show have probably heard the name Tucker mentioned here and there, in the most morbid context.
He was a one-off villain. But just the scene of his deeds left me speechless the first time around.
Just imagine what kind of headspace one would have to be in to do what Tucker did. That is some truly demented stuff. No spoilers though, gotta check this out for yourself.
19. Tsukasa Shishiou
Anime: Dr. Stone
I personally love it when the distinction between hero and villain is their philosophy.
I mean, Tsukasa is definitely not what you would call a good guy, with the whole “let the elderly die principle”.
But he is convinced that it’s for the greater good.
He’s also both physically and mentally an absolute beast that looks like a knock off Jojo’s character, which is always a good thing.
He hasn’t clashed with the kingdom of science too many times as of now. But I’m sure the final battle will be epic.
Anime: Dragon Ball Z
Yes, I went very vanilla with this one.
But Frieza is far too iconic not to mention!
I still remember how excited I was when he was first introduced, as planet-destroying powers were still quite new to the franchise.
You add to that like twenty transformations and upgrades, an incredibly long fight, and some of the best abridged lines on the net, and you get a top-tier Dragon Ball Z villain.
He does pull a sneaky on us in the newest season. But I for one am not mad.
More Frieza is always a good thing.
17. Izaya Orihara
I’m a sucker for the boy genius villain trope. And Izaya just does it justice on so many levels.
Nearly everything that happens in the show is somehow connected to this man, as he treats the rest of the cast like nothing more than chess pieces.
Because the man just finds the chaos really entertaining.
I also appreciate that he’s no pushover who relies only on his mind. He can and will throw down if the situation asks for it. Ten out of ten would watch again.
16. Hisoka Morow
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Only in anime can a battle-hungry, horny clown be a top villain.
Like most of the characters from the show, Hisoka is morally ambiguous and just does what suits his fancy at the moment, regardless of whether he ends up helping or not.
It’s exactly this ambiguity that makes him such a great villain.
Because it’s impossible to predict what he’s going to do next.
It’s like his character has the qualities of both rubber and gum as interest sticks, and acknowledging that he’s into diddling just bounces off.
Jokes aside, Meruem is amazing but Hisoka is legendary.
15. Dio Brando
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Dio honestly transcends the limits of his show. Because Dio memes are basically in a category of their own.
How can you not love this smug, flexing Chad of a character?
Well spoilers ahead:
When he first shows his power to Polnareff, the madman stopped time and then walked over to his enemy and placed him on a lower step just to confuse him. How extra is that?
I wish other villains had the commitment this man has, both in terms of flexing and haunting a family for decades.
14. Muzan Kibutsuji
Anime: Demon Slayer
Whenever a demonic character is portrayed well, my overall enjoyment of the show skyrockets.
And Muzan was honestly just the antagonist this already brilliant series needed.
I can’t say whether it’s because of his unapologetic cruelty, or just his raw power and intimidation.
But the second I saw him I wanted to see him take on the protagonist trio.
Unfortunately, only the manga can quench my thirst, as the anime only shows some of his amazing power. Nevertheless, bloody amazing.
13. Toichiro Suzuki
Anime: Mob Psycho 100
It’s no secret that when Mob gets mad, his enemies tend to just disappear.
So when an actual threat was presented, oh boy was it amazing.
This man thought that he was the bee’s knees on so many levels, leading to the most egocentric and smug personality the show could muster.
But when he clashed with Mob, that notion was quickly put under question. He definitely enjoyed every second of that fight. And honestly so did I.
I ranked this one high not so much because of the character himself, but rather the narrative excellence that was this season finale.
Anime: Naruto: Shippuden
I was originally going to put Madara or Obito on here.
But then I re-watched the Pain arc, and Nagato beats them out hands down.
Although the botched the final fight between the Paths of Pain and Naruto, their initial attack was just jaw-dropping. Characters getting taken out like flies and an outlook towards life that honestly made sense.
I’m not going to lie, but the cycle of pain is kind of correct: Nagato was simply returning the favor for all the pain he was exposed to.
How they finished the character off is up for critique. But the way he was written is definitely high quality.
11. Petelgeuse Romanée-Conti
Anime: Re: Zero
Mister Peter Goose is definitely not on this list because of his A-class character development or anything like that.
But you can’t say that the man was unremarkable.
And even more importantly, he suits the show so well and made me have nightmares.
There’s just something about his maniacal speech and the visual image of a brain trembling that makes his presence felt every time he shows up.
The moral of the story: psychopathy can get you far in anime life, I guess.
10. Tomura Shigaraki
Anime: Boku no Hero Academia
This show has a lot of amazing villains, from Stain to Overhaul and All For One, you name it.
And when you put people like Dabi and Toga into the mix it seems like the villains are liked just as much as the heroes.
But my pick is Shigaraki for two reasons.
I mean, like it or not we’re going to be seeing a lot of this dude, and will therefore see him progress as a character. Especially comparing to Deku.
Secondly, he’s just doing some nutty stuff in the manga and it’s honestly amazing.
9. Kenny Ackerman
Anime: Attack on Titan
As far as big-time villains, the Beast Titan is probably more suited for this spot.
But I just found Kenny too interesting to leave out.
And this is because Kenny brings up two new and interesting aspects to the show.
First, people attacking and hunting down other people.
And second, Levi past.
Let’s face it: we all deal with Levi, so to finally see a figure from his past and have them fight in glorious fast-paced fashion was just a treat for the viewers.
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Throughout its run, Gurren Lagann kept introducing new villains, making sure that each was more interesting and menacing than the last.
So in the beginning we had a grumpy man keeping the kids in check, then a beast boy hunter, and finally an entire species known as the anti-spirals.
Not only did the give off extreme Alien-X vibes when they first appeared. But they also led to the most large-scale battle the show had ever attempted.
Needless to say, it was amazing.
Anime: Vinland Saga
The thing that makes Askeladd one of the best villains is that I don’t even know whether I can call him a villain.
Initially, it was a clear cut. He plays dirty and he murders, bad person.
The middle then gets a bit murky as Thorfinn(our MC) really wants to kill him, but they also become like a family, be it a very violent one.
And then by the end, everything goes out the window.
We’re shown that Askeladd is extremely brave and is protecting something that he holds dear, which is good. Is he on the wrong list? I don’t know man.
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Just like Tucker Envy is also definitely a bit coocoo for cocoa puffs, but somehow in a more terrifying way.
As the name might suggest, Envy really doesn’t like the fact that people have something they don’t: love.
So they’ll go to some extreme lengths to stomp out any trace of human love and happiness.
The fact that they can shapeshift only further drives this point home, as they can make your loved one be the last thing you see, brandishing a gun or bloodied knife.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Griffith is one of the most popular villains in anime. And even more so among manga readers.
His superficial charm, devotion to what he believes is best for humanity, and his initial role as a protagonist makes him a very interesting specimen, to say the least.
But after a certain Last Supper re-enactment, the good guy persona definitely falls off.
Unless you’re like into utilitarianism or something, then I don’t know what to tell you.
4. Donquixote Doflamingo
Anime: One Piece
Doflamingo has always been an interesting character because he’s been regarded as one of the best, even though other villains from One Piece possess much more power and narrative influence.
Maybe it’s because of his design, his extreme arrogance, or the fact that he was hyped up as a looming threat to the crew for so long.
Whatever the case may be, what we were left with is an incredibly powerful warlord with the puffiest of clothing and a depressing backstory that contrasts nicely to his purple theme and wide grin.
3. Shougo Makishima
As an entity, the Sybil system arguably is more threatening.
But Makishima is by far the more interesting villain.
I’ve stated before that I love a good evil brainiac trope, and Makishima delivers on so many levels.
Not only does he constantly remain a few steps in front of the police. But his twisted mind and unpredictability make him so intriguing.
His first encounter with Akane is, in my opinion, one of the most chilling scenes in anime. And as such, his spot on this list is well deserved.
2. Sōsuke Aizen
There are a few reasons why Aizen is such a good villain.
One, he pooled the biggest sneaky on all of us with the whole fake death thing.
Two, he’s overpowered as all hell and constantly flexed on anyone who dared to oppose him, which is always fun to see.
And lastly, he’s like a super-genius who orchestrated the entire plotline of the show.
Mind you, he didn’t pull a Black Zetsu. So it was actually a good approach to his character.
We barely even know what this man was like before he became a demi-god.
He just kind of exists and spreads his smugness across the world.
Anime: The Promised Neverland
Isabella is a prime example of how to make a good antagonist.
She doesn’t breathe fire or kills baby kittens for fun. She’s just staying alive by sacrificing those that are weaker.
And the way she was written is brilliant: her sharp intellect, mental warfare, cunning eyes, everything.
You literally felt like she was always behind the corner, watching, listening, plotting something.
After we get her backstory she doesn’t cease to be terrifying.
We now just understand her better on a fundamental level, which is a feat that isn’t easy to replicate with your average villain.