Most cartoons are pretty simple: there are good guys and bad guys; protagonists and antagonists. But at the end of the day, some of our favorite characters are the villains. And we sometimes find ourselves rooting for them, although it seems like they never can and never will. It’s not fair sometimes, and we have to take our hats off to them for their resilience. Here is a list of our favorite cartoon villains that we used to root for when we were young.
The Joker – Batman the Animated Series (1992)
The Joker is one of the most complex villains ever created, and in recent years – most likely because of The Dark Knight – lots of fans have developed an affinity for this character. The Joker represents chaos to an ordinary and mundane world, and this can lead to some interesting story lines. Joker seems to be the entire world’s alter ego all wrapped up in one entity, and if we are honest with ourselves we have always wondered what would happen if our alter egos won. So our fingers are crossed, in hopes that one day the Joker will prevail.
Destro – G.I. Joe (1983)
James McCullen Destro XXIV may seem like an evil villain hell bent on destroying the world, but the contrary is true. For centuries the Scottish Clan he comes from has just been trying to make a living by creating and selling weapons for war. No one can blame them for trying to sell weapons to both sides of the world’s conflicts. Furthermore, Duke swears Destro wears a silver mask because he has low self-esteem because of his large bushy Scottish eyebrows. But we doubt this is the case.
Wiley Coyote – Road Runner (1948)
Wiley Coyote is one of the most misunderstood cartoon characters of all time. Though it may seem he is incessantly trying to eat the Road Runner, the reality of the situation is that Wiley is lonely and only wants a friend. Perhaps this misunderstanding stems from the fact that he is often depicted carrying a knife and fork, while salivating, but this is just his way of trying to communicate he wants to invite the road runner over for dinner. If Wiley is guilty of anything, it is his social ineptitude to communicate how he truly feels.
Shredder – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
Shredder reminds many of another masked hero of sci-fi villainy: Darth Vader. The parallels are uncanny. Both wear outer armor to hide their insecurities, both seem to have a Napoleonic complex, and both take orders from the brains of the operation. As most learned, Darth Vader wasn’t all bad, he just need the opportunity to show he was heroic; the same goes for Shredder. If you were to have four mutant turtles always trying to ambush you with nunchucks a bow staff, katana swords, and sais, you would defend yourself too.
Megatron – Transformers (1984)
Behind every good megalomaniac is a very good explanation. When one understands the background story to why Megatron is trying to conquer earth, one can’t but feel empathy for the transforming cybernetic being. If your home was running out of energy, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to provide a new home for your friends and family? All Megatron is trying to do is find energy to sustain his way of living, if you’re American you can’t fault him for that. Remember reading about the dust bowls in the depression era Midwest?
Nega Duck – Dark Wing Duck (1991)
For those of you who enjoyed Dark Wing Duck in the early 90’s, Nega Duck was the most reoccurring villain in the series. Nega Duck was Dark Wing’s doppelganger or evil twin..or something. His character gave balance to the series – the little angel vs. the little devil complex, if you will. Let’s be honest, we all kind of want the little devil to prevail every once in a while.
Mumm-Ra – Thundercats (1985)
Most people know Mumm-Ra as The Thundercats many adversary. And many children of the 80’s remember rushing home after school to see the Thundercats defend themselves against this character. Ra was the evil wizard who could transform into the powerful larger than life villain, unfortunately he could never beat the Cats. Only if his side-kick dog, Ma-Mutt, was a little more powerful, then he may have had a chance. It always seemed like he was just about to defeat our favorite protagonists…but in the end, he just did not quite have what it took.
Bluto – Popeye (1933)
Only if just once Popeye would get salmonella instead of super strength from eating a can of spinach, Bluto could finally win the love and affection of the gangly-armed (but lovely) Olive Oil. Unfortunately, salmonella doesn’t exist in the cartoon world, and Bluto is continually doomed to getting his ass handed to him time and time again from one of the most obnoxious cartoon characters ever created. Note to self: don’t ever watch the live-action version of this cartoon.
Skeletor – He-Man (1983)
Skeletor, a.k.a. “The Evil Lord of Destruction,” was He-Man and She-Ra’s arch nemesis. Skeletor’s main objective was to learn the secrets of Castle Greyskull in order to conquer all of Eternia. When He-Man finally found out that Skeletor was his uncle, you would think they might be able to come to some sort of agreement about the secrets of the castle. Unfortunately, Eternia is not under the rule of law and because of some old family misunderstanding, Skeletor will continue to be unfairly left out in the dark concerning the secrets of Castle Greyskull.
C. Montgomery Burns – The Simpsons (1989)
Mr. Burns is perenially cast as the evil corporate head of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. But for all of those who know and have watched the show, Mr. Burns is just a lonely old rich man. Presumably, if someone from Springfield were to take interest and visit Burns, they might get a big pay-off when he finally dies. Though according to the episode when Lisa Simpson marries Hugh Grant, Mr. Burns is still alive after 150 years.
Coach Bradley Buzzcut – Beavis and Butt-head (1993)
Doing pranks and raising hell all over their neighborhood in suburban Texas, Beavis and Butt-head annoyed everyone currently over the age of 25. Now that most fans of ‘Beavis and Butt-head’ are the same age as many of America’s gym teachers, they can understand Coach Bradley Buzzcut’s reaction to the duo. If you knew a couple of teens this stupid you couldn’t help but react the same way as Coach Buzzcut. Hindsight’s always 20-20.
Tom – Tom and Jerry (1940)
As the inspiration for Itchy and Scratchy, Tom and Jerry have been dueling for nearly 70 years. The reason it is important to mention Itchy and Scratchy is because Tom is the true victim of this relationship. Jerry is one of the most devious cartoon characters ever created, always causing the destruction of Tom’s house and getting Tom kicked out on the street. All Tom is trying to do is protect his house from an infestation of mice, is that so wrong?
El Seed – The Tick (1994)
“They walk on us! They eat us! They squeeze us for juice!” El Seed was a Spanish sun flower bent on taking revenge on the animals of the Earth for the way they treat plants. His fictitious villainy is known for harboring deep resentment towards all mammals because of the way they have treated his clematis brethren. El Seed is understandably perturbed by the way he has been treated, and if I didn’t love sunflower seeds so much I might be more willing to listen.