What Happened to Great Disney Villains?

Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic… …I remember it so you don’t have to. The best villains come from the most unlikely places, don’t they? Who would’ve thought such a seemingly kind, magical, and enchanting enterprise could turn out so many diabolical geniuses? Oh, they also made some good movie villains too. Still, Disney is known for having some of the best movie villains in cinematic history. Maleficent, Frolo, Gaston, Scar, Lady Tremaine, the list goes on. All of these baddies stay with us as some of the most deliciously despicable characters that we love to hate. They range in appearance and personality, yet they’re always distinctly despicable, which makes them distinctly enjoyable. These are villains that have, and will, be remembered for years. So um… What Happened? Don’t get me wrong, Disney villains in today’s animated films are perfectly serviceable. They’re mean, developed, and further the story. But is there anyone saying “Hey! You know who the next Maleficent is? That old guy from Up! You know who gave me the chills as much as Frolo? Lots O Hugging Bear!” These are not necessarily bad villains, but they’re not ones who are really talked about much either. They do their job, but don’t go beyond the call of duty. It’s safe to say, they’re not gonna be in that many villain lineups when Disney tries to sell their merchandise. That’s also not to say that all the past Disney villains are perfection either. I doubt Edgar is gonna be on any top ten lists, Or the Horned Kings, Sykes and… Asshole deer. But there’s no doubt that people can name a lot more villains from the older days of Disney than the more recent days. Shere Khan, The Queen of Hearts, Cruella De Vil, Jafar. Whether for comedy, misery or both, they just have more personalities that stick with us. So…why is this happening? Were there just more memorable bad guys in the old days or is there a distinct difference between how Disney does villains now compared to how they used to do them before? The villains of nowadays just don’t leave their mark as strongly as their predecessors. I guess we should clarify what qualifies as a that. Well, I guess it means being a villain that people love to watch. Whether humorous or scary they’re the characters you can see starring in their own movie. In fact, some of them even did. Not well, but they did. In my opinion, the last really great Disney villain that people love to quote is Hades. He was energized, funny, menacing, and considered by many to be the best part of the movie. This was the last real scene-stealer. So, how come the majority that came after him don’t stand out as much, even though they do their jobs perfectly fine? Well, first let’s look at the numbers. There’s just a lot more Disney films. Technology has stepped up, business has boomed and Disney has pushed out a lot more flicks. Because of this, it’s more likely that we overlook some films that had good antagonists. The Rescuers Down Under had George C. Scott voicing an evil poacher and having the time of his life. But it got lost in the winter rush, thus few remember him or have even seen the movie. Treasure Planet had a pretty complex villain one of the best known in literary history and portrayed pretty strong. But because hand-drawn films were on the way out, few people saw this one too. On top of that, with more movies coming out there’s more of a rush to meet deadlines. Not that there isn’t tons of time devoted to these villains and that it doesn’t clearly show but big-budget animated films used to produce a film roughly every three to four years. Now it’s a minimum of one a year meaning the time they had to develop villains was also expanded. But even when more films started to come out, there were still some pretty cool nemeses seeseeseesees… Ursula, Jafar, Gaston and so forth. However as time went on, a new focus was starting to take center stage. You see, when animated films first came out they were so mindblowing that you didn’t always need the best story. Snow White is a simple fairytale with simple characters and the story ran on a more emotional logic than…logical logic. Therefore, there was more focus on how to get feelings from the visuals rather than what they were saying So the nasty imagery was very nasty to make the pleasant imagery seem all the more rewarding. So, back then it more made sense to have the villains and their surroundings to be more creative, design-focused and as terrifying as possible. Just look at Sleeping Beauty. Nobody really remembers the personalities of the prince and the princess but they all remember the personality of the villain. Cinderella is nice enough to want to root for but it’s more out of the fear of how controlling and dominating her Stepmother is. That’s what made the happily-ever-after seem all the more happy. Because it harnessed the emotion of fear. Bottom line, making the villains more interesting was not only more fun for the animators to draw think about it, they’re not usually allowed to depict this kind of imagery in something for kids, but it also made the cheerful moments all the more cheerful. Going through your everyday life is fine but if you survive a horrible threat, that same day can feel pretty amazing. This was the tactic that was cleverly used by Disney. But the problem is, it did it too well. Some of the main characters were coming across as too dull without enough traits to make them unique, an element mocked later by Disney themselves in movies like Enchanted. So Disney had to focus on what you could argue they should have been focusing on the whole time: the main characters. Princes went from having almost no lines to being charming, likable guys and princesses went from elegant blandness to expressive and energized personalities. More time was being put to making them more relatable and updated. taking time away from making the villain more nasty. Mother Gothel and the Shadow Man are not bad villains but more time is on our leads than them, not allowing as much time to shine as there was in the past. But maybe that’s for the best. The villains at least seemed on par with their heroes rather than upstaging them. They still got attention and we love to fear and jeer them However, the classic fairytale good vs. evil was starting to be challenged by more modern audiences. If characters were going to be more three-dimensional and complex the heroes needed more flaws and the villains needed more humanity. Great character-writing often acknowledges people aren’t just born good or bad they’re made by their surroundings, which are often addressed in good stories to understand them better. People were evolving beyond the basic good vs evil story. They wanted something more interesting, more challenging, more…human. Thus began Disney’s latest craze: The Unknown Villain. What do I mean by this? I mean, I’m gonna go into spoilers for all of these movies just to talk about their villains. You all remember when the Sixth Sense came out and suddenly every movie needed to have a twist at the end? Well, not only did Disney catch onto that craze, but it often made sense to use to get their massage across. Movies like Zootopia, Frozen, Atlantis, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Wall-E, Wreck-It-Ralph, Up, Monsters Inc., Big Hero 6, and Toy Story 2 and 3 all have surprise villains. They’re people made to look like average characters but are either halfway or even at the end revealed to be the bad guys. This takes time away from focusing on them being evil and thus are not given enough time to usually be developed at least…as they were in the past. Now, don’t get me wrong, this has been used before and very cleverly. Two of my favorite villains are Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and Sid from Toy Story. But both of villains work in a very organic way. Gaston is the same throughout the entire film. He’s egotistical, funny, intimidating and wants nothing but Belle. By the end, he’s exactly the same but the circumstances have pushed him to fight harder for what he wants and we as the audience members see him for the threat that he is. Sid in many respects is similar but works a little differently. You know he’s not a good kid, but you also know he’s just a kid. Nothing he’s doing is illegal or evil, he’s just a trouble-maker being a trouble-maker. By the end, his motivation is still the same but he’s pushed it to a point where the toys fight back forcing him to see more of his childish humanity. Both of these characters seem well defined from beginning to end despite a change of them going from annoying nuisance to main threat. This allows them to feel more distinct, memorable, and in many ways, relatable. We either know people like this or have been people like this. Compare these to two modern Disney villains: Hans from Frozen and Pete from Toy Story 2. They start off as seemingly well-defined characters until the rug is pulled out from under us and we discover that they were villains the whole time. But the problem is because they do it as a twist they become completely different people we have to be reintroduced to making them less distinct, less memorable and less relatable. Gaston and Sid from beginning to end sound like the same character. “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and thinking…” “One little word, Belle. That’s all it takes.” Belle: “Never!”
-“Have it your way!” “Well, we have ways of making you talk.” “And counting…” “Ten…nine…” Nostalgia Critic: Compare how these two sound from beginning to end when their evil roots are revealed “I was thinking the same thing, cause like [Sings]
I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place. “No, you’re no match for Elsa. I, on the other hand, am the hero–” “Why, the prodigal son has returned.” “Fair!? I’ll tell you what’s not fair! Nostalgia Critic:
Their tone, mannerisms, and even personalities seem very different meaning we can’t get a handle on their character as well. These characters are done a lot with Disney films recently which is not bad, often times they work out fine and help serve the story or message but when it’s done this many times and with this many villains not only does it start to get old but we’re kind of losing that connection to…well… enjoying our dark side. Nobody finds Hans, Bellwether, AUTO, or
Henry J. Waternoose cool villains we don’t enjoy watching them be evil, we just see them as nuisances that get in the way of our hero. Now, they’re good at being in the way and being roadblocks but they’re not charming, fun or charismatic like these villains are. And that’s because they weren’t allowed to be villains throughout the majority of the film so you can’t enjoy them as much in that role. We don’t get to see the devilish smirk of Frollo, the gratifying laugh of Jafar, the evil just enjoying being evil of
Night on Bald Mountain that’s what makes these villains so much fun. But the fact remains these are stories that aren’t supposed to belong to the villains they’re supposed to belong to heroes. While the villains have to take a step backwards, though, granted, a small step to be sure, The heroes in Disney films are much more interesting and engaging than ever. Truthfully, these are the people we’re supposed to learn from, supposed to look up to, supposed to want to be. Their message and characteristics are
much more interesting and complex than that of dozens of older Disney films. While these older movies are still classics, and using both simplicity
and complexity in the right places Disney knows they need to evolve. People change, rules change, and people find different ways
of getting those rules across. One of the more interesting recent developments is that Disney doesn’t always need villains. Sometimes it can just be a series of circumstances and conflicts that have to be overcome And they don’t always tie into
just one individual causing it. The older villains used to be
about battling the grand evil and that not matter how threatening the danger undying hope and strength can result in beating it. Modern day stories focus on
a different kind of struggle. Struggles about identity, belonging, seeing that things are not always as
black and white as they seem. These are relevant issues and messages
to get across today and their antagonists have to reflect
that in a way that best fits the story. It’s not meaning to tone down the fun of the villains, it’s just it’s seen as what’s needed at the moment. So, are Disney’s animated villains
as great as they used to be? No. But there’s a good and even admirable reason why. The same way Disney is trying to distance themselves from all their characters being too similar, the same can be said for changes
that are needed for their villains. The important lessons and creative ways
they’re trying to get across those lessons don’t always call for villains like in the old days. Would it be nice if some did? Yes! And I hope they look into that
if for any other reason just variety. But Disney is on a hot streak because
they know how to relate to people and they know how to challenge and evolve. Disney wants to be relevant and it wants to be helpful and it will do so in the way that each time period needs. While the evilest of the evil seem old school now maybe they’ll come back in the near future. Because we always live in changing times and
people’s focus and dilemmas change with those times. Disney is always going to do it’s best to
follow the dreams and problems of people and reflect them cinematically for all ages. So, who knows what the future holds? Maybe villains will get better,
maybe heroes will get better, maybe they’ll both get better. Whatever happens, we still have a long line of
badies who we’ll look back on and smile on how they always did their best to give us their worst. I’m the Nostalgia Critic.
I remember it, so you don’t have to.

Comments 100

  • If you're in Chicago this weekend (March 3rd to 5th) come see us at ColumCon at Columbia College. We would love to see everyone. Check it out here – https://columcon.wixsite.com/columcon2017

  • This makes a fair point I hadn't really thought about in that a lot of the cheesy cliche'd "pure evil" villains are memorable and such, but I think villains are just better now in general. They're more realistic, more three dimensional, and aren't just evil for the sake of being so, which overall makes for much better stories.

    Obviously it might be nice to see the occasional "pure evil" villain make a comeback in some films, but I think we already had plenty and there's little new ground to tread there. Not sure how or if a "pure evil" villain could work in a film with a GOOD story (outside of comedies like as some mentioned, Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove, where a satirical approach is taken) as that would be a bit of a paradox, so if we have to sacrifice cheesy villains for good stories, that seems like a sacrafice worth making for the most part.

  • Yeeeeeeeeeah, about the beginning, I love Oliver and Company, but Sykes was a pretty forgettable villain. Mother Gothel is so underrated though, and is honestly Frollo's soulmate, though I will admit that Frollo is a more complex and interesting character than her. But yeah, I do wish there were more villains like Ursula or Maleficent. I understand why there isn't a lot of them, but maybe we could have a villain that's like classic Disney villain, and more depth about them is explored later. But of course, they're still the villain, so they're not gonna get an MLP style redemption, that would be dumbing it down. Or just straight up go the classic villain route. Princess and the Frog did a great job at having an interesting protagonist, and a fun antagonist. I don't know, just anything to make the villains more interesting and/or fun.

  • If you're looking for a real old-school style Disney Villain who's depicted and set up as a baddie from beginning to end, I'd recommend checking out the Lion Guard Pilot movie, the return of the Roar. Janja is clearly established as the villain early on and has a great villain song about his evil plan.

  • Ronno is not a villain, he's more of a rival. In Bambi, the real villain is the hunter–he kills Bambi's mother and starts a forest fire by his carelessness.


  • Thanos is the best Disney villain 🙂

  • Who says that the old villains made their mark on people. Dr facillar who was made in 2009 left a mark on me

  • well unlike the old ones the villains today mosly appear middleway or at the end not given enough time to give us a point of view of the actions. Notice Snow white witch, the cinderella step mom, capt hook, frollo, etc were intuduced early and given enough exposition. btw the villains in Atlantis are kinda spoiled already since the way they act gave them away.?

  • "Mother Gotnel" XD

  • Hey hey we’re all forgetting that Doctor Frank-n-furter is the best Disney villain or Disney queen??

  • Hey man Randall was an awesome villain. He was decidedly evil with a sensible motivation. Yes Mr. Waternoose was the big bad of the movie but Randall was the villain I came out of the movie happy to see get his comeuppance. I HATED Randall, he was trying to kidnap a kid from her home and hook her up to a torturous scream machine.

  • wow, to be honest this might very well be the best disney analysis on youtube or anywhere else for that matter…

  • More like what happened to good nostalgia critic

  • The movie Hercules is garbage

  • Disney decided to have a bunch of twist villains , but Disney's talent truly lied in making intimidating villains.

  • The mother from Coraline is a pretty terrifying villain and also memorable.

  • Do you know Disney and Pixar isn't the same

  • I miss handrawn animation and it's something I've thought for a long time, the more you make of something the value decreases it is basic economics, it works for the arts too, the more produced of something the quality decreases, older disney movies seem to have more of that impact that stays with you that new ones don't have.

  • My favorite modern Disney villains are mother Gothel and King Candy mother Gothel even looks like a traditional Disney villain.

  • 2:23 What about Yzma (The Emperors New Groove)?

  • negaduck is the greatest disney villain

  • Nostalgia Critic: Old Disney villains are better than new ones.

    Tamatoa: … Am I a joke to you?

  • I'm interested in Disney villains death

  • Cool villains are always relevant. Cool villains are timeless.

  • My top 3 Villains in this order
    1. Dr Facilier
    2. Scar
    3. Judge/Priest Frollo

  • Disney owns marvel now. Thanos.

  • I always think frollo is one of the best Disney villain

  • 9:17 It’s Frasier

    9:21 AHHHHH! SIDESHOW BOB!!!!!

  • Ursula is one of my favorite Disney villains and so is Jafar, Lord Frollo is great as well and he has one of the most messed up Disney Villain songs

  • I mean Mother Gothful literally used pycological "love" by kidnapping a baby, after Repunzel figured her out, she chained her up, stabbed Eugene. She had only one thing she cared about youth, from the golden flower. Her and the twins definitely stood out to me since day one of seeing the movie. Mother Gothful sounded the same her appearance just consistantly shouted "I AM BAD AND LITERALY A HUGE RED FLAG" Even if you take the first part of the film out you can tell she has no good intentions. And yes she may not be this overpowered villan with any kind of being able to use magic. Instead she uses her whits and cunning ambition to get "her flower". She stood out with the great villains of Disney in my opinion. I feel like just the movie tangled was underestimated in some aspects. I mean you have to give the animators credit for doing FRICKING 70ft OF HAIR (watching the process was funny but must have been the most painful thing ever

  • I don’t like modern disney, apart from Zootopia.

  • The sixth sense is a Disney movie

  • "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty And The Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion KIng" were films that had better developed heroes while also still keeping the classic villains features. They can easily go back to that. They've already done it.

  • Me:sees treasure plant


  • 6:26
    Tarzan: not a surprise
    Monsters Inc: yes on Waternoose, no on Randall
    Wall-E: doesn't have a villain
    Treasure Planet: not a surprise
    Toy Story 3: only a surprise if you completely ignored the marketing (which was impossible for that movie)

  • I loved treasure planet.

  • I like the bear from brave

  • 1:33 his name is Ronno- and that wasn't just added in the 2006 movie, it's mentioned in the credits in the original too.

  • Well, Monster Inc. actually had two villains. One is hidden, as you've pointed out, and the other is classical.

  • Making a Disney Princess™ is pretty easy, just have a female protagonist who is marketable and pretty. Making a Disney Villain™on the other hand is hard, because a good villain needs a right balance of things like marketability, flair, presence, likability and of course evil. I think the last really good Disney Villain™ we got was Dr. Facilier and since then all the disney antagonists are lacking in several of these categories.

    Disney TV shows on the other hand now actually had antagonists good enough to be considered good villains such as Toffee, Bill Cipher and Lord Dominator and if it weren't for the fact that there seems to be a movie villains only rule I think they would have been great additions to the Disney Villains™.

  • We still got Bill Cipher. He's an amazingly charismatic villain who stayed evil throughout the show to the end!

  • Syndrome is one of my favorite Disney villains

  • A**hole deer is named ronno by the way

  • I miss Disney animated movies

  • Names Hades lord of the dead hey how you doing lol

  • So if princess and the frog was the last Disney movie what about dr facilier

  • Movie that wasn't for Pixar

  • Hey big hero 6 have a good villain

  • Uhhh wait b o I I loved to watch the lizard thing

  • With Monsters Inc I'd say Randall is a great villain

  • Charles Muntz and Lotso are pixar

  • They should make relevant-ly problematic villains- Maybe a villain based on climate change, or something that has to do with hunger, poverty- maybe they should bring back the "misunderstood/relatable" villains like Scar who was upset because he could never get the throne, or Ursula who was banished and wanted more attention

  • “You can’t really have a truly evil villain that’s a twist villain”

    Syndrome: “Am I a joke to you?”

  • I thought the hunter who killed Bambi's mom was the villain, not asshole deer. XD haha

  • What about Syndrome?

  • And some Disney villains are not very evil and they don’t kill,ruined people life,and take over the world

  • The worst villain is…

    The New Disney…

  • look at jojo they have the best of both worlds

  • "And…. Asshole deer…"

  • Actuallyyyyy, mother Gothel was a SOLID villain. I feel like if Rapunzel was animated and the film was back in the day when Disney films stood alone more and therefore were more memorable, she would be right up there with the rest of them

  • The Greatest Disney Villans

    The Evil Queen
    Headless Horse Man
    Evil Step Mother
    Captain Hook
    Corella Da Vil
    Shadow Man
    Mother Gothel
    King Candy

  • For me, one of the villains with the most potential was the Horned King. Too bad that he, along with the rest of the Black Cauldron, was handled so poorly

  • Clayton was a twist villain? Maybe just me but I saw him as a villain from the beginning.

  • Dr. Facilier was a standout despite not having as much screentime as most villains.

  • You should do an episode on Descendants

  • I’d say part/most of it is Disney nowadays is more focused on arcs/character development since one “problem” a lot of people complain about older Disney movies is a lot of the characters had similar arcs.

  • You should do disney descendants

  • But when it’s done this many times it starts to get old

    Me: Disney remakes

  • Do you think Doug will like The School for Good and Evil?

  • If the results are more villains like in Frozen and Zootopia, then I vote we make a 180 degree turn and right the go the fuck back.

  • Critic: The last GREAT Disney villain was Hades.

    Everybody else: Bruh…. But the Shadow man in Princess And The Frog was one of the best. You can't look at him without singing his theme either. He was amazing. (To be fair the Princess And The Frog was the last REAL Disney film. As much as I liked Tangled it still doesn't feel like a REAL Disney Film)

  • I'm sure Cruella could give Edgar some tips

  • i remember really liking auto from wall-e personally but could just be because i havent seen it in a while

  • But the worst villain of them all is so forgettable that Doug even forgot him in this video. You, the person reading this right now doesn't even know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about the pterodactyl from The Good Dinosaur. Forgettable, lame, unlikable and pointless.

  • The villain in tangled didn’t change in the beginning she clearly stole the baby but acted as a mother to keep rapunzels hair

  • While I agree with you that surprise villains like Hans, Waternoose, Stinky Pete, Lotso, Bellwether and Yokai are boring I have to say that Mother Gothel and Dr. Facilier are some of my favorite villains and definitely right up there with Maleficent, EQ, Ursula, Scar, Jafar, etc. IMO the last great Disney villain was Mother Gothel?

  • Hey hey hey don’t you bad mouth the Horned King!

  • good thing disney bought marvel! they got the great villains back!

  • I disagree on some of the movies that are deemed as the bad guys but eh.

  • I remember Auto all the time

  • Oh no it's king candy no no no no no no no no

  • I don't mind Stinky Pete so much but i HATE the "twist" with Hans. There is zero foreshadowing, zero indication of ulterior motives. He is a normal love interest until suddenly he's not. That is NOT a good twist. A good twist is when you can look back on earlier moments and see the hints you missed at first, kinda like The Sixth Sense. Even Pete kind of hints at his desperation and bitterness through small things he says. It has to be there under the surface to work at the end. But Hans is like two different characters. They even give him a private moment to himself where he could give a devious look and indicate all is not well, and they STILL have him looking besotted and in love. It's not good writing, it's lazy. Like they forgot to add a villain until the last minute and just picked him cause he was there. It drives me nuts when people praise this writing.

  • most of the golden age villains are pure evil villains

  • I like to see a disney movie villain become evil to good

  • We live in a world where loony toons is considered violent. Villains have to be PC and still cater to our latest generations of pansy asses

  • I'm just gonna say it

  • Do a review on Disney descendants 3 because if you like hades hes in it awsome channel

  • Do a review on the hole it movie aswel please the new one

  • The Disney villains are awesome I would love to see a movie ? with them as the stars ⭐️

  • Monsters Inc. had a much better villain than Waternoose: Randall. Because he started out as an antagonist, and was allowed to be a jerk the whole way through.

  • The rise of the twist villain, or making villains more sympathetic, means we get fewer who are out and out evil and hammy about it. We know Maleficent, Jafar, Scar, Yzma etc are the villains because the movie makes no secret of them being the antagonists, as well as giving them villain songs, motive speeches and dealing with idiot henchpeople like the hyenas, Iago, and Kronk. The henchpeople can be memorable because their personalities contrast with their employers. Iago voices some of the things Jafar is to up himself to say, like reacting to the Sultan priding himself on his good judgement. Yzma and Kronk are delightful to see interact, the way he’s not quite there about Yzma’a plans or her indulging his innocent interests when it doesn’t inconvenience her. Even Syndrome had his habit of monologuing and chewing the scenery like he was a 60’s Batman villain. You’ve got to appreciate the classic superhero villain boxes he ticks, sexy assistant, island base with volcano lair, oversized computer monitors etc.

    Modern audiences have become so attuned to having antagonists with depth, that a return to the enjoyably hammy and irredeemably evil villain who isn’t a twist villain or who has a sob story probably wouldn’t be appreciated at least by critics. Cruella is someone PETA would love and hate, but tell me who doesn’t remember the song Roger writes about her, as well as her bumbling henchmen Horace and Jasper? In a way that’s what the Disney channel movie Descendents series missed a trick on, focusing on the PG teenage romance instead of giving some time to the villains who are the parents of the characters. Just putting these characters in domestic situations and letting their personalities run riot is recipe for brilliant scenes.

  • Are we really gonna pretend that Mother Gothel and Dr. Facilier aren’t legends of villainy?

  • You know, I agree with most of what you said, Critic. Especially what you said about Gaston. But I really don't think is the actual single villain in this story. Yes, he is an egotistical jerk and a blowhard AND all he wants is to get into Belle's panties, but the townspeople are cruel and mean to her and he at least jumps in (if not for altruistic motives). And he acts pretty reasonable in getting her father locked up, considering the information that he has. Plus, Belle clearly has a strong case of Stockholm's with the Beast, who himself is kind of an evil bastard as well. That's what I actually like most about that story: both Gaston and the Beast are part villain, part good guy; both are jerks at times, and while one devolves into actual villainy over the course of the story, the other thrives and achieves betterment.

  • What about Yzma and Dr Facilier?

  • Where's my boi oogie boogie

  • You forgot to mention the enchantress from b and the b, she is one of the old disney villians

  • the resson why pete was a twist villan cuz hes a cult leader cult leaders only hire the most gullible people and they try to get there trust and be nice and friendly and half way in they get more angry and morbid

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