Unforgettable Female Villains From Film And TV

We all love a movie with a strong female character, but what about when that same character is the villain of the story? From beloved Disney movies to cult classic films, we’ve witnessed some truly despicable female antagonists.

Some of the women on our list turned to the side of good, while others proved to have absolutely no redeemable qualities.

From a real-life psychopathic serial killer portrayed by an Oscar-winning actress to Disney villains who have become iconic, these are just a handful of the greatest female villains in cinema history.

Nurse Ratched

Nurse Ratched from the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is as sinister as they come. Behind her plain exterior is an evil tyrant who intimidates and abuses patients at a mental hospital. Of course, her position as the head nurse assures she never gets caught and everything is pretty much under her control, that is until one patient tries to escape.

Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

There’s a reason that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the second in history to win all five major Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Lead Actor, and Lead Actress, which went to Louise Fletcher for the role.

O-Ren Ishii

O-Ren Ishii is as deadly as the swords she wields. A trained assassin since age 11, O-Ren has murdered her way to the top ranks of the male-dominated Yakuza, the Japanese crime syndicate. In Kill Bill: Volume 1, she straight up beheads a guy for insulting her in the middle of a meeting.

Photo Credit: Miramax
Photo Credit: Miramax

O-Ren Ishii is a cold-blooded killer who does it all to avenge the brutal murder of her parents. If there were any female villain we’d have total respect for it’d be her, but of course, we’re saying that because we’d hate to be at the wrong end of her sword.

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford may have played the innocent one in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? But in real life, she was apparently the evil foster mom we’re all glad we wish we didn’t have. In 1981’s Mommie Dearest, we got an idea of how evil she may have been.

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina wrote a 1978 memoir of the same name that detailed salacious accounts of how terrorizing Crawford was to her children. Though the movie may not have been 100% true, actress Faye Dunaway brought a menacing instability to the role that made our jaws drop.

Regina George

Damien said it best: “She’s fabulous but evil.” Regina George in Mean Girls is wealthy and incredibly popular, but she’s also self-centered and vindictive. Regina’s wicked ways are psychological at most, as she uses other people’s insecurities as a tool to will them into giving her her way.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

What’s even more mischevious is the fact that a lot of the pain she causes comes from boredom. Regina Geroge is one of those movie characters we all love to hate but we also admittedly love… just don’t be fooled by her backhanded compliments.

Amy Dunne

There are few movies that can throw you for a loop like Gone Girl. Amy Dunne is the missing wife at the center of the movie until — spoiler alert — you realize that she is the manipulative woman stringing everyone along the whole time.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

In this twisted film based on the novel of the same name, Rosamund Pike plays the woman in question, who not only goes to great lengths to frame her husband in her fake death but also inflicts injuries on herself to help further her agenda.

Cruella De Vil

Cruella De Vil is perhaps the creme de la creme of Disney villainesses. After all, her name is a play on the words for “cruel devil.” Cruella is as selfish as they come and lacks sympathy for anyone,

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios

After being denied the opportunity to buy her old schoolmate’s dalmatian puppies, de Vil stops at nothing to steal them. De Vil is another icon in Disney’s collection of villains and what makes her so great is that her reign of terror doesn’t need the help of magic powers.

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange is the self-proclaimed most faithful follower of He Who Shall Not Be Named in the Harry Potter film series. The female Death Eater’s obsession with Voldemort is so strong, she would put her life on the line for him.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Sent to Azkaban for torturing Neville Longbottom’s parents to insanity, Bellatrix manages to escape prison to wreak havoc and perform Lord Voldemort’s ill will. Bellatrix is one of the craziest female villains around as her evil ways know no bounds. Goth Queen Helena Bonham Carter was the perfect casting choice for this evil sorceress.

Kathryn Merteuil

Kathryn Merteuil is an actual evil stepsister in Cruel Intentions. Kathryn was Regina George before Regina George was a thing, except Kathryn’s heinousness was a bit more intense. Kathryn uses her sexuality and wealth to her advantage and manipulates people for her own amusement.

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

The story only gets more sick and twisted when she enters an interesting wager with her step-brother, in which she offers herself to him if she loses. Kathryn is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the role solidified Gellar’s status as a ’90s teen icon.

Dolores Umbridge

Don’t let all the cutesy pink fool you, Dolores Umbridge could give Bellatrix a run for her money on the evil scale. After her work in the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge enters Hogwarts as a Defence Against Dark Arts professor and soon does whatever it takes to become headmistress.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

She abusively punishes students she dislikes, while using those she favors as spies and employing them as bullies. Professor Umbridge abuses her power to gain more control, using people as pawns in the process. This selfish form of evil is worse because it’s very close to how evil manifests in real life.

Catwoman

Catwoman from Batman Returns is the ultimate woman scorned. Starting out as secretary Selina Kyle, she miraculously survives her boss’s attempt to kill her. Frustrated with her life and betrayed by her boss, Kyle is driven mad and becomes Catwoman.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

She returns with a vengeance and is a cold-hearted killer who will stop at nothing to achieve her primary goal: to murder her boss. The fact that she succeeds, in the end, is what makes everything more satisfying for this character. Michelle Pfeiffer became an icon for portraying the level of insanity and poise that this sexy vigilante has.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is the Joker’s accomplice and lover in the DC Universe. Initially a psychiatrist, Harleen Quinn was assigned to help the Joker at Arkham Asylum. She ends up falling in love with him and is adamant to set him free. Through electrocution and an acid bath, she emerges as Harley Quinn.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

She was imprisoned after helping the Joker kill Robin, but soon gets blackmailed into joining the Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn is a supervillain who is undoubtedly on the psychotic side. Margot Robbie is the alluring actress who brings her to life in the 2016 film Suicide Squad.

Annie Wilkes

There is no superfan crazier than Annie Wilkes from the 1990 flick, Misery. Based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name, Misery follows Paul Sheldon, a famed author whose romance novels revolve around a character named Misery.

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

After getting into an accident, Sheldon is saved by a nurse named Annie Wilkes who happens to be his number one fan. But when Wilkes discovers that Sheldon has planned to kill off Misery in his next book, she tortures him until he rewrites it. Annie Wilkes was a villain played to perfection by Kathy Bates, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for the role.

The Evil Queen

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the most malicious of them all? The Evil Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs might be your answer. Unlike Maleficent and Ursula, The Evil Queen’s reign of terror is an effort to kill her stepdaughter, Snow White, by poisoning her.

Photo Credit: RKO Radio Pictures
Photo Credit: RKO Radio Pictures

We must also mention that The Evil Queen is way too into herself, proven by the fact that she always has to ask her mirror to tell her that she’s pretty. She might very well be the evilest female in the Disney universe.

Wicked Witch Of The West

No movie villainess may be more iconic than the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. She does everything she can to thwart Dorothy’s efforts to visit the Wizard because not only did Dorothy’s house accidentally land on her sister, but Dorothy managed to steal her sister’s ruby red slippers.

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

The Wicked Witch’s shrill voice, pointy hat, and broom-flying capabilities have become essential to all witches that have come after her. Of course, we’re only referring to the Wicked Witch from the original 1939 film because Wicked the musical is a whole different story.

“Baby Jane” Hudson

1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a classic Hollywood thriller starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Davis plays Jane, a former child star whose faded stardom leads her to insanity. It doesn’t help when her older sister Blanche, played by Crawford, is suddenly getting more attention.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/Getty Images

After a mysterious accident that paralyzes Blanche, Jane holds her sister hostage while trying in vain to regain her star status. Jane’s efforts to conceal her sister’s whereabouts from the public only drive her crazier and make the story more convoluted. It’s incredible what jealousy can do to a gal.

Mystique

Despite being on the evil side of things in the X-Men movies, Mystique is pretty impressive. Mystique’s mutant powers include shape-shifting into anyone she desires to impersonate. We saw how ideal this quality was in the first X-Men movie when she impersonated Wolverine during the battle in the Statue of Liberty.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Even though she gave herself away since she obviously didn’t have Wolverine’s fighting abilities, she bought herself more time and bounced back by impersonating Storm. But her abilities really come in handy when she impersonates a dead Senator to further the Brotherhood’s agenda.

Agatha Trunchbull

Miss Trunchbull in Matilda is as frightening as they come, as far as evil school administrators are concerned. As the headmistress Chrunchem Hall Elementary, Miss Trunchbull hates children so much that she vehemently denies having been one herself.

Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures
Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures

Things didn’t get much better past her frightening looks either. She caused physical harm to students with her riding crop and literally threw students around, having been a former Olympic shot putter. And don’t even think of having a piece of her chocolate cake! Trunchbull definitely wouldn’t get away with her method’s in the modern American school system.

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos was a real-life serial killer whose story hit the big screen with 2003’s Monster. Wuornos could be the most terrifying female villain on this list solely for the fact that she was a real person. The former woman of the night went on a murder spree in the late ’80s and early ’90s, causing the death of seven men. It ultimately led to her 2002 execution in Florida.

Photo Credit: Newmarket Films
Photo Credit: Newmarket Films

Charlize Theron’s portrayal earned her the Oscar for Best Actress.

Elle Driver

Elle Driver made her villainous debut in Kill Bill. A member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, she looks plain sinister. Wearing an eye-patch and wielding a samurai sword, she goes by the code name California Mountain Snake. She was apart of the wedding day massacre and put the final bullet in Beatrix.

Photo Credit: Miramax
Photo Credit: Miramax

Devoted to Bill, Elle is assigned to kill Beatrix for good when it’s discovered she didn’t die during her wedding rehearsal. Unfortunately for this villain, she doesn’t win and ends up tied in a room with black mamba snake. Her final fate is unknown as the camera cuts away.

Regina Mills

Regina Mills is the television reimagining of the Evil Queen and one of the main characters of Once Upon a Time. In the quaint town of Storybroke, she is one of the only fairy tale characters who still have their memory. At the start of the series, she becomes mayor, using fear to get the town citizens to vote for her.

Photo Credit: ABC
Photo Credit: ABC

Throughout the series, Regina Mills is the epitome of evil. The reason she remembers the past is because she cast the curse that got rid of magic. She may look normal enough on the outside, but inside she is pure evil!

Queen Ravenna

Another devilish interpretation of the Evil Queen, Queen Ravenna strikes fear into the hearts of her enemies in Snow White and the Hunstman. Dressed in a black, Ravenna is the tyrannical ruler of Tabor. She is also the stepmother of Snow White, regarded by the magic mirror as “the fairest of them all.”

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Ravenna makes it her mission to kill Snow White and consume her heart. If she can accomplish this, she will have eternal beauty and power. Of course, the bad guy never wins and the Huntsman defeats her at the end of the story.

Esther

Kids can be scary too, and Esther might be the scariest of them all. The bad guy of the horror film Orphan, Esther is the nine-year-old foster child of the Colemans. Except Esther isn’t nine-years-old, she’s actually a 33-year-old psychopath named Leena Klammer.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Leena suffers from a pituitary disorder, causing her to look so young. She hates being stuck in between a child and a woman and takes out her anger by killing and trying to seduce men. When her attempt to seduce her foster father fails, she kills him but is stopped before she can kill her foster mom.

Yzma

Yzma is the dastardly villain in The Emperor’s New Groove. She is evil and power hungry, using her high position with ruler Kuzco to get what she wants. When Kuzco fires her, she plots her revenge and turns him into a llama. Initially, she plans to turn Kuzco into a flea and smash him but settles for the llama tactic instead.

Photo Credit: Disney
Photo Credit: Disney

Yzma, convinced she has killed Kuzco, assumes the role if Empress. However, when she learns her plan fails, she becomes obsessed with finishing the job. Before she wins, Yzma is turned into a cat and Kuzco becomes human again.

Alien Queen

This is one villainous you do not want to run into! The leader of the xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, the queen makes her debut in Aliens. The queen is the mother of the hive and will kill any perceived threat to the continued survival of her species. In Aliens the queen must face Ripley, who is determined to protect Newt, the sole survivor of a human colony.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

The queen attacks Ripley after she burns a number of xenomorph eggs. Multiple times the size of a drone xenomorph, the two face off in the kind of fight any person would avoid. The terrifying is defeated by Ripley who successfully rescues Newt.

Regan MacNeil

The possessed daughter in The Exorcist, Regan is possibly the scariest child to ever terrorize the silver screen. Of course, Regan isn’t really the bad guy in the film, but the demon that takes over her body. Pazuzu uses Regan to terrorize her family and attack a Father Karras, who is brought in by Regan’s mom to save her.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Regan gets increasingly violent as the movie progresses, at one point spinning her head around entirely. In a deleted scene from the original take, she spider walks downstairs, an image that is just as terrifying now as when it was originally released.

Drusilla

Deranged beyond belief, Drusilla is the girlfriend of vampire Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The fear Spike instills in his victims is nothing compared to Drusilla, the vampire who sired the punk rock rebel. Spending her time in California tormenting Buffy and Angel, Drusilla never seemed to have a real plan. Like the Joker, that might just be why she was so scary.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Television
Photo Credit: 20th Century Television

One of her most heinous acts was killing a room full of lawyers. Her plan was to take over their company to turn Los Angeles into a playground for demons.

Borg Queen

The Borg Queen redefined what a Star Trek villain could be in Star Trek: First Contact. Although the Borg are known as a collective, the Queen saw herself in higher regard, “I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg.” Like the Alien Queen, there is nothing the Borg Queen wouldn’t do to ensure the existence of her kind.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

In First Contact, she traveled back in time to destroy the earth. Following her into the past, the Enterprise and Jean Luc Picard barely stopped her. For Picard the mission was personal, having previously encountered the Borg Queen (unknowingly), when he was nearly assimilated years prior.

Tiffany

An ex-girlfriend of Chucky before his soul was trapped in a good guy doll; Tiffany uses voodoo to resurrect her lover for one more killing spree. When she’s successful, Chucky dumps her again and traps her inside a wedding doll so she can feel the torture he feels.

Photo Credit: Universal
Photo Credit: Universal

Together again, although not happy about it, the pair set off to find a magical amulet that will return them both to human bodies. The character of Tiffany was liked by fans so much that she ended up in multiple sequels where she killed a bunch of innocent people.

Hela

The former executioner of Asgard and sister of Thor, Hela returned to wreak havoc on the universe in Thor Ragnorak. Desperate for power, Hela sends Thor to far off planet and conquers Asgard, planning to recreate the Asgardian empire she remembers. When the people refuse to follow her she begins executing them.

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

When Thor finally makes it back home it’s too late to save Asgard. Hela has successfully taken over the planet. To beat her, Thor destroys her home. That’s right, Hela is so evil, the only way to stop her is to destroy the planet she’s taken over!

Emma Frost

Portrayed by January Jones in X-Men: First Class, Emma Frost is an evil telepath with diamond skin. As the right-hand woman of Sebastian Shaw, she seeks to start a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. With anyone left alive mutated, the world would be run by mutants.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

In the film she is impervious to psychic attacks, making Charles Xavier’s attempts to stop her useless. She is only stopped when Magneto strangles her with a metal pipe, cracking her diamond exterior.

Ursa

Zod’s right-hand woman in Superman II, Ursa, is a Kryptonian who discovers that while on Earth, she shares the same powers as Superman. Using her newfound strength for evil, Ursa helps Zod take over the office of the President. Determined to kill the man of steel, Ursa and Zod track him down at the Fortress of Solitude where Ursa threatens the only weakness Superman has; his love for Louis Lane.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Forty years after portraying Ursa in Superman II, Sarah Douglas returned to the role for an episode of Supergirl. One of her everlasting traits is an absolute hatred of men. In one version of her early films, she says expresses her desire to kill as many men as possible.

Amanda Waller

Most recently seen in Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller doesn’t have superpowers, and that’s exactly what makes her so scary. In a world where the most powerful villains have superpowers, Waller is human. She is a high ranking government official though. In the new DC cinematic universe, she creates the Suicide Squad, a pretty crazy idea for a supposed good guy!

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Waller clashes with Batman’s ideals, doing whatever she deems necessary to save the day. When the two share screen time together (which is rare), they have a rocky relationship that Waller is more than happy to try and break.

Norma Bates

The mother of Norman Bates, Norma is more than the skeleton in the chair at the end of Psycho. A loving mother, Norma cares too much for son, ultimately causing his psychosis and inability to maintain stable relationships with women.

Photo Credit: NBC Universal Television
Photo Credit: NBC Universal Television

Throughout his life, Norma sabotaged Norman’s attempts at relationships with women. It is implied the two long for more than a mother and son relationship, but they never push boundaries. When Norman kills Norma after she gets married, he assumes the role of both himself and his mother.

Amanda Young

Amanda Young is Jigsaw’s apprentice in the Saw franchise. In the second film, she successfully survived Jigsaw’s trap and beat her addiction to heroin. When offered the opportunity to join Jigsaw she accepts and begins to set up her own tests. As her mental state deteriorated she became more and more dangerous.

Photo Credit: Lionsgate
Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Amanda ended up failing her final test. Jigsaw wanted to teach her how to save a life. Instead, she wanted to take life. As she laid on the floor dying of a gunshot wound, Jigsaw let her know she failed, saying “game over.”

Claire Underwood

The wife of Frank Underwood on House of Cards, Claire Underwood is the real villain on the show. The Wall Street Journal described Claire as, “a short-blonde who manages to be masculine and demasculinizing at the same time.” During her run on the show, she has gone from lobbyist and activist to acting President of the United States.

Photo Credit: Netflix
Photo Credit: Netflix

For her portrayal of the sneak and conniving Claire Underwood, Robin Wright won a Golden Globe. For seasons six, Underwood will be the main character after Kevin Spacey was fired.

Mom

Mom pretends to be loving and caring, but once she has he sons take off her fat suit, she becomes the Scrooge of the Futurama universe. Running Momcorp, Carol Miller only cares about one thing: money. Anyone who stands in her way is going to get taken down!

Photo Credit: FOX Television
Photo Credit: FOX Television

Except for her sons, that is. Mom always has the evilest plans, but her dimwitted sons always find some way to ruin them. Mom became such a popular character in Futurama that she was featured in 12 episodes, two specials, and three movies!