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The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked 

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Updated June 14, 2019 3.8k votes 702 voters 28.2k views 32 items

This is a list about the best Shakespeare villains; it answers the question, “Who are the bad guys in William Shakespeare’s plays?” Every play has a hero and a villain: who, in your book is the top villain of all-times in one of Shakespeare’s plays?While most villains are purely evil, the interesting thing about Shakespeare is that his villains are not always overtly evil. Some of them seem to only be facing a moral dilemma of sorts; they’re not the typical in-your-face evil plotters like other stories usually have. As a result, a lot of Shakespearean villains play very subtle roles.

In addition to characters that are dubbed a villain but don’t play the typically evil roles that we think of when we hear that term, Shakespeare’s best plays also included some of the most notoriously evil characters in history, including: Richard III, Iago, Cornwall and Aaron the Moor. He was also notorious for making the audience fine sympathy for the bad guys (like Julius Caesar). The up-and-down emotions he caused the audience to feel are what made him famous. Shakespeare was also known for making his villainous characters seem incredibly real, struggling with common problems we each face like jealousy, heartbreak, greed and bitterness. He seemed to thrive on showing his audience the ironies of being judgmental since we are each the same in the end.
list ordered by
1
Iago is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
2
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
3
King Claudius is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Hamlet
4
Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
5
Edmund is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
King Lear
6
Tybalt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Romer and Juliet
7
Richard III is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Richard III
8
Aaron the Moor is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Aaron the Moor Titus Andronicus
9
Aaron is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Titus Andronicus
10
Shylock is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
The Merchant of Venice
11
Goneril is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
King Lear
12
Cassius is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Julius Caesar
13
Regan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
King Lear
14
Don John is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Much Ado About Nothing
15
Cornwall is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
King Lear
16
King John is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
King John
17
Iachimo is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Cymbeline
18
Caliban is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
The Tempest
19
Proteus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

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20
Brutus is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Meme Guy added Julius Caesar
21
Duke Frederick is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
As You Like It
22
Egeus is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
A Midsummer Night's Dream
23
Falstaff is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Henry IV
24
Puck is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
A Midsummer Night's Dream
25
Richard II of England is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
oldebenflood added Richard II