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Irredeemably Evil Villains With Nothing To Sympathize With

October 27, 2020 1.6k votes 183 voters 6.1k views15 items

List RulesVote up the villains who don't have a dash of empathy to humanize them.

Cinema history has presented audiences with some antagonists that can truly only be described as pure evil villains. This type of villain seems to have lost its luster in recent years. Movies seem to be more interested in antiheroes or warped reflections of main characters with motivations audiences can relate to. Even Thanos, whose great plan was to wipe out half of all life in the universe, was given a backstory to justify his draconian dream.

It's become so commonplace that it would be a refreshing change of pace to see more truly unsympathetic characters on cinema screens. The types of villains who want world domination for no other reason than they'd like to be in charge. The villains who slay their own henchman at the slightest disagreement, and don't have any sort of love interest to show audiences a different side of them. That's the class of villains that really knows how to make its mark.

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  • Emperor Palpatine
    Photo: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith / 20th Century Fox

    Palpatine might have one of the highest body counts in cinema history. He is the mastermind behind the construction and deployment of the Death Star, so any loss of life caused by that behemoth (like, say, the complete annihilation of Alderaan) also lands on his head. In the prequel trilogy, it is Palpatine who corrupts Anakin Skywalker and executes order 66. He is directly responsible for eliminating one of the greatest peacekeeping forces in pop culture. 

    Why does Palpatine do all this? What motivation does he possibly have to justify his actions? Well, he's just evil. He's consumed by the dark side and lusts for power and eternal life. That's it. That's the driving force behind what he does.

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  • Sauron
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    In The Lord of the Rings, great rings of power are forged and distributed to the various races as a way to rule their kingdoms. Secretly, another ring is made, a ring strong enough to control all of them. This ring is created by The Dark Lord Sauron, and he uses its power in an attempt to enslave all of Middle Earth.

    Sauron was known as the "enemy of the free people" in Middle Earth. He is the embodiment of evil in The Lord of the Rings. He's more like force of nature than an antagonist since he has absolutely no qualities that a human (or elf or hobbit) could relate to. Seriously, the guy's home base was literally called "Mt. Doom." He's just pure evil with a thing for jewelry.

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  • Pennywise is a malevolent force of ancient evil who resurfaces every couple of decades to terrorize and capture children in the town of Derby. Pennywise feeds off of the children, which gives him the energy to survive his dormant periods. This animalistic behavior is only justifiable for actual animals, but Pennywise is clearly a being of higher intelligence. Also, it's not like he just consumes humans purely for sustenance; he specifically seems to enjoy psychologically tormenting them before their demises. 

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  • Freddy Krueger
    Photo: Freddy vs. Jason / New Line Cinema

    Freddy Krueger torments his targets by invading their dreams and making them too terrified to go to sleep.

    It's not uncommon for horror films to give their villains a pitiful backstory for audiences to relate to. Well, if Wes Kraven was attempting to do that with Krueger's backstory, he failed. Krueger, while still a human, was burned alive by an angry mob. This may give reason to feel bad for him, except that he was burned alive by a mob full of parents who were angry at him for preying on their children.

    While mob justice isn't normally something to support, this backstory doesn't help to get audiences on his side in any way.

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