18.8k voters

29 Movie Villains Who Were Probably Right All Along

Updated April 22, 2021 103.1k votes 18.8k voters 1.5m views29 items

List RulesVote up the cinematic bad guys who seem evil until you really think about it and consider their motives.

You know the villain as the Big Bad, the truly horrible no-good person who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But as many great writers have said, "every villain is a hero," given a different context. It's high time we take a look at some villains we've written off as simply evil, and show you how, with just a slightly different perspective (okay, in some cases, a vastly different perspective), these people aren't quite as villainous as expected. No, sometimes these are villains just doing their jobs, giving solid advice, or dealing with impossible situations where no reasonable person would think they had any good choices to make. Some of these people are just hard up for answers, and even the hero's solution makes things demonstrably worse.

But this list doesn't just limit itself to villains who were good. We also look at villains who had a point, even if what they did was absolutely unforgivable. But really, if you think about it, plenty of our heroes have done awful things (Indiana Jones was just stealing artifacts and trashing monuments he had no business being around in the first place, y'know), and it's all just a matter of perspective. Obi-Wan Kenobi was always rambling on about how things are different from a "certain point of view." (Easy for him to say, Darth Vader's pretty cut and dry as a villain.) But put on your thinking specs and see how we argue for some of the bad guys (and gals!).

  • Photo: Gone Baby Gone / Warner Bros.

    With the entire city of Boston looking for one Amanda McCready in this Gone Baby Gone adaptation, turns out it's Morgan Freeman's Captain Doyle who has her. 

    Why We Hated Him : He kidnapped a child, made it look like a drug dealer's doing, had the entire city and the child's family gripped with fear, and ultimately was responsible for the deaths of multiple people. 

    Why He Was Probably Right: Amanda had the worst parents in the world. A mother who couldn't even remember the name of her favorite doll, and who just recently stole money from a Haitian drug lord, because, yeah, that always works out. When Patrick (Casey Affleck) found him with Amanda, she was smiling and happy, well taken care of by Doyle and his wife. 

    When she's returned to her home, her mother banished her aunt (the one member of the family who actually cared for her) from ever seeing Amanda, and then left her completely alone with Patrick to go on a date. Jack saw what we all saw, but unlike many of us, he decided to do something about it. 
    Was this villain misunderstood?
  • Photo: Inside Man / Universal Pictures

    Clive Owen's devious thief in Inside Man ends up carrying out the "perfect robbery," outsmarting just about everyone, including one Denzel Washington.

    Why We Hated Him: Taking over a bank, taking hostages, scaring people half to death, demeaning them (they had to strip and change clothes), and altogether causing massive problems for the city.

    Why He Was Probably Right: Russell was stealing one thing, and one thing only: a safety deposit box with evidence incriminating the bank's founder of working with the Nazis. He was offered a great deal of money to destroy it and escape any lengthy prison sentence, so he'd be rich and free, and yet still refused. 

    After making his escape, he leaves behind enough evidence for Denzel Washington's Frazier to investigate and bring down the Nazi sympathizer. None of this would have been possible had Russell not staged this heist, and a Nazi would have gone on living in luxury off of the misery of an entire race.

    Was this villain misunderstood?
  • Photo: Blade Runner / Warner Bros.

    Leader of escaped cyborgs, this primary Blade Runner villain caused all sorts of havoc for humanity, going up against Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and coming out the loser, though his body shut down at a pretty convenient time.

    Why We Hated Him: He was a trained killer, a combat Replicant. There's no possible way that him being on Earth was going to be a good thing. 

    Why He Was Probably Right: His goals were completely understandable -- he just wanted to live longer, and he was forced into four years's life by design, a blink of an eye even by human standards (heck, dogs live way longer). While humanity on Earth wanted his immediate destruction, there was no indication that Batty was planning on any kind of damage to us. Everything he did was directed at people who were directly involved in Replicants -- or engaging in self-defense against Deckard.
    Was this villain misunderstood?

    More Roy Batty 

    #2 of 14 Sci-Fi Villains Who Were Right All Along#13 of 15 The Smartest Villains In Sci-Fi Movie History#58 of 90 The Greatest Robots of All Time

  • 4

    Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, USMC from The Rock

    The leader of a team of soldiers who take over Alcatraz with chemical weapons, Ed Harris's Colonel Hummel was a man bent on changing the status quo for his soldiers, putting the entire city of San Francisco at risk. 

    Why We Hated Him: Chemical weapons pointed at San Francisco. It's not all that complicated. He also put many soldiers in a position to be killed by other US soldiers. Not exactly the military leader of the century. 

    Why He Was Probably Right: The truth that floated under the surface of The Rock was that just about everyone involved agreed with him, even Michael Biehn's Commander Anderson, who literally pointed a gun at Hummel to get him to stand down while actually agreeing with what Hummel wanted. 

    Furthermore, it became clear that Hummel never intended to actually do anything with the chemical weapons, that it was all an elaborate bluff and he'd never actually kill innocents. It'd be great if he hired better, or not dangle a payday in front of his troops. 

    Was this villain misunderstood?


    #685 of 877 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time#6 of 25 Movie Villains That Made Us Say 'Forget The Hero, I'm With The Bad Guy'#2248 of 3,515 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time