15 Evil Movie Villains You Actually Feel Bad For

List Rules
Vote up the bad guys who earn your sympathy in spite of everything.

No one is born evil, meaning that turning evil typically requires some sort of tragic past, and because of this fact, the hallowed halls of cinema are filled with villains you can sympathize with. It seems to be that the more evil a villain is, the more tragic of a backstory they possess. Whether or not these backstories absolve them of their transgressions can be debated, but no amount of debating can stop audiences from feeling bad as they watch the harrowing lives of these characters come to a tragic end. 

Sometimes, villains you feel sorry for are sympathetic not because of their backstory but because, at the end of the day, they're actually sort of right. Other times, though, there's no sob story in existence that could possibly begin to justify their horrific actions


  • Why He Is The Bad Guy: Magneto abducts and eliminates a US senator and tries to mutate various world leaders at a global summit. 

    Why You Feel For Him Anyway: Magneto is first introduced to audiences as a young child being separated from his parents at Auschwitz. His first-ever use of his powers is in an attempt to escape from literal Nazis. It's no wonder that, years later, he's willing to resort to violence as a means of fighting a tyrannical government that's attempting to put all mutants on a registry. 

  • Why He Is The Bad Guy: Bowler Hat Guy tries to ruin the life of a young boy and ultimately helps his computerized AI bowler hat enslave humanity. 

    Why You Feel For Him Anyway: Bowler Hat Guy spent his childhood in an orphanage. He was a kind child who was often forced to put up with his roommate keeping him up late into the night. Eventually, though, this lack of sleep caused him to lose a baseball game, which was one of the few things he had going for him in his life, and as a result, his teammates beat him up. This event caused him to grow angry and resentful and led to him never being adopted by anyone. 

  • Why He Is The Bad Guy: Doctor Octopus turns to a life of crime in order to fund his fusion reactor experiments. Along the way, Ock robs banks, kidnaps people, and puts an entire train of civilians at risk. 

    Why You Feel For Him Anyway: At the beginning of Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus is an affable scientist who readily gives up an evening to spend time talking with and teaching Peter Parker. He's not even remotely evil until the inhibitor chip for his metal arms breaks, which allows the arms to control his mind just as much as he controls the arms. From there, his mental state deteriorates as he becomes obsessed with completing his fusion reactor. Even though Doc Ock does square off against Spider-Man throughout the film, it's not until their final meeting that he realizes he's been fighting Peter Parker this entire time. This realization leads the good doctor to realize the error of his ways, and he sacrifices himself to pull the nuclear reactor into the river before it can blow up. 

  • Why He Is The Bad Guy: Sandman is an armed robber turned supervillain who tries to do away with Spider-Man; he was also involved in the death of Uncle Ben. 

    Why You Feel For Him Anyway: Before he was Sandman, he was Flint Marko. In Spider-Man 3, Flint Marko's daughter needs money to pay for her cancer treatment, but he's out of work, so he turns to bank robbing as a means of getting her the help she needs. When he becomes Sandman, he continues to rob banks in an effort to support his daughter. He only tries to eliminate Spider-Man after Spidey tries to kill him after discovering his involvement in Uncle Ben's demise. At the end of the day, though, every crime he commits is for his daughter. Who can blame him for that?