Richard III, in the Ian McKellen version in particular. Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham and John Malkovich's Valmont. Dracula. Hagen of Tronje (even as a kid, I was absolutely fine with killing that prat Siegfried).
Well, I don't know if I'd call him my favorite, but the most effective villain who comes to mind is the character played by Tim Roth in Rob Roy (the Liam Neeson version), Archibald Cunningham. I can't recall ever so thoroughly loathing a fictional character as this lying, slimey, raping, duplicitous, dishonorable, thoroughly awful little pipsqueak of a man. It was so> satisfying when Rob finally cleaved him in half with a big-ass claymore. Really a bravado performance from Roth.Hans Gruber from Die Hard is another great one, urbane and silky smooth just before he shoots you.Oh, and also Darth Vader, of course. Originally the embodiment of all things scary, he became quite unexpectedly sympathetic by Return of the Jedi (and I'm not even counting his later reinvention into a tragic hero via the prequels). I still choke up a little during the unmasking scene... "Tell your sister... she was right..."
The Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.I like complex villans who have issues and I like to be able to understand where they're coming from. They can't be all-bad, they have to have some endearing quality that makes me feel for their plight, regardless of how badly they behave.
Tobin Bell in my beloved "Saw" movies...except I like him/them so much I'd hesitate to call him a "villan." So maybe Kenny G.
I like my villains to be complicated and from comic books so I would have to go with Magneto or Doctor Doom. Doom is especially great lately especially with his relationship with Valeria.
Vader's my all-time favorite, but like Cal, I love comic book villains with complicated, often-justifiable motives. I'll add Ra'as al Ghul to the ones he mentioned.
Cruella deVille. The first always has a certain pull.
I came in here to say "Hans Gruber from Die Hard" but I see Jason beat me to it. He's smart, he's three dimensionsal, and he's Alan freakin' Rickman. He is at least half the reason that movie is so good. I can't really think of any other true "villains" that are half as believable and interesting.I just finished the "Wool series" (available for the Kindle only, I think, but very very good) and quite liked its villain "Bernard," but mostly because he's just trying to what he thinks is necessary, for the good of his people. It's just Real Politik.Is Terry Pratchett's Vetinari a villain? I guess my favorite books and movies don't usually have villains so much as heroes who happen to be on opposite sides (who is the villain, Lancelot or Arthur?) Or else the bad guy is a disease, a disaster, or a broken system.
The Brain, in Pinky and the Brain. Or, more seriously, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) in Unbreakable, though I sort of hate to count him as a villain. One can't help feeling sorry for the guy.
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