Remember when villains used to be like your worst frenemy? People you didn’t really mind having around because their schemes were more interesting that doing the daily crossword, and everything eventually backfired on them anyway.
Nowadays villains are all a little too … competent. Because everything has to be oh-so-realistic and hardcore in a bid to be relatable. Bah humbug. Real life is hard enough. “Bring back the goons of old” we say! Useless evil twits that you didn’t feel bad laughing at.
Here’s a little trip down nostalgia avenue, to recount the least threatening villains ever...
The Joker from Adam West era Batman
Way back when Batman’s suit was mainly spandex and Robin wore what can only be described as man-stockings, the Joker was basically what his named implied - a joker. Even though Cesar Romero wasn’t exactly unscary to behold in his make-up, his Joker was ineffectual and mainly a complete moron. Even Alfred could kick his ass, as evidenced in the clip. Heath Ledger would weep. In retrospect, nothing in the Adam West era Batman could be considered more threatening than a small puppy.
I R baboon from The Ren and Stimpy Show
Okay, baboons are really scary in real life. I R BABOON on the other hand, had a pair of bright red buttcheeks that stuck out further than Kim Kardashian’s and Nicki Minaj’s derrieres combined. Add that to his terrible grammar and you get… a villain fail in every sense of the word. Not that it was his fault… The Ren and Stimpy show had always intended for him to be the whipping boy and they weren’t subtle about it. Even the intro for his segment was basically him getting pummelled and run over by his nemesis, I AM WEASEL.
Gargamel from The Smurfs
If there were a guild of evil wizards, Gargamel would have his membership revoked and his existence denied. A balding, snivelling, stooped incompetent coward, perennially dressed in a robe picked out from the garbage and a poster-boy for bad dental hygiene; it’s no wonder he hates everyone… everyone would hate him. And if you can’t even harvest a bunch of pacifist little blue people into gold-making goop and your abused pet laughs at you when you cock-up… maybe it’s time for a career change. Sorry, not “maybe”.
Dr. Robotnik from Sonic The Hedgehog
A fat clown without make-up. That’s what Dr. Robotnik is. Sitting around in his little mini-ufo, flying his fat arse around. I mean, come on, his nickname is Dr. Eggman. He looks like a gigantic egg. Are eggs scary? Maybe if you were a vegan. And the only thing he’s had any success with - given his IQ of over 300 - is his achievement in men’s grooming with his physics-defying moustache. How does he keep it so straight and horizontal?
Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
For the undisputed ruler of Dimension X, Krang sure looks a lot like someone’s first attempt at making jello-milk pudding. Putting interdimensional horrors to disrepute, Krang appears in our universe (or wherever TMNT takes place in) as a goopy mess, and spends several episodes just bitching and moaning about how he would have already taken over the world if he had a body. And when he finally gets a robot body, he proceeds to blame his failings on everyone around him. Did he end up writing the middle management handbook or something?
Skeletor from He-man
You’d think that a skeleton-faced lord of evil would be scary, especially if he looked like he’d been working out a bit and dressed like a chippendale on a Game of Thrones themed bachelorette party. But surround him with bumbling conspirators and give him a voice like he’s talking exclusively (and ironically) out of his nose?
That’s when you get Skeletor - the cartoon equivalent of Mike Tyson - scary countenance, whiny little voice. In fact, Skeletor is so non-threatening, the internet has seen to make him the spokesperson for self-healing. But to be fair, he’s got some of the best insults - mainly directed at his own gang.
Pinky and The Brain from Animaniacs
Yes, two mice whose sole mission in life is to take over the world qualify as villains, nevermind that they were the show’s main characters. But Pinky and Brain’s schemes were so hopeless that watching their machinations get foiled every week almost made you start rooting for them to succeed.
And it didn’t help that these two lab mice were surrounded by even greater villainy, by way of an overbearing pre-teen girl who owned them; making Pinky and Brain a pair of villains so unthreatening that they could be considered heroes. Hooray for the lesser evils!
Team Rocket from Pokemon
Ok, any villainous group that has an introduction rap/rhyme that they announce on their own is a joke.
Despite their somewhat grandiose and almost philosophical stand on world domination, Team Rocket seemed to concentrate almost all their efforts into attempting to capture pokemon - before they would be defeated by Ash, a boy whose voice would never breach the walls of puberty.
How would capturing pokemon help them conquer the world? Why couldn’t they just capture other Pokemon, away from conflict with a bunch of teens? All questions that were never answered as they spent each episode being prematurely blasted off (haha) into the stratosphere.
Rocksteady and Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Not to take anything away from the turtles, but TMNT had some of the worst recurring villains ever. Rocksteady and Bebop, a mutated warthog and rhinoceros respectively, possessed great strength and stamina but shared the combined intelligence of a piece of chewing gum. More adept at cracking jokes and making small talk than actually getting anything done, they were more of a pain to their bosses than any threat to the turtles. In fact, the largest threat they faced was their own overwhelming stupidity.