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Oh, Those Naughty Ladies - My Favorite Female Disney Cartoon Villains

Updated on April 27, 2016
RedElf profile image

RedElf (Elle Fredine), photographer, published author - life-long fan of Disney, Pixar, and classic cartoons

The Artful Villains of Walt Disney

This started out to be a nice little hub on villains in film, inspired by kpfingaz's forum. As I began my research, however, I quickly realized that there was simply too much material for one hub. Can you say...series?

Good villains (yes, there is such a thing as a "good" villain) require certain elements to be in place for their villainy to be truly apparent and appreciated. A decent plot is always welcome, and the requisite not-overly-bright henchmen add a nice touch, but truly evil villains need a truly good hero or heroine to upon whom to vent their spleen. It is difficult to vent one's spleen adequately if the target is unworthy in some way.

Our first four ladies

Snow White's Wicked Queen
Snow White's Wicked Queen | Source
Maleficent | Source
Cruella De Ville - One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Cruella De Ville - One Hundred and One Dalmatians | Source
Ursula - The Little Mermaid
Ursula - The Little Mermaid | Source

Spleen Venting - Did Somebody Say, "Spleen Venting"?

Well, what can I say. When it comes to the ladies, they certainly seem to have the edge in the evil department - at least on film...and nobody can be a witch like a Disney witch.

The wicked queen was one of the first of many notable scary women I encountered. She was a force to be reckoned with as the queen, but when she transformed herself into the sly old crone, she was downright frightening. That film certainly taught us to be wary of stranger bearing gifts. Pity the poor old lady in a cloak who approached any of us with a juicy red apple - we knew what to expect, and were already primed to slam the door, or run - or both.

Cruella De Ville was a nasty piece of business, too. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to skin those cute little puppies. Her "staff" left a lot to be desired in the efficiency department, but that is only to be expected. I really think there must be a special agency where one applies for henchpeople.

Let me see... where on earth could one find a good henchperson these days? Perhaps in Social Media posts? I really can't see anyone actually adding that category to their online profile... Or maybe in the "want" ads? Aha!

Wanted - henchperson/creatures

Qualifications for Hench-person:

  • hard-working and obsequious
  • not stupid, but not overly bright
  • somewhat useful in small ways but inept when the chips are down
  • willing to accept all manner of abuse and come back for more

Ursula didn't really need many hench-fish, but her barracudas were rather frightful - all those sharp teeth.

Queenly attributes

Susan Sarandon: A Vision of Wickedness  - Enchanted
Susan Sarandon: A Vision of Wickedness - Enchanted | Source
The White Witch - The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
The White Witch - The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe | Source

And The Ladies Have It...

Sorry men, but let's be realistic here. When it comes to the sheer wicked duplicity that goes with creating mayhem and all sorts of nastiness, the ladies have it, hands down...and no cute remarks from the peanut gallery, thank you.

The fair sex is amply represented here by Susan Sarandon, a very classy lady, and, my goodness, doesn't she make an amazing bad girl? Her more earthy charms are well-displayed. Unfortunately, her magical charms are somewhat handicapped by the ineptitude of her (male) hench-twit...but she does make a lovely, campy spectacle striding down the neon-lit streets of New York in search of the enchanted Ella.

For absolute, awe-inspiring evil, though, few can top the White Witch from the Narnia Chronicles. She is truly a study in B.A.D.

She brings to mind the Snow Queen from the Brothers' Grimm fairy tale, but the queen pales in comparison. A pretty nasty package in her own right, she can't hold a candle to this computer-realized vision of Nasty, with her unquenchable lust for power.

Let's not leave out the men completely...

The Headless Horseman - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Headless Horseman - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Source
The Evil Wizard - Aladdin
The Evil Wizard - Aladdin | Source
Scar - The Lion King
Scar - The Lion King | Source

Don't Be Discouraged...

Now, I wouldn't want you to think that the distaff side was being showcased at the expense of our menfolk. Men make great villains! (...and trust me, that's meant as a true compliment... )

One of the scariest dudes I remember from Walt Disney's Halloween Specials was the Headless Horseman. Mind you, he had a great build up before we ever laid eyes on him. We loved those Halloween shows. Hosted by the Mirror of Snow White Fame, the hour-long show featured all our frightful favorites: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Night on Bald Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice - come to think of it, that wretched broom certainly took on a nightmarish villainy all its own - and all the pranks of Donald Duck and his boys, Huey, Dewy and Louie, out for Halloween treats.

The evil wizard from "Aladdin" certainly owes a lot to the wicked viziers of the Arabian Nights. Sinbad's voyages in print or on screen would not have been complete without an evil advisor or two.

Jeremy Irons lent his voice and awesome talents to Scar, creating a truly frightening characterization. He out-smarmied the snake from Jungle Book: he cringed and begged with deplorable oiliness. He was truly a scary force to be reckoned with, unrepentant and unregenerate to his bitter end.

...and really, that's what it's all about, isn't it? The wicked ones must be vanquished and all put to right with the world. There will be loss, but in the end, the sacrifice will bring about renwal and the rebirth of peace. The boy will get the girl, the lost will be found, loved ones will be reunited - at least until the next evil villain crawls out of the woodwork...

Posted by dailygeekette from
Posted by dailygeekette from | Source

New Entries into the 'Top Villains' category

Uma Thurman turns in a totally awesomely evil performance as the wicked Queen in "Snow White and the Huntsman." From the same producers that brought us "Alice in Wonderland" this film takes the fairy to version to a much darker place.

This lady certainly proves she has the chops to take on the best of them. Her character leaps off the screen - scary, evil, and all too believable. Keep an eye out for the pre-quell, due out soon in theatrical release, another must-have for the Blu-ray collection.

So with fiendish laughter echoing in our ears, "Moo-ooo-hoo-aaa-aahhhh haahahaaaa", and with a passing nod to Si and Am, so ably voiced by Peggy Lee - Si and Am were,of course, the Siamese pussycat monsters who made life so miserable for poor Lady in Lady and The Tramp - we bid a fond farewell to our villainous crew, confident that the next time we need a good scare, they wiil be on hand to provide the goose bumps.


And the ladies have the last words...

© 2009 RedElf


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    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      daisydayz, what can I say, except to let you know that another "villains" hub is definitely in the offing. It should include some previously 'passed-over' villains.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 5 years ago from Cardiff

      You didn't include the queen of hearts! I love the queen of hearts especially in the Tim Burton version! Although Cruella De Ville is awesome!!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      Roskyisadog, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Cruella DeVille - her name even has a villainous ring to it, don't you think/

      LARPERBOY, thank so much for commenting.

    • profile image

      LARPERBOY not for sale 5 years ago


      URSALA IS AN OCTUOPUS (wonder if she got that from her mom or her dad?)



    • profile image

      Rockyisadog 5 years ago

      really enjoyed this!When I was little and saw 101 dalmations,when ever Cruella came up on the screen doing something sinister or what ever i would say "she a bad,bad lady", for some reason i would always see it with my older cousins and they would say "well,duh!" good times,good times.( I love Cruella)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      Dan, you hit the nail right on the head - as the old song says, "You can't have one without the other..." Yes, she was downright mean and nasty - sure made the lesson about accepting gifts from strangers come alive :D

    • Dan90017 profile image

      Dan90017 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Villains truly are essential to any story. It would be pretty difficult to have a hero or a moral in a story without a villain. I remember as a kid though I had nightmares of the witch from Snow White. Poison apples? No thanks!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      You gotta love those naughtie ladies, carco!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Have to agree, Disney has the best cartoon villains, without them their movies would be nothing. Our family has enjoyed Disney cartoons ever since I can remember. Great Hub, Voted Up and Awesome...

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      Yes, indeed. Cinderella's step-mom was e real baddy, too, kmc!

    • kmcmichael profile image

      kmcmichael 7 years ago from Athens, Georgia

      Cinderella's stepmother was pretty evil too, if you count her as a villain. Very entertaining hub!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      His naughty ladies certainly seem to have a lot of fun - at least 'til the end of the movie :D

    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 7 years ago from California

      Cruella Deville is definitely a FAV of mine! Hoorah for Disney Villanesses!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      Oh, no! How could I have missed Madame Mim - she was truly villanous! Seriously, though, I really didn't mind when she "got hers."

    • profile image

      Flu-Bird 7 years ago

      What about MAD MADAME MIM from SWORD IN THE STONE she its a crazy witch,

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much, Dobson. Cinderella's stepmother always seemed meaner to me because she was just a person with no magical powers - only financial ones. Pernicious!

    • Dobson profile image

      Dobson 7 years ago from Virginia

      Of all the Disney villains, I guess I found the step mother to Cinderella to be the one I wanted to see dealt with the most. She is so wicked. Cruella was more humorous to me and Ursula was almost unbelievable. I also enjoyed the villainess in the Rescuers.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      Glimmer515, one of my favorite commercials is one for the Space Network about villains "who will one day rule the world". It is just a hoot - everyone needs a spendable minion or two.

    • Glimmer515 profile image

      Glimmer515 7 years ago from Never Never Land

      love the villains and all things disney!!just did a hub on the disney sidekicks!! but the hench men thing is a great idea for another hub!!!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much, Granny's House. I love the ladies!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      They are some of my favorites too.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much, Deborah-Lynn. So glad you stopped by!

    • Deborah-Lynn profile image

      Deborah-Lynn 8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Great Hub on Witches and villians....great shopping for Christmas too:)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Aahhh! A Cruella fan... Yes, bingskee, she was truly scary.

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      truly, susan sarandon gave justice to that role as a villain. made her versatile as well.

      love cruella, btw.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Greeting, deepestwisdom. I think you've hit it - it's the glamorus element added to the mix that makes a truly great villain, LOL.

    • deepestwisdom profile image

      deepestwisdom 8 years ago from England

      Those Disney villains definitely have a menacing, but also glamorous, quality to them!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Too true, Flu-Bird, they certainly could... by the way, you have a most unusual name.

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      Flu-Bird 8 years ago


    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Nice to meet you, Gerard. Yes, he certainly seems to be following that bent, but then, Freud would have had a heyday with Old Uncle Walt, anyway, from what I have read.... I have had two stepmothers, and never any real problems, lol.

    • Gerard Daniels profile image

      Gerard Daniels 8 years ago

      hmmm, interesting. i never thought of how Disney seems to have a hate on for Step Mothers. Me thinks Freud woulda said or wrote something on that :)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Oh, Staci, there are so many lovely ladies on TV that seem to have modelled their wicked ways after truly great villains. They are so darn good at it, too. There's another hub or two in there, I am sure.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Red Elf, I remember the first time I saw Snow White - I was around 6 years old, and I had never watched a movie with a real villain in it.  I was so frightened of that awful queen-witch that I couldn't watch the movie straight through.  I took several breaks just to get through it!  

      How about Joan Collins always working to undermine Crystal's happiness in Dynasty?  Now there was a wicked woman in anyone's estimation.  I really took umbrage at her shenanigans on Crystal's behalf - I loved to hate her!!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      No argument there, ethel. She is a stinker.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Cruella is the meanest

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much and so pleased to meet you, jill. You got that one right...and Disney's heroines are truly loveable. I think my fave is Belle. Besides, where would poor Pauline be without a dastardly stinker to contrast her stirling character? Hardly in Peril, methinks, lol.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Wow! You have really named them all! The villians simply have to be good, otherwise we will never appreciate how lovable and pure of heart the heroines are.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Good to see you, rawlus. I must admit I had to flip a coin over some of them, lol. My personal scariest movie moment is still the pink elephant parade from Dumbo - such a nightmare!

      Thanks for stopping by, Shalini. So glad you enjoyed them. You just never seem to forget a "good" villain.

      I'm with you, Queen. She always seemed just plain mean to me. Some of the others were scary, or funny, but she was just downright nasty.

      Thanks so much, LM. So glad you enjoyed them. Though they have done an overall excellent job of adapting the C.S. Lewis novels to film, and the CG characters are quite wonderful, they do get a bit "talky" at times, and some of the intimate moments drag - perhaps they are a bit "over-reverent" to the written word in spots.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      Is it safe to admit here that I have never been able to sit through "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe"? I fall asleep everytime!

      Great picks here redElf!

    • Queen of the Lint profile image

      Queen of the Lint 8 years ago from The Laundry Room

      Great hub! I always hated Cruella de Ville. I mean, she wanted to make a coat out of puppies? That's really bad if she doesn't even have a heart for puppies. The book 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith? was really good, too. Cruella was even scary on the page!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      You've rounded all the great ones up and presented them so well - that was a great walk down memory lane :)

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      I especially liked that boogy man thing in the Jack Halloween. I can't recall the name of the film now, it was way cool and lots of music. You have a nice selection here.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks so much Christoph...and lucky you !

      I never got to play many real villains, though I once played the BBC Lady in "The Killing of Sister George". She was quite a piece of work, but not truly a villain.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      "We are Siamese if you please." It was fun to revisit the Disney Villains! I well-rounded thorough look at some of the greatest ever to hit the screen. As an actor, I can say villains are easily the most fun roles to play! Great job!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Hey there, Enelle - love the new avatar, btw...Right on that one - there are so many really good villains, and so little time, lol.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 8 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      And who can forget Easma (spelling?) and Kronk - villiany and stupidity personfied lol in The Emperor's New Groove...