Growing up in the eighties and early nineties, I genuinely believe that my generation and those before us had the best cartoons the world will ever see. Kids growing up today probably don’t even know what ‘Saturday morning cartoons’ are. Much of the current lineup for youngsters consists of CG, reboots of shows from years past, and straight-up nonsense. I used to spend all week looking forward to Saturday; even the commercials were amusing.
As young horror fans, may of us found ourselves rooting as much for the villain as we were for the good guy. In some cases, the villain was much more debonair, interesting, and relatable than the hero, so it wasn’t all that unreasonable to cheer for them. So with that said, we've prepared a list of memorable villains from those beloved cartoons... villains we sometimes liked just as much, or even more, than the protagonists.
Snidely Whiplash from Rocky & Bullwinkle
I am personally partial to Mr. Whiplash. He's a man after my own heart, in that he sports a mean-looking handlebar moustache. He was always running into trouble with Dudley Do-Right, and that never seemed fair to me. All Snidely wanted was to tie some innocent people to the train tracks in the Canadian mountains, but the clueless Dudley was forever interfering... and worse yet, showboating.
The Misfits from Jem and the Holograms
The Misfits are absolutely fantastic. I thought of them more as anti-heroes than villains. They were constantly trying to get ahead by taking shortcuts, stealing, lying, cheating, and making mischief. Their outrageous hairdos, distaste for children, '80s new wave makeup and bad attitudes made it nearly impossible not to like them. They're so misunderstood: they just wanted to share the spotlight, or steal it, rather, and Jem & her pesky friends kept upstaging them. It’s easy to understand why they were always up to no good.
Skeletor from Masters of the Universe
Skeletor reigns from Snake Mountain and is forever trying to take down He-man and Castle Grayskull. Skeletor actually kind of terrified me as a young child, but In spite of terrifying me in my formative years, he always had the most amazing toys and great dialogue. I seem to remember a Snake Mountain toy that kids could talk into and it would make their voice come out the other end sounding like Skeletor. Beat that, He-Man!
Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget
Dr. Claw had some serious swag. He also had an awesome cat that was always by his side. It always drove me crazy when Inspector Gadget, Penny, and Brain managed to foil his awesome plans before he could go through with them. That’s enough to make anyone want to be a little evil. I suspect there may have been some subliminal messages to children about the evils of Corporate America hidden in the episodes of Inspector Gadget; seeing as how Dr. Claw is the leader of the always evil M.A.D. organization, it seems in hindsight that the show’s creators may have been suggesting that Big Business is somehow evil.
Gargamel from The Smurfs
I love Gargamel because he has a kitty friend – Azrael - for a sidekick, and he was always engaged in conversation with him. How can you not like a villain who converses with his cat? His black bodysuit lent him a menacing quality, and the actor who gave Gargamel his voice made him sound like a perfect creep. He was the yin to The Smurfs' yang: Gargamel was menacing and curmudgeonly, while The Smurfs were always obnoxiously chipper. I also got annoyed when they used "Smurf" as a substitute for every other verb in the dictionary. I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean when you say, “I’ll Smurf that right up,” or “Let me Smurf that for you.” Gargamel was always much easier to understand... even Azrael knew what he was talking about.
Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I loved the Turtles. I still do. But one must admit that Shredder got down like a boss. He had a rad set of body armor and he had countless henchmen just dying to carry out his every nefarious wish. I also liked that he had an interesting back-story. He's definitely the type of person I would like to go out for lunch with, although I suspect it would be hard for him to eat with his facemask on... maybe he takes that off for meals. If not, he would be a very messy lunch date.
The Joker from Batman: The Animated Series
I think Batman is great; he remains among my favorite superheroes to this day. But the Joker is an equally awesome adversary. Like his name implies, The Joker is a bit of a sneaky trickster; he was always giving Batman a run for his money in the animated series. The thing I like so much about the Joker is that he's always in such a good mood. It’s always time for a laugh! He never takes anything too seriously, unlike the brooding and often moody Batman.
Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe
Cobra Commander is the head of a group of unsavory characters. He just wanted to be loved… and to overthrow the world’s leadership regime so that he might reign supreme. I like people who think big, and Cobra Commander most certainly did; he didn’t do anything halfway. He was most definitely a worthy opponent.
Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I had a love/hate relationship with Krang when I was a kid. He is absolutely disgusting to look at. But it is pretty rad that he's a displaced brain inside a human suit of some sort. He had some fantastic dialogue, and he didn’t let his size get him down; instead, he was always plotting mayhem and destruction. So he was easy to like... if you could get past the gross-out factor.