Not a lot of cinema’s most iconic villains – Darth Vader, Nurse Ratched, the Wicked Witch of the West – are from the comedy genre. But comedies are perfect vehicles for memorable bad guys. The focus on humor allows writers to dial up the villain’s most hateable qualities. Characters like Vader and Ratched are required to have some dramatic nuance, but comedic villains can be reprehensible jerks.
The comedies of the 2000s introduced audiences to such hysterical villains as Globo Gym owner White Goodman from Dodgeball, spineless royal Lord Farquaad from Shrek, and acid-tongued high schooler Regina George from Mean Girls.
10 White Goodman (Dodgeball)
Ben Stiller usually plays relatable, likable protagonists like Greg Focker. In Dodgeball, he relishes the chance to play an unrelenting jerk. Vince Vaughn is a classic everyman as the owner of a gym for regular people who want to avoid judgment.
The villainous White Goodman is the polar opposite. He’s a corporate fitness buff who shames less-than-perfect bodies. Stiller has plenty of fun with the role before White gets his comeuppance in the finale.
9 Randall Boggs (Monsters, Inc.)
Pixar’s movies had a bunch of memorable villains in the 2000s, from Syndrome to Charles Muntz to Stinky Pete, but arguably the most iconic is Monsters, Inc.’s slimy, reptilian antagonist, Randall Boggs.
Steve Buscemi gives a delightfully creepy performance as the voice of Randall. Young viewers are truly terrified by Randall’s use of his chameleonic camouflage abilities to sneak around and stalk people.
8 Mr. Chow (The Hangover)
While the guys are looking for their missing friend in The Hangover, the stakes are significantly raised when a crime syndicate with burly enforcers demands that they pay off some gambling debts.
Ken Jeong gives a star-making turn as a protected gangster with a camp personality. Mr. Chow is introduced naked, beating Bradley Cooper with a tire iron in the desert, and Jeong’s performance only gets more eccentric and scene-stealing from there.
7 Russ Cargill (The Simpsons Movie)
Albert Brooks was the perfect choice to play the villain in The Simpsons Movie, because he’s been a recurring guest star on the series since its first season. Always credited as “A. Brooks,” Brooks has played a bunch of memorable one-episode Simpsons roles, from Jacques to Brad Goodman to Hank Scorpio.
Russ Cargill is the corporate entity that comes up with a bright idea to save the rest of America’s ecosystems from Springfield’s toxic pollution by dropping a giant dome over the entire town.
6 Simon Skinner (Hot Fuzz)
Timothy Dalton – famously the darkest, coldest, edgiest take on James Bond – was a hilariously subversive casting choice for a creepy supermarket manager who turns out to be the head of a town-wide cult of serial killers in Edgar Wright’s buddy cop spoof Hot Fuzz.
Like all great villains, Skinner sees himself as the hero. He believes he’s committing his grisly crimes for “the greater good.” Dalton shares hysterical chemistry with Simon Pegg as a no-nonsense cop who’s onto him.
5 Jacobim Mugatu (Zoolander)
Will Ferrell’s unique brand of comedic overacting was perfect for the role of a dramatic, self-obsessed fashion mogul swept up in an international conspiracy in Zoolander.
Whether he’s throwing his latte at his assistant or doing a ridiculous dance to brainwash Derek Zoolander, Mugatu steals every scene he’s in. Ferrell’s line readings are unforgettable: “Hansel, so hot right now.”
4 Lord Farquaad (Shrek)
DreamWorks Animation’s first big Pixar-sized hit, Shrek, is a timeless satire of fairy tale archetypes in which the traditional villain – a lonesome ogre – becomes the hero. Instead, the villain is Lord Farquaad, voiced spectacularly by John Lithgow.
Farquaad is the polar opposite of the traditional Prince Charming prototype. He’s pompous, self-absorbed, morally ambiguous, and hires other people to heroically save the princess from the tower for him.
3 Derek Huff (Step Brothers)
Adam Scott, the actor behind the sweetest, most likable character on Parks and Recreation, played the cockiest, most hateable character in Step Brothers just as beautifully.
Derek Huff is the biological brother of Will Ferrell’s character, Brennan. Whereas Brennan still lives with his mom, Derek is so ludicrously successful in the world of helicopter leasing that it’s gone to his head and turned him into a reprehensible monster.
2 Harry Waters (In Bruges)
Ralph Fiennes shows up in the third act of Martin McDonagh’s existential dark comedy gem In Bruges to steal the movie as the foul-mouthed, hot-tempered mob boss Harry Waters. At the beginning of the movie, Harry sends Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson’s hitmen to the titular Belgian city, supposedly to wait for the heat to die down.
But he’s secretly planning to whack one of them and organizes the Bruges trip as a half-baked last hoorah. At the movie’s climax, Harry succumbs to his own brutal retribution when he breaks one of his own hard-and-fast rules.
1 Regina George (Mean Girls)
Tina Fey brought a refreshingly absurdist sensibility to the well-worn high school movie genre with her hilarious script for Mean Girls. The villainous Regina George is a cartoonishly exaggerated take on the popular girl trope.
Rachel McAdams took that characterization and ran with it. She knocked the role of Regina out of the park, nailing both her biting wit and her rarely-seen vulnerabilities.
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