When Super Smash Bros first launched on the Nintendo 64 way back in 1999, the characters on offer shared something in common: they were the virtuous champions of their respective franchises (and Jigglypuff, who was also there).
The closest you could get to a villain was Donkey Kong, but by that time, he was better known as the fun-loving banana hoarder than some kind of dastardly maiden snatcher.
With each new entry that was introduced, the roster grew, and grew darker, to boot. As of Smash Bros Ultimate, we now have more baddies available (15) than there were total characters in the original (12).
Now that we’ve entered the dreaded season of October, we’re going to rank them in order of antagonism. It’s time to separate the nasty from the nice-ty!
15. Meta Knight
Due to his many kind deeds, Meta Knight teeters precariously close to the precipice of being disqualified from this list. In his early appearances, he would feature as a chivalrous boss, and yet as time has gone by he has more commonly been working in conjunction with Kirby. What a tawdry do-gooder.
He’s never really been evil, per se, only ever coming to blows with the pink puffball due to his own hidden agendas. But he did at least dabble with darkness, particularly with his global machinations in Revenge of Meta Knight. To wit, at first glance you’re still more likely to consider him a potential enemy, aren’t you?
More often than not, if Meta Knight is around, you are at least going toe to toe with him before putting your differences aside to combat a mutual foe. Such foes may include Dark Meta Knight or Galacta Knight, pushing vanilla Meta even further down the villainy ladder.
He’s just a little softy with a pointy knife and a strict moral code. Dawww.
14. Dark Pit
Despite ranking just a smidgen higher than Meta Knight, Dark Pit is at even greater risk of exclusion, considering he has only one game appearance to his name and he spent a sizeable portion of this as an ally.
If they were ever to make a Kid Icarus game where Dark Pit takes on a benevolent role from the get-go, he’ll be barred from the bad guy club forevermore (this club is a front for gun running and a meth lab operated by Dr. Wiley).
Until such time, the manifestation of Pit’s bad vibes gets at least a token mention here. He too operates of his own volition before realising the error of his ways, allegedly joining up with the Forces of Natures after the events of Kid Icarus Uprising.
But hey, he was kind of a dick at first, so his CV receives at least a cursory look-in. Thank you for your interest. Due to the high standard of applicants, you were unfortunately not successful at this time, however we will keep your details on file should a future opportunity arise.
13. Piranha Plant
Throughout the years, we have seen specific examples of this Koopa Troop member as particularly menacing, such as the Naval Piranha Plant or Megasmilax. Despite this, at their root (hehe, get it?) they are little more than nameless, faceless drones sent to dispatch of Mario.
Without any insight into their individual personality beyond an insatiable hunger, you can’t really plant them too high in these rankings. Who knows, maybe underneath that charming veneer they’re actually all mass murderers who kick puppies in their spare time while listening to the latest release of Kesha.
We can neither confirm nor deny this, however, so here they will sit.
Another misunderstood character, Mewtwo’s rage was the result of the dreadful circumstances surrounding its creation.
Once it sees that the world is not quite so grim, it retreats to an isolated corner of the globe in order to spend its days in peace. At the very least, when Mewtwo does emerge you know that you’re in for an “oh shit” moment.
Besides Team Rocket’s squad, or maybe those wielded by the rival character, Mewtwo was our first glimpse of an ‘evil Pokemon’. It’s pretty badass (aside from its bottom tier performance in Smash Bros Melee) and for the most part, it’s still not to be messed around with.
Also, it was the final boss in Pokemon Puzzle League. So it has that going for it.
11. King Dedede
We’re at last beginning to progress to the stage of bad guys who are actual bad guys, but we’ve still got a few more of the ne’er-do-wells to sift through.
The self-proclaimed King of Dream Land is technically the main villain of the Kirby series, typified by his boundless greed and arrogance. Kirby has had to put him in his place on more than one occasion, with his list of crimes including a mass famine and cheating in a footrace.
But hey, he’s also done some good things, too, and much like Meta Knight before him, he has served as a hero on more than one occasion. Like any politician, he has likely used this to further his own status. I also doubt this fucker pays any taxes whatsoever.
Funnily enough, when I was originally forming this list, Wario had been excluded from consideration. I had figured, much like DK, Wario has since eked out his own existence as a treasure hunting antihero, leaving his days of sinful misconduct behind him.
The more I thought about it, however, the more it dawned on me that several of the candidates I have described so far had performed altruistic acts in service of others. As for Wario, though he has starred in his own games, it has always been for personal gain. Any good that came of it was consequential.
Hence, he re-enters the realm of bad guys, a role that fits him more naturally anyway. Though it’s doubtful he’ll ever feature as the main antagonist in a Mario title again, he’ll at the very least rub his contemporaries the wrong way whenever there’s a spinoff entry.
9. Bowser Jr / Koopalings
Mischief, mischief, mischief! Whether you’re referring to Bowser Jr or the Koopalings that make up his alternate costumes, you know what you’re in for whenever you encounter them.
They are proud to serve King Bowser — known in a distant past as King Dad — and are not above taking hostages to do so. There’s surely something upsetting about being snatched up by a dude named Ludwig, his single-fanged maw sneering at you all the while.
That being said, they’re really just causing trouble in pursuit of lol’s, and were it not for their tyrannical leader, they could just as easily be little more than a ragtag band of pesky rebels.
It’s hard to give them more street cred than that, at least until Lemmy shanks a mofo in a manner not dissimilar to Tommy DeVito.
8. Wolf O’Donnell
For a franchise with as many resets as Star Fox, your interpretation of its lore largely comes down to which continuity you’re referring to.
On the surface, Wolf is a petty mercenary who puts his finances ahead of all else. As of Star Fox Assault, he would see significant (albeit unpleasant) character growth that presented him as more of a stoic rival, and even a cursory father figure.
“Call me daddy,” he snarls seductively as he docks after another successful mission.
This furry headcanon has thankfully been retconned, reverting Wolf back to his basics: the kind of underhanded crook who would side with the devil himself if the purse was generous enough. We pray he remains this way forevermore.
It was something of a toss-up between the King of Koopas and his scaly doppelgänger, one King K. Rool, and though Bowser has undoubtedly caused more trouble over a longer span of time, he is also known to collaborate with Mario when it suits him.
As I really can’t see DK and K. Rool playing nice with one another, he just barely pips Bowser to the post for sixth place. For his part, this fire-breathing behemoth is persona non grata in the Mushroom Kingdom, the very mention of his name enough to send some of the Toad people fleeing in terror.
His threatening demeanour has taken a hit over the past few generations, with the introduction of dialogue showing a more vulnerable, even loveable side. It started with Super Mario RPG, and nowadays he’s just as bumbling as he is powerful.
It’s not a bad change, per se, and he does have a capability to return to the despot of old when he puts his mind to it. There’s just more suitable entries yet to come that he could never hope to surpass.
6. King K. Rool
We already dropped the spoiler in the preceding lede, so here he is! The Kremling King himself.
He has never shown a single shred of decency throughout his tenure, even going so far as to construct an island-obliterating cannon at one time. Putting the cartoony nature of Donkey Kong 64 aside, this is still mass murder on an unprecedented scale, and as such, it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Alas, the big boi has been largely absent ever since, reduced to bit parts in offshoot Kong and sport games before disappearing off the radar entirely. His glorious return to the limelight in Smash Bros Ultimate is indicative that there’s still a lot left in the tank, so hopefully whoever helms the next DK title recognises this.
He’ll take away your jellies! He’ll take away your jams!
5. Kazuya Mishima
We’re in the thick of it now, and any of the remaining scoundrels could stake their claim for the gold medal.
In an excellent twist of fate, Kazuya proves the antithesis to the ‘bad guys who turn out to be good’ trope, playing the role of lead protagonist in the first Tekken game, only for his true intentions to be revealed.
Once he has defeated his pop (fellow dickhead Heihachi) by seemingly flinging him to his demise, he takes over the Mishima Zaibatsu and sinks it even deeper into corruption. Their shady dealings range from smuggling, kidnapping and extortion to rigging the local spelling bee.
At the very least, he does have enough scruples to settle his scores personally, and most often, violently. He’s a shrewd businessman with a killer right hook, in certain circles he could even be considered inspirational.
If we’re talking about scope, none come close to the naughty bishounen husbando, Sephiroth.
After all, his intention is to destroy the entire planet. It’s hard to trump that, and should he have succeeded, the consequences would be eternal. I wouldn’t have been able to write this fun article, for one thing. What a fiend!!
We will plead insanity in his case, as it was the discovery of his true nature — a genetically altered demigod with alien DNA — that drove him to madness. Prior to that, he was a devout soldier, known for his quiet demeanour and peerless professionalism.
T’was the depravity of Shinra that would render him irredeemable, and as someone who has been at odds with his employer more than once, I totally get that. Mans just wanted to punish the world that punished him.
I wish he would punish me, instead. Just saying.
3. Dark Samus
Considering the number of atrocities she was able to commit in a short lifespan, the fact that Dark Samus was only able to nab third place is a testament to the podium’s utter douchebaggery.
A Phazon clone that assumes the proportions of Samus Aran, Dark Samus operates methodically and with utmost cruelty, often using others as pawns. She’ll absorb the remaining life force from wounded comrades, jettison people into space, and just generally do whatever it takes to obtain her goals.
She’s a boss bitch, and her coldness makes her one of the most intimidating antagonists in Nintendo history. With that said, she is perhaps operating out of instinct more than malice, and as such, she must defer in these rankings to…
Oh holy shit, Ganondorf in second place? Reiner! Are we doing it?! Now?! Right here?!
Alright, let’s roll with it. Ever since he first debuted as the piglike monster Ganon back in the 80s, this dude has always been presented as evil incarnate. He will showcase countless displays of barbarity without hesitation, and is even shameless enough to steal Captain Falcon’s techniques in Smash Bros Melee. Doug probably regretted showing him his moves.
As of Ocarina of Time, this human alter-ego was introduced; a Gerudo warlock who towers over young Link in their first encounter. As fearsome as a hulking beast is, it’s just that little bit more unnerving to be bullied by a particularly tall man with a mean streak.
With Ganondorf, there’s rarely any mucking about. No mystery, no subterfuge. Beyond a token effort to deceive the Hylian royal family, his intentions are always laid bare; to force the kingdom into servitude, may any who stand in his way rot in hell.
Shocking as it may be for this Space Pirate to surpass even Ganondorf himself, when you sit and think about it, it’s actually not that much of a stretch.
Even in his most lucid moments, Ridley is a real asshole. He revels in causing pain and suffering, taking on the dirty work of others while inflicting as much misery as possible. He gleefully gloats not only about killing Samus’ mother, but the fact that he just may have devoured her corpse, and she could still be somewhere within his body.
Like, that’s pretty fucked up. Looking back at the rogue’s gallery so far, we’ve met some miserable pricks who don’t care who they hurt along the way. Ridley, on the other hand, very much cares, because he wants to take that collateral damage into the next fight.
Long story short: if you gave a flower to Ganondorf, he might crush it underfoot. If you gave a flower to Ridley, he’d probably find a way to murder your whole family with it. For this reason, he claims top (dis)honours in our Smash Bros villain ranking.
Congrats, I guess, you sinister son of a bitch. Please leave me alone now.