Terry: I know about all your other major enemies, but you never mentioned him. He was the worst, wasn't he?
: It wasn't a popularity contest. He was a psychopath. A monster.
While you might expect cartoons based on comic books to dilute the evil of their villains, there are at least some who manage to be truly despicable
DC Universe Animated Original Movies
- Batman: The Animated Series: The Joker is the only supervillain of Batman's rogues gallery who possesses no sympathetic or redeeming qualities whatsoever. Before becoming a supervillain, the Joker was a mobster and hit man who murdered Carl Beaumont, the father of Andrea, over money owed to his employers. He committed this murder even after the debt was repaid. This set in motion Andrea becoming the supervillain Phantasm and took away Batman’s one chance of a normal, happy life. Following his transformation into the Axe Crazy Joker, he now commits crimes more often For the Evulz than he does for any profit. Samples of his crimes include repeatedly abusing his girlfriend Harley Quinn, trying to bomb a child’s birthday party, setting up Catwoman to go through a grinder, psychologically tormenting Charlie Collins for two years, murdering countless people with Joker venom, attempting to drive 70 million people insane by having Ace Mind Rape them, attempting to nuke Gotham City, and going on a rampage with a Kill Sat. His most widely recognized crossing of the Moral Event Horizon was from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker when he tortured Tim Drake into insanity and implanted a microchip in the child so the Joker could take over Tim's body and perform a Post Mortem Comeback.
- Batman Beyond: Besides The Joker from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (mentioned above), the series itself has one in Blight, AKA Derek Powers, a Corrupt Corporate Executive and the Arch-Enemy of Terry. In order to test his latest chemical weapon, Powers purposefully infected Harry Tully, a member of his staff, with it. When Tully leaks the information to Terry’s father, Warren, Powers had Warren murdered to cover it up. Later, Powers sold the weapon to a Kaznian diplomat who wanted to wipe out resistance on his border. To promote his product, Powers showed the diplomat pictures of Tully’s gradual death at the hands of the chemical. Other crimes include committing industrial sabotage, exiling his son Paxton and causing Paxton to be corrupt and treacherous like him, and polluting the ocean by dumping radioactive waste into it. He played a part in Mr. Freeze's tragic demise as well; he used Freeze as a guinea pig to cure his own condition and when Freeze wanted revenge, Blight brutally crippled Freeze with his radiation. He’s also responsible for the creation of the super villain, Shriek, who he hired to assassinate Bruce Wayne for getting in the way of his plans to bulldoze Gotham's historical district for profit. There's also his response to Terry's use of You Killed My Father as a hint to Batman's real identity:
- Justice League:
- John Dee started as a minor convict who only fantasized of killing the Justice League to make a name for himself among super villains, but after an experimental machine gives him ESP, Dee quickly decides to make his fantasy a reality. Becoming Doctor Destiny, his first action is to take revenge on the wife who left him while he was in prison. As she’s sleeping, Destiny goes into her dream and begins to torture her for hours. Eventually the nightmare causes her to have a cardiac arrest and die of terror. Destiny then invades the dreams of each member of the Justice League, trying to use their worst fears to kill them one-by-one. These nightmares include making Superman think he killed his friends with out-of-control super powers, and burying Hawkgirl alive.
- Lord Orm attempted to kill his brother, Aquaman, steal his brother’s throne, and use an Atlantean super weapon to kill every surface-dweller on the planet. His worst act is the attempted murder of his infant nephew. Not only did he try to throw both his brother and nephew into a volcano, he purposefully arranged it so that Aquaman would be Forced to Watch as his son died.
- Mongul, the Evil Overlord of War World, forced warriors to fight to the death in gladiatorial matches in order to take his people’s minds off his oppressing them. When Superman refuses to kill the former reigning champion, Draaga, Mongul threatens to destroy Draaga’s planet if Superman doesn’t allow Draaga to kill him in their next match. After his efforts were foiled, Mongul returned for revenge against Superman, using a plant called the Black Mercy to trap Superman in a perfect dream world. With Superman out of the picture, Mongul planned to turn earth into a second War World. Superman was eventually able to free himself from the dream world, but the emotional pain of doing so was enough to make Superman actually try to kill Mongul before returning to his senses.
- Superman: The Animated Series:
- Darkseid, the Evil Overlord of Apokolips and the Ultimate Evil of the DC Animated Universe, turned his home planet into a hellhole and seeks to do the same with Earth. He is a being utterly incapable of love or empathy for anyone. He handed over his adopted son, Scott Hall, to be tortured and brainwashed by Granny Goodness, treated his loyal son, Kalibak, like garbage, and attempted to outright kill his other son, Orion while joking about it. Darkseid is also fond of conducting Cold-Blooded Torture and killing minions for failing him, or even for questioning him. Over the course of Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, Darkseid tried to conquer earth no less than three times. The first time he’s defeated he compensated by personally murdering Dan Turpin just to cause Superman pain. The second time, he brainwashed Superman into leading Darkseid’s armies against his adopted world, turning the Man of Steel into a pariah for years. His third and final attempt stems not for a desire for power, but solely to make Superman suffer. There’s a reason why Darkseid is one of the only villains Superman outright tries to kill.
“I hope you appreciate, Kal-El, that everything that happens from this point is on your head. The skies will rain fire, the oceans will boil, the streets will run red with the blood of billions. Only then, after your last pitiful hope is extinguished, will I end your life.”
- Brainiac is a robotic psychopath and collector of data who views himself as superior to all organic life. Once the supercomputer responsible for running Krypton's day-to-day affairs, Brainiac lied to the Council of Elders about the planet's impending doom, prioritising saving himself over preserving the lives of his creators. Escaping into space, Brainiac roams from world-to-world, assembling all of a planet's information, and then destroying the original in order to increase the value of his stolen memories; his objective is to repeat the process across the universe until he has "destroyed all of creation". Along the way he murders the crew of a spaceship that was investigating his presence, tries to steal Superman's body for himself, and eventually, after fusing with Lex Luthor, tries to wipe out the entire universe in one fell swoop, aiming to rebuild it in his own image. Void of remorse, and possessed of a bodycount in the billions, Brainiac cared for nothing but his own survival, and his mission of bringing about "the end of all things."
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Age has not dulled The Joker's Ax-Crazy tendencies. Joker was catatonic for a decade until Batman returned, which snapped him out of it and resulted in Joker going on a massive killing spree. Joker kills his therapist with a broken coffee mug and then kills a studio audience at a talk show with poisonous gas. He then tries to sell poisoned cotton candy to kids at an amusement park. After Batman foils that scheme, Joker takes a gun and begins to shoot random civilians at the amusement park. After Batman defeats Joker in combat, Joker commits suicide and attempts to frame Batman for his death.
- Batman: Under the Red Hood: The Joker is once again presented as an Ax-Crazy Psychopath. He beats Batman's young sidekick Jason Todd with a crowbar, leaves him broken and battered in a warehouse and then proceeds to blow up the warehouse. Later in the film, Joker kills four of Black Mask's mooks for no reason, after Black Mask (very reluctantly) freed Joker from Arkham. Joker then attempts to kill both the Red Hood's and Black Mask's gangs by covering them with gasoline and using a lighter to try to set them on fire. Also throughout the movie, Joker taunts Batman about Jason Todd's death.
- Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: Owlman was already a criminal and founding member of the Crime Syndicate of America. Upon discovering the existence of the multiverse, Owlman became enraged by the fact that, with every choice a person makes, they create another world in which they made the opposite choice. Determined that his choices had to affect not only his world, but all existence, Owlman journeyed to Earth-Prime, the Earth that supported the existence of all other Earths, planning to destroy all reality in a fit of existential angst. About as selfish as they come, Owlman was reviled even by his compatriots in the CSA.
- Justice League: Doom: Vandal Savage is a conqueror with genocidal plans for the planet. He manages to steal the protocols that Batman designed to defeat the Justice League in case one or more members of the Justice League turn evil. Savage makes these protocols more lethal and sadistic and then uses them to take out the Justice League. After his Legion of Doom seemingly triumphs over the Justice League, Vandal Savage informs them he plans to conquer the world by using a missile that will cause a solar flare that will kill half the world's population. This event will also render the rest of the world's population so weak and helpless that they will naturally accept his leadership.
- Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox: Eobard Thawne (AKA Professor Zoom) is the Reverse-Flash and opposes everything Barry Allen stands for. After the world is sent to its twisted alternate state where the world is devastated between a war between Atlantis and the Amazons, Thawne delights in Barry's agony at the new world and enjoys the carnage as it makes his nemesis suffer. When Barry tries to fix the realities, Thawne tries to stop him, meaning he is willing to cause and allow the deaths of countless innocents solely to satisfy his hatred of Barry.
- Justice League: Throne of Atlantis: Black Manta is the main assistant to Orm. Black Manta readily assists Orm with his plan to start a war between Atlantis and the rest of the world, by slaughtering Atlantean civilians in sea craft that is disguised to look like a US military sub. Near the end of the film, Black Manta revealed he has been manipulating Orm into starting a genocidal war with the surface world, claiming that the war was his idea. Black Manta ultimately plans to kill Orm and take the riches of Atlantis for himself.
- Superman Unbound: Brainiac is a Control Freak and genocidal psychopath on a galactic scale. Brainiac seeks knowledge and feels the best to do that is to shrink and then steal a major city from a planet and then destroy the planet. He stole Kandor from Krypton (he didn't bother blowing up Krypton because he knew that Krypton would soon be destroyed by natural causes). Then he attacks another planet, again shrinking and stealing a city and then uses a device that causes the planet's Sun to go Nova, thus killing the remaining inhabitants on the planet. Brainiac also sends his drones to the planets he is attacking and the drones proceed to kill random inhabitants of the planet. He later steals Metropolis and tries to destroy Earth in a similar manner. He also tortures Superman for information and tries to experiment on Supergirl.
- The Batman: The Joker was once a man who wanted to make people laugh, but after he fell into a vat of chemicals, he became an insane, murderous Monster Clown and Batman's Arch-Enemy. Devoid of any empathy, Joker commits crimes he views as "jokes" at the expense of Gotham. Terrible things he's done include poisoning people with his deadly laughing gas; putting people in various death traps; torturing Detective Ethan Bennett for hours and causing Bennett's mutation into Clayface; impersonating Batman and gassing people for minor crimes; using Bane's venom to go on a rampage; attempting to drop a teenage boy into a vat of chemicals; frequently mistreating his henchmen and his girlfriend Harley Quinn, as well as abandoning them to be arrested or even to die; and filling the abandoned tunnels and mine shafts beneath Gotham with miles of dynamite to collapse the city to oblivion. That he manages to qualify despite being toned down to all get-out is a testament to how twisted a character Joker is.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Atrocitus, the Big Bad of the first half, is dedicated to the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps, having many of them murdered by his Red Lantern followers. First showing his ruthlessness in ordering a colony world full of innocent civilians destroyed, Atrocitus later revealed he had destroyed worlds to fill survivors with rage and recruit them as Red Lanterns. Unlike his comics counterpart, a Tragic Villain at worst and an Anti-Hero at best, Atrocitus in the show delighted over the pain he caused innocents and took sadistic pleasure in his actions. Even though he himself had once lost a homeworld, he gloated over inflicting the same agony on others like Razer.
- Legion of Super Heroes: Brainiac 1.0 was a menace from the past who quickly became one of the most dangerous foes the Legion has ever faced. Brainiac 1.0 was introduced in a flashback, where he shrinks and steals the city of Kandor from Krypton. Within Kandor was a power source that was stabilizing Krypton, with this power source gone Krypton was soon destroyed. Brainiac 1.0 himself was destroyed long ago, but his programming resided within Brainiac 5, cut off from the other systems, waiting for a chance to be released. This chance came when Brainiac 5 accessed Brainiac 1.0's programming to gain knowledge to defeat Imperiex. Though Brainiac 1.0's knowledge was useful in defeating Imperiex, every time he used it Brainiac 1.0 was able to gain more control. Brainiac 1.0 slowly corrupted Brainiac 5, until eventually he took control of Brainiac 5's body. Then Brainiac quickly betrays Imperiex (who had helped Brainiac 1.0 take over Brainiac 5's body),killing him because he was no longer useful to him. Brainiac then proceeds with his plan to bring the entire universe under his control, by transforming all living beings in the universe into streams of data. After digitizing some planets, Brainiac returns to his home planet Colu and reprograms all the inhabitants there, so they serve as his army and aid in his quest to digitize the universe.
- Teen Titans: Slade, one of the Big Bads, was a cold, manipulative criminal mastermind. Slade's main goal throughout the series was to find himself an apprentice whom he could mold into being just as cruel and ruthless as he was. First targeting Robin, Slade came up with various schemes to test the Boy Wonder's mettle before finally infecting Robin's friends with nanobots that would destroy them from the inside out should Robin not follow Slade's every command. When his plans for Robin were thwarted, Slade next turned his attention to Terra. Taking advantage of her status as an outsider who would never be accepted because of her destructive powers, Slade manipulated her into joining and befriending the Titans, betraying them and finally trying to kill them. After Terra finds herself in over her head while fighting the Titans and retreats, Slade physically abuses her for defying his orders. When Terra tries to quit her apprenticeship, Slade reveals that the suit he gave her to enhance her powers also gave him complete control over her body and vowed that he would never let her go. Though Slade dies when Terra rebels against him, he is eventually resurrected by the demonic Omnicidal Maniac, Trigon, to act as the demon's dragon. Slade took a vicious pleasure in his work towards the ensuring the apocalypse, mind raping Raven with visions of her destiny as the Anti Christ and selling out all of humanity to Trigon in exchange for Trigon giving him back his soul. Even when Slade rebels against Trigon, it isn't out of altruism, but because Trigon refused to honor their bargain.