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Magnificent Bastard / Gundam

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"If you're not with me, I'll eliminate you!"
"I only feel that without me, the times will never change."
Paptimus Scirocco, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

In the endless wars of Gundam, these villains truly stand out for their charisma and intelligence in the field of battle:

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Universal Century

  • Char Aznable, born Casval Deikun, joins the Zabis by hiding his face behind a mask to lure the Zabis to their demise. Famed for his combat prowess and tactical brilliance, Char lures young Garma Zabi to his end, and later forms a deep enmity with Amuro Ray, compounded when Amuro kills Char's beloved Lalah. Breaking from his fight with Amuro, Char teaches Kycilia a lesson on underestimating him by eliminating her, and years later joins the earth resistance forces against the Titans. Rising to the leadership there, Char gives an impassioned speech to convince the world to rise against the Titans and to believe in the value of space travel. Finally, in Char's Counterattack, Char manipulates young Quess Paraya and all of Zeon to try to drop Axis on the helpless earth to force a great migration into space, planning one final battle to achieve his ends. Finally convinced to surrender his life in Gundam Unicorn, Char makes a final gesture to leave the world to a younger generation. With his tale in the Universal Century spanning over the decades and playing the roles of traitorous underling, unscrupulous advisor and even Big Bad, Char's shrewd tactical abilities and magnetic charm cement him as one of the single most memorable and archetypal villains in the Gundam franchise.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Kycilia Zabi was the last member of her family standing for a reason. Fully aware of her elder brother Gihren's moral depravity and mismanagement of the conflict with the Earth Federation, Kycilia uses the One Year War as a cover for a coup d'etat against him, gathering resources and allies, while undermining Gihren's loyalists. Upon discovering through Colonel Killing's betrayal that Gihren had infiltrated her faction and was preparing to frame her for treason, Kycilia moved swiftly, leaking Char's identity to Gihren's fake conspirators and transforming a sham plot into an actual revolt against his rule. Aware that Zeon could no longer win the war, and that the Federation would never make peace while her brother lived, Kycilia journeyed to A Baoa Qu and, on finding out that Gihren had murdered their father, executed him for patricide and assumed command of what was left of Zeon. Killed when Char Aznable unpredictably betrayed her, Kycilia was nevertheless the only Zabi, or indeed, Zeon Admiral, with both a realistic appreciation of their circumstances, and the ruthlessness and will to act accordingly.
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Paptimus Scirocco, "The Man from Jupiter", is an elusive mercenary and Titans Lieutenant who graduates to taking over the organization. A brilliant tactician both in and out of a mobile suit, Scirocco excels at reading potential in his subordinates and outmaneuvers the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) to capture the strategic stronghold of the lunar city Von Braun. Leaving the day-to-day operations of the district in the hands of his antagonistic superior, Scirocco divulges the man's schemes to the AEUG and arranges for his death to gain more dominance within the Titans for himself. Forming an alliance with Haman Khan of Neo-Zeon, Scirocco bolsters the strength of the Titans with the Axis military and personally assassinates the Titans leader, Jamitov Hymem, assuming command over the syndicate and blaming Jamitov's death on Haman, rallying his forces to fight against her. Giving a former AEUG pilot he corrupted to his side an eloquent lecture on his ambitions for humanity, Scirocco engages the AEUG personally and reveals he has kept his alliance with Haman to revitalize the strength of his fleet. Even with his armada destroyed by the blast of a colony laser, Scirocco continues to fight series protagonist Kamille Bidan and, in his dying moments, destroys Kamille's consciousness, unrelentingly unwilling to accept his vanquishment. Emotionally manipulative yet charming, charismatic and stylish, Scirocco proves himself to be every bit as brilliantly Machiavellian as he is mysterious.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: Haman Khan, Axis' warlord and the Regent for Life of Neo-Zeon, came closer to conquering the Earth Sphere than any of the despots before or after her. Intervening in Zeta Gundam's Gryps Conflict on the side of Paptimus Scirocco's Titans, Haman helped turn the battle between the AEUG and the Titans into a full scale civil war within the Earth Federation, from which she emerged as the one true winner following Scirocco's death and the obliteration of the Titans and most of the AEUG. Invading the Earth before the Federation could recover from the war, Haman occupied huge swathes of the planet, and used the Dublin Colony Drop to terrorize Federation officials into surrendering to her, all while employing sheer force of personality to mask her myriad personal issues and hold the backstabbing house of cards that was Axis-Zeon together. Betrayed at the zenith of her power by Glemmy Toto, and faced with internal rebellion by his supporters, Haman quickly moved to quell the descent, meeting Glemmy in open battle. Confronted by series' protagonist Judau Ashta, Haman was persuaded that humanity did not, in fact, need her jackboot on its throat to stop them from killing each other. Coming to grips with what she had become, Haman killed herself in the name of giving the world a better future.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory: Once used in a brutal war crime by her Zeon superiors, Cima Garahau ended adrift with her fleet, resorting to piracy to survive. Upon learning of Aigulle Delaz's attempt to revive Zeon with Operation Stardust, Cima joined Delaz and his right-hand man Anavel Gato while plotting to betray them. Secretly plotting alongside the Federation, Cima lured Delaz's forces into a trap to end Operation Stardust, plotting to also secure the safety of the Cima Fleet, finally executing Delaz when he refused to yield and using military force to try to stop Gato's Colony Drop.

Future Century

  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: Master Asia, seeking to save the Earth's environment, became a willing servant of the Devil Gundam. Using the pretense of the Gundam fight to lure four Gundam Fighters to Shinjuku, Master uses DG Cells to brainwash them into becoming protectors of the Devil Gundam itself. When the Devil Gundam destroys Shinjuku, Master rallies the survivors while secretly leading the Death Army. When Master's student Domon Kasshu comes to Shinjuku to investigate, Master repeatedly lures Domon into traps in the hopes of brainwashing him into another of the Devil Gundam's protectors an Domon's partner Rain revealing Master's duplicity is only a minor inconvenience to him, as he just uses his Master Gundam to easily defeat Domon. Master frequently exploits Domon's anger management issues to bait him into making near fatal mistakes. Master enters an alliance with Prime Minister Wong, who wants to use the Devil Gundam to rule the world. Wong tries to kill Master so he can have the Devil Gundam to himself, but Master outmanuevers Wong. When Domon defeats Master for good, Master realizes that humans are a part of nature and apologizes to Domon for his crimes before he dies, revealing that he is the only character to work with the Devil Gundam without becoming a DG cell infested slave and remaining a man of honor to the end.

After Colony

  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
    • Treize Khushrenada, the leader of OZ, is a brilliant military leader with a chivalrous spirit. Masterminding a purge of his rivals to rise even higher, Treize learns of the Colonies deploying the Gundams against the Earth Government, and conceals their existence to better use them as an advantage, even tricking Gundam pilot Heero into killing the leader of the earth alliance who was planning on making peace with the Colonies. Rebelling against OZ when the Romefeller Foundation takes over and institutes the AI mobile dolls, Treize systematically plays the entire war with his best friend Zechs Merquise to put themselves on opposite ends of the war and create a final, cataclysmic conflict to traumatize humanity off war forevermore. Combining a brilliant mind with a sense of chivalry, Treize is even able to recall the names and faces of every man who has ever died to make his dreams a reality and considers no price too great for peace, even his own life.
    • "Lightining Baron" Colonel Zechs Merquise is a talented commander and mobile suit pilot who'll do what it takes to achieve peace between the Colony and Earth. Born Crown Prince Milliardo Peacecraft of the Sanc Kingdom whose dynasty was nearly wiped out by The United Earth Sphere Alliance, Milliardo allied with Treis and Oz as Zechs to free his kingdom. With his skills and leadership, Zechs was one of the few capable of defeating the Gundams, even able to go toe to toe with Heero Yuy. When the Romefeller Foundation began their world conquest collapsing the Sanc Kingdom Zechs had an epiphany, making plans to put an end to all wars. Leading the rebel militia Whitefang, Zechs returns to his original name and destroys the Romefeller Foundation before declaring war on Earth, with his goal being to show the horrors of war to all of mankind by using the Battleship Libra to ruin Earth, hoping the resulting disaster would scare others enough from war.
    • Dorothy Catalonia is a ruthless, brilliant seeming warmonger who truly desires peace. The granddaughter of Duke Dermail, Dorothy hates war after losing her father but understands world peace can't be achieved without being earned. Sent to spy on Relena Peacecraft and the Sanc Kingdom on the behast of her grandfather, Dorothy gets close to Relena and bonds with her and convinces Relena to relent to Dermail by collapsing the Sanc Kingdom while secretly guiding Relena to leadership to overthrow her grandfather. Curious about the Whitefang organization led by Milliardo, Dorothy approaches them to join, convincing Zechs and uses her authority in the group to use the Zero System and nearly destroys most of the enemy Gundams with the Mobile Dolls. Awaiting Quatre in Libra for a final duel, Dorothy overpowers him while explaining her intentions before leaving Libra after Quatre escapes, returning to Earth in order to maintain the hard-earned peace her loved ones sacrificed themselves for supporting Relena's effort.

Correct Century

Cosmic Era

  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Commander Rau Le Creuset is a ZAFT officer plagued by abuses endured from his "father" from whom he was cloned. Believing all of humanity is suffering just as much as he is, Le Creuset sets out to kill everyone along with himself to end the agony. Playing the role of right hand to ZAFT's Chairman Patrick Zala, Le Creuset also sells secrets to the bigoted Muruta Azrael of the Earth Alliance's Blue Cosmos anti-Coordinator group, leading to the latter launching a genocidal attack and beginning a massive war. A brilliant tactician, Le Creuset leads his team of talented Mobile Suit pilots after the heroes, pursuing them at every turn and keeping the bloody conflict going even with their attempts to reveal the truth to the world. In the final battle, Le Cruset sets up Zala and Azrael to kill each other, leading to the deaths of both military leaders and nearly ushering in the end of all mankind. Even when beaten in battle by hero Kira Yamato, Le Creuset dies smiling, believing his plans have come to fruition and the rest of humanity will join him soon to be free from the pain of a life with conflict and suffering.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Chairman Gilbert Durandal of ZAFT sees himself as the saviour of Earth and nearly persuaded most of the planet to go along with it. Presenting himself as a moderate and a pacifist, Durandal made use of Lord Djibril and Blue Cosmos' blatant evil to launch an invasion of the Earth Sphere disguised as a liberation, using his own reputation for honesty and the services of Lacus Clyne impersonator Meer Campbell to camouflage his intentions, and scattering agents of FAITH throughout the ZAFT military to keep an eye on its loyalty. Preying on the emotional insecurities of those in his service, Durandal turned initial protagonist Shinn Auska into the very thing he hated most, and kept veterans of the previous war out of the picture or unsure if they should oppose him for most of the series. Only killed when he loses the faith of his most loyal enforcer, Durandal dies convinced that he was right and that without his Destiny Plan the world is doomed.

Post Disaster

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Rustal Elion is one of the Seven Stars who lead the military police force Gjallarhorn. A charismatic nobleman and brilliant military strategist, Rustal has the complete trust of his subordinates. When Rustal's rival in the Seven Stars, McGillis Fareed, moves against him, Rustal engineers a small scale war to turn McGillis' allies, Tekkadan, against McGillis. While the war fails to break McGillis and Tekkadan's alliance, it does force Tekkadan to shut down their Earth branch, weakening the organization considerably. When the tensions between Rustal and McGillis lead to civil war, Rustal has one of his subordinates infiltrate McGillis' forces, fire an illegal Dainsleif railgun at Rustal's fleet and commit suicide, giving Rustal justification to annihilate McGillis and Tekkadan. While political tensions ultimately force the Seven Stars to disband in favor of democratically elected leaders, Rustal still comes out ahead as he is elected leader of Gjallarhorn. Rustal remains a hero to the public and becomes the first Big Bad of the franchise to win in the end.

SD Gundam

  • World Sangoku Soketsuden: Cao Cao Wing Gundam is the CEO of Blue Wing Corporation, believing himself to be the best person to use their power for the well-being of all. Waging war across the Wei Area, Cao Cao took control of the entire region by outsmarting and winning the favor of his opponents. When Sima Yi Destiny Gundam tries to hypnotize him, Cao Cao manages to resist and later uses his resources for his own gain, deciding the best way to save humanity is to turn all but a select few into BUGs so the world's dwindling Trinity supply will last longer. After his defeat, Cao Cao provides funding for the relief effort and entrusts Blue Wing to his subordinates before setting off on a journey alone in hopes of finding the right path, never giving up on the justice he believes in.
  • World Heroes:
    • Arsene Gundam X is a self-appointed treasure hunter with a passion for antiques and obtaining valuable artifacts. Agreeing to help the heroes infiltrate Captain City's museum and steal Neo World's Haro out of a desire to see a hidden treasure, Arsene displays the expertise that let him evade capture for so long as he deploys traps for the police and uses his knowledge and tools to avoid the museum's security system, hijacking one of the exhibits as a getaway vehicle. Finally caught at his hideout with his allies defeated, Arsene reveals all of his heists were done to return the artifacts to their original homes as he sends his collection to where each item belongs before peacefully accepting his arrest. Arsene's act of kindness restores Neo World's shattered Haro and proves him to be a man of righteous heart, pardoning him of his crimes and allowing him to assist in the final battle.
    • Sergeant Verde Buster Gundam is the commander of Neo World's Verde Buster Gundam Corps. Sergeant is shown to be effective in taking down big threats but willing to ease up for smaller crimes, trying to kill a berserk Wukong Impulse Gundam while only pretending to arrest Zhao Yun 00 Gundam for speeding as thanks for helping him before. Sergeant pursues Wukong and his friends to deal with the potential threat the child poses and arrests a nearby criminal gang during his hunt. Tracking down the heroes and Arsene Gundam X to Captain City's museum, Sergeant seals off the exits and avoids the active security system, still managing to track down his quarry to Arsene's hideout after they escape. Once Arsene is revealed to be a man of righteous heart, Sergeant apologizes to the heroes and says they can call him for help anytime, keeping his promise when he returns for the final battle.