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"Let your fear carve one name into your brains, the name I share with this weapon: Death Gun!"

Johnny Black: Let's play the game where they have to kill each other! Last one standing wins!
PoH (no angel himself): I know it's your favorite but last time we did that you killed the winner anyway.
Johnny Black: Oh come on! You spoiled it! It's no fun if they know they're gonna die!

The various games making up the Sword Art Online universe are home to numerous villains, some worse than others.

Entries are where the character had the most impact.

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Main canon
  • Multiple arcs: Vassago Casals, aka PoH—Prince of Hell— was a skilled assassin who decided to enter SAO after learning one of his targets was trapped there, eagerly jumping at the opportunity to kill as many East Asian players as he pleased. PoH spread the mindset that it was acceptable to kill other players, before rallying together all of the Red Players into a single killer guild known as Laughing Coffin. After causing the deaths of hundreds, PoH decided to betray Laughing Coffin's location to the Assault Team, so that he could watch the bloodbath for his own amusement. After the clearing of SAO, Vassago returns as a mercenary working for Glowgen Defence Systems. Entering the Underworld with his boss, Gabriel Miller, to invade the Human Empire, Vassago becomes bored with idly standing around, so engages in the killing himself. Logging back in using his PoH avatar, he rallies the foreign players sent by Glowgen and manipulates them into attacking both the Underworld denizens and the defending Japanese players. Disappointed over finding a comatose Kirito, Vassago decides the best way to awaken him is to kill every single person in the Underworld.
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  • "Fairy Dance" arc: Nobuyuki Sugou/Oberon the Fairy King is the director of research and development at RECT Progress Incorporated, former classmate—and the one-time fiancée—of Asuna Yuuki. Obsessed with research into the manipulation of human emotion and envious of his classmate Akihiko Kayaba. Following the clearing of Sword Art Online, Sugou trapped 300 of the surviving players in his own game, Alfheim Online, where he ran experiments on their minds, testing their fear and pain responses. Kidnapping Asuna in the game, he keeps her trapped in a gilded cage at the top of Alfheim's World Tree, while plotting to wed the comatose girl in the real world. When Kirito reaches the top of the World Tree, Sugou uses his administrator abilities to paralyze him, tortures him, and then sexually assaults Asuna in front of him, gloating the entire time about how, once he's freed, he will rape her again in real life. When he fails, he attempts to kill Kirito in the real world, attacking him with a knife. Mentioned again in Alicization, it is shown that Sugou put spies inside the Ocean Turtle with the intention of selling their AIs to foreign governments as he wanted to do with the results of his own experiments. A megalomaniac obsessed with his own glory, Sugou lack any of the virtues of his former classmates.
  • "Phantom Bullet" arc:
    • Shoichi Shinkawa/Red Eyed XaXa is one of the top members of the Laughing Coffin guild in SAO and the resident Master Swordsman, having joined them in the combined murders of hundreds of SAO players. He and other high-ranking members PoH and Johnny Black were often hired to kill other players, such as the Golden Apple guild members. Upon returning back to the real world, XaXa played Gun Gale Online, where he discovered several players' real-life addresses and realized this could be used to kill them. XaXa, his brother Kyōji, and later his old partner Johnny Black created the "Death Gun" identity, a mysterious gunman allegedly with the power to kill GGO players in real life through the game. Death Gun's method of killing would involve paralyzing players and shooting them in-game before the real-life accomplice would inject their heart with a toxin to give them cardiac arrest, successfully killing four players. Upon XaXa discovering his old enemy Kirito in GGO, he attempts to kill Kirito's friend, Sinon, to test if Kirito is the real deal or a pretender.
    • Atsushi Kanamoto/Johnny Black is another top member of the Laughing Coffin guild. As the guild's Master Poisoner, Johnny came up with a way to paralyze opponents so that they could then be tortured to death, and puts this poison into effect during his, XaXa, and PoH's attack on the members of the Golden Apple guild. When discussing what they will do with the captured trio, Johnny expresses a desire to make them fight each other to the death, promising to release the survivor; when PoH notes that Johnny will just kill the survivor, Johnny complains about how the Guild Leader has ruined the surprise. He subsequently tries to poison Kirito when he comes to the Golden Apple trio's rescue. Escaping into the real world, Johnny was recruited by XaXa during the Death Gun murders, poisoning Pale Rider and Garret in their homes, before again making a getaway. He was finally arrested when, after having lain in wait for six months, he attacked Kirito and Asuna on the street, intending to inject them with poison from a syringe, and hospitalizing Kirito.
  • "Alicization" arc:
    • Quinella rules the Underworld as the High Minister of the Axiom Church. In an effort to obtain immortality, she fuses herself with the Cardinal System of the Underworld, calls herself a goddess, and begins corrupting the souls of the Underworld nobility by spreading ignorance and fear among the populace. She also brainwashes every rebel fighting against her government and the Champions of the Four Empires Unity Tournament—something which she had done for centuries while also performing fatal experiments on children. After realizing the invasion of the Dark Territory is inevitable, Quinella confiscates every line of defense from the Human Empire to make the people more dependent on the Axiom Church. She transforms the loyal Integrity Knights' loved ones into swords and forms a Golem out of them, making them believe they are protecting their loved ones while feeling constant agony to protect "her" empire. Said empire is so bad that both Kirito and Cardinal feel that destroying the Underworld would be better than having Quinella rule it.
    • Gabriel Miller, murderous even as a child, is the boss of Glowgen Defense Systems and leads the raid to the Ocean Turtle on behalf of the NSA. He enters into the Underworld in the super-account of Vecta, God of Darkness, intending on stealing the only fully-developed Artificial Fluctlight. With his new powers, Gabriel turns the turbulent Seven Lords Assembly of the Dark Territory—whose inhabitants are forced to follow the "rule of the strongest"—into his dictatorship. He starts a brutal invasion of the Human Empire wherein he uses strategies that cause unnecessary deaths on his own side and uses members of his own army as Demihuman sacrifices to empower the dark mages. Contacting his allies in the Real World, Gabriel summons thousands of oblivious players to kill AIs while believing that they were inside just another game, even letting them kill Dark Territory forces. Defined by his megalomania and cruelty, Gabriel goes so far as to think of the possibility of destroying the Underworld and killing every AI in it after his victory.
    • Dee Eye Ell is the leader of the Dark Mage guild who wants to become a second Administrator, before her desires to take control of the Dark Territory were interrupted by the arrival of Dark God Vecta, after which she becomes one of his generals. She orders the release of all 800 Minions to attack the enemy, knowing that they will kill her Demihuman allies, whom she despises. When her plans to use the spatial resources from the dead militia fail, Vecta suggests the sacrifice of 3,000 orcs to recharge energy, which she gleefully carries out. When under attack, Dee Eye Ell murders her own subordinates to drain their life to save herself. When she detects Leafa's arrival, Dee Eye Ell drains her energy in an excruciatingly painful process, with the anime depicting her usage of tentacles as rape. When the orc leader Lilpilin protests, Dee Eye Ell proceeds to insult his species and tries to kill him before dying at Leafa's hands, unable to understand why a human would save a orc.
  • Moon Cradle arc: Emperor Cruiga Norlangarth VI is the ruler of North Centoria and the Norlangarth region of the Human Empire. Desiring immortality, Cruiga abused his authority to impose unfair laws that peasants could break by complete accident as pretense to place them under his Judicial Authority. Using this, Cruiga would confine them to a dungeon hidden in his estate and perform torturous and dangerous experiments on them, enjoying their screams with a glass of wine. Following the War of Underworld, Cruiga conspired with his fellow Emperors to instigate a rebellion in response of the newfound Human Unification Council's attempts at abolishing the nobility rankings and limit his authority. Killed in combat, he is later revived as a Minion alongside his Grand Chamberlain, Zeppos, Cruiga has him murder a former serf and pin the crime on the Goblin tourist Oroi. Kidnapping Oroi's friends, Cruiga fuses them with Minion clay in a dark ritual to create Hybrid Minions, more intelligent minions that can't be attacked by anyone bound by the Taboo Index, such as guardsmen, intending to send them to Centoria to kill innocent civilians to instigate a second war. Driven by his selfishness and Pride, Cruiga displays the depths of depravity a noble could sink to.
  • Progressive: In this retelling of the "Aincrad" arc, Morte is one of the thousands of players trapped in SAO and the first murderer inside it. Superficially jolly, Morte convinces a desperate player to scam other players and steal their weapons before trying to get him executed for said crime. Reaching the next floor, Morte enjoys killing a likely sentient NPC and manipulates the two biggest guilds of players into fighting each other while he challenges Kirito to a seemingly non-lethal duel, trying to kill him with a Finishing Move and make it look like an accident as he had done to others in the past. The first murderer inside SAO—managing to get people killed despite the heavy restrictions at the time—Morte become the predecessor to the Laughing Coffin guild members.

Alternate Continuities

  • Video games:
    • Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment: Nobuyuki Sugou is even worse than in canon. When attempting to hack SAO to acquire test subjects, Sugou is pulled into the death game himself. Finding himself with admin privileges, he creates an overpowered avatar for himself named Alberich. He attempts to join the Assault Team to pose as a hero, but gets rejected for being Unskilled, but Strong, at which point he continues with his twisted experiments on various players to change their emotional states. Due to his GM powers allowing him to bypass the Harassment Code, he is also believed to be behind a string of sexual assaults on female players. He then appears before the Assault Team, paralyzing them and unleashes the intended Final Boss of SAO to kill them all, so that he can pose as the only survivor and the hero who saved the day. When this doesn't work, he attempts to use a special sword to finish the job himself.
    • Hollow Fragment: "Hollow PoH" is a uniquely self-aware Hollow that shares the memories and personality of the infamous Serial Killer. Enjoying the constant violence of the Hollow Area and killing other Hollows, PoH stalks Kirito and Philia—SAO players who were trapped in the Hollow Area—and realizes that the Cardinal System considers him to be a potential Administrator. Knowing that Kirito would finish SAO after returning to the main game, PoH manipulates Philia by exploiting her fears. Then, PoH uses Philia to lure Kirito into a deadly trap after convincing her that it would merely incapacitate him. When Philia returns, PoH laughs at Kirito's apparent death and Philia's shock before beating her and revealing his goal to fuse the Hollow Area and Aincrad, creating a chaos that PoH would use to murder both Hollows and the Aincrad survivors at large scale, creating eternal carnage that he considers to be a paradise, uncaring—if not cheerful—that this would lead to the death of all Aincrad survivors.