Who's your favorite video game villain/antagonist?

I’ve been thinking about character writing in video games a lot and as a result I really want to talk about good villains.

I’ll post my favorite in a later post, rather than the OP. Anyway, let’s use this thread to talk about well-written, compelling villains and/or antagonists in games.


One of my favorites is Fou-Lu from Breath of Fire IV.

I’m just going to put my entire reasoning in spoilers because BoFIV is an excellent game and if you haven’t played it, you owe it to yourself. If the promise of a really good story isn’t enough, how about gorgeous early-2000s Capcom sprite animation? What about a really unique setting that draws from imperial China and has extremely unique music to match? Okay, how about if I tell you one of the main characters is a drunk samurai dog with a stutter?

Fair warning, though: Breath of Fire IV is dark. It is a very pretty and bright-looking game and it has the usual goofy Breath of Fire minigames, but its actual story is bleak as fuck.

Anyway, Fou-Lu.

[spoiler]Fou-Lu is a dragon in human form, much like the main character Ryu. In BoFIV’s setting, dragons are called the Endless and they are literal gods, divine entities who shape reality around them even when they aren’t trying to. Fou-Lu was summoned in a previous age and founded the Fou Empire before he was sealed away for like a thousand years or something. In the present day, Fou-Lu awakens when his other half (Ryu) appears on the other side of the world. Here’s the cool bit: you get to play as Fou-Lu periodically, like how you play as Laguna in FF8, because Ryu’s connection to him lets him dream of what Fou-Lu is doing.

The Fou Empire freaks out that the god-emperor is there and will definitely try to retake his throne, so they set out to destroy him by any means necessary. Now, Fou-Lu isn’t the nicest dude right off the bat. He’s haughty, believes the whole world owes him fealty, all that shit, but he’s honorable and would be a benevolent ruler. The present-day Fou Empire, on the other hand, are a bunch of horrible assholes, to the point that they created a magical weapon of mass destruction called the Carronade that is powered by literally torturing an innocent person to death and is stronger the more the person cares about and loves the target.

And so begins Fou-Lu’s slow emotional torture.

The two big parts are consequences of the way the Endless pull mortals into their stream, take them along with their will even when they aren’t trying. There’s a heartbreaking scene where a huge boar kills itself brutally by slamming its head into a boulder to break it just so Fou-Lu can get past, even as Fou-Lu begs it not to. And later, as Fou-Lu is on the run, a mortal woman named Mami nurses him back to health. Fou-Lu falls in love with her, even though he knows she’s subconsciously drawn to him just because he’s a god–she has no control over why she’s drawn to him and Fou-Lu knows it and knows it’s still his fault.

Mami gets captured as Fou-Lu flees the Empire. Later, Fou-Lu is hit by the Carronade and barely survives. He’s already horrified at the destruction around him as he crawls away, when he notices something right at the center of the crater: the bell Mami wore in her hair.

Can you really blame him for deciding to burn it all down, right then and there?

Maybe the worst part is that the man responsible for all this, for turning a god so against mortals that he wants to destroy the world, is Yuna, a “scientist” working for the Fou Empire who does a whole lot of other horrible things, like torturing and mutating an innocent woman in an attempt to create a man-made Endless. And he gets away. Nobody kills Yuna. Nobody captures Yuna. The last we see of him, he’s standing on a mountain plotting about how he’s going to continue his research.[/spoiler]

So yeah, Fou-Lu is an incredible villain and everyone should play BoFIV.


I don’t know that I can pick a specific favorite, but I’ll probably post about a few, over time anyway. Today I want to talk about Kerghan and Arronax.

Kerghan the Necromancer and Arronax, from Arcanum, are both really interesting. [spoiler]For most of the game, you believe that Arronax is your antagonist. Historically, he was a magical elf wizard of extreme power and the founder of the Dark Elves - an elf faction that believes in elf supremacy. Arronax was a bigot who attempted to commit genocide on humanity and needed to be taken down by the best wizards in the world - including his own father, Nasrudin. For most of the game, you believe he is guiding the Dark Elves to free him and take over the world again, because even the elves couldn’t kill Arronax - they sent him and a number of other extremely powerful criminals to the Void, an alternate dimension they used as a prison.

However, when you eventually get to the Void to defeat Arronax, you discover that in the two millenia since his imprisonment, he has actually basically found religion and repented of his crimes. He is a calm, friendly and rational person who doesn’t resent what was done to him and is like ‘yeah, I basically deserved it’ and has embraced a sort of weird elf Buddhism. You discover that he has been impersonated by one of his fellow prisoners - Kerghan, the First Necromancer, who invented the art of creating and controlling undead and who tried to kill a lot of people and was generally a minor but dangerous historical footnote in the lore.

It turns out that the Void is, in fact, the afterlife - and Kerghan, too, has found religion. Specifically, in his exploration of the Void seeking a way out, he interacted with the dead souls there, and learned that for them, life was generally remembered as a period of horrible suffering. He learned that his necromancy was itself a tool of horrible torment to the souls subjected to it - and of course the power had spread to the world in general at that point. So Kerghan, feeling remorse for his actions and a desire to end the suffering of the souls, decides to murder the entire planet on the basis of ending suffering forever. (You then have the option of talking him down, if you’re real good at talking, by convincing him that he’s got a flawed viewpoint based only on souls that have suffered terribly or been tortured by necromancy, and that he lacks proof that suffering could be prevented by improving the general quality of life of the world. Or you can team up with him. Or you can murder his ass.) It’s a really interesting and strangely cromulent viewpoint, given the setup of the world.[/spoiler]


I generally enjoy hero-antagonists, but they’re very rare to find in video games. Maybe in a few fighting games? I’d say from Sam Metal Gear Rising was among the more interesting ones.

Aside from that archetype, I’ve always enjoyed Vlad from Max Payne 2, as well as Nemesis from Resident Evil 3.


Sam from Metal Gear Rising was awesome. (I’m spoilering his name since you did, though really, who else has a name that short in MGR? And I guess the real spoiler is that he’s a hero antagonist and not just a regular antagonist, probably.) Anyway yeah, he was a really cool antagonist and I especially enjoyed how he basically saved the day at the end, working through Wolf, which also set up Raiden’s best one-liner.

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love earthbound, so I’d have to go with Giygas

I think the reason I love him so much is because while so many of the “OH IT’S A FETUS” stupid theories went flying around, what actually happened in that game was so much cooler. LET’S HIT THE SPOILER BLUR

[spoiler]Giygas’s story is incredible because while we don’t directly see any of his story/journey we also see all of his story. His story is a direct parallel to Ness, and while Pokey physically mirrored Ness’s journey by taking the same route one step ahead of him, Giygas mirrored Ness’s emotional journey, but going in the opposite direction

In MOTHER, Giygas (or Gieuge, however they spelt it in that game) was stopped at the zero hour of his alien invasion because of the song of his adopted human family. Overcome with emotion, and unable to process his feelings, he was driven away. Ness went on a journey to strengthen his emotions, building friendships and trust and courage and confidence, culminating in a showdown in his mind where he faced his own darkness head on, allowing his light to give him untold strength and unlock the potential of his mind (boosting his physic power and PP to insane levels). At the same time, Giygas went on his journey to destroy his emotions and obliterate his one weakness, culminating in him destroying his own mind in an effort to remove his vulnerability. This lead to him being unstoppable, a mass of power with no weaknesses, an ‘all-powerful-idiot’ as Pokey puts it.

When he was placed in the Devil’s Machine, using Ness’s image and moves as a focus for his untold power, he was invincible and untouchable. He was only able to be destroyed due the hubris of Pokey, who rather than have his rival defeated, wanted to have him tortured in fear of darkness. He switched off the machine and let Giygas’s true form of an undecipherable, ranting, mindless void of pure power and rage come out. By destroying the machine, it let his darkness and fear engulf Ness and company, but it also left him vulnerable again to the power of emotions and prayer. Even if it wasn’t his emotions this time, the support of their friends and the earth ended up being what destroyed him[/spoiler]


Not necessarily in the “well-written” camp, but I liked Albert Wesker in Resident Evil 5. In retrospect, hiis resurrection was one of the many dumb things about Code Veronica. But I think RE5 redeemed it by turning him into an over-the-top madman with a glorious swathe of quotable lines. He is, hands down, the best part of RE5’s story.

As far as relatively compelling Resident Evil villains, Eveline and the Bakers from RE7 have taken a place as some of my favorites.

[spoiler]First off, it was such a breath of fresh air to have an RE villain who isn’t trying to destroy/take over the world. Sometimes lower stakes are better.
All Eveline wants is a family. It’s a need we can all understand and relate to. Sure, her methods are quite evil, but she was born a bioweapon, what else is she supposed to know?

Then, of course there are the Bakers. At first they seem like these horrible, grotesque people. But you come to learn that they were actually loving and caring family, utterly transformed by a force beyond their control.

The Jack you face is this delightfully gleeful maniac who seems to be in complete control, dominating the family. Throughout the beginning of the game, he’s this oppressive force hunting you down, a spiteful and cruel patriarch. He’s a complete reversal from the gentle and fatherly man you see in the “Daughters” DLC and Ethan’s “dream” scene. Whereas Infected Jack almost embodies the worst form of patriarchal, Old Jack is a bit more “paternal”. Also, he has the best birthday parties, I swear.

Marguerite is an affectionate mother. Even when she’s infected, she still has those instincts. In the “Bedroom” DLC she tries to “take care of you” by cuffing you to a bed and insisting you to eat… Whatever she made… Of course, if you refuse her care she’ll get angry and violent on your ass.

Lucas… Well, Lucas is the psychopath he’s always secretly been.

Speaking of “Bedroom”. There was one interesting moment (and I think it’s rare since it only happened to me once) where Jack and Marguerite get in a fight. Marguerite is super pissed because of it and decides to take it out on you. After she stabs you several times, Jack comes in. He apologizes to Marguerite, says “You know I’ll always love you” (or something like that), and they kiss and make up. Of course, they leave you to bleed. It’s a fun little moment that shows them still retaining some (albeit a deranged form of) humanity in their infected state.

“Daughters” gave a great look at how the Bakers were before things went to shit. It reminded me a lot of the end slide show in RE4 where you see the downfall of the villagers. Those things drive home something I like about the series as a whole. Despite how zany and silly Resident Evil games can get, there is a real underlying tragedy to them. Most of the monsters you fight are, themselves, victims. [/spoiler]


While there are plenty of good villains I could talk about, I’m gonna go in the campy direction and say the Emperor from Final Fantasy II. You know, the guy that looks like David Bowie?

So basically, the Emperor wants to take over the world, right? How does he do this? First, he makes a pact with Satan to summon random batt- monsters. He then builds an airship to destroy a whole lot of towns. Except when you destroy said airship, he just comes back down the line with a cyclone, which I guess he could have just summoned all along. Said cyclone destroys all but about two towns in the game. Like, legitimately destroyed. You can’t even enter them anymore. You confront the Emperor, and you kill him.
So why, in an attempt to rule the world, did he destroy it? Surprise! Turns out getting his ass killed was his plan all along! After death, he killed Satan in a duel and took over his role as the ruler of Hell. And in the GBA version, it turns out he also split his soul in half. The good half of him, which exists somehow, went to Heaven. Then he took that over. So now, the dude rules over both afterlives, meaning killing 90% of the world’s population was actually a brilliant move to have dominion over all the people he murdered. And, before the heroes go off to the final dungeon, he drops a fairly good party member in the span of five seconds after his reintroduction into the plot.
And the best part of the Emperor’s dumb idiot plan that works nearly perfectly is the fact that he’s completely serious about it. He plays ‘purposely dying to rule the afterlife’ completely straight, kinda like an inverse Exdeath.

I agree with the Emperor of FF2. The guy was a villain that really did a lot.
I’ve never thought of well written villains or ones that are my favorite, but there are probably 2 that come to mind that I like the most.

First, Shadow Hearts’s Roger Bacon, the guy with the hat that kills everyone in a train at the beggining cutscene of the game. He appears to be helping a bad guy of the game somewhat even though said bad guy doesn’t trust him, with reason. He’s just doing it to help himself, and at one point you find out that he transformed a villain lackey into a living puppet, not sure if it was as an experiment or the like. He’s been doing lots of stuff through the game and then you learn that hi is actually using the name of his old master. Also he wants to sumon “God” because he doesn’t believe that humanity can redeem itself after what he has seen and woudd rather see “God” start judgement day than humanity to destroy itself further because that is what he believes is the best. Then you go to him to fight and he just greets you politelly and you have a chat with him about having a similar goal but disapproving of him, then it boils down to “We’ll fight and go with what the winners says to do”. After you beat him he holds no hard feelings, congratulates the party and says that humanity may have hope still based on what he saw on the fight. He then takes you to “God” so that you can stop him and wishes you good luck before dying. At least that’s how I remember it.

There’s also the bad guy of Etrian Odyssey 4. The bad guy is introduced at the final act and is the prince of an empire. He helds captive a holy maiden to awaken an ancient titan so that he can destroy the different races you’ve met so that the titan can nourish his dacaying country. It’s of course an evil plan but there’s reason to why he decided on that instead of other choices. He’s desperate. His country’s soil and resources have been dying off for years and his people have been afflicted with a curse that transform their bodies into plants, and it sounds like it’s a really awful process. His father went off with his men on a journey to try and find a solution to it but never came back and was revealed to have died on the journey after a crash landing. He’s been forced to rule and watch a country slowly die for years without being able to give off a real solution or hope for his people. He’s just a young man that has been through a lot.

Well I’m not sure if I got those two right or if I explained it well but that’s what came to mind.

“A good villains thread? Time to go post about Fou-sonofabitch

For real though I did an LP of BoF4 and concur with that whole post. The game takes time to really set up all the shit in play, all the little worldbuilding details, and leverages that to twist the knife when it wants to.

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Aww, you can’t quote from spoiler tags, it won’t let me highlight, unfortunate. Oh well, it’s just a bit more work:

“A magical weapon of mass destruction called the Carronade that is powered by literally torturing an innocent person to death and is stronger the more the person cares about and loves the target.”

Wow, looks like at least one person at Capcom read those godawful Sword of Truth novels and was inspired by the good ideas.

So I already went off on a rant about Delita in Final Fantasy Tactics in the Final Fantasy thread and he remains one of the best antagonists I’ve ever seen and I adore him. But today I’m gonna talk about Ghaleon because I’m Jenner and talking about the Lunar series is my solemn duty (they’re good games, Brent.)

Ghaleon is somewhat a different kind of villain in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and any Silver Star game that came after due to Kei Shigema not understanding that he accidentally made a compelling villain that he shat all over when he made him just like every other JRPG villain and :neutral_face: so I’m gonna be specifically talking about Ghaleon as he is depicted in Lunar: The Silver Star (the original game) because it’s objectively the best.

I guess the spoiler tags start here:

[spoiler]The world of Lunar was created by the Goddess of Love and Beauty, Althena. Who breathed magic into the world and who is protected by her Guardians, the Four Dragons and the Dragonmaster. When you start the game, you play as Alex a young man from the sleepy town of Burg (the home town of the previous Dragonmaster, Dyne) who wants to go on an adventure like his hero Dyne. Over the course of the game the player is informed of the legendary Four Heroes (Dyne, Lemia, Mel and Ghaleon) who did all manner or heroics and are now all (with the exception of Dyne, who is dead) major players on the world stage. Lemia is the leader of the Magic Guild of Vane (a fucking cool floating city where magic is taught.) Mel is the Governor of Meribia (probably the biggest, richest, most thriving and most important city in all of Lunar.) And Ghaleon teaches magic in Vane.

Ghaleon is known as Sage Ghaleon as he originally started out as a priest of Althena, he was fairly devoted as he spent a lot of time involved in healing the very sick and ailing and seeing Althena’s miracles first hand (and being the deliverer of those miracles.) So he was more like a cleric then a sorcerer at the start. It was only upon going to Vane that he started using arcane magic, but he maintained his devotion to Althena. He encounters Dyne while Dyne is adventuring and they form a bromance and become BFFs. So when Dyne decides to do something about the earthquakes that are causing all kinds of grief Lemia didn’t even have to nudge him to encourage Ghaleon to sign up for the quest.

The investigation into the source of the earthquakes reveals the source as the Black Dragon (one of Althena’s Four Dragons) who had gone insane (there’s a good reason but explaining it is not talking about Ghaleon.) This meant the crew had to travel to the Frontier (a sad place where Althena’s light doesn’t reach. Althena angrily exiled a bunch of people who made her mad there like forever ago.) And it is here on the Frontier where the dichotomy between Dyne and Ghaleon shifted. Originally, Dyne had been devoted to Althena, he was her Dragonmaster after all, but he was more of an Easter Catholic then anything. Meanwhile, Ghaleon had been full of zeal. Now, Dyne remained steadfast in his faith while Ghaleon had a massive Crisis of Faith seeing all the suffering people in Lunar’s shadow and being unable to help them. (This also led to Ghaleon blaming himself, in a way, for helping Dyne travel down this path.) To Ghaleon, the fate of the People of the Frontier seemed so cruel and arbitrary of his Goddess as the ancestors of those original Exiled Sinners weren’t guilty of anything and were more like victims now.

Goddess of Love? More like Goddess of Spite.

The confrontation with the Black Dragon was incredibly challenging, and whatever the Four Heroes had to do to subdue the Black Dragon caused Dyne to die. The whole event was deeply traumatizing to Ghaleon and he actually fled.

When Alex takes Ghaleon with him back to Burg on his way to taking Ghaleon to see the White Dragon Ghaleon has some choice words to say at Dyne’s monument.

It’s pretty obvious Ghaleon loved Dyne (not romantically, calm down.) And he’s justifiably upset that his BFF was so callously sacrificed in the name of maintaining the status quo. To Althena, Dyne was little more than an assassin sent to clean up her mess. He was much more than that to Ghaleon.

Somebody’s mad at an unjust world.

The remaining Dragons are just kicking back and taking it easy while people are suffering and his best friend is dead. They had stolen the most important person in his life from him and for what? Barely anything changed! Lunar’s benevolent Goddess of Love and her Four Dragons ain’t doing shit about nothing. Everything was all their fault. Althena and her cohorts didn’t deserve to command this world anymore, Ghaleon would do better. He would be fairer, he would do right by the People of Lunar and Dyne’s sacrifice would not be in vain.
I’d vote for him.

While Alex was carrying his fat greedy friend Ramus through sewer levels and haggling with crazy old ladies who want to eat his flying cat friend, Ghaleon was reforging a new Magic Empire in the Frontier. (There was a Magic Emperor before him in the days of yore.) It’s easy to see why the Vile Tribe and the other Exiles of the Frontier would so willingly side with Ghaleon as they shared many of the same sentiments he did towards their distant Goddess. Even after Ghaleon went full Cruel Evil Overlord on them many still fully supported him, as he still promised a better alternative to their current way of life to them.


Others were simply too afraid to defy him.

The personal mission Ghaleon sent Alex on when Alex met him in Vane was to handle a guy who was claiming he was the Dragonmaster off on some island out in the middle of nowhere. If that crazy dude in a cave full of dinosaurs had actually been the real Dragonmaster, Ghaleon couldn’t have pulled off his scheme. By trouncing Zoc (the guy in the cave) Alex effectively helps Ghaleon by removing a potential threat. Secure in the knowledge that there is no current Dragonmaster Ghaleon needs only methodically kill every other dragon and find the human incarnation of Althena to become God-Emperor of Lunar. Ghaleon is always one step ahead of Alex, as each time Alex makes it to a dragon they are already dead until it comes time to go to the Black Dragon. You see, even after all these years and despite all his hatred, Ghaleon could not bear to face the Black Dragon again. And when Alex strides into the Black Dragon’s Lair he discovers exactly what the Four Heroes had to do to subdue it… which was either mercy killing it and it was just so damn full of rage and grief that it came back as a dracolich. Or making it an undead dracolich themselves so they could imprison it and seal it away. Either way, it’s now a dracolich and still quite upset so Alex has no choice but to kill it for good in a boss fight. Which is just what Ghaleon wanted, because now all the dragons are dead (thanks buddy) and there’s no way Alex can become the Dragonmaster if there are no dragons alive. A fact he smugly informs Alex of. Take a look:

With the path to becoming a Dragonmaster forever sealed to Alex by the deaths of the Four Dragons Ghaleon finishes it all off by taking out the only remaining threat to his power. He hops into his badass castle on tank treads (:iia:) charges up his enslaved and mind controlled Goddess (surprise, she was Alex’s girlfriend all along) and…

Oh those static images just won’t do at all. Here:
(Yeah, the castle on tank treads is called the Grindery and it’s fucking rad as hell.)

This dude, mad as all hell at God. Literally enslaves God and uses the hero as a tool to help him achieve his ends and it works. Ghaleon is one of the very few villains that actually succeeds and achieves his goals. By the time Alex and company faces off against him, he’s already conquered and actively ruling the world. He’s brought the Vile Tribe and the other Exiles back to the bright side of Lunar in his tank treaded wake. He is reigning as Magic Emperor Ghaleon and eat shit.

Dude fucking rules.

He comes back in the sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue, having been revived by the Dark God Zophar and made the Dragonmaster is an ironic jab at the powers that be. Zophar deserves a post of his own because he rules too but Ghaleon turns out to be a secret good guy who sacrifices himself and betrays Zophar to give the heroes what they need to save the world. Good guy Ghaleon. Best villain.[/spoiler]


Y’know, I’d been wondering what to play while I wait for Nier: Automata to come out and I think a replay of BoFIV would be a good idea. That game really did surprise me in a lot of ways. It even did FFX’s party-switching a year or so before it, too!

Not really something I’d put as great writing to be examined, but Salazar from Resident Evil 4 always comes to mind as a memorable villain because he had more cinematic charisma than the real villain: Sadler. Maybe I just find it hilarious that Leon no sells every intimidation from him which makes him angry and he acts like a two year old whenever he’s angry.


Holy shit, I only ever played the PS1 Silver Star Story remake. I had no idea Ghaleon owned that much. I always liked him in Eternal Blue, but he was so generic in Silver Star Story that I never would have guessed he was awesome as hell in the original.

Handsome Jack from various Borderlands games. There are a lot of well-crafted villains out there with various nuances that make for compelling foils for the protagonist. Then there’s Jack, who has very little redeeming qualities, and is a massive jerkhole. Also he’s genuinely hilarious, something rare in Videya game baddies.

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Dude fucking ruled. You can learn all about him by talking to NPCs and reading books (and some of Alex’s companions also have choice things to say about him too.) He was a decent, loving, gentle dude who grew sick at what he saw as a poisoned world and corrupt, uncaring, God. (He’s not wrong!) Gosh I have strong opinions about what Kei Shigema did to him in the remakes. Dude became just another copy cutter crazed and power mad wanna be God instead of a strongly religious man who lived by example as a testament to his faith only to discover God’s a dick and decide to do something about that. Fuck you Kei Shigema.

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The spider from Limbo, and Wild Dog from Time Crisis. Both share admirable qualities: they absolutely refuse to die.


You should definitely play the Pre-Sequel, where you get to witness just how ‘Jack’ became ‘Handsome Jack’. It’s a really good game. (Play as Claptrap, I dare you. He gets so many great lines.)

Now, I don’t have some massive essay to write about my villain pick like some of the other people in this thread. I’m just going to say that I adore a particular villain for being about as Saturday morning cartoonish as he possibly can be.

Spat hated love. That was his entire motivation. He broke up loving relationships, be it romantic, friendly or familial. His dialogue was full of negative words, using the un- prefix like it was going out of style. Oh, and his verbal tic was ‘pfpth’, which I’m pretty sure was him blowing raspberries.

So yeah, I choose Spat from Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak. He was fantastic.


The final boss in Neo Contra is hilarious and voiced by Steve Blum and also is Bill Rizer

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