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10 Classic Cartoon Villains

What is a good hero without an equally memorable villain? It's true that you wouldn't want one of them moving in next door, or dating your sister, but in the world of fiction there's just something about a truly hissable villain that we love to hate. And it just so happened that the cartoons of the 80s and 90s had some of the most iconic villains around. Join us for a look at some of the best (or is that worst?) villainous characters in retro cartoons. This list is in no way comprehensive, or in any particular order, so feel free to let us know your favourites in the comments!

Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

"You wretched reptiles, you'll pay for this!"

With his outfit based on a samurai's armour, the leader of the villainous Foot Clan remains to this day among the most memorable villains around. Although he was the overall villain and number one nemesis of the heroes in half shells in the 1987 TV series (and all subsequent incarnations) he was actually not such a big deal in the comics, being killed off early on. On screen though he has remained around to go up against the turtles to this day.  Originally (and memorably) voiced by the late great James Avery.

Doctor Claw (Inspector Gadget)

"I'll get you next Time, Gadget!"

The Doctor's shadowy appearance and ever-present pet cat make it clear that this is one baddie who takes his inspiration from Bond villains. In an otherwise light-hearted show, Claw's menacing appearance stood out like a sore thumb. A lot of the credit has to go to genius voice actor Frank Welker who gave the character one of the most unforgettable voices in animated villainy. When he promised to get Gadget "Next time" you couldn't help but believe it.

Venger (Dungeons and Dragons)

"The Time has come.. at last!"

Visually, there aren't many cartoon villains who like quite as threatening as Venger. His demonic visage and dark wings- plus his creepy looking steed, Nightmare- make him looks like someone you wouldn't want to cross. The evil wizard pursued the young protagonists of the series in order to capture their weapons to become more powerful. In a Star War style twist it was eventually revealed that Venger was actually the son of the kindly Dungeon Master. Brilliantly voiced by Peter "Optimus Prime" Cullen

Megatron (Transformers)

"Nobody summons Megatron!”

When it comes to giant robots, they don't come any badder than the leader of the Decepticons. Much like his counterpart, Optimus Prime, Megatron has remained the primary adversary of the freedom fighting Autobots for several incarnations of the Transformers cartoon series. Though more recent adaptations have seen fit to give him a more sympathetic backstory (a gladiator who sought equality for the rest of his race) one thing has remained consistent throughout each interpretation of the character.He will do ANYTHING to satisfy his ever growing ambition. Some may question his intelligence for keeping a scheming traitor in the ranks of his elite army, but while he may lack a certain level of common sense he makes up for with strength, tenacity, and charisma. [Rachael Ward]

Baron Greenback (Danger Mouse)

"and this, my little Nero, spells the end of Danger Mouse!"

Plotting from his lair while his lackeys did his bidding, this treacherous toad was pure Bond villain. He even had a pet white cat(apillar) named Nero. As DM's arch-enemy, the Baron made appearances throughout the show's original run, usually accompanied by loyal right-hand bird Stiletto. Perhaps unsurprisingly he's also back in the 2015 Danger Mouse reboot, although he's apparently now German for some reason.

Magica DeSpell (Duck Tales)

"I'm no lady, I'm Magica DeSpell"

Throughout the series, Uncle Scrooge faced a rogue's gallery of villains. But perhaps the most memorable of the recurring antagonists was this dastardly duck. A sorceress with dress sense borrowed from Morticia Adams, Magica was always trying to get her hands (wings?) on Scrooge's precious Number One Dime.

Mumm-Ra (Thunder Cats)

“Ancient spirits of Evil! Transform this decaying form to Mumm-Ra! The Ever Living!”

One of the most defining moments of the Thundercats series (other than it's theme song) is the introduction of the show's primary villain. Mumm-Ra isn't just creepy to look at with an extra scary voice to go with it, but very powerful and cunning. He is the vessel for the Ancient Spirits of Evil on Third Earth and easily one of the most power sorcerers in the entire show. Though the titular Thundercats are able to overcome him most of the time, it is normally by the very skin of their teeth. There is also the fact that even if they beat him, it always feels like it was just a temporary setback. No matter what the heroes do, he will always find a way to come back. Possibly terrorising the Thundercats for generations to come. Much like the evil itself, Mumm-Ra will never die. [RW]

Skeletor (He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe)

"Everything I do, is for the sake of evil!"

How's this for an inspiring story for the disadvantaged? He-Man's nemesis never let a lack of skin hold him back. This Boney bad guy worked his way up from humble apprentice to Hordak to ruler of Snake Mountain through sheer hard work. His attempts to conquer Grayskull and take over Eternia were a bit less successful, but you can't have everything. Skeletor's greatest screen appearance, however, has to be The He-Man & She-Ra Christmas special, when the skull-faced one is taught the meaning of a Christmas by a couple of orphans and a puppy.

Cobra Commander (GI Joe)

"Welcome... to my arena of death!"

As the head of the dastardly Cobra organisation, Cobra Commander is a constant thorn in The GI Joe team's side. Luckily for the Joes (and the world at large) The Commander's ambition is matched only by his ineptitude, with a failure rate hovering somewhere around 100%. No wonder that by the second season of GI Joe: A Real American Hero even Cobra had had enough of him and he found himself temporarily demoted. The original Commander has become a favourite character for parody, having made recent appearances in series such as Robot Chicken, Family Guy and Community's GI Jeff animated episode.

Transfer (Around The World With Willy Fog)

"I'll get you sooner or later, Willy Fog!"

In this anthropomorphic version of the Jules Verne tale, Victorian dapper lion Willy Fog is pursued in his attempt to travel the world by evil wolf Transfer. Although not in the original book, the wily wolf adds an extra level of peril to the journey. Hired by those who want to see Fog fail, Transfer is memorable mainly because of his ability to disguise himself as anyone makes him a genuine threat. Luckily, his mastery of disguise is let down by one small thing- he is always given away by his one gleaming white eye.