Top 22 Anime Villains of Each Year (2000 - 2021)



Top 22 Anime Villains of Each Year (2000 - 2021)

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman
Another year, another antagonist. Join Ashley as we count down our picks for the most iconic villains from the last twenty years, as seen in series such as "Bleach", "Monster", "Baki", "Jujutsu Kaisen", "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure", and more!
Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean

Top 22 Anime Villains of Each Year 2000-2021

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we are counting down our picks for the Top 22 Anime Villains of Each Year.

For this list, we’re looking over the biggest bads from over the last twenty years, selecting the ones that encapsulate everything we love and hate about anime antagonists. Think we glossed over a major villain of the medium? Let us know in the comments.

2000: Arlong

“One Piece” (1999-)

Not exactly the best first impression of fish man culture. With a radical hatred for all things that live on land, Arlong carved out a bloody path for himself as one of Luffy’s earliest foes. His greatest crimes all stemming from the torture he put Nami through. Not only did he hold her home hostage for an astronomical price, but was responsible for killing Nami’s mother figure, only to then keep her prisoner and force her to chart out maps. He’s a cruel bastard, and well deserving of that gomu gomu no beat down.

2001: Naraku

“Inuyasha” (2000-10)

The eternal enemy of the half dog demon, the spider is by far one of the most enduring anime villains out there, crawling back from the edge of death numerous times over to cause more mayhem with his maladies and seemingly endless supply of subordinates. Between killing and resurrecting Kikyo, as well as the numerous dangers he threw Kagome into, Naraku’s done a pretty decent job at wiping out Inuyasha’s limited number of waifus. Though not even he could escape the Final Act’s conclusion.

2002: Yami Marik

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters” (2000-04)

Take the ego and ambition of the original Marik, sprinkle in the wickedness of Bakura, then multiply the madness a thousandfold, and you have the horror show that is Yami Marik. A being brought about by the torment of Marik’s younger years; whatever decency was left in his soul were swallowed up when his inner evil took the reins. There’s nothing this guy loves more than sealing souls away to the Shadow Realms and leaving them as husks for their friends to mourn over.

2003: Orochimaru

“Naruto” (2002-17)

Before he mellowed out and decided to be a daddy, this serpent was the most sinister shinobi the folks from the Hidden Leaf had ever encountered. Obsessed with perfecting and uncovering more jutsu, Orochimaru didn’t let anything small such as ethics prevent him from trying to root out a way to become immortal. In that regard, his assault on the village and the corruption of Sasuke stand out as his crowning achievements, which makes his new lease on life all the harder to believe.

2004: Johan Liebert

“Monster” (2004-05)

Goes to show that nothing is more terrifying than what lurks in the heart of man. A psychopath whose intellect is without equal, Johan causes death and suffering everywhere he goes, sometimes using nothing but twisted reasoning and a silver tongue. He’s beyond reasoning, to the extent that he cannot be swayed by anyone, from the purest of innocents to Neo-Nazis, all are objects to Johan, ones that can be discarded without a second thought. The only exception being the doctor who saved his life, the one man he’ll let kill him – because it would mean forcing a doctor to take a life instead of saving one. That’s pretty messed up Johan.

2005: Sosuke Aizen

“Bleach” (2004-12)

A respected Captain among Soul Society’s ranks, Aizen stands tall as not only one of the smartest antagonists out there, but one of the biggest traitors. Revealing himself to be something of a selfish asshole, Aizen showed no hesitancy when it came to cutting down his allies, his own lieutenant, and anything else that got in his way on his road to godhood. Unfortunately for everyone else, his sword arm matches his greed, to the extent it took a deus ex machina to even come close to slowing him down.

2006: Shinsuke Takasugi

“Gintama” (2006)

The series may be mostly a comedy, but whenever the Black Beast appeared, you knew that shit was about to get serious. A former sword buddy of Gintoki, the fate of their master promoted Takasugi to go full on anarchist, eager to turn the world upside down in whatever way possible, and if he had to slice off a few heads to make it happen, so be it. His anger and bitterness may be understandable, but his ruthless methods still set him apart from Gin's goofy inner circle.

2007: Charles zi Britannia

“Code Geass” (2006-08)

There are terrible parents, and then there’s Lelouch’s father. The Emperor of Britannia, Charles is a Darwinist to the extreme, in that he believes all are not created equal, and those under the strong should know their place. There’s no line that this monarch will not cross as long as it ensures his ultimate goal via the Ragnarök Connection. Abandoning his son, preying on the Japanese masses, willing to happily erase minds and discard those who fall short of his grand purpose, he’s got quite a catalogue of despicable acts, and did not go gently into the night when it came time for him to permanently abdicate his throne.

2008: Crona

“Soul Eater” (2008-09)

This poor kid didn’t have a chance. Born to the vile Medusa, Crona was used as a vessel for the demon sword Ragnarök, becoming a puppet tormented by their own fractured mind while doing all they could to appease their merciless mother. If not for Maka reaching out at the last minute and offering a way to pull themselves out of their own madness, Crona would undoubtedly be swallowed by their own power and sense of isolation. We’d say they need a hug, but depending on their mental state they’re just as likely to slice you in half.

2009: Father

“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (2009-10)

The creator of the Homunculi and formally the Dwarf in the Flask, this creature takes the cake when it comes to grandiose accomplishments. Tricking Hohenheim in wiping out an entire civilisation, instigating war across the globe via his children born of pure sin, swallowing the physical manifestation of god – Father doesn’t do things by half measures. While his own hubris would eventually bring him down, for the longest time, this malevolent entity truly was the king who ruled over all from the shadows. And then he messed with the Elrics.

2010: Scanty and Kneesocks

“Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt” (2010)

Sometimes evil is sexy, sometimes evil is fetishized, something evil is a pair of demon sisters who somehow usurped the titular angels in terms of kinky appeal and character. Whatever ploy they come up with to trip Panty and Stocking, the hellish siblings always bring it with style and swag. In some ways, they’re actually less depraved than the good guys, at least vernacularly! Maybe we’re just biased because they awakened something in us, but Scanty and Kneesocks easily eclipsed their heavenly counterparts every time they showed up!

2011: Kyubey

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” (2011)

Not all that glitters is gold, and not all cute, talking anime animals are good guys. As an Incubator, Kyubey’s sole purpose is seeking out impressionable girls that he can tempt into forming a contract. Sure, he’ll grant your deepest desire in exchange for becoming a magical girl, but his true intention is to trick them into making such a deal, knowing that they will eventually succumb to despair and become witches. Why? Because the moment a magical girl loses her soul, they make for a great source of energy. The fact Kyubey and his race seem to be unkillable and have been doing this for centuries is haunting.

2012: Dio Brando

“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood” (2012)

Even before he was in possession of a Stand, the nemesis of the Joestars stole the show with his meme-inspiring antics and wholehearted embrace of the dark side. From the moment he arrived, Dio did everything possible to usurp Jonathan’s life, from forcing himself on his beloved Erina, all the way to killing his dog. While that’s all kinds of despicable, it’s in his transition to vampire where Dio truly came into his own. While he would go on to cause chaos for Jonathan’s descendants, his bloodletting days as a nosferatu are not to be dismissed.

2013: Meruem

“Hunter x Hunter” (2011-14)

The King of the Chimera Ants is not one to be trifled with. Born with immense strength and control over Nen, not even the most powerful of the Hunter’s Association proved a match for Meruem’s killer instinct and seemingly unbreakable defence. While his personal journey would bring him closer to understanding humanity, he was still born a monster with a hunger for human flesh and zero hesitation when it came to slaughtering those that took him on. Not even Netero and his ninety-nine hands could bring him down.

2014: Esdeath

“Akame ga Kill!” (2014)

An ice queen through and through, Esdeath may not be the most sadistic member of the jaegers, but she is by far the most powerful. The empire’s greatest enforcer, her ability to freeze anything in her path is only matched by her savagery on the battlefield, to the extent she will happily bury hundreds of thousands of those she deems as enemies, just to prove a point. The only thing more terrifying than her wrath is her undying lust for Tatsumi. That’s a scary kind of simping.

2015: Ainz Ooal Gown

“Overlord” (2015-18)

Bone Daddy Ainz might have started off as an anti-hero, but it quickly became clear that ever since he found himself stuck in his gaming avatar, he’s gone all in on living up to the legacy of his character – one who relishes in his own power and the death of his enemies. Ainz’ capabilities are too numerous to name, but let’s just say he’s got a spell for every foe. Though his most frightening aspect might just be the numbness he now feels to enslaving, killing and other nastiness his minions inflict on the citizens of this fantasy landscape.

2016: Kira Yoshikage

“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable” (2016)

Dio may be iconic, but as it stands, quite possibly the greatest JoJo villain to date is this serial killer, one who just wants to live an uninterrupted, quiet life…even as he uses his Stand to blow people up and collect the hands of women he’s killed. Kira is as fascinating as he is terrifying. If he’s not able to talk his way out of a bad situation, he’ll just have his Killer Queen detonate their bodies into ash. He even turned a child into a walking bomb to seek out his enemies AND create a time loop, all to ensure a peaceful lifestyle!

2017: Reiner and Bertholdt

“Attack on Titan” (2013-)

Once steadfast allies, the whiplash reveal that these two beloved Survey Corp members were actually the Armored and Colossal Titans was as monumental as it was heart-breaking. As would later be elaborated, the two are warriors hailing from the nation of Marley, and were responsible for much of the death and damage done to those who once called them friends. While they remain resolute on the path set for them, it’s clear that living so many lives left them broken beyond repair.

2018: All for One

“My Hero Academia” (2016-)

About as OG a supervillain as you can get, All for One continues to stand tall as the mortal foe of the world’s greatest hero, All Might. While defeat and deformation forced him to work behind the scenes, that’s not to say he still can’t throw down. With a multitude of Quirks to his name, All for One pushed All Might to his brink in their final bout, effectively retiring him by forcing him to burn through the last embers of One for All. While his strength is undeniable, it’s his manipulation of others that makes him truly fearsome, namely his moulding of Shigaraki, the grandson of All Might’s beloved predecessor. Dude knows how to hold a grudge.

2019: Tsukasa Shishio

“Dr. Stone” (2019-21)

Even in a world where humanity has been encased in stone, you can always count on clashing ideologies to resurface. A firm believer that their species has a chance to become pure by erasing the sins of the old world, Tsukasa wages a crusade with his fellow-minded survivors by destroying any and all adult statues, and in so ending their chance of being resurrected by Senku’s miracle cure. His motivations may be idealistic, but his brutal rule and unmatched strength firmly set him up as the stone world’s first ever tyrant.

2020: Mahito

“Jujutsu Kaisen” (2020-)

A cursed spirit created from the worst humanity had to offer, Mahito embodies every despicable emotion possible. Petty, immature, sadistic and completely without remorse, this patchwork of perversion enjoys nothing more than toying with people before disposing of them, whether by having his fellow Curses do away with them, or using his Idle Transformation to unmake them. Along with a nightmarish Domain Expansion at his disposal, Mahito has set himself up nicely as a malignant force that will continue to serve as a thorn in the sides of all jujutsu sorcerers.

2021: Baran

“Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai” (2020-)

The road to redemption is a long one, and this Legion Commander certainly took his sweet time getting there. Aligning with the Dark Army over their shared hatred of mankind, Baran showed no hesitation in laying siege to kingdoms, baring great resentment due to having his wife stolen from him years prior. He also happens to be Dai’s father, and a fellow Dragon Knight at that, which means he’s ungodly powerful. As layered as he is vengeful, Baran truly was the pinnacle of the series’ exceedingly large cast of villains.