The 10 Best Returning Villains in Film

by Bill Gibron

10 December 2013

They say you can't keep a good man down. In this case, here are 10 villains who find it very difficult to stay away from their evil doer designs.

Sometimes, a villain is easily vanquished. Their master plan is thwarted, their defenses undermined and their offenses tried and convicted. They are then locked away in asylums, frozen in ice, left to die on a desert planet or simply shown the door to the great hereafter. Of course, those who don’t die know no end. They seem to play the proverbial bad penny, turning up whenever our hero and his or her half-baked R&R appear ripe for unrest. It’s in these moment, in these time where our terror gets a second chance at thwarting the protagonist that his or her true mantle is shown. Sometimes, all they manage is another miserable defeat. In other instances, the rewards are swift and satisfying… if again, only temporary.
It’s with this in mind (and with the release of Despicable Me 2 on Blu-ray and DVD) that we decide to look over the 10 Greatest Returning Villains of All Time. The parameters for this particular category are fairly loose, but we did decided on a few creative caveats. First, we would only focus on more family oriented fare. Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers never seem to give up, or the ghost, but their evil is always accented with gallons of blood and clots of gore. We also tried to avoid scenarios where the comeback is a mere pre-conclusion con. Just because a menace manages to survive being shot into the sun doesn’t validate a last minute reappearance before vaporization. Finally, we have fiddled a bit with the overall idea. In most of these cases, the return was mandated by a sequel. In some however, a single film holds their origins as well as their new need for some repugnant recompense.

#10 - El Macho (Despicable Me 2)

Now that former supervillain Gru is a quasi-confirmed family man, and desperate to turn over a new leaf, it makes sense that he would sign up to help the good guys catch the rogue who stole an entire top secret lab. When our hero (?) suspects that a Mexican restaurant owner is actually the former baddie El Macho, a back and forth between his new life and his former self takes over. In the meantime, our Hispanic horror is indeed back on the side of the sinister, hoping to make horrific mutant monsters out of everything and anything in the world.

#9 - FLDSMDFR (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2)

When Flint Lockwood invented the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator,” otherwise known by the catchy acronym above, he was only trying to help his hometown of Swallow Falls overcome its dependence on sardines for sustenance, and social sustainability. But when the device develops a mind of its own, suddenly taking over the skies, its creator has to step in to stop in. In the second film, the FLDSMDFFR is back, this time turning the various oddball foods its regurgitates into living, breathing vittles critters like “shrimpanzees, tacodile supremes, mosquitoasts, watermelophants, and bananostriches.”

#8 - Biff Tannen (Back to the Future Trilogy)

He’s the Terminator of time travel comedies (wait…huh?). It seems like, no matter what happens to the McFly family, be it in the old West or a decrepit crime ridden future version o f Hill Valley, Biff is there to stir the simmering pot. Though it’s not always the same version of the vile menace each time (it has to do with parallel realities and possible alternative time lines, or something), the same intent is there - to rob George (or a version of same) of his bride Lorraine (again, or someone similar) and thwart Marty’s attempts to keep them together. Even in victory, Biff bungles his often ill-considered plans.

#7 - The Other Mother (Coraline)

Coraline Jones does not like her new home. It’s oddly creepy, and there’s a doll that looks just like her and a small, unexplained door in a living room wall. Turns out there is a parallel world attached to this domain, a realm ruled by a spider-like witch with a hankering for human souls. At first, Coraline believes she has defeated this dark entity. But soon, she realizes, that even the good around her has been poisoned by the Other’s evil designs. As with all things frightening and fairy tale, it takes love to conquer, and family to find a solution.

#6 - Jafar (Aladdin Series)

Look at that face - you can just tell he’s up to no good. Even as a trusted advisor to the Sultan, our baddie is not content to sit back and play a supporting role. He wants more power and assumes a genie will be a good way to gain it. That’s why he has known thief Aladdin head out into the desert to find a certain gold lamp. The result becomes a typical tale of good attempting to conquer evil. Later, in the direct-to-video sequel, Jafar returns to finish what he started, only to have his formerly loyal parrot, Iago, switch sides and destroy him…forever?

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