For your Halloween pleasure, I am providing my Top 5 most terrifying female villains in geek TV shows. These are the women who you would not want to meet in a dark alley or in a brightly lit park, because no matter what, they’ll probably fucking kill you and laugh while they do it. Why only five? Well, sadly there aren’t as many female villains as there are male ones, especially in TV shows, and more often than not, they are shown to be just vain and petty rather than pure terrifying evil. For this list I chose ladies who seem to legitimately enjoy being evil and show little to no remorse for their actions. This does not necessarily mean that they have less depth or are less interesting; they are just the female characters you love to hate. I am also only sticking to one villainess per TV show. So with that in mind, let’s begin!
Before I begin with this countdown, I should address the fact that three out of the five of these women are rapists. Kate sexually assaults Derek on Teen Wolf several times. Drusilla sexually assaults Giles when she impersonates Jenny Calendar. And Melisandre sexually assaults Gendry in Game of Thrones—though to be fair, she doesn’t actually do this in the books. A lot of lady villains have some tragic backstory because it seems that since women are stereotypically considered more “morally righteous people”, they are usually given more backstory to justify the fact that there are evil. On the other hand, like many on this list, the lady villains who are portrayed as much more remorseless and downright evil are more often than not sexual predators, because women’s sexuality is “scary and dangerous”, right?
While there are male characters who are rapists, there are also many legitimately scary villains who don’t sexually assault people and there are definitely ways to have scary female villains without having them be sexual predators. Women who are remorseless killers that enjoy killing people are pretty damn terrifying, and many of the women mentioned in this list fit that category. Adding sexual assault to their list of crimes is unnecessarily disturbing. For this reason I have chosen to focus on the villainous acts these ladies have done that don’t include rape. That doesn’t mean I am trying to dismiss what they did, but merely that I am trying to emphasize that the writers of these shows could have written scary female villains without this added element of sexual assault.
- Kate Argent (Teen Wolf)
Kate beat out another female villain, Jennifer Blake, if only because while Jennifer kills people for revenge, Kate kills them more for, well, fun. Kate is only so low on the list because unlike some of our other villains, Kate seems to actually care about people. However, this also tends to make a pretty interesting character too. You got to love the characters that are unrepentantly evil, but still love their family. Kate cares about her niece Allison and her brother Chris, but while she pulls her punches with her family, I can’t deny how otherwise evil she is. This is the woman who burned a whole family alive and laughed about it afterwards. Kate kills without mercy and she enjoys it. She has no remorse for those she views as lower than her (usually werewolves and other magical beings), and that was all before she herself was turned into a werepanther and went on a killing spree with two berserkers at her side. Despite only being at number 5, Kate is definitely not a woman you want to mess with.
- Melisandre the Red Priestess (Game of Thrones)
As someone who is religious and works with religious people, nothing scares me more than religious zealots who justify the evil they do as being in the name of God, and that’s exactly what Melisandre does. She promises Stannis Baratheon power and control of Westeros if he pledges himself to the Lord of Light. She convinces him to burn the idols of The Seven, the gods most widely worshiped in Westeros. While I’m not denying that Stannis is a dick in his own right, Melisandre does emotionally manipulate him and isolates him from any friends and family from whom he could get advice or guidance. Even the religion she preaches operates by enforcing fear in order to maintain power. She burns idols and kills those who worship gods other than the Lord of Light. On top of this, she constantly intones “The night is dark and full of terrors”, which again asserts the idea that those who oppose her and her god will die. She also can spurt killer demons from her vagina, but I don’t like to think about that.
- Cora (Once Upon a Time)
Unlike Regina Mills, her mother Cora does not really have any tragic backstory to justify her evil ways. Nor she is ever as tortured about manipulating, controlling, or killing other people. Cora starts out as the poor daughter of a drunken Miller, and with the help of Rumplestiltskin, she is able to marry a prince and gain power. Despite the fact that Cora does seem to at least kind of care about Regina, she really doesn’t, mostly because she removed her own heart. She only cares about her other family members as far she can use and manipulate them. Throughout the course of the show, we see how she physically, emotionally, and verbally abuses Regina. She has no qualms about killing, and in fact literally rips out the heart of her victims, which is how she later becomes known as the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland. She even abuses and imprisons her husband, who is nothing but kind to her and their daughter. Cora is probably one of the most ruthless villainesses on this list because she literally doesn’t even care for her family. Poor Regina.
- Drusilla (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Drusilla is probably the most tragic of all the female villains on this list. She was originally a young psychic girl who wanted to become a nun, but she thought her powers were evil. Angel finds her and makes her watch as he murders everyone she loves, and then tortures her until she loses her mind. It’s only after he breaks her that Angel turns Drusilla into a vampire. She is now evil, immortal, and has a very tenuous grip on reality. Drusilla’s psychic abilities and her general disregard for human life makes her arguably more dangerous than any of the other vampires. She doesn’t want power or control; she just wants to destroy everything, and practically giggles in childlike glee at causing others pain. Drusilla also uses her powers to manipulate people. Probably one of the scariest moments in Buffy is when Drusilla makes a tortured Giles think she is his murdered lover Jenny Calendar in order to extract information from him. After Giles unknowingly betrays Buffy, Drusilla then reveals that it is really her, which breaks Giles even further. While Drusilla’s backstory is tragic, there is no denying how deadly and remorseless she is.
- Callisto (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Callisto is another character with a tragic backstory. As a child, she watched as Xena burned her whole family alive. Callisto, now out for revenge, doesn’t care that Xena is trying to repent for her crimes. If Callisto was just an angry woman seeking revenge on Xena, then she probably wouldn’t even be on this list, but Callisto takes the number one spot because of how much she just wants everyone to suffer as much as she does. Callisto kills men, women, and children without a care. She tries to corrupt those who she perceives as innocent, like Gabrielle. She murders Gabrielle’s husband in front of her and then constantly tries to convince Gabrielle to tap into her rage and try to kill her. Her greatest desire is to prove to Xena that she is still as evil as she was when she killed her family. For this reason, while Callisto wants to kill Xena, she also wants Xena to kill her. Throughout the show, Callisto goes from a warrior, to an immortal, to a goddess, to a demon, until she is finally redeemed and turned into an angel. Which, as Xena fans will remember, wasn’t exactly the best or most interesting way to redeem her character. Yeah… Xena gets weird near the end. But before Callisto’s redemption, she is probably the most terrifying and chaotic of all the villainesses on this list, which is why she is Number 1.
So this Halloween, celebrate these awesome female baddies by dressing up as them or merely by rewatching them do their absolute worst.