A story is often only as good as its villain, and fiction has given us a load of great ones over the years. Whether they're relatable, quirky, sympathetic, or just pure evil, a villain can make or break an entire story on a narrative level. After all, a lot of stories boil down to the good guys versus the bad guys, which is where all the main tension lies. In theory, at least.
Overpowered villains are nothing new, and are not necessarily a bad thing. There's nothing quite like a bad guy, whose power is absolute eons ahead of the heroes, to drive up the stakes and leave viewers on the edge of their seats, watching as the hero develops enough strength to overcome. This is what happens when a powerful villain is done well. If not? You get a boring, invincible antagonist who can only be brought down by the power of garbage plot twists. It's either one or the other, as there is no in between.
With criteria so across the board they're not even on the board any more, here are the 15 Most Stupidly Overpowered Villains.
Voldemort is pretty much unstoppable. He is one of the most powerful dark wizard to ever live. He was the man known as Tom Riddle who sacrificed his soul (and apparently his nose) to become Voldemort, a magical prodigy without so much as a shred of goodness in him.
Never in the Harry Potter series has there ever been the barest hint that Voldemort can be talked down, or even brought to justice, in any way other than straight-up killing him. He is a living, breathing avatar of evil who, in the final book, has managed to remove the only person in the world strong enough to defeat him: Dumbledore.
Aside from the Horcruxes, which make killing him almost impossible, Voldemort himself is extremely powerful and nearly invincible. It takes a last-minute MacGuffin, with some very questionable magical rules, to finally put him down for good, ending his nasally-challenged reign of terror.
Despite their fearsome reputation as Mutant-hunters, Sentinels are (mostly, but not always) cannon fodder, perfect for keeping the violence PG-13. It doesn’t help that the mutants we most often get to see are the X-Men − some of the most powerful beings on the planet, backed by years of training.
The Sentinels of X-Men: Days of Future Past don't have as much training. Their opening scene squares them off against a handful of heavy-hitters, including Iceman and Colossus. The end result: heads roll, everyone dies. In their next encounter, holding off waves of Sentinels is all the future X-Men can do until Wolverine can change the timeline, which again results in all the good guys dying horribly.
Put simply, the future Sentinels are a terrifying, unstoppable force, both as individuals and in great numbers. It really says something when the only way to beat an enemy is erasing them from time altogether.
13 The Void
The Sentry is Marvel’s version of Superman, if Superman had severe brain damage and an evil best friend who balanced out all his good deeds with evil ones. Okay, so he’s not that much like Superman.
The Void is the Sentry’s dark side, and, when we’re talking about a hero as comically-overpowered as the Sentry, that’s not good for anyone. The Void can shapeshift into any form, break the bones of gods with little effort, screw with people’s brains en masse, and withstand assaults from all of Earth’s most powerful heroes. It also cannot be killed, forever existing so long as the Sentry is still around.
Its crowning achievements involve curb-stomping the Hulk in a straight fist-fight, razing Asgard to the ground, and surviving a toss into the sun. That last one usually does the trick no matter the fictional universe, which should give you the gist of how unstoppable the Void truly is.
12 Darth Sidious
Entire tomes have been written about the fight between Palpatine/Darth Sidious and Mace Windu, and whether the latter let himself be beaten to force Anakin to take his side.
Darth Sidious is an impossibly-powerful villain. He is a single Sith Lord who managed to topple the millennia-spanning Jedi Order with manipulation, political intrigue, and an acting performance worthy of Oscars in every category. This is the dark Jedi who led the wise, powerful Jedi council on a merry dance for years, elevating himself to the most powerful position in the galaxy without them catching even a whiff of foul play.
Sidious is the whole package as well, able to duel the likes of Yoda to a standstill, whip up Force-induced black holes, and even revive himself from death. Aside from the skirmish with Windu, Sidious is never beaten in a fight, with his plans coming to perfect fruition. Only a last-minute team switch to Vader saves us from Star Wars Episode VII: The Emperor Continues to Rule Completely Unopposed Since He Killed All the Good Guys.
Most overpowered villains tend to be pure evil, but Trigon takes that cake, dumps it on the ground in front of you and smushes it into the dirt. He’s demonic, he’s evil-incarnated, and he’s right up there with DC’s most powerful bad guys.
Trigon could probably also kill Darkseid with a flick of his finger, if the two ever had a reason to get into a fistfight. Fortunately, they’re about as bad as the other. Originally a Teen Titans villain with a connection to Raven, this demon’s immense strength has put him up against every major super-team, with Trigon wrecking all of them with his never-ending plethora of powers.
Raven has consistently been the only one capable of stopping Trigon’s onslaught, being his most powerful child and possessing the opposing power of light. This still leaves Trigon with an impressive record of entire realms destroyed or enslaved under his tyrannical rule. As a magical being, Trigon always finds some creative way to drag himself back into the mortal realm.
10 Pretty Much Every CW Villain
Whether it’s Arrow, The Flash, or Legends of Tomorrow, one thing is guaranteed: a good chunk of CW's series will have our hapless heroes being led up the garden path by a seemingly-invincible villain who’s so many steps ahead they’re not even in the same time zone.
Malcolm Merlyn spent the first season of Arrow on top, and being killed off in the season finale did pretty much nothing to slow him down. Slade/Deathstroke is an unstoppable super-soldier, Ra’s al Ghul is an immortal ninja, and Damien Dahrk’s magic makes him untouchable. Come season five, we have Prometheus proudly carrying the torch, gleefully springing across rooftops and kidnapping loved ones when he’s feeling bored.
Over the fence in Central City, both Reverse-Flash and Zoom have spent the last couple of years playing Team Flash like a fiddle, with both of their plots centered around how Barry can defeat "such an invincible foe." And then there’s Vandal Savage for the crew of the Waverider, who literally cannot die.
There’s a formidable foe, and then there’s banging your head against the wall while you sit through entire seasons of the good guys being continuously outsmarted.
9 Raoul Silva
Raoul Silva isn't exactly who you think about when you hear the word "overpowered," but, in his own way, he is James Bond’s most powerful villain. Silva is a former agent-turned-bad-guy with mommy issues. He possesses insane computer skills, as well as a handy snap-off jaw for freaking people out at parties.
His most defining trait is his advanced planning skills, which include being held at gunpoint at exactly the right time for a crashing train to aid his escape, and knowing ahead of time when M’s hearing would be in order to arrive at the perfect time to start shooting. He somehow manages all of this without any communication with his goons.
Astounding coincidences aside, Silva essentially gets what he wants at the end of the movie. He plays Bond every step of the way and, on top of that, is just ridiculously lucky that his plan fell into place with the most precise timing.
8 Sosuke Aizen
Once right up there in the big leagues with Naruto and One Piece, Bleach took a running jump off a sheer cliff face in terms of popularity. This was down to many factors behind the scenes, but the end result was a plot stuffed full of enough terrible twists to turn off even the most solid fans. Nowhere was this demonstrated more clearly than Sosuke Aizen’s defeat.
Several years of storylines were spent building Aizen up to be invincible; from his inescapable powers of illusion, to his raw strength that put him leagues above all challengers, all the way to his advanced intellect. He annihilates every single one of the good guys standing in his way.
How is he finally beaten? If you guessed "another awful deus ex machina with no real foreshadowing," then congratulations; you may just be jaded enough to dig some enjoyment out of the final few arcs of Bleach.
As with a lot of comic book characters, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke differs depending on the writer or the adaptation.
And yet for some reason, whenever Deathstroke shows up in connection to the Teen Titans, he’s an unstoppable force of nature whose defeats only further his plans. Perhaps we can blame the animated show here, where Slade is the resident arc villain and never gets handed a proper defeat. Instead, he returns time and time again to stomp on the Titans in most of their encounters.
His comic book self does most of the same things, only worse. He’s often able to take on the Justice League and escape with nary a scratch. Deathstroke effortlessly manages to beat powerhouses such as Green Lantern with willpower alone, and is always able to slip away at the last moment. There’s a thin line between being too cool to die and the villain equivalent of a Mary Sue, and Deathstroke sometimes walks way too close to that line.
6 Sadako Yamamura and Kayako Saeki
Sadako Yamamura and Kayako Saeki occupy a single entry, partially because they share a lot of traits, but also because they recently got their own Freddie vs Jason-style movie. And it’s hilarious.
Hailing from the Ju-On and Ringu franchises, both are creepy ghost ladies with pale skin and stringy hair, and are extremely irked that they're dead and others are not. As with many great horror movie villains, Sadako and Kayako are nigh-invincible; you don’t fight them so much as desperately try to survive an encounter, and, if you get stuck with one of their curses, there is no escape. You’re fighting spirit creatures, so you can’t just whack one of them with a baseball bat and leg it out of there.
Then, as if these two weren’t bad enough on their own, the ending of Sadako vs Kayako has the two of them combine into a single entity − Sadakaya − with all the worst traits of both. Just imagine Jason Voorhees able to sneak into people’s dreams and you’ve got the general picture.
Stepping over into the DC universe, we have Thanos’ semi-equivalent: Darkseid. Since the heroes of DC are considered to be more powerful than their Marvel counterparts, Darkseid is generally not quite as much of a physical threat as Thanos. However, this may be because he doesn’t gain control of a glove that lets him walk up to the all-powerful embodiment of the universe and sock it in the nose.
Artifacts aside, Darkseid is still a threat of the highest caliber. Not only is he stronger than the likes of Superman, he also possesses the Omega Beams, whose main abilities are "whatever the writers want them to do at the time" (it’s usually killing people). The Beams are said to be inescapable, so whoever’s getting hit with them better hope they can take it.
As if he even needs the help, Darkseid commands a vast legion of followers, with generals capable of tangling with the universe’s mightiest heroes. Combined with a grab-bag of cosmic powers, Darkseid has beaten the entire Justice League single-handedly in the past, with very few members able to last more than a few seconds with him in a fight.
4 The Beyonder
Speaking of the embodiment of the universe, meet the Beyonder. You’re living in/on him right now, so you’re probably already acquainted.
The Beyonder is hardly a typical villain, especially since he possesses the power to wipe out all life and make it anew simply by scratching his rear, though this just makes him a pain to the Marvel universe on a cosmic scale. He spends most of his early experiences messing with heroes seemingly out of boredom, though he later takes human form (good ol’ anthropocentrism at work) to better mess with time and space.
As writers have come and gone over the years, the Beyonder’s power level has steadily diminished to the point where he can now be hurt and killed by significantly powerful entities. However, this sort of defeats the entire purpose of the Beyonder existing in the first place, though does make for a better villain since the good guys stand a chance of beating him.
3 Dark Phoenix
The Phoenix is great, what with its limitless power and ability to revive itself from death. Dark Phoenix, on the other hand, is just bad news for everyone. The Phoenix Force is one of the Marvel universe’s most powerful entities, capable of taking on heavyweights such as Galactus and blowing up suns for fun.
When inside Jean Grey, the Phoenix gives her a massive boost in power. However, it also makes her a target of the Hellfire Club-- specifically Mastermind, who manipulates Jean into snapping and becoming the Dark Phoenix, complete with an evil costume shift.
Aside from sweet new red and gold threads, the Dark Phoenix possesses vast cosmic and psionic powers, enough to crush entire worlds and ravage galaxies. The only reason the universe isn’t a pile of smoldering ash is due to Jean, who was able to contain the Phoenix Force with the help of Professor X. This becomes something of a running theme, as the Phoenix’s various hosts seem to make it weaker by association, or at least due to its contact with fleshy human emotions.
Thanos has bounced up and down the Marvel power-scale over the years. He’s always been a formidable enough foe who requires a large team of Avengers to take him down. Now Thanos has the bling-empowered Infinity Gauntlet? This will be an inexorable force to reckon with. Thanos will now be capable of tangling with some of the most powerful beings in the universe. Forget Spider-Man and Captain America; bejewelled Thanos is a terrifying threat on the level of the Eternals, and even the Beyonder himself.
The only way Thanos ever manages to lose in this state is through trickery, which is strange since he’s supposed to be a mega-genius. It’s been explained over the years that he has a subconscious desire to lose and thus sets up his own defeats, which underlines Thanos as your average overpowered comic book bad guy. The writers are just more honest about it.
Galactus is the intergalactic monstrosity with the most over-the-top title possible, and a serious case of planet munchies. This isn’t your Doctor Doom-style bad guy who can be defeated by strong punches. Galactus is a primal entity who only shrinks himself to less-than-skyscraper size so that he can fit inside a comic panel.
Despite being an immortal planet-killer, Galactus has been repelled from Earth a few times, which makes you wonder why he doesn’t just find another planet to eat. Perhaps he's like a person with a cat allergy who just can’t stay away from adorable kitties.
In any case, Galactus has few weaknesses, with a tiny handful of fellow cosmic entities (the Phoenix Force among them) who are able to harm him. There’s also the Ultimate Nullifier, a one-of-a-kind brick-telephone-looking gun able to destroy almost anything. But if you don’t have one of those and lack any form of cosmic-level powers, Galactus will mock your feeble resistance before tying a nebula-sized napkin around his neck and tucking into your world.
Can you think of any other overpowered supervillains? Let us know in the comments.