We love Disney for its incredible and likable heroes, but the antagonist often steals the show. Who doesn’t love a good villain? From a malignant sorcerer to a diamond-obsessive New Yorker, Disney has crafted some of the best villains in movie history. Greedy, unscrupulous, and outright hilarious. In this article, we will handpick our favorite evil female Disney villains of all time. It was a challenging task; many evil and funny Disney villains didn’t make the cut, but here goes.
In the 2016 classic Moana, Te-Kā starts out as the main villain responsible for all the problems that beset the island people. This ferocious and malignant lava monster wasn’t always evil; she started life as the peaceful goddess Te Fiti but morphed into a fire demon when the demigod Maui stole her heart. Trust a man to make things worse!
But all is not lost. When Moana hears the truth about Te-Kā and how she had her heart stolen, she finds and returns the heart, transforming this vengeful female Disney villain into Te Fiti—another great ending where love is more powerful than vengeance.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
This is my personal favorite, perhaps because it was the first Disney movie I watched as a child. Things started to take a turn for the worse when the vain Evil Queen gazed into a mirror and asked, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?.
Spoiler alert, It wasn’t the Evil Queen. Using black magic (naturally, what else would an evil queen use?), she tries to kill Snow White throughout this 1937 classic. Like all good Disney movies, she is thwarted at every step by Miss White and her merry band of dwarves.
Maleficent Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The self-proclaimed “mistress of evil” epitomizes pettiness, never mind evil. She also warns anyone making their Guest list for a family event. Are you sure you don’t want to invite your passive-aggressive Aunt?
For anyone living under a rock, Maleficent is from Sleeping Beauty. Not invited to the christening of Princess Aura (wars have started for less), she curses the baby to die by her sixteenth birthday. You have to admire her persistence and ability to hold a grudge. She tries to hunt down the child for the next 16 years, determined to fulfill the curse.
Maleficent was so iconic and evil that Disney made her the star of her Disney movie.
Cruella De Vil
101 Dalmatians (1961)
They just don’t make female Disney villains like they used to. Graceful, elegant, and pure evil. Is there anything more evil than making a fur coat from little puppies? Well, that was precisely the intention of this Disney villain in the 1961 film 101 Dalmatians.
This female Disney villain was so villainous that she spawned a sequel, a series, theater homages, and a few remakes and spin-offs. Emma Stone plays the latest Cruella. The movie focuses on what made Cruella such a fur coat-loving meanie, and it’s a classic in its own right.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Have you heard the phrase “a woman scorned”? Yzma, as the royal advisor to Emperor Kuzko, has a nasty habit of trying to rule the empire behind his back. She quickly becomes an out-of-work royal advisor, plotting revenge. She plans to kill Kuzko and rule herself.
Although not one of Disney’s more successful releases, The Emperor’s New Groove has its highlights, and Yzma, voiced by Eartha Kitt, is one of them. Recognized as one of the funniest Disney female villains ever, her voice and facial expressions are worth watching.
No list of evil female Disney villains would be complete without a controlling mother character in the lineup. If you’ve not seen Tangled (have you been living under a rock?), it’s a classic tale of an old crone who stays youthful and beautiful thanks to a magic flower. When the flower is used to heal a dying queen and the flower’s power is transferred to Rapunzel, the newborn daughter, all hell breaks loose.
Rapunzel is kidnapped and hidden away from the world, controlled using fearmongering, isolation, and fake kindness— I think we’ll agree, a heady combination. A master of manipulation, Mother Gothel is the most condescending character ever produced by Disney, which is hilarious. It also makes her a very relevant modern-day Disney villain. And oh, the things she would do for vanity.
The Rescuers (1977)
Her name alone would be enough to force her way onto any self-respecting list of female Disney villains. This evil NYC pawnshop owner is perhaps the greediest of Disney villains, and we all know that greed is one of the seven deadly sins.
Not adverse to putting her children in mortal danger, Madame Medusa will do just about anything to get her dirty hands on money and diamonds. Disney’s The Rescuers Tells the story of two brave mice who set off on an adventure to rescue a girl kidnapped by Madame Medusa, hell-bent on finding the Devil’s Eye, the world’s biggest diamond.