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Thread: Best antagonists

  1. #1
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Braaaaaains Best antagonists

    Inspired by the protagonist threads, cause why not.

    Post some of your favorite antagonists from RPGs!

  2. #2


    Kuja and The Emperor from FFII.

    Kuja because he feels more human, despite him not being one, he feels more complex than just "the evilz", and The Emperor from FF2 because he looks like David Bowie.

    "You okay?"

  3. #3
    draper hates the caley Cell's Avatar
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    Irenicus from Baldur's Gate 2 has to be on any list of best villains, especially when voiced by David Warner.

  4. #4
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    I'm sure there are more I can think of, but here's the first batch that came to mind. In no particular order:
    Miang Kham - Probably one of the best examples of a "power behind the throne" type character. It's easy to dismiss her as just helping more chatty villains like Krelian and Grahf, but time and time again, it's shown that Miang is the one who really masterminded the whole conflict of Xenogears and in fact plays a bit of a pivotal role in both of the other antagonists start of darkness tales. She's been guiding and manipulating human kind since the beginning and there are very few conflicts within the game she isn't somehow connected to. Yet due to her nature as a biological program to resurrect Deus , it's difficult to see her a malicious entity within the story. She's only doing what she was created to do, and like Fei, she's a victim of wheel of reincarnation as Fei is.
    Krelian - A well intention extremist, Krelian is a man who lost everything he believed in and saw the world for what it really was. Yet, instead of falling into despair, he set out to find god and inner peace. He is also nice enough to share it with everyone else whether they want to or not. It is easy to mistake Krelian as the main villain of Xenogears, and while his intention and past do not exonerate him from his actions, it's difficult to find him as a real villain since his goals are actually kind of noble. Krelian is one of two bad guys on this list that actually manages to escape full retribution for his actions. In fact a large part of how you feel about Xenogears' story will really come down to how you feel about Krelian getting away with all of his actions and actually getting a "good ending". He also gets bonus points for his name and ultimate goal being a direct reference to Childhood's End.
    Grahf ~ Seeker of Power - It is very easy to see Grahf as some cartoonish Darth Vader clone. He's incredibly hammy whenever he shows up and his storyline is pretty similar to Vader's with one delightfully twisted difference. Yet Grahf for me is a wonderful example of the Xeno series ability to take archetypal villains and humanize them. Grahf has one of the most tragic backstories in Xenogears only behind Fei himself. His goal to slay god and all life on the planet is completely misguided, but actually kind of sympathetic, especially one begins to see the real influence Buddhism has on the narrative. Grahf is someone who lost everything like Krelian did and simply lashed out in a very different way, but he's also someone who is really hurting and simply wants to have a real end for it all. Even though it's completely twisted in his ideology, Grahf actually has Fei's interest at heart.
    Albedo Piazzollo - I can practically copy and paste what I said about Grahf and put it here, just change Vader clone to Kefka clone. Albedo is a delightfully scene stealing psychopath whose appearance in the story is always means a major shift in the story for the grim. Yet, like the Xeno villains, Albedo is actually a very damaged individual whose mind has simply been twisted by the events of their lives. It's amusing how a guy who is best remembered in the first game for traumatizing and mind raping a mentally twelve bio android winds up being actually one of the most sympathetic characters you start to root for. While Xenosaga has a lot of rough spots in its story, Albedo is probably the only character whose arc really holds the whole thing together.
    Dmitri Yuriev - Course Albedo gets a lot of his charisma from his daddy. Yuriev is a bit of a subversion here. If you actually managed to follow the kudzu plot that is Xenosaga, you'll learn that Yuriev is also someone who has a really sympathetic backstory to him, and many of his actions can be thought of as being well-intention. The subversion is that Yuriev is also someone who seriously went off the deep end at some point in time before the story begins and largely loses whatever sympathy his origins may give. Krelian wanted to meet god to finally find peace and he wished to share that with the rest of humanity that would survive the process, Yuriev wants to kill god and then replace him because his fear of U-DO overcame all his senses and that was his only logical solution to resolve it. Regardless though, Yuriev marks a nice turn within the series of being a very powerful and influential antagonist who actually moves the story along whereas Albedo's actions are more selfish and Ormus and Wilhelm are hidden behind so much smoke screen that it is difficult to feel their presence at times, especially when Yuriev and Albedo upstage them all the freaking time.
    Golbez - Another Darth Vader clone, I appreciate Golbez in the original IV before The After Years and Dissidia transformed him into a good version of Doctor Doom. What I love about Golbez from other FF villains is that while he's portrayed as being a quite capable of warlock, his real talent is simply his tactical mind and ability to manipulate the party to do everything he needs. It's no surprise that Dissidia has him portrayed as the chess master and lord knows most players learnt o hate him while playing IV because he just always manages to turn his defeats into victories even if a few of them are kind of silly. Yet what also separates him from other manipulative villains is that he's not portrayed as invincible, he actually gets his ass handed to him quite a few times in the plot, and this helps to make him less annoying than say ExDeath, Sephiroth, Caius and Ardyn who are all great manipulators and so freaking omnipotent compared to the party you wonder why they bother. Golbez just steals the show in IV, which is why Zemus never stood a chance.
    Kefka Palazzo - No, he's not on this list because he blows up the planet and "wins". Kefka for me is one of FFs best villains because he largely avoids most of the villain cliches that choke the originality out of the rest of the villains. This is pretty much easy to see if you just watch a few story scenes from Dissidia. Kefka is bombastic whereas everyone else not named Jecht are all moody schemers that quietly bide their time until they can unleash their plans. Kefka on the other hand is more personable by contrast because he's loud, obnoxious, and his modus operandi is to simply spread as much chaos and death as he can, even if shortsighted. Kefka is amusing to watch whenever he appears, and in his game proper, most fans have a hard time telling if he's just a comic relief villain like Gilgamesh or the real evil within the game because he slips back and forth so easily from being a inept doofus to being one of the most vicious characters in the entire game. Him attaining godhood is not a triumph, instead, it's the "oh trout" moment of VI because Kefka was easily the last person who should have gained that type of power. I like him because he's got more personality and quirks than most of the villains which allow him to stand out better among a roster of villains who sometimes overlap too much.
    Kuja - Probably the last really great villain of the series. Kuja combines the best elements of a lot of notable villains including a more sympathetic backstory, lots of scene stealing moments, and still managing to be an asshole you want to punch in his face. I feel what's the most amusing thing about Kuja is that he's a guy whose plans sometimes fall apart, but he's usually quick to come up with a new one. I always felt it was clever that after his plan to use the Eidolons failed, he instead focused on harnessing the power of Trance, and holy hell I feel its cool a boss/villain got to use an ability normally relegated to the party instead. Kuja for me, hits all of the right points I want from a villain, he can be charming, he's intelligent, but not above doing his own dirty work, and he's resourceful when the chips are down for him. Its almost tragic how much he works to achieve his goal only to learn his life will end soon and fall into complete world ending narcissistic despair.
    Thanatos - Secret of Mana has a pretty large collection of bad guys to face, but none of them make it feel as personal as this guy. The man is brainwashing allies, draining the life force out of whole towns to sustain himself, trying to body snatch boyfriends, and even ends up turning the emperor into a flunky boss after he betrays him. Most of the other villains are one note issues, but Thanatos is always a handful whenever he shows up, especially with his awesome theme song that plays in his story dungeons, and he also has hands down the coolest boss battle theme in the game, even surpassing the actual final boss theme.
    Takahisa Kandori - Probably the best part of the SEBEC arc in Persona 1, Kandori is probably my favorite human antagonist within the Persona series, probably because his goals were a bit more straightforward and unlike his two counterparts in P4 and 5, he makes the most of his supernatural talents to actually achieve his goal. For the most part, Kandori in P1 has a lot in common with Kefka in that his scheming eventually lands him his ultimate goal of godhood, and much like Kefka, by the time the party faces him down, he's honestly bored with his success. The key difference is that Kefka is rather giddy to see the party, seeing them as a distraction from his boredom, but Kandori was actually getting ready to throw in the towel before Nanjou's arrogant quip sparks some drive back into him and we get hit with probably the toughest battle in the SEBEC arc. But what makes Kandori really stand out for me was his surprise return in Persona 2 EP. Even back from the dead as a puppet of the game's real big bad, Kandori holds onto his pride despite being a reluctant helper. You get to see a real different side to him in this game that makes him less cartoonish and somewhat heroic at times, much like Adachi in P4 Arena. Funny enough, I see a bit of Hikawa from SMTIII in Kandori, and I wonder if he was an inspiration for that character.
    Nyalarthotep - Of course, if we're going to talk about the early Persona games, I can't forget Nyalarthotep. Probably one of the few villains in gaming who canonically wins, he's a late game arrival in Innocent Sin, but Eternal Punishment never shy's away from letting you know this guy is the real threat. There are lots of villains who are really good at manipulating people to do what needs to be done, but I have to hand it to the big N here for doing by simply exploiting just human weakness in general. There is a lot of interesting subtext about people and the collective beliefs we hold that sometimes makes you wonder how we as a species have accomplished so much. In truth, every villain after Nyalarothtep pretty much follows his example of simply exploiting the gullibility and laziness of our species, and its largely why I still feel many of the "villains" from the reboot entries could all still just be other faces of the Crawling Chaos. I also just love his downright maliciousness. I mean, for the personification of evil in humanity, he's got everything in terms of being both absolutely terrifying and surprisingly charming when he drops the facade and speaks directly to the party. His whole deal may have been a cosmic debt, but holy hell if he didn't make Tatsuya and Maya his cosmic chew toys for two games. It's why I was so disappointed that P4 Arena settled for some second rate Japanese deity instead of bringing back the main evil itself. Even P5's final villain teased the hell out of me of possibly bringing this guy back and I am totally okay with that because he makes the P2 duology a real treat to play through.
    Gwyn Lord of Cinder - Absolutely controversial for Souls fans, but as someone who always chose the Age of Dark endings in all the games, it's not difficult to see why I would consider Lord Gwyn anything more than an antagonist. It was hinted in the early games, and practically confirmed in the Scholar of the First Sin and DS3 entries that all of the problems in Dark Souls universe pretty much stems from Gwyn and the other Lord Soul wielders trying to mess with the natural order and extend their Age of Fire. Because of Gwyn, mankind got trapped in his plan with the Undead Curse to keep the First Flame going and all you have to do is look at the screenshots from DS3 to see how well that turned out. Granted, I can sympathize with Gwyn simply trying to protect his way of life and fearing an unknown future, but having played the games that saw the fruits of his labor and how much his actions screwed up everything, his actions caused more harm than good. Still, I enjoy the fact the battle with him in DS1 is played as a tragedy, as you battle his burnt out undead husk to a really melancholy track that won't be matched until the First Hunter from Bloodborne. The surprise at the end of DS3 was also quite an emotional moment.
    The Healing Church - Switching from Souls to Bloodborne, we have the Healing Church who are basically the cause of everything going wrong in Yharnam. Unlike the Church of the Deep though, one can argue the Healing Church had good intentions, just really bad methods and once the Beast Scourge started, the blood addiction they caused in Yharnam made it impossible to contain the disease. They tried to bring the research of the Byrgenworth Institute to the masses and instead, damned the town to a waking nightmare. When you play the DLC and finally get to witness what the Choir, the research side of the church were doing, it really sends the series horror elements up and makes you wonder if enlightenment and ascension are worth it. The fact they have one of the most docile and friendly Old Ones locked up in their basement says something. Granted if you pick a fight with her, she's the hardest boss in the main game... While Bloodborne has a very heavy Lovecraftian inspired mythos and feel, its interesting to see how subversive it is in the fact that the Old Ones are largely benign or even helpful, and its humans that screw everything up and are the real threats. Also, special points for that asshole Choir Hunter you have to fight in Byrgenworth who introduces you to the Hunter Tool, A Call Beyond, smurf that guy.
    Lavos - Continuing our theme of eldritch horror, there are very few creatures in the genre that do the concept justice like Lavos does. Lavos may never actually communicate with people directly, but its sheer presence and the scale it brings to the narrative can be felt throughout the Chrono series. Lavos has some of the best buildup of any cosmic horror villains in the genre, simply because you get to witness firsthand how much of an impact its had on the world it accidentally landed on and how its presence has change the course of history time and time again. That presentation of scale adds a layer of suspense that makes battling him feel really tense, even when you are facing him on NG+11 with your maxed out party. I just appreciate the overall execution and concept of this creature and I always feel disappointed when other similar style villains never measure up.
    True beauty exists in things that last only for a moment.
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  5. #5


    Gaius (Tales of Xillia)

    More of an anti-hero in many ways, Gaius is a charismatic, badass King who believes he alone has the resolve and strength to decide the fate of worlds. He is a wise, noble but ruthless king who greatly values his comrades and his people. He just... goes about things the wrong way and you gotta kick his backside a few times. Gaius is a sympathetic antagonist without being a tragic one, and a standout character in a game full of brilliant characters.

    10/10 would save the world from him again

  6. #6
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    I tried to think of more, but my memory's a bit hazy on some of the antagonists that came to mind, so I decided not to list those.

    Zenos - FFXIV
    People are pretty divided on Zenos, but I really like him. He doesn't really care about ruling the world and all that, he's not some scheming mastermind that sits back. He participates in conquest and goes to the front lines because he just loves the thrill of battle. He respects combat prowess and detests cowardice, and he's just overall a badass (albeit an evil badass).
    stormblood spoilerPlus I like how in the end he considers you both his (first) friend and enemy. Like a twisted sort of kinship in finally coming across someone who is his equal on the battlefield.

    Ouroboros - Trails series
    Okay so this isn't an individual, but I decided to go with the orgnization as a whole rather than the many individuals in it that I love, both because spoilers and because I didn't feel like just filling this post to the brim with Trails antagonists.
    Ouroboros has it both ways. It's a mysterious secret society in the background, pulling the strings that move the entire series for reasons that are still not entirely known, but also a collection of incredibly likable individuals that you get up close and personal with. Some are magnificently evil, some have their own tragic circumstances, some actually seem pretty kind and benevolent. The only thing they all have in common is that they're a powerful bunch who all have their valid reasons for joining.

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