Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
Regardless of your age, you can't help but love and cherish beloved Disney films. Many iconic characters were introduced in these animated movies, including some seriously memorable and show-stealing villains. Let's take a look at the top 12 scariest Disney animated villains of all time.
12. Ursula "The Little Mermaid" (1989)
Ursula is without a question one of Disney's most beloved and memorable villains. She is sassy and hilarious, and initially isn't as scary as other antagonists. Ursula has a very distinct voice and serves up an extremely memorable performance of "Poor Unfortunate Souls." With her wise-cracking ways and wit, the sea witch is truly iconic. It isn't until the latter part of The Little Mermaid that Ursula truly showcases her terrifying true self. When she fully gains power of Atlantica and grows to a monstrous size, she becomes downright frightening.
Fright Factor: 4/10
11. Queen of Hearts "Alice in Wonderland" (1951)
Wonderland's notorious hothead is known for her psychotic tendencies, and the Queen of Hearts is a Disney villain that doesn't get enough recognition. One minute she can be nice and accommodating, and the next she is literally threatening to chop off your head. Her violent mood swings and ridiculous demands make her more annoying rather than scary, but there is no denying the fact that her love of beheading is just a bit unnerving. The Queen of Hearts is completely crazy and unhinged, giving her character just the right amount of scariness.
Fright Factor: 4.5/10
10. Dr. Facilier "The Princess and the Frog" (2009)
Dr. Facilier is a witch doctor who has a penchant for black magic and all things hoodoo and voodoo. What makes the character so creepy is that he has "friends on the other side" (as he reminded us in song), who help him try to gain control of New Orleans. Dr. Facilier essentially makes a deal with the devil, and ends up working with blood magic and even shadow people. He's both scary and edgy due to his dabbling in the occult, and truly makes a memorable villain.
Fright Factor: 5/10
9. Shere Khan "The Jungle Book" (1967)
There's just something about a silent predator that really gets your blood pumping. The fact that Shere Khan is a dangerous animal by nature is unnerving, and he is a tiger known to murder any human who even enters the jungle. That proves to be rather unfortunate for poor Mowgli, who is stalked by the animal throughout The Jungle Book. He might be awfully creepy lurking about and hunting the boy, but Shere Khan loses some points because deep down he's just one big scaredy-cat: the villain is afraid of both fire and guns. With his weaknesses known, the character isn't that terrifying after all.
Fright Factor: 5.5/10
8. Lady Tremaine "Cinderella" (1950)
Lady Tremaine may not be straight-up scary, but she is definitely unsettling. After all, she does have a cat named Lucifer (raising the creepy factor) and ruthlessly forced her step-daughter into a maid of the manor. She turns her horrible daughters Anastasia and Drizella just as evil and cold-hearted as she is, even prompting her jealous children to destroy Cinderella's beautiful handmade dress. The psychological abuse she subjects Cinderella to is frightening, and when that doesn't work she even locks her away in an effort to hide her existence.
Fright Factor: 6/10
7. Maleficent "Sleeping Beauty" (1959)
Maleficent is definitely a scary presence in Sleepy Beauty; after all, she does have the power to turn into a terrifying fire-breathing dragon! The evil fairy is a self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" which is proof right there that she is not one to be messed with, and she clearly enjoys embracing her dark side. Maleficent even has a pet raven named Diablo (subtle) and was willing to curse an innocent baby and whole entire kingdom just because she wasn't invited to a party. Is she powerful and scary? Of course. But is she also extremely petty and slightly melodramatic? Absolutely.
Fright Factor: 6.5/10
6. Shan Yu "Mulan" (1998)
The Huns' ruthless leader Shan Yu is absolutely and positively horrifying. He is a powerful and intimidating figure with glowing yellow eyes and a perpetual leer. His main goal is to invade China and take over the imperial city, and he will stop at nothing to obtain it. The fact that Shan Yu and the Huns maliciously murder and wipe out entire villages is downright chilling, and his desire to seek and destroy any and all things in his path puts him high up on the list of seriously scary villains.
Fright Factor: 7.5/10
5. The Evil Queen "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)
The O.G. Disney villain was the one who started it all, and her name truly speaks volumes: The Evil Queen. She was extremely vain and very jealous of her beautiful and kind step-daughter Snow White, and even hired a huntsman to cut out her heart just so she would be the fairest in the kingdom! Talk about a major overreaction! Though at the beginning she was more menacing than scary, when she transformed into an old, hunched hag with creepy eyes and warts, she became absolutely frightening. Her evil cackle and menacing presence truly made her one scary villain.
Fright Factor: 8/10
4. Chernabog "Fantasia" (1940)
It's not surprising that the actual devil is pretty high up on the scariest Disney villains' list. Chernabog makes his eerie appearance in Fantasia, where he literally summons evil spirits from their graves to wreak havoc in Night on Bald Mountain. The villain is creepy and menacing, which is fitting seeing as he is Satan after all. Chernabog's devilish (pun intended) grin is chill worthy, and the fact that he's raising his evil minions to attack in the night is absolutely nightmare worthy.
Fright Factor: 8.5/10
3. Scar "The Lion King" (1994)
Scar is one of the Disney villains who doesn't have to try very hard to look intimidating and menacing. He is Mufasa's conniving younger brother who wants to rule the Pride Lands and gain complete power. Scar cruelly murdered his own brother and then managed to convince his poor nephew Simba that it was all his fault, exiling him all in one fail swoop. What makes Scar even more terrifying is that he was partially inspired by Adolf Hitler, which is demonstrated by his ruling style over his hyena minions. He's ruthless and cunning, and the character is only elevated by being voice by the memorable Jeremy Irons.
Fright Factor: 9/10
2. The Horned King "The Black Cauldron" (1985)
The Horned King looked absolutely and positively nightmare-worthy. With his skeletal body, red glowing eyes, menacing horns and sharp teeth, the villain in The Black Cauldron was one frightening figure. Not only does he look terrifying, but he planned to find the Black Cauldron and use its power to unleash an army of dead warriors into the world. He is malicious and scary, with a creepy voice and looming presence. Not only does he himself instill fear, but the Horned King also has many scary servants at his disposal, like a goblin named Creeper and dragon creatures. His overall mission in the film makes him a truly terrifying villain.
Fright Factor: 9.5/10
1. Judge Claude Frollo "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996)
Hands down, the scariest and most ruthless Disney villain of all time is Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He is downright evil and diabolical from the very start of the film. Frollo murders an innocent gypsy woman and is about to throw a deformed baby into a well—that is until he is caught by the archdeacon.
Instead, he is forced to raise the child, Quasimodo, and keeps him locked away from the rest of Paris. Frollo is evil to his core and extremely disturbing, lusting after women he can't have and all the while condemning them to hell. His facial expressions and leers are unnerving, he's sadistic and determined to wipe out an entire population and he has a severe god complex. All of this makes Judge Frollo the scariest Disney villain of all time.
Fright Factor: 10/10
© 2019 Rachel M Johnson
Mitchell on July 19, 2020:
But the scariest Disney villain of all is Fantasia 2000’s The Firebird.
It might have failed to kill The Spring Sprite, but it’s scariest moment is when the eyes come out first that tune startles me. Try watching it.
Mitchell on July 19, 2020:
Change of mind. Why did you put Ursula even lower than Queen of Hearts when everybody knows that she is a lot more scarier.
Rachel M Johnson (author) on July 03, 2020:
Hi Ali, you’re absolutely right, those villains could have certainly been included! There were so many to choose from and narrow down!
ali on July 03, 2020:
you should jafar and curala de vil
Rachel M Johnson (author) on June 27, 2020:
Hi Mitchell, I think the Queen of Hearts was definitely scary with the whole “off with their heads” bit, but ultimately to me she just enjoyed throwing a big tantrum when she didn’t get her way. I think the other villains outweigh her in being cunning and evil.
Mitchell on June 27, 2020:
I changed my mind. The Queen of Hearts was downright scary. Especially when she noticed that her guards had painted the roses red. Her face got really scary. Why did you put The Queen of Hearts on the 11th spot on your list?
Rachel M Johnson (author) on June 21, 2020:
Hi Mitchell, Rasputin was definitely a scary villain and you’re absolutely right! I didn’t include him because the film was initially produced by 20th Century Fox, which was eventually bought by Disney in 2018. But I suppose the film is technically Disney now!
Mitchell on June 21, 2020:
Why did you not include Rasputin from Anastasia on your scariest Disney Villains list? He crashes the party of The Romanovs and puts a curse for them to die on a night. And He even murders the main character. That is, Anastasia.
Rachel M Johnson (author) on January 08, 2020:
Hi Jania, Scar is definitely a fun villain, and pretty scary too!
Jania on January 07, 2020:
Although I love scar and hes my favorite villain I think jafar or frollo are the most crucial villains of all time ursala and Morgana too scar's pretty bad too though
Molly Mcmurtrie on January 02, 2020:
Why isn't Ursula higher on this list, she killed all stepsisers, enslave thousands of merfolk, cheats her deals, started a war and tried to start another war, tried to create caos at Ariel grotto, put possion swoke in trient face and had pirates kill Ariels mother. Also treats her daughter like a slave. With goal, her
Creep tentacles, her unfair contracts, her unwillingness to be stopped and evil smile. She scared that out of me. She is one of the most cruel, ruthless and scariest disney villians and is the queen of them all. Even by the looks i knew she no good. Not in million years. I like as a villain.
Jacqueline G Rozell on September 10, 2019:
And you left off Cruella DeVille of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. She was so scary to me because she wanted to kill little puppies to make a COAT!! What made her so scary was that even at the time I was aware of the slaughter of all manner of animals to make fur coats, footwear, and purses. Mink, fox, zebra, tigers, leopards, baby calves, elephants, there wasn't a wild exotic animal that was safe; and in our domestic arena there were rabbits, fox, beaver, snakes, alligators, crocodiles, piglets, baby goats, the list seemed endless. I could always look at the other Disney villains as characters in a story but for some reason Cruella DeVille was very real to my child's imagination. Every time a dog was missing in the neighborhood I couldn't sleep unless it was found, convinced Cruella and her crew had snatched it away to make coats or shoes. It has always been the human villains that scared me the most. I could deal with the monsters because I knew my dog would take care of them.