The cartoon landscape of the 1980s was vast and varied, and so too were the cartoon villains. Cartoons spanned nearly every genre, from superhero stories to animal-based adventures, and young viewers were eager to watch their favorites every Saturday morning. The 1980s was also the beginning of the age of action figures, and many children’s shows were created specifically to sell toys. As a result, cartoon villains were often just as popular as heroes.
All the cross-marketing between cartoons and toy series spawned several very successful franchises that are still relevant today. Some of the most iconic animated series from this decade have become beloved classics, and their signature villains are still loved – and feared – by fans of all ages.
10 Baron Greenback Was Danger Mouse’s Version Of A James Bond Villain
Danger Mouse was a fan-favorite British cartoon with a very popular villain. Baron Greenback, a diabolical toad with a pet caterpillar and a crow henchman. Greenback is loosely based on Blofeld, a classic james bond bad guy who was nothing short of a criminal mastermind. Greenback’s style is very similar to Blofeld, but his signature croaky voice is all his own.
9 The Legend of Zelda Cartoon Series Brought Ganon To Life
Ganon is a well-known villain from The Legend Of Zelda’s universe, but the 1980s television series transformed him into a convincing cartoon criminal. Ganon is an evil wizard with a squeal-like voice who wishes to take over Hyrule.
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Ganon will stop at nothing to achieve his diabolical mission, and employs an army of re-spawning minions to help him conquer the series’ heroes. He never quite succeeds at his goal, but gets close enough to keep tensions high throughout his time in the series.
8 The Real Ghostbusters’ Samhain Wanted Eternal Halloween
The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was a fun rendition of the well-loved ghostbusters movies, and spawned some fantastically spooky villains. Samhain was one of the spookiest, and easily the most recognizable. His pumpkin head, mysterious cloak, and long clawed fingers made him a formidable foe for the eponymous heroes of the series, and he reappeared for several rematches after his premiere episode. Samhain’s mission was simple: he wanted Halloween to last the entire year instead of just one night. Fans especially enjoyed watching the heroes foil Samhain’s oddball plan time and time again.
7 Shredder Was The Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain
Shredder was a tech-savvy villain who made his debut at the beginning of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He employs robotic members of the Foot Clan to help him carry out his vile schemes, but could easily get the job done on his own as well. Shredder is a skilled hand-to-hand combat fighter who frequently took on all four Ninja Turtles at once. What sets him apart from other villains, though, is an occasional sense of self-awareness about how evil his behavior can be. This adds an enduring likability factor to an otherwise evil character.
6 Revenge Was A Recurring Dungeons And Dragons Adversary
Dungeons & Dragons is an iconic role-playing game, but it was also a popular cartoon series in the 1980s. The series followed a bunch of teenagers through the fictional D&D universe, where they fought a large cast of villains using swords and spells.
Venger, with his dramatic wings and black horse, is one of the most memorable villains from the series. He was hell-bent on conquering the realm and defeating The Dungeon Master, which brought him into frequent conflict with the teenage heroes.
5 She-Ra: Princess Of Power Found A Worthy Opponent In Hordak
Hordak definitely looks terrific: his skin is pale white, his eyes are red, and his face resembles that of an evil bat. His outfit is studded with bones, which make him appear even more threatening. He rules his people with an iron fist and takes joy in their suffering, which puts him at odds with the series hero, She-Ra. However, Hordak is not easily defeated: he can swap out body parts for deadly weapons, and viciously employs magic to defeat his enemies. Though She-Ra ultimately wins her battles against him, it’s often a very close call.
4 Mumm-Ra Terrorized The Thundercats
The original 1980s ThunderCats was a very underrated series, and the same is true of their primary adversary, Mumm-Ra. Mumm-Ra was a walking nightmare – part sorcerer, part mummy, all terror. He used his magic and his cunning to thwart the heroes’ attempts to destroy him, even tricking them into tossing him into a resurrection lake at one point in the series. Few things are as terrifying as an overly intelligent villain, and fans couldn’t get enough of the conflict between Mumm-Ra and the ThunderCats.
3 He-man And The Masters Of The Universe’s Skeletor Is An Icon
Skeletor may not be the smartest cartoon villain ever devised, but he is definitely among the most recognizable. Even people who aren’t followers of the He-Man saga know Skeletor by name. Skeletor was the main antagonist in the original He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe series, and his main goal was to kill He-Man himself. What he lacked in smarts, he made up for in tenacity: despite constant failures to achieve his goal, Skeletor never gave up. His minions may have been incompetentbut they were certainly afraid of getting on the imposing villain’s bad side.
2 GI Joe’s Cobra Commander Was A Fanatical Leader
When it comes to 80s cartoon villains, G.I. Joe’s Cobra Commander stands out as a memorable part of the typical Saturday morning lineup. The ominous leader of the Cobra group, Cobra Commander didn’t need a unique name to make a lasting impression on viewers – his unrelenting evil spoke for itself.
Hiding his identity behind a mask and uniform only added to his dastardly persona. The Commander was responsible for a string of murders, as well as terroristic activities that put the series’ heroes in some pretty harrowing circumstances.
1 Transformers’ Megatron Defeated A Childhood Favorite
He may not be the biggest game in town anymore, but few 80s cartoon villains elicited as strong of a fan reaction as Megatron. Megatron was so evil that he would transform into weapons, to be used against his enemies. However, that wasn’t the worst of this Decepticons leader’s acts. Megatron managed to achieve what all others had failed to do when he defeated his arch nemesis, Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime’s death was momentous in the worst way for transformers fans, who were horrified by the beloved character’s defeat. Megatron will always be remembered as the worst of the worst in the transformers universe.
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