As is often the case in most films, the best character in a kid’s movie is usually the villain. Whether he gets to be a scene-stealing supervillain or a childhood-ruining creep, it’s the villain who’s most unusual—and that means most interesting.
And when a kid’s movie does its villain well, he can be the kind of character that even adults can enjoy watching on screen. Which is a good thing, given that they’ll likely have to sit through that same movie a million times at the request of their kiddies.
With that in mind, here are some of the best kid’s movies where the villain is fun, interesting, or downright awesome.
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5. Bill Sikes (Oliver!)
I remember watching Oliver! as a kid and being frightened of Bill Sikes. He seemed like a legitimately unhinged human being, a far cry from the usual caliber of kid’s movie villains.
The anger that radiates from him whenever he’s on screen is palpable, and you often think that Oliver is really in serious danger.
And unlike in most kid’s movies, you actually get to witness the death of Bill Sikes in an explicit way, rather than the usual cut-away-and-leave-it-to-the-viewer’s-imagination method. It’s quite graphic, with Sikes being hung after getting shot during an escape attempt.
Bill Sikes is also unique as a villain in that his character resonates the more you learn about his actor, Oliver Reed. He completely embodies certain dark elements of Sikes, which only serves to heighten the impact the character already has.
4. The Agents (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a classic example of a movie where the bad guys seem a lot more mundane when you see them again as an adult.
When you’re young and impressionable, all you see are scary men who want to kidnap and murder a little boy’s only friend. But when you look at it through adult eyes, you see a bunch of guys just trying to get through a rough day at the office.
There are two memorable E.T. scenes featuring these agents.
First, the opening scene with a scared E.T. being chased by these shadowy figures who we only ever see from the waist down (portraying a child’s point-of-view). They really sell the chaos and confusion in this scene, complete with shaking branches and heavy breathing.
Second, the notable scene when E.T. is dying and the family is attempting to leave the house, but their escape routes are all blocked by men wearing oversized spacesuits. They stalk around without saying a word, but their intentions clear: to take E.T.
3. Scrooge (The Muppet Christmas Carol)
While Ebenezer Scrooge is the poster child of a bad guy who turns good, and while Scrooge as a character has become something of a cliche by now, he still remains as an iconic movie villain.
What makes A Mupple Christmas Carol’s portrayal of Scrooge so great is that Michael Caine plays the character entirely straight, never once breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge that he’s talking to Muppets. That lends the film a kind of gravity that’s rare in kid’s movies.
It also gives the Scrooge character more impact when he’s threatening to make Kermit the Frog homeless instead of Bob Cratchit—and I’m willing to bet that that got more young people interested in classic literature than it gets credit for.
2. Scar (The Lion King)
Scar is an obvious pick for a list like this, given that he’s one of the few Disney villains who has actually murdered someone on screen, as opposed to simply making idle threats.
As most are well aware, Scar is responsible for the death of Mufasa. But it’s not that Scar killed Mufasa, but how Scar killed Mufasa that stays with us long after we’ve seen the movie. And he takes it one step further, convincing Simba that it was all his fault.
Murder, betrayal, and emotional blackmail? In a Disney movie?! Most other Disney villains come off as marshmallows compared to this guy. And after sending Mufasa to his grave, Scar goes on to rule the Pridelands with a ruthlessly iron paw.
1. Sid (Toy Story)
In a film that’s all about talking toys, Toy Story’s Sid ends up grounding the movie with an element of reality. We all knew a Sid when we were younger, and so his character deeply resonates as true.
From what we see of Sid’s home life, it leaves a lot to be desired—certainly a world away from Andy’s cosy home next door. The closest thing we see to a parental figure is slumped in front of the TV, surrounded by empty cans.
This is the sort of thing that goes over your head as a kid, but watching it back as an adult leaves you in no doubt that Sid and his long-suffering sister are actually from a broken home.
This puts Sid’s whole “blowing up toys” shtick in perspective, as well as the Frankenstein’s lab that is his bedroom. Sid isn’t a villain as much as he is a misguided soul. He even has no idea that the toys he’s mutilating are alive. Is he really that bad, after all?
And as for the fate of Toy Story’s Sid:
Well, this fun little Easter egg in Toy Story 3 seems to suggest that Sid eventually puts his toy-destroying tendencies behind him to become a trashman who serves his community.