One thing that Disney knew for a fact was that a good feature-length animated movie needed a suitably evil antagonist for the stakes to be high enough to matter. And throughout Disney's history, villains have been used to scare the hell out of kids in nearly every movie that they've released (and television shows, and stage shows, and comic books, and park rides). While disagreements are sure to ensue, here is Topless Robot's list of the 15 greatest Disney villains from the entirety of its cartoon works.
Bambi was one of the few Disney films to have two unnamed antagonists, both Man and Fire. I combined them because, well, neither one is much on its own, but combined turn cute and fun Bambi into a nonstop nightmare of "who's going to die next?" Kids have to deal with the off-screen death of Bambi's mom ("Your mother can't be with you anymore") then the impending doom of an all-consuming inferno. Sure, Thumper's cute, but Bambi is an exercise in pure terror.
14) Dr. Facilier
I wanted to include nearly all of Dr. Facilier's scenes in The Princess and the Frog in my Scariest Moments list, but the dude sadly didn't make the cut. He's pure evil, though, with plenty of voodoo dolls and grinning skulls to back him up. His scenes are some of the best in the whole film, especially the final scene in the graveyard where demons take his soul to Hell. Disney does not play nice.
13) Madame Medusa
It's hard to choose between Rescuers villains. I planned to go with Percival McLeach from Rescuers Down Under just for killing endangered animals and putting kids in cages, but Medusa from the first film is much worse. For starters, she abducts children by luring them into her car. That's just... ew. Then she forces little Penny to climb into a pirate ship that's about to flood, just to get a big diamond. It's one of the most tense scenes in any Disney film. Then she goes nuts and fires a gun at the girl. Evil, man, evil.
12) The Queen
Not the first Disney villain, but the first Disney movie villain, the Queen has absolutely no good in her at all, and she just happens to be a witch. She was a witch that married a king and got stuck with a hot stepdaughter. Because she was jealous she sent the hot stepdaughter away, then attempted to kill her again by making herself really ugly and giving her an apple, then falling off a cliff. It's an odd plot. But anyone who's been on Snow White's Scary Adventures at the Disney parks knows that she's absolutely frightening.
11) Ursula the Sea Witch
Name one other villain on this list to grow enormous and then get impaled by a boat. Can't do it, can you? People consider Ursula one of the great Disney villains, which is why she's high on the list (remember, she grew enormous and was impaled by a boat), but I consider her a pretty fair business person. Ariel wants to walk? Ursula gets her voice. Can't fault her for wanting to keep it for a while. She was also a bitch to kill in Kingdom Hearts.
10) David Xanatos
You thought we forgot Gargoyles, huh? Not at all. Xanatos ruled supreme over both his own Xanatos Enterprises and the Illuminati, attempting to both destroy and replicate the Gargoyles through both magic and technology. While not resurrecting the dead or creating robot monsters, Xanatos strove to become immortal, something that evil people tend to do a lot of the time. He's a crafty son-of-a-bitch, tied for evildoing with the Gargoyle Demona, whom he teamed up with occasionally during the series. See? Didn't forget her either.
9) Cruella De Vil
Cruella's gone through a kind of resurgence in popularity recently. While she was indisputably one of Disney's best villains, 101 Dalmations was shrugged off by the studio after its release, and Miss De Vil languished in obscurity for years. When the current Disney trend of elevating villains took hold, Cruella was catapulted into the spotlight again, starring in both live-action versions of 101 Dalmations, the animated sequel, the animated series, and the staged musical. Now she's one of the top dogs in the house of villains, and definitely someone you don't want to meet.