Pokemon has been around for a long time, and as such has quite the list of villains and, this guide will give you a few details about the big baddies you will face. With the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon we are back with this amazing series of games so this may also help with 20 years of history. As I run through the best Pokemon villains, plus you can check out a bit more of their history and personalities. Plus my thoughts on what worked and what didn’t.
These villains also serve as my ‘best baddies in pokemon’ countdown, so aren’t in chronological order.
Pokemon is massive and if you are reading this then no doubt you have some thoughts too. Thankfully we have a very easy Disqus or Facebook Comment system at the end. Write me a message and I will read and reply to as may as we can.
Also, this list contains Minor Spoilers for all Pokemon games EXCEPT Sun and Moon.
Games: Diamond, Pearl, Platinum
Cyrus is a villain from one of the more divisive generations of pokemon, which I won’t get into here, but I for one like Cyrus, he is lost in his anger in the world he sees around him, and is determined to use the power of the legendary pokemon who star as the cover stars of this generation to destroy the world and rebuild it as he deems it worthy.
This kind of megalomaniacal thinking is a common theme in Pokemon games, and there is certainly no shortage of it in Cyrus, he is delusional, irrational, and despite what must have come before him, he must know the consequences of his actions.
Cyrus, for me, is one of the hardest villains to really understand. His ideas when compared to his methods, and the people he surrounds himself with, doesn’t really fit.
So for me, Cyrus is the weakest of the villains, which is ironic considering that Platinum is one of my favorite Pokemon games.
Games: X, Y
Lysandre wants to create a world of unending beauty, another villain with another noble cause, however, Lysandre is not like many of the other villains on this list.
Lysandre knows the destruction he must seek, and explains it to the protagonist, he knows the difficulty of his task and yet persists.
The other way he seems to vary a lot from the other villains, Lysandre seems to actually take a vested interest in the progress of the protagonist, until much later in the game, when it becomes apparent that he is the leader of team Flare.
Lysandre clearly cares about the protagonist, as he keeps constant communication, making his villainy a little bitterer than it otherwise could be.
Lysandre is an almost unique villain in that he does spend a large part of the game helping the protagonist, and even asks the protagonist to stop him, if they can.
This seems to indicate that Lysandre is convinced that he needs to try and achieve his goals, but also understands the cost of what he intends to do, so will leave it to the final confrontation to decide his fate.
Games: Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire
Maxie is the leader of team Magma, whilst Archie is the leader of team Aqua, both function in much the same way, blinded by the same misguided belief, just roles reversed depending on version (or both ideals if you play emerald, which really should have seen a modern remake)
Maxie wants to use the power of legendary pokemon Groudon to extend all land mass and therefore make more places for people and pokemon to live in peace.
Archie wants to use the power of legendary pokemon Kyogre to extend all the worlds seas, and therefore give water pokemon more places to live.
In both instances, the respective leaders quickly lose perspective on what the cost of their respective goals could be, and also in underestimating the power of these legendaries, they are left with no choice but to turn to the player for help in stopping a world ending catastrophe.
Interestingly in either Ruby or Sapphire, the player teams up with the opposing leader to stop the plans of that versions core antagonist, this leads to some interesting possibilities in the pokemon timeline.
my experiences tend to be more fighting Maxie than Archie, both however are depicted as tough, stubborn and steadfast in their beliefs.
What is interesting is that both will come to their senses, and aide the player (and the opposing leader) in undoing their mistake.
This leads me to believe that they really had researched and planned this much more meticulously than some other villains.
There have been many great pokemon rivals, but the pick of the bunch, and the one that serves as a pseudo-villain, is Silver (yes I know he doesn’t have a cannon name in the games, but he does in the manga, so Silver it is)
Games: Gold Silver, Crystal, HeartGold, SoulSilver
Whilst many of the villains here are driven by plots that make them, at most, misguided, Silver is a little different, he is aggressive, disrespectful even violent. And that is not mention the fact he steals his starter from the professor at the beginning of the game.
He is seen as cruel, aggressive and selfish, he notes that he only cares about power and destroying weak trainers.
He also takes exception to team rocket, showing distain for their inability to actually achieve the goals they set out for, and he wants to destroy them, to teach them a lesson.
Ultimately Silver does learn the error of his ways, and later in the series there is other evidence that he finally comes good, but for the series to have such a polar opposite to the protagonist makes silver stand out in a big way.
Silver isn’t Blue, I know. A lot of people see Blue as the best rival, and maybe I will cover rivals at some point.
however, for the vast majority of Gold/Silver/Crystal Silver is THE villain, team rocket is there, but they aren’t as much a challenge to the protagonist as Silver is.
Silver is also one of the more cruel trainers you ever meet in Pokemon.
Games: Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, FireRed, LeafGreen, HeartGold, SoulSilver
Giovanni is the big boss of team rocket, this makes him the most robust villain in Pokemon, team rocket is still active in the anime, and they are almost as iconic as any monster in the franchise.
In the games however, Team rocket is led by Giovanni, who is obsessed with power. He wants to become the most powerful of all trainers, and will steal pokemon to achieve this. In the originals (and the subsequent ports) he is involved in kidnap, theft, and his team even go as far as killing a pokemon!
Giovanni is cold, and ruthless. But is ultimately thwarted at every turn by the protagonist. In the end, Giovanni disbands team rocket, however in Gold/Silver (and the remakes of those games) team rocket resurfaces.
When the teams plot to use pokemon for world domination is thwarted again, Giovanni admits that he wants to leave team rocket behind forever, and ultimately (for now) we haven’t seen team rocket.
This shows that Giovanni is clever, deceitful, yet prideful, a collection of traits that make him a very dangerous foe, and we know he is powerful as he is the last gym leader you can face before the elite four!
Giovanni has the longest, broadest history of any villain in Pokemon. my favourite moment with Giovanni happens when the player beats him the final time.
Giovanni decides that he cannot win as his convictions are no longer strong enough and that his disdain for other trainers makes him weaker.
This shows that until that moment Giovanni not only committed cruel acts, but believed he was right to do it!
Games: White, Black, White 2, Black 2
Of all the Pokemon games thus far, W/B has the most thought provoking plot, it has been a long time established that pokemon have feelings, with the obvious stuff being pokemon only evolving if they love their trainer, and less obviously with moves that work better if a pokemon loves its trainer.
Ghetsis leads team plasma, with his drive to force people release pokemon, using the idea that pokemon training is a form of slavery, and that if people really love their pokemon they should release them, the how and why of it is obvious at this point, as it is throughout the game itself, Ghetsis wants to be the strongest trainer, and he sees this detachment of trainer and pokemon as the easiest way to do this.
So why is Ghetsis (in my mind at least) the best villain in pokemon?
It’s the way he goes around his business. You see in every iteration of Pokemon out there, the villain wants to seek out a legendary pokemon to achieve their goals.
Ghetsis however does something akin to psychological abuse.
N, no really that is what he is referred to (although he does have a much longer cannon name), is a young man who was adopted by Ghetsis after being raised and protected by pokemon.
He is compassionate, and only wants his pokemon friends to be happy.
It is here that Ghetsis does he real evil, he manipulates N using an old legend, to convince N that pokemon don’t want to be kept by people, that pokemon want to be free. He uses N’s compassion to try and bully people into releasing pokemon, it is only much later in the story that N realises he is being manipulated.
So, to me, for the fact that his evil stems from the manipulation of a character who is effectively a good guy, Ghetsis is a cruel, relentless villain.
He also is the most elusive villain, only stepping out of the shadows much later than other villains, he has a powerful team too, which shows that he has no intention of following his own propaganda, a scary individual indeed.
But what do you think? Get down the page and drop me a Disqus or Facebook Comment. Write me a message and I will read and reply to you as soon as possible. Stay tuned to MGL for more Pokemon as my review of Sun and Moon goes live soon!