10 villains who don’t let ill-health get in the way of world domination

Illnesses aren’t useful, unless you’re hell-bent on power and/or destruction, in which case a proper nasty affliction can magnify your bad-assery.

5 min readMar 22, 2021
Photo by Tommy van Kessel 🤙 on Unsplash

Whether you’re commandeering a military spacecraft or lurking in the shadows of Mordor, a cough or a sneeze simply won’t do. You want an ailment that’s on-brand and as awful as you are. But which is best?

10. Immortan Joe (Mad Max)

His skin is rotting, he’s covered in boils, and he’s rocking a whole heap of respiratory problems; it’s astonishing he has the stamina to keep up with Mad Max in Fury Road. Using a special skeletal breathing apparatus decorated with horse teeth, and some nifty semi-transparent body armor, he’s relentless in pursuing his favourite virgins through a post-apocalyptic hell-scape.

9. Ben Linus (Lost)

Lost’s most notorious nut job had a good reason to be angry. The magical and mysterious island that Ben called home made a point of protecting every other inhabitant from getting sick — although, it took a serious liking to his back tumor, despite doctor Jack’s best efforts to remove it.

8. Two-Face (Batman)

Gotham City’s harmless district attorney has a comic-book disfigurement that causes him to develop an obsession with number twos (not those kinds). In Nolan’s The Dark Knight, it sends him on an unlikely killing spree, for which our hero Batman takes the blame.

7. Jigsaw (Saw)

Jigsaw’s terminal run-in with the big C left him feeling suicidal; he drove off a cliff to negotiate a way out on his own terms. But, with a rod through his guts, he awoke, astonished, and alive — with a new-found appreciation for life. Afterwhich, he considered it his responsibility to rip the arms and legs off anyone he met who didn’t seem happy they weren’t dead yet.

6. Cassandra (Doctor Who)

Early in Doctor Who’s run, Christopher Eccelston bumped into a quick-drying sheet of skin in constant need of moisturisation. Her villainous plan to sabotage a ship full of elitist aliens above a fiery Earth was thwarted, and she was left without a beauty regime. She returned a season later, this time, using skin from her ‘back side’ — ooerr!

5. Scorpius (Farscape)

Science fiction’s most cunning bondage-loving bad guy isn’t strapped in leather for the fun of it — he’s the result of a brutal biological experiment. His Scarran-side craves heat, but the Sebacean in him just wants to chill. For this reason, his skull doubles as a refrigeration unit in which he stores refreshing ice-blue coolant rods — until they turn into red-hot time bombs.

4. Gollum (The Lord Of The Rings)

He’s had better days — 219,000 of them. Hobbits usually live for about 100 years, but thanks to an unhealthy obsession with ‘my precious’, Sméagol lived to a shriveled 600. Darting back and forth between devotion to the ring and hatred for it, his mental instability and unreliability landed him in the fires of Mordor — alongside his beloved.

3. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale)

007’s first foe since the gritty reboot was a snarling poker player with a runny eye. His sinister illness? Dramatic conjunctivitis — it’s the reason he weeps blood at inopportune moments. The finishing touch, of course, is his platinum-plated inhaler. Everyone knows only the most awesome antagonists have asthma.

2. Darth Vader (Star Wars)

The king of wheezing himself: Darth Vader. After having his limbs scattered by Obi-Wan Kenobi, he had no choice but to turn half-robot and live the rest of his days encased in an elaborate cape and gas mask. Imagine his lack of peripheral vision — not to mention the condensation from all that heavy breathing. Regardless, he’s earned infamy as a diabolical go-getter.

1. Professor Gellar (Dexter)

Dexter’s big bad in the show’s disappointing sixth season was James Gellar; a former Religious Studies professor, painter, and frozen corpse. Despite his death, he continued evil-doing and lived in the mind of Travis Marshall as an imaginary ghost. What more could one expect from a serious, nail-biting forensic detection TV drama?

There you have it!

Proof, if ever you needed any, that being unwell doesn’t have to ruin your day, or even your life! Embrace your ailments and make them your unique selling point. Things might start to go your way…