Where there are heroes, there must be their opposites — the villains. Over the decades, Pixar has shown us that they can do great protagonists, as well as their evil mastermind counterparts who are much more grounded and believable than, for example, Disney villains. These characters may not be planet-destroying powerhouses, but what they lack in brute strength, they make up in intelligence.
Here are the top 8 of the most cunning Pixar villains.
1. Stinky Pete (Toy Story 2)
Everyone knows that manipulative people are the worst, especially the cunning types like the old Stinky Pete. He pretends to be an innocent grandpa when in reality, as soon as his plans are about to fall apart, Pete turns into a tricky little bugger. You also can’t help but feel sorry for him, as he wasn’t always like this.
2. Hopper (A Bug’s Life)
At first glance, the audience sees Hopper as a big ant bully, but he’s also quite the manipulative insect if you think about it. Sure, he’s big and strong compared to the ants, but he has enough foresight to trick the little bugs into fearing him. To be fair, Hopper is a perfect combination of brawn and brain, even though it’s such a tiny scale.
3. Lotso (Toy Story 3)
Since his first appearance, Lotso the Bear has been compared to The Governor from The Walking Dead. And it’s easy to see why. Both offer shelter for newcomers, only to reveal later that they are evil, sadistic freaks who want to keep you locked up in Sunshine Kindergarten, which is basically a prison for discarded toys. Lotso is a menace, and he should have seen his demise coming.
4. Ernesto De La Cruz (Coco)
Ernesto is possibly the most realistic villain on this list. He pretends to be Miguel’s grandfather, knowing full well that that’s a lie, so when it is actually revealed that Ernesto killed Miguel’s real grandfather and then proceeded to take all the credit for Miguel’s grandfather’s musical achievements, it really hits that “I hate that guy” spot. His motivation may be plain old envy, but people don’t really need more than that to keep the delusion of grandeur from overtaking their minds.
5. Henry J. Waternoose (Monsters, Inc.)
Waternoose is a typical evil CEO, but at first, he seems to be this benevolent and caring figure for Sally and the monsters. When it eventually turns out that he was behind the whole plot to kidnap children and use the “Screamer” device to prevent an energy crisis, you realize what a cunning scumbag he really was all this time.
6. AUTO (WALL-E)
When it comes to intelligence, nothing beats the cold, calculated “mind” of an advanced AI like AUTO from WALL-E. It has its cybernetic feelers on the entire database of humanity, including its history and what’s the easiest way to beat those meat bags. Once a good and understanding helper, AUTO has become a ruthless villain trying to exterminate the last humans from the universe. The greater good is not always what’s better for us.
7. Charles Muntz (Up)
Charles Muntz became obsessed with restoring his former glory and made it his life’s goal to find new bird species. In particular, the seemingly extinct kind that cost the ornithologist his reputation in the first place. He is so obsessed with this bird that he kills all the other explorers who tried to find it and even sacrifices several dogs to try to catch it. If that wasn’t enough, Charles is also a genius inventor who built dog speech translators and even taught his poor pups how to fly a plane.
8. Syndrome (The Incredibles)
Syndrome may be the strongest of the villains on this list, but he is also one of the smartest ones. After being rejected by Mr. Incredible as a child, Buddy Pine spent his life trying to get back at him. As an adult, Syndrome began luring heroes to his island, fully packed with deadly traps, AI robots, and various other ways to decimate the super-visitors. Because of this childish thirst for revenge, Syndrome is credited with killing at least 15 superheroes, making him arguably the creepiest killer on this list.