15 Most Badass Cartoon Characters of All Time

From The Naughties in Smurfs 2 to Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, here are our favorite animated villains

Gargamel, 'Smurfs,' NBC, 1980s; The Naughties, 'The Smurfs 2,' 2013

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "I hate those Smurfs!"

As he'll tell you himself, the Smurfs' stooped-shouldered nemesis is "the slyest, downright orneriest wizard you ever saw." Not exactly the most successful one, though; despite countless spells and potions, he tends to bungle his own plans to capture the little blue gnomes, whose existence drives him crazy. He's also mentioned an interest in turning them into gold somehow. (So far, no dice.) He's even mean to his evil, feline sidekick, Azrael (though he loves him deep down). Arguably worst of all, Gargamel can also be thanked (or blamed) for creating Smurfette -- in an effort to distract and trick the all-male Smurfs. Papa Smurf then used magic to turn her good, and viewers have been stuck with her ever since.

In the movie version (The Smurfs 2 hits theaters July 31), Hank Azaria plays Gargamel as a bad guy who's more inept than scary. But he did triple his villain power by creating two adorable (and deceptively Smurf-like) accomplices, The Naughties. Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove) are tasked with luring Smurfette (Katy Perry) away from the human world, and back to the Smurfs (where Gargamel is waiting). Watch a clip here.

Doctor Heinz Doofenschmirtz, 'Phinneas and Ferb,' Disney Channel

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Curse you, Perry the Platypus!"

You know, it's not easy taking over the entire tri-state area. But in every single episode of Phinneas and Ferb, the lovably evil Doofenschmirtz gives it a try. That darn Secret Agent P (a.k.a. Perry the Platypus) always manages to thwart him, though -- and just when he's created his greatest-yet whatever-inator. (Our pick for his best: the hotdog vendor revenge-inator.) On a critically beloved show, Doof is every TV reviewer's favorite. "It's Dr. Doofenschmirtz who provides the bulk of the adult-pleasing comedy," wrote one critic. There's no arguing with that, even from a world-class (and so very evil!) quibbler like Heinz.

Wile E. Coyote, 'The Road Runner Show,' CBS, 1950s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Genius, that's what it is. Sheer genius."

Wily isn't exactly an apt description for this coyote, but persistent sure is. He's obviously purchased every single complicated contraption in the ACME mail order product line to catch his nemesis, that beep-beep-ing Road Runner. Whether he's hopping on his rocket-powered pogo stick, or lighting up his latest batch of defective explosives, he sure does keep his eye on the prize. Even after running straight off a cliff, suspended in the air for extended moment of terror, and then falling, he always manages to pop back up and try, try again. Then again, there doesn't seem to be much else to do in the barren, southwest American desert where he resides.

Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns, 'The Simpsons,' Fox

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: “Eeeeeexcellent."

Only on a cheeky show like The Simpsons would the villain be a greedy, scheming, compassion-less epitome of corporate America. Mr. Burns is the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, which is a little troubling, since he's not so big on safety. Though he spies on his employees via closed-circuit cameras, he's never bothered to learn anyone's name. Well, except for his pathologically loyal assistant, Smithers (whose love for Mr. Burns is sadly lost on his evil boss). By now, most residents of Springfield have learned not to breach the grounds of his mansion, lest he command: "Smithers, release the hounds!" (Most residents aren't Bart Simpson, of course.)

The Misfits, 'Jem & the Holograms,' syndicated, mid 1980's, also currently on The Hub

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable quote: "Don't call me that!" (Misfits lead singer Pizzazz, who hates her real name, Phyllis)

They may not be set on destroying the planet or anything, but this new wave band is still annoying. They're always trying to upstage Jem & the Holograms! Lead singer Pizzazz is a spoiled rich girl (like a spiky-haired Nellie Olsen) who is Jem's musical and romantic rival. Truth is, she and her accident-prone bandmates -- Roxy, Stormer and Jetta -- aren't much of a threat to the Holograms. But ironically, in real life, many TV critics considered The Misfits to be the better band.

Bluto, 'Popeye,' ABC, 1960s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Ha, Chump!"

Like Popeye, Bluto is a rough-spoken, unshaven sailor man who likes to play cards. Unlike Popeye, he's the kind of guy who cheats. An old navy friend, Bluto has become Popeye's nemesis, and his chief rival for Olive Oyl's affections. But even though he's bigger and stronger, he always loses out to Popeye. How come? Let's say it together, kids! Cause Popeye eats his spinach!

Megatron, 'Transformers,' syndicated, 1980s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Peace through tyranny!"

Optimus Prime's arch enemy, Megatron, is a giant robotic leader and commander of the Decepticons. His goal: Conquering the galaxy. His skills: Super strength, super smarts, super ability to transform into a gun, tank, plane, truck, etc. And this is no humorously bungling nemesis; Megatron is powerful and shows no mercy. The word itself has become a kind of slang for steamrolling strength and talent, which is why Calvin Johnson, the awe-inspiring wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, carries the Megatron nickname.) So if you happen to hear Megatron shout his favorite command -- "Decepticons, transform and rise up!"-- it's best to get out of his way.

Shredder, 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' syndicated, 1980s and 1990s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Those blasted turtles!"

This show's reptilian ninjas -- Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo -- were heroic, of course. But, also, let's be honest, sort of laughable. (They lived in the sewer, people!) So it's only fitting that their nemesis would be both formidable and… a little silly. With that armor of blades that covered his body, and those crack martial arts skills, Shredder was ready to rumble. And yet he always seemed to blow it, often thanks to his incompetent henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady. (Shouldn't their dumb names have tipped him off when they interviewed for the job?) When he wasn't throwing fits of rage at these imbeciles, he was bickering with his alien partner, Krang. But for all his fearsome posturing, Shredder still couldn't stand up to his controlling mother.

Skeletor, 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,' syndicated, 1980s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Kneel before you master!"

As cartoon baddies go, Skeletor was exceptionally villainous. We're talking a Darth Vader voice; an angry, hollow skull for a face; and a reputation as "The Evil Lord of Destruction." Who'd he want to destroy? Well, He-Man, for starters. That's because our hero stands between him and the ancient mystical power hidden under Castle Greyskull. For now, Skeletor resides at Snake Mountain, but if he has his way, he'll conquer all of Eternia. The director Jon Chu is currently developing a big screen, He-Man reboot, and fans are already dream casting the role of Skeletor. One blogger's number one choice? William Dafoe. Perfect! 

Angelica Pickles, 'Rugrats,' Nickelodeon, 1990s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/memorable quote: "You dumb babies!"

What's a baby's natural enemy? Why, his bossy, older (as in three-year-old) cousin, of course! Angelica is a spoiled brat, and her manipulative ways inspire all kinds of adventures for Tom and Dil. Luckily, they have Susie Carmichael, also 3, to stick up for them -- to Angelica's vehement shagrin. On the bright side (for Angelica), her own sidekick, Cynthia the doll, never talks back!

Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, 'Rocky and Bullwinkle,' ABC and NBC, 1960s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Raskolnikov!" (Boris); "Dahlink" (Natasha)

Some might say that the foreign spies Boris and Natasha were more comical than evil. But what do you expect when their main adversaries were a talking moose and a flying squirrel? Ostensibly, these inept secret agents antagonized our heroes while a mission from their native Pottsylvania. But during the cold war era when this show aired, and Pottsylvania was seen as a thinly disguised jab at Russia (or the way Americans saw that country). Despite countless uncreative attempts (suitcase bombs and the like), Boris always failed to kill Rocky and Bullwinkle. And Natasha always pointed out the stupidity in his plans.

Plankton, 'Spongebob Squarepants,' Nickelodeon

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Eye went to college!" (while pointing at his eye)

Plankton runs Bikini Bottom's failing restaurant, the Chum Bucket. But he spends most of his time in his lab, inventing things to help him put Mr. Krab's restaurant, the Krusty Crab, out of business. Might a robotic Spongebob clone help him achieve his goal? Or a giant freeze ray gun? All he has to do is steal the secret formula for the Krabby Patty, and one day soon he'll invent just the equipment to do the trick! That is, as long as this pint-sized villain doesn't get squished by… oh, every other character on the show.

Dr. Claw, 'Inspector Gadget,' syndicated, 1980s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!"

If you're looking for Dr. Claw, you can usually find him inside his old castle, sitting at his computer, monitoring the progress of one of his nefarious schemes. You won't see his face, though -- only his arms and his fat pet, M.A.D. cat. (Dr. Claw is seen but not heard.) Despite his perseverance, his hired henchmen always get arrested before they can kill Inspector Gadget. This is ironic, because as a general rule, Gadget's various bionic gadgets aren't cool enough to offset his own inept buffoonery. In fact, it's Gadget's friends Penny and Brain who always manage to foil Claw's plots.

Mumm-Ra, 'Thundercats,' 1980s, reboot on Carton Network since 2011

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Wherever evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!"

Hell hath no fury like a red-eyed, demonic mummy in a cape. Unlike many cartoon villains, the Thundercats' nemesis is no blundering slouch. There's no irony in his evil laugh, no pratfalls involving his evil bulldog, Ma-Mutt. "Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living!" he incants, and he summons the power to fly, cast spells, transform into alias forms, and generally sew a path of destruction through Third Earth. His one weakness is his own reflection in the mirror, which sends him scuttling back to the Pyramid and his mummy form.

Cobra Commander, 'GI Joe,' 1980s

Courtesy of YouTube

Catchphrase/Memorable Quote: "Cobra! Retreat!"

In a cartoon series full of creatively evil villains, Cobra Commander was the baddest of them all. Like any self-respecting leader of a high-tech, well-funded terrorist organization, he'll use any ruthless method to accomplish his goal of total world domination. The metallic face, full-body suit of armor and cape don't scare G.I. Joe, but "we'll see who's the last one laughing when Cobra conquers the world."

Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.

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