Joy, goodwill, festive cheer.  That’s what Christmas is all about, right?

These sentiments are not so entertaining, though, when it comes to a good Christmas tale. You need something a bit more ‘pantomime’ when you’re settling down after overdoing the turkey and Christmas pud.

Good versus bad, cheerful versus miserable, hero versus villain!  The ‘nasty’ characters give us someone to root against or laugh at if we’ve plumped for a comedy or Disney-style production.

With a couple of possible surprises included and in no particular order, here are our favourite Christmas villains, some who aren’t all that bad……

Marv & Harry

The lovable, bungling rogues of the first two Home Alone movies and the real stars of the show!

If Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci’s characters had made an appearance in the third edition maybe it wouldn’t have been so terrible...just saying.

Pesci is regularly cast as a violent, short-tempered gangster or criminal but toned it down brilliantly as the brains (!) of the duo in these family favourites, seemingly taking inspiration for Harry’s rants from cartoon dog Muttley!

And let’s not forget Marv’s high pitched scream, although I reckon we’d all wake the neighbours if we had a tarantula crawling across our face!!!

Where were all the neighbours in the first film, by the way….??! 

Hans Gruber

Being a big fan of the trilogy (let’s ignore the more recent efforts), it doesn’t feel like Christmas until you’re watching John McClane v Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard film.

He’s not as likeable as some on this list, though.

Hollywood often gives the antagonist an English accent so we can be thankful for Alan Rickman’s superb performance as the cold, calculated German mastermind behind the Nakatomi Plaza heist, which was disguised as a terrorist plot.

He had total disregard for human life, pulling the trigger on two people without batting an eyelid, and even his bad guy brother in Die Hard 3, Simon Gruber, referred to him in less than glowing terms.

Bruce Willis’s McClane ultimately gets the better of him (Yippee-ki-ay!!) and his demise is one of the most iconic in cinema history.

Scrooge 

Back to some sort of sensibility with a classic!

Created by the world famous English writer, Charles Dickens, Ebeneezer Scrooge is the central character of arguably Dickens’ most well-known and most widely adapted story, A Christmas Carol.

The story was inspired by Dickens’ visit to one of the Ragged Schools of Victorian London, where he observed the charitable care of half-starved children. 

The inspiration for the character Scrooge is less clear but because of his life of hoarding wealth and exploiting the poor, the name has become synonymous with cold-hearted miserliness, and his catch-phrase, “Bah! Humbug!”, is used by many who bear little in the way of good tidings at this time of year!! 

Courtesy of the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Scrooge sees the light and mends his ways.  Employee Bob Cratchit gets a pay rise which means his very ill son, Tiny Tim, has a brighter future.

Heart breaking moment to remember:  in the film The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Michael Caine’s Scrooge refuses to give money to Beaker and Dr Bunsen’s orphanage charity. 

Perfect ‘casting’:  Waldorf & Statler as Robert and Jacob Marley’s ghosts in The Muppet’s Christmas Carol,  (Robert an addition for ‘dramatic’ licence!) 

The Grinch

Likened to ‘A Christmas Carol’ and nearly as iconic as his story ‘Cat in the Hat’, Dr Seuss’ 1957 illustrated book of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ has become a firm favourite for adults and children alike.

The 1966 cartoon adaptation of the same name is a classic in itself but Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the hermit-like, bitter, scornful, grumpy, party-pooping main character was absolute genius and made the film which hit cinemas in 2000.

The story takes place in a world inside a snowflake called Whoville where the fun loving, optimistic residents, the Whos, live without a care in the world and celebrate Christmas with merriment and glee, something even The Grinch fails to temper when he steals all their presents and decorations.

The Whos’ against all odds attitude gives The Grinch second thoughts of what Christmas is all about and he reforms his ways, having the heart to return everything he took.

There was always hope that he had a heart, anyway.  He is after all a dog person, aided by his pet dog Max who he dotes on.

Useless trivia:  child actress Taylor Momsen, who played alongside Carrey as cute little Cindy Lou Who, went on to play Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl and is now lead singer of rock band The Pretty Reckless

Gremlins 

DON’T GET THE MOGWAI WET!!!!  DON’T FEED IT AFTER MIDNIGHT!!!

Simple instructions that came with the cute, furry ‘pet’ named Gizmo.

Lo and behold, a glass of water and a meal of chicken legs and frozen yoghurt later, and we go from one mogwai, to five cocoons, to five havoc-wreaking gremlins!

Sharp teeth and claws, reptile skin and bat-like ears make them look as ferocious as they actually are and their idea of fun involves mischievous, violent, sabotaging, evil activities – ‘legend’ has it they’ve downed planes! 

The 1984 film was considered to be a too near the knuckle violent black comedy for the time, its 1990 sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, a little more light-hearted.  Both were big hits.

Star of the show:  yes, Gizmo is very cute but Stripe, the evil leader of the Gremlins in the first film makes it all the more captivating!

Old Man Potter

For those of us of a certain age group or, if like me, you just love black and white movies, one of the most critically acclaimed Hollywood productions of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life, was a Christmas story.

Henry F. Potter is the evil-doer of the 1946 film.  A heartless slumlord whose cold and sinister character is acted superbly by the late Lionel Barrymore, everything he does throughout the film is motivated by money and greed.

James Stewart is also brilliant as the perfect citizen who spends all his time and money preventing Mr. Potter from taking over the town of Bedford Falls.

I won’t give anymore of the plot away as you can watch it on Sky Cinema on demand right now*.

Trivia:  The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, drew inspiration from Old Man Potter for Mr. Burns

Definitely worth a mention: 

  • The ruthless, life gambling Oogie Boogie in Tim Burton’s The Night Before Christmas
  • Panto villains – “Behind you!!” – They get everyone involved in the live stage shows which have been drawing big family audiences for centuries.
  • King Herod, a big part of the Christmas story and a real life villain!

Are there any villains we’ve missed? Tell us on Facebook which Christmas villains are your favourite!

*Correct as of 15/12/17