[Top 10] Super Mario Villains From Evil To Most Evil

Super Mario Villains

The Baddest of the Bad

Every video game franchise has at least one villain to stand in our way. The Super Mario franchise is littered with evildoers, shady figures, and even some outright scumbags. Mario has squared off with hundreds, if not thousands, of bad guys across his nearly forty history. So, let’s take a look and see which of these villains are the most sinister of the bunch.

This list will only consist of main villains, who usually serve as the final boss of at least one title. Thus, characters such as Hellen Gravely and Petey Piranha are not listed here. I will also be considering their popularity in the Super Mario franchise, as well as the severity of their crimes. So, when you guys ask why Wart, Cackletta, and King Olly aren’t here, their evilness doesn’t quite reach the same levels as other one-hit wonder antagonists.


#10. Donkey Kong (and Cranky Kong) (misunderstood)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong - Official Trailer - Nintendo Switch

This listing is technically two individual villains, as the Donkey Kong we know today is the grandson of the original Donkey Kong from the arcade, who is now known as Cranky Kong. However, both have caused Mario equal amounts of trouble, and are equally as memorable.

Although his villain status is an ancient relic by now, Cranky Kong was Mario’s original nemesis prior to Bowser’s introduction. In the arcade classic, Donkey Kong, the original big, stupid ape kidnapped Mario’s then-girlfriend, Pauline, and forced our hero to brave the dangers of a tall construction site to save her. On the way, we have to jump over barrages of barrels, avoid sinking in cement tubs, and avoid getting scorched by fire. Although the big guy was blinded by attraction, kidnapping is still a major no-no, especially when you’re putting others’ lives in danger. A crazed gorilla is already dangerous on his own, but given the setting and obstacles that stand in our way, the lovestruck monkey’s recklessness makes our predicament even more perilous.

However, although the current Donkey Kong has adopted his grandpa’s mannerisms, we still don’t see any ill intent from his actions. Mario Super Sluggers is the only game in which Donkey Kong deliberately opposes Mario, by being the only Captain character to require completion of a Scouting mission in order to recruit him. It’s a minor plot point that is just a test to prove yourself, so is it actually bad? No, not really. He does match his grandfather’s levels of severity, but, unlike Cranky Kong, he has more justification behind his misunderstood mischief, and, on occasion, aids Mario and crew against the bigger bads. 

DK’s misunderstood intentions are on full display in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong spin-off series. In each of the first three installments, Donkey Kong’s crimes are driven by disappointment. In the original Mario vs. Donkey Kong and its remake, he learns the new Mini-Mario toys and wants to get one for himself. Sadly, when the ape arrives all of the windup toys have sold out. Desperately wanting the new toy, he decides to raid Mario’s toy factory and steal some for himself, forcing Mario to chase after him to get his new windup toys back. Stealing from others is bad, but Donkey Kong just wanted a toy, for crying out loud. His motives can at least allow us, and Mario, to understand and forgive DK for his lack of patience. 

The monkey’s actions in the sequels, March of the Minis and Mini-Land Mayhem are a bit more severe, but still stem from misunderstanding. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, he kidnaps Pauline and forces the red-clad plumber to use his Mini-Marios for combat and puzzle-solving to save the day. However, in both titles, his actions are driven by similar emotional responses to that of the original. In March of the Minis, Mario reunites with Pauline, and the two work together to expand the toy factory with more products, including the Mini-Donkey Kong toy. DK, who helps out in the factory, meets Pauline and, just like Cranky before him, falls in love with her. He offers to give her a Mini-Donkey Kong toy, but Pauline turns down the gesture, in favor of a Mini-Mario. He responds by kidnapping her and holding her captive on the highest floors of the factory. Reliving his very first quest as a gaming hero, Mario climbs the many floors of his own factory to rescue her. Unlike his grandpa, Donkey Kong is apologetic for letting his disappointment get the best of him. Again, kidnapping is very bad, but, since this is a video game and not real life, I don’t blame DK for being upset, and it is still easy to forgive and move on.

Mini-Land Mayhem sees our favorite gorilla kidnapping Pauline yet again. Mario and Pauline open a theme park, where the first one-hundred guests are gifted with the new Mini-Pauline toy. Just like in the original Mario vs. Donkey Kong, DK just misses the opportunity. So, obviously the next best option is to nab the real Pauline. Once again, Mario chases the ape across the park to rescue his business partner. This time, however, the conflict between human and ape is resolved, as Mario gifts DK with the Mini-Pauline he wanted all along. Once again, you can’t go around kidnapping people, but seeing Mario and Pauline forgive Donkey Kong allows us, the players, to do the same. While he still qualifies as a villain, Donkey Kong is very much a misunderstood character, with minimal evil in his heart. All’s well that ends well!



#9. Wario (somewhat evil)

Mario Super Sluggers - Final Cutscene - Nintendo Wii

Mario’s chubby, yellow-clad rival is the primary antihero of the franchise. Although Wario and Mario are not necessarily archenemies, they clearly don’t like each other. However, unlike the Kongs, Wario’s deeds are intentional and deliberate. Despite his hatred for his more popular and heroic adversary, Wario does aid the good guys in various instances (albeit begrudgingly) and has his moments of heroism, notably in spin-off titles centered around him. 

Wario’s antics are mostly driven by jealousy and greed, rather than pure evil. This is on full display in his debut, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. While Mario is still occupied with his quest in the game’s prequel to defeat Tatanga (more on him later) and save Princess Daisy and Sarasaland, Wario took over Mario Land, brainwashed the residents, and stole Mario’s castle. He also scattered the six golden coins, which served as the keys to Mario’s home, across the land. Mario’s popularity did not sit well with his rival, to say the least. 

Wario’s jealousy carried over to the Mario Super Sluggers challenge mode. Although Mario helped escort his rival down from a tall building when the power went out, his devious scheme in the closing cutscene portrays Wario as a rather ungrateful man. At the Baseball Kingdom ceremonies, Mario helps put on a fireworks show by batting Bob-ombs into the sky. Wario, along with Waluigi, attempt to sabotage the show by loading the Bob-omb cannon with a Bullet Bill. Fortunately, Bowser, of all characters, steps in and smacks the Bullet Bill right back where it came from, saving Mario from getting obliterated. I’m not kidding: Wario willingly joined Mario to help restore the power to his stadium and the surrounding area, and repaid him by trying to (pretty much) kill him. Come on, that’s not cool, man. Aside from this, Wario hasn’t actively tried to injure anyone, but Mario’s archrival possesses greed like we have never seen before. He actively shows spite for Mario, but also helps him at times, which is why he deserves his status as an antihero. 

Well, THAT did not go according to plan…



#8. Waluigi (somewhat evil)

Mario Party 3 - Enter Waluigi - Nintendo 64

When Nintendo wanted to give Luigi his own rival, akin to Mario and Wario, their answer came in the form of Waluigi. Just like Wario, Waluigi is a stereotypical antihero who has his not-so-great moments, but also aids Mario and Luigi from time to time (again, albeit begrudgingly). However, while Wario and Waluigi often work together in their evil deeds, the purple stringbean we love to hate ranks slightly higher than his partner in crime, as, in the rare instances where he is the main antagonist, Waluigi aims to spread his mischief on a much larger scale. 

In his second appearance ever, the lanky gent acts as our semifinal challenge in Mario Party 3’s story mode. Although all of the characters (minus the one we choose to play through the story mode with) battle with us for their respective Star Stamps, Waluigi steals the Mischief Star Stamp out of nowhere. To get him to hand it over, you must defeat him on his own board, Waluigi’s Island. And, oh boy, this island is littered with all sorts of traps and tricks. Waluigi has everything going for his visitors, including a rickety foundation, explosives, and infestations of hungry Piranha Plants. However, this is not the worst thing he’s done…

The lanky purple-clad sleazeball shows us his true evil side in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, where he steals the four Music Keys in order to be the best dancer, “hypnotize the rhythmless masses,” and “flood the world with chaos.” As ridiculous as the combination of dancing and world domination sounds, Waluigi’s plot probably would’ve worked, if he wasn’t stupid enough to distribute the Music Keys to other antagonists. While Wario used similar methods to plunder Mario’s Castle, his schemes only affected the citizens of Mario Land, plus Mario himself. Waluigi plans on spreading pandemonium to the whole world. While I’m probably exaggerating here, this just goes to show why the skinny scumbag is a tad bit more evil than his portly accomplice. Nevertheless, Waluigi is also an antihero who assists the good guys on occasion. However, just like Wario, that won’t save him from avoiding being ranked among the baddest of bad.

Dancing our way to world domination!



#7. Smithy (evil)

Super Mario RPG - Final Boss: Smithy - Nintendo Switch

When Super Mario first entered the world of RPGs in 1996’s Super Mario RPG, Bowser was not the bad guy of note. Instead, we are graced with Smithy, a mechanical monstrosity, whose gang has driven Bowser out of his own castle, destroyed the Star Road, and tried to create a world full of mass weaponry and destruction. Smithy is the first villain on this list to pose a true threat to Mario. He sends his minions to retrieve six of the seven Star Pieces (the final one he already has possession of) that make up the Star Road, so that the Mushroom Kingdom’s citizens’ wishes will never be granted. A world without wishes would be… well, it would not be good whatsoever.

What prevents Smithy from ranking any higher is that his minions are pretty much doing all of the dirty work in his place. Throughout the entire adventure, he remains in his factory to create new artillery-like enemies to flood Bowser’s Keep and eventually throughout the land. Sure, he’s the ringleader of the whole scheme, but he himself didn’t kidnap anyone or try to manipulate others. However, his minions still stirred up a lot of trouble on his orders, and it’s pretty evil to lead an entire army of weapons to bring chaos to the world.

Let’s send this mechanical monster back to the junkyard!



#6. Tatanga (evil)

Super Mario Land - Final Boss: Tatanga - Nintendo GameBoy

Tatanga, the main antagonist of the original Super Mario Land, is what we get when putting the acts of Wario, Waluigi, and Donkey Kong into a blender. The purple alien is guilty of kidnapping a princess and brainwashing her people into serving him. However, Tatanga comes up short because (1) he has very few appearances to his name, and (2) his crimes aren’t out of the ordinary by Super Mario villain standards.

On top of kidnapping Princess Daisy and hypnotizing the inhabitants of Sarasaland, Mario is tapped for the rescue mission to exterminate the evil extraterrestrial. Unlike the previous villains I’ve discussed, Tatanga uses advanced technology, specifically a spaceship, to combat the plumber. If Mario didn’t have a spacecraft of his own, he wouldn’t have stood a chance! This shows how dedicated Tatanga was to stopping Mario, keeping Daisy captive forever, and having her citizens obey him for eternity. 

However, Tatanga’s worst crimes occur, not in a video game, but in a comic strip. In each issue of the Game Boy comics series by Valiant, he escapes from an ordinary man’s Game Boy to try and destroy the real world. In order, Tatanga targets the World Trade Center, Disney World, and the Great Wall of China. For the first time, we have a villain targeting multiple universes. Excluding cameos, we haven’t seen Tatanga in official Nintendo media in over thirty years, and that’s probably for the best for our heroes.

An alien invasion we will never forget!



#5. Bowser Jr. (evil)

Super Mario Sunshine - Shadow Mario's True Identity - Nintendo GameCube

When we first met Bowser’s son in Super Mario Sunshine, we assumed that he would be just like his dad. Sure enough, we were spot on. Bowser Jr.’s debut showed us that, despite still being a child, was a very competent villain. He took on the persona of Shadow Mario, caused immense property damage throughout Isle Delfino with his paintbrush, and got the real Mario thrown in jail for a slew of crimes the plumber had nothing to do with. The little tyrant also kidnapped Princess Peach on his father’s behalf, and tried many, many times to steal Mario’s F.L.U.D.D device. He has also sealed numerous Toads inside ? Blocks in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, turned Princess Daisy into a statue in Mario Super Sluggers, and aided his father in other nefarious schemes in games such as Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Party DS.

Bowser Jr.’s first title as a main antagonist is in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom, where he meets a Rabbid named Spawny, who is tricked into assisting him in taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, in an attempt to impress his father (who is on vacation at the start of the game). However, Spawny’s unintended creation, Megabug, takes on a physical form, the sentient vortex begins to attack. Soon after, we learn that Bowser is returning from vacation early, thus putting the Koopa King in harm’s way. Here, Bowser Jr. demonstrates significant character growth by acknowledging his mistake and pleading for the heroes to help save his dad. 

So, while Bowser Jr. is an evil character, I think we can all say it’s because of who his father is. Villainy runs in the family, and Bowser’s only son is no exception.. At the end of the day, it’s natural for a child to stay true to their parent, so I doubt Bowser Jr. will ever oppose Bowser. Regardless, you have to admire their father-son bond.

Like father, like son.



#4. Bowser (evil)

Super Mario Galaxy - Bowser's Galaxy Reactor, Final Boss, and Ending - Nintendo Wii

You all knew Nintendo’s flagship villain would show up on this list eventually. Well, here he is. As the main antagonist of the Super Mario franchise, it would be a crime for me to not mention Bowser . The Koopa King has almost forty years of evildoings under his belt, and I don’t think he’ll be  retiring from his foul work anytime soon.

If I were to mention every instance of Bowser being a villain, this article would be an entire novel. Usually, his evil schemes involve kidnapping Princess Peach and taking over the Mushroom Kingdom. But, he does add on to this basic formula in various ways across different titles. He grants himself invincibility in Paper Mario, sets his sights on world domination in Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, tries to force the princess into marriage in Super Mario Odyssey, and even manages to kidnap Mario, Luigi, and Toad in Super Princess Peach. This guy just doesn’t know when to quit! 

Bowser has occasionally worked together with Mario and his friends, albeit begrudgingly or while only considering his own gain. In Super Mario RPG, he teams up with the plumber to get his castle back from the Smithy Gang. He helps the Mario Bros. get started on their journey through the Beanbean Kingdom in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, but only to retrieve Princess Peach’s voice so that her new explosive dialect doesn’t destroy his castle if he were to abduct her. However, Bowser has, in some titles, aided the protagonists without the need for a selfish incentive. This most notably is imminent in Paper Mario: The Origami King. Bowser actively helps Mario save Princess Peach and her castle from King Olly, after the plumber helps him escape from an origami prison. Unlike in other titles where good and bad have joined forces, Mario never has to fight Bowser at any point. While Bowser is one of the most villainous characters in all of gaming, he has also aided his enemies at times, which we cannot say the same for the rest of the villains on this list.

Ummm… how many times have we fought each other now?



#3. King Boo (very evil)

Luigi's Mansion - Final Boss: King Boo - Nintendo GameCube

Like Bowser, King Boo is very, very evil, scaring the living daylights out of anyone who tries to confront him. However, unlike Bowser, this ghostly monarch has nothing to show in terms of a good side, nor has put in any effort to aid his enemies in a crisis.

The royal Boo is the main antagonist of all three Luigi’s Mansion titles. In the original game and its remake, he tricks Luigi into thinking he won a new mansion by informing the younger Mario brother that he won a contest. Although Luigi never entered any sort of sweepstakes, he accepts his prize and asks Mario to meet him there. When Mario arrives first, he is captured by King Boo and his army of ghosts, and sealed in a painting. That’s one way to welcome someone into your neighborhood. In Dark Moon, after escaping from his recapture in the previous game, King Boo proceeds to shatter the titular Dark Moon, which causes all the friendly ghosts to turn to the dark side. Finally in Luigi’s Mansion 3, he teams up with Hellen Gravely to attempt to capture not only the brothers, but also Princess Peach, a trio of Toads, and Professor E. Gadd, who had helped Luigi combat ghosts since the very beginning. King Boo has zero good deeds to his name, and thus surpasses Bowser on the evil scale.



#2. Sir Grodus (very evil)

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - Sir Grodus Boss Battle - Nintendo GameCube

Although the dome-headed leader of the X-Nauts is a one-time character, his actions are so corrupt and dastardly that he nearly destroyed the world. Sir Grodus has much more vileness in his heart than King Boo and Bowser combined. 

Grodus’ sole appearance is in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, where his goal is to find the Seven Crystal Stars and open the titular Thousand Year Door. Once the door is opened, he can wake the almighty Shadow Queen from her millennium-long slumber to destroy everyone and everything in his path. This extraterrestrial tyrant shows no mercy to anyone, not even his own minions. When he’s not working on his vile plan, Grodus is often seen belittling his cronies, and insulting his own top lieutenant, Lord Crump. You would hate to work for this guy just as much as trying to fight him.

To find the Crystal Stars, one must use the Magical Map to guide them. However, the map is sealed in a chest that can only be opened by a pure and noble heart. So, when the X-Nauts stumble upon Princess Peach who is on vacation in the harbor town of Rogueport, they seize the opportunity to open the lock (although, before they can capture Peach, she sends the Magical Map to Mario). When Mario finally meets Grodus in the Palace of Shadow on the other side of the legendary door, he actually threatens to kill the princess. That’s right - he actually threatens to murder someone! Not even Bowser has come close to such a dire threat! By using Peach as a vessel, Grodus summons the Shadow Queen who possesses the princess, but gets what he deserves when the freed demon disobeys him and burns him to a crisp. However, by simply releasing the Shadow Queen, Grodus still nearly caused the end of the world. If Mario didn’t manage to save the day and if Peach didn’t survive the ordeal (how she did, I will never know), Grodus would top this list. However, there’s only one other villain whose actions have put much more than an entire world in danger…

What IS this thing?!



#1. Dimentio (irredeemable)

Super Paper Mario - Final Boss: Super Dimentio - Nintendo Wii

What makes Dimentio the baddest of the bad in the Super Mario franchise? The answer is quite simple, actually. Dimentio’s sinister plot was to wipe out all dimensions. In essence, that would entail the entire universe. Sure, Sir Grodus wanted to destroy the whole world, but we would still have alternate realities that would remain untouched. But here, Dimentio aims to basically destroy everything until there’s nothing left. Oh, and also, he even betrays his boss to carry out his evil work. Of course, treason is a disgraceful path to take, even amongst bad guys.

Dimentio is revealed to be Super Paper Mario’s main antagonist after the supposed final boss, Count Bleck, has been defeated. Even though the count realizes his mistakes and asks Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach to finish him and stop all dimensions from being absorbed into a dark void, Dimentio betrays his boss and tries to carry out the plan himself, attempting to kill Count Bleck, actually killing the count’s assistant Nastasia (who took the blow for Bleck), and even manipulating Luigi to merge with him into Super Dimentio to defeat Mario, Peach, and Bowser. This jester is far from your average royal fool. He is perhaps the most threatening, most self-centered, and foulest abomination that Mario has ever faced. 

If Nintendo villains were to be sentenced for their crimes, I am confident that Dimentio would be the only one subjected to execution - THAT is how evil he is. Dimentio is a backstabber, psychopath, murderer, and, most importantly, the baddest, cruelest, and most heartless villain the Super Mario franchise has ever seen.


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Undeterred by the tendinitis in his right thumb, Harry continues to mash that A button his GameCube controller and won't be quitting anytime soon!
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