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Ghetsis (Image credit: Pokemon: BW Adventures in Unova and Beyond, OLM Incorporated)

10 most iconic Pokemon villains

Pokemon has been a childhood fan favorite for most people. Many things about every new season stick with fans- new Pokemon, forms, regions, friends, and adventures. But a very iconic feature of any new season is the new villain team or trainer.

There have been many of these characters, and even though they are evil, some are so charming, so interesting, or just genuinely well-executed that fans cannot help but love them. So, in this list, we will talk about 10 of the most iconic villains in the Pokemon anime.


Disclaimer: This list will be based on the author's opinion and not be in any particular order. It will contain spoilers from various Pokemon seasons.

Who are Pokemon's most iconic villains?


1) Guzma


The leader of Team Skull and one of the best characters in the Pokemon: Sun and Moon series. Guzma is a former student of Hala and ex-friends with Kukui. He used to battle against the latter while they were both Hala’s apprentices, but he became frustrated when he could not defeat his rival.

After running away from his lessons, he convinced himself he was the strongest trainer. When the Pokemon league was announced in Alola, he became obsessed with destroying it.

Guzma has a very strategic and analytical mind that allows him to produce unconventional methods of winning battles. But he is also afraid of losing and can become enraged if his strategies do not work.

Still, many fans love his character and enjoy his journey to become a better person and a strong trainer during the series.


2) Malamar

One of the weirdest entries on the list, Malamar, is a water Pokemon with a prodigious mind that rivals that of humans. Malamar is the only utterly evil Pokemon in the series, as none of the creatures that acted as antagonists before did so with any malice.


Malamar took control over Officer Jenny at some point and used her to communicate with humans. It even tried to control all of Ash’s friends and many Pokemon and use them to take over the world. After it was defeated, it tried again by forming an alliance with other Malamar and using crystals to control a larger number of beings, but that plan was also frustrating.

3) Lysandre


The leader of Team Flare, Lysandre, was one of the antagonists of Ash’s journey in the Kalos region. Lysandre used to be someone who would willingly help those around him, but after those people disillusioned him, he decided to destroy the imperfect world he lived in. He was trying to control Zygarde to bring the End of the World.

Despite his flawed reasoning and inexcusable actions, Lysandre’s motivation was misguidedly a good one. He wanted to create a world where people would help each other and be grateful. A perfect villain with a plan that took a lot of power to stop.

4) Hunter J


J was one of the recurring villains during Ash’s journey through the Sinnoh region. A ruthless and heartless Pokemon hunter, J just wanted to make money, never caring about who could get hurt by her actions. Her gauntlet can shoot a beam that petrifies the creature it hits, allowing her to capture it.

She was an iconic villain with a different motivation than most. She only wanted money, never caring about what happened when her job was done. Her outfit and her Salamence left a mark on many fans who watched the show. A greedy and horrible villain with a great design and memorable moments.

5) Maxie


Team Magma's leader Maxie wanted to awaken the legendary Pokemon Groudon to use its power to increase the mass of the Earth and reduce the water levels. He had an analytical mind with a serious and calm demeanor and was willing to do anything to achieve his goal. After his plan failed, he realized the error of his ways and decided to become a changed man.

Even though his ideas and goals were somewhat noble, there is no doubt Maxie was evil and ruthless, wanting to control a legendary to destroy the Earth's landscape. He would probably not be one of the fans’ favorite villains if not for his interactions with his rival Archie. He will always hold a spot as an iconic villain.

6) Archie

Concept Art for Archie and Maxie for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, seen in the Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Essentials Concept Art Book.

Despite the characters being based on their Ruby and Sapphire depictions, their dialogue comes from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Team Aqua's leader and the main rival for Maxie. Archie wanted to do the opposite as his opponent; he tried to increase the water in the world and was willing to drown people and Pokemon alike to achieve it. His goal was to get Kyogre to help him but was later possessed by the power of his red orb, making his plan fail and wiping his memory.

Like Maxie, Archie was not necessarily motivated by evil intentions, but his methods and attitude during the series did place him as a villain. It was exciting to see him interact with Maxie, his loud and quick-tempered attitude being a great contrast with his rival.

7) Paul


Paul is not necessarily a villain since he does not have any evil intentions behind his actions. But the way he treated his Pokemon, his rivals, and anyone around him made him deserving of a spot on this list. Paul was one of Ash’s rivals and one of the most ruthless ones.

He abandoned his Chimchar after being disappointed by his constant losses during battle, leaving him in the middle of combat without any instructions, basically allowing the opponent to beat it senselessly. After that, Ash takes Chimchar with him, and when it becomes an Infernape, it proves to his previous trainer how wrong he was in abandoning him.

Paul was one of the worst trainers when it came to treating his partners and was also rude and arrogant when interacting with others. And he will always be one of Pokemon’s best villains because few true villains could be as cruel as him.


8) Ghetsis

The leader of Team Galactic and the adoptive father of N. Ghetsis was obsessed with power and control and was so heartless he adopted children to use them in his favor, as with N, who he convinced to liberate Pokemon with his ability to speak with them, making him believe that was team Plasma’s true intent. He wanted to create a powerful control device that could attach to Reshiram, the Pokemon he previously tried to gain control of but failed.


He was eventually defeated, and his plans were foiled, but his awful nature and questionable parenting skills have left a mark on Pokemon fans ever since. There has not been a villain as ruthless and evil as Ghetsis yet in the series.

9) Giovanni


The leader of Team Rocket and the last Gym leader of the Kanto region, Giovanni controls his empire under the disguise of a company, and his desire for power makes him obsess over obtaining strong Pokemon, stealing them from the wild or from other trainers. His power-hungry nature even drove him to clone Mew, but the clone, Mewtwo, got out of control after getting tired of being used by his creator.

Even though he has been shown to care about his Persian and the other partners under his command, he will always be one of the most iconic villains in the series since he was the first main antagonist and the one behind the most iconic trio.

10) Team rocket (Jesse, James, and Meowth)


There are no other villains that could be as iconic as Team Rocket’s trio. These three characters have been accompanying Ash since the beginning of his journey. They will keep following him until they can get their hands, or paws, into Ash’s Pikachu to deliver it to Giovanni. Their interactions are iconic, and fans can never get tired of seeing them blasting off into the sky.

Even though they have been trying to steal and kidnap Pokemon for years, they are not bad people and have very sympathetic backstories that only make the fans like them more. They have helped Ash and his friends plenty of times and were heroes once without anyone noticing. They are indeed the most iconic and beloved villains in the entire series.

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