8 smartest villains in My Hero Academia, ranked

Who said villains cannot be brilliant? (Image via Studio Bones)
Who said villains cannot be brilliant? (Image via Studio Bones)

The villains in My Hero Academia are some of the most devious and cruel individuals that anime has ever seen. People like Overhaul, Re-Destro, and All for One have forever altered people's perceptions of villainy.

To achieve their objectives and avoid being captured in the process, villains need to be smarter than the Heroes they are fighting. As a result, the majority of the series' minor villains rely on the intelligence of other characters to assist them in executing their evil schemes. On this list, we will rank the eight most brilliant villains in My Hero Academia’s world, from the least smart to the absolute geniuses.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s opinion and contains spoilers for My Hero Academia’s manga. Sportskeeda does not claim ownership of any media used unless otherwise specified.


Skeptic and 7 other sharp-witted My Hero Academia villains

8) Kurogiri

The best bartender in My Hero Academia (Image via Studio Bones)
The best bartender in My Hero Academia (Image via Studio Bones)

Shigaraki’s reign as the League of Villains' leader was only achieved thanks to the constant guidance and support of Kurogiri. Kurogiri is a high-end Nomu created using the body of Shirakumo, Aizawa’s deceased friend, who has the ability to open portals anywhere in the world.

While he was mostly subservient to Shigaraki’s desires, Kurogiri also had the ability to come up with plans and strategies. He represented the more rational side of Shigaraki's childish behavior at the start of the series.

Besides being a masterful strategist and helping Shigaraki overwhelm Heroes, Kurogiri was also smart enough to understand when retreating was the best option for the league. If not for Kurogiri, Shigaraki would have been arrested during the USJ incident.


7) Stain

Stain as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)
Stain as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)

Justice in My Hero Academia’s world is a concept that many people take for granted. For many individuals, being a Hero is all about fame, fortune, and strength, completely forgetting that their job is to protect people and keep them safe.

His methods may have been considered extreme, but few people understood the issue as much as Stain did. Known as the Hero Killer, Stain embarked on a crusade to eliminate fake Heroes from society, using only his wits and his Quirks to do so.

He does not look the part of a brilliant villain, but he is one of the smartest individuals in My Hero Academia. Before attacking, Stain always tried to gather as much intel on an enemy as possible, increasing his chances of success. Besides that, he was also extremely versatile, able to adapt to almost any situation in a matter of seconds.


6) Re-Destro

Re-Destro as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)
Re-Destro as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)

Being the leader of an entire organization is not an easy job, as Re-Destro can confirm. This charismatic and arrogant villain used to be the leader of the Meta Liberation Army, a group of people who believed in the ideals of Quirk Supremacy.

He was inspired by his father, the original Destro, who fought for the rights of Quirked individuals when powers first started to become a thing in My Hero Academia’s universe. Besides being the leader of this group, Re-Destro was also the CEO of Detnerat Company, which he used as a front to finance his true goals.

Re-Destro was smart enough to trick the public into believing he was nothing more than a simple businessman, while he kept his criminal empire a secret. He was also able to give the League of Villains a proper challenge thanks to his brilliant plans.


5) Skeptic

Skeptic as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)
Skeptic as seen in the show (Image via Studio Bones)

A smart villain does not always need to engage in combat to prove his intelligence. Skeptic, who is still an amazing fighter, has shined throughout the latest arc of My Hero Academia because of his hacking skills.

Once a member of Re-Destro’s army, Skeptic decided to join the League of Villains, now the Paranormal Liberation Front, as one of its lieutenants. In combat, he can use his Quirk to create and control puppets that can look exactly like a person of his choice.

Nonetheless, he is shining as a villain right now because of his involvement in hacking All Might’s command center and accessing the civilian escape routes. Few people in My Hero Academia could be as smart as Skeptic is to have accomplished something of this magnitude.


4) Tomura Shigaraki

Tenko is fighting AFO's influence right now (Image via Studio Bones)
Tenko is fighting AFO's influence right now (Image via Studio Bones)

Tenko Shimura is the long-lost grandchild of Nana, All Might’s mentor and mother figure. As a kid, his lack of control over his Quirk caused him to kill all the members of his family. After that trauma, it was extremely easy for AFO to manipulate the child and mold him into his vessel.

When he was first introduced, Shigaraki acted more like a spoiled child than a leader, something he had to learn the hard way after being defeated repeatedly by the Heroes. Still, after AFO's defeat at the hands of All Might, Shigaraki started to understand what an actual leader is like.

At the moment, Tenko is one of the best strategists in the series, as well as one of the coldest and cruelest individuals alive. He knows exactly what he needs to do in order to hurt Hero society where it will hurt the most, doing so without any semblance of regret.


3) Overhaul

Chisaki and the Quirk Erasing Bullet (Image via Studio Bones)
Chisaki and the Quirk Erasing Bullet (Image via Studio Bones)

Quirks in My Hero Academia’s world are the foundation upon which their society is built. Sadly, as new generations of powerful Quirked individuals are born, these powers are getting more unstable, becoming a danger to everyone.

Overhaul was aware of this fact and convinced himself the only way to stop the danger was to erase Quirks completely. To achieve this goal, he started experimenting with Eri’s cells, believing that her Quirk factor would be the solution to his problems.

After years of torturing the poor little girl, Overhaul was able to create a Quirk Erasing Bullet, the culmination of his years of research. His methods were horrible and his god complex blinded him from seeing the monster he became, but no one can dispute his brilliance.


2) All for One

The worst human in My Hero Academia (Image via Studio Bones)
The worst human in My Hero Academia (Image via Studio Bones)

Japan’s underworld has been controlled for centuries by the same man who terrorizes everyone with his presence, All for One. His Quirk allows him to steal and give any kind of Quirk he wants as long as he is able to touch a person.

His massive collection of Quirks makes him an almost unstoppable force, capable of fighting one-on-one against All Might in his prime and almost killing him. Yet he is not only a powerful man; he is also a masterful tactician and a natural-born manipulator.

The goal of AFO is to eliminate the Heroes in the My Hero Academia manga. Every time the good guys seem to be winning, All for One reveals another secret weapon that completely overpowers them.


1) Kyudai Garaki

The Doctor and AFO (Image via Studio Bones)
The Doctor and AFO (Image via Studio Bones)

The Nomu were considered the biggest threat to Hero Society for a long time after My Hero Academia began. These monsters were created by infusing unwilling subjects with as many Quirks as possible, turning them into the perfect killing machines.

These creatures would not have been created if not for the twisted and brilliant mind of Kyudai, also known as the Doctor. His intellect is such that he is capable of copying Quirks to give to different Nomu.

Shigaraki’s new body was also created by the Doctor, in order to allow the young man to withstand the strain All for One would cause on his body. The Doctor is the driving force behind most events in My Hero Academia, due to his sick desire to experiment and his loyalty to AFO.


Final thoughts

Shigaraki leading his men (Image via Studio Bones)
Shigaraki leading his men (Image via Studio Bones)

The Heroes in My Hero Academia would have a much easier time if not for the many intelligent individuals who dedicate their lives to evil. Underestimating villains inside the series’ universe is the biggest mistake someone can make, as they have been proven to have some of the smartest individuals by their side, who tell them exactly how to act.

This intellect is exactly why the Heroes are currently losing the war in My Hero Academia’s manga. Sometimes power is not enough to fight villains like AFO or Shigaraki; you also need a mastermind to counter their impressive plans and strategies.