Most movies go to great lengths to give villains a satisfying or ironic comeuppance. For example, Superman II had a super-powered Clark Kent pick a fight with a non-super-powered bully for no other reason than petty revenge.
However, some movies forget about villains and don’t give them what’s coming to them. I’ve compiled a list of 10 villains who never got any comeuppance for their dastardly deeds.
I don’t think it would necessarily make all of these films better to have some sort of retribution on these villains, but it’s just interesting that all of them are left hanging. Let’s start dishing it out.
Paul in Big
Big is about a 13-year-old boy named Josh who transforms into a grown man overnight and has to learn how to act the part of an adult in a hurry. Along the way, he lands a sweet executive job at a toy company because he has the audacity to question the decisions of other executives. The film’s villain is Paul, who views Josh as a threat. They have a little love triangle going on and they even get into a fistfight. I like how Paul represents bullies that kids face, but he’s an adult, which makes his selfish behavior even more childish.
But the film totally drops the ball when it comes time to give this creep his just desserts. He tries to disrupt Josh’s big meeting, but no one pays much attention to him. In the end, Josh just heads home and turns back into a child. Paul is completely forgotten. I feel like timidly raising my hand and saying, “I don’t get it.” Oh. Maybe that’s the movie’s point.
Richard Mason in Crocodile Dundee
Richard Mason is a pretty good foil to Mick “Crocodile” Dundee. He’s a New York City socialite who also happens to be the boyfriend of Sue, the woman Dundee loves. Dundee, on the other hand, is a bit of a wild man who is more at home in the Australian outback than in a big city. They compete for the affections of Sue, and Sue ultimately chooses Dundee.
There’s no big confrontation or decisive moment that makes Sue change her mind or anything like that. Actually, all the villains who get great punishments are on the periphery: the poachers in the Outback, the pimp in New York, and the purse snatcher. Richard is still the editor of Sue’s newspaper, and he’s only out a fiancé by the end of the film. He’s so shallow that I’m sure he’ll be able to rebound quickly and simply say, referring to Sue, “That’s not a wife.” Then he’ll turn his head and see another woman and say, “That’s a wife.”
The Barracuda in Finding Nemo
Tragedy strikes at the start of the family-friendly Finding Nemo when the main character’s wife and all but one of their embryonic children are eaten by a barracuda. Marlin spends years sheltering his son, Nemo, from the ocean because of this horrible experience. However, he goes on an adventure in order to save his son and along the way he overcomes his fears and learns that bad things just happen sometimes and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Maybe Marlin will face off with the barracuda and take revenge in the upcoming sequel, Finding Dory, but until then I say: Just keep swimming.
Lao Che in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I really like the first and third Indiana Jones films. Their opening scenes tie in nicely to the themes of the films, even though they show Indy hunting for artifacts that have nothing to do with the plot. The villains who betray Indiana Jones in the classic opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark all die by the end of the film. The man in the white hat presumably dies in an explosion at the start of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
And then there’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Indy starts out in Shanghai in a faceoff with a powerful man named Lao Che. Indy escapes by the skin of his teeth in a memorable shootout and car chase and then accidentally catches a flight that is being piloted by men who work for Lao Che. Thus, events are set into motion that leave Indy stranded in India where a completely unrelated adventure awaits. Lao Che is never mentioned again.
When Willey says, “Anything goes,” in the opening musical number, I guess she’s referring to him.
Henry F. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life
Mr. Potter is one of the nastiest villains in film history. He is Ebenezer Scrooge without the whimsical change of heart. He spends all his screen time in It’s a Wonderful Life making life miserable for the hero, George Bailey. The coup de grace comes when he is accidentally handed an envelope full of money Bailey needs to keep his business afloat. He doesn’t return the money and lies to Bailey about it, sending Bailey into a suicidal panic.
Everyone knows how it turns out. Bailey discovers that the world is a better place because of him, and the whole town rallies around him in his most desperate hour to make up for the missing funds. And through it all, Mr. Potter is a few thousand dollars richer and laughing all the way to the bank (which he also owns). Bah humbug.
Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth
I’m not really sure if Jareth the Goblin King is real or if this whole movie is supposed to take place in Sarah’s mind. Jareth kidnaps Sarah’s baby brother after the frustrated teenager gets tired of babysitting him and wishes him away. Sarah is then forced to navigate through a giant labyrinth in order to find her brother before time runs out. She makes it in time and says a special chant to defeat Jareth and both she and her brother are returned home safe and sound.
Along the way, Jareth does some oddly entertaining dance numbers and does some cool tricks with a glass ball. It’s really no big deal to him when he loses. He just turns into an owl and flies off to teach some other teen a lesson and teach another baby how to “Dance, baby, dance.” I still can’t get that song out of my head.
Stromboli and the Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)
Two in the same movie! Disney’s Pinocchio is a treasure trove of nasty villains, but I kept it to these two because they are such egregious offenders who seriously deserve punishment. Stromboli is the man who enslaves Pinocchio and threatens to eventually turn him into firewood. The Blue Fairy rescues Pinocchio from his cage, but Stromboli is free to take advantage of the next naïve performer he comes across.
Soon after that horrible experience, things get even worse for Pinocchio when he winds up on Pleasure Island, which is run by a frightening figure known only as the Coachman. He tricks hordes of little boys to the island where they behave immorally thinking there are no consequences for their actions. But it turns out that they all turn into donkeys and are sold into slavery. Pinocchio manages to escape this horrible fate, but none of the other boys do, and there’s no mention of Pinocchio reporting the Coachman to the authorities or anyone else who could put a stop to his obscene activities.
I need to go listen to “When You Wish Upon a Star” to remember why I like this movie at all.
The Old Man in RoboCop 2
The Old Man is a benign presence in the first RoboCop. Dick Jones is the real villain at OCP while the Old Man is just a figurehead as the president. But in RoboCop 2, he doesn’t have anyone else to hide behind, so he has to do all his dirty work himself. We learn to loathe him by the end of the film, especially when he finds a way to weasel out of any negative consequences for his actions.
Actor Dan O’Herlihy didn’t appear in RoboCop 3, and that sequel implies that the Old Man died between films. So we never get to see him face the music when his company goes bankrupt. He really should have taken his own advice and behaved himself.
The Businesspeople in Up
A bunch of creepy land developers want a crotchety old man named Carl Fredricksen to move out of his house so they can demolish it in favor of a new mall. The night before Carl is going to be evicted, he rigs up his house with hundreds of balloons, which pull his house into the air so he can go have an adventure in South America.
And the creepy developers couldn’t be happier. They get the land without having to bulldoze a house or get a bad reputation for uprooting an old man. There’s really no downside for them in this situation. To add insult to injury, when Carl visits his young friend, Russell, down the street, he’ll likely feel a twinge of regret when he looks over and sees where his house used to be. But I suppose it’s just a house.
Can you think of any other villains that I didn’t include on this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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what about woman villains who didn’t get their comeuppance in movies? sometimes in movies, women are villains.
I edited your comment to meet the standards of appropriateness for this website.
Thank you for asking about this. I invite you to offer suggestions of other villains to add to this list. It’s by no means meant to be a comprehensive one in its current form.
That’s funny the other guy mentioned a lack of villainesses – the first thing I thought of when I saw this list was Tina Turner as Auntie Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Sure, she’s more sympathetic than most villains, but she’s still clearly the bad guy and her sudden turn to good(?) at the end makes no sense other than the movie had to end somehow.
That would have been a great villainess to include. Thank you for suggesting it. Sad to say I’ve never been a huge Mad Max fan. I saw the movies years ago and I thought they were good, but they didn’t grip me the way I know they do many people. The Road Warrior is my favorite of the three.
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In Pinocchio, none of the villains got what they deserved. They never show what happens to any of them. The coachman looks like a devil when he says, “They never come back as boys.”
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I know the beginning of Finding Nemo is sad because he is the only one of the fish to not get eaten by the barracuda, but I don’t know if the barracuda counts as a villain. A barracuda might be a predator. Does a predator count as a villain?
Yeah, that was stretching it a bit. But if Superman II could take the time to give a simple bully at a diner his just desserts, it’s not too farfetched to think Finding Nemo would remember its first villain/predator.