There was some TV show on tonight as I was flipping around about the list of sexiest men in movie history. I love lists like that and in talking through similar lists I got onto best bad guys of all time (sticking to TV and movies).
I submit the following list and ask anyone who wants to add their own as I'm sure I'm missing some really good ones:
Honorable Mentions: Khan Noonien Singh (Wrath of Khan), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Evil Queen (Snow White), Baltar (Original Battlestar Galactica), Clubber Lang (Rocky III), Boba Fett (Star Wars), Predator (Predator), The Kurgan (Highlander)
10. Norman Bates: The original psycho. Scary because he is so mild mannered, until his mother shows up. But don't worry, he wouldn't hurt a fly.
9. Annie Wilkes: You hear Annie and you don't tremble in your boots, but when she's standing over your bead with a sledge hammer, you come around. Kathy Bates nailed it, although her character was allowed to use a chainsaw in the book.
8. Brad Whitewood, Sr.: This is maybe an obscure pick, but Christopher Walken played Sean Penn's evil father in the most intense movie I've ever watched. This is worth seeing for the later seens between Penn and Walken. This is Walken's finest bad guy.
7. Nagina: The entire short special of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi had a manacing air about it (Orson Wells sure can set a mood), and by the time Rikki follows Nagina down her hole, I had to get behind the couch to watch the rest. I still get the creeps when I hear her voice in my head talking about getting the boy when he gets into the bath.
6. Alex Forrest: Glenn Close wasn't known as a bad guy for the first half of her career, and probably still isn't thought of that way... but you boil one pet rabbit and look what happens. Fatal Attraction was horrendously scary and Alex Forrest is why.
5. The Terminator: He got campy in the later movies, but the first time he is blown out of the plate glass window and gets back up, you know you're in for a ride. He later delivers the same thrills as he removes his eye with a scalpel, and later when he rises up from the wreckage of a blown-up truck. As Kyle Reese sums it up, "You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her! That's what he does! It's *all* he does!"
4. The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow: The Johnny Depp movie was horrible and not even the HH could make anyone scared in that movie. But the Bing Crosby-narrated animated short film scared me no end as a kid. When Ichabod looks back over his shoulder and the flaming jack-o-lantern looks back--well it hardly gets scarier than that.
3. Hannibal Lecter: Lecter is utterly great, lovable while being as scary as a bad guy can be. He isn't higher because seeing him first as an adult, I just don't think he *can* be as scary to me as the next two. But the first scene you seem where he's standing so still in the middle of his cell--you've got to be kidding me.
T1. Darth Vader and The Wicked Witch of the West: I just could not find any way to put even a little separation between these two. Darth could strangle a man from afar, ruled the Galaxy, and commanded giant armies of Stormtroopers. The WWotW rode a fiery broomstick, ruled from the creepiest dark castle in the history of movies and commanded the flying monkeys--easily the scariest army of minions in history. And they both had great, great theme songs. Darth's one weakness as a bad guy is that he was ultimately redeemed while WWotW never was, but she also never really actually turned anyone into a toad. Darth blew up an entire planet, but WWotW stole a cute little dog from a distraught girl. WWotW creepily clawed her crystal ball while sending her monkeys out into the steel-grey sky... solidifying her extreme awfulness.