The old saying goes that a story is only as good as its villain.
And for the Resident Evil series, there’s plenty of villains to go around.
Obviously, much like the entries in the series, some villains are more memorable than others for one reason or another, but they’ve all contributed in some way to making the franchise what it is today. So, seeing as we’re hyped up on Resident Evil for its big 2-5, it’s only fair that we take a look at those principal antagonists that made our nights and days so scary.
While Osmund Saddler was the brains behind kidnapping the President’s daughter in Resident Evil 4 as part of a grand scheme of eventually controlling the US government, you have to admit that the diminutive Ramon Salazar is more fun. Creepy appearance aside, Salazar trades a few witty barbs with Leon, as well as providing fans one of those villains that you’d love to see go in the worst way. Sadly, it doesn’t quite work out that way, despite his final form being as over-the-top as you’d expect. Small-time, indeed.
Come on, you knew he’d be on here. Wesker is as close to being the ultimate antagonist as you can get. Slimy and terrifying, manipulative and power-hungry, all the while having method to his madness. Like all good villains, he’s had his fingers in everything, turning friends against one another, and rubbing out those who stand in his way of ultimate power. And like all good villains, he just can’t seem to stay dead. Despite what appeared to be his ultimate demise at the end of Resident Evil 5, you know that it’s a sure bet that we’ll be seeing Wesker again at some point in future installments.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica holds a special place for many fans with its distinctly European gothic inspirations, as well as giving fans a unique “family feud” with the Ashford twins and Redfield siblings. The cloned offspring of Veronica Ashford are pretty dysfunctional, what with Alexia having dreams of godhood thanks to her manipulated genes (and the t-Veronica virus), and Alfred being utterly insane as governor of Rockfort Island. Of course, Alfred’s situation probably wasn’t helped when years earlier, he put his sister in cryostasis in order for her to properly “mature” into her ultimate form.
Unlike his counterparts, it’s difficult to determine if the remake’s version of William is superior to the original. Both are pretty crappy dads who end up mutating into progressively horrific creatures. The original version did give us a nod to Alien with the chestburster moment with Ben Bertolucci. And once again, nothing beats having to face off against a monster in the final encounter as time ticks away for your escape.
Rivaling Wesker as one of the most popular Resident Evil characters, one could argue that the RE3 remake of Nemesis isn’t as impressive as in the original game. In the original game, Nemesis was more aggressive in his stalking of Jill, showing up almost constantly. His remake version doesn’t show up as much, but you could chalk that up to the “less is more” approach. But really, comparing the original to the remake is just splitting hairs. Nemesis, with his iconic “STAAARS…”, sheer determination (obsession?) and imposing presence (not to mention his grotesque appearance) make him a feared (and tough-as-nails) character that you would not want to mess with, rocket launcher or not.
Honestly, the Resident Evil 2 remake did wonders for Mr. X. The original game had him just lumbering after you. Whereas in the remake, he very much has purpose and determination in his step. Not to mention that he also knows how to use doors In the 2019 update. He also doesn’t go down as easily in the RE2 remake, whereas before you could throw everything you had at him, and eventually he’d succumb. Not in the remake! On top of it all, the remake’s version of Mr. X has the unfortunate ability to show up at the most inopportune times, adding more tension to an already scary situation.
In much the same way Resident Evil 4 revived the series, Resident Evil VII did it again twelve years later. And part of that success was due to the Baker family. Comparisons of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Sawyer family aside, Jack Baker is a standout terror. In addition to his superhuman strength and regenerative capabilities, it’s his flat-out psychopathy that gets you. That, and the fact that he’s complemented by the creepy Baker house that only seems to enhance his scariness. We don’t see a whole lot of him in the game, but it’s probably better that way, as his first impression definitely leaves an impact on the player.
Sure, the original final boss has since been surpassed by other more impressive monsters, but in 1996, this was it. There’s just something about a giant monster walking towards you that seemingly can’t be downed, no matter how much lead you introduce. Plus, if you think about it, if it wasn’t for Tyrant, you wouldn’t have its successors like Nemesis or Mr. X. And in the end, as noted before, there’s always something special about facing off against a hulking monster where you’re forced to hang tough until backup arrives.
What!? Ada Wong is a villain?? Well, when you think about it, she definitely typifies being an antihero with that constant air of ambiguity around her. She still helps out Leon on more than occasion. That is, until she turns around and screws him over on those same occasions. Even then, she still sees to it that she helps Leon down the road as a way to make up for her “slight”. Ada’s backstory has never been truly explored, which only adds more mystique to her, and only strengthens her appeal.
One of the heads of the Umbrella Corporation, his name adorns the mansion that started this whole journey. His ruthlessness in eliminating those who stood in his way of controlling the Umbrella Corporation rivaled his god complex of remaking the world in his image. Of course, the entire irony of it all is Ozwell meeting his ultimate fate at the hands of Wesker, who was one of the first steps in Spencer’s pursuit of creating a utopia.