Rare has a thing for incompetent villains - King K. Rool was never much better than Gruntilda, especially in Donkey Kong 64 where his major plan goes awry ten minutes into the game.
Seven Embarrassingly Incompetent Video Game Villains
It’s been said that a fiction story is only as good as its villain, and you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that a video game villain hasn’t evoked some emotional response from you at some point in your gaming life.
Some are twisted, maniacal, and downright evil, driven by malicious means that make us fear for the lives of our heroes. Then…there are the other ones, the ones who come so, so close to greatness, but fall short due to their own blunders, ineptitude, or hubris. They’re so bad at being bad that they almost become lovable, and we get a strange kick out of them because of this. Here are eight villains whose incompetence never allowed them to reach the heights they so aspired to.
Gruntilda (or Grunty, for short) only wants to be beautiful. That’s it. Really. She wants it so bad that she’s willing to resort to criminal means in order to obtain it. Much like the story of Snow White, Gruntilda discovers that the beauty she so wants can be obtained only by stealing it from the one female whose beauty outshines that of everyone else in the land: Tootie, the younger sister of the bumbling bear Banjo.
Grunty’s plan is simple: hook up Tootie to an elaborate machine that will exchange their looks and allow Grunty to exist in her beautiful glory as Tootie becomes a more haggard and ugly version of herself. The problem is, Gruntilda’s execution of said plan is a clumsy one at best. She’s locked herself away in the highest point of her tower, but has left the key elements to gain access to her hideout all throughout her lair. Granted, Banjo will have to overcome great odds to defeat her, but he’s still able to do so fairly easily. If she didn’t want to be caught, she shouldn’t have made herself so accessible. She’s clumsy, she’s brash, and her incessant knack for picking her nose does nothing to build a convincing case that she isn’t anything but incompetent.
I’m not sure if these buggers count as villains, but they sure seem like perfect candidates. They are the embodiment of fear and despair, an impending doomsday that slowly walks towards the creation you’ve worked so hard to create. Once they draw near- BOOM!-they burst, taking themselves and much of your meticulously-constructed creations with them. Like the evil kids from your childhood who only liked to destroy your snow fort to see you suffer, Creepers are some of the coldest and most unfeeling creatures in all of gaming, but their evil plans are made moot by the fact that they not only destroy your property, but in the process also annihilate themselves.
Zoran Lazarevic (Uncharted 2)
Zoran’s story is a classic tragedy that only takes place when one becomes literally consumed by power. A menacing and dangerous foe for Nathan Drake, his hunt for immortality becomes his demise when he doesn’t take the time to fully understand it or what he’s dealing with. Once he’s had a drink of that lovely blue tree sap in Shembala, he gains the superhuman strength and ability he had so craved, but he invites his own death when he’s weakened by Drake and overtaken by the mutated guards that had once fallen victim to the same natural substance. A word to the wise: know what you’re getting into before launching your evil plan, lest you wind up being murdered by blue warriors with the same physique as a gorilla.
Dr. Robotnik/Eggman (Sonic the Hedgehog)
I’ll give him this much: Robotnik is nothing if not ingenious. He’s always scheming up new doomsday scenarios, building death machines, and devising ways to destroy our favorite blue hedgehog. But doomsday scenarios don’t always work out too well for those involved (even the creators of said plans), his machines are clunky and have vulnerabilities that make him susceptible for defeat, and he consistently underestimates his opponent (which if you ask me, should always be avoidance #1 for any bad guy). Robotnik, you’ve definitely got some gumption, but you’d definitely benefit from taking a minute to put an extra layer of polish on your schemes before launching them.
Wheatley (Portal 2)
Wheatley is adorable, even when he does descend into madness and decide it’s his time to rule. His biggest problem is that he’s somewhat of an oaf, and his buffoonish nature prevents him from ever attaining the same cold and malicious personality as GLaDOS. Instead, he bumbles along, making things up as he goes and trying his best to desperately defeat you and retain his weak grip on power. We laugh at his threats, scoff at his attempts to kill us, and shake our head at his inability to even come close to being bad. His deviations are about as evil as a kid breaking the rules and eating a cookie before dinner, and because of that, he’s an adorably pathetic villain we have no choice but to love.
Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot)
Neo’s plots and schemes are of evil intent, but like so many other incompetent villains, they often lead to his undoing. His genetic manipulation program resulted in characters with flaws that were handily exploited by Crash Bandicoot, Cortex’s attempts to trick Crash into working for him failed miserably once his plot was discovered, and his inventions rarely present more than a mild challenge for our favorite marsupial. He may have that gigantic head, but Cortex’s actions suggest that maybe there isn’t a massive brain inside there that suits the odd proportions of his skull.
Dr. Albert Wily (Mega Man)
Dr. Wily is the very definition of perseverance. He has created hordes of robot masters, each with their own unique powers and worlds to inhabit, but is consistently outdone by the do-gooders Mega Man and Dr. Light. Yet every time he falls, he rises again with a new army of masters and a new evil plan that will inevitably be foiled by the Blue Bomber.
Probably the most distressing part of Wily’s constructs is the fact that Mega Man is able to dismantle them and use their powers as his own, which will then be used in turn to destroy one of Wily’s other masters. Talk about adding insult to injury.
We laugh at them, but it’s out of a certain kind of respect. A hero’s victory is only as impressive as the scheme they’re meant to save us from, which leaves us always desiring nothing but the best of evil plans to be overcome. But, not everyone is as capable as some of the downright evil villains in history, and therefore we find ourselves often laughing at and loving these buffoons, despite their obvious flaws.
Have any other incompetent villains you would add? Tell us in the comments below!