Everyone has an idea of the most legendary game villains, but thanks to a new study, we know who the world’s most popular video game villains are.
The study, conducted by the online gaming platform SolitaireBliss, says that Mewtwo is the world’s most popular video game villain. The data was gathered by analyzing Google worldwide searches. Each villain is ranked according to their monthly average of searches.
Video game villains originating from other material, such as movies or comic books, aren’t included on the list. For example, if you’re wondering whether there’s a lack of Star Wars or Marvel villains, there’s your explanation.
“Video game villains can vary in aspect and intentions,” said a spokesperson for SolitaireBliss. “From the cartoon animated, goofy Super Mario villains to the creepier horror-inspired villains in Silent Hill, evil characters remain interesting and enigmatic, sought-after by millions of people worldwide.”
Mewtwo, one of the most iconic Pokémon of all time, leads teh way with a global search volume of 438,000 searches. Debuting in Pokémon Red and Blue for the original Game Boy, Mewtwo is Pokémon #150 in the Pokédex. It is the offspring of the legendary Pokémon Mew and was created due to “years of horrific gene splicing and DNA engineering experiments,” according to the game’s lore.
Its legendary reputation, combined with a constant presence in franchises such as Pokémon and Super Smash Bros., helps propel it to the top of the list of most popular video game villains in the world.
Next on the list of popular video game villains is Donkey Kong, with 336,000 global searches. Originally a villain in the classic 1981 arcade game, Donkey Kong has since joined the forces of good and is the face of the Donkey Kong franchise.
Thanks to Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, it broke onto the platforming scene. He most recently starred in 2018’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Nintendo Switch.
Unlike Donkey Kong, the third entry on the list of popular video game villains hasn’t made a face turn. Bowser, Mario’s arch-nemesis, saw 320,000 global searches. Every now and then, Bowser will take some time off of arch-villainry and have some fun with the gang, like in this year’s Mario Strikers Battle League.
Waluigi and Wario
Waluigi and Wario are next on the list, with 233,000 and 229,000 searches, respectively. Both characters are seen as Luigi and Mario’s “Bizzaro” versions. Wario has been around longer, having been introduced as a video game villain in 1992’s Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. He has seen his own games, ranging from Wario’s Land to the modern mini-game-centric franchise, WarioWare.
Despite being a newer character that debuted in 2000’s Mario Tennis and having zero games of his own, Waluigi is the more popular character thanks to his appearance, personality, and antics. He’s still not in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, though, much to the dismay of fans.
Non-Nintendo Video Game Villains
The first non-Nintendo video game villain on the list is Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII. As one of the greatest Final Fantasy villains, it’s surprising to see him only register 187,000 searches. Still, that most likely says more about the strength of the Nintendo brand than anything else.
Debuting in the original Final Fantasy VII released in 1997, Sephiroth’s iconic appearance and status helped propel the PlayStation 1 game to one of the best in the Final Fantasy franchise. He has made subsequent appearances in various Final Fantasy VII follow-ups and spin-offs, thanks partly to his legendary stature.
Street Fighter’s Akuma, first appearing in 1994’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo, is seventh on the list. He has 146,000 global searches as one of the Street Fighter franchise’s main antagonists.
Akuma most recently appeared in Street Fighter V. There is no word about his status for 2023’s Steet Fighter 6 on the Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Next on the list of the most popular video games in the world is Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill franchise. With 144,000 global searches, Pyramid Head can thank his iconic look and frightening appearance in the Silent Hill video games. He has also been a fan-favorite cosplay.
Tied with Pyramid Head is SHODAN, also with 144,000 global searches. While not as iconic or universally recognized as the other video game villains on the list, System Shock 2’s SHODAN has still left a major impression on the industry. The cult-classic game from Ken Levine, creator of BioShock, is a beloved title thanks partly to SHODAN herself.
The Humble Goomba
Rounding out the top ten is one of the most iconic enemies from the Super Maro Bros. franchise: the humble goomba, with 140,000 global searches. While not a major villain, per se, the goomba is one of Mario’s most famous enemies in the video game series. That popularity helped it make not just an appearance on the list of most popular video game villains but also a spot in the top ten.