Villains and Theme Music

I went to a workshop last summer where an author talked to us about villains, and he said that one of the most important parts of creating a good villain is the theme music.

Who is your favorite villain and what is their theme music? Alternatively, what is a good song that sounds like it should be a villain’s theme music, and what type of villain would it go with? What commercial villain is lacking a theme song, and what should it be?


Darth Vader / Imperial March

Something I haven’t heard in a long time and not quite a “theme song” and not quite villains, but in many old Cowboy and Indian Westerns, whenever the Indians would threaten to do something, or would appear suddenly or things of that nature, there would be this “dahn-dahn-dahnan-dahn” ditty. I would bet there’s a YouTube clip from such a movie with that set of notes or very similar.

The Shadow and The Whistler (OTR) both had creepy tunes that were almost theme songs, but they weren’t villains so much.

John Williams always saves his best for the villains. Another case in point: The shark’s theme in Jaws.

Omar (from The Wire) had a flat whistling rendition of “Farmer In the Dell.”

Sauron has his own theme; not as obvious or overbearing as the imperial march; more disturbing in some way, it gets under your skin.


Absolutely the best, bar none.

Are we including songs that villains sing? For about the catchiest, most gets-stuck-in-your-head villain’s song, I’d have to go with the “Shiver My Timbers” song from Muppet Treasure Island. Or maybe Oogie Boogie’s Song from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or “Be Prepared” from Lion King. Or “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid…But the best is the one that really should *not *be watched by kids…“Hellfire”, from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.

…dang, “kid’s” movies have some *awesome *villains’ songs.

WhyNot: I see your songs and raise youSnuff out the light from The Empereor’s New Groove. On the surface a happy little song, but it tells how Yzma will do goddamn anything to plunge the world into total darkness.

Wasn’t included in the movie in the end, but a worthy song nonetheless.

I’m going to be unoriginal and agree with those who already mentioned Imperial Wars . Vader may not be my favorite villain, but as far as villainous theme music goes, that one’s pretty tough to beat.

As for songs sung by the villain: Frollo’s Hellfire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney-villain song and quite possibly the darkest song in any movie made by Disney.

Finally, while it’s not in a movie and thus not created with any particular villain in mind, Voltaire’s When You’re Evil is one of my favorite songs and a great tribute to the kind of villain who knows that what he’s doing is wrong, but doesn’t give a damn. In fact, the narrator of this particular song positively revels in his own wickedness:

I do it all because I’m evil and I’d do it all for free. Your tears are all the pay I’ll ever need.

Or whistle? “Nurse” Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) whistling “Twisted Nerve” in Kill Bill.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…

The Wolf’s Theme, from Peter and the Wolf.

The Wolf’s theme in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf is pure villany!

I’ve never seen MTI. However, yeah, great villain songs. I love the way that the lighting changes from regular to black light in the Oogie Boogie song.

I’m going to cast my vote for Hellfire, even over the Imperial March. Frollo regards himself as a paragon of virtue, and does attempt to overcome his lust for Esmeralda. And, of course, fails. I agree, it’s probably the darkest ever Disney song.

What Hollywood did to poor Haydn’s Deutschland Uber Alles, playing the first bar with it’s last note drawn out as menacingly as possible.

Since no one posted a link to Vader’s music

An obscure one, but near and dear to my heart: Terry Silver from The Karate Kid, Part III. This ponytailed villain had his own sweeping, ominous strings theme composed by the great Bill Conti. There were various variations on it throughout the movie - I think the clip in the link encompasses the entire theme.

I really love this one.


One of the best.

Not so much the best. Alex from A Clockwork Orange always singing “Singing in the Rain” was so unsettling. You know it’s supposed to be a song about being happy and whatnot.