10 Iconic Female Villains In Gaming

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A good story needs a memorable hero, but as they say, a hero is only as good as its villain. There are dozens of memorable villains in games that have transcended their particular medium. Many of these dastardly antagonists are women, and it is high time to give these villainesses the spotlight they deserve.

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The femme fatales of the digital landscape certainly bring a unique charm to the games they decide to terrorize. These are the most iconic villainesses in video games that probably gave you conflicting emotions and might have even caused you to doubt if you were playing for the right team.

10 The Dark Queen (Battletoads)

The Dark Queen in outer space

The Dark Queen, whose real name is Evelyn Volkmire, is the main antagonist of the super-hard classic beat-em-up Battletoads, released on the NES in 1991. At a towering height of seven feet and wearing black latex dominatrix-style attire, the Dark Queen was an eye-catching and risqué character in what was predominantly considered a children’s entertainment medium.

The Battletoads received a reboot in 2020 that was released for the Xbox One and Windows, which included a drastic redesign of The Dark Queen. Still, the classic 1990s version is the most popular iteration of the character.

9 Lilith (Diablo 4)

Lillith in front of cathedral

The marketing team of Diablo 4 certainly made sure that everyone knew who Lilith was; even non-gamers couldn’t escape her icy-cold stare on digital billboards. Her appearance, which manages to blend feminine beauty and macabre, is certainly quite recognizable.

Her introduction during the opening sequence of Diablo 4 is perfect in every regard. From her intimidating presence, blood-red, almost translucent skin and “blood petals” drifting slowly around her. You have heard whispers referencing Lilith in past games, but you’ve never seen her like this.

8 Frau Engel (Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus)

Frau Engel standing over a bloodied BJ

Frau Engel is one of the most insidious characters in video game history, and that is putting it lightly. Being a Nazi already revokes any sort of sympathy card, but Frau Engel pushes the envelope way past the edge of the table. She is sociopathic, sadistic, and ruthless, and her turn at the big villain chair in Wolfenstein 2 was cemented when she gleefully killed Caroline Becker in front of B.J., who considers her a close friend.

What makes Frau Engel even more memorable, for better or for worse, is her twisted mother-daughter relationship with Sigrun. This side of Engel takes her out of the over-the-top evil archetype and makes her a bit more grounded, which in turn makes her even more terrifying.

7 Mileena (Mortal Kombat)

Mileena's piercing gaze

One of the most popular fighters in Mortal Kombat’s extensive roster, Mileena is right up there with the likes of Scorpion and Sub-Zero in terms of being recognizable in the Mortal Kombat franchise. As a genetic experiment created by the sorcerer Shang Tsung, Mileena is one of the deadliest and most ruthless villains in Mortal Kombat. Her obsession with proving her superiority over her adoptive sister, Kitana, has led her toward cruelty and evil.

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If the tyrant Shao Kahn thinks that you are a worthy successor to his throne, then you know you’re more than just neck deep in villainy. Her popularity is undeniable, as she has remained a mainstay of every major Mortal Kombat roster after her debut in Mortal Kombat 2. While not present in the original lineup for Mortal Kombat 11, Mileena eventually appeared as a DLC character thanks to fans’ requests for her inclusion.

6 Ultimecia (Final Fantasy 8)

Ultimecia in a frozen tundra

Despite her relatively short screen time in the game, only revealing herself near the end, Ultimecia managed to become one of the most iconic Final Fantasy villains in the series. As a time-travelling sorceress from the future that also exists in a different plane of existence, she is a master manipulator who prefers pulling the strings from afar. Not that she’s afraid as she has an array of powerful time manipulation, space control, and reality-warping spells at her fingertips.

Ultimecia’s reasoning to compress space and time into a singularity is as complicated as time travel itself. Her burning desire for complete control of is believed to have stemmed from wanting to change her destiny. Alas, she only succeeded in becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

5 Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft)

A transformed Sarah Kerrigan talking to Raynor

The story of Sarah Kerrigan is littered with tragedy. As a child, her latent psychic powers emerged in the worst way possible, killing her mother and severely injuring her father. After that, she was taken in by the Terran Confederacy and conscripted into the Ghost Program, where she spent her childhood being honed into one of Terran’s greatest soldiers.

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After being betrayed and left for dead, Kerrigan was captured by the Zerg and experimented on. Slowly, her physical form also transformed, and she later became known as The Queen of Blades, the Zerg’s deadliest soldier with a legitimate bone to pick with her former allies.

4 Mother Brain (Metroid)

Mother Brain fighting against Samus Aran outside the spaceship

Mother Brain, a grotesque and powerful alien matriarch from the Metroid series, certainly left an impression on gamers from the 90s. Mother Brain is a giant brain in a jar, but later appearances in the sequels gave her a more nightmarish visage.

As one of the first “female” villains in video games, Mother Brain was the perfect foil to Samus Aran, one of the most iconic female main characters in video games.

3 GLaDOS and SHODAN (Portal and System Shock)

Glados and Shodan in split image

Two for the price of one, it is difficult to pick one over the other as both GLaDOS and SHODAN are such memorable videogame villains that they pretty much live on the same wavelength. Both are charming and manipulative rogue AIs with a God complex. They are also both critically acclaimed games that innovated and revolutionized their respective genres.

SHODAN certainly laid the groundwork, but GLaDOS perfected the design. These two feminine AI villains are not only iconic characters in video games but are two of the most terrifying and well-written ones as well.

2 Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil Village)

Lady Dimitrescu with claws ready to strike

From the moment the statuesque Lady Dimitrescu appeared in the trailer for Resident Evil Village, pretty much everyone within the gaming sphere became interested in Lady D. Impeccably voiced by Maggie Robertson, Lady Dimitrescu has probably wrested the title of most popular Stalker enemy of Resident Evil from Nemesis. At the very least, Lady Dimitrescu is certainly easier on the eyes.

Make no mistake about it, though: Lady Dimitrescu is equally terrifying as she is beautiful. The Mistress of Castle Dimitrescu and matriarch of three equally captivating and frightening daughters is one that you should not trifle with, as poor Ethan’s hand can testify. Despite being a fairly new character in the expansive Resident Evil lore, Lady Dimitrescu has become one of its most iconic characters.

The Boss during her speech to Snake

Metal Gear Solid 3 is often considered by the majority of Metal Gear fans as the best in the series, and a major part of the reason is due to The Boss. A highly complicated character that blurs the line between hero and villain, The Boss is Naked Snake’s mentor and mother figure.

Final boss fights in games tend to be reserved for epic set pieces, which is not the case in Metal Gear Solid 3. The final battle is built up perfectly; the melancholic setting of a white field of flowers, the twists and turns, and the dialogue between Snake and The Boss throughout the heart-wrenching fight are simply videogame storytelling at its best.

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