Scroll To Top
Arts & Entertainment

21 Best (and Worst) Queer Movie Villains

21 Best (and Worst) Queer Movie Villains


LGBT movie villains have evolved over time -- for better and for worse.

Film history is littered with queer villains. Dangerous dandies, larcenous lesbians, pansy princes, and terrifying transvestites wreaked havoc on the silver screen long before sympathetic LGBT characters began to appear on film in the 1960s.

Throughout the '30s, '40s and '50s, the public perception of gays and lesbians was that they were sick and disturbed -- and therefore dangerous. While overt references to homosexuality were long prohibited in film, skilled filmmakers created characters that displayed subtle yet clearly queer qualities.

No one handled this more deftly than director Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense and psychosexual anxiety -- who often cast closeted gay actors in gay-ish roles. Four of his films are saluted here, which include complex characters that transcend sexual stereotypes.

Yet many of these films created dangerous stereotypes that have taken years of activism (from groups like GLAAD) to overcome. As more varied images of gay characters have appeared on film, some queer villains have become more complex. Yet glaringly offensive portrayals of LGBT villainy persist to this day.

So here we take a chronological look at queer baddies on film, rating each of them as: Thoroughly Reprehensible, Damaging Stereotype, Hitch(cock) Knows Best, or Evil But Awesome.

Prince John -- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The brilliant Claude Rains (of Casablanca fame) plays the evil pansy prince who bedevils Olivia de Havilland's Maid Marian and Errol Flynn's dashing Robin Hood. This stereotype of an effeminate villain (seen four more times on this list) taps into the viewer's homophobia -- making it especially gratifying to see them defeated by the more macho hero. Damaging Stereotype

See the scene here.

Mrs. Danvers -- Rebecca (1940)

Judith Anderson plays the archetypal evil housekeeper, who is obsessed with the late Mrs. De Winter -- to the dismay of Joan Fontaine as the new Mrs. De Winter. In this scene, she all but sniffs the late woman's lingerie. Hitch Knows Best

Joel Cairo -- The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Peter Lorre made a career out of playing sleazy reprobates. Here he's at his most overtly effeminate, causing both Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart to slap a bitch. Damaging Stereotype

Waldo Lydecker -- Laura (1944)

Gay actor Clifton Webb is at his most bitchy and controlling as the evil queen who attempts to transform Gene Tierney's mysterious and titular Laura. Damaging Stereotype

Philip and Brandon -- Rope (1948)

Farley Granger and John Dall star in this fictional variation on the real-life Leopold and Loeb case -- a story of two upper-class gay guys who commit a murder just for kicks. Hitch Knows Best

Addison DeWitt -- All About Eve (1950)

George Sanders earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the manipulative queen bitch theater critic, inspiring a generation of witty, evil, proto-gay villains. Evil But Awesome


Bruno Anthony -- Strangers on a Train (1951)

Robert Walker is a psychotic gay socialite who convinces Farley Granger's tennis pro to swap murders. Hitch Knows Best

Norman Bates -- Psycho (1960)

Gay actor Anthony Perkins gives his most famous performance as the ultimate mama's boy in Hitchcock's grisly masterpiece. His penchant for cross-dressing comes from the true (and much more grisly) story of serial killer Ed Gein, on which the film is partly based. Hitch Knows Best

Dr. Robert Elliot -- Dressed to Kill (1980)

Michael Caine plays the (spoiler alert!) transvestite killer in director Brian De Palma's horror flick -- one of the first films to cause a public outcry from the gay community. Damaging Stereotype

Miriam Blaylock -- The Hunger (1983)

The stunning Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as vampires? What's not to like? And she sets her sights on the young and tremulous Susan Sarandon. Evil But Awesome

Buffalo Bill -- Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Ted Levine plays the sadistic transvestite killer in Jonathan Demme's Oscar-sweeping but profoundly distasteful film. Thoroughly Reprehensible

Catherine Tramell -- Basic Instinct (1992)

Sharon Stone had her most iconic role -- and triggered howls of protest from the gay community -- as the bisexual serial killer in this stylish piece of misogynist trash. Damaging Stereotype


Scar -- The Lion King (1994)

Jeremy Irons channels George Sanders, voicing the bitchy, evil (and less hetero) feline version of Hamlet's King Claudius in this Disney classic. Evil But Awesome

Prince Edward -- Braveheart (1995)

Peter Hanly plays a pathetic, simpering -- and historically inaccurate -- gay prince in the famously homophobic Mel Gibson film that swept the Oscars. (It was a slow year.) Thoroughly Reprehensible

Governor Ratcliffe -- Pocahontas (1995)

Gay actor David Ogden Stiers voices the vain, foppish villain (a time-honored gay stereotype) in this less than historically accurate Disney film. Damaging Stereotype

Tom Ripley -- The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Matt Damon gives his most complex and overlooked performance as a gay chameleon who reinvents himself to join the high society world of Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow -- which leads to murder. Haven't seen it? Get offline and watch it now (we'll wait). Evil But Awesome

Aileen Wuornos -- Monster (2003)

Charlize Theron won a Best Actress Oscar as the real-life lesbian prostitute and serial killer. The film took some heat for inventing backstory to create motivation, but Theron's performance is still a stunner. Evil But Awesome

Barbara Covett -- Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Judi Dench kicks ass (and earned an Oscar nod) as a lesbian high school teacher who preys on a flighty new teacher (Cate Blanchett) and ruins everyone's life in the process. Evil But Awesome

Xerxes -- 300 (2007)

Rodrigo Santoro is the bejeweled borderline drag queen villain in this overblown epic that's equal parts homophobic and homoerotic. Thoroughly Reprehensible

Zuse -- Tron: Legacy (2010)

Michael Sheen channels both Tilda Swinton and TheRocky Horror Picture Show's Dr. Frank N. Furter in this silly sequel to Disney's cyber fantasy. Damaging Stereotype

Silva -- Skyfall (2012)

Javier Bardem hits it out of the park as the complex, vanilla-tressed gay villain that James Bond deserves. Evil But Awesome

No list of gay movie villains is complete. Which ones would you add to this list? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Adam Sandel