Nightwatcher's Patrol #9

Rogues Gallery Part 1 - Villains of the 1980's
January 02, 2012
Rogues Gallery Part 1: The 1980's

All those guys that we fondly remember hating

Let's face it, we've all had our share of favorite TV shows, movies and video games in our time and have looked up to, and even played as, some pretty cool heroes. But as we all know, a hero is nothing with out a villain to smack around. And so I've decided to round up some of my favorite ner-do-wells from the multi media of my childhood so that I can give them my own personal low down (so to speak). Don't worry, it's not another top ten list, this bunch of slime balls is in no prticular order.

From - The Smurfs (TV show 1981-1990)

This grumpy, bitter minded old wizard wants nothing more than to sink, tooth into a piping hot bowl of Smurf stew. He also seems to have descovered a recipe for turning lead into gold which also involves the use of Smurfs. Aided by his rotten cat Azriel, Gargamel will stop at nothing to destroy the Smurfs and all of the goodness and kindness that they stand for. Not on my watch pal! It's almost hard to believe but Gargamel is also the creator of Smurfette. She started out evil but ultimately turned on her former master when the Smurfs saved her life, followed soon after by Papa Smurf giving Smurfette her current look. Gargamel is also an even match for Papa Smurf who is himself a powerful sorcerer.

From - He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (TV series 1983-1985)
and Masters of the Universe (film 1987)

The bane of Eternia's existance, Skeletor's main goal is to break into Castle Grayskull, take down the Sorceress and obtain the powers of the cosmos (ie He-Man's power) for himself thus becoming the most powerful being in the universe. He was once a pupil of Hordak until a betrayl that caused Hordak to flee to Eternia's sister planet Etheria, home of Princess Adora/She-Ra. Skeletor is aided by his own band of thugs: Evil-Lyn, Beast Man, Mer Man and Triclops to name a few. In the 1980's version of the cartoon Skeletor's exact origin is unknown but I always liked to think that maybe he was the corpse of a dead sorcerer that was resurrected by Hordak to do his evil bidding. Okay, so I was a sick kid sometimes. As for the movie version, he actually succeeded in his goal that time and became all powerful only for He-Man to defeat him anyway. In the movie he was played to sinister perfection by Frank Lengella which made the cartoon version look kind of wimpy by comparison. By the way, has anyone else ever noticed how the names of at least half of the villains in He-Man ended in 'or'? I believe the folks in show biz have a term for that. They call it "lazy writing".

From - Knight Rider (1982-1986)

The Knight Automated Roving Robot, KARR if you prefer, was a prototype of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) which had all the same weapons and abilities as his successor but was programmed for self preservation. KARR thought of himself as superior to KITT and would usually refer to him with such insults as "inferior production model". Thanks to KARR's programming whatever human drivers he had didn't usually last to long. He also had a sudden change in personality and physical appearance between his two outings on the show. In season 1's "Trust Doesn't Rust" KARR looked exactly like KITT and was sort of childish as he was only just now learning of our world. In round 2, season 3's "KITT vs. KARR" he had his look seen above and was seemingly more intelligent, his primary objective this time: destroy Micheal Knight and KITT. I thought it was pretty cool that they introduced an evil version of KITT to the show, even though KARR has now been defeated three times (counting his appearance in the 2008 series, although I think it was a different KARR that time). You have to admit, a murderous Pontiac Trans-Am is a pretty tough act to follow. I also thought that Peter Cullen was a better voice for KARR than Paul Frees though they both did a good job making him sound evil and sinister.

King Bowser Koopa
From - Super Mario Bros. (1985)

This crooked kappa has been a thorn in Mario's side for over twenty five years now and has also reached legendary status among video game villains. He's probably also one of the most annoying video game villains. Who else out there got tired of kicking Koopa's tail only to the get same message from a mushroom retainer, SEVEN TIMES IN A ROW!!! "Thank you Mario, but our princess is in another castle". Sometimes it made me want to eat my controller. I think old chili pepper breath has also set the record for most times kidnapping the same princess. Leave that poor kid alone already, lizard! He was much better in SMB3, esspecially since all you had to do was watch him kill himself by smashing through the brick floor. He has also donned that cool make over ever since. But I digress: one of these days turtle boy, (waving my fist in the air like Joe Pesci), your shell will be mine!

Biff Tannen
From - Back to the Future trilogy (1985, 1989 and 1990)

"Helloooo?! Helloooo, is anybody home?!" Biff can be defined as the bulley of bullies as he went from picking on poor George McFly in high school to picking on all of Hill Valley (and eventually half of California) in the alternate negative time line. Biff is apparently not very bright either as he can't seem to get the simplest of catch phrases right. He usually does such screw ups as "That's funnier than a screen door on a battle ship", or his most famous one, "Make like a tree, and get outta here". He also likes to refer to George and Marty as "butt heads" and is best known for his trade mark phrase, "What's the matter McFly, chicken?" to which Marty usually responds with a butt kicking. Thanks to Marty's actions in the past a new positive time line has been created in which Biff no longer bothers the McFly family and runs his own auto mechanic garage. We also got to meet Biff's anscestor Beauford "Mad Dog" Tannen who was an outlaw back in the 1800's as well as his cyborg grandson Griff Tannen in 2015 which at this point would be the present day. Also his son Biff Jr. made an appearance in the animated series.

From - The Transformers (1984-1987)

The leader of the evil Decepticons, Megatron is constantly trying to wipe us out and claim our planet as his own. The only thing standing in his way is Optimus Prime and the heroic Autobots who refuse to let the Decepticons harm us and our world. Megatron may be big and bad but he's not taking over my planet. I was torn here between Megatron and Starscream being as how the ladder is always secretly trying to destroy the former in order to claim leadership over the Decepticons, but I figured Megatron was worse so he won. Megatron was voiced in G1 by Frank Welker (best known as Scooby Doo) and his original alternate mode was a Walther P38 9mm semi automatic hand pistol (look it up on wikipedia) complete with telescopic view piece which doubled as his arm mounted cannon in robot mode. Leave it to a decepticon to turn into a weapon of death, though how such a big robot could turn into something so small I'll never figure out. We may also never know how or why his action figure (shown above in it's gun mode) was marketed to children. Or even scarier why a parent would actually buy the toy for their kid.

Dr. Claw
From - Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)

Wowsers! Just looking at the above picture will tell you why I like Claw so much, because he is one of children's programming's most mysterious villains. I mean look at him, he looks like a talking chair with a working human arm. Dr. Claw was the leader of a criminal orginization called M.A.D. which would cunduct crimes of grand scale all over the world and apparently Inspector Gadget was the only man who could stop them. Well actually that honor would usually fall to Gadget's niece Penny and her overly intelligent (and aptly named) dog Brain. Claw was also shown to be quite strong as in one episode we saw him pump a dumbell and then bend it in half...with his bare hands! He then threw it to the floor with one hand nearly crushing Mad Cat who was hiding under the desk from his master in fear. Unfortunately, Claw's mysteriousness was cut short when T.I.G.E.R. Toys released a line of action figures in the early 90's including a plastic immortalization of Claw which revealed his face. So much for hiding behind the chair. I'm not sure if this is a definate modeling of Claw or just a concept though I still kind of hated T.I.G.E.R. for doing this, even though they did make him look pretty cool. They didn't even pakage Claw with his famous chair and computer desk. Do they know what the word mysterious means? Maybe they should have stuck to the electronic hand held games. I've included pics of the action figure below so you can decide for yourselves. According to T.I.G.E.R. this is what Claw is supposed to look like. Eh, whatever. I'll get you next time T.I.G.E.R.! Next time!

So Uncle Sam had an evil twin brother. Who new?

Judge Doom
From - Who Framed Roger Rabbit (film-1988)

Remember him? When he killed Eddie's brother he talked...just...LIKE...THIIIIS!!! Doom may have acted like a judge working for the law but this gargoyle was really a bad apple. He murdered three, count em, three humans just to get his mitts on Toon Town. He was going to use his new Dip concauction to destroy Toon Town and build a freeway in it's place, the money earned from which he could easily retire on. Now that's what I call one seriously disturbed toon. And he would have gotten away with it too, if not for that meddeling detective. I remember being both freaked out and amazed simultainiously when I saw Doom in his true toon persona for the first time when we saw the movie at the theatre. I also thought it was pretty cool how they made it look like he got melted in his own Dip. A perfect ending for such a psychotic toon. Unfortunately, Doom made a brief return in the short comic book sequel Roger Rabbit: The Ressurection of Doom where his true identity was revealed as Baron Von Rotten.

Mumm-Ra The Ever Living
From - Thundercats (1985-1989)

Dead man walking. The menace of Third Earth, Mumm-ra had to be one of the scariest villains of childrens' programming. How fitting that the arch nemisis of a group of humanoid cat based creatures should be a super powered Egyptian mummy. This bag of bones had the help of three mutants from planet Plun-Darr: Monkian, Jackle Man and Slithe (later joined by Vulter Man and Ratar-O) who had followed the Thundercats through space. It's nice to have somebody around to do your dirty work for you. Mumm-Ra gained his powerful form seen above by uttering a mystical chant to the ancient spirits of evil, however he would need to return to his stone sarcopagus every once in a while to replenish himself. He also had a pet mumified dog named Ma-Mutt though it was only temperary. Okay, so the dog's name needed a little work.

Ned Grossberg
From - Max Headroom (1987-1988)

The perfect portrait of a TV network executive gutt bucket (I'm looking at you Nick and Paramount), Grossberg was in many ways the show's main antagonist. He would do anything in his power to keep Network 23's ratings (equal to money in this version of Earth) high and didn't seem to care who got hurt or how. Case in point, their so-called "blip verts" which would over charge the body's energy flow with their built in subliminal advertising. And so high that those who are not active enough would get their heads blown open like over ripe watermelons. Grossberg could care less as long as it kept the ratings high. Edison Carter and his new computerised counter part Max Headroom (both played by Matt Frewer) eventually blew Grossberg's scam wide open and he was sent to jail but he made at least two more reappearances, now with a personal grudge against his two heroic nemises. I guess you can't keep a determined jerk weed down.

Cobra Commander
From - G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1985-1986)

This raspy voiced tyrant is the leader of a terrorist group called Cobra who are, as the intro theme suggests, determined to rule the world. Yeah, over my dead body. I also like the commander's second in command Destro but CC's creepy voice and mysterious atmosphere give me the chills. In G.I.Joe The Movie (the animated one) the commander's face was finally revealed, he actually looked like a snake. No wonder his group is called Cobra. I can do a pretty mean impression of Cobra Commander too, it's eerie. "Co-bra!"

Gozer The Gozerian
From - Ghostbusters (1984)

What could be worse than an evil demon chick from another dimention?! Gozer attemted to gain control over our world by having Louis Tulley and Dana Barrett possesed by terror dogs Vince Clortho and Zool (repectivley) so that they could open the door between our worlds and let Gozer through. It came into our world in the form of a young (teenage?) girl (and later as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) but was quickly thwarted by the Ghostbusters when they crossed their proton streams (*gulp!*) and blasted it's temple, causing the doors to swing the wrong way and blowing the whole thing. Vigo the Carpathean was cool too but Gozer remains a fan favorite to this day. Just remember, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes. Fun fact: The original plan was to have Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) play Gozer in the form of a very wimpy looking Evo Shandor. Unfortunately Reubens was not interested in the part so they went with plan B, which worked out just fine.

Well that's the first dozen bad eggs. If I left out your favs please tell me, after all, the 1980's gave us so many cool villains I couldn't possibly fit them all in here. Next up I'll try to come up with a dozen bad eggs from the 1990's. Until then, Nightwatcher out.
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