Villainous Pets We Love To Hate

Bad dog!

No matter how bad the bad guy, where would they be without their faithful animal companions? A lot of times, these animals serve an important function. They humanize the villain and show that there’s at least one other living thing they care about.

And, who among us hasn’t had at least one moment where we thought “The whole world can burn to the ground . . . except my dog.” Villains: They’re just like us. Let’s explore some of the most famous villain/animal duos to see why . . . maybe . . . they aren’t that bad.

WATCH: Harry Potter Redefines Identity

Blofeld’s cat (also known as “that Bond villain’s fluffy white cat”) is probably one of the most iconic villainous pets out there.

While Blofeld himself is a villain from the original James Bond novels, the cat was a detail added in the movies. Blofeld’s appearance changed slightly throughout both the novels and the movies, but in the movies the cat remained a constant element. Arguably, that fluffy, strokeable white cat was what made Blofeld’s signature look—a look that ultimately became the stock supervillain image.

Look at pretty much any other supervillain, and you will see homages to (and parodies of) him: The calm, polished, cold demeanor, sitting in a large, evil-looking chair, stroking an awesome white cat. For example, the Austin Powers movies (themselves parodies of Bond movies) had Dr. Evil and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth. Is this why cats are unfairly cast as such evil creatures? Nope . . . see the next one for the real scoop.

Catwoman’s fixation with feline imagery might seem obvious (cat burglar). But, the whole single lady with an army of cats trope? Sounds familiar . . . .

There are a number of mythologies worldwide where goddesses associated with women’s topics (like fertility, domesticity, and the supernatural) tend to also be associated with cats and/or witchcraft. By the Middle Ages, there were enough of these associations that it just became sort of a thing that cats were associated with witches.

By the early 20th century, that had expanded to an early sense of today’s “cat lady” archetype: An unmarried, unattractive woman living a lonely, sad, embittered existence, surrounded by only cats for company. Enter Catwoman: She subverts the cat-lady archetype as an empowered, successful single woman . . . who also loves cats. Likewise, the cats are her literal partners in crime, and many of the ones who have shown up over the years are even named after goddesses like Isis and Hecate.

Bam! Cat Lady reclaimed.

Nagini is Voldemort’s enormous pet snake in the Harry Potter series. She helps the Dark Lord on numerous occasions to carry out his evil deeds throughout both books and movies. The two of them have a special, psychic connection that lets him see through her eyes. It probably also helps that Voldemort speaks Parseltongue (he speaks snake, for those who aren’t into the series).

The name of this evil snake is interesting in that it’s the feminine form of naga, which in Hindu mythology are a race of entities that take the form of a very large snake.

The sea witch in Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, “The Little Mermaid” didn’t have any pets or sidekicks to speak of, but Ursula the Sea Witch in the Disney adaptation totally did.Flotsam and Jetsam are two scrappy-looking eels who do Ursula’s bidding and even assist in manipulating the titular mermaid into seeking out a contract. Those who grew up with the movie know all of this, but they might not realize what their names mean. Flotsam is “the part of the wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating on the water.” Jetsam is “goods cast overboard deliberately, as to lighten a vessel or improve its stability in an emergency.”

So basically, flotsam and jetsam are both sea trash. This witch literally named her hench-eels “Trash” and “Garbage.” A true villain indeed.

Precious is the cute, fluffy little dog belonging to Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs, which is based on Thomas Harris’s bestselling novel of the same name. In both the book and the movie, Gumb is the serial-killer villain, as opposed to Dr. Hannibal Lecter—who’s more of a serial-killer antihero (just had to get that out of the way).

As her name implies, Precious is the only living creature Gumb seems to truly love or care about in the world. She may be totally unaware of what’s going on in her house, or (like some other pets we’ve talked about) she might be a co-conspirator. We may never know how good or bad this dog truly is . . . dogs really do have that dear-eye effect, no?

When you think of the Wicked Witch of the West from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz book series (and the movie of the same name), what’s the first thing that comes to mind? “And your little dog, too!” But, the second thing is probably the flying monkeys.

In the children’s book series, the monkeys are tricksters in Oz, who through a series of unfortunate and magical events basically wind up cursed to obey the Witch’s commands against their will. In the movie, they also do the Witch’s bidding, which at one point involves capturing Dorothy and Toto and ripping all of the straw out of the Scarecrow (which is gruesome AF for a family film).

Is it fair to call these guys evil by association if they’re magically bound to the one calling the evil shots? That’s for you to decide. (We don’t think the wings help their image though.)

Most of us these days probably associate the name Iago with the scheming parrot in Disney’s Aladdin, sidekick to the villainous Jafar. But, he actually has some serious literary origins and Shakespeare fans know why.

This is another case of literary references that go over the heads of young viewers: Shakespeare’s Iago is the villain in Othello, who gets butthurt over being passed up for a promotion and spends the rest of the play scheming to take down everyone around him.

Iago the evil parrot was the one to suggest Jafar’s plot to become sultan by marrying the princess, which paid homage to his Shakespearean counterpart. It may not be as bad as setting events in motion that cause several deaths, but still quite evil for a parrot.

Bull’s-Eye is the pet dog of Bill Sikes, a robber, murderer, and all-around bad guy in Dickens’s Oliver Twist. His breed is never really specified beyond “a white shaggy dog with his face scratched and torn in twenty places,” but he does have some kind of marking around his eye (hence the name).

His personality is described as a perfect mirror to his owner. Where Bill Sikes is an incredibly violent criminal who (spoilers) murders his girlfriend, Bull’s-Eye is a vicious dog willing to attack anyone Sikes tells him to. Oftentimes, pets take on the demeanors of their owners. Bad owners tend to have bad dogs, and in Bull’s-Eye and Sikes’s case, the dog really is his ride-or-die.

First off, what the F is up with that name? Did the evil stepmother in Disney’s Cinderella name this cat during an “edgy” phase? Did she not know the literary reference? Are we reading too much into a fictional character? (Yeah, probably.)

Here’s a pet name that probably went over all of our heads as kids: In Christian mythos, Lucifer was the original name of the Devil. Though the name doesn’t actually mean “devil” in the Bible, many Christians still associate it with pure evil. John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, imagines a backstory where Lucifer started as one of God’s favorite archangels. Out of jealousy of Jesus, Lucifer wages a failed rebellion for control of Heaven, and ultimately gets thrown out, into the dark, miserable pit that becomes Hell. That’s when he changes his name to Satan (a name derived from the Hebrew word for “adversary”).

So yeah, Cinderella’s evil stepmother’s cat’s name just screams “bad guy.”

Muttley is an old school cartoon villain from the 1968 show Wacky Races. He’s best known as the sidekick of the aptly-named Dick Dastardly, but honestly, Muttley does an equal share of the villain-ing himself.

Muttley (as his name implies) is a mixed-breed dog with a wheezy, taunting laugh. His mutt status is probably a way of suggesting low social status (assuming you subscribe to the idea that mutts are inferior to purebred dogs), which probably explains his willingness to associate with a lying, scheming, bumbling caricature of an old cinema villain.

Interesting, but not super related: Dick Dastardly’s full name is Richard Milhous Dastardly.

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