The first season of Digimon follows 8 kids known as the Digidestined as they attempt to save both the real world and the Digital World. With many ups and downs that come with children protagonists, the group makes their way to herodom by the end of the season.
No hero story is complete without some good villains. Since Digimon is typically based on the monster of the week trope, there are plenty of major disappointments. While they exist, this list is going to focus more on the major or recurring villains of the series, rather than the cannon-fodder. As a note, this list only includes villains that appear before Adventure 02, so the worst Adventure villain Dark Gennai (Tri) doesn’t get a spot on this list.
10 Worst: Apocalymon
Potentially controversial, Apocalymon is not a great villain. The entire final arc is based around setting up his return to the Digital World to take over. The exposition is great and makes for some really solid storytelling pieces, but the execution of the character really drives the point home.
Appearing in only two episodes, his powers are quite strong, making him a formidable opponent that requires the kids and their Digimon to not only Digivolve to their highest forms but also to accept that their powers were inside of them all along. The battle is over quick as Apocalymon doesn’t pose as much of a threat as he was prophesized.
9 Best: LadyDevimon
LadyDevimon was introduced as the antithesis character to newcomer Gatomon’s Digivolution Angewoman. Even though she was just one of Piedmon’s lackeys, she proved her worth by being brutal towards the Digidestined. The personal bodyguard of her master, she makes certain that all Digimon around her know just how deadly she is.
While one of the most memorable parts of the throwdown between LadyDevimon and Angewoman is the comical slap fighting they engage in, that is overthrown by the fact that LadyDevimon actually goes for a harsh final blow, stabbing Angewoman through the back. Her attack is unsuccessful as MegaKabuterimon steps in with his strong chitin.
8 Worst: MetalSeadramon
Of the Dark Masters, the most easily forgettable is MetalSeadramon. As the first of the Dark Masters to attack the Digidestined, there was a lot riding on his villainy, but in the end, he just seemed like another monster of the week. While his villainy does provide a solid moment of emotion for the Digidestined by killing their Whamon friend, he just isn’t successful by any means.
By no means is MetalSeadramon a weak villain as he proves by beating Lilymon and Zudomon. He was perhaps too meticulous in his planning as he could have taken out all but two of the Digidestined when he ordered Scorpiomon to get them to sleep. Instead of attacking, he got greedy and ended up not being able to take one down.
7 Best: Piedmon
For Digimon, there are a lot of factors that make a good villain. One of those factors is the creepiness of the character and Piedmon delivers solidly. Just starting with his appearance, a clown Digimon is sure to be just the thing to scare a bunch of children. Add the fact that he has dominion over a group called the Nightmare Army, which includes LadyDevimon, his entire vibe is frightening.
Piedmon is cold and calculating, watching the Digidestined defeat his Dark Master compatriots and learning from them. Though he waited too long to make his move, he was able to turn most of the Digidestined and their partners into keychains, nullifying their threat. It was only thanks to Angemon Digivolving into MagnaAngemon that Piedmon was defeated, as we all know angel beats clown.
6 Worst: Kuwagamon
The saw stag beetle Digimon, Kuwagamon is one of the few recurring monster of the week Digimon that appear through, not only the original Adventure series but most of the seasons of Digimon. Kuwagamon is the very first villain the Digidestined face off against when they reach the Digital World.
Thanks to his mindless attack, the Digidestined learn about Digivolution as their partners all Digivolve from In-Training-level to Rookie-level. As a Champion-level Digimon, Kuwagamon should have been able to defeat the partner Digimon, however, he is quickly overpowered. For the first bad Digimon, he left a lot to be desired, a desire filled by many other villains in the season.
5 Best: Devimon
As the first major villain of the season, Devimon had a lot to prove. Based on the Devil, this dark Digimon was responsible for all the trials and tribulations the Digidestined faced in the first quarter of the season. His dark gears were the bane of the Digital World and his character easily dominated all of his opponents.
His downfall, much like Piedmon, is that he didn’t expect a literal angel ex-machina to show up and kill him by absorbing the powers of all of the Digidestined’s partners. He was easily able to defeat all of the other Champion-level Digimon, but when it came to the final child it was a shock. Though he is defeated, Angemon also dies, so there was a final victory for the Devil Digimon.
4 Worst: DemiDevimon
If one of your major plot characters are as annoying as DemiDevimon, they instantly become a contender for the worst villain of the season. DemiDevimon was the main henchman used by Myotismon in the Digital World, even though his buffoonery leads him to fail at most of his missions.
The Rookie-level Digimon is used to separate the Digidestined and keep them that way. He traps Joe in Digitamamon’s restaurant, almost gets T.K. and Tai to eat mushrooms that would make them forget, and even gets Sora to forget about her mother’s love. In the end, rather than being taken out by the Digidestined, he is straight-up eaten by his master due to his uselessness.
3 Best: Diaboromon
This one stretches since it both does and doesn’t take place before Adventure 02, but this list deserves Diaboromon. This virus Digimon is one of the most recognizable villains of the series due to his appearance in Digimon: The Movie. While not directly in the Digital World, instead in the literal internet, his actions affect both worlds enough that the Digidestined need to step in to save everyone.
Diaboromon is one of the best villains because of how hopeless he makes the Digidestined feel. Throughout the film, he is always one step ahead of the Digidestined. Even the last moments of the movie make it feel like he will still win until Omnimon, also introduced in the movie, finally finishes him off with 1 second to spare.
2 Worst: Etemon
As if there were any questions, of course Etemon is the worst Digimon villain in Adventure. More annoying than DemiDevimon and significantly less powerful than Apocalymon, Etemon holds a weird place for fans of the show.
From his needlessly complex strategies to his Elvis impersonation, the character flops hard on rewatches of the season. It isn’t even that he isn’t strong, because he proves to be at least a solid opponent in battle, but his personality is the biggest drain on the show. Additionally, his unnecessary battle with Datamon and the subsequent merging with the dark network made his final battle (before being randomly revived later on as MetalEtemon) feel undeserved.
1 Best: Myotismon
Myotismon earned the top spot as the best. His appearance is based on a traditional vampire and it is done well. Being human-like, it brings fear that not many villains in the show could, and makes the viewer feel like he could be a real being. Much like his appearance, his powerset is also based on vampires, which included bat control and a monstrous transformation, though this was his Digivolution.
The biggest driving factor in Myotismon’s villainy is that he doesn’t stick to the Digital World as almost all others do. He goes into the real world aiming to hurt real people, even kidnapping children. His strength, wits, and power make him the best, along with his seeming inability to actually die.