Considering the ’90s phenomena of popular culture, Disney’s Gargoyles does not carry the same influential resonance as, say, a Simpsons or a Pokémon, even though it really should. First airing in October of 1994, Gargoyles told a story revolving around a clan of the titular winged beasts. Originally the guardians of Castle Wyvern in Scotland, circa 994, the titular gargoyles awaken from a mystical slumber in 20th Century Manhattan. Led by the incredibly strong Goliath, the newly-christened Manhattan Clan stands ready to oppose threats to the peace from the old world and the new. Envisioned by writer Greg Weisman, Gargoyles brought the fantastical elements of comic books and mixed them with the dark grit of sword and sorcery, leading the series to become an all-ages triumph.
Even now, almost 25 years later, the series has maintained a dedicated fanbase that celebrates the show with new shirts, comics, podcasts, and the circulating rumors that director Jordan Peele may adapt it for the big screen. The secret behind the show’s critical and commercial success was its uniqueness when compared to other intellectual properties from the House of Mouse. Gargoyles portrayed a new world full of mature themes, a seamless blending of genres, a gripping cast of heroes, and arguably even more compelling villains. The rogues and antagonists of Gargoyles were some of the most complex and varied in the history of all ages programming. Nuanced, sympathetic, power hungry, or just plain cruel the villains of Gargoyles had something for everybody. Here is CBR’s ranking of the villains of Gargoyles, and what each one brought to the table by challenging the guardians of the night.
Feature art by VictoriaDAEDRA.
Born Fred Sykes, Fang was turned into an animal mutate as part of one of billionaire David Xanatos’ schemes, but later joined the group of Mutates underneath New York called the Labyrinth Clan. Fang was more power hungry than his peers, finding the abilities of their new form more agreeable than they did and not caring for his monstrous appearance.
A henchman, comic relief, or would be-be usurper depending on the episode he was in, Fang’s brutish attitude and quippy nature made him stand out benefitting greatly from the comedic stylings of his voice actor Jim Belushi. Even though he never matched the depth of more serious villains like Puck, Fang was an always entertaining comedic villain.
15. THE BANSHEE
The Banshee was a member of the Third Race, who was resistant to a return to the mystical realm of Avalon as part of The Gathering. Like other members of the Third Race, the Banshee enjoyed interfering with mortals, using her mystical voice to torment the inhabitants of Ireland before being bested by the hero Cu Chullain and his Hound of Ulster.
The Banshee’s motivations of wanting to maintain freedom are very interesting, but her sadistic tendencies and deceptive machinations, such as sending the reincarnated Cu Chullain on a delinquent path so that he will not challenge her in this lifetime, make her a more traditional villain. The Banshee also possessed a variety of mystical powers such as hypnotism and an offensive sonic screech.
14. WEIRD SISTERS
Based on the Shakespeare characters for who they are named, the Weird Sisters were more neutral characters acting in their own self-interests but occasionally achieving them with a pinch of magical mischief. Members of Third Race assigned by Oberon to keep Avalon free from outsiders — and incidentally failing in their charge — the Sisters joined forces with the Archmage as a means to protect themselves from Oberon’s retribution.
Through this collaboration, the Sisters would trigger events that would have huge ramifications all throughout the Gargoyles universe. Ethereal, cunning, and unpredictable, the Weird Sisters were challenging characters with several memorable appearances on the show.
13. ANTON SEVARIUS
Who doesn’t love a classic mad scientist? Anton Sevarius was the twisted geneticist behind many of the Manhattan Clans’ foes like the mutates and clones. A brilliant mind capable of challenging the gargoyles with sci-fi creations, the true danger behind Sevarius stemmed from his utter lack of morality and scruples.
The villainous doctor did not care about the unethical practices of his experiments or the irreversible harm it did to people, as long as they led to scientific discovery or defeat of the gargoyles. Sevarius’s characterization bordered on cliche but was saved from it by great writing and the riveting performance from character actor Tim Curry.
From a sadistic villain to a tragic one, the cybernetic Coldstone was the victim of a tragic tale. Coldstone was the Frankenstein amalgamation of three fallen gargoyles from the Wyvern Clan named Othello, Desdemona, and Iago. Othello and Desdemona were mates prior to the Wyvern massacre, much to the dismay of the jealous Iago, who pined for Desdemona himself.
The history of the trio, along with their different personalities, makes Coldstone a creature of internal conflict with each personality vying for control from the other two. Since Coldstone was comprised of two innocents, the Manhattan Clan struggled with the moral Dilemma of fighting the creature, which was a shame considering Coldstone was used as muscle by multiple villains.
11. HYENA AND JACKAL
Members of the team of bounty hunters turned supervillains called The Pack, siblings Hyena and Jackal proved to be the most overtly evil members of the group. The siblings were effective and dangerous in their multiple encounters with the gargoyles, starting out as skilled martial artists, becoming cyborg assassins, and in Jackal’s case, temporarily tapping into the power of a god.
Even though the duo relished causing pain, they did so with different methods. Hyena was eager to jump into action with her cackling Cree Summer-voiced laugh, but Jackal preferred to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to strike. Deadly, eccentric, dangerous, the sibling team of Hyena and Jackal are nothing to underestimate.
Originally introduced as the capable leader of The Pack, Fox’s character was increasingly fleshed out, with subsequent appearances making her a standout for the series. The daughter of Cyberbiotics CEO Halcyon Renard and queen of the Third Race Titania, Fox is a thrill-seeking adventurer who is more in it for the chase than the reward.
Her abilities are such that even textbook narcissist David Xanatos recognizes them and her as his equal, which is one of the reasons they fell in love. Free-spirited and a force to be reckoned with, Fox is just as dangerously cunning as her name suggests.
9. CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD
As the captain charged with Castle Wyvern’s defense, the unnamed Captain of the Guard formed a tight bond with the gargoyles from fighting alongside them and was disgusted at their treatment by others in the Castle. Furious at the attitudes toward his winged friends, the Captain betrayed Princess Katherine, inviting the conqueror Hakon and his Viking army to storm it with little opposition.
What the Captain did not anticipate was Hakon’s grudge against the creatures the Captain loved, resulting in the Wyvern Massacre of 994. The Captain took his shame to the grave and beyond, becoming a vengeful spirit with Hakon and haunting Goliath once more before atoning for his sins. The Captain of the Guard’s descent into villainy is a tragic tale of consequences that come from misguided intentions.
8. THE PACK
Though the members of The Pack were vicious threats to the Manhattan Clan individually, they were at their most formidable working together as a unit. Each member of The Pack is a highly-skilled mercenary on their own, made even deadlier after given state-of-the-art weapons and equipment by businessman David Xanatos.
The design of The Pack’s costumes reflects the superhero fashion of the ’90s, which makes sense considering their backstory as fake superheroes. One wonders, though, if there is a subtextual meta going on with the depiction of The Pack, with their exploitive for-profit attitudes acting as a commentary on the superhero/comic book industry of the time, especially when paired against the old guard philosophies of honor and nobility the gargoyles represented. Memorable and full of personality, The Pack matched the gargoyles in strength as well as numbers.
The character of Puck was very different compared to the other villains who predated him and opened the door to new story possibilities. Based on the Shakespearean character of the same name, who in turn was based on an even earlier folklore character, Puck is a member of the Third Race with a penchant for mischief and trickery.
Instead of trying to amass wealth and power like other villains in the series, Puck instead made plots revolving around causing the most mayhem possible. Even when he was at the bidding of others, such as instructing Alexander Xanatos in magic or when he was temporarily enslaved by Demona, Puck still managed to fulfill these goals in a way that provided as much entertainment possible.
The first clone introduced in the series was also the most effective! The corrupt Thailog was a perfect physical copy of Goliath with all the cunning and moral ambiguity of Xanatos. Thailog’s thirst for power meant he was not satisfied to remain a mere servant, splintering off from his creator and becoming one of the most ambitious crime lords in the Gargoyles universe.
The concept of a character who has all of the strengths of the noble Goliath while lacking his moral compass is a scary one. Matching their fearless leader physically with a malicious intellect made Thailog a force to be reckoned with, and solidified his place as one of the Manhattan Clan’s greatest enemies. Art by VictoriaDAEDRA
5. THE ARCHMAGE
A sorcerer from the 10th Century, the Archmage is noteworthy for almost achieving his goals and temporarily obtaining infinite power. Using a plot that involved time travel, the Weird Sisters, and three powerful artifacts, the Archmage planned to conquer the world starting with the magical realm of Avalon.
The Archmage would have succeeded in his conquest had his hubris not interfered. The godlike sorcerer stalled the vanquishing of Goliath and his friends to savor their pain, which inadvertently gave them the opportunity to defeat him. Despite his failings, the Archmage was still a tremendous threat whose actions had great significance for the events of the universe.
An immortal whose life is eternally tied to that of the gargoyle Demona, the Macbeth of the series was as tragically fascinating as his theatrical namesake. Macbeth’s interest in the world would ebb and flow, sometimes trying to expand the wealth and influence he had amassed over the centuries, and other times attempting to permanently defeat Demona and end their eternal lives once and for all.
No matter what his motivation was, Macbeth was always an intriguing character whose long life gave him unique wisdom and perspective. The fact that he was burdened by mortality also made him the perfect counterpart to David Xanatos, who desperately sought it.
3. LORD OBERON
Sure, the Archmage had the power of a god, but Lorde Oberon was master of all the gods. The king of the Third Race and most powerful of their kind, Oberon banished his “children” from Avalon a thousand years ago in an attempt to teach them humility. Oberon was arrogant and prideful, partly because of the privilege that came with being a massively powerful being, but also because, as king of the Third Race, he had the power to back up his haughtiness.
Even though Oberon was sometimes arrogant, he was not needlessly cruel, nor did he find delight in pain. He had his principles and would not compromise them even it meant the happiness of others. In the end, he was a great character, an important fixture of the Gargoyles-verse, and a nearly invincible opponent.
David Xanatos is one of the most intriguing villains in Gargoyles, as well as popular culture in general. A charismatic and brilliant businessman from impoverished beginnings, Xanatos dreamed of reaching heights never before climbed by humanity, his ultimate desire to obtain immortality and cheat death.
Xanatos’ greatest tool was his brilliant mind, using multi-layered plans that found him several steps ahead of his stone-slept adversaries. Even on the occasions he would be bested, he would not be deterred by it, merely viewing defeats as learning experiences or opportunities for new schemes. However, Xanatos was also not completely evil, forming a complicated relationship with the gargoyles that bordered on respect. Complicated, determined, and ruthless (with a smile), Xanatos is a fondly remembered villain for a reason.
Demona is without question the most interesting villain in Gargoyles, and, quite possibly, the most interesting character in the entirety of the franchise. A female gargoyle who was the repeated victim of human abuse and intolerance, Demona’s heart would learn to hate the humans, growing colder with each passing year of her immortal lifespan.
The true tragedy of Demona is her own self-destructive choices, using humans as a scapegoat to avoid any responsibility for her actions. She has met multiple good-hearted humans that challenge her ideology but clings to her hatred because it is safer than accepting her mistakes. This has created a tragic isolated life for Demona, lacking love, companionship, and forcing her into the role of the eternal enemy to all humans; thus, she became the eternal enemy of the Manhattan Clan.
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