Not all villains have henchmen, but the ones that do often leave a distinct impression. Most of the time, the villain is giving the orders and planning the nefarious deeds that vex our hero, but it’s the henchmen that actually carry them out. If the hero wants to face the villain, they often have to get past their most trusty henchman first.
The henchman seems like a secondary role, but they often get as much attention than the main villain or even the main character. A few henchmen have made such an impression on the audience that they’ve become famous in their own right, surpassing even the main character in popularity or acclaim. Spoiler alert: some of these following henchmen don’t survive.
8 Count Rugen, The Princess Bride (1987)
Played to sinister and comic perfection by Christopher Guest, the despicable Count Rugen even surpasses his boss, the scabby Prince Humperdinck, in terms of evil. This henchman zealously follows the Prince’s every move, and the two evidently get along quite well, but the Count has a number of projects on the side that also keep him busy.
Count Rugen cheerfully refers to the torture chamber that doubles as his lab and office as “the Pit of Despair.” and has been working on a device that sucks the life out of his victims. Before he settled down to study the nuances of inflicting pain, he was busy stealing swords, murdering innocent blacksmiths, and mutilating children. And this is a comedy.
7 Major Toht, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
When he first shambles into Marion Ravenwood’s bar, she doesn’t think much of him, and neither does the audience. That’s why it’s even more horrifying when this character is revealed as a ruthless, cunning, and sadistic henchman.
The hot poker scene is harrowing enough, but Toht’s exploits only escalate as the movie progresses. All he has to do is show up, and he’s terrifying. Remember the scene when he scared both Marion and Belloq half to death with a simple coat hanger? That is the work of a terrifying henchman.
6 Xenia Onatopp, Goldeneye (1995)
Goldeneye is one of the greatest Bond films partly because of a perfectly evil henchman — or in this case, henchwoman. Xenia is the kind of minion who can get things done. When the villain needs to take out the trash or do a quick ventilation, Xenia is there, and she can handle a Tiger helicopter or a machine gun just as well as a Ferrari.
Initially, it’s not clear who Xenia is working for, and it’s her key role in a theft, an assassination, and a few murders at the start of the film that set the plot in motion. She’s violent, methodical, and she really enjoys her work.
5 Gogo Yubari, Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Speaking of henchwomen who like what they do, if Gogo Yubari wasn’t a vicious killer in the employ of the equally savage O-Ren Ishii, she’d be doing the same thing for someone else. Before she actually appears with her ball and chain to face Black Mamba, we see a short flashback of her previous exploits, and they are messy in a way that only Quentin Tarantino can describe.
If anyone into RPGs is wondering exactly what a Chaotic Evil character looks like, Gogo is a perfect example. She might be young, but what she lacks in age, she makes up for in madness.
4 The Beadle, Sweeny Todd (2007)
Sure, he’s creepy, but is this rotund little man really so dangerous? Yes, he is. This putrid character seems to be the physical personification of all his master’s worst qualities, and those are pretty awful too.
Judge Turpin is the main villain of this story, and the Beadle is by his side for most of it. Like his master, the Beadle puts on airs of being a decent, neighborly gent, but hides a sadistic and perverse nature underneath a friendly facade. When he’s not beating, robbing, raping, or stalking at Turpin’s request, he’s gleefully watching while his boss does it.
3 Luca Brasi, The Godfather (1972)
Luca Brasi also holds the title as one of the most terrifying henchmen in literary history. In the novel by Mario Puzo, there’s a scene in which a woman approaches Michael Corleone during his exile in Italy. She risked her life by doing this, revealing that she knows his identity, but she was willing to take that risk in order to confirm a rumor that Brasi is dead.
His nefarious deeds, not only as the head enforcer of the Corleone family but also in his own personal life, were so chilling they went cross-continental. As Michael is explaining to Kate the nuances of his father’s “business,” when he brings Luca Brasi into the story, she starts to give him a bit of side-eye.
2 Fiona Volpe, Thunderball (1965)
There’s room for one more Bond henchman on this list, especially since this one stole the show. At first, it seems like Fiona is working for Largo, Spectre’s Number 2 man in Nassau. However, it turns out she’s been sent by Number 1 not only to reign in Largo, who is acting too quickly out of jealousy, but also to kill James Bond.
Largo’s a fairly decent evil henchman himself, throwing minions who displease him into a tank of tiger sharks. However, almost falls off the radar completely in the second part of this movie and Fiona takes over as the main villain. It makes more sense anyway, since she got the whole plot going when she killed Domino’s brother, NATO pilot Colonel Duval. She was one of the main players in the overall scheme to steal nuclear weapons in the first place.
1 Darth Vader, Star Wars
He’s the main villain for the original series, and is always so front and center that it’s easy to forget that Darth Vader was always a henchman, a pawn in a larger scheme. General Tarkin held his leash in the first movie, but after that, he either acted on his own or took orders directly from the Emperor.
Darth Vader didn’t get the title of Sith Lord by being a nice guy. His resume includes murdering his wife, abandoning his children, backing up a fascist regime, blowing up planets, jailing people without due process, and torture. Not only is he an evil henchman, but also an absentee father and a crooked cop. It doesn’t get any worse than this.
MORE: Movies That Make No Sense (& Are Awesome Because Of It)
The peculiar placement of one doll in Jas’s dollhouse has led many Stardew Valley fans to ask some questions without any canonical answer.
About The Author