Audiences tend to laud iconic scoundrels for one or two particularly nefarious capers. For example, everybody relishes Darth Vader's misbehavior in The Empire Strikes Back, but nobody remembers when he tried to out-scheme Princess Leia out of obtaining a bank loan. Here's a half-dozen memorable times your favorite bad eggs cracked up hard.
He-Man nemesis Skeletor is a surprisingly competent supervillain, given that he is probably the magically resurrected, sun-bleached corpse of Gilbert Gottfried. Remember that time he poisoned Hordak with a pie? That plan was a masterstroke, as there are almost certainly no functional bakeries on the planet Etheria. Anyway, the 1984 episode "The Greatest Show on Eternia" saw Skeletor at his absolute nadir. In this adventure, the ossified super-wizard schemes to commandeer his own circus by mugging a clown. I'm not sure if it's just the corner-cutting Eighties animation, but Skeletor looks chemically impaired throughout this entire escapade. (Also, Cthulhuphant is making my stomach hurt.)
There's so much to love in this scene. The rictus-grinning citizens of Eternia are literally frozen in fear! Skeletor's whiny head-o-gram! That guy in the pink Mardi Gras outfit who bleats, "What have you done with Crackers?"
And of course, Skeletor loses the day by hubristically feigning ignorance about the fundamental properties of fireworks. Both spaceships and magic exist on Eternia, but Roman candles are an unknown quantity to him. Also note both A.) how he comically falls off the tightrope; and B.) his telling gait when he skulks away. Poor guy's obviously been drinking on the job.
Once off the beaten path of Hollywood tentpoles, science fiction franchises often veer into the delightful and gonzo hinterlands of tie-in comic books. Take the miniseries Terminator: Revolution, which saw Skynet resort to robotic dire wolves. (The alien tongue is surprisingly not a throwback to the prose powerhouse that was Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator.)
Incidentally, a canine Terminator is not a new conceit. Gaze upon the cover of the pre-Terminator 2 comic book, The Terminator. That there's a cover you tattoo on your back.
The original Jaws film initially relied on suspenseful camerawork and John Williams' iconic theme, only to close out with a dollop of semi-functioning metal shark puppet. But the awesome 1975 no-holds-barred gekiga adaptation of Jaws had no such compunction rampaging upon the citizens of Amity right from the get-go. Behold!
[Cue Quint's head exploding]
While we're on the topic, the Marvel Comics adaptation of Jaws 2 also had its moments. You can't bargain with a shark, sucker!
Sir Ian McKellen imbued the mutant master of magnetism with oodles o' gravitas, but this scene from the 1978 New Fantastic Four cartoon — in which Magneto is thwarted by middle-school-level arts and crafts — singlehandedly nullifies all of Magneto's street cred.
I particularly enjoy how the cops whisk Magneto away in metal police cruisers, unless Reed Richards built them out of some kind of ergonomically sound marzipan or something in a deleted scene.
Of all the misdeeds Darth Vader has inflicted upon the galaxy, none were as bone-chilling as the infamous occasion he denied his own daughter a bank loan to fund the Rebel Squadron. This went down in a 1981 issue of the Star Wars comic book, in which Darth Vader vexes Leia on a neutral banking planet by preventing her from securing the financing of an X-Wing squadron.
Throughout the course of this story, the reader is treated to several glorious panels of the Sith Lord screaming about the caprices of intergalactic finance.
Also, Darth Vader tries to pass Count Dracula off as his secretary. And I love the idea of Darth Vader hiring an evil alien valet.
On the last page, we learn that — through a Byzantine series of plot twists — Darth Vader's primary objective was to steal his daughter's priceless crown jewels to undercut the Rebels further. His bon mot on the final panel is absolutely priceless.
Michael Bay's Transformer films gave us an extraterrestrial robot with prominent testicles, but the Japanese Kiss Players line of toys and comics bore machine anatomy that had more in common with Tetsuo: The Iron Man than children's playthings. This officially sanctioned (and roundly derided) Transformers franchise got its name from the superpowers the Autobots received from smooching overly cutesy human girls.
These Lolita overtones were bad enough, but we haven't gotten to the primary antagonists in Kiss Players. They were the Legion, the hybrid spawn of Megatron who all possessed horrific tentacle tongues. To reiterate, this was an officially sanctioned Transformers product that some human being at the Takara corporation actually signed off on. Sheesh.