The 25 Greatest Sports Movie Villains
From The Jesus to The Judge
5. Judge Elihu Smails, Caddyshack (1980)
And, we’re halfway through the list’s Judge run. Judge Smails in Caddyshack was a beautiful array of contradictions: A rich (but cheap) judge (with no respect for rules) who was addicted to golf (but had no patience). In Smails, Ted Knight created an archetype that other sports movies have tried to replicate but never quite nailed. This is because Knight was clearly born to play this role—and, perhaps moreso than any other character on this list, he was able to convincingly depict a villain of absolutely no redeeming qualities.
4. Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken, Kingpin (1996)
McCracken was the rare villain who, in his own way, was more likeable than the protagonist. Serial scene-stealer Bill Murray was in top form while playing the insufferable but oddly alluring McCracken. Big Ern managed to combine the brashness of Terrell Owens, the confidence of Muhammad Ali and the body of Steve Zissou.
And I don’t care what kind of list we’re making: Best sports movie scenes, or best comedy movie scenes, or best fashion movie scenes. The final bowling showdown makes all the lists.
3. Shooter McGavin, Happy Gilmore (1996)
What makes Shooter a truly great sports villain is that he’s also a buffoon, and that makes him easy target for Happy—many of the movie’s most memorable lines (such as the exchange above) are set up by a dumb McGavin comment. In that regard, McGavin is one of the more sympathetic villains on the list. The guy spent his whole life playing golf, and when he finally reaches the pinnacle of his career, he finds all the attention being consumed by a rival who doesn’t even know how to properly hold a club. Granted, buying Grandma Gilmore’s house was a low blow. But on the other hand, real estate was a prime investment in the mid-90s.
Speaking of Grandma Gilmore, there’s an argument to be made that the real bad guy in the movie is Ben Stiller as the Nursing Home director. That guy.
2. Cancer, Brian’s Song (1971)
There are two types of people in this world: Those who cry when they watch Brian’s Song, and those who haven’t seen Brian’s Song.
1. Ivan Drago, Rocky IV (1985)
He killed Apollo Creed. THE MAN KILLED APOLLO CREED. History books might tell you that the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union collapsed, but that’s myth. The Cold War ended when Rocky Balboa defeated Ivan Drago and then delivered an incoherent speech that prompted all nuclear aggression between the Soviet Union and the United States to diffuse.
But that part is just a footnote. The man killed Apollo Creed.