These Are the Most Memorable Telenovela Villanas of All Time

For a telenovela to work, it must have a lead character who is a dreamer, a love story, and a villain who impedes on everyone's happiness. The latter is especially important, because without conflict, the soap would end real fast. Telenovela villanas are essential characters in every story, and they've sometimes even overshadowed the protagonistas, turning them into cultural icons. Villains exist in a fantasy world where they can do whatever they want for 200 episodes with no consequences. The aftermath usually only comes in the last minutes of a telenovela, when the story is about to end. However, their journey is what fans love to watch on television. Not only are they evil, ambitious, and powerful, but they also always dress up for the occasion, showcasing some of the best looks in Latin TV history. These are some of the most legendary telenovela villains of all time!

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Teresa From Teresa

Angelique Boyer became a telenovela icon thanks to her role in Teresa, in which she played both the lead and the villain. Teresa broke Televisa melodrama's mold because she was not the stereotypical character waiting for prince charming. Boyer's villain was empowered, smart, and fought for what she wanted. Although it might seem out of date now, Teresa used her powers of seduction to gain materialistic things and missed out on what's important in life: genuine connections. Among her most iconic lines is the classic, "Entre ser y no ser, yo soy."

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Paola Bracho From La Usurpadora

Gabriela Spanic was unknown in Mexico when she landed her role in La Usurpadora. The Venezuelan actress was the protagonist and antagonist of this classic, but it was the latter role that caught everyone's attention. Paola Bracho, the villain, was a housewife who was bored with her life and wanted to travel the world on extravagant vacations far away from her family and responsibilities. When she found out there was another woman that looked exactly like her, she coerced her into taking over her role back home. Bracho knew how to play people and even used her ailing mother-in-law's struggle with sobriety to her advantage. When we tell you she had no scruples, we mean it.

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Carmina From Avenida Brasil

Avenida Brasil became a phenomenon in Brazil when it first aired. The telenovela is a modern take on the classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo. In this version, Carmina is a conniving woman that marries a man only to bankrupt him. After his death, she makes her stepdaughter's life hell and even abandons the little girl in a landfill, leaving her to fend for herself. When Rita, the stepdaughter, grows up, she is out to seek vengeance and ends up working as a cook for Carmina, who now lives with a rich and retired soccer star. Carmina treats everyone as if they are beneath her, and after she finds out who Rita really is, she makes her pay harshly — as you can see in the clip above.

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Mariela From Luz Clarita

Perhaps the most endearing of all the villains is Mariela from Luz Clarita. Ximena Sariñana played a spoiled rich girl who lives in an orphanage and is still struggling with her mother's death. Then, there's Luz Clarita, the lead, who has a noble heart and only sees the good in people despite growing up without a family, too. Luz's optimistic spirit lightens her heart eventually, but not before Mariela has many travesuras along the way.

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Teresa Cristina From Marido en Alquiler

If you were looking for neurotic, look no further than Teresa Cristina from Marido en Alquiler. Maritza Rodríguez (now known as Sarah Mintz) became an icon thanks to her character on this show, which was based on the Brazilian telenovela Fina Estampa. Teresa Cristina is a stereotypical rich woman who is only concerned with her public image and only values people based on their appearance. When the lead, Griselda, a middle-aged working-class woman, shows up in her life, this villain becomes obsessed with making her life miserable.

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Bernarda Sáenz From La Otra

Mother-daughter relationships are always interesting in telenovelas — especially in the case of Bernarda Sáenz from La Otra. Jacqueline Andere is one of the most legendary actors in Mexico, and her role as Bernarda is truly iconic. The ambitious character was only concerned with becoming rich after marrying a man for his money, but when he died, he left all his fortune to both of his daughters. Sáenz told her daughters she would handle their money until they got married. Her evilness shows up as she tries to do everything in her power to scare her daughters' suitors away. The twist, in the end, is one to watch out for, as it's not the typical ending for a villana.

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Catalina Creel From Cuna de Lobos

A good roundup of telenovela villains isn't complete without the icon of icons, Catalina Creel. Actor María Rubio masterfully played Creel in this classic, in which she was a serial killer who wore an eye patch that matched her dress. Viewers ultimately found out that she wasn't missing an eye; she only wore the patch so people felt sorry for her so she could manipulate them. Talk about twisted!

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Nazaré Tedesco From Señora del Destino

Although she was a nurse, Nazaré Tedesco did not have compassion for human beings. When she finds out that she can't have children, she steals one from the hospital, leaving a mother in despair. There's nothing more heartless than an antagonist who has no remorse — and Nazaré never did. People may find Nazaré familiar as the popular meme of a confused woman trying to solve a math problem. Yes, that's her!

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Antonia Guerra From La Patrona

Another story inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo was La Patrona, which starred Aracely Arámbula as Gabriela Suarez, the lead, and Christian Bach as Antonia Guerra. The latter had a particular plan for her son and would not let him marry whoever he wanted. After Gabriela gives birth to Guerra's heir, the evil woman takes him away from her and accuses her of a crime. Guerra has no limits and stops at nothing to get what she wants.

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María Paula From Lazos de Amor

Although Lucero was known for playing the good girl in telenovelas, the character that made her a true star was María Paula, the villain of this story. Lucero showed her versatility as an actor when she was challenged to play triplets on Lazos de Amor. María Guadalupe, María Paula, and María Fernanda were three identical girls who lost their parents in a car accident when they were very young. As you can see in this hilarious clip, Maria Paula — the evil one — is definitely the most fun!

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Angélica From Marimar

Thalía had a legendary role as the titular character in Marimar, but the one who stole the show in this one was Angélica, played by Chantal Andere. The rich and snobbish woman loved to humiliate poor and naive Marimar. Fans will always remember this scene in which she makes Marimar fetch a necklace out of the mud with her mouth while she sits on her horse laughing. Truly unforgettable.

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La Diabla From Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso

Majida Issa's interpretation of La Diabla in this Telemundo series is nothing short of epic. Although different actresses have played this role, it was Issa's version that will remain in our memory forever. Watch the clip to understand why.

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Josiane From Dulce Ambición

This Univision telenovela shows the lengths that Josiane goes to to humiliate and destroy her mother, María de la Paz, plotting an evil plan against her with her lover. When Josiane ultimately has everything she needs, she evicts her mother from her home, drains her bank accounts, and kicks her out of her business. However, when Josiane finds herself at risk of being accused of murder, things start to go south for the cruel villain.

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Rubí From Rubí

Rubí was masterfully played by Bárbara Mori, and the character became so iconic, the actress decided to leave the telenovela world after this role. The story was based on a comic book by Yolanda Vargas Dulché about an ambitious woman whose goal in life was to never be poor again. She seduced men and disposed of them when they were of no service to her. Although Rubí was blinded by her ambition, deep down she had a soft spot for her family, and she justified her evil actions by saying it was all to better their lives.

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Soraya Montenegro From María la del Barrio

This list wouldn't be complete without the mention of Soraya Montenegro. The María la del Barrio villain played by Itatí Cantoral became a pop-culture icon like no other, even for people that have never seen the telenovela. Soraya's jealousy, crazy antics, and obsession over her "Nandito" kept audiences enthralled episode after episode. Her most remembered scene is this one, in which she catches "Nandito" kissing his love interest, the now famous "maldita lisiada."