10 Greatest Tim Burton Monsters In Movies & TV Shows, Ranked

Summary

  • Tim Burton’s movies often feature memorable monsters that are uniquely strange and often surprisingly heroic.
  • From the Bandersnatch in Alice in Wonderland to the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow, Burton’s monsters have a distinctive touch that sets them apart.
  • Whether sympathetically portrayed or terrifyingly evil, Burton’s monsters leave a lasting impression, contain unique designs, and are a key component of his films.


While Tim Burton’s movies are filled with spooky supernatural beings, the director’s fondness for these characters means that his oeuvre only includes a handful of full-blown movie & TV monsters. Writer-director Tim Burton has built a career on turning the macabre and morbid into something fun and family-friendly. While there are a few darker R-rated movies in his back catalog, the majority of Burton’s work has seen the filmmaker helm comedies about witches, vampires, werewolves, talking skeletons, and even aliens. Many of Tim Burton’s best movies and shows depict characters who would usually be viewed as villains, like the sensitive title character of Edward Scissorhands or Wednesday’s gloomy leading lady, as unlikely heroes.

However, even Tim Burton’s horror movies need antagonists. As such, the director does have some memorable monsters in his movies. Some of these are the primary villains of their movies, like Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman. Others are one-scene wonders who arrive, make a major impression, and are never seen again, as exemplified in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. However, what all of these monsters have in common is Burton’s unique touch. Whether they are surprisingly sympathetic, utterly terrifying, or comically absurd, all of these monsters are so memorably strange that they could only have come from a Tim Burton project.


10 The Bandersnatch In Alice in Wonderland (2010)

This Big Cat’s Bizarre Appearance Masked Secret Heroism

The Bandersnatch isn’t a primary villain in Alice in Wonderland (2010), but they are a memorable monster nonetheless. An overgrown big cat, the Bandersnatch protects the Red Queen and her Knights. The monster becomes even more ferocious looking when the Dormouse takes one of its eyes, but turns out to be surprisingly heroic when the Bandersnatch switches allegiances and fights with Alice in the movie’s ending. While Alice in Wonderland’s Tweedledee and Tweedledum were also memorably weird, the Bandersnatch’s character arc made the beast one of Burton’s best screen monsters.

9 The Witch In The Woods In Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow’s Tragic Monster Was An Eye-Popping Terror

The Witch's eyes and snake tongue pop out in Sleepy Hollow 1999

Sleepy Hollow

Release Date
November 19, 1999

Cast
Johnny Depp , Christina Ricci , Miranda Richardson , Michael Gambon , Casper Van Dien , Jeffrey Jones

Lady Van Tassel is not revealed to be the villain of Sleepy Hollow until the movie’s twist ending, when viewers learn that she has been controlling the Headless Horseman’s antics all along. However, before viewers learn about Van Tassel’s witchcraft, there is a terrifying earlier encounter with another old witch who lives in the woods outside the titular small town. This brief scene foreshadows this revelation. The witch turns out to be Van Tassel’s secret sister, who tries to help the heroes but still earns her status as one of Burton’s best monsters thanks to her chilling, eye-popping appearance.

8 Large Marge In Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’s Scariest Monster Comes From Out Of Nowhere

Large Marge reveals her real face in Pee Wee's Big Adventure

Speaking of eye-popping Burton villains, the ghostly truck driver Large Marge might be the most mysterious monster listed here. In a clever twist on the ghostly hitchhiker urban myth, Large Marge is a strange, unsettling character who picks up a hitchhiking Pee-wee during his eponymous adventure. Created by the Killer Clowns From Outer Space effects team, Large Marge’s true form is a horrifying bug-eyed monstrosity that caused countless young viewers sleepless nights. Her cameo might only last a moment, but viewers will have a hard time forgetting this monster’s visage.

7 The Aliens In Mars Attacks!

The Martians of Mars Attacks Are A Brilliant Sci-fi Movie Oddity

The Martian ambassador looks on in Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks! (1996) saw Burton branch out from his usual horror/fantasy comfort zone for a sci-fi satire. This homage to ‘50s sci-fi B-movies featured an all-star cast, but the real stars of the campy masterpiece are the Martians. Relentless in their attempts to wipe out earthlings, these gleefully evil monsters are an inspired creation. Their wide eyes and exposed brains make them a perfect pastiche of classic monster movie villains, while their unlikely weakness for yodeling allows these already-amusing aliens to earn a place in the pantheon of unforgettably goofy comedic villains.

6 The Sandworm In Beetlejuice

This Beetlejuice Villain Made Dune’s Sandworms Look Harmless

A Sandworms roars in Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice’s Sandworm might be the weirdest monster in Burton’s filmography solely because of how little explanation the movie offers for its existence. The Dune-inspired monster simply shows up in the world of the dead, constantly threatening to eat ghosts who get too close. While the Sandworm only appears briefly in Barbara and Adam’s early scenes as ghosts, Beetlejuice’s ending explains the presence of this bizarre monster when it returns to eat the titular villain himself.

5 Hollows In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The Hollowgasts Were Atypically Creepy Kid’s Movie Monsters

A Hollow sticks out its tongues in the rain in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Release Date
September 30, 2016

Cast
Asa Butterfield , Raffiella Chapman , Milo Parker , Rupert Everett , Kim Dickens , O-Lan Jones , Allison Janney , Terence Stamp , Samuel L. Jackson , Ella Wahlestedt , Eva Green , Ella Purnell , judi dench , Chris O’Dowd

If Beetlejuice’s Sandworm has too little backstory, the Hollowgasts of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children arguably have too much. The Hollows” are invisible monsters that were once scientists before a bid to unlock the secrets of immortality backfired badly and turned them into gangly-limbed cretins. The Hollows truly are memorable monsters, with Burton’s adaptation bringing them to life as eyeless, many-tongued tall men that look like a mashup of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror villains and the Slender Man.

4 Oogie Boogie In The Nightmare Before Christmas

This Christmas Classic Has A Surprisingly Chilling Villain

While The Nightmare Before Christmas’s Jack Skellington might be a talking skeleton, he is far from a monster. To find the villain of this Burton production, conceived by the filmmaker and directed by his frequent collaborator Henry Selick, viewers need to look to Ken Page’s Oogie Boogie. A boogeyman with a soulful singing voice and a deleterious love of risky bets, Oogie Boogie is comfortably the scariest talking burlap bag in cinema history.

3 The Jabberwocky In Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland’s Biggest Villain Is An Inspired Horror Creation

Mia Wasikowska's Alice wields a sword and faces the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland 2010

Voiced by the late, great Christopher Lee, the Jabberwocky is nowhere near as silly as his name suggests. Instead, this chilling villain is one of Burton’s most memorably scary monsters. Drawing inspiration from Christopher Lee’s long history of horror movie roles, the Jabberwocky is a gigantic black dragon who acts as the Red Queen’s lead assassin. However, Lee’s imposing vocal performance and the Jabberwocky’s genuinely scary character design ensure that he is the true villain of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland remake.

2 The Hyde In Wednesday Season 1

This Netflix Addams Family Spinoff Made Wednesday’s Love Interest A Monster

While most Hydes aren’t responsible for their actions, Wednesday season 1’s monster was a memorable villain precisely because he actively allowed his Hyde side to be exploited by another, more insidious villain. Marilyn Thornhill, aka Laurel Gates, unleashed Tyler Galpin’s Hyde when she informed him of the true cause behind his mother’s death. From that point on, Tyler secretly became the killer in Wednesday season 1, acting on Laurel’s command. What makes the Hyde Wednesday’s best villain is the finale’s revelation that he is still at large even after Gates was defeated.

1 The Headless Horseman In Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow’s Villain Remains Burton’s Best Movie Monster

Although Lady Van Tassel might have controlled the Headless Horseman throughout most of Sleepy Hollow’s story, there is still no denying who the movie’s main monster is. Christopher Walken puts in a terrifying turn as the Hessian, particularly after he reattaches his head in the movie’s closing scenes. Van Tassel might have dug her own grave with her evil scheming, but it is hard not to feel bad for her when Tim Burton’s scariest movie monster starts stalking her with a pointy-toothed grin.