Inspired by SQT's splendid post below, I've taken it upon myself (please, grateful public, no flowers) to compile a list of some of the best villainous sidekicks, known professionally as henchmen. Actually, that makes it sound like they have some sort of Union, who would probably have a code of practice:
"A good henchman is only loyal to their evil overlord either out of fear or the belief that there is some nefarious benefit to their own base interests. A good henchman carries out his orders with a mixture of both sadistic relish and burning resentment at being ordered around. A good henchman will swap sides at a moments notice and come crawling back just as soon as the wind changes. A good henchman enjoys nothing more than muttering under his or her breath about their working conditions. A good henchman expects a certain level of casual abuse (physical or verbal) from their employer. Above all, a good henchman really wants to be the Big Bad."
That said, let's take a look at some classic henchmen over the years, some cartoons, some movies, begining with my own personal favourite:
Evil Lyn: Skeletor's right-hand woman in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. What a magnificent bitch! She hated Skeletor almost as much as she hated He-Man and had a wicked line in reasons why everyone else was mentally submnormal. She was also totally bad-ass. And who couldn't but love that headdress? There are just not enough villainesses in cartoons these days.
Iago: I know this is like, cartoon heresy or similar, but if it weren't for this splendidly craven anthropomorphic parrot, Aladdin would have been utterly unbearable for me. He's the ultimate in cowardly-bad-guys-with-a-heart-of-gold and is funny enough to almost not make me throw up during A Whole New World. But obviously not enough to make me watch the movie again. Mostly because I've made it my life's work to destroy all copies I lay eyes upon.
Starscream: Another total bitch, Starscream was a breath of self-interested, narrow-minded pathological loathing and envy amongst all the noble happy-clappy edutainment morality lessons laughing at the end of episodes drivel that tended to make up early 80s episodes of Transformers. The best thing about Starscream was just HOW much he hated his boss, Megatron - leading to the classic line in Transformers the Movie when he throws a dying Megatron out of a spaceship, "Oh, how it pains me to do this..." I really hope he's in the new movie.
The Witch-King of Angmar: OK, bit of a category shift here. The Lord of the Nazgul is a very serious bad-ass indeed. And I think his rendering in the LOTR movies is one of the most awe-inspiring cinematic sights in recent years. Now, pedants amongst you will point out that The Witch King's boss, Sauron, was himself a henchman of the fallen God, Morgoth. However, you have overlooked the point that I don't have time to go into that here so ssshh. Also, the Witch-King meets his comeuppance at the hands of a hot blonde in chainmail, thereby rendering him a vital component of both feminist iconography and 13-year-old boys' dreams for years to come.
Lloyd, Lloyd & Floyd: Anyone remember The Racoons? These three little piggies were anti-environmentalist Ant-Eater tycoon (do keep up) Cyril Sneer's whiny little henchmen. They were incredibly inept thieves for the most part. I'm only including them here because a) that show had the acest theme music ever and b) my sister does a great impression of the pigs squealing "Bossh, bossh". I'm not sure which of Lloyd, Lloyd or Floyd this picture is. A fabulous prize to anyone who knows.
OK, so they're almost all cartoons. What can I say, I'm feeling juvenile today.
So what (slightly less infantile) henchmen would all y'all include?