Ghost Rider is a highly popular antihero from Marvel Comics, appearing in countless storylines, series, and volumes. 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the character’s first appearance, so Marvel dubbed 2022 “the year of Vengeance,” honoring the character with a new title, filled with horror, thrill, and epic awesomeness of the Spirit of Vengeance.
Ghost Rider proved to be one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, fighting and defeating incredibly strong villains and enemies throughout the years. To honor the 50th anniversary of the character’s legacy, here’s the ultimate ranked list of the 15 strongest Ghost Rider Villains ever.
Scarecrow is a character name mainly linked to DC Comics due to it being popularized by Cillian Murphy, who portrayed the character in Cristopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. However, Marvel Comics has its own Scarecrow – and if you ask me, it’s so much more intriguing and menacing than the DC version.
His real name was Ebenezer Laughton, a guy whose abusive childhood led him to be an evil person in his adult days. Laughton put on a burlap sack mask and called himself Scarecrow, going on murdering mayhem to get the attention of Captain America, Iron Man, and other heroes.
Instead, he attracted Ghost Rider, who came with a vengeance due to so many innocent lives being taken away by the villain. Ghost Rider kills him, but a group of demons resurrects Scarecrow, giving him supernatural powers – including his mere presence striking fear into anybody around him.
After their first encounter in Ghost Rider #7, the supernatural Scarecrow keeps coming back against the old burning skull.
14. Lord Pumpkin
Lord Pumpkin first appeared in the Ultraverse series, which Marvel only later bought. However, the horrifying character appeared in numerous Marvel comics afterward, including Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, etc. He’s usually not a part of the main (Earth-616) universe but rather Earth-93060.
Lord Pumpkin was a wizard’s creation, made as a toy for a spoiled prince in a medieval kingdom. His body was made out of straw (like a scarecrow) with a pumpkin for his head.
The spoiled prince was a psychopath who loved to torture animals, and Lord Pumpkin, burning his straws or chopping him to pieces. Lord Pumpkin had enough, rebelled, and killed the prince, overtaking the entire kingdom. He became hungry for more, searching for new worlds to conquer.
Lord Pumpkin is a magical being and a skilled sorcerer, capable of unfathomable magic, fire-spitting, and being almost immortal. He feels no pain, needs no food, or air, making Lord Pumpkin a serious threat to Ghost Rider or any other enemy he might face.
13. The Orb
The Orb is an odd character but very distinguishable for his appearance – his head is one huge eyeball. Originally, he was just a man named Drake Shannon who worked at Johnny Blaze’s stunt show. An accident mutilated his face, so he started wearing the eyeball mask, in which he attacked Blaze, trying to take over his show.
Ironically, Ghost Rider didn’t kill him, but rather Plantman, after the Orb and Johnny Blaze had numerous battles. A new Orb resurfaced after Shannon’s death, but this wasn’t just a man. This Orb had supernatural powers.
The new Orb didn’t wear a mask – his head was literally an eyeball. The rogue angel Zadkiel (later on this list) used him as a pawn for most of his time. He could see into your soul with his giant eye. However, after a Watcher, Uatu, lost his eyes, one of his eyeballs merged with the Orb, granting the entity cosmic powers. He can see everything in the universe.
12. The Bounty Hunter
Lemuel Haskil, aka the Bounty Hunter, is one of my favorite Ghost Rider villains ever, even though we’ve only seen him in one storyline (first appearing in Ghost Rider Vol. 2 #29). Haskil was a bounty hunter in the 19th century, but after getting killed, Mephisto claimed his soul and gave him a deal: retrieve 50 souls the demon lord asks for, and your soul will be free.
Haskil collects 49, and Mephisto wants Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider, for the last soul. Of course, it’s not easy, but one thing goes in his favor – the Bounty Hunter is immune to Ghost Rider’s powers, as he can wield hellfire as well. Johnny has to run and wait until Haskil’s time runs out and Mephisto drags him back to hell.
The Bounty Hunter is ominous, dark, and gives you that old western vibe you have to love. He was the first seen wielding the hellfire shotgun and opposed to Johnny’s chains, Haskil had a burning lasso. We haven’t seen the Bounty Hunter since the late 70s, but I hope we’ll see him in action again someday.
Deathwatch was one of the first villains that the Ghost Rider Danny Ketch ever faced. The villain’s first appearance came in Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #1, and the first epic storyline of his battle against Ketch spanned over #24 fantastic issues.
Deathwatch is an evil entity coming from a demonic dimension who entered our plane of existence after a cult of followers on Earth made a sacrifice to his name, allowing him to enter this dimension.
The demonic entity possessed Stephen Lord and asked his cult to bring him more people who were near death. Sucking out their life force made Deathwatch so much more powerful, prolonging his own life with every soul he ate. Danny Ketch vowed to stop it, eventually beating the sinister supervillain.
Deathwatch teamed up with several other Ghost Rider villains, most notably Blackout – it was one of the most diabolical duos you’ll ever see in comics, heartlessly killing anyone in their path – even their team members.
Centurious’ was the main Ghost Rider villain in the first-ever series for the character, battling Johnny Blaze for the first time in Ghost Rider #74. At first, his goal was to defeat Zarathos – the demon who possessed Johnny Blaze and made him the Ghost Rider in the first place.
Centurious made a deal with Mephisto to help him defeat Zarathos, but Mephisto took his soul, making him The Man Without A Soul. After losing his soul, Centurious became a supervillain, using his Crystal of Souls to take other souls and trap them inside, giving him more and more power.
Due to him having no soul, Ghost Rider’s abilities couldn’t do anything to him, so he defeated Blaze at first. However, he later ended up being trapped inside the Cry<stal of Souls together with the demon Zarathos, battling in there for all eternity.
Somehow, he got out later and antagonized Danny Ketch’s Ghost Rider, too. His intelligence, power, and skills made him a very strong villain, especially because Ghost Rider had no power over him.
Due to Ghost Rider being a part of Marvel’s horror comics, it’s only right that he encountered other prominent characters and antiheroes from the same branch. One of them was Morbius, the Living Vampire.
Dr. Michael Morbius is a Nobel-winning biochemist who worked on a cure for himself, as he was ill his entire life. The experiments with vampire bats backfired, turning him into a blood-sucking monster. He has the same traits as a real vampire, but he’s still alive instead of being undead.
Normal vampire weaknesses such as garlic, holy water, crucifixes, etc., don’t work against Morbius. He has problems controlling his thirst, killing innocent people at first. It makes him remorseful, so he does everything he can to only feed on those who he believes deserve to die, such as murderers, etc.
Morbius is getting a stand-alone movie in weeks and will be portrayed by Jared Leto.
Blackout also first appeared against Danny Ketch (Ghost Rider Vol. 3 #2) as a child of Lilith, the Mother of Demons. Blackout was a hybrid of a human and a demon, having a human body and incredible, dark, supernatural powers. Also, he modified his body surgically with claws, fangs, and an all-out vampire appearance.
The name Blackout stems from his ability to project utter darkness around himself, making him incredibly stealthy in battle – which is why he chose to work as a brutal mercenary. No matter who Blackout is contracted to kill – women, children, or elderly – he does it with no remorse. His line of work eventually collides with Ghost Rider.
He found out Danny’s identity, so Blackout killed his sister and almost his mother. He is just brutal, frightening, and after that entire story, Lilith came and turned Blackout into an all-out demon, making him even more powerful and menacing.
Zadkiel is one of the most powerful Ghost Rider villains ever, capable of defeating an entire group of angels himself. However, he usually works from the shadows and sends pawns to do the dirty work, so I couldn’t put him higher on this list.
Zadkiel is a rogue angel from Heaven who helped Lucifer take over Paradise. Seeing they’ll fail, Zadkiel betrays Lucifer and helps Heaven’s army but secretly forges a plan to take it down for himself.
He uses Danny Ketch as a pawn after brainwashing him and making him kill all other Ghost Riders to absorb their unfathomable power and set fire to Heaven – which Danny does. After realizing what he had done, Danny joins Johnny Blaze and Daimon Hellstrom to destroy Zadkiel for good.
The rogue angel is extremely powerful himself, but what makes him that much more dangerous is his army of dark angels called the Black Host. If you want diabolical horror, start with Ghost Rider Annual #2, where Zadkiel first appears.
Nightmare is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe – but only in his own dream dimension, so he couldn’t be higher on this list. Nightmare, as his name suggests, tortures everyone who enters the dream dimension – he can control everything within the dimension, including the landscape, himself, his enemies, and the dimension itself.
Nightmare feeds on people’s nightmares and destroys their dreams, sometimes killing or trapping them there for all eternity. That’s why powerful characters like Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider fought him. Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch both fought the ominous entity several times, usually to get crucial information out of him.
Lilith, also known as The Mother of Demons, was imprisoned for centuries. After being released accidentally, Lilith started gathering her children again, with desires to take over the world and overflow it with demons. She is unfathomably powerful – not even Doctor Strange could defeat her alone, so he had to form the Midnight Sons group.
She fought Ghost Rider numerous times, joining Centurious and Zarathos to defeat the Spirit of Vengeance. After Johnny Blaze took down Mephisto and became the ruler of his Hell-realm, Lilith formed a group of demons to overthrow him, wanting to rule the realm herself.
Lilith is where monsters and demons come from. She’s the greatest evil the world can face, and although she had been defeated several times, her threat never stops – anything any demon does stems from Lilith.
Yes, THE Lucifer. He tried to overtake Heaven with Zadkiel before the rogue archangel betrayed him. Lucifer got banished but became a ruler of another Hell-dimensions, like Mephisto. He used Johnny Blaze to enter the human dimension and wreak havoc on our world.
Apart from his unfathomable powers and demonic capabilities, Lucifer has a huge army of followers, but his biggest strength is fierce intelligence. Even when appearing as your ally, Lucifer always thinks a few steps ahead and can turn his back on you at any second.
Like all other Hell-Lords, Lucifer can possess others and do his undoings through them. The way he tricked Johnny was diabolical and brutal, so he deserves such a high spot on the list.
Blackheart is the main antagonist in the first Ghost Rider movie. In the comics, his backstory is nothing short of pure horror. First appearing in Daredevil #270, Blackheart is often called the son of Mephisto. He was brought up into our world as a result of murders, violence, and years of harnessing the dark energy stemming from those awful human misdeeds.
Mephisto created Blackheart to be the purest evil that ever existed. It backfired, though, as Blackheart rebelled against his father, recruiting heroes from Earth he believed to have a dark heart – including Wolverine, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider.
They eventually fight Blackheart, but the evil entity manages to defeat Mephisto and take over his real – only then does his true evil emerge, focusing solely on destroying the Spirit of Vengeance.
Zarathos was the first entity/demon to ever merge with Johnny Blaze and make him become the Ghost Rider. When he took over, it turned Johnny Blaze into the flaming skull who reigned hellfire over the world and fed upon human souls.
The powers of this ancient demon were so immense that even Mephisto himself feared him, so the Hell-Lord captured and enslaved him before Zarathos became more powerful than himself. Mephisto used the ancient demon as his pawn for centuries before merging him with Johnny Blaze.
That was a mistake, as the two worked together to fend off Mephisto’s influence, but after that, they began battling each other as well.
After a fight emerged between Johnny Blaze and Centurious, Zarathos ended up trapped with Centurious in the Crystal of Souls before being mysteriously freed later. Then, Zarathos teamed up with Lilith in an attempt to rule the world, making them one of the most powerful, evil, terrifying duos ever created in Marvel comics.
Finally, the one behind the Spirits of Vengeance, the one behind Johnny Baze becoming the Ghost Rider, the biggest evil there is – Mephisto is the greatest, strongest Ghost Rider villain ever.
Be it tricking Johnny Blaze into becoming the Spirit of Vengeance, unleashing demons into our dimension, or doing evil just for the sake of evil, Mephisto has influenced almost every version of the Ghost Rider ever.
In his realm, Mephisto is omnipotent – so powerful he can defeat the most powerful multiversal beings there, such as Galactus. The cunning Hell-Lord always has a twisted agenda, but I’m putting him at number one on this list because, if it weren’t for him, Johnny Blaze would never even become the Spirit of Vengeance.
Many other notable Ghost Rider villains from this list stemmed from Mephisto, including Blackheart, Zarathos, and others. Eventually, Johnny Blaze managed to take Mephisto down and rule his realm, but the character remains one of Marvel Comics history’s most influential evil presences.