It’s hard to find good help these days — or any day, really. If you’re an evil mastermind, hiring a decent henchman to help you take over the world is usually a lot harder than the taking over the world part. Here are just a few of the most famous evil henchmen who never won “employee of the month.”
Bebop and Rocksteady, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Seeing as Shredder is in charge of an entire ninja clan and has access to the high technology of Krang the alien, it kind of begs the question why he would take two dimwitted street thugs, mutate them into an anthropomorphic boar and rhinocerous, and put them in charge of most of his schemes. Seriously, at least 90% of the Foot Soldiers must be smarter than Bebop and Rocksteady put together, and yet Shredder continually gives them all the important assignments, despite their constant, total failure. They aren’t even decent fighters; most of the time they battled the Turtles, they ended up crashing into each other and falling down. The TMNT would have had a tougher time fighting most toddlers.
Clawful, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Almost all of Skeletor’s minions were complete imbeciles, but none of them came close to the bastion of stupidity that was Clawful. In the 2002 He-Man cartoon, it was revealed that Clawful was so dumb he couldn’t recognize his own native language — a language that consisted entirely of the clicks of his race’s claws. That’s... that's insane. The amazing thing is that the 2002 version of Clawful was somehow stupider than the original ‘80s cartoon Clawful, who was incompetent, but no moreso than Beast Man, Mer-Man, Whiplash, Two-Bad, etc…
Team Rocket, Pokémon
Team Rocket has had one job and one job only to do: Catch Pikachu. They have failed at this one task, despite countless opportunities and advantages and resources ,several billion times. And it’s not like Pikachu is the grandest or most powerful of all Pokémon; he’s just an electric rat, one of the most basic Pokémon available — meaning there are plenty to be caught, althougb Jessie and James have fixated on stealing the most difficult one for some reason. To put it in game terms, Jessie and James have been playing Pokémon for years, but are still stuck on the screen where you’re supposed to enter your name. It’s shocking that Giovanni can continued to pay them for so long (no pun intended [okay, it was a little intended]).
Darth Maul, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Supposedly, there are always two Dark Lords of the Sith running around — a master and a pupil. It’s a shame Darth Sidious picked a pupil based solely on his awesomely evil appearance and not his ability to achieve anything, but I suppose he was hardly the only person fooled by Darth Maul’s impressive looks. I mean, Darth Maul looks like Satan wielding a lightsaber and he sounds like Peter Serafinowicz; why wouldn’t you think he could find and kill two Jedi quickly and efficiently? Of course, we know that’s not the case; he only managed to track down Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan seconds before they left Tatooine, and then he had to ran back to his master and wait for another opportunity. When he finally learned they were going to Naboo, Maul only managed to kill one of the two before getting his ass separated from his torso and then handed to him by a Padawan. Obviously, looks aren’t everything.
Otis, Superman: The Movie
If you’re the richest man in the world, why wouldn’t you hire an obese, incompetent oaf as your right-hand man? Well, there are actually countless reasons why you shouldn’t, but that doesn’t stop Lex Luthor from employing Otis in the first two Superman movies. Otis is too slow to understand basic instructions, and those he eventually understands he forgets, like when he screwed up launching that nuclear missile for Lex in the first movie. Now, admittedly, Lex is at least as much at fault for putting a moron in charge of the “firing a nuclear missile” part of his plan, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s way beyond Otis’ capabilities. Hell, Otis can barely get a newspaper for Luthor without screwing it up — making sure weapons of mass destruction launch properly is way beyond his skill set.
Excel and Hyatt, Excel Saga
The “secret ideological organization” ACROSS plans to take over the world, like secret ideological organizations are wont to do. But rather than overextend themselves, they’ve decided to start by conquering the Japanese city of Fukuoka — a smart move, seeing as the organization is led by one man and two employees: Excel, who is an insane idiot, and Hyatt, who… dies a lot (although Excel also dies a few times, now that I think about it). Suffice it to say, ACROSS never even comes close to taking over Fukuoka — indeed, almost no one in city even knows someone’s trying to conquer them, unless you count the time Hyatt has a nosebleed that floods the entire world. They notice that.
Starscream might be the smartest henchman on this list, and yes, he's just as big a failure as every other person/animal/thing here. Why? Because his desire to rule the Decepticons far exceeds any basic common sense he might have, causing him to botch mission after mission, as well as the many coups he attempts. He could actually achieve any plan, either Megatron’s or his own, if he had any patience and/or he wasn’t a complete coward; if he'd actually follow Megatron’s orders once, maybe establish a little bit of a success rate, he’d likely be much better off trying to convince his fellow Decepticons he should be in charge. But no, he’s just the douchebag middle manager who makes all the other employees miserable, that Megatron never sees fit to fire.
GIR, Invader Zim
All right, calling the robotic GIR incompetent is a bit misleading. He might not competently carry out Zim’s plans to conquer the Earth, but it’s less a matter of incompetency and more a matter of GIR being completely insane. The reason for this is that he’s a malfunctioning robot, who the Irkin leaders passed off to Zim as an advanced prototype. GIR is much more interested in cooking, eating and dancing that obeying any of Zim’s orders, but in his defense, he rarely even pretends to try to carry them out.
Hack and Slash, ReBoot
Hack and Slash are robots built by the evil Mainframe who bristle with weapons but not with intelligence. They forget their orders — pretty impressive, seeing as they technically consist entirely of computer memory — and fight like small children whenever there’s a button to be pressed. Basically, they’re so dumb that Bob the Guardian never considers these minions a threat, just a mild annoyance to be outwitted with the vaguest of efforts. Heck, they aren’t even that good at being evil, asking Bob for help on multiple occasions as early as season 2. Eventually, Megabyte got so tired of their stupidity he sent them to fight Hexidecimal — needless to say, they fared as well as they normally did, and died almost instantly (they got better, though).
TV’s Frank, Mystery Science Theater 3000
As the official Mystery Science Theater 3000 book puts it, Dr. Forrester’s love of evil far exceeds his competency. However, on the very few occasions he might have succeeded at something truly evil, his assistant TV’s Frank was always there to screw it up. Frank nearly manages to bring Joel, Mike and the ‘Bots back to Earth on several occasions, thus ruining the one attempt to tale over the world Dr. Forrester might actually have achieved. This is one of the reasons that most of Dr. Forrester’s “experiments” are generally just about harming and/or killing Frank in some manner (also because 1) it’s much easier than taking over the world and 2) Frank is weirdly indestructible).
Henchmen 21 and 24, The Venture Bros.
Henchmen 21 and the late, lamented 24 are, without a doubt, awesome. And they’re no more incompetent that their villain boss, the Monarch, Still, in terms of achieving the goals the Monarch sets for them — insane as many of them might be — they’re hardly batting 1.000%. This is clearly evidenced by the super-competent Henchmen #1, who does succeed in his task to infiltrate Spider-Skull Island (although he gets pummeled by Brock Samson for his success). Of course, after Henchmen 24 meets his demise — after avoiding a battle by hiding in the Monachmobile — Henchmen 21 becomes super-competent… to the point where he’s now quit the Monarch’s employ and joined OS!.