A Minion statue at Universal Studios Japan

"Despicable Me" was both the first installment in a beloved franchise, and the first release from animation studio Illumination. Following the adventures of supervillain Gru, architect of a plan to steal the moon, the flick detailed his inadvertent journey to fatherhood via three orphaned little girls he adopted in order to accomplish his nefarious goal, coming to love the girls despite his best efforts to the contrary.

Not only was "Despicable Me" enjoyed by many critics when it found release in 2010, but it also spawned several sequels, spin-offs and short films —most centered around the film’s breakout stars, Gru’s miniature, yellow, barely-intelligible Minions. Today, "Despicable Me" reigns as the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time, a title previously held by the "Shrek" films.

Boasting outrageous animation, fast-paced humor and catchy soundtracks as its touchstones, the "Despicable Me" franchise continues to grow in its second decade. Although its list of characters certainly isn’t as expansive as something like "The Simpsons" or "Cars," it seems that each of the big ones have carved out their own memorable, humorous niche. Below is a list of the name characters from the "Despicable Me" flicks, ranked by the laughs they bring and the impact they have on the films.

Dru

Dru

In the first two films, Gru’s family consisted of his wife Lucy, his estranged mother and three adopted children. "Despicable Me 3" expanded on Gru’s brood by introducing his twin brother Dru, who shares many of the same physical features as Gru — but he has a full, Fabio-like head of luxurious hair. While Gru is a seasoned villain who reformed after he started a family, Dru aspires to be a true villain like his brother and father before him.

Dru’s wild, often silly behavior make him a perfect companion for his brother — even if does at times result in some jealousy — and the ending of "Despicable Me 3" saw Dru and some of Gru’s Minions escape in order to pursue more villainy, leaving an intriguing plot point hanging out there for the next sequel. While 2024’s "Despicable Me 4" hasn’t revealed its plot just yet, perhaps we may see many more of Dru’s antics very soon.

Dr. Nefario

Dr. Nefario

When Gru was still a supervillain, his Minions weren’t the only people he employed. There was also the evil scientist Dr. Nefario, responsible for building many of Gru’s evil weapons and vehicles. Some of his most memorable weapons included the Cookie Robots (which breakdance whenever music comes on), the Fart Gun (a misheard attempt at a request to build a dart gun), and other nefarious inventions.

Nefario doesn’t get as much screen time as some of the other characters in the series, and he was largely absent from "Despicable Me 3" (only making a brief, frozen cameo). Still, Dr. Nefario’s gag-heavy scenes in the series as Gru’s own personal evil Q are fun to watch, and Russell Brand’s voice work delivers some solid punchlines. Hopefully, Nefario will be freed from his frozen state and return in future sequels, assisting Gru once again in his plans for world domination and/or a harmonious home.

El Macho

El Macho

When Gru left his life of villainy behind, Dr. Nefario decided to resign his post and find a new bad guy to work for. He then became the assistant for El Macho, a Mexican bank robber who faked his own death, only to later return and attempt … what else? … taking over the world. Voiced by Benjamin Bratt, El Macho was the primary antagonist of "Despicable Me 2," and while he may be the weakest of the main series villains, he left no less a lasting impression.

While the flashback of him drinking venom and lifting a truck is impressive, El Macho’s biggest mark on the "Despicable Me" franchise was his use of the PX-41 serum. That substance turned whoever drank it into a purple monster, transforming El Macho into a giant furry beast and the Minions into creatures even more hyperactive than before. The fact that El Macho can create Minions even more off-the-wall than the yellow ones shows just how dangerous he can be.

Vector

Vector

Gru’s mission in the original film to become the most notorious villain in the world centered around a war with his supervillain competitor Vector. Voiced by Jason Segel, Vector was known for stealing a shrink ray from Gru, and the latter’s attempts to get it back led him to the three orphaned girls that would later become his family. Not only did Vector set Gru down the path of good, but his massive ego and penchant for violent weaponry made him a great villain.

Vector’s best moment in the original "Despicable Me" came from his repeatedly-demonstrated ability to foil Gru’s attempts to steal back the shrink ray he needs to steal the moon. The montage of Gru getting blown up and beaten down by Vector’s pet shark and security system was one of the film’s most hilarious moments. Although it is unclear what happened to Vector after the first film, he was a very fun villain, and the "Despicable Me" fanbase would likely be thrilled to see him again if he ever resurfaces in a sequel.

Balthazar Bratt

Balthazar Bratt

Trey Parker, co-creator of "South Park" and "The Book of Mormon," clearly had way too much fun voicing former child star turned supervillain Balthazar Bratt, the main antagonist of "Despicable Me 3." The joy in his voice was infectious, and it’s a large reason why some consider the third film the best.

This former child star (think Gary Coleman/Jaleel White) has an unhealthy obsession with getting revenge on Hollywood for cancelling the ’80s show that made him a household name. He’s been a baaaaaad boy!

Balthazar’s greatest quality was how unapologetically ’80s he is, from the mullet to the track suit to the Michael Jackson moves and exclamations like: "Son of a Betamax!". Armed with a keytar and expanding bubble gum, Balthazar is perhaps the silliest, most stylish, most memorable villain the series has created. When last we saw Balthazar, his plan for world domination (and a show reboot) had been quashed; here’s hoping this ’80s kid star gets a reunion special sometime soon.

Lucy Wilde

Lucy Wilde

When Gru was recruited by the Anti-Villain League to stop El Macho after he stole the PX-41 serum, he was partnered with AVL member Lucy Wilde, voiced by Kristen Wiig. Though Gru wanted to keep his relationship with Lucy strictly business, her electrifying personality and his daughters’ fondness of her led the two to fall in love and get married at the end of "Despicable Me 2." These days, she continues to aid Gru in his pursuit of other villains (as seen in "Despicable Me 3") and is doing her best to connect with the children.

As a character, Lucy has a higher degree of competency when it comes to fighting villains, which helps ground some of Gru’s wackier antics. He is frequently aided by her impressive skills in fighting and weaponry, and this combative nature in battle is juxtaposed by her sweet and caring personality, making her interactions with Gru and other characters a lot of fun.

Scarlet Overkill

Scarlet Overkill

Out of all the villains in the "Despicable Me" franchise, perhaps the best one didn’t come from the main film series. Instead, the 2015 spin-off movie "Minions" introduced audiences to Scarlett Overkill, the world’s scariest female supervillain. Voiced by Sandra Bullock, Scarlett recruited three of the Minions before they became employed by Gru to help her steal the crown from the queen of England. Unsurprisingly, the Minions managed to screw up her plans and she turned on them in the end.

Armed with a rocket dress and aided by her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), Scarlet’s personality was equally sardonic and sadistic, giving her some of the most memorable lines of the series while making her the real star of the "Minions" flick. Although she almost died several times in the film, she always managed to come back even more unhinged. If there is going to ever be another female supervillain in the series, they would have a lot to live up to in order to escape Scarlet’s shadow.

Agnes

Agnes

The three little girls that Gru adopted in the original "Despicable Me" film are Margo, Edith and Agnes. While Margo is the oldest (and de facto leader of the trio), and Edith is the tomboyish middle child, its is Agnes (the youngest and most naïve) who is the real breakout of the trio. This cutie is the one who gets the most screen time, all the best lines, and will commit perhaps the greatest crime of all in a franchise rife with villainy: she’ll steal your heart.

Agnes possesses a love for unicorns unrivaled by anyone except perhaps Neil Patrick Harris. Her "It’s So Fluffy!" line is one of the best quotes from the original film, and her search for a real unicorn in "Despicable Me 3" is as adorable as it is humorous. She is also known for saying inappropriate and frequently random things (like pretty much any little kid), comparing Gru’s head to an egg and asking Lucy if she’s single immediately after meeting her.

The Minions (Kevin, Stuart & Bob)

Minions

Gru may be the main character of the "Despicable Me" franchise, but the mascots of the films (and Illumination itself) are the Minions. These small, yellow and pill-shaped beings are always looking to serve the most nefarious person they can find. Whether working for Gru or messing things up with Scarlet Overkill, the Minions are always causing trouble for anyone who comes their way. They are eager to assist in evil — even if they aren’t particularly good at it.

Although there are many different Minions in the series, the most memorable ones are the "lead" trio of Kevin, Stuart and Bob. These three are the protagonists of the "Minions" movie, setting out to find a new master after several others had failed. Kevin’s faulty leadership skills, Stuart’s infatuation with yellow fire hydrants and Bob’s mischievous ways have made these three the Minions most deserving of their overalls and goggles. Thankfully, all three of them are set to return in the upcoming sequel, "Minions: The Rise of Gru," in 2022.

Gru

Gru

As much as everyone loves the crazy villains and mischievous Minions, and as undeniably as his little yellow assistants have at times eclipsed the star of the series, the "Despicable Me" films simply work without their main character, Gru. Voiced with gleeful aplomb by Steve Carell, Gru evolves from being a bumbling supervillain to a … well, still bumbling but caring father and antihero with the help of his three adopted daughters, compounded even further after he meets Lucy. With his peculiar, vaguely-European, vaguely-vampire-like non-specific accent and a penchant for enormous cars and comically-potent weaponry, Gru has given the franchise many of its best moments.

These include his final battle against Vector in the original film, dressing up as a fairy godmother for Agnes’ birthday at the beginning of the second and his failed attempts to stop Balthazar (one of which resulted in him mooning an office building) throughout much of the third.

With a pair of "Despicable" films currently in production, Gru is certain to return for both — with a particular visibility in summer’s "Minions: The Rise of Gru," which will focus on his early years. 2024’s "Despicable Me 4," meanwhile, is likely to continue the story of his evolution from villain to beloved antihero. Mr. Gru, we are ready for your close-up.