We’ve seen countless villains from the Star Wars movies over the decades, and even when we thought Darth Vader, the Emperor, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, and Grand Moff Tarkin were more than enough, along came the prequel trilogy, the sequel trilogy, and shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels and The Mandalorian!
Needless to say, there are just as many villains in the faraway galaxy as there are heroes – although some of them are a little more complex than you might think, while others, despite being just as iconic, not so much. Here are seven popular Star Wars villains ranked from worst to best…
7. General Grievous
General Grievous is a formidable and merciless enemy, as seen in Revenge of the Sith and throughout The Clone Wars. With four arms, he’s able to wield just as many lightsabers (despite being neither Jedi nor Sith), and with six limbs, he can go into ‘insect-mode’ and scurry out of the line of fire, or get the upper hand (or hands) on his opponent!
The trouble is that, while they make for some unique action sequences, Grievous’ ability to duel four blades and turn into a droid bug makes him a big rotten cheat! As for his hoarse voice, it makes bounty hunter Cad Bane sound like music to the ears! Ultimately, while he does look pretty cool, this Star Wars villain is nothing more than style over substance.
6. Jabba The Hutt
Jabba The Hutt is the large, slug-like crime lord who appeared in A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Rebels, and there’s never a moment when he isn’t being grotesque and wicked. In fact, the same can be said of almost any Hutt, but Jabba gives all of his relatives a run for their galactic credits.
Do we think Jabba is a great Star Wars villain, though? Well, he is iconic, but he’s hardly the most threatening when it comes to the likes of the Jedi. Yes, he does capture Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, but the truth is that this Hutt is so far down on our list because he’s simply vile and hard to watch (especially when he’s ogling Princess Leia!).
5. Count Dooku
Played by the late Christopher Lee, evil separatist and Yoda’s former apprentice, Count Dooku – or Darth Tyranus (no relation to the dinosaur) – appears in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. And the name is clearly inspired by Count Dracula, a character Lee is best-known for having played in the old Universal monster movies.
He’s even sporting a cape, while his surroundings on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones are Transylvania-esque, with dark caves and bat-like creatures inhabiting them! Dooku is a highly dangerous Sith Lord, and you’ll need to check out The Clone Wars to witness the full extent of how truly evil this former Jedi really is.
4. Kylo Ren
While Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) can probably be considered one of many overrated Star Wars characters, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t quickly become an iconic Star Wars villain. And the fact he’s a slightly overrated character doesn’t necessarily make him unlikable or rubbish, either – in fact, we happen to think he’s among the best villains!
The rogue Force-wielder is easily one of the best things about the widely-panned sequel trilogy, and while we understand that’s not much of a compliment, his obsession with Darth Vader, his incredible Force powers, his moral dilemmas, and the fact he kills his own father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) make him a pretty interesting Star Wars villain.
3. Darth Vader
Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) isn’t just the most iconic villain in Star Wars, he’s one of the most iconic villains in cinema history. From Force-choking one of his own men in A New Hope for having a disturbing lack of faith in the Force, to the moment he literally overthrows the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, Vader really is a ‘force’ to be reckoned with.
He’s also one of the most layered villains, with the prequel trilogy serving as his entire origin story. Actor Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, will be reprising both roles in upcoming shows Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka, so perhaps we’ll learn even more about the Jedi-turned-Sith Lord.
2. Emperor Palpatine
Known also as Darth Sidious, Emperor Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) – the most powerful Sith in the galaxy – appears in the prequel trilogy, original trilogy, and sequel trilogy. He also has a huge role in The Clone Wars and also shows up in Rebels and The Bad Batch, which makes him one of the most recurring Star Wars villains of all.
Palpatine is incredibly creepy, and not just when he’s in full Emperor mode – the scene in Revenge of the Sith in which he’s manipulating Anakin Skywalker in a theater is deeply unsettling. And while his role in The Rise of Skywalker was met with criticism, we think he’s one of the few things the film gets right.
1. Darth Maul
Being at the top of this list isn’t the first time Darth Maul (played by Ray Park and voiced by Sam Witwer in the animated shows) has been crowned king, as his role in The Clone Wars sees him become the leader of terrorist cell Death Watch, during which he claims the throne of Mandalore. Maul has also appeared in The Phantom Menace, Rebels, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
But the Son of Dathomir is more than just a disgraced Sith Lord or the leader of a crime syndicate – he’s an incredibly complex character who becomes enraged from having been disfigured by Obi-Wan Kenobi and disenfranchised with Palpatine for not including him in his grand plan. He also has one of the saddest deaths in the franchise!
How would you rank these iconic Star Wars villains?