When ranking the top 10 Star Wars Villains, we're taking into account who made the biggest impact as an enemy against the rebels who recognized the Imperial Empire's evil for what it was. With the expanse of the amount of shows the Star Wars franchise has, the head count of its villains is extensive. However, there are ten that stand out as the all-time greats when it comes to winning over an audience who has followed the full storyline of Star Wars, no matter how it was told.
Star Wars History
Created by George Lucas, Star Wars began as an epic sci-fi style saga when the first of its movies made its theatrical debut in 1977. Movie goers were introduced to the main hero of the story, Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill). His paths first crossed with a pair of androids sent by Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fisher) in a desperate attempt to reach out to Obi Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness). In the process, he learns of Darth Vader (physically played by David Prowse but voiced by James Earl Jones), the story's main antagonist that started Skywalker's journey as the Rebel Alliance's latest recruit in a cause to rise up against the evils carried out by the Imperial Empire.
Even though Star Wars was the first movie to come out, it was technically the fourth episode of a story that would reveal Darth Vader used to be Anakin Skywalker. Before succumbing to the "dark side of the force," he fathered a set of twins. Luke was his son while Leia was his daughter. Knowing the Emperor would seek out the twins as soon as he learned about them, the children were immediately separated after birth. Luke was sent to a couple who'd raise him on a farm while Leia was sent to Alderaan and raised as a royal princess.
Star Wars Main Storyline
There were nine movies that covered the main storylines that summed up the Star Wars saga. The first three covered the fourth, fifth, and sixth episodes of a sci-fi epic that would earn one of the fiercest fan followings in pop culture history. Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi became the first of three trilogies that would run its course in movie theaters around the world from 1999 until 1983.
Thanks to the overwhelming success that came from these three movies, it prompted a prequel trilogy of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. From 1999 until 2005, this trilogy taught Star Wars fans more about Anakin Skywalker and how he became Darth Vader. We also learn from this trilogy Vader's influence as the ultimate Star Wars villain was challenged by some serious contenders.
In 2012, George Lucas sold his production company to Disney. This would lead the entertainment giant to bring forth another Star Wars trilogy, this time picking up where Return of the Jedi left off. From 2015 until 2019, Disney brought forth Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars Side Stories
All nine Star Wars movies focused on the influence they experienced from various members of the Skywalker family. Leave it to Disney to expand the Star Wars universe to focus more directly on storylines that didn't necessarily involve a Skywalker directly. Such movies include 2016's Rogue One and 2018's Solo. As anthology movies, they peered into a series of events that led to the one movie that started it all in 1977.
Even before Disney's involvement, Star Wars laid out a legacy that included animation films, comic books, novels, and a few television series. It also introduced the audience to the epic computer animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2008.
Since Disney's acquisition of this epic George Lucas creation, the Star Wars universe continues to expand. In the process, the audience is introduced to new heroes and villains that have made their mark as either someone to cheer for or boo.
Star Wars Villains
With a total of twelve Star Wars movies already released, plus more to come, there's already an impressive roster of some really nasty villains that were able to do more than just crawl underneath their enemies' skins. Even among the fans who watched, some of these villains won them over as favorites.
As for the rest of the media material that adds to the Star Wars universe, some of the villains featured in there became so popular that they won over loyalists who favored them over the main villains that appeared in the movies. Should you ever attend a Comicon or some kind of fan appreciation gathering that's sci-fi related, you know a villain has made the mark as a favorite when fans dress up to look like them in the form of cosplay.
With such iconic villains in mind, we've chosen ten we personally believe deserve, um, honorable mention. Is your favorite Star Wars villain on our list? Let's find out!
Top 10 Star Wars Villains
#10 - General Grievous
From Star Wars: The Clone Wars, General Grievous served as the Supreme Commander of the Confederacy of Independent Systems' Droid Armies Division. Although part alien and part android, the animosity felt against the Jedi was made obvious with the infamous quote, "Jedi scum." That hatred killed four Jedi knights before seizing their lightsabers as his own. He'd use all four at the same time, making him a deadly force to reckon with.
Many fans regard as a prototype that led to the creation of Darth Vader. When looking at the difference between Darth Maul and Darth Vader, General Grievous was like the middle kid who had elements of both villains coursing through his cyborg veins that turned him into one of the most underrated meanies in the Star Wars universe. Where he lacked in personality he made up for with deadly force.
#9 - Moff Gideon
While the villain of The Mandalorian had a relatively short presence as a Star Wars bad guy, he really made a big impression. This was especially true every single time he talked. There was a sinister aura that seemed to follow this character everywhere he went that gave him absolutely everything General Grievous lacked. Imagine what would have happened if these two entities merged together as one.
Played by Giancarlo Esposito, this incredible actor once again pulled off a genius performance as a villainous character that fans loved to hate.
#8 - Kreia (Darth Traya)
What makes Kreia (Darth Traya) so special is how unique she was as a villain compared to her counterparts. First off, she was visually impaired. From 2004's roleplaying game, Knights of the Old Republic II, she had one of the most unique approaches when it came to wielding the Force. Instead of looking at it as something powered by the light side or the dark side, she saw it as a mere balance between people and free will.
In the game, she started out as Kreia, the mentor to the exiled Jedi hero of the game that wielded the Force without having to contend with the conflicting issues often felt by the Jedi and the Sith. Her attitude was neutral until she ultimately caved to become Darth Traya as the hatred she felt inside consumed her.
As a character, especially as a villain, she never gave the Force the respect it deserved. For her, there was no such thing as rules. There was a reason why Kreia/Darth Traya won GameSpy's 2005 Game of the Year award for Best Character.
#7 - Jabba the Hutt
Although fans only really saw Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi, they already knew about him in the first of this Star Wars movie trilogy. We already knew he placed a bounty on Han Solo's head that would ultimately have Boba Fett cash it in The Empire Strikes Back.
We also learn he regarded all those who worked for him as expendable. This was first made clear when his prized dancer resisted him in what was perhaps his idea of a sexual advance. As a means to put an end to her defiance, he slammed a button that had the floor below her give out. We do learn something got to her that put an end to her life.
Not long after the demise of this dancer, Jabba would have a replacement after capturing Leia in her attempt to free Han Solo. After this, Luke Skywalker was next to experience Jabba's brand of hospitality. It would be during this scene we learn what actually happened to Jabba's first dancer. He, along with one of Jabba's guards, was dropped into the pit below and encountered a beast known as the Rancor.
When the guard became a tasty snack for the beast, Jabba, and his guests found it amusing. However, after Skywalker defeated the Rancor, Jabba observed how pleased Leia was and became furious. His solution was to round up the heroes and throw them into a pit that was actually an underground beast known as Sarlacc.
Fortunately for the heroes, Leia seized the opportunity to choke Jabba to death with the chain he bound her to while he and his guests were distracted watching the action taking place just outside his barge.
#6 - Boba Fett
The Mandalorian bounty hunter known as Boba Fett became a real pain in the ass for Han Solo as Jabba the Hutt placed a hefty reward for his capture. We first learn of Boba Fett in the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. When he succeeded in seizing Han Solo, this was achieved by having him frozen in carbon before he was brought to Jabba.
Going into Return of the Jedi, we learn Han Solo has become a shrine of sorts that's been set on display at Jabba's place. When Princess Leia poses as a bounty hunter bringing Chewbacca, she found a way to reach him and thaw him out of his cage. This action, plus the rest of the Star Wars heroes, prompted Jabba to bring his barge to a pit where it was intended they would be digested by the creature that dwells there.
As fate had it, the heroes fought back. Boba Fett gets involved but his attempt to be of any real assistance to Jabba backfired when Han Solo accidentally struck him which would send him hurling over to his demise. Most of the fans were thrilled to see the bounty hunter get dragged down to his doom.
#5 - Darth Maul
Although silent, Darth Maul's presence and javelin-style lightsaber made him one of the most intimidating villains ever to appear in the Star Wars universe. As a villain, Darth Maul had everything right going for him. Fans got to hate him for the first time in the very first episode that began the Skywalker saga of the Star Wars timeline.
At the time, Senator Palpatine hadn't quite ascended just yet to Emperor. He had, however, Darth Maul do his evil bidding. The Emperor's concealed identity was Darth Sidious and it was he who groomed Darth Maul to become the menacing apprentice who also made his mark in The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Solo.
During a timeline when Obi-Wan Kenobi was still young and had yet to take Anakin Skywalker under his wing, Darth Maul was the aggressive enemy who made the lives of the heroes in The Phantom Menace miserable. It was he who killed Kenobi's mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn. As fate had it, Kenobi thanked Maul for his efforts by doing the same to him.
#4 - Kylo Ren
It takes a special kind of evil to kill your own father without batting an eye. This is what Kylo Ren did when he used his lightsaber on Han Solo. Fans of the Star Wars universe first learned of Kyle Ren, also known as Ben Solo, when he appeared in The Force Awakens. Fans will also remember Princess Leia was his mother and that he was trained at the Jedi Academy founded by his uncle, Luke Skywalker.
Kylo Ren gave up his Ben Solo identity after he was heavily influenced by Supreme Leader Snoke. Much like his grandfather before him, the seduction to the dark side of the Force gave him cause to abandon his original roots and reinvent himself as a new entity. However, unlike Darth Vader, Ren had a difficult time controlling his temper. Where Vader was cold and calculating, Kyle Ren was as erratic and unconventional as the lightsaber he created.
#3 - Grand Admiral Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn is what happens when you pool together some of the greatest military strategists and give him a personality that could easily rival some of the nastiest villains ever to exist in any story. In the Star Wars universe, everyone thought the death of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader would finally put an end to the nightmare the Imperial Empire imposed for so long.
However, Grand Admiral Thrawn saw to it that wasn't the case. He was the first major villain to rise above the ashes of defeat after Return of the Jedi. Infamously known as the "Thrawn Trilogy," the 1990s featured a series of books that kept the Star Wars universe alive among scores of fans who were unwilling to let the greatest sci-fi saga of all time become a faded memory.
While there is no doubt Emperor Palpatine was a special kind of evil that definitely made him a hard act to follow, Grand Admiral Thrawn made it clear he followed only himself and his ideals. One of the most appealing qualities of Thrawn was how easy he could manipulate his enemies to do his bidding without them realizing this until it was too late.
#2 - Emperor Palpatine
Fans of the Star Wars universe also remember Emperor Sheev Palpatine as Senator Palpatine, as well as Darth Sidious. In his quest for ultimate power, he later became Supreme Chancellor Palpatine before promoting himself to Emperor. He was the Star Wars equivalent of an evil dictator who demanded the entire universe comply with his idea of a utopian society.
Any opposition gave him cause to unleash his evil upon them. It was his hope doing so would force potential rebels to think twice about going up against him. This is the same person who lured Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader and turn against all his former allies. This included wiping out the Jedi from existence as the Emperor knew they were his greatest threat.
#1 - Darth Vader
Even though Darth Vader regained his identity as Anakin Skywalker at the tail end of Return of the Jedi, he was the Emperor's main go-to guy to carry out all the evil plans he had in mind. Played by the legendary James Earl Jones, Vader made an everlasting impression on fans worldwide when he made his debut in the first of the Star Wars movies in 1977.
When talking to the majority of fans, even if Star Wars isn't their thing, Darth Vader gets a top mention as the ultimate example of a villain more than anyone. Although it was unfortunate what happened to him as Anakin Skywalker, it boils down to the choices we make that determine our fate. He made his as Darth Vader, opting to forsake any ounce of humanity he had as the Emperor's favorite puppet to do his bidding.
So there you have it! Did your favorite Star Wars villain appear on our nefarious list of baddies? While you may or may not agree with the choices made, bear in mind it boils down to a subject of opinion. The choices made were based on the mix of reviews and polls shared by the most qualified judges of them all - the fans.
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