In the many decades since Star Wars began it’s had a wide cast of characters, many of which have been the best villains science fiction has to offer. Evil wizards. Bounty hunters. Galactic crime bosses. The galaxy is filled with scum and villainy. Here are some of the most notorious.
10. Moff Gideon
Moff Gideon has had a relatively small part in the expanded Star Wars universe, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made any less of an impact. That’s largely due to his portrayal by acclaimed actor Giancarlo Esposito.
The actor has brought his cool and menacing demeanor to the Empire’s ranks to chilling effect. Even more than that, he’s also obtained the legendary Darksaber of Mandalore.
It’s unclear whether or not Gideon has any future in the Star Wars universe, but one thing is for certain. As the ruins of the Empire will slowly build inevitably to become the First Order, there is no doubt that Gideon wants to be a part of it.
9. Darth Bane
Although he never played a large role in any main Star Wars installments, Darth Bane is nonetheless extremely influential in the Star Wars mythos. He was a Sith Lord that recognized the Sith’s faults and sought to revolutionize their system.
After a huge galactic war between the Sith and the Jedi, Darth Bane established the rule of two: that at any given time there can only be a master and an apprentice. The Jedi saw this as an opportunity for peace, however Darth Bane’s mandate survived long enough for Palpatine to enact his revenge and create the Empire.
Darth Bane might have not lived long enough to see his goals come true, but his influence set the Sith on the path to destroy the Jedi.
8. Darth Maul
Perhaps only Boba Fett competes with Darth Maul as having such an impact on the Star Wars fan base from such a brief appearance. This dual-lightsaber wielding Sith apprentice was a force to be reckoned with, not just for cutting down Obi-Wan Kenobi’s master but also setting Anakin on a path towards the dark side in the process.
He was such a hit that he was brought back for future appearances. Darth Maul played a huge role not just in the animated show Rebels, but also becoming the lead villain of The Clone Wars show as well.
Even though he definitively met his end at the hands of his rival, fans should expect to see more of Darth Maul during his time as a criminal mob boss.
7. Cad Bane
There was probably no villain without a force sensitivity that has been more trouble for the Jedi Order than Cad Bane.
Boba Fett is usually hailed as one of the most dangerous characters in the galaxy, but there haven’t been that many adventures that showcase his skill. Cad Bane, on the other hand, spent the entire Clone Wars series outsmarting, outwitting, and outgunning the Jedi at ever turn.
Also, some characters are viewed as antiheroes, being as much of a good guy as they are bad. Not Cad Bane. He’s dastardly to the bitter end when he is eventually put down by an adult Boba Fett.
6. Grand Inquisitor
Even though he only lasted one season on Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor made quite an impact on both fans and Phoenix Squadron. His unique lightsaber made him a suitable foe as did his knowledge of Jedi lore and history.
At the time of his debut, very little was known about the Inquisitors tasked with hunting down the remaining Jedi after Order 66. The Grand Inquisitor and those that followed him would be expanded upon in future installments, but when he first came on the scene fans lit up at how gentlemanly of a villain he was.
Perhaps no character deserves a live action or animated appearance more than Triple Zero. If C-3PO is a representative of naive altruism, then Triple Zero is a protocol droid that represents everything opposite of that. He’s gleefully murderous in the best way possible.
More than that though, his cunning and intellect shows that he’s more than just an average droid. He’s his own master capable of outsmarting even the most dastardly of characters.
It’s almost surprising he exists in the Star Wars universe as his insanity borders on horror, but that’s probably what fans love about him the most.
4. Jabba the Hutt
Jabba the Hutt usually doesn’t get much love in the Star Wars universe, but there’s no denying his influence. After all, what other characters can say they remained in power for so long.
He wasn’t a physically menacing threat, but like any good crime boss, he ruled out a fear. He had Tatooine under his grip long before Episode 1 and wouldn’t meet his end until Episode VI.
Bounty hunters wanted to work for him and smugglers like Han Solo feared him. And rightfully so. What other villain can brag about treating their enemies like decorations and in their lair?
Even though other Hutts were eventually revealed, Jabba will always remain at the top of the list.
Very few expanded universe characters have survived the transition over to Disney Canon, but perhaps none have thrived as much as Thrawn. He originally appeared in a series of EU novels, but Thrawn was such a powerful and impressive villain that he returned with subsequent trilogies that expanded upon his place in the Empire.
More than that though, he also became the main villain of Rebels. Thrawn’s intellect and knack for strategy is arguably the most superb not just in the Star Wars universe but in all of fiction. And he does so with an eerily calm demeanor and respect for his adversaries.
Like Phoenix Squadron quickly learned, when Grand Admiral Thrawn gets involved, foes are in deep, deep trouble.
2. Emperor Palpatine
It’s hard not to include Darth Sidious on the list of the best villains. Because his appearances during his reign as Emperor were very limited, Palpatine might seem absent from Star Wars villainy.
But fans have to remember that the entire Empire exists because of him. This man manipulated the entire Republic all behind the Jedi Order’s back. Fans have to respect the patience and determination he had moving senators, Jedi, and separatists around like piece on a chessboard, all in the name of solidifying power for himself.
Palpatine might not be agile like Darth Maul or skilled with a blaster like Cad Bane, but he ruled over the galaxy for nearly 20 decades, which is why he was probably revealed to be the force behind the First Order’s rise.
1. Darth Vader
What could be said about Darth Vader that hasn’t been said already? He’s perhaps the most iconic image in all of Star Wars, and the most menacing.
Then, after the prequel series came out, his character only became more complex as the fall of Anakin Skywalker was chronicled. Even in a sequel trilogy, Darth Vader’s legacy hangs over Kylo Ren and the troubled New Republic.
While the Emperor hid away in his palace, Darth Vader traveled the galaxy, inciting fear wherever he went. In the end, he might have redeemed himself, but by then the damage was done. Darth Vader is a villain through and through.
Who are your favorite Star Wars villains? Who do you think should have made the list, but didn’t?