10 Best Star Wars Villains, Ranked

By Charlene Badasie | Published

10 Best Star Wars Villains

Set in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars has enthralled audiences with its epic tales of Jedi heroes, villains, and the eternal struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force. At the heart of this timeless franchise lie some of the most iconic bad guys in cinematic history. From the imposing presence of Darth Vader to the sinister scheming of Emperor Palpatine, these characters have become the ultimate symbols of evil.

Here we’ve ranked the best Star Wars villains from the franchise.

General Hux

General Hux is a high-ranking officer in the First Order, the successor to the Galactic Empire. He is known for his loyalty to the dark side and genuine commitment to the First Order’s cause. He serves as a key antagonist alongside Kylo Ren in 2015’s The Force Awakens, 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, where his military strategy and ruthlessness make him a very formidable opponent.

Grand Moff Tarkin

Grand Moff Tarkin is a high-ranking Imperial officer in the Star Wars universe. In A New Hope, portrayed with chilling conviction by actor Peter Cushing, Tarkin embodies the essence of a cold and calculated Star Wars villain. As the commander of the Death Star, he wields tremendous power within the Galactic Empire. Tarkin’s most notable act of villainy is his fateful decision to demonstrate the Death Star’s destructive capabilities by obliterating the peaceful planet of Alderaan.

Jango Fett

Jango Fett is a renowned bounty hunter and the template for the Clone Army in the prequel trilogy. He first appeared as an enigmatic and skilled mercenary in 2002 Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Jango Fett’s combat prowess, distinctive Mandalorian armor, and dual-blaster pistols make him a memorable Star Wars villain. His involvement in creating the Clone Army becomes a crucial plot point, as he is hired to be the genetic source for the army that ultimately becomes the Stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire.

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Jabba the Hutt

Jabba the Hutt is a vicious crime lord in the Star Wars universe. Although briefly mentioned by Greedo and Han Solo in A New Hope, Jabba was first seen in 1983 in Return of the Jedi. Jabba is a prominent figure in the criminal underworld, a grotesque, slug-like creature who rules over Tatooine with an iron fist. He employs bounty hunters, such as Boba Fett, and engages in illegal activities, such as smuggling. His most memorable appearance is in Return of the Jedi, where he takes Princess Leia as his prisoner.

General Grievous

General Grievous is a cyborg general and commander of the Separatist Droid Army. He appears in 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. This iconic Star Wars villain embodies a unique blend of organic and mechanical components. His body, a fusion of alien physiology and advanced cybernetics, grants him exceptional strength, agility, and combat prowess. What truly sets Grievous apart from other villains is his collection of lightsabers which he keeps as trophies after slaying Jedi knights.

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Kylo Ren (Ben Solo)

Kylo Ren, born Ben Solo, emerges as the central antagonist of the sequel trilogy in the Star Wars saga. The son of the legendary Han Solo and Leia Organa, he represents a complex and conflicted character torn between the light and dark sides of the Force. From the moment Kylo Ren steps onto the screen in The Force Awakens, it becomes apparent that he is burdened with inner turmoil.

He is deeply influenced by his grandfather’s legacy, seeking to emulate his dark power and menacing presence. His black robes and unique crossguard lightsaber set him apart from previous Star Wars villains.

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Count Duku

Count Dooku, also known as Darth Tyranus, is a former Jedi Master turned Sith Lord. He appears as the primary antagonist in 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Dooku’s disillusionment with the Jedi Order leads him to embrace the dark side and become a key figure in the Separatist movement. His refined demeanor, elegant fighting style, and manipulation of events shape the course of the Clone Wars. Ultimately, Dooku meets his demise at the hands of Anakin Skywalker.

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Darth Maul

Darth Maul, the menacing Sith Lord is known for his double-bladed lightsaber, first appears as the primary antagonist in 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In a gripping scene, he confronts Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, showcasing his formidable combat skills and relentless pursuit of victory. While initially believed to be defeated, Maul’s story continues beyond the movie. Maul’s surprising survival is revealed in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Star Wars villain returns with mechanical legs and a thirst for revenge to form the Shadow Collective.

Emperor Palpatine

Also known as Darth Sidious, Emperor Palpatine is a master manipulator and Sith Lord who plays a pivotal role in the Star Wars saga. In the original trilogy, he becomes the primary antagonist, embodying the dark side. In 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, he attempts to crush the Rebel Alliance and tempts Luke Skywalker with the allure of the dark side. Palpatine’s manipulative nature and mastery of the dark side of the Force are formidable.

In the prequel trilogy, he cunningly orchestrates a rise to power, concealing his true identity as a Sith Lord. He eventually seduces Anakin Skywalker to the dark side by manipulating his fears, cementing his control over the galaxy. Despite his apparent demise, the Star Wars villain returns in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, unveiling a sinister plot to reclaim his power and reshape the galaxy.

Darth Vader

Originally known as Anakin Skywalker, Dart Vader is pivotal in the Star Wars saga. As a skilled Jedi Knight in the prequel trilogy, Anakin’s journey takes a dark turn when he succumbs to the temptations of the dark side of the Force in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Throughout the original trilogy, Darth Vader is the primary antagonist, terrorizing the galaxy with his imposing presence, ominous voice, and iconic black armor.

However, despite his malevolence, Darth Vader’s story is one of tragedy and redemption. In Return of the Jedi, he is confronted by his son, Luke Skywalker, and ultimately turns against Emperor Palpatine to save him. This act of self-sacrifice marks the redemption of Anakin Skywalker and solidifies his place as one of the most memorable and complex Star Wars villains in history.