“Star Wars” villains seem to generally fall into four categories: droids, weird-looking aliens, bounty hunters, or people with cool capes.
A lot of them are more cool-looking than they are actually compelling villains. Boba Fett, for instance, is a popular villain, but his costume is better than he actually is, at least by movie standards.
I know there’s a whole expanded universe of TV, books, and comics. But when looking at the movies alone, there are only a handful of “Star Wars” villains who are truly worthy.
“Supreme Leader” Snoke didn’t do anything worthwhile on screen and the most notable thing Count Dooku ever did was get his head sliced off.
But the “Star Wars” villains that are worthy are some of the best villains and characters ever portrayed on screen, so that makes up for any pitfalls the franchise has in regards to villainy.
Darth Vader is synonymous with “Star Wars” and Kylo Ren has positioned himself as a classic bad guy thanks to a great performance from Adam Driver and an engaging backstory.
With “Solo: A Star Wars Story” coming to theatres soon, Business Insider ranked 30 villains from the “Star Wars” movies.
Below are 30 “Star Wars” movie villains, ranked from worst to best:
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I had high expectations for this little evil droid that were shattered by its mere two seconds of screen time in “The Last Jedi.”
29. Unkar Plutt
Plutt doesn’t do anything of note other than alert the First Order that BB-8 is on Jakku in “The Force Awakens.” He’s the junk boss of that planet, and is kind of a junk villain – meaning he’s easy to throw away.
28. Zam Wessell
Almost anything having to do with “Attack of the Clones” is better left forgotten, including the shape-shifting assassin Zam Wessell. She’s not a very good assassin, because she fails to kill Padme, gets captured by Anakin and Obi-Wan, and then is shot by Jango Fett.
“Han shot first” is basically all you need to know about the legacy of bounty hunter Greedo, one of the worst shots in the galaxy.
26. Evazan and Baba
These are the guys who cause trouble for Obi-Wan and Luke at Mos Eisley Cantina in “A New Hope,” and that scene alone makes them somewhat memorable.
25. Battle droids
They’re poor shots just like their Stormtrooper successors but not as iconic.
I’m starting to think that the “Star Wars” movies don’t actually have many exceptional bounty hunters, even though they are a big part of the franchise.
23. Count Dooku
The late, great Christopher Lee really got a raw deal out of the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy. A legendary actor like Lee was cast as a rather forgettable villain, who ends up getting his head sliced off by Anakin Skywalker, whose transition to the Dark Side is heading towards completion.
22. Captain Phasma
Phasma had a lot of promise. But she falls into the unfortunate category of “Star Wars” villains who look cooler than they actually are. Phasma is believed to be dead after getting minimal screen time in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.”
21. Commander Cody
Commander Cody was a loyal ally to Obi-Wan in the prequels and a clonetrooper commander, but ultimately carries out Darth Sidious’ Order 66 to eliminate the Jedi. His late turn means we didn’t get a lot of time with him as a villain.
I don’t think “The Last Jedi” is the last we’ll see of DJ, and he has plenty of potential. He’s not your typical villain compared to others on this list, but he’s a schemer who betrays Finn and Rose and hands them over to The First Order.
19. Supreme Leader Snoke
Snoke was supposed to be the “big bad” of the new trilogy in the same way Palpatine was for the original trilogy. “The Last Jedi” derailed that possibility, which is what makes it such a great movie: it doesn’t succumb to our expectations. But it also means that we know almost nothing about Snoke, which is why he’s ranked so low. He spends “The Force Awakens” as a hologram and “The Last Jedi” sitting on his throne before getting cut in half. What makes him a noteworthy villain is the off-screen backstory – he must be fearsome enough to have gained the power he wielded.
18. Jango Fett
Jango, the father of Boba, is the template for the genetic makeup of the clone army in the prequel trilogy, so in that way he’s pretty significant. But again, he’s part of “Attack of the Clones” which overshadows any actual villainy.
17. General Grievous
Grievous may not do much in “Revenge of the Sith” but you can’t deny that the “multiple arms with lightsabers” gimmick is cool.
16. General Hux
There may have been an online Russian campaign to save Hux in “The Last Jedi,” but he’s still sort of a pushover. He has spent the two movies he’s appeared in getting mocked and ridiculed.
15. Orson Krennic
The acting prowess of Ben Mendelsohn elevated Krennic in “Rogue One,” and he did play a significant role in getting the first Death Star built. But he is overshadowed by the brief glimpses we get of Vader in the film … and even by a CGI Grand Moff Tarkin.
The pod race in “The Phantom Menace” is one of the few good parts about the movie, and Sebulba plays a big role in that as a nefarious racer who gives a young Anakin a run for his money.
13. Boba Fett
Boba Fett is overrated. There, I said it. He may have a great backstory in the expanded “Star Wars” universe, but in the movies he is mostly known for having a cool costume. That said, he has become sort of synonymous with the “Star Wars” image thanks to a passionate fan base, so it’s hard to deny his significance.
They may have terrible aim, but when you think of “Star Wars” it’s hard to also not think of Stormtroopers.
Watto basically enslaved a young Anakin and his mum which makes him more evil than a lot of the other characters on this list. He only cares about money, and was willing to let Anakin go at the right price. He had no qualms with separating him from his mother, though.
10. Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar Binks is infamous for being one of, if not the, worst character in the “Star Wars” franchise. Jar Jar stumbled his way through the prequels and somehow managed to gain a role as a representative for his people in the Galactic Senate. In this role, he encourages the Senate to grant Palpatine emergency powers that ultimately give him the ability to carry out his dominance as Darth Sidious. In short, Jar Jar is the worst, but also one of the most villainous characters in the entire “Star Wars” saga. His actions directly lead to the downfall of the Republic and the Jedi. Villains who don’t realise they are villains are the most dangerous ones.
9. Tusken Raiders
They’re pesky little creatures in “A New Hope,” but in “Attack of the Clones,” they kidnap and torture Anakin’s mother, who eventually dies before Anakin can rescue her. It’s a key moment in Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, so in a way, the Tusken Raiders play a big role in the events of the entire saga.
8. The Sarlacc
Boba Fett gets all the love, but the Sarlacc kills him (when ignoring the expanded universe).
7. Darth Maul
We know little about Darth Maul based on his one movie appearance, “The Phantom Menace,” but he makes a big impact in the little time we see him. For starters, he’s one of the coolest villain designs in the saga. He also has the coolest lightsaber, by far. And he manages to kill Liam Neeson.
6. Jabba the Hutt
Like Stormtroopers or Darth Vader, some villains just come to mind when you think of “Star Wars.” Jabba is another one of them.
5. Anakin Skywalker
Hear me out: Anakin Skywalker is just as much of a character in his own right as the Sith Lord he would become. Both Anakin and Vader have their own distinctive character arcs, and Vader is but a shell of Skywalker – until he eventually finds redemption. But while Vader’s path is one that comes full-circle, Anakin’s is the one of tragedy. It’s easy to forget that, considering how reviled the prequel trilogy and Hayden Christensen’s performance are, but Anakin’s slow spiral toward the Dark Side is a tale of loss and (perceived) betrayal. Vader may redeem himself in the end, but Anakin is a lost cause, completely consumed by Palpatine’s seduction to the point where he kills children who would become the next generation of Jedi.
4. Grand Moff Tarkin
Tarkin isn’t afraid to blow up an entire planet to get what he wants and send a message. He’s ruthless and cunning – everything you could want in a good villain. And even in his “resurrection” in “Rogue One,” his presence towers over new villain Krennic.
3. Kylo Ren
Kylo may come off as a spoiled brat, but his temper tantrums are a key part of his personality. He has a lot of anger inside of him that he constantly struggles with. Should he embrace the Dark Side, or turn toward the light? He has the worst parts of his grandfather, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, in him, and yet we can’t help but feel there is still hope for him. That kind of complexity makes him an engaging villain, and Adam Driver gives a great performance.
2. Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine
Palpatine manipulated his way to controlling the galaxy in the prequel trilogy, and sustained his power throughout the original trilogy until his protege Vader saw the error in his ways. Perhaps Palpatine’s greatest mistake was finding a protege who was obviously so conflicted, and could therefore turn on him in the end, but his legacy can’t be denied. Palpatine is the villain for two trilogies, pulling the strings until his demise.
1. Darth Vader
It couldn’t have been anyone else. Vader isn’t just the best villain of the “Star Wars” universe, he’s one of the best in film history. The mystery surrounding him in “A New Hope” elevated his persona, and the “I am your father” reveal in “Empire Strikes Back” cemented his legacy. The best villains are the ones you know you should hate, but can’t help but love … or even sympathize with. Vader encapsulates all of this.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.