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The Top 5 Best and Worst Star Wars Villains (May the 4th Special)

It's Star Wars Day again everybody and I'm here to celebrate with a special post for just the occasion!

When it comes to Star Wars, there are many things to love about it from the fascinating lore, the galaxy-sized world-building, the creative alien and planet designs, the awesome machinery and the many characters that populate this galaxy. But one of the biggest things to love about Star Wars are of course...the villains.

Star Wars has created some of the most iconic villains in pop culture with some of the most recognizable names and faces in the franchise's history being some of these villains. I mean who hasn't walked into a shop anywhere and not seen at least one piece of Star Wars memorabilia or merchandise that has the face of characters like Darth Vader or Boba Fett or Kylo Ren anywhere? Sadly, while Star Wars has some great villains, they also have some pretty lame villains too.

And so in honour of Star Wars Day, I'm here to count down my personal Top 5 Worst and Top 5 Best Star Wars Villains. We'll start with the worst and work our way up to the best. So which villains deserve to be annihilated by the Death Star and which villains make us want to join their side in the wars across the galaxy? Let's dive in. May the Fourth be with you all as we countdown the Top 5 Best And Worst Star Wars Villains...

Number 5 (Worst): General Hux

The first and certainly not the last villain to come out of the Disney era to make this countdown, General Armitage Hux takes the Number 5 spot purely because he's the least bad of the five villains I have here. But that's still not saying much.

General Hux first appeared in the sequel trilogy and honestly proved to be a pretty ineffectual villain throughout the movies. Aside from that one moment in The Force Awakens where he gives that rousing speech that either makes him look intimidating or goofy depending on who you are, he didn't really live up to the menace he could've provided and come the sequels, he proved to be a let-down overall. In The Last Jedi he's easily fooled by what's essentially a prank phone call from Poe Dameron, then Supreme Leader Snoke literally wipes the floor with his face and he spends a good chunk of the movie somehow failing to deal with a Rebel ship that's barely hanging on as it is. I guarantee if the Empire had been in his situation, they'd have dealt with it by now.

And then we get The Rise of Skywalker where he nonsensically betrays the First Order and becomes a mole for the Resistance because...he doesn't want Kylo Ren to win? I remind you, the guy was going to pull out a gun and kill Kylo Ren while he was unconscious so he clearly wanted power and wanted to be in charge and yet suddenly in the next movie, he's now on the Resistance's side? I don't buy it for a second. Even the big reveal that he's the spy comes off as comical due to him literally shooting some Stormtroopers and then announcing to Finn, Poe and Chebacca and announcing "I'm the spy!" This betrayal made no sense and only made Hux come across as incredibly stupid because does he really think that he'll be let off the hook so easily? Especially after he ordered the death of billions with Starkiller Base's attack in The Force Awakens? At worst he'll be tried as a war criminal and imprisoned so is it really worth betraying the First Order because you don't want Kylo Ren to win? The fact he gets killed anyway because General Pryde clearly knew he was the mole so Hux is so incompetent that he can't even betrayed his own men without being found out almost immediately.

It's a pity Hux ended up being as poor as he was because he had potential to be a menacing villain and Domhnall Gleeson is CLEARLY giving it his all here. But the writing lets him down because it can't decide if he's either a joke or a threat and then blatantly contradicts his character in a nonsensical turn of events that makes it feel like they were making his story up as they went. As is, he's still not as bad as the later entries on this list...

Number 4 (Worst): Pong Krell

It pains me to have to put on a character from The Clone Wars on this list but sadly, even good Star Wars media can have bad villains and this guy is most certainly one of them.

On paper, Pong Krell sounds like an interesting character that could provide some much needed moral greyness to the Jedi Order. Star Wars, especially in the prequels, did make it a bit too clear that the Republic was good and the Separatists are evil and The Clone Wars did a great job on making it out that both sides had their bad and good eggs. Pong Krell could've been an example of how even the Jedi can be morally questionable and that just because they're on "the good side", doesn't necessarily mean they're good people. But in execution...any nuance to his character was thrown away by having him turn out to just be a fallen Jedi. What a waste of a promising concept! What's worse is that the arc tries to present this as a twist. Why do so when anyone could've seen it coming a mile away? This guy was so obviously a villain that even Jar-Jar Binks could've spotted that!

As a villain, he's painfully generic and doesn't even have a compelling reason to betray the Republic. He just "foresaw the fall of the Republic" and that's enough for him to turn evil. He can't have been that dedicated to his cause if that was enough for him to turn evil so chances are he was a bad seed from the start. And he doesn't even do a good job on hiding the fact he's evil too. He comes up with purposefully bad plans that are actively meant to sabotage the Clones's operations on Umbara and his increasingly arrogant attitude and poor tactical decisions only causes the Clones to question him and later plan to mutiny against him anyway. And when he is outed as a traitor, he just laughs manically and starts butchering the Clones until he's eventually captured. Did getting out when the going was good not occur to this idiot or something? He only has himself to blame for his capture and eventual execution.

This character could've been salvaged by making him a Jedi that has good intentions but less than ideal methods and got too corrupted by power to listen to reason when the Clones pointed out how ineffective his methods were. But by making him a generic twist villain (which was hardly even a twist because he was so bad at hiding it) and also kind of a moron as well, Pong Krell will stand as a great example of how poor execution can sully a promising concept. Speaking of which...

Number 3: (Worst): Supreme Leader Snoke

This guy is probably the poster boy for "Good idea, poor execution".

Supreme Leader Snoke was meant to be the brand new villain running the First Order akin to Emperor Palpatine running the Empire in the original trilogy. He even sets up an intimidating first impression with his huge holographic projection and mysterious presence while also being responsible for Kylo Ren's turn to evil. Then came The Last Jedi and any potential he had went down the drain. His appearance is laughable what with looking like a scarred old man clad in a bathrobe (and he even has SLIPPERS too!) which felt like a downgrade to his more imposing appearance in The Force Awakens and in the movie, he continues to set an intimidating impression by keeping Kylo in line and being so strong with the Force that he even made Rey look weak in his presence...and then he just gets anti-climactically killed halfway through the movie by Kylo Ren. What a waste of a promising villain and also a waste of Andy Serkis's acting talents! Why even build him up and set him up so much if he's just going to die as quickly as that? He may as well have not even existed if he's just going to come and go as quickly as that.

The Rise of Skywalker made things worse by having it turn out he's just a failed clone of Palpatine. So yeah, Snoke wasn't even his own character so to speak, he's just a clone of Palpatine. Snoke had potential to be a truly menacing villain with a cool presence and they could've been very creative with him and done so much with him as a result. The possibilities are endless in Star Wars when it comes to creating villains! And in the end, what did we get? A villain who's appearance evokes laughter rather than fear that does nothing throughout the movies (onscreen that is, offscreen doesn't count), gets killed as quickly as he was introduced and is nothing more than a by-product of Emperor Palpatine. You had all this potential to make a truly awesome villain and instead did the bare minimum with him.

Supreme Leader Snoke: the supreme leader of bad Star Wars villains...

Number 2: (Worst): Kylo Ren

This is a recurring pattern with these villains I find: promising ideas that suffer from bad execution. Kylo Ren is yet another example of this.

Much like Hux and Snoke, he sets off an intimidating first impression at the beginning of The Force Awakens by leading an attack on a village in search of the map that leads to Luke Skywalker and he's so powerful he can use the Force to STOP A LASER SHOT! That's awesome! But then the rest of the movie happened and he stopped being awesome. Instead he come off as a total edge-lord who throws temper tantrums whenever things don't go his way. It's pretty embarrassing to admit we were intimidated by him at first only for him to go smashing up computer equipment in a fit of rage whenever things go wrong so he ends up looking like a joke. He looks like an even bigger joke when we reach the climax of The Force Awakens and somehow gets defeated by Rey despite her never wielding a lightsaber in her life until that point. So Rey, this girl who has grown up a scavenger on Jakku all her life is somehow able to beat Kylo Ren despite only just discovering she can use the Force and never using a lightsaber before? How can we take Ren seriously if he's that much of a joke? Even before then, he fails to mind read Rey with the Force and Rey turns it on him to read HIS mind instead despite the fact that Rey has never used the Force before, nor has she been trained how to use it before this point. It doesn't make Rey look awesome, it makes Kylo Ren look lame when this nobody is somehow able to outperform him with the Force and in lightsaber combat.

And the sequels don't do much for him either. For some nonsensical reason, they decide to give him a redemption arc despite him continuously rejecting such an idea in The Last Jedi and his redemption boils down to a pep talk from Han Solo's ghost. This guy should not have had a redemption arc, nor did he deserve it. By giving him one, they just made him a copy of Darth Vader, but he's just so inferior to Darth Vader that he comes off as a lame rehash as a result. They could've been more creative with this character and made him more of his own villain but instead, they just gave us Darth Vader done wrong and he failed to live up to whatever potential he had.

Kylo Ren: He maybe Darth Vader's grandson but he clearly didn't inherit the part that made him a great villain.

And the Number 1 Worst Star Wars Villains is: Reva Sevander

I'm sure many of you saw this coming. I just feel so sorry for Moses Ingram at this point. The online harassment was bad enough, but the fact she was cast as such a terrible villain and ended up being the worst part of Obi-Wan Kenobi is even worse.

I covered much of why Reva is such a bad villain in my review of Obi-Wan Kenobi last year but I'll cover it again here. The Third Sister of the Grand Inquisitorious organization fails as a villain in a multitude of ways and has easily cemented herself as among the worst that Star Wars has to offer. She's annoying as all hell thanks to being an overly emotional idiot who jumps to conclusions way too quickly and seems to think she's great than everybody else when in actuality, she's just a grunt with no real power, she's so ineffectual in combat that Darth Vader is able to spend most of the fight just toying with her instead of using his lightsaber while also barely being able to fend off Owen and Beru (who AREN'T Force-sensitive people mind you!), Obi-Wan is constantly able to stay ahead of her without really needing to fight back, she's so weak with the Force that she can't even mind-read a ten year old girl despite Leia having no connection with the Force at that age, gets distracted from the task at hand rather easily throughout the show and also struggles to catch a fleeing child when chasing after Luke in the last episode. How is anyone supposed to take this clown seriously when she can't fight for toffee and struggles against mere CHILDREN in some cases? This doesn't make her threatening or intimidating, it makes her pathetic!

What's especially pathetic is how she's nonsensically able to survive being stabbed (twice might I add!) by a lightsaber when nobody else is able to survive anything like that so it comes off as plot armour used in the worst way possible and then for some reason, she gets a redemption arc in the end. This is the same woman who orchestrated the kidnapping of an innocent young girl just so she can draw Obi-Wan out and try to kill him despite the fact it wasn't Obi-Wan's fault that Anakin turned evil so she's carrying her revenge scheme on the wrong guy and then when she found out Darth Vader has a son, she tries to kill him simply because he's related to him. And we're somehow supposed to feel sorry for her and think she's redeemed because she didn't kill Luke in the end? That's not how a redemption arc works. You can't have somebody join the Empire, commit horrible crimes and murder or dismember innocents and then have them turn good again for no reason. As I detailed in my Superman essay, either make your villains tragically sympathetic or irredeemable monsters. You can't do both otherwise you get a mess like with Reva here.

Badly written, absolutely pathetic at her job and a poor excuse for a villain, Reva Sevander will forever stand as the Number 1 Worst Star Wars Villain...

And that's it for the worst list. Now let's move onto the best list and let me tell you, the Force is strong with these villains...

Number 5 (Best): General Grievous

Easily among my favourite Star Wars villains, General Grievous more than earns his spot on the list for his cool concept and for being quite a threat on the battlefield.

While Revenge of the Sith wasn't exactly a great outing for Grievous, he still captured the audience's attention and imaginations with his awesome design and ability to wield four lightsabers at once. How can you say not to a badass four-armed cyborg that can do that? But it's in extended universe media where Grievous really shines. The 2003 Clone Wars series showed him as an absolute beast in battle who was an effective Jedi killing machine and gave us one of the best lightsaber battles ever depicted in the franchise when he shows five exhausted Jedi why he's a force to be reckoned with. His unorthodox fighting style and ability to wield lightsabers in a way most Jedi can't is what makes him such a powerful opponent and why it's often so cool to watch him in action. Whether it's the 2003 show or the 2008 show, they show that Grievous's cyborg body allows a lot of advantages that he wouldn't have had before like having four arms so he can wield four lightsabers at once, launce surprise attacks by using his extra limbs to pull out a blaster, spin his hands around a full 360 degrees, use his feet as extra hands to climb around or crush heads and also provide him greater speed and agility that lets him keep up with the Jedi he battles.

General Grievous is a dangerous fighter that even gives Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi cause for concern and he's also a skilled general who can be quite cunning in battle like whenever he uses his cyborg body to his advantage or is able to carry out successful attacks such as the Battle on Dathomir that saw him and his droid army effortlessly wipe out the Nightsister clan and save Dooku from death. For me, the Battle on Dathomir was Grievous's best showing and I would've loved it if we saw more of that in the show. Still, I feel both versions of The Clone Wars showed Grievous to his best potential as the Jedi-hating killer cyborg that he was presented as in Revenge of the Sith and he's always a treat to watch when he's in action. He's intimidating, smart, skilled and has an awesome design combined with a cool gravelly voice courtesy of Matthew Wood.

General Grievous easily earns the Number 5 spot for the awesome general that he is and for being one of Star Wars's coolest villains they've ever created. But as awesome as he is, the rest are even more so...

Number 4 (Best): Darth Maul

How does this guy go from being a one-dimensional villain with only three lines of dialogue to being one of Star Wars's best villains ever?

Darth Maul may not have had the best execution in The Phantom Menace due to being as one-dimensional as they come but he still left one hell of an impression on audiences thanks to his awesome design and badass fighting skills in where he battles with a double-bladed lightsaber (or saberstaff as it's actually called). His red and black tatooed face with yellow eyes and sharp horns around his head make him instantly iconic and easily one of the most recognizable faces in the prequel era but it wasn't until The Clone Wars where he reached his full potential and became more than just that. Having miraculously survived his dissection at the blade of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Maul becomes a snarling beast of rage and hatred that wants nothing more than to bring devastation to the galaxy and destroy everything that Obi-Wan holds dear to him. Throughout The Clone Wars, we see him being a cunning, manipulative, threatening and charismatic kind of character that is able to worm his way into power and eventually it gets to the point he seizes control over Death Watch and leads to them seizing control of Mandalore, which is such a nerve-racking move for the Emperor that he feels the need to get involved just to stop Darth Maul from posing a threat to himself and his plans! You know you're a threat when EMPEROR PALPATINE thinks you're a loose cannon that needs to be stopped!

As a villain, Darth Maul has it all. He's very powerful, he's skilled in combat, he's efficient at what he does and is also quite smart when he has to be. Combine that with a chilling performance at the hands of Sam Witwer and you have a villain that is impossible to look away from. He commands the audience's attention for what a capable and effective threat he is and whenever he's onscreen, you can't help but wonder what'll happen next now he's around. His appearances in Rebels especially caught us by surprise and had us intrigued to see what he was going to do there. Pity his life came to an anti-climactic end when Obi-Wan beat him in a lightsaber duel that lasts like five seconds or so but still, Maul achieved quite a lot and his actions left huge impacts on the canon that we're still feeling as of now in The Mandalorian.

From a nobody to a somebody, Darth Maul came back with a vengeance and mauled his way to the Number 4 spot on this countdown.

Number 3 (Best): Emperor Palpatine

I can't make a best Star Wars villain list without including him now, can I?

Emperor Palpatine is responsible for this franchise's very existence with his complex multi-layered plot that led to the downfall of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire. Also known as "Darth Sidious", Emperor Palpatine is the man in charge of the Empire and he's the overall villain of the entire Star Wars franchise. He's not only an extremely powerful Sith Lord but he's also one of the most intelligent schemers ever depicted in fiction. Throughout the prequel trilogy, we see him basically playing chess master with everyone and everything around him as he orchestrates the war between the Republic and the Separatists and moving the pieces into the right places until eventually, he's able to bring down the Jedi Order and create the Empire that sees him as the ruler of the galaxy. It's downright scary how well he executed this plan and despite the many steps that went into it, it all paid off for him and he was able to single-handedly bring down the only real threat to his position as ruler of the Empire. The fact he's so skilled at manipulation that he's able to flawlessly convince everyone he's a charming politician who's warm and friendly and was able to convince Anakin that the Jedi were the real evil in all this is scarily accurate to real world leaders who are able to do the same thing. He's able to manipulate pretty much anyone to his cause and make use of them in his grand scheme and if he perceives you as a threat to his plans, he won't hesitate to get involved and remove said threat.

Emperor Palpatine's greatest weapon is his brain, obviously, but he's also skilled in more than just creating complex plans. As a Sith Lord, he is skilled in lightsaber combat and wields Force Lightning that he can use to a devastating effect as we saw when he gave poor Luke a roasting. He's strong enough to hold his own against Darth Maul and Savage Opress simultaneously, he can fight Yoda to a standstill and was even able to come out on top in the end and he commanded so much power that Darth Vader had to resort to catching him off-guard in order to finally get rid of him in the end. Nobody dared to mess with the emperor and he would make you pay for it if you did. Yes his death was pretty anti-climactic and his nonsensical return in The Rise of Skywalker take a few points off of him but they will never take away the fact he was such an awesome villain.

Emperor Palpatine more than earned his spot on the list for being a charismatic, devious, intelligent and powerful threat that is single-handedly responsible for just about everything that made Star Wars what it is today. All hail the emperor indeed...

Number 2 (Best): Grand Admiral Thrawn

The moment this guy showed up in Star Wars Rebels, I knew he was going to be one of my favourite villains. That did not change as the show went on.

First appearing in the Thrawn trilogy of novels, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a Chiss Imperial who has proven to be among Star Wars's greatest villains for a myriad of reasons. The most obvious reason of course is his status as a cunning strategist. Grand Admiral Thrawn more than earned his title by proving to be a highly intelligent individual who has a meticulous eye for detail and his red eyes rarely miss a trick. He will make an example out of anyone who steps out of line or is perceived to be a traitor to the Empire and he is quite the opportunist when he's able to manipulate events to his advantage. The greatest example of course has to be when just by analysing the helmet that Ezra Bridger was wearing, he deduces that Agent Kallus is the mole working for the Rebels but instead of killing him, he uses Kallus to his advantage to further spring a surprise on the Rebels and then eventually he dispatches of Kallus once he gets his hands on him and forces him to watch as he launches his assault on them. Imagine if the Empire just had an army of Grand Admiral Thrawns and the clones were as intelligent as he was? The Rebellion would've been wiped out in seconds!

Thrawn is a master strategist who also oozes charisma thanks to his smooth voice and dangerously polite way of speaking that makes you nervous on what he'll do next as despite his gentlemanly nature, he's still a very threatening guy so you can't exactly trust his mood. A deviously smooth and chilling performance at the hands of Lars Mikkelsen really made this villain for me and I don't think anyone else could've done it better. Despite being the brains here, Thrawn is no slouch in a fight either as if he needs to get physical, he can hold his own in hand-to-hand combat and is even able to take Agent Kallus out with relative ease. It says so much on what a threat this guy is when Ezra needed to get a pod of space whales to deal with him and yet come the Ahsoka series, even THAT hasn't killed him in the end for he's still alive even after the fall of the Empire!

Infectiously charismatic, highly intelligent, deviously threatening, an excellent strategist and a man who doesn't leave much to chance, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a compelling villain and I can see why the fans got so hyped for him when his appearance in Rebels was announced. A grand villain who easily deserves the Number 2 spot.

And the Number 1 Best Star Wars Villain is: Darth Vader

Sorry to be so obvious but who else was going to take the Number 1 spot? It's Darth Vader! What else needs to be said here?!

Ask anybody about Star Wars and I guarantee the first character ANYBODY remembers from it is this guy! Darth Vader become an instant pop culture icon from the very moment he stepped out of those doors in A New Hope and even to this day he is pretty much the face of Star Wars as we know it. And he more than deserves his fame and glory for being one of cinema's best villains ever. His design is instantly iconic thanks to his menacing appearance, tall frame, black suit, armoured shoulders, huge cape and unique helmet design that is unlike anything ever seen before. With his suited appearance, deep voice provided by the legendary James Earl Jones and his sinister wheezing that comes from him, its no wonder that so many people were terrified of him back when A New Hope first released and he still continues to scare many others to this day. He backs up his intimidating appearance by being the kind of boss you never want to upset. He'll execute you for failing and he doesn't mince his words. He'll make it clear you're screwed if he gets mad and won't hesitate to show you just how screwed you are when he does.

As Emperor Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader is a powerful fighter who doesn't let his crippled state sully his battle prowess. He's still able to hold his own against his old master and even Ahsoka Tano all these years later and as mentioned above, he's so much of a badass that when Reva tries to kill him, he just toys with her and doesn't bother drawing his own lightsaber, instead preferring to use her own to finish her off with (too bad it didn't work...). Darth Vader's at his best for me when he's silent but menacing and just slowly makes his way through enemies or innocents and just casually massacres them because he can such as in the famous hallway scene from Rogue One or his village attack in Obi-Wan Kenobi. He's also very intelligent too, able to figure things out rather quickly and is able to take opportunities when presented to him such as rigging the Millennium Falcon with a tracking device just in case it manages to escape. He's proven to be capable of foresight and isn't so easily fooled either.

The prequels further fleshed him out by showing his eventual fall to the Dark Side and while some may feel the execution was fumbled and they kinda ruined his mysterious, creepy presence with them, I feel the prequels made him more interesting and added a tragic edge to his character that explains so much of how he became who he was today. It's easy to feel sorry for him when we see how he was corrupted and was led astray down the path of darkness and over the course of the prequels he loses just about everything and everyone he ever loved and cared for so by this point, he pretty much has nothing else to live for and being Darth Vader is all he has now. It's quite tragic when you think about it.

With a complex backstory, tragic fall from grace, intimidating presence, propensity to steal the scene no matter what he appears in, powerful fighting skills and great intelligence, Darth Vader is without question the Number 1 Best Star Wars Villain...

And that's all I have for this Star Wars Day special post. I hope you enjoyed it and feel free to share your own worst and best Star Wars villains in the comments below. Who do you think are the best villains? Who do you rank as the worst? Do tell. Come back tomorrow for Revenge of the Fifth as I review The Mandalorian Season 3. See you then media fans!

Star Wars belongs to Disney & Lucasfilm Ltd.

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May 04, 2023

Good choices for Best Villains. And I respect your choices for Worst Villains. I personally like Kylo Ren as a villain, and I think Hux, Krell, Snoke and Reva all had potential to be great.


May 04, 2023

I agree with a lot of these but I think you could’ve also said Reva somehow survived being stabbed by Vader’s lightsaber as a kid….she was stabbed right through and she survived!? Then you have her cutting off the hand of a woman for speaking up to her, and she is all “I want to avenge my friends who Darth Vader killed! And all the Jedi!” Then why did you help kill Jedi?

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