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Good to be bad: The five most notorious sci-fi villains

William Shatner in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
William Shatner in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

There's no shortage of awesomely wicked, memorably powerful villains in the world of science fiction, and the world of sci-fi cinema has composed itself a laundry list of characters in this vein, all of which do grand justice to the classic old saying, "a film is only as good as its villain."

The cream rises to the top of that proverbial rogues gallery, however, and the forthcoming release of the sci-fi tale "The Giver" leads us to this highly divisive and difficult list. These are five of the Big Kahunas, the Grand Daddies of them all: The Five Most Notorious Sci-Fi Villains to hit the silver screen. It a'int easy being bad, but this legendary and classic cast of characters make it look effortless 'n easy living as the apex antagonists.

The Daleks
The Daleks Wikipedia

The Daleks

Stately, imperial, intelligent...and deadly.

These are just a few of the adjectives which could be used to describe the Daleks, the legendary cyborg antagonists of Britain's legendary "Doctor Who" series. The Daleks exist as a mutated race of beings, cursed by the scientist Davros to exist within an armored shell, a race whose only motivations are hatred and the propagation of the Daleks as the undisputed, supreme beings of the universe.

No mercy or compassion lives within the cybernetic shell of a Dalek, only the will to kill and dominate all those who stand within its way. Their battle cry of "EXTERMINATE!" serves as a death knell for those who oppose, and their existence has proven quite trying for The Doctor, in all of his various incarnations.

Xenomorph Wikipedia


The idea of a morally conflicted villain is one we see often within the realms of science fiction cinema. It's an idea which brings us closer to the antagonist's humanity-often through a tragic or shocking event in his or her past-and which allows us as the audience to identify with our villains...even if we don't particularly "like" them, per se.

None of this, of course, applies to The Xenomorph.

Nope, this ruthless, efficient race of aliens act as the perfect kill machines, a science fiction species which has managed to grab hold of our fright senses since their cinematic debut in director Ridley Scott's 1979 classic, Alien. These hissing, malevolent (and moist) villains were the creative fruit birthed from the fertile imagination of Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, whose conceptual art evokes the Xenomorphs are perverse, twisted creatures of penetration and impregnation, a nightmarish flip side of human sexuality at its most primal.

Seriously, though...just look at these things. The Xenomorphs really are the things of which bad dreams are made.

HAL-9000 Wikipedia


Sure, at first glance this all seeing computer eye may not appear to be the most threatening villain in the world, but any fan of Stanley Kubrick's monolithic 1968 sci-fi masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey" could easily inform one to the contrary. HAL-9000-an acronym which stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer-is the artificial intelligence which operates the Discovery One space ship in Kubrick's film, a program whose malfunction results in some seriously murderous repercussions.

It isn't the actions of HAL-9000 which make it a memorable villain, however, but the manner in which this sentient computer communicates with its crew, as voice actor Douglas Rain embodies HAL with a smooth, soft, almost anesthetized tone and delivery. The phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick" took on a whole new meaning when HAL-9000 hit the screen.

Godzilla Wikipedia


Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The mere mention of this gigantic, atomic powered Lizard Lord evokes classic childhood memories of creature double features and monster mashes, often pitting Godzilla against a menagerie of fearsome, bestial foes from outer space and beyond.

Although Godzilla was often portrayed as a hero during the midpoint of his career in the 1960s and 70s, both the Big Guy's 1954 debut and his Millennium Series of films from 1999-2004 place Godzilla squarely as a villain, an angry and stomping overlord whose rage rampage upon the streets of Tokyo made the monster a feared, imposing symbol of Japan's relationship with the atomic bomb.

As such, it's fitting to place The King of the Monsters here upon his rightful throne as one of the most frightening, monstrous villains ever committed to celluloid. Long May He Reign.

Darth Vader
Darth Vader Wikipedia

Darth Vader

Who else could take the place at number one?

This is the science fiction villain against which all are compared, the tragic, complex yet ultimately doomed Sith Lord from George Lucas' iconic "Star Wars" franchise, Darth Vader.

Who else has continued to capture the imaginations of fans of all ages, from the proverbial "four to eighty-four?" Darth Vader-a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker, father of series hero Luke Skywalker-possesses all of the necessary characteristics of a perfect sci-fi villain: he's imposing, fearsome and a threat to everyone in the universe, yet his personal back story is one filled with tragedy, and his dedication to the "old ways" of the mystical Jedi Order is but one of his personality characteristics which leads us to something a bit deeper, a belief in something greater than himself.

Countless fans and academics have composed articles and dissertations about Vader and his place as one of the classic villains of science fiction. This one is just yet another small piece of praise left at the feet of Lord Vader, the most feared villain in a galaxy far, far away.

Honorable Mentions

Other notable sci-fi villains...

  • Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
  • The Master (Doctor Who)
  • The Borg (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • The Predators (Predator, Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator)
  • The Emperor (Star Wars)

This is a "sponsored post," meaning the company who sponsored the article compensated me for writing the article. The opinions I have expressed, however, are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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