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Star Wars likes to focus a lot on its heroes, but great heroes are only made on the backs of equally great villains. Of course, many are well aware this franchise has some iconic villains, but how do they ranked when measured up against each other? No need to ponder any further, I've got the answers right here.
As a note, the following only ranks villains who have appeared in a Star Wars movie. No disrespect to Grand Admiral Thrawn, Darth Plagueis, or the various other baddies from television and novels, but this list is only for the villains seen on the silver screen. With that in mind, let's dive in, and llst some of the most fearsome Sith Lords and villains seen in Star Wars from least to greatest.
Stormtroopers are notoriously terrible shots and are more often than not blaster targets for Rebel forces, but they are a factor in Star Wars. Most notably, they killed Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and burned their bodies, which was a pretty cold-blooded move. Also, the Empire and Darth Vader's commands don't work without an army, so one could make the argument stormtroopers are the ultimate Star Wars villains.
Most wouldn't of course, because let's face it, most stormtroopers are made to look like idiots. They're the faceless soldiers of the Empire, but as Finn and expanded material has shown, can be far more complicated that they appear. Most are either misinformed, disillusioned, or in it to avoid their own families being in the cross hairs of the destructive regime. Their biggest strength is numbers, and even the Empire would say the biggest strength of a stormtrooper is that they're largely expendable. For that reason I have to put these Star Wars villains near the bottom of the food chain.
Jabba The Hutt
While Jabba The Hutt may not have had the level of command someone like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, it needs to be said the Tatooine gangster had a good deal of power during the reign of the Empire. He was wealthy enough to bankroll two bounty hunters to pursue Han Solo, and to run non-stop parties on a floating palace that had a Rancor chilling in the basement. He was essentially the Don Corleone of Tataooine, except he held dominion over a large chunk of the planet rather than a section of New York City.
Of course, all the power in the world couldn't save Jabba from getting choked to death by Princess Leia with a chain. Had the Star Wars villain simply let Han go when Luke requested it, he may have enjoyed a galactic reign that lasted much longer. Instead, his long reign of power made him feel untouchable, and he tried to kill a Jedi and lost it all in one fell swoop.
The Separatists had quite a lineup of battle droids at its disposal, but none were quite as fearsome as the Droideka. These battlers could roll through terrain at high speeds, had shields, and double the blaster fire to rip through whatever was in their path. They were incredibly hard to destroy, and known for being able to rip through a large number of oppressors before being deactivated by the opposition.
The downfall of these Star Wars villains came through the discovery of a fatal flaw, in which the backs of droideka are highly exposed. As deadly as they were, a well-timed EMP put behind them would deactivate them, and could immediately bring their terror to an end. The droideka went out of use following the Clone Wars, so I can only assume they were no longer worth the effort once their weakness was exposed and exploited.
A character who rarely needs introduction amongst Star Wars fans, Boba Fett is known as one of the most fearsome bounty hunters that lived during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Fett worked for Jabba The Hutt, and in coordination with Darth Vader during the Star Wars movies, and was able to finally deliver Han Solo to Hutt when Greedo could not. Fett's time in the Skywalker Saga was cut short, however, after his rocket pack malfunctioned and sent him sailing into the clutches of a Sarlacc.
Many Star Wars fans know there's much more to Boba Fett's story outside of the movies, some of which may cause some dispute whether he's an outright Star Wars villain. Of course, much of what is known about Boba Fett from expanded material was retconned when Disney purged much of the Legends material from canon. The good news is there's a chance Boba's story may one day pick up in the Star Wars universe, judging from one particular story from the recent Star Wars novels.
Supreme Leader Snoke
Supreme Leader Snoke looked like the next major threat of Star Wars sequel trilogy in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that ended up not being the case in the end. Despite his dramatic exit in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Snoke should be credited for being one of the key influencers in the seduction of Kylo Ren to the Dark Side.
Ultimately though, Snoke was a puppet. It was through him that Emperor Palpatine attempted to reclaim control of the galaxy, and Kylo Ren's eventual betrayal showed Snoke wasn't nearly as powerful as some may have believed. He's still powerful enough to rank above most non-Force sensitives, but his lack of combat skills and chump exit can't allow me to put him any higher than this.
The primary villain of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace may have taken out a powerful Jedi in Qui-Gon Jinn, but did the Sith lord exceed the power as some of the other greater Star Wars villains? Personally, I'm willing to give him points for surviving being severed in half and having an appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but in the larger scope of Force users in the lore, he's towards the bottom of the list.
Darth Maul showed exceptional skill in regards to combat, but when it came to proficiency to the Force, was lacking compared to other Sith Lords. He could still do the basics like Force Push and Force Pull, but the real bread and butter for this Star Wars villain was just how much of a threat he was with his dual-bladed lightsaber. Provided a competent Jedi could withstand his offensive onslaughts, Maul could meet his end rather easily with a reckless mistake or fall to someone much better with the Force.
While Darth Maul's offensive prowess was viewed as intimidating, it's safe to say General Grievous' offensive capabilities were downright frightening. Grievous killed several Jedi in his time with the Separatist, and even battled Master-level Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu to a stalemate. While he wasn't a Sith Lord nor did he have any Force sensitivity to speak of, there's no denying Grievous' offensive prowess alone is worthy of his ranking.
Especially when considering how uncommon it is a non-Force user can overcome Force users in the Star Wars saga. Very few Star Wars villains get the upper hand on Force-sensitive heroes, especially if they themselves don't have a Force connection. The fact that Grievous did this quite a bit during his time in the Separatist justifies his spot here, though it's hard to argue him any higher than Darth Maul.
There's a lot of takes on the internet that say Kylo Ren is stronger than even his beloved grandfather Darth Vader. While I'm willing to agree that Ren is one of the stronger Star Wars villains of The Skywalker Saga, I can't say he's even close to Vader in terms of power. With that said Ren is a skilled fighter to be sure, and his raw unpolished force abilities show a level of competence that is some of the best audiences have seen in the Star Wars universe.
With that being said, Kylo Ren never gained control of his feelings. The raw emotion he felt kept him torn between the Light and Dark side, without ever fully aligning with either when it was all said and done. Had Kylo Ren fully committed to the Dark side, I'd like to believe Rey would've never stood a chance against him when they first battled, and the First Order may have stood a chance at carrying on the Empire's great legacy.
A former Jedi Master turned Sith Lord, Count Dooku was trained by Yoda himself. He'd later become the major face of the Separatist movement, and would manage to escape a situation where he took on Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda all in immediate succession. Granted, one of those three later lopped off his head, but few Jedi survive that many skilled combatants without being exceptionally skilled in both lightsaber combat and the Force.
Hell, Dooku may have even beaten Anakin and Obi-Wan in their second face off had it not been an elaborate ploy by Palpatine to lure Anakin to the Dark Side. Dooku's only real mistake was trusting Palpatine, who encouraged Anakin to kill the Sith Lord who served him in secret for so long. Hey, it's not the first time someone got burned by the Emperor, and it certainly wouldn't be the last in the grand scheme of things.
Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Qui-Gon Jinn saw great power in Anakin Skywalker, but didn't see the conflict that could create a force equally as capable of destroying the Jedi as it was destroying the Sith. Anakin ultimately acted as the puppet in Palpatine's master plan, and was one-half of the formula needed to bring the Jedi order to the verge of extinction. As far as Star Wars villains go, he's about the best there ever was.
Even so, there's plenty of evidence that Anakin's defeat by Obi-Wan prevented him from ever reaching his full potential. Had Anakin thought better of his attack on Obi-Wan, he may have continued to grow in combat and Force proficiency to a point where he could topple even the greatest Jedi and Sith Lords in Star Wars. Alas, Vader wouldn't get that win over Palpatine until much later in life, and the act ultimately cost the already weakened Anakin his life.
Without dispute, Emperor Palpatine is one of the strongest Sith Lords that ever lived. Not only was he an exceptional combatant, and skilled force user, he was a brilliant tactician capable of deceiving a Republic into giving him full command. He then spun that into a regime that ruled the galaxy with an iron fist. Oh, and even when he was defeated he had so many contingency plans in place that he nearly brought himself back for another reign of terror.
If we're talking villains and Sith Lords that strictly appear in Star Wars, there's no villain that exceeds Palpatine. He's what starts The Skywalker Saga, and thanks to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he's what ends it as well. It will be hard for Star Wars to find a villain as powerful or as efficient as him going forward, which may be why Rise of Skywalker decided to bring him back to begin with.
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