My Favourite Sci-Fi Villains
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Arguably, not a single work I've referenced below is proper science fiction. Indeed, I'm using the term sci-fi in its very broadest sense here. If it's a problem for you, simply replace "sci-fi" with "futuristic" in the title.

Anyway, compiling a list of sci-fi villains is not as easy a task as it may seem. The main reason is that character development often is given lower priority in sci-fi than in other genres, with fewer interesting characters as a result. Another reason is that the the villainy in sci-fi not seldom is of a faceless, collective, alien, or inexplicit nature; good examples of this are, in my opinion, THX 1138, The Forever War, Oryx & Crake, Brazil, Gattaca, The Sheep Look Up, They Live, and I Am Legend.

Be that as it may, here's a list a of my favourite sci-fi villains. The order is decided out of whim, not preference. Additions are of course welcome.
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1. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:246]
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Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Dune franchise)


Vladimir Harkonnen is quite possible the most unsympathetic character I've ever encountered in any sci-fi setting: narcissistic, amoral, tyrannical, sociopathic, perverse, sadistic, murderous. Contrary to many other villains, there don't seem to be any extenuating circumstances for his monstrous behaviour; he simply seems to be an evil upper-class child in a man's shape. He makes me think of deranged Renaissance princes, such as the most notorious members of the Borgia dynasty, and I'm quite certain that they were Frank Herbert's inspiration for the Harkonnen dynasty. One could claim that Vladimir Harkonnen is a kind of cardboard villain, but there's no denying that he's extraordinarily twisted.
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2. Board Game: Star Wars: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:516]
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Emperor Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious (Star Wars franchise)


In the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader may seem like an obvious choice, but I actually find Palpatine more interesting. In many ways, he's a two-dimensional villain without any deeper psychological motivations, but I find his all-consuming hunger for absolute power fascinating. It's as if power is the dark energy on which he feeds, for which he is prepared to threaten, corrupt, imprison, and kill without hesitation. It seems that for Palpatine, the Sith teachings and techniques are not means of self-realisation, only tools for obtaining power. I come to think of Comrade O'Briens words in Nineteen Eighty-Four: "Power is not a means; it is an end. [...] The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. [...] We are the priests of power. God is power." I find this approach to life terrifying, because frankly, it's not quite human.
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3. Board Game: The Terminator: CCG [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:12932] [Average Rating:6.02 Unranked]
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Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator (Terminator franchise)


This is not an uncomplicated choice. Is this terminator really a sentient being or simply a complex automaton? If it's the latter, can it really be labelled a villain? Be that as it may, what I like with the T-800 is that it constitutes such a simple, yet effective metaphore. Kyle Reese's words in the first movie: "It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead." Isn't this in effect a description of the Grim Reaper, the personification of death? From a certain point of view, to quote good old Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Terminator is a metaphorical story about man's never-ending efforts to overcome death.
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4. Board Game: Star Wars: Epic Duels [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:988]
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Lumiya, a.k.a. Shira Elan Colla Brie, a.k.a. Dark Lady of the Sith (Star Wars franchise)


Outside Star Wars fandom, Lumiya is little known. She is, however, a fascinating female villain, a rare occurrence in sci-fi. Contrary to most other villains, Lumiya evolves as a person and her motivations change over time. Initially, she's just a tool, albeit a brilliant one: trained and indoctrinated since infancy in Imperial institutions, she's sent on a mission to infiltrate the Rebel Alliance. The mission ends in disaster, though: seriously injured and disfigured after a space battle, her Imperial rescuers have no choice but to turn her into a cyborg. She becomes a formidable foe, prepared to use any means in her pursuit of vengeance, including systematic torture and summary executions. Lumiya matures into something more than an avenging half-machine angel, though. She becomes a grey eminence operating on a galactic scale, convinced that only the Sith can bring order to the galaxy again. I'd say that this kind of evolution of a villain is very rare. Another aspect which makes Lumiya a rare female villain is that she de facto is disfigured; she's not defined by her beauty, as many female villains tend to be. Even more interestingly, Lumiya not only accepts, but even embraces her new existence as a cyborg, which for instance this quote illustrates: "No, I don't miss my beauty, you fool, because it would have vanished by now anyway. Once I understood that my injuries freed me from worrying about such nonsense, I realized that I had a task that only I could fulfill."
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5. Board Game: Judge Dredd [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:4713]
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Judge Death (Judge Dredd franchise)


Judge Dredd is certainly not for everyone, but I for one like it; I'm simply amused by the baroque characters, twisted plots, and dark jokes. The most baroque character of them all is quite possibly Judge Death. What makes him an interesting villain is that in effect, he's not very different from the anti-hero Judge Dredd. Actually, Judge Death started out as a proper Mega-City One Judge who gained his sinister nickname for his willingness, not to say eagerness, to sentence criminals to death, before he allied himself with the forces of darkness. The only thing that really sets Judge Death and Judge Dredd apart is that they enforce different laws. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but Judge Death works as a sardonic comment on the crypto-fascistic notion that, "we need to rid the streets of the scum". I'd say that his absurd behaviour is the final and logical conclusion of such a view: the total dehumanisation of human beings.
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6. Board Game: Blade Runner: Rep-Detect [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
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Roy Batty, N6MAA10816 (Blade Runner)


Many a Blade Runner fan would disagree with this choice. One could build a case that he's not a villain at all, just a slave who turns against his oppressive masters and demands his right to life and freedom. Some would even suggest that he's a classical warrior poet, or even an allegory of Christ. Yet, I claim that Roy Batty is a villain. Sure, he's a sentient being who has been deprived of freedom and life by his creators, but does this really justify his behaviour? Does it justify killing people, some of them innocent, and before doing so, playing sadistic games with them? I don't think so. I think that Philip K. Dick was right: Replicants, or androids in the original novel, are not really human, because they don't possess the fundamental human quality of empathy. Heck, even some animals seem to possess more empathy than the replicants in Blade Runner.
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7. Board Game: V [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Supreme Commander Diana (V franchise)


I don't know why, but there are few interesting villainesses in sci-fi; I don't think it's because of misogyny, but rather because most sci-fi writers are men. One villainesses which I find interesting - more interesting than the story she is part of - is Supreme Commander Diana in the cult series V. What I find interesting with her is the contrasts. To quote Captain Bryant in Blade Runner: "Talk about Beauty and the Beast – she's both." Diana's feline, sensual beauty conceals a monstrous nature, both in a literal and figurative manner. Contrary to many, if not most villainesses, she's more than a pretty face pasted on a male personality, and she's not defined by the male characters around her. She's simply a strong woman, and a ruthless and able commander in her own right; she plays sensual games, but only to amuse herself, not to please any man or, hm, male lizard. Not what you expect to find in a cheesy '80s show...
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8. RPG Item: Brave New World [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:6057]
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Resident World Controller of Western Europe Mustapha Mond (Brave New World)


Mustapha Mond is an interesting character, as his motivations are benevolent. "The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get... And if anything should go wrong, there's soma." Can a man whose main pursuit is the happiness of mankind really be a villain? Yes, I think so. What makes Mustapha Mond and the other World Controllers villains is that they don't give the citizens a choice. After years of conditioning, indoctrination, and medication, it's very questionable if the citizens really are truly human anymore; they can arguably be described as effectively mindless drones without a free will. The World Controllers have built a paradise, but it's a failed paradise. As it's said, the visionary man's utopia is often the common man's dystopia. After all, I'm quite certain that both Stalin and Hitler were convinced that they were building a better world.
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9. Board Game: Road Warrior [Average Rating:4.41 Unranked]
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Lord Humungus, a.k.a. The Warrior of the Wasteland, a.k.a. The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)


A Mad Max villain might seem like a strange choice for this list, as the characters in this postapocalyptic franchise tend to be quite two-dimensional. However, I think we get glimpses of dark psychological depths. The tormented anti-hero Max Rockatansky is possibly the most interesting character, but as this list is about villains, I'll focus on the, in my opinion, most interesting villain, namely Lord Humungus. I think that there's more than meets the eye when it comes to this bizarre monster of a man. His loss of hair and poor health indicate that he has been exposed to radioactive fallout and possibly even has seen the devastating effects of a nuclear attack first-hand. One of his lines shows that he has lost loved ones during the Apocalypse or therafter: "Be still my dog of war. I understand your pain. We've all lost someone we love." He's surprisingly eloquent and sometimes even sound almost sensitive and regretful; his eyes looks decidedly sad in close-ups. To me, all this signifies that Lord Humungus, whoever he was before the Apocalypse, very well may have been a good and decent man who simply has collapsed mentally and morally, having to endure the stresses and horrors of the wasteland every day. An alternative explanation is of course that he has suffered brain damage, e.g. from radiation, but that's not half as interesting...
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10. Board Game: Aliens [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1982]
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Carter J. Burke, Special Projects Director of the Weyland Yutani Space Corp's Special Services Division (Aliens)


Carter J. Burke may seem like a bleak choice of a villain: a typical corporate cog. According to the promo material for Aliens, Carter grew up in a very wealthy family and living situation; his father was a plastic surgeon and mother a prominent real estate developer. The American dream come true! However, Carter J. Burke works so well as a villain because he's an incarnation of corporate culture: obedient, carrerist, greedy, egotistical, arrogant, unempathetic, ruthless, and cowardly. A cyberpunk archetype perhaps, but to this day, he's the best corporate villain I've encountered.
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11. Board Game: Flash Gordon [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
J Weintraub
United States
Commack
New York
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Max Von Sydow as Ming. Actually, Max is fantastic generally. Here he chews scenery, but given the weakness of the script, he chews it in his own inestimable way, which is certainly worthy of credit.
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12. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:292]
R. Grant Reed
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Michigan
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Great list! My addition:



I had not seen a single episode of Firefly when I went to see Serenity in the theater. Coming out of that movie, I was blown away at how awesome "The Operative" was as a villain. Zen-like calm plus a brilliant mind plus terrible dedication to his purpose. Add to that his perfectly clear self-awareness:

"I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you, Malcolm... I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done."



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13. Board Game: Fifth Element [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Alan Gaskell
England
Lancashire
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Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg


Hilariously camp and superbly played by Gary Oldman.
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14. Board Game: Asimov's Foundation and Empire War Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Max DuBoff
United States
New Brunswick
New Jersey
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"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
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How about the Mule? A freak of nature (quite literally, since his home world is Gaia), the Mule has a certain charm with his telepathic and emotion-manipulating powers. The reader simultaneously hates him for disrupting the Foundation and pities him for being a social outcast. The smile is a tragic figure, really. God, I love Asimov.
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15. Board Game: RoboCop VCR Game [Average Rating:4.40 Unranked]
Tim
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Frederick
Maryland
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I thought the two main villains in the original Robocop were well played. The greedy Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) and his henchman the psychopath Clarence Boddicker (played by Kurtwood Smith a.k.a. Red Forman on "That 70's Show"). A great team of evil that complimented each others agenda.



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16. Board Game: Farscape The Card Game [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Willie Davis
United States
Cape Coral
Florida
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Scorpius had his brilliant plots and schemes in his physical form but when he implanted himself in John he went from a better version of Crais to amazingly brilliant. John couldn't even close his eyes to avoid torment.

Harvey was also a great character in his own right later.
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17. Board Game: Star Trek: Attack Wing – Deep Space 9 Expansion Pack [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
Willie Davis
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Cape Coral
Florida
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Gul Dukat

Star Trek isn't really known for its expansive set of well-developed villains, mainly due to its one-and-done format. Deep Space 9 changed that with its largely immobile setting that gave the villains to not only recur but to develop complexities not seen in other series.
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18. Board Game: A Call to Arms: Babylon 5 Space Combat [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:6018]
Trey Chambers
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Houston
Texas
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The Shadow race is fairly one-dimensional until much later on when you find out more about their origins and motivations. Fascinating.

But that's a whole race, and you want a villain.

I give you Londo Mollari.

Waffling between villain, anti-hero, and hero at various times, he is undeniably a villain, at least at first. His character arc and banter with archrival G'kar is unmatched.
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19. Board Game: Star Trek Deck Building Game: Human Q Promo [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked]
Trey Chambers
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Houston
Texas
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Q is probably Star Trek's most interesting villain, outside of the two performances by the original Khan (and no, the modern Star Trek's Khan doesn't come close to measuring up).

He is all powerful, loves to toy with humanity, is incredibly callous at times, but shows flashes of empathy for Picard and crew. Excellent.
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20. Board Game: Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars [Average Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:15672]
Damian Smolko
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Seattle
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My villain would eat all the other villains on this page with ease and then even poop them out! And he is even gold like geekgold! What's not to love! or Hate?

King Ghidorah



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21. Board Game: Space Pirates [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:13218]
GodRob
United States
Gordonsville
Virginia
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While primarily used for killing vampires, a wooden stake to the heart is also highly effective against most other opponents.
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For me it's a tie because they are both villains in the same Sci-Fi story:

Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso!
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22. Board Game: Rats! [Average Rating:4.16 Overall Rank:16514]
Dave C.
United States
Maine
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The Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab from Angry Red Planet! It's no contest really.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052564/?ref_=nv_sr_1
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23. Board Game: Matrix [Average Rating:5.80 Unranked]
Adam Kazimierczak
United States
Falmouth
Maine
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Scoff at the sequels and ham handed philosophy all you want but Agent Smith was a great villain. You really get into his virtual head over the course of the trilogy and he's one of the few sci fi villains whose internal logic actually makes sense (without Saturday morning cartoon notions of evil and megalomania).

Hugo Weaving really hit one out of the park, so much so that I'm hard pressed to not see Elrond as Agent Smith with hair extensions and pointy ears.
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24. Board Game: Doctor Who [Average Rating:5.37 Unranked]
Kentaro Sugiyama
United States
Redondo Beach
California
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Dalek (Dr. Who)


A race of mutant cyborgs created by the evil scientist Davros, they were intended to be the next evolution of the Kaled race. However, removed of the ability to feel pity, compassion or remorse, with no emotion except hate, the Daleks view themselves as the supreme race of the universe. Their fanatical desire is for universal domination and extermination of all non-Dalek life.

As a single entity or an entire race, nothing sends a chill down my back like the highly distorted voice of a Dalek screaming: "EXTERMINATE!!!"

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25. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:9936]
Kentaro Sugiyama
United States
Redondo Beach
California
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Count Baltar (Battlestar Galactica)


Acting as a liaison between the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons, to set up a peace conference to end a thousand yahren war, Baltar lulls the humans into a false sense of security, and leads the Colonial Fleet into an ambush. As a treacherous being that would see his own race exterminated, Baltar is greedy, duplicitous, narcissistic, and two-faced; he will say anything and do anything to save his own life. All perfect ingredients for a perfect villain in the BSG 1970's universe.
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