While Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek franchise is more focused on tackling complex social issues through the prism of science fiction than it is about crafting some kind of gigantic space opera of good versus evil, it still has its fair share of deliciously excellent villains, who have left a lasting impact on the genre.
However, like all packs of exciting fireworks, there are always a couple of duds amongst the real jaw-droppers, and Star Trek is no exception. Sure, Khan is a legendary enemy of James Kirk, but what about the Son'a? Not so much.
In our list, we’re hoping to finally quantify the most insidious of enemies the Federation has faced, while also paying due to respect to the adversaries that barely make an impact. We’re sticking mainly to the original franchise entries, meaning no Kelvin Timeline or Discovery, simply because of the fact that there are just so many options to choose from in the original timelines that it would be a disservice to deviate.
As for our rankings, we’re treating the term “power” to not only mean physical, mental or otherwise, but also political and tactical. We’ll be dealing with not only single characters, but entire races, too. The Star Trek universe is vast, and we feel these are truly the best of the best (and the worst of the worst) - but sorry, no Tribbles. We love them, but we can’t risk them eating up the page.
With all that in mind, let’s prepare for warp speed and get started with The 15 Most Powerful (And 10 Weakest) Star Trek Villains, Officially Ranked! Engage!
The Holodeck is one of the most fascinating creations in the entire Star Trek franchise, and has captivated the imaginations of both fans and characters within the world of show (we’re looking at you, Barclay.)
With such a powerful technology, it only made sense for one of the programs to become self-aware.
It’s too bad that it had to be Professor James Moriarty, a simulation of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest foe. His sheer intelligence, cunning and penchant for less-than-good deeds easily earns him a place on our list, even if it’s at the bottom of the best.
While Star Trek V is considered to be one of the absolute worst movies in the entire series, Star Trek VI managed to repair the damage and create an excellent send-off for the original crew. A lot of that is thanks to just how great General Chang is.
This Klingon general is a bastion of power and composure. Well-versed in Shakespeare, Chang was part of a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks between the Federation and Klingon Empire after a critical Klingon moon was destroyed. A cunning warrior to the end, Chang nearly changed the entirety of Star Trek’s fictional history.
Shinzon was part of a failed Romulan plot to replace Captain Picard with a clone. The clone was grown, but the actual plan never carried through, leaving Shinzon to wallow away and decay at an accelerated rate.
Unfotunately for the Romulans, Shinzon had plans of his own. He harnessed a dangerous radiation, assassinated entire councils and nearly carried out his insane plot of murdering Picard to heal himself. So why isn’t he in the “most powerful” list? The answer is simple: for all his genius, he made sloppy mistakes and failed miserably. Couple that with his terminal illness, and he isn’t much of a threat.
What’s that you say? Why isn’t Khan at the top of the list? Yes, we can hear you screaming “Khan!” from here, but despite his grandeur, he’s far from the most powerful enemy the Federation has ever faced. Physically strong, immensely intelligent, and strategically sound, this genetically engineered human was nearly able to defeat Kirk and his Enterprise, and was easily the famous captain’s most bitter rival.
Perhaps the most endearing element of the character was his personality, coupled heavily with performance of Ricardo Montalban.
Khan has left a lasting impression on Star Trek and its fans, and is absolutely one of the most powerful villains for any number of reasons.
In one of the very few instances of the human race being belligerent and warlike, the Maquis were human extremists living on the border of the Demilitarized Zone.
Seeminlgy abandoned by the Federation, Starfleet in particular, they waged a war against the Cardassians after their territory was ceded to the group after the signing of hostility-ending treaties. While they were able to cause some serious damage, all in the name of a noble cause, they were promptly defeated by the Dominion, and could have easily been eliminated by Starfleet had they chosen to do so.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is divisive among fans and casual moviegoers. Clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek’s first movie focused more on trippy visuals than a coherent plot.
It’s main “villain,” though, is another story. V’Ger was a unfathomably gigantic entity that threatened entire galaxies as it took out biological lifeforms. At one point, it was the Voyager space probe, but it evolved and grew into its titanic form after making contact with a planet of living machines. The only thing that was able to stop it was Will Decker fusing with it. If that hadn’t have happened, it’s likely nothing could have stopped this confused fiend.
When the Dominion made its might known with the Jem’Hadar during one of the most surprising moments in Deep Space Nine, it left fans with a pit in their stomach. These brutal, genetically-engineered, perpetually-substance-addicted warriors were comparable (if not superior) to even the Klingons, and their weaponry and ships were a scary and dangerous threat.
They did not sleep, they did not eat, and they could not be stunned, had superior strength and vision, and even the ability to use a cloaking field. They also made short work of a Galaxy-class ship like it was absolutely nothing. These menacing warriors are rightfully feared for their power throughout the Quadrants.
Although a laughable sentiment now, Gene Roddenberry had actually intended for the Ferengi to be major villains within Star Trek: The Next Generation. Why he thought that hilarious, profit-hungry, quirky aliens with ear fetishes would be imposing villains is something we may never know, but at least they found their place in the franchise.
In terms of their villainy, however, they really just don’t make the cut.
Sure, they’re intelligent, very cunning, and even dangerous, but… come on, they’re just too wimpy and non-threatening to be anything other than comedy characters, and that’s fine with us.
The Mirror Universe is a concept that first debuted in the original Star Trek, but the concept has nearly overstayed its welcome (not unlike time travel), as it continually appears throughout multiple series, including Discovery. That said, the Mirror Universe is an extremely dangerous and powerful threat.
Unlike the Prime Universe, the mirror version is home to the dreaded Terran Empire, an extremely militant Earth-borne organization that has conquered much of their dimension. Then there’s the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, which simply typing out sends a collective chill down our spines. This violent and war-like realm is extremely insidious and powerful, which cements their spot in the rankings.
Star Trek: Generations wasn’t a bad movie, but it also wasn’t particularly great. While the curious plot regarding the blissful realm of the Nexus was most intriguing, Dr. Soran, the chief antagonist of the film, wasn’t.
A member of Guinan’s race, he was certainly intelligent and self-centered, which gave him great aspects for an impressive villain, but he really didn’t pose much of a threat, and his intelligence was underwhelming when compared to villains like Khan. Soran is a weak, forgettable adversary, but the other villains in this movie are much worse.
The mysterious Breen were an extremely powerful and reclusive race that allied themselves with the Dominion. Not much about the Breen is known, but they were sure to make a name for themselves when it came to the Dominion War.
In the past, they were able to easily repel the Klingons, and were fond of raiding their Alpha Quadrant neighbors. Encased in a refridgeration suit and incredibly resistant to attacks, the Breen also had incredible fleets armed with devastating weaponry, making short work of those who fought against the encroaching Dominion.
The Klingon Empire may have become a powerful ally to the Federation, but they were dreaded enemies for many years prior, and with good reason. A fearless, war-like race, Klingons thirst for blood and battle.
Their physical prowess is extremely impressive, and their close-quarters-combat abilities are second to none.
Their ships are also extremely dangerous, designed for nothing other than combat and equipped with powerful cloaking devices. The trait that makes them the most dangerous, however, is their nearly unstoppable spirit. They will fight until they perish - and that’s something that’s difficult to beat.
Okay, so the fight between Captain Picard and the Gorn is absolutely legendary for its cheese. Even beyond the Star Trek fandom, people are aware of William Shatner doing battle with a goofy-looking green-skinned reptile man.
Despite its historical (and hilarious) significance, the Gorn were pretty pathetic villains. Yeah, they ravaged some Federation bases, and they are rather tough in terms of raw strength, but in the end, they were never that big a threat. Despite their physical power, they lacked the intelligence, organization, and technology to become a legitimate group of villains.
A truly despicable and evil character, Dukat was easily one of the greatest and most powerful threats that Starfleet and the Federation at large ever faced. Insidious to the bitter core, Dukat was known for his sharp tongue, cruelty and dangerous cunning.
While his deeds against the Bajoran people were beyond vile, it was his alliance with the Dominion that fully proved just how far he’ll go for victory. To make matters worse, he would eventually lose his mind and create a covenant with the Pah-wraiths, which are essentially the devils of the Bajoran people. Immensely dangerous and powerful in nearly every category, it’s only fitting that Gul Dukat rests comfortably in this list.
Easily one of the worst, and possibly the absolute most pointless Star Trek movies, Insurrection gave us a plot that was barely good enough to be a Season 1 episode of The Next Generation, which is really saying something. It should come as no surprise, then, that the movie's villains, the Son’a, are, at best, painfully mediocre and, at worst, excruciatingly subpar.
Their main goal was to use the Ba’ku homeworld’s strange radiation to prolong their lives, but they’re so helplessly lame that you’d be hard-pressed to feel jeopardy at any point during the movie.
Sure, their tech is impressive, but these are people who are, at their core, lazy narcissists.
Yes, the Klingons were dangerous foes to the Federation, but compared to the Romulans, they were practically nothing. A distant descendent of the Vulcans, this proud, xenophobic, and technologically advanced race found themselves on a conquering spree, and stirred up a lot of bad blood with the Klingons and many others.
To top it off, they’re armed with extremely powerful warships and some of the most advanced cloaking technology in existence, making the Romulan fleets dreaded adversaries. In terms of political might, military strength, and general intelligence, the Romulans are a mighty threat to one and all.
The Doomsday Machine, also known as “the planet killer” was a device of unknown origins that operated autonomously. It would soar through space and destroy entire worlds while it travelled by decimating them with a beam and then consuming the debris for fuel.
It was also extremely resilient to Starfleet weaponry, making it even more of a threat. The only thing that actually worked on this monstrous machine was the detonation of the USS Constellation within its belly, and even that didn’t do much but disable it. Its remains now float adrift in space - at least for the time being.
We already talked about Dr. Soran and his mediocrity in Star Trek: Generations, but the other major villains in the movie were the renegade Duras Sisters. Alas, they were even more bumbling than the good doctor.
While the House of Duras was prominent on Qo’noS, and managed to cause recurring trouble in multiple series, their outing in Generations was nothing short of pathetic. With a junkyard-ready Bird of Prey and the help of a disinterested Dr. Soran, they did nearly manage to defeat the Enterprise, but a single torpedo ended their streak in an instant.
“We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.” A hive-mind of bio-mechanical entities, the Borg have a singular goal: assimilate all life into their collective. Because of the countless races that have unwillingly joined them in their perpetual campaign of conquest, the Borg are resilient to an enormous amount of weapons and tactics, even becoming fully immune after a momentary adjustment.
Their ships are also extremely powerful, with a single Borg Cube being able to take on entire Starfleet legions at Earth’s very doorstep.
Without question, the Borg are some of the most powerful villains to ever exist in Star Trek.
As mentioned previously, Star Trek V was a bit of a disappointment - and d by “a bit” we mean a heck of a lot, especially considering it followed the beloved Star Trek IV. Within the movie, an entity purporting to be God Himself made his presence known, though it obviously wasn’t the actual God, but rather an incorporeal entity.
Appearing as an old, bearded man to the crew of the Enterprise, or the mythic Sha Ka Ree to Sybok, this being had no real power at all, minus some eye lasers and parlor tricks. In fact, “God” was more-or-less defeated by Kirk asking a simple question: “What does God need with a starship?”
While the Borg are overwhelmingly scary and devastatingly powerful, even they seem like they’d be no match for the Dominion. Hailing from the Gamma Quadrant, this collection of races is ruled under the iron grip of the Founders, who are always looking to expand their reach.
With a military of genetically-engineered soldiers, incredibly formidable warships and a worrying level of tactical genius, the Dominion is capable of outlasting and outfighting just about any force the Quadrants have to offer, and that includes the Borg. The most powerful element of the already impressive Dominion, however, is their leadership, which we’ll be getting to next.
The Dominion’s position as the premier military force is all thanks to their leaders, the Founders. As changelings, they were able to easily infiltrate countless races and worlds, create strife, and then swoop in and take control. Their tactical genius is unparalleled, and they were able to turn their entire Quadrant into their slaves.
Their armies and emissaries are directly under their control due to genetic manipulation, and they’re viewed as gods. They can’t even be assimilated by the Borg. The Founders nearly single-handedly caused the collapse of Starlet, the Klingons, the Federation, and even the entire Quadrant, making them the single most powerful race in the franchise.
This big, dumb, tar-covered oil-monster thing is like the bottom of the barrel of monster designs from not even Power Rangers, but Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills. Looking like a garbage bag, Armus is apparently the scientific result of a race removing all of the evil within themselves. We're not sure how that would work, but okay.
To its credit, Armus did manage to eliminate Tasha Yar, and it seemed evil enough to try to enjoy torturing helpless victims, but in the end, it was one of the most utterly powerless forces that the Enterprise ever faced.
To literally be made of pure evil and still be lame is an unforgivable faux pas.
The Founders might be the most powerful race in all of Star Trek, but even they are nothing when compared to the Q Continuum. More or less gods that are capable of seemingly anything and everything, their most mischievous member, known as Q, takes particular joy in terrorizing Captain Picard and the Enterprise.
From harmless antics like summoning Mariachi bands to apocalyptic behavior like attempting to erase the cosmos as we know it, Q is unhinged and fully capable of every threat he makes due to his unlimited power. Despite this, we hope he learned his lesson after Sisko punched him square in the face, but we won’t count on it.
So what could be weaker than a god that needs a starship or a being made out of pure evil that looks like a trash bag? Easy: those weird parasite things that showed up for one episode of TNG and then disappeared forever. If we’re being honest, these parasitic beings could be up for consideration as some of Star Trek’s most powerful villains.
They were able to infiltrate the Federation and threatened to destroy it from the inside out, just like the Founders. So why are they the weakest of the weak? Simple: their entire plotline was completely erased from existence. You can’t be powerful if you don’t exist.
Which Star Trek villain do you think is the most powerful? Let us know in the comments!