As Star Wars fans, we’re rooting for our heroes to save the day – but most of us would admit to getting a kick out of seeing the saga’s many memorable evildoers doing their thing, too. And why not? Everyone’s favorite galaxy far, far away is home to some of the coolest baddies ever, with the power at their fingertips to make entire planets tremble.
The source of their potency varies – perhaps they’re imbued with the mystical energies of the Force, or maybe they’re just a preternaturally gifted warrior – but the end result is the same: they’re able to eliminate anyone who stands in their way. At the same time, not every antagonist in the Star Wars universe possesses this kind of raw might. On the contrary, quite a few of them are woefully underpowered, and unlikely to cause any headaches for the forces of good. True, some villains compensate for their feeble nature by calling upon their formidable intellect, political capital, or legions of loyal troopers, but in terms of innate strength, these chessmasters are laughably outclassed by their heroic opponents and nefarious peers alike.
Which of the saga’s malevolent figures rate as genuine heavy hitters, and which are so pathetic they ought to quit while they still can? Well, we’ve carefully reviewed all of the movies and TV shows Disney/Lucasfilm still considers canon – sorry, fans of the Expanded Universe and Legends material – and based on what we saw, graded all the major players.
With the hard work done, we now present for your consideration our picks for the 10 Strongest Star Wars Villains (And 10 Who Are Hilariously Weak).
For a lot of fans, Boba Fett will always remain the ultimate Star Wars bounty hunter. The thing is, Boba never really does anything that impressive on screen. Sure, he tracks the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City, but otherwise, he’s comprehensively outmatched by Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi – and his apparent demise shortly after is downright embarrassing.
On the other hand, Boba’s old man Jango makes the most of his comparatively limited screen time. Over the course of Attack of the Clones alone, he squares off with Obi-Wan Kenobi in an epic brawl, takes down a Jedi Master single-handedly, and goes out in a blaze of glory against Mace Windu himself! Not bad for a regular guy-- albeit a regular guy armed to the teeth and decked out in the coolest armor in the galaxy.
General Grievous was supposed to be a big deal – tie-in media released ahead of Revenge of the Sith billed him as one of the greatest threats the galaxy had ever seen. By the time the film finally arrived in cinemas, Star Wars creator George Lucas had decided to dramatically re-imagine the cyborg baddie’s characterization-- and not for the better. Instead of the unstoppable Jedi-hunter we were promised, instead we got a snivelling, asthmatic coward more prone to running from a fight than leaping into the fray. Grievous does deserve some kudos for his four-armed lightsaber fighting technique, which manages to straddle the line between awesome and ridiculous.
At the end of the day, his bark is worse than his bite.
That's probably why Obi-Wan made such short work of him during their final showdown!
When it comes to credentials, the Grand Inquisitor who plagues our heroes early on in Star Wars Rebels certainly had a strong resume. Boasting both a personal endorsement from Emperor Palpatine – arguably the ultimate baddie of the entire saga – and trained by none other than Darth Vader, the Inquisitor was one bad dude.
Admittedly, the Rule of Two prevented either Palpatine or Vader from ever officially inducting the Inquisitor into the Sith Order. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t powerful enough to make the cut – as the many lives he claimed during the Jedi Purge can attest to. Much like his teacher, the Inquisitor also proved to be as deadly behind the controls of a starfighter as with a lightsaber in hand – further illustrating just how dangerous he truly was!
The Star Wars universe is littered with characters who have amassed a huge following based almost entirely around their striking aesthetic – and the Imperial Royal Guard number among them. First introduced in Return of the Jedi as the Emperor’s imposing bodyguards, these red-cloaked fanatics were also revered by fans for eschewing blasters in favor of their Force Pike melee weapons.
The Imperial Guard didn’t see any action during their debut outing.
Their legend would only grew over the two decades that elapsed before they finally showed their stuff. This gave rise to some fairly unrealistic expectations of what these guys were actually capable of – expectations that were shattered when Master Yoda casually swatted a pair of them aside in Revenge of the Sith!
Another non-Force sensitive baddie who punched far above his weight, Cad Bane inherited the reputation of best bounty hunter in the galaxy from Jango Fett – and boy, did he deserve it. This alien gunslinger was skilled enough to track down virtually any quarry, even Jedi!
Over the course of his career during the Clone Wars, Bane pulled off some seemingly impossible jobs, including successfully infiltrating both the Jedi Temple and the Senate. What’s more, he held his own in close quarters combat with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Quinlan Vos, and even the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. Through it all, he relied on nothing more than his twin blasters, his bag of tricks and – most importantly – his nerves of steel.
We don’t envy anyone forced to go up against Jedi Knights during the heyday of the Jedi Order. Forget winning: simply surviving against these supernaturally-talented foes is a huge achievement. Even so, the battle droids that comprised the bulk of the Separatist armies performed particularly poorly during the Clone Wars.
Over the course of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, these supposedly fearsome robots served as little more than lightsaber fodder.
In fairness, the battle droids – especially the upgraded, super battle droid models – fared somewhat better against the clone troopers under Jedi command. Even then, the clones were clearly a superior fighting outfit, in part because they didn’t share the droids’ bizarre penchant for slapstick comedy!
Asajj Ventress won’t be a familiar face to more casual Star Wars fans, but those who watched the Clone Wars TV series will know just how much of a danger she represented. Like the Grand Inquisitor, Ventress was never a card-carrying member of the Sith Order – she’s technically only a dark side acolyte, in charge of carrying out Count Dooku’s bidding.
This shouldn’t be taken as sign that Ventress wasn’t able to cut the mustard. On the contrary: the mere fact that she was trusted to handle Dooku’s dirty work is proof positive of just how powerful she was. Able to wield her dual lightsabers with lethal grace – she traded blows with both Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on multiple occasions – and notably proficient at Force-enhanced acrobatics, Ventress wasn’t an enemy to underestimate.
Continuing the recurring theme of “Star Wars villains who look cool but are underwhelming,” Captain Phasma represents maybe the biggest letdown of the entire sequel trilogy. It’s not just that fans were suckered in by the high-ranking First Order commander’s slick chromium armor, either. The casting of Game of Thrones’ star Gwendoline Christie in the role certainly suggested Phasma was destined to leave her mark on a galaxy far, far away.
It turns out not even an arresting design or a celebrated actress could elevate this ineffective villain into the saga’s big leagues.
Phasma’s real problem is that she’s got no ticker. She’s easily dealt with by Finn in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – and in the former, she doesn’t even have the conviction to refuse to cooperate when her life is threatened!
Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but the duel between Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Sith Lord Darth Maul remains one of Star Wars’ greatest lightsaber fights. Due to this unevenly matched contest, Maul built a name for himself as one of the best fighters in the Star Wars universe.
As fans who’ve seen Solo or who are fully caught up on Clone Wars and Rebels will already know, this one-time Sith apprentice survived his seemingly fatal bisection at the hands of Kenobi. What’s even more amazing is that his connection to the dark side of the Force remained largely intact even after the loss of his legs, a reminder that his true power extended beyond flashy swordsmanship.
Poor Greedo is a classic case of someone’s opinion of their own abilities far exceeding the reality of the matter. How else can you explain the Rodian bounty hunter’s failure to gun down Han Solo when he had the smuggle at point blank in the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope?
Seriously, dude: less gloating, more shooting.
Of course, it has to be said that in the original cut of A New Hope, Greedo was at least caught off guard when Han fried him with a sneaky shot from his concealed blaster. But as part of a raft of subsequent changes made by series creator George Lucas, Greedo now fired before Solo. This means he was so incompetent, he couldn’t even hit his intended victim at point-blank range!
Count Dooku cut a markedly less impressive figure than more visually spectacular Sith Lords like Darth Maul or Darth Vader – but what he lacked in style, he made up for with sheer power. Once a renowned Jedi Master, Dooku’s already above-average Force abilities were greatly magnified under the tutelage of Darth Sidious.
His most infamous powers are his life-draining Force Lightning, but his nearly-unrivalled skills as a lightsaber duellist that landed Dooku his place on this list. The way we see it, if you cross laser swords with Master Yoda – after first dispatching Obi-Wan and Anakin, no less – and live to tell the tale, you’re clearly not someone to be messed with!
According to conventional wisdom, Zam Wesell should have been a natural when it came to bounty hunting. After all, as a shapeshifter, she could blend in with her surroundings and avoid detection.
Despite her physiological advantages and undeniable marksmanship skills, Zam just wasn’t that great out in the field.
Take her last ever (failed) bounty, which we witness in Attack of the Clones, for example. Not only is her assassination attempt on Senator Amidala foiled by Obi-Wan and Anakin, but the Jedi duo are then able to chase her down and literally disarm her. There are several situations – most glaringly, in the crowded confines of a gambling den – where Zam should have had the upper hand, and she simply fails.
Following his shock exit halfway through The Last Jedi, many Star Wars fans have called into question just how strong Supreme Leader Snoke’s Dark Side powers really were. Now, don’t get us wrong: like nearly every baddie on this list, Snoke was a wildly arrogant person. His erroneous assumption that he could accurately gauge Kylo Ren’s true intentions led directly to his downfall.
Yet unlike the likes of Greedo, we’d argue that Snoke’s monumental ego genuinely reflected his overall power levels. For one thing, Kylo Ren – no slouch in the strength department himself, as we’ll get to later – was subservient to him, and only overthrew him through subterfuge. Then there was the phenomenal aptitude for telekinesis and Force Lightning he showed in his throne room – all executed with nothing more than the slightest gesture.
The nefarious counterpart of plucky droid BB-8, BB-9E comes across as practically defective by comparison. Despite his higher numerical designation, BB-9E is totally outshone by his supposedly inferior opposite number – leaving us to wonder which of the pair is really running on last gen software.
The only thing this overrated astromech achieves during his admittedly brief screentime in The Last Jedi is blowing Finn and Rose’s cover.
Compare this to BB-8’s antics at around the same time – commandeering an AT-ST walker to wipe out a squad of stormtroopers – and it’s obvious which is the better model of droid. There’s still one more episode yet to come in the sequel trilogy, so there’s a chance that BB-9E could get his act together, but we highly doubt it.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: yes, Kylo Ren has suffered some less-than-dignified losses in the Star Wars sequel trilogy to date, but at least one of these -- his fight with Rey after being shot by Chewbacca on Starkiller Base -- comes with extenuating circumstances.
With that settled, let’s focus on Ren’s accomplishments, rather than his missteps. He’s a promising lightsaber duellist, he’s capable of some breathtaking Force-based feats – like holding blaster bolts in stasis – and he’s a bonafide flying ace. What’s more, Luke Skywalker is in awe of Ren’s raw strength, so the kid’s clearly got it.
General Hux continues the dubious Star Wars tradition of officer class baddies tossed around by their Force-wielding superiors. Not that it started out that way – in The Force Awakens, Hux is clearly on equal footing with Kylo Ren in the First Order hierarchy, and Supreme Leader Snoke refrains from outright humiliating him. Things all start to go pear-shaped for the good General in The Last Jedi, where he’s used as a punching bag by either Snoke or Ren on several occasions.
It’s almost unfair to take Hux to task for letting himself be treated like a doormat, as very few people in the galaxy could stand up to such a powerful pair.
All the same, his utter lack of dignity every time he’s walloped betrays an absence of strength, not to mention character!
Darth Vader never fully lived up to his potential. The Chosen One of Jedi prophecy, Anakin Skywalker was only coming into his own when he was maimed by Obi-Wan, forever diminishing his power. Luckily for Vader, if not for the galaxy he terrorized, his latent Force sensitivity was so strong, he was still the second deadliest guy on the block during the original Star Wars trilogy’s timeframe.
Don’t take our word for it, either: there are a multitude of instances in films and TV shows where this Sith Lord unleashed some devastating displays of his dark side might. Whether he was effortlessly toying with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back or ruthlessly dismantling an entire squad of Rebel troops in Rogue One, Darth Vader was the epitome of strength.
Jabba the Hutt was one of the most notorious crime bosses in the galaxy, but being a powerful underworld figure doesn’t always translate into individual strength. Some gangsters carry out their own hits, while others have no choice but to hire others to bump people off for them. Jabba categorically belongs in the latter column.
The overgrown slug was pretty much helpless in a physical confrontation.
Jabba found this out the hard way in Return of the Jedi, when he was unfortunate enough to end up cornered by Princess Leia. Newly liberated from captivity as one of Jabba’s slave girls, Leia was justifiably furious with her one-time jailer, and promptly throttled the odious worm, who barely put up a fight!
Emperor Palpatine – otherwise known as the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious – preferred to rely on his considerable wits to achieve his ends. It makes sense: t he wicked old codger used brainpower to install himself as head of the Empire and mastermind the destruction of the Jedi Order. However, when the situation called for it, Palpatine had zero qualms about rolling up his sleeves and throwing down with do-gooders who resisted him.
One of the most formidable dark side users in the history of the Star Wars universe, Palpatine once wiped out several Jedi Masters single-handedly at the same time, and even battled Master Yoda to a standstill. Most tellingly of all, Darth Vader – the very icon of evil in the galaxy – was afraid of the guy, which gives you an idea of just how strong he was.
The Star Wars prequels introduced numerous irritating new characters (Jar Jar Binks, we’re looking at you), and Nute Gunray surely ranks among the most reviled. The Viceroy of the Trade Federation, Gunray is gutlessness personified – a smarmy bully one moment, a cringing coward the next. Owing to this less than stellar personality – plus his questionable, racist accent – fans were eager to see Gunray whacked early on. Unfortunately, we had to wait until Revenge of the Sith for this cathartic moment to arrive, but when it did, Nute’s fate was never in doubt.
As you’d expect, Gunray – along with the rest of the Separatist top brass, for that matter – is flat-out useless in a scrap.
This left him with no choice but to beg the newly-christened Darth Vader for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears!
Who do you think is the strongest Star Wars villain? Let us know in the comments!