The best villains in science fiction and fantasy history have done as much to make science fiction popular as the heroes have. In fact, the best villains usually overshadow the good guys, even though the villains still have to lose. The elite science fiction and fantasy villains are frequently impersonated, have a wardrobe that many sci-fi fans dress in, and have put their films among the genre’s greatest movies and shows. These top 10 science fiction and fantasy villains of all time may not be fun to hang out with, per se, but the genre would be far worse – if not far safer – without them.
Agent Smith: The Matrix trilogy
Countless movies copied The Matrix bullet time techniques and action scenes after the original came out. But Agent Smith barely needed all of that to creep out humans and machines alike. Agent Smith just needed Hugo Weaving’s sinister slow voice, and an almost human-like hatred for his enemies, to get into science-fiction lore. And by the end, Agent Smith was a villain that was more emotional and alive than Keanu Reeves’ Neo – although that wasn’t too hard to do.
Ben Linus: Lost
How much of a following does Ben Linus have on Lost? He committed genocide, let his daughter die in front of him, killed island rival John Locke, nearly killed all the other survivors, possibly doomed the island by killing Jacob – and many still argue that Ben is the good guy. And if Michael Emerson didn’t first wow the Lost powers as Henry Gale three years ago, that not only wouldn’t have happened – but Lost itself might have died off if it did.
Darth Vader: The Star Wars saga
No matter how much backlash Star Wars has, it is still one of the most beloved, historic science fiction and fantasy franchises ever created. Even though it is all about a villain – if one counts the prequels. Darth Vader did all that by becoming one of the most feared villains of all time – in science fiction or otherwise – and then becoming a tragic fallen hero. Leaving aside the occasional tragedy of how his origins were told.
Dolores Umbridge: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Voldemort gets all of the evil press and terrifying nicknames. But Voldemort is an outside threat – Dolores Umbridge, on the other hand, brought more terror and tyranny inside Hogwarts than Voldemort ever could. Instead of doing it with Death Eaters and murder, Umbridge’s iron fist came with a smile, a pink ensemble, Ministry of Magic backing, and special torturous detentions.
Emperor Palpatine: The Star Wars saga
Darth Vader may have been morphed into a fallen hero, but there is nothing heroic about the man who created him. If Vadar was the brawn of the Empire, Emperor Palpatine was the brains, as his brilliant plans and chess games worked perfectly throughout two trilogies, until the final minutes. Palpatine was that rare politician who had damaging secrets and plans for evil – yet actual kept it a secret until it was too late. Nothing in any galaxy is more evil than that.
The Fly/Seth Brundle: The Fly
The original Fly was famous for his “Help me, help me” squeak. But in David Cronenberg’s remake, one had to be very afraid of Seth Brundle/Brundlefly. Cronenberg and Jeff Goldblum’s fly was a monster, a tragic romantic lead, a metaphor for disease – and someone who you don’t want to see eating a donut.
Gollum: The Lord of the Rings trilogy
When Gollum was introduced to the Lord of the Rings book series, he became one of the iconic figures of Frodo’s journey. When he was put into movie form, Gollum became one of the most revolutionary technical achievements in recent movie history. CGI characters didn’t have to be comic jokes, but fully formed, schizophrenic creatures with a very ugly side. Even more than Frodo, Sam and Gandalf, the fall of Smeagol and the rise of the despicable Gollum decided the fate of all in Middle Earth.
HAL: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Science fiction villains tend to be machines, especially in parables about how technology is taking over Earth and space. The most famous parable of all was the HAL 9000 super computer, who dispatched with the much less memorable human heroes of 2001 for the sake of the mission. HAL’s clinical evil and much imitated voice have been a standard of sci-fi villains ever since.
Roy Batty: Blade Runner
Another evil machine was evil just because he wanted to keep on living. Replicant Roy Batty went on a journey to extend his life and find out the truth about it – and the things he saw along the way. Aside from Blade Runner’s famed special effects, it is Roy’s dying words that fans remember most – at least much more than supposed hero/possible replicant Harrison Ford.
T-1000: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
When sequels try to top the original with bigger and better effects and villains, it usually fails pretty badly. A rare care of success was the T-1000, who had to live up to the immense shadow of Arnold’s original Terminator. With a few game-changing liquid metal effects and Robert Patrick’s lifeless stare, it was almost easy to forget the original Arnold 1.0 model.
Sci-Fi Brain- “Top 10 Sci-Fi Villains” blogs.ign.com/SCI-FI-BRAIN/2006/06/29/23252/