It’s no secret that the world loves Star Wars. The franchise has been around for over 40 years and while it has had a blip or two, it shows no sign of stopping. Since the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, the once Far Far Away Galaxy has come closer and closer. New movies, toys, comics, and other paraphernalia come out quicker than children and collectors can grab them. Its popularity has reached heights that it has never reached. Star Wars has a fan base that extends multiple generations.
The one underlying theme in Star Wars, and what has made it so successful is its constant need to pit Good against Evil. Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul, Ahsoka Tano vs Barriss Offee. And it’s the evil that this list is interested in. In the world of Star Wars villains, who are the vilest, most sinister, and most evil beings to ever exist? Here are the 10 most evil Star Wars villains that stand out from the rest.
1. Darth Nihilus
A little different than other Sith Lords, Darth Nihilus does not kill for power. Darth Nihilus must kill to constantly satisfy his hunger for Force Energy. That is, to stay alive, Darth Nihilus must constantly absorb the Force Energy of those around him. Due to his hunger, Darth Nihilus became one of the most feared Sith Lords in history.
As Nihilus made his way through the galaxy continuously feeding, he began to realize that his constant need to feed had caused his body to begin decaying. So as to stop his physical form from dying, he removed his spirit from his body and placed it inside his armor. This change turned the already dangerous Nihilus into a being that resembled a ghost more than he did a man.
Aside from having one of the most fear-striking looks in Star Wars, his control of the Force rivals anyone on this list. Worse yet, because he did not kill for power, but rather for survival, he is extremely dangerous. Evil for different reasons than the rest makes no difference. Darth Nihilus deserves to be mentioned as one of the evilest Star Wars villains around.
2. Grand Inquisitor
Pau’an was once a Jedi Knight who left his teachings to become one of the most feared Jedi Hunters in the galaxy. During the bombing of the Jedi Temple that saw the persecution of Ahsoka Tano, it was he who actually gave aid to the true offender, Barriss Offee. The bombing rattled everything the Jedi stood for to the core and Jedi all over, including Pau’an, began questioning the things they stood for.
After his fall or rise to the Dark Side, depending on which side you choose, Pau’an found himself under the command of Darth Vader. Due to his personal knowledge of the Temple, Pua’an was of great use to the Sith Lord. From the records that the temple held, he immediately began devouring as much information on his new enemies as he could. He then used this information to track down Jedi one by one and destroy them.
His most famous victim was Luminara Unduli. After the issue of Order 66, Unduli was captured and held in the Spire. Shortly after her arrival, she was killed and her corpse was used as a way to lure surviving Jedi into attempted rescues.
3. Darth Vader
Not too much needs to be said. Darth Vader is one of the most supremely evil Star Wars villains to have ever lived. A child prodigy that was deemed too old to train, was trained anyways. Said child prodigy excelled in all areas of what it is to be a Jedi, save for an unwillingness to let go of the connections they have to others.
As the child matures, he falls hopelessly in love with a Senator of the Republic. For the next many years, he fights alongside the Jedi, slowly becoming disillusioned with their ways. Many things contribute to this, none of which are more important than the left of his Padawan, Ahsoka, the loss of his mother, Shmi, and the fear that he may lose his wife, Padmè.
Sensing an opportunity, Chancellor Palpatine, also the unknown Sith Lord Sidious, convinces him to give up his Jedi ways and come to the Dark Side. From this point forward, the now titled, Darth Vader goes on to become the most ruthless Sith in the galaxy.
4. Emperor Palpatine
The personification of patience, Palpatine is the Sith Lord who took control of the Senate, turned half the galaxy against the Jedi and Republic, and ruled it with an Iron Fist. Sheev Palpatine was trained under the watchful eye of Darth Plagueis. Through the manipulation of Plagueis, Palpatine successfully planned and killed his father. Once his father was dead, Palpatine pledged his service to Darth Plagueis and took the name Darth Sidious.
While under the tutelage of Plagueis, Palpatine rose to political prominence as the Naboo Ambassador, trained his own apprentice, Darth Maul, and learned how to hide his true identity from those around him. Eventually, Palpatine was elected as Supreme Chancellor and this election culminated in his ascension to Emperor of the Galaxy.
Of all the Sith Lords before and after, none are more treacherous, dangerous, and evil than Darth Sidious. Not only should he be on this list of evil Star Wars villains, he practically created the need for it.
5. Grand Admiral Thrawn
Thrawn was a male Chiss who served in the naval services of the Empire. Due to his expertise in strategy, Thrawn rose the ranks within the Empire. Despite being a species that could not rise to power within it, he became Grand Admiral. Sidious said this of him, “This one is constantly thinking, analyzing, strategizing. He showed no fear, but was curious, studying me in turn.”
His career began as a simple officer in the Chiss Defense Corps where he quickly showed his willingness to complete his missions with no consideration for life. He first met Sidious after destroying half of his private force. At its conclusion, the two agreed that they were not at war with one another but rather had a common enemy in a group of Far Outsides. The two sealed their agreement and Thrawn set out to and successfully took down the Jedi-carrying ship, Outbound Flight.
Originally created outside the mainstream Star Wars Universe, Thrawn grew such a fan following that he became a part of cannon and continues to thrive there today. Thrawn is both ruthless and tactile. While many others simply jump into battle and hope for the best, Thrawn analyzes his enemies and attacks in ways that quickly bring them to their knees. It is his willingness to use his brain that makes him such a villainous character.
6. Count Dooku
Like many before him, the once Jedi Master Dooku became disillusioned with the corruption in the Senate. His growing disillusionment forced him to leave the Jedi. Shortly after leaving he was taken in by Darth Sidious, promised power, and trained as a Sith Lord. Now called Darth Tyranus, Dooku led the droid armies during the Clone Wars. In essence, he became the figurehead of the Separatist movement. At his master’s side, the two plotted to overthrow the Republic and Jedi and see the Sith rise to power once again.
Dooku was heavily involved with both the cloning process that gave the Republic its army and the chips placed inside the clones. These chips, when given the command, enacted the dreaded Order 66. Order 66, of course, was the order given to the clones by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to kill all Jedi. During his time under Sidious, Dooku, like many Sith Lords before him, plotted to overthrow his master. This led to the training of Asajj Ventress, Quinlan Voss, and Savage Opress. Dooku, along with his master, changed the course of the galaxy forever. If not for his work, Order 66 may never have happened.
7. Grand Moff Tarkin
Before the rise of the Empire, Wilhuff Tarkin served under Even Piell as Republic Captain. He was later taken prisoner by the Confederacy of Independent Systems but eventually rescued by a Jedi and their team. During the rescue, Piell was killed and Tarkin was promoted to Admiral.
After the Senate became the Empire, Tarkin was once again promoted and became the first Grand Moff. He was appointed to the newest weapon, the Death Star, and while in control, obliterated the planet Alderaan. He did this to showcase the power of the weapon and send fear through the galaxy.
A product of his upbringing, Tarkin believed that the strong and wise remained in power and were destined to control all of those beneath them. This thought drove him and through it, he rose through the ranks of the Empire and ultimately to the control of the Death Star.
Always at battle with the Jedi and Rebels, Grand Moff Tarkin is one of the most callous individuals in all of Star Wars. His desire to prove his power, all-the-while inciting fear into all those who opposed rivaled by very few. What makes Tarkin so special is that he is not a Sith and doesn’t need to be. His is truly one of the evilest Star Wars villains…period.
8. Darth Malak
A Jedi Knight who fought in the Mandalorian Wars, Darth Malak is both treacherous and evil by every accord imaginable. Malak, once named Alek, was trained as a Jedi by the Jedi Order. During the Mandalorian Wars, Alek, along with his best friend, Revan disobeyed the Jedi Order and gave aid to the Republic War effort. Now considered an outlaw by the Jedi Council he took on the name Malak, so as to avoid capture.
Malak eventually rose to General while gaining a reputation as a brave warrior. The two, Malak and Revan ultimately won the War and at its conclusion followed the surviving Mandalorians into a nearby cave. Inside the cave, the two encountered a Sith Lord who ultimately turned them to the Dark Side.
Malak was once a Jedi with an unrivaled sense of justice. Unfortunately, his sense of justice allowed him to pass the gap between light and dark or good and evil. Considered one of the best duellists of his time, Malak was extremely powerful in the Force. In fact, on more than one occasion, he utilized Force Choke in two beings at once. Most impressively, through his understanding of the Force, he also had the ability to increase his own abilities and limit the abilities of his enemies.
9. Darth Maul
Born to Mother Talzin of the Nightsisters, groomed by Darth Sidious, and having lived in exile for the better part of a decade, Darth Maul has been through more in his life than many go through in multiple lives.
At a young age, Darth Maul was taken by Darth Sidious and trained as a Sith. Sidious was able to take Maul from the Nightsisters because of an unkept promise he made to Mother Talzin. He promised her that the two would rule the galaxy together but he needed to train her son. This, of course, did not happen and eventually, she fell to his armies. Under Sidious, Maul’s contempt for the Jedi grew.
During a brief stopover in Tatooine that saw the recruitment of Anakin Skywalker to the Jedi, it was Darth Maul who revealed to the Jedi that the Sith still exist. The battle with the Jedi Knight, Qui-Gon Jinn was short-lived but Maul, through his quick and acrobatic style, showed that he was not to be taken lightly.
The two, along with Jinn’s apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, would fight one more time. This time, rather than having the Jedi escape, Maul struck down Jinn before being cut in half by Kenobi. As it turns out, Maul did not die but was forced to live in exile. While living in exile, he was able to dwell on his defeats. This, more than his hate, heightened his disdain for the Jedi.
Not only is Darth Maul one of the most recognizable figures in Star Wars, but he is also one of the most popular. His exciting fighting style is difficult to defend and his use of a double-ended lightsaber is equally challenging.
For these reasons and more, Darth Maul deserves to be on this Star Wars villain list.
Born long before the Battle of Yavin, the once-named Tenebrae carved out his reputation through the massacre of thousands of innocents. His lust for power grew so strong that he put his own mother and father through torment and torture. Seeing his power, the Sith Lord Marka Ragnos gave him the name Lord Vitiate.
As he aged he grew tired of the power struggles within the Sith and distanced himself from them. In fact, at the conclusion of the Naga Shadow’s defeat, he coerced the remaining Lords into coming to him. One by one, as they arrived he drained both their life force and the life force of the surrounding planet.
With so many Sith gone, he dropped the name Lord Vitiate and led the remaining Sith in a galaxy-wide takeover. Not satisfied with the ways of the Sith, Vitiate transferred his life force into the body of a Zakuulan Warrior and created the Eternal Empire.
Vitiate longed for nothing more than he did immortality. To do this, he constantly drained the life force of Jedi, Sith, and every other being. This led to the Mandalorian Wars, of which his eventual students, Revan and Malak surfaced.
Vitiate’s reputation was built on his lust to live forever and his desire to achieve it by any means necessary. For these reasons and more, he deserves a spot on this list of evil Star Wars villains.