Scum & Villainy1 of 12
The now almost four-decade-long "Skywalker Saga" comes to an end this week with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Along with all the returning heroes, it's been hinted that Emperor Palpatine, the ultimate villain of the original Star Wars trilogy, will play a role in the film despite having seemingly died in Return of the Jedi.
Considering Palpatine's potential return and the arrival of a whole host of other villains in Rise of Skywalker, we're looking back at the greatest Star Wars villains of all time.
Stormtroopers2 of 12
The stormtroopers are kind of a faceless enemy en masse in much of the Star Wars universe, but collectively they are a fearsome force. One of their most famous acts was hunting down and killing all of the Jedi that they could during and after the Clone Wars. But because they were weak individually, it was possible to influence them. A New Hope (1977) shows the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi persuading a stormtrooper to look the other way when some sought-after droids come within view: “These aren't the droids you're looking for," Kenobi says.
The Last Jedi (2017) continued the adventures of Finn, a human who used to be stormtrooper FN-2187 (or Eight-Seven for short.) In The Force Awakens, Finn abandoned the First Order and joined the Resistance. At first, he was motivated by the urge to escape, and at one point he almost abandons his newly found Resistance friends. But by the end of The Last Jedi his position with the Resistance is solidified.
General Hux3 of 12
Gen. Armitage Hux was one of the main villains in The Force Awakens (2015), a role that continued into the next film of that series, The Last Jedi (2017).
Hux is a ruthless leader. He rallies the stormtroopers at one point in the film, talking about how Starkiller Base will kill the Republic. And, yes, he orders the troops to fire a laser from the base to start destroying a star. But he isn't afraid to admit fault, such as when BB-8, a droid with vital information Hux's allies need, successfully escapes a capture attempt.
In The Last Jedi Hux was often the butt of the joke - but that didn't stop him from aiding in the decimation of the Resistance fleet.
Count Dooku (a.k.a. Darth Tyrannus)4 of 12
The Sith Lord Count Dooku has a turbulent history. He used to be a Jedi. He was the padawan (apprentice) of the legendary Yoda. Dooku's apprentice was Qui-Gon Jinn, who was, in turn, the master of the well-known Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. But Dooku decided to voluntarily leave the light side of the Force, along with 19 other Jedi -- his impetus in part came from problems with the Galactic Senate, and also seeing the death of Qui-Gon Jinn.
In the prequel movies (1999-2005), some of Dooku's actions include badly wounding both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, capturing the son of Jabba the Hutt, and leading an attack on the planet Coruscant to try to destroy the Republic. (He fails and eventually dies.) Dooku also played a main role in the TV series The Clone Wars (2008).
Darth Maul5 of 12
Darth Maul was one of the main arms of justice for Emperor Palpatine (a.k.a. Darth Sidious). His back-story is well-covered in several parts of the Star Wars franchise, so we'll just pull out a few key facts.
In The Clone Wars (2008), Maul killed the residents of the planet Raydonia so that the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi would feel a disturbance in the Force and be lured over there, and he created the Shadow Collective, an underworld organization alliance. He also killed the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).
Grand Moff Tarkin6 of 12
Tarkin is an ice-cold villain who doesn't hesitate to literally blow up a world if he thinks it's necessary. It wasn't very far into A New Hope (1977) before he asked Princess Leia Organa for information, and then decided to blow up her planet Alderaan to demonstrate the power of The Death Star, a weapon that can destroy worlds. Ironically, Tarkin was destroyed by that same weapon when The Death Star blew up at the movie's end.
We were lucky enough to see Tarkin again in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), as visual effects re-created the deceased Peter Cushing with performance-capture help from actor Guy Henry. Tarkin orders that the Rebel base be destroyed, which ended up killing many of the main protagonists. But his efforts were in vain because the plans for the Death Star still made it into Rebel hands.
Supreme Leader Snoke7 of 12
Supreme Leader Snoke's first appearance in The Force Awakens (2015) left many questions about his origins - questions that remained following the movie's sequel, The Last Jedi (2017).
We know that Snoke founded (and still lead, until his death) the evil First Order, and he was the one in charge of Kylo Ren and Gen. Hux - until Kylo Ren unexpectedly slew him.
Still, in his short mysterious cinematic life, Snoke had a huge impact on the Galaxy and Star Wars continuity.
Boba Fett8 of 12
Boba Fett is a bounty hunter who just keeps popping up all over the place — he was seen in the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy and even the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Fett is a crafty villain who is careful with his captures; famously, he is among the people who convinced Darth Vader not to kill the Jedi ally Han Solo, since Fett had more use for Solo alive so he could collect bounty.
Fett's most infamous maneuver was capturing the allies of Luke Skywalker (including Solo, Princess Leia Organa, the Wookie Chewbacca and the droid C-3PO) when they thought they were in a friend's house. But he also did shady dealings during the Clone Wars and hung around with the disgusting Jabba the Hutt when Hutt made a (failed) attempt to kill Skywalker and Solo in a Sarlacc pit.
Kylo Ren (a.k.a. Ben Kenobi)9 of 12
Kylo Ren is one of the main bad guys in The Force Awakens (2015), and rose to a new level of villainy in The Last Jedi (2017). Some people call him "emo," referring to his dark, overly emotional attitude, but The Last Jedi showed him to be as ruthless as he is introspective.
In the course of two movies, Ren has slain his own father Han Solo and his former master Supreme Leader Snoke. He's also displayed a strong but often unbridled mastery of difficult Force powers - but he still lost in an all-out Force duel with Luke Skywalker in Force projection form.
Darth Vader (a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker)10 of 12
Darth Vader is one of those villains that transcends the Star Wars universe — even people who don't know much about the films often have heard about this fellow. But let's not forget that Vader wasn't all bad. His most famous act of compassion was saving his son, Luke, from the evil Emperor Palpatine. And Vader did grow up as a cute little podracer, as we saw in Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). (The tragic fall from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader is covered in more detail in the prequel trilogy (Episodes I to III, 1999-2005) than we can cover in a short bio.)
Vader did have many cruel moments. He constantly kills crew members who make a mistake, often by choking them using the Force. He killed the beneficent Jedi and representative of the light side of the Force, Obi-Wan Kenobi (at least in the "flesh and blood" sense.) He deliberately tortured Jedi ally Han Solo to bring Luke Skywalker out of hiding, since Skywalker would detect a disturbance in the Force. And in an infamous scene, Vader even cut off Skywalker's right hand while trying to persuade Skywalker of the benefits of the Dark Side. Vader died at the end of Return of the Jedi (1983).
Emperor Palpatine (a.k.a. Darth Sidious)11 of 12
Fans of the original trilogy still shudder when they think about how much of a baddy Palpatine is, especially in The Empire Strikes Back (1983). One moment he's crooning to hero Luke Skywalker that it's time for the young man to "fulfill his destiny" and join Skywalker's father, Darth Vader, on the dark side of the Force. Then he's shooting deadly lightning bolts at Skywalker until an unhappy Vader switches sides and throws Palpatine down a huge shaft.
But Star Wars purists know that he's more than just a scary face at the end of Return of the Jedi (1983). In Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), it was Palpatine (then known as Darth Sidious) who principally set off the Clone Wars. (The details are revealed in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series (2008).) And in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was Palpatine who persuaded the young Darth Vader (then known as Anakin Skywalker) to kill the Sith lord Count Dooku.
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