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WARNING: If you haven’t seen Star Wars—what the hell are you doing here?

For over three decades, the Star Wars universe has entertained us and even moved us with a variety of deadly, cruel, calculating, and at times sympathetic villains. Whether it’s money-motivated bounty hunters or Sith Lords out for galactic conquest, the franchise’s movies, television shows and video games have provided a vast array of nefarious and diabolical characters for us to analyze and enjoy. Tonight, in honor of Star Wars Day, I’d like to go over the ones who are, in my humble opinion, the best of them.

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Some of you may be wondering why this piece is coming out at this time. Well, it took me a bit to decide which ones should make it on. Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed by my selections. Actually, hell with that, you won’t be. These are the top ten Star Wars villains!

10. Asajj Ventress (Clone Wars)

No, I’m not talking about the one from the CGI series (which honestly doesn’t deserve to be trashed as often as it is). I’m talking about the micro-series character on which she was based.

In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Asajj’s speed, stealth and tactical expertise combined to form a vicious assassin, one who proved to be more than a challenge for Anakin Skywalker when they met. In just a few minutes she made short work of a multitude of clone troopers, the ship in which they had arrived, and Anakin’s own vessel. This was all done with almost careless ease on her part, making her even more threatening. It took an overwhelming amount of rage on Skywalker’s part for her to be defeated, which could be interpreted as a sort of victory, if somewhat Pyrrhic.

9. Jango and Son (The Prequel and Original trilogies)

Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down. I know a lot of you are probably upset that Boba Fett is this low on the list, and that he’s being lumped in with his father, Jango. But, I’ve got to be honest, I was never really a huge Boba Fett fan. I always thought he was really cool looking, that he had a great non-Morrison voice, but that’s about it. The mystery of him never really got through to me the way it did with many other fans (like yourself). However, when I saw Jango Fett in the Prequel trilogy, I have to be frank here, I grew to like Boba more.

The Kamino storyline with Jango and the clones, as well as Jango’s beheading, gave Boba more depth as a character. His callousness and his relationship with the Empire were given more meaning and layers. His profession, bounty hunting, can now possibly be seen as him trying to keep the father he loved alive, as it’s impossible to say what he would’ve become otherwise. Overall, both Fetts as unit are more intriguing than either alone. So yeah, good choice this time around, George.

8. Grand Moff Tarkin (A New Hope and The Clone Wars)

Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down. I know a lot of you are probably upset that Tarkin is higher on this list than the Fetts, but hear me out.

Watch this.

Okay, who was using the Force to nearly choke a guy to death in that scene? That’s right, Darth Friggin’ Vader. Okay, we’ve got that, but now ask yourself another question: who stopped him from killing that guy? Grand Moff Tarkin was not only calm and collected, but he was also so sure of himself and so vital to the success of the Empire that he could, without hesitation and without experiencing any negative ramifications whatsoever, give orders to one of the most dangerous and powerful people in the galaxy. One might say that his certainty was both his greatest asset and his most devastating weakness, for it eventually led to his downfall. Oh well, he may have left us early, but at least he received some extra character development in The Clone Wars, the CGI version this time.

7. Darth Malak (Knights of the Old Republic)

Back when BioWare was good at making games, a cunning, ruthless villain was born in a Star Wars title set thousands of years before the first of the films. Darth Malak may have been around too early for a Death Star, but that didn’t stop him from wiping out an entire planet just to stop two people from escaping it. And that’s only representative of the latter of the two aforementioned qualities of his. Darth Malak was intelligent, knowing exactly what needed to be done, when and how. He knew betraying Revan had to happen when it did, as he would be killing two birds with one stone, slaughtering both ally and enemy with a single blow.

Malak was also an excellent combatant, the most difficult one players faced in Knights of the Old Republic.

6. Kreia and Darth Sion (Knights of the Old Republic II)

Master and apprentice, wisdom and pain, shades of gray on a wall of darkness. These two are equal on this list only because of how much they valued each other as characters.

Through pain, Sion lived, and through Sion living, Kreia’s pain went on. And where did Sion’s pain come from at the start? Kreia. The two were cyclic, yet diametric.

Kreia only wanted there to be balance, and to have the right people tested in the right ways in preparation for the future she foresaw. Sion wished for only the test itself, the trial, the pain, nothing more. But the fact that he existed, the fact the people like him could exist, is what drove Kreia, and the fact that she, in a sense, failed him as a master gave her even more of a push. Similarly, her existence—knowledge, truth—was what kept Sion going, for to him such things were and are and always will be the antithesis of pain as they empower rather than hinder.

Kreia is proof that knowledge is power. Sion is proof that what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger, it drives you mad.

5. Darth Maul and Count Dooku (The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones)

These two are similar in that I like them equally and I am likewise disappointed by them, or rather their use.

Darth Maul should have been a recurring villain throughout the series. If he were, he would not only be more threatening and feared as character, but also more memorable and iconic. His lightsaber alone is currently one of the most well-known weapons—hell, objects in general—in a movie. He was shrouded in so much mystery, as far as appearances and backgrounds go, and though he had very few lines and very little screen time, he managed to leave an everlasting impression on viewers.

Count Dooku was also poorly used in the films, as the concepts he got into could have been far deeper and more rewarding. What I mean is, he was talking about working against the Sith and the Separatists outside of Jedi-Republic regulations. What if he had been doing so in order to avoid the corruption in the Senate, which we know was an actual thing? What if Count Dooku leaving the Jedi wasn’t simply done to “join the bad guys,” but instead a noble sacrifice made to protect the Republic and the Order?

One might say the fact that these flaws are present in the use of both characters should put them lower on the list, but I choose not to blame a character for his/her/its poor application, rather the story as distinguished from said characters. Both were still very interesting, well-performed and beautifully designed characters.

4. General Grievous (Clone Wars)

Again, I am not referring to the General Grievous we saw in both Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars. Those two are, in my opinion, highly watered down versions of the one we saw in the Clone Wars micro-series.

I don’t even want to write a paragraph about him. Just watch this video from the beginning to five minutes and forty-eight seconds in. It’s his debut, an episode I remember watching back in 2003 that had me legitimately terrified.

Though he was poorly executed in other forms, like Maul and Dooku, Clone Wars did him justice, creating an inexorable, haunting villain who definitely left his mark on the Star Wars universe.

3. Darth Vader (Prequel and Original Trilogies, many video games, books, comics, TV shows, magazines, toy stores, lunchboxes, etc.)

I’m not putting anyone on this list obligatorily, otherwise this man would probably be at the top of it. He has earned his place here, and I would need to be brainwashed/tortured severely in order to toss him aside.

One of the things I’d like to highlight here is Vader’s range as a character. Think about it: he appeared to be the living embodiment of evil in the first film (A New Hope, that is), became a great deal more nuanced by the end of Empire, and in Return of the Jedi was not only sympathetic and understandable but applauded by fans for bringing balance to the Force. And that’s just the Original trilogy. In the Prequels, as Anakin, he went from being a curious and intelligent child to a bold and arrogant youth. Throughout the Clone Wars micro-series he gradually transitioned over to who he was in Revenge of the Sith, a man on the edge, walking the line, seeking hope where hardly any was offered, fearing the worst for the woman he loved. Now that’s depth, depth that often goes unacknowledged by people who despise the Prequels and see no good in them whatsoever.

Overall, Darth Vader really was—nay—is the Star Wars saga, symbolic of all its highs, all its lows, even the gray areas. Truly one of a kind.

2. Palpatine (see “Darth Vader”)

“Always two there are, a master and an apprentice.“

—Yoda, The Phantom Menace

While the Separatists sent legions of battle droids to crudely war against the Republic’s army, Darth Sidious was deviously scheming behind enemy lines, manipulating the Galactic Senate and organizing one of the swiftest and most efficient blindsides in movie history. He knew who to trust and who not to trust, and he used his power over the dark side to expertly cloud and effectuate his strategy. He was believable, even likable and charismatic at times, surreptitiously undermining both the Republic and the Jedi Order, while simultaneously molding the prophesied Chosen One into a menacing Sith Lord.

This scene, in my opinion, is one of his best, showing us just how cunning and astute he could be.

He was clever, diabolical, and easily the most influential villain in all of Star Wars.

But not Number One…

1. The Clones (The Prequel trilogy and all relevant games, TV shows, etc.)

You’re a soldier. You’ve been fighting for the past three years against armies of soulless machines. You’re winning every day now, you and your comrades. Battles begin, then end. They’re practically routine at this point. You know it’s almost over. You can feel it in the air. All the while, you’ve been working alongside a group of powerful individuals who have the ability to command the Force, a thing you barely understand, but feel compelled to learn about. That’s why you talked to them, to learn from them. You ended up respecting them, befriending them even. They trust you now. Why would they ever doubt you? You’ve been loyal, dedicated. You’re just as vital to ending the war as they are. They have no reason to think of you as a threat. But you are one, the deadliest in fact. Why? Because they’d never suspect you, they’d never even consider the possibility that you might be their enemy. Once they know, it’ll be too late for them. The war will be over. The Jedi will be dead.

The thing that I find the most unsettling about the clones is that we’ve never been told the true nature of Order 66. It could’ve been a hypnotic suggestion (à la sleeper agents), or it could’ve simply been something the soldiers were trained to accept. The former would be quite disturbing, as that would mean that they were, in all probability, completely unaware of their actions. The latter would be more tragic however, as it would open up the possibility of reluctance being a factor. Did any of the clones regret what they did? Did all of them obey the order? If so, what does that say about people? Can they even really be regarded as “people” when one considers the fact that they were all genetically engineered? Were the clones just as soulless as the droids they were fighting against?

Perhaps some of them rejected the command and formed a clone splinter group. Perhaps none of them did. Who knows? Whatever the case, if the clones were aware that Order 66 was coming, the fact that they kept it under wraps for so long...

…it means a lot, and not in a good way.

And that’s our latest top ten list. What do you think of it? Do you agree, disagree? How so? Let me know in the comments, as I and the rest of the Sci-Fi Bloggers staff would love to hear what you have to say. Until next time, this is Dylan Alexander letting you know I’m not the Fictionmonger.

This post originally appeared on Sci-Fi Bloggers. At Sci-Fi Bloggers we believe that dreamworlds are often better than reality. So we take you away to a magical wonderland covering everything from sci-fi movies to fantasy video games, books, TV, comics and more.

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