Star Wars Movie Villains Ranked Least To Most Powerful

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the battle between the light and dark side of the Force raged on. While Star Wars may be known for its many Force-sensitive heroes, it would be nothing without the numerous villains that make up its cinematic universe. Interstellar gangsters, simpering bureaucrats, corrupt politicians, and the avatars of ancient, unknowable evils — you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the Star Wars universe.

However, there must always be balance in the Force. While some Star Wars villains have left an indelible impact on film history, others are a bit more forgettable. They're not all made equal, either. Some are much more dangerous than others. Not sure who you need to watch out for? From hired goons to overpowering Sith lords, these are all of the major Star Wars movie villains, ranked from least to most powerful.

12. General Hux

One of the First Order's commanding officers, General Hux is one of the sequel trilogy's most memorable new characters. Originally introduced in "The Force Awakens," Hux epitomizes the First Order bureaucracy and serves as a showcase of Star Wars' ability to inject dry humor with unexpected characters. While Hux is a staple of the new films, he isn't a Jedi or Sith and has limited power within the structure of the First Order due to consistently being undercut by Kylo Ren. 

However, Hux was a trusted general for Supreme Leader Snoke's First Order. With Snoke's support, Hux commandeered Starkiller Base (i.e. a new Death Star-style weapon). Unfortunately for Hux, his longtime feud with Kylo Ren caused him to lose favor when Ren defeated Snoke and took over as Supreme Leader. As a result, Hux defected to the Resistance's side as a spy. Hux's allegiance to the Rebellion ultimately cost him his life, as he was far too weak to resist the First Order's interrogation.

11. Supreme Leader Snoke

When Snoke was first introduced in "The Force Awakens" as a larger-than-life creature, it appeared like he was going to become one of the greatest Star Wars villains of all time. Yet while Snoke was the Supreme Leader of the First Order, he never exercised much power other than commanding Kylo Ren and General Hux behind the scenes. Though Hux remained loyal to Snoke in order to gain influence, Kylo Ren was only loyal to himself, which would ultimately lead to Snoke's downfall when Ren and Rey teamed up to take down Snoke and his guards.

Additionally, much of Snoke's power came from the mystique and mystery surrounding his strange humanoid appearance and seemingly strong Force sensitive abilities. Though Snoke appeared to be a powerful Sith lord, his allure was diminished when "The Rise of Skywalker" revealed that Emperor Palpatine engineered Snoke in a lab to serve as a puppet through which he could rebuild and revive the Empire.

10. Jabba the Hutt

Jabba the Hutt was a notorious gangster first introduced in "Return of the Jedi." Jabba's wealth and influence came from a variety of illegal activities, including smuggling and slavery. The Hutt also accrued power through the people he employed, most notably the bounty hunter, Boba Fett, which helped to make him a formidable enemy of anyone who crossed him. As a result, Jabba gained a reputation for being a ruthless criminal with the ability to threaten and intimidate the Republic and the Empire.

However, like many villains on this list, Jabba's ego was his downfall. After Boba Fett captured the smuggler Han Solo, Leia Organa failed to rescue him, and Jabba took the Alderaanian princess captive. However, Jabba was completely unprepared for Luke Skywalker's successive break-in to his palace. If Jabba had let Leia buy Han's freedom, he would have survived instead of being choked by his own chain.

9. Dryden Vos

Introduced in "Solo," Dryden Vos was the face of the notorious crime syndicate, Crimson Dawn. Vos' power largely came from his wealth and status as the apparent leader of the organization. Due to his role in Crimson Dawn, Vos was a charming but imposing figure with several scars on his face who was never without numerous armed bodyguards. Vos was also known for his lavish lifestyle and collection of rare objects.

As the figurehead of Crimson Dawn, Vos enjoyed subjecting others to his rule, including Q'ira, who he purchased from another criminal and forced to swear allegiance to him and Crimson Dawn for the rest of her life. However, while Vos was intelligent and strong, he was merely the face and spokesperson of Crimson Dawn and secretly served its real leader, Darth Maul, which greatly diminished his true power. As it turns out, he was also expendable; after Q'ira killed Vos, she took his place with minimal fuss.

8. Captain Phasma

One of the first female villains in the Star Wars universe, Captain Phasma gave viewers further insight into the new, insidious generation of kidnapped stormtroopers introduced in "The Force Awakens." Phasma was a brutal First Order warrior who ruthlessly worked to rise through the ranks of the new Imperial spin-off. Alongside Kylo Ren and General Hux, Phasma was a fearless and brutal soldier who massacred an entire village on Jakku and never questioned orders from the First Order. Phasma was also an incredibly talented one-on-one fighter.

Phasma eventually took charge of training and commanding the stormtrooper's FN corps, Finn's former battalion. While Phasma hated all the Rebels, she loathed Finn in particular, who she considered a traitor and deserter. Phasma's physical appearance added to her mystique, with her glowering stance, bright silver armor, flowing cape, and brutal baton. Ultimately, like many other First Order or Empire soldiers, Phasma's ego was her undoing — Finn simply bested her with his wit in battle.

7. General Grievous

Originally appearing in "Revenge of the Sith" and making further appearances in "The Clone Wars," General Grievous was an alien turned android who used four limbs — and four lightsabers — at a time to fight. Grievous was a brilliant military strategist and the primary enemy of the Jedi during the Clone Wars. Though Grievous wasn't a Sith, Count Dooku secretly trained Grievous to use lightsabers, making him an insidious fighter.

In addition to being a fearsome soldier, Grievous' power largely came from his military skills, including the development of battle droids. His strategic mind also helped Grievous rally the Separatists against the Republic, he led most of Darth Sidious' public efforts against the Jedi Order. Unfortunately for Grievous, he was ultimately used as a pawn in the Clone Wars by Palpatine, who gave Grievous' location to Obi-Wan Kenobi to distract the Jedi from Anakin's fall to the dark side and the execution of Order 66.

6. Grand Moff Tarkin

Initially appearing in "A New Hope," returning in legendary fashion in "Rogue One," and making appearances in the various Star Wars animated series, Grand Moff Tarkin is almost as iconic as the villain he served. Unlike General Hux, Tarkin wielded a considerable amount of power in the Empire, most memorably when he held Princess Leia captive and attempted to torture her for information about the Rebellion.

Similar to his mentor and superior, Emperor Palpatine, Tarkin was a lifelong bureaucrat who rose to power through the Republic government. As revealed in "The Clone Wars," when Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano, was framed for bombing the Jedi Temple, a young Admiral Tarkin served as the chief prosecutor at her trial. Palpatine, Vader, and Tarkin's shared history allowed the Admiral to easily rise in the ranks of the new Empire as a trusted comrade, eventually leading Tarkin to oversee the construction of the Death Star. Tarkin's faith in the Death Star's ability to conquer the galaxy was misplaced, though, and he died when Luke Skywalker blew up the station.

5. Count Dooku

Count Dooku occupies a special place among the rest of the villains on this list. Like Anakin, Dooku was a trusted Jedi Master — and Yoda's former padawan — who later fell to the dark side. Though Dooku left the Order, the Jedi didn't know his true allegiance for years, as Dooku quietly carried out Emperor Palpatine's mission to empower the dark side and take over the galaxy. Dooku's fall signaled a growing strength in the dark side and a shift in power in the Clone Wars.

As revealed in "The Clone Wars," Dooku was also a master strategist who employed assassins such as Asajj Ventress as a weapon against the Jedi. Dooku's duplicity made him Palpatine's trusted apprentice. The Jedi searched for the mysterious Darth Tyrannus, never knowing that he and Dooku were one and the same. However, Dooku's own thirst for power got the better of him. He worked with the Sith behind Palpatine's back, leading to his own demise at the hands of his replacement, Anakin Skywalker.

4. Darth Maul

With his double-ended lightsaber and devilish horns, Darth Maul has been one of the most iconic Sith lords ever since he first appeared in "The Phantom Menace." As a highly skilled Force user and Palpatine's apprentice, Maul bested Qui-Gon Jinn on Naboo and shaped Obi-Wan's origin by killing his master. While Maul seemingly died after Obi-Wan cut him in half, "The Clone Wars" revealed that Maul actually survived, showing up to hunt down Obi-Wan with a new pair of robotic legs, and conquering the planet Mandalore. Unique to Maul's power is his thirst for revenge and his rage at the Jedi, which brought him back from the lowest depths of death.

While Maul isn't given much of a character beyond his physicality in "The Phantom Menace," in "The Clone Wars" we see Maul develop into a fully unhinged villain who plays into Anakin's fall. He's almost like a jealous, scorned brother who warns Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano, about Anakin's fate. Though Maul fell out of favor with his master, Palpatine, he survived the chaos of Order 66 to become a powerful gangster as the leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, and was a successful villain for many years.

3. Kylo Ren

Introduced as part of the new generation of characters in "The Force Awakens," Kylo Ren struggled to live up to his grandfather's legacy, but was indeed a powerful villain who ended up sharing more in common with Vader than expected. Initially trained by the legendary Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren turned to the dark side as an adolescent. As part of the First Order, Kylo Ren led the Knights of Ren, a Force-sensitive military order entirely under Kylo's command.

However, Ren's greatest power and his biggest weakness was his inner battle between the dark side and light side of the Force, which made him a chaotic and ruthless warrior. Ren's brutality and commitment to the First Order was so intense that he killed his father and fought against his mother, General Leia Organa. Ultimately, Ren's power was revealed to be connected to Rey as part of a Force dyad, and as they fought Emperor Palpatine together, he sacrificed his life to save Rey, killing Palpatine and mirroring his grandfather's fate.

2. Emperor Palpatine

As one of the only villains to appear in almost every Star Wars movie, it could be debated that Palpatine should occupy the top spot on this list. However, while Palpatine's power cannot be denied, he was defeated twice due to his ego. Similar to Tarkin, Palpatine was a lifelong bureaucrat who used political strategy to gain power in public while quietly training the Sith behind the scenes. Palpatine's rise to power began with his political career — he was simply a senator before manipulating his way into the title of Chancellor, Emperor, and beyond.

The Emperor's power can largely be attributed to his intelligence, as he planned for a Sith ascendance for years while grooming Anakin as a future apprentice. Additionally, Palpatine was also the only Sith lord in the movies to possess Force lightning powers, making him a nearly unstoppable enemy. Of course, once Vader and Palpatine assumed their roles within the new Empire, the Emperor's power grew exponentially until he was betrayed by his former apprentice. As a brilliant strategist, though, the Emperor was not gone forever; he cloned himself and returned years later to take over the First Order, before he was defeated once again.

1. Darth Vader

Darth Vader is almost universally regarded as the greatest film villain of all time. It's safe to say that without Vader, there would be no Star Wars franchise. An imposing figure who can intimidate and inspire fear by simply walking into a room, Vader's deep, booming voice and Force choke holds are as legendary as the sound of his breath spewing from his black helmet. As a Jedi, Anakin was preternaturally gifted, leading Qui-Gon Jinn to proclaim that he was the Chosen One who would save the Jedi.

Of course, Anakin's fear and distrust of the Jedi Order ultimately caused him to turn to the dark side, becoming Palpatine's apprentice and Darth Vader, the most powerful Sith Lord of all time. Under Palpatine's command, and through Vader's brutal force and terror, the Empire conquered the Republic one planet at a time. Of course, Vader later faced his own son and defeated Palpatine alongside him, giving him a brief moment of redemption before his death.