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7 best Star Trek villains, ranked

F Borg men stand in a hallway in Star Trek.

Thanks to its more than 50 years of continued existence, Star Trek has produced just a lot of stuff. That stuff includes several great TV shows, more than a few outstanding movies, and perhaps most importantly of all, some genuinely great villains.

Because Trek has always concerned itself with the politics of the stories it tells, the series has also introduced some genuinely nuanced bad guys. There are plenty of great villains of the week, to be sure, but there are also legendary villains who have made their way onto this list. These are the seven best Star Trek villains, ranked.

7. Nero

Nero in 2009’s ‘Star Trek.’
Paramount Pictures

Say what you will about Star Trek Into Darkness, but J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek effort was a rousing success. Among its many feats was its introduction of a totally new villain in the form of Nero, a vengeful Romulan who blames Spock for not preventing the death of his family.

Eric Bana’s performance in the role is transformative, but what really sells the whole endeavor is the sense of grandeur and scale that’s on display. Nero is filled with rage, and it’s that rage that has driven him to where he is now.

6. Weyoun

Weyoun in ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’
Paramount Pictures

We’ve had plenty of great villains from across the many Trek shows, but Deep Space Nine’s Weyoun was among the most beloved, in part because he was an ideal foil to the show’s cast. As the mouthpiece for the Dominion and a Vorta himself, Weyoun always delivered his message with a smile, but that rarely meant that he actually had the best of intentions.

In fact, Weyoun was in many ways your typical slimey politician, and that was undoubtedly a huge part of what made him so appealing to fans of Deep Space Nine every time he was killed off and then inevitably returned to the show.

5. Q

Q sitting in ‘The Next Generation.’
Paramount Pictures

An omnipotent being that is a reminder of how far Star Trek characters can come, Q was first introduced as an ominous presence but became something much sillier as he became more familiar to Star Trek fans.

It was Q’s actions that ultimately resulted in the introduction of the Borgs to the universe, and he was also the one who charged Picard with the crimes of humanity. In spite of his power, Q is ultimately not the worst perpetrator of evil in the world of Star Trek, even though he certainly could have been.

4. The Klingons

Christopher Plummer in ‘Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock.’
Paramount Pictures

In many ways the primordial Star Trek villain, the Klingons have shown up in a number of different villainous guises over the course of the franchise’s long and storied history. In the show’s original configuration, they existed as a foil to the Federation — the USSR to the Federation’s America.

Of course, Trek never expressed any idea quite that simply, and the Klingons were always humanized, even as they often opposed what the Federation was doing. You understood that they had their reasons, even if you weren’t always supposed to be sympathetic to them.

3. The Borg Queen

The Borg Queen descends in Star Trek: Picard.
Paramount Pictures

The Borg, in general, is a major menace to the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Operating as a hive mind with the goal of assimilating all other living things into them, part of the point of the Borg was that they were everywhere and nowhere.

That’s why many were so worried by the introduction of the Borg Queen, but they didn’t have any reason for concern. The Borg Queen totally works, in large part thanks to Alice Krige’s memorable, sensual performance in the central role.

2. Gul Dhukat

Gul Dhukat in ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’
Paramount Pictures

Gul Dukat was the best version of the authoritarian mode of Star Trekvillain. A character so villainous and tyrannical that you wanted nothing more than his ultimate defeat, even if you also found him compelling.

A Cardassian war criminal who ruled over Bajor as a complete totalitarian, what made Dukat so remarkable was that you could understand that his actions were heinous, even as you found yourself drawn into his world. Many argue that Gul Dhukat is the finest villain Star Trek has ever produced, and we think that’s pretty close to being on the money.

1. Khan

Ricardo Montalban stars as Khan in Star Trek II.
Paramount / Paramount

A name memorably screamed not once but twice in Star Trek movies, Khan is most remembered today for killing Spock in The Wrath of Khan, widely regarded as the best of the Trek movies for a reason.

Although Khan was just a villain-of-the-week in the original series, in Wrath of Khan, he is elevated to a devious mastermind, capable of taking down and outsmarting even Kirk, Spock, and their crew. Ricardo Montalbán’s performance made the role one of the most important in the history of the franchise. As for Benedict Cumberbatch’s reprisal of the character? Well, the less said about that, the better.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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