“Star Trek” is no stranger to evil-doers and ne’er-do-wells. The Borg, the Klingon Empire, the Dominion — all of these names have achieved immortal status in the science fiction lexicon. That said, there’s a lot of “Star Trek” out there, and despite creating some of the most successful big bads around, they’re also responsible for a few legitimately terrible ones.
From mediocre con-artists to terrible thieves to overambitious thugs, we’ve gathered 15 of Trek’s most ridiculous criminals. Some were powerful, but unlucky, others were shrewd, but fatally flawed, and the rest were just plain bad at their jobs. So, if you’re thinking about commandeering a starship or enslaving an entire race anytime soon, read below for a primer on what NOT to do.
Before everyone sets their phasers to “WTF?” this entry is only in reference to Q’s appearance on “DS9”. In the season 1 episode, “Q-Less,” fan-favorite Vash arrives on the station followed closely by even bigger fan-favorite, Q. What follows is an embarrassing performance by the normally savvy and impressive being. He comes across as whiny, passive-aggressive jilted boyfriend instead of the arrogant demi-god he normally purports to be.
Hey tries to ruin Vash’s date with Bashir by… pretending to be a Bajoran waiter. Dude! You’re Q! turn Bashir into a Dabo wheel and wait for someone to notice. He toys with Sisko in a lame boxing match, and not only does he look like a total fool with that mustache, he can’t box for crap. Sisko actually manages to make him bleed, and all Q can do is pout. At least in “Q-Pid,” his Nottingham had some bite. Q’s always been more of a jester than a villain, but in this episode, he’s petty and ultimately laughable. Thank goodness for his appearances on “Voyager.”
14. THE KAZON
The Kazon were the primary antagonists of “Voyager’s” first and second seasons. We know what you’re thinking — they commandeered Janeway’s ship out from under her in a brilliant gambit — not exactly doofuses. And they certainly did, that’s for sure, but they’d have still been buzzing around fighting with each other if Seska hadn’t defected from Voyager and taken the reins. Without her, the Kazon are nothing more than violent tech scavengers, mooching off of whatever species they can find.
The only time they ever become a real threat is after Seska updates their technology and gives them the benefit of her considerable military experience. She’s the one who brokers the attempted alliance with the Voyager crew, only to have it ruined by Maj Cullah’s last-minute unreasonable insistence on new terms. She’s also responsible for working with Michael Jonas, who spied on the Voyager crew and sabotaged the ship for her. If you put them side-by-side, Seska shines a light on just how backward the Kazon really are. Without the power behind the throne, these guys are a glorified space gang.
13. LURSA AND B’ETOR
These ladies were a pair of feisty Klingon sisters who just couldn’t seem to catch a break. After the death of their brother, Duras (Worf iced him for killing his baby momma, K’Ehelyr, in the TNG episode, “Reunion.” No one was sorry to see him go.), they attempted a couple of failed alliances, failed seductions and failed schemes in an effort to bolster their house’s flailing status. They were blocked at every point, but refused to stop using the same methods — steal something of value, use it to fund/help their cause.
Their “finest” moment was arguably their part in the destruction of the Enterprise D. This feat would’ve been markedly more impressive if they hadn’t gotten their own ship destroyed in the same battle. The two sisters are a master class in half-baked schemes aimed at promoting their house, but never end up going anywhere. It probably has something to do with the fact that the Durases in general are super-fond of doing dishonorable things to succeed in the… Klingon Empire. Strategic geniuses these ladies are not.
God, self-styled, was the primary villain in “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” “He” was a non-corporeal being that lured Spock’s well-intentioned half-brother to the center of the universe in an effort to escape a really extreme prison sentence. Unfortunately, he also lured the Enterprise crew who were quick to spot the unlikelihood of God needing anything to do with a spaceship.
So, the seemingly all-powerful being’s spell was broken by Kirk uttering a single question, “What would God want with a starship?” And with that, God loses every last bit of His chill and makes to destroy anyone who questions Him. Spoiler alert: he’s not actual God, and he loses — a pointless loss when you consider the fact that there were a million different answers to Kirk’s query that would’ve at least put the crew off base long enough for God to escape space-jail. Take these comebacks for example…
- “I don’t need to prove anything to humans.”
- “I’m taking humanoid form to preach the Good News, and I need appropriate transport.”
- “I like you guys. You’re officially my chosen vessel.”
- “I do what I want. I’M GOD.”
Ardra certainly gets points for trying, especially when you consider the fact that she was a one-woman show. She could change form at will, using extremely sophisticated holographic technology and even better acting chops. She also managed to fool an entire planet! This highly-skilled con-artist pretended to be a mythical deity come to collect on an equally mythical pact that would’ve netted her some really sweet real estate.
BUT, she’s yet another victim of flying too close to the sun and getting torpedoed by her own ambition. How long could she really have expected to keep this up? She did manage to fool an entire planet, but as a result, she attracted the attention of the decidedly secular Enterprise. They set things right pretty quickly and expose “Ardra” for the fraud she is. If she’d had a few more wits about her, she’d have disabled planetary communications to buy herself some time. Or hell, just aimed a little lower and conned a few wealthy dopes into giving her a life of luxury.
10. HENRY STARLING
Henry Starling was a hippie who picked a very lucky campsite. When Captain Braxton’s ship crash landed in the High Sierras, Starling was chilling close by. Braxton had evacuated the ship via emergency transport before the crash, so his ship, the Aeon, with all of its 29th century technology, was ripe for the picking. Starling scavenged as much as he could and became Fake Steve Jobs.
Now, granted, this was impressive, but not really when you consider the fact that, like, two days after the Voyager crew showed up, Starling’s entire empire is in shambles. He doesn’t understand the 29th century technology well-enough to use it to defeat the 24th century technology Janeway and company throw his way. He’s unable to pilot the timeship with the proper skill necessary to avoid creating a temporal explosion. He was so arrogant, despite the fact that the Voyager crew warned him of the danger of piloting the ship himself, that he did it anyway and killed himself trying to get back to the 29th century for more tech. Dope.
9. BERLINGOFF RASMUSSEN
The first rule of effective villainy, as exemplified in so many Bond films and episodes of “Inspector Gadget,” is never reveal your secret plan while you’re still in enemy territory. Berlingoff Rasmussen was a murderous little twerp from 22nd century New Jersey who managed to rob and kill the owner of a 26th century timeship that had way fancier technology than the Enterprise D ever did, or would. Thus, he was able to fool the crew into thinking he was from the future and in need of assistance.
He spent a few days acting better than everyone else and conveniently refusing to give the crew any information that would result in any timeline disturbances. All the while, he was pinching 24th century technology to take back to New Jersey so he could take credit for it and improve his own career as an inventor. He got greedy, though, and tried to swipe Data at the last minute. Instead of disabling the android, he pointed a phaser at him and came clean about everything. Big mistake. The phaser had been deactivated, and he wound up stranding himself in the 24th century. Way to go, kid.
This goofy guy was a semi-omnipotent being who kidnapped members of the Enterprise crew for his own personal amusement in the “TOS” episode, “The Squire of Gothos.” A giant fanboy of humanity, he’d stocked his home, Gothos, with various 18th century objects and decor. When the Enterprise crossed his path, he jumped at the chance to add living dolls to his collection. With his considerable power, he was able to trap a decent portion of the bridge crew on his planet and force them to be his playmates. Until his parents showed up, that is. It’s hard to be truly terrifying when you’re still subject to the almighty will of Mom and Dad.
Also, despite his awesome power, Trelane made a few pretty classic blunders, the most prominent of which was his use of a long-range telescope to look at Earth, which significantly time-delayed his images… to the tune of 900 years; hence his taste in fashion and interior design. When all was said and done, Trelane was a big, very powerful child. Think of a 5-year-old in a rocket ship. Left there for long enough playing with buttons, they’ll probably turn something on, but it’s more likely they’ll break something before making it to the moon. That said, if you like the concept of Trelane, he pops back up in Peter David’s apocrypha novel, “Q-Squared” as a member of the Q Continuum. He’s a far better villain in that story than he is in this one.
You gotta give Arne Darvin props for trying. This Klingon, not once, but two times went undercover as a human on Deep Space Station K-7 to obstruct Federation interests. The first time, he poisoned grain aboard the Enterprise in an effort to prevent the Federation from colonizing a nearby planet. Unfortunately, his disguise wasn’t good enough to fool… the Tribbles. Kirk holds a Tribble near Darvin and it squeals, revealing his identity as a Klingon. Granted, he couldn’t have predicted the presence of Tribbles on the space station, but surely once he was aware of their presence, he should’ve aborted as opposed to remaining and effectively surrounding himself with Klingon detectors.
In DS9’s “Trials and Tribbilations,” Darvin seeks revenge on the Tribbles and the Enterprise crew by planting a bomb in one. But his new disguise is exactly as good as his old one, and the DS9 crew caught him again. Plans failed 2.0. A non-violent, sneaky failure, Darvin is maybe the worst Klingon ever. After all, his lifelong nemeses were legless rodents and they won. Twice.
6. ETANA JOL
THIS LADY! Etana Jol fooled us all into believing she was a good-time girl having some harmless fun with Riker on Risa. Turns out, she was a no-nonsense Ktarian bent on conquering the Federation with the cunning use of… video games. That’s right, her “brilliant” plan was to infiltrate and overtake one of the mightiest powers in the galaxy using glorified hypnosis. And it would’ve worked if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids! The game stimulated the brain’s pleasure centers while simultaneously weakening the player’s higher reasoning capabilities. Basically, the crew got turned into the sedate version of drunk teenagers. It took Wesely Crusher and Robin Lefler — a cadet and an ensign — less than an hour to figure this out.
Despite the fact that she did manage to overtake the Federation Flagship (must’ve been an extremely embarrassing explanation for Riker to give), she didn’t hold it very long. And frankly, what was the plan after the Enterprise? Just hope the crew’d manage to spread the use of the game fast enough that no other ship in the Federation would notice the flagship was suddenly crewed by a bunch of dopes addicted to Google Glass? Etana should’ve quit while she was ahead and just made Riker her sex slave. He probably wouldn’t have minded.
5. CHEKOV (MIRROR UNIVERSE)
Kirk is onboard the Terran Empire Enterprise less than an hour before someone tries to execute him. And it’s our sweet little Anton Chekov who’s responsible for the dastardly attempt! It’s pretty standard in the Mirror Universe for officers to advance by assassination, so Chekov plans an ambush outside a turbolift.
But, like so many of the doofs on this list before him, Chekov wasted a bunch of time talking about his master plan instead of DOING his master plan. In the time it takes for Chekov to explain how awesome it’ll be for Kirk to be dead, Kirk’s security team gets there and foils everything. Chekov clearly didn’t plan for the contingency of… Kirk’s bodyguards. This whole mess was the equivalent of a smash-and-grab. Not the best strategy when you’re on a spaceship with no escape and you’re not so much stealing anything as trying to kill a formidable adversary. It’s such a bad strategy that Chekov biffed it when it was four against one. One needs more sophistication if one is to survive in the Terran Empire. See: the Captain’s Woman.
4. THE ESSENTIALISTS
The Essentialists were a group of dorks who trolled Risa, whining about how life in the Federation was too easy. Aside from seriously not knowing their audience, their complaints were pretty baseless. These guys were clearly the descendants of the dingleberries that hang out outside sci-fi conventions telling cosplayers they’re going to hell.
They carried on making various demonstrations while Worf and Jadzia were also on Risa for vacation. Worf, annoyed with the “hedonism” surrounding him, was swayed for a bit, but they go too far. When they realize that no one is really listening to them, they mess with the weather and ruin everyone’s vaycay. Surprise, surprise, this doesn’t turn anyone to their cause. So, they go even further and start putting people’s lives at risk with weather that’s even more extreme than Risa’s natural rainy, jungle climate. Worf draws the line there, but the leader of the Essentialists doesn’t take this too well and makes a critical (and stupid) mistake — laying hands on a Klingon. Needless to say, the Essentialist movement doesn’t last very long after that. Villains need to pack more punch than sanctimony if they want to withstand a Klingon in hand-to-hand combat.
3. THE PAKLEDS
The Pakleds were a backward race so stupid they fell ass-backwards into acquiring technology. In what turned out to be a very bad day for Riker, he answered a distress call from a damaged Pakled ship and beamed Geordi over to help because WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? Well, plenty of things as Worf pointed out, considering no one knows anything about the Pakleds at this time. So, it’s no surprise really, that the minute they realize how useful Geordi is, they refuse to return him.
That said, because they operate at a third-grade reading level, Geordi and Riker are able to communicate a very obvious rescue plan literally while the Pakleds are listening attentively. Then, because they can’t even use their sensors properly, Riker manages to distract them with a light show while Geordi disables their ship in under 24 seconds. Let’s just say getting captured by the Pakleds is akin to getting surrounded by sea lions when you’re on a boat. Don’t make sudden movements, but you’ll probably be fine. The only thing more pathetic than they’re “plan” was the fact that it took four meetings for the senior staff to solve the problem. This is why Picard never goes on vacation, FYI.
2. HARRY MUDD
If your nefarious intentions are apparent from the minute you beam aboard, you might be a bumbling villain. Never was there a more obvious and unsuccessful con-artist than Harcourt Mudd. Unable to conceal his identity from a computer, he was immediately pegged as a scoundrel within hours of his first contact with the Enterprise (“Mudd’s Women”). One of the reasons was that he had a record a mile long of unsuccessful crimes and cons.
His flawless plans included marrying a trio of ugly women to dilithium miners (for a nominal finder’s fee) while hopping the women up on the Venus drug that made them cute for less than a day. What could go wrong? Then he got booked for selling stolen technology without the rights to do so. He also tried to sell someone Starfleet Academy. Guess how well that went. The lesson here is cover your tracks. Mudd was just too flashy for his own good, making us wonder why he stayed in the con game to begin with. That said, he was a snappy dresser.
1. THE FERENGI
Bless these lil’ guys, but they really need to stay in their lane. Initially conceived as one of TNG’s primary villains, akin to TOS’ Klingons, the Ferengi were to embody the evils of avarice, something Gene Roddenberry felt very strongly about. During their first episode on TNG, “The Battle,” the Ferengi are considerably more malevolent than bumbling, but this characterization didn’t land with the audience at all. Their appearance and manner were more ridiculous and funny than intimidating, so the writers really leaned into them as comic relief.
While undeniably the best deal-makers and financiers in the galaxy, they’re counters not fighters. Any time a Ferengi attempts to engage in combat, military aggression or criminal activity against the Federation in any way (be it kidnapping Lwaxana Troi, commandeering the Enterprise or snagging exclusive rights to a Delta Quadrant wormhole) they always fail. They’ve cornered the market on it, you could say. Again, great with finances, horrible at everything else. This characterization is softened a bit on DS9 — Quark’s series regular status offered a more in-depth look at the race. Regardless, the Ferengi will always be the dopes that had the Enterprise only to lose her to… children.
Who is your favorite bumbling Star Trek villain? Let us know in the comments!
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