The science fiction genre has given us many avenues of escapism for hundreds of years. While science fiction elements have long been a part of literature, the first feature-length sci-fi film, Metropolis, debuted in 1927. Since then, we’ve gotten many high-quality (and low-quality) science fiction films that have entertained us and made us think differently about the future. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine a world without sci-fi. It’s a staple genre in the nerd community, for sure.
Oftentimes, when we think of good sci-fi, we think of its heroes: Ripley, Captain Kirk, the Doctor, etc. Just as entertaining, if not more so, are sci-fi’s famous villains. With our own technology rapidly advancing, and sci-fi being reliant on advanced science and technology, the sci-fi villains have evolved into more dangerous and powerful beings as the years have gone by. A hero is only as good as its villain, which means sci-fi has had a lot of really good villains. Heroes get too much credit for the success of a story, and it’s high time we celebrate the most dangerously powerful sci-fi villains. We’ll go ahead and rank them as well because we too like to live dangerously!
15 ROY BATTY
When we think of Blade Runner, we usually think of Harrison Ford as the film’s Agent Deckard. However, the film’s antagonist, Roy Batty, is equally as worthy of our attention because of how dangerous he is. He’s a replicant and in his three years since being activated, he’s shown that he’s a threat. He’s incredibly intelligent, strong, and a great fighter but unfortunately has a limited lifespan.
Intent on living longer, Roy Batty hijacks a shuttle, crews the crew, and sets off for Earth. There, he reunites with his maker and kills him. Roy’s weakness is he shows compassion towards Deckard by the end of the film / his life. He saves Deckard from falling off of a roof right before he passes.
14 KHAN NOONIEN SINGH
We know that there have been two Khans in the Star Trek universe, but we’re going to focus on the first one played by Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Spock states that Khan is the most dangerous enemy the Enterprise has ever faced, and as we know, Vulcans don’t lie.
Khan is a genetically engineered superhuman. In the '90s, he became a tyrant, but after being in suspended animation, Kirk gave Khan a choice. He could make a life for himself and his followers in a colony or face court-martial. The colony didn’t have great living conditions, and Khan lost his wife. He gets his revenge by leaving Kirk in the same position as him: marooned on a planet.
13 THE WEEPING ANGELS
The Weeping Angels are one of the most terrifying Doctor Who villains, and it’s because of the power they wield. In general, Weeping Angels are subtle in the way they stalk their prey. They resemble statues and can only move when they’re not being looked at. The closer they get to their target, the more their scary angel faces are revealed.
They send you back through time, and you die before you were born, so they can feed off the time energy of the victim’s life. They have also been known to physically harm people even when they’re well-fed, which is cause for alarm. So basically, any time you’re in the proximity of an angel statue, cherub or otherwise, make sure you keep your eyes on it!
12 XENOMORPH QUEEN
The Xenomorph Queen from Aliens is even bigger than her predecessor. Even when these aliens are little, they’re still dangerous -- just think about the John Hurt scene. The Xenomorph is bigger, badder, and also a mother, which is a highly dangerous combination.
Xenomorphs in general aren’t as intelligent as humans, but a Xenomorph Queen is the closest to human intelligence that species is going to get. For example, in Aliens, the Xenomorph Queen figures out how to take an elevator. She’s got smarts, size, claws -- plus an exoskeleton that is nearly impenetrable by our weapons. So, we wouldn’t want to get stuck in an elevator with one.
11 HAL 9000
HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. HAL 9000 is the computer from the Discovery spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film released in 1968, but the villain being a computer can be just as real, if not more so, in the present. Our reliance on technology has increased dramatically in 50 years.
HAL 9000’s primary function is to take care of the ship’s mechanical and life support systems. The lives of the crew are in the “hands” of HAL. One of HAL’s other functions is reading lips, so when the crew starts discussing disconnecting HAL to make sure he’s working properly, HAL decides to turn on them. According to HAL, deactivating him would jeopardize the mission, and the mission comes first.
10 THE PREDATORS
The real name for this group of alien species is the Yautja, but we’ve come to know them as the Predators. Their technology is far beyond our own, and they have a need to hunt other species. We can’t just call them monsters, though, since they have a code of honor they adhere to while they hunt. This code just doesn’t necessarily benefit humans.
Predators’ genetics are beyond humans as well. They’re strong, firstly, and they can withstand drastic environmental changes, radiation, and bullets. They possess tech that allows them to camouflage, see across the electromagnetic spectrum, and, of course, they have an array of weapons from blades to firearms. The Predators are so confident in their abilities that they breed Xenomorphs to practice hunting.
9 THE TERMINATOR
The ultimate Skynet machine is the Terminator from the Terminator franchise. Though there have been several models in the Terminator franchise, the T-800 is the classic that makes our list. It’s this model that made us appreciate Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a killer robot.
Skynet made the T-800 to kill humans, specifically and while it ultimately lacks is emotions, it makes them the perfect killing machines. However, the T-800s look like us and can mimic human language and behavior, so it is difficult to spot them. Though they have skin, blood, etc, the T-800s can withstand a lot of damage. Their endoskeletons make them very strong, and they can survive a lot of damage. Sarah is only able to beat the T-800 by crushing it using another machine.
8 AGENT SMITH
Agent Smith’s role in the Matrix trilogy is to make sure that humans and programs don’t disturb the simulated reality. Because he’s AI, he can move from body to body of any human who’s wired into the Matrix. Any time that he is “destroyed,” he can jump to another body and it’s that host that dies, not him.
It’s also difficult to get rid of Agent Smith because of his powers. He’s strong and is so fast he can dodge bullets. He and the other Agents, like other fearsome sci-fi villains, share a consciousness that allows them to all act together and expediently. Needless to say, Neo had a difficult time going up against Agent Smith time after time in the Matrix trilogy.
7 DARTH VADER
Anakin Skywalker was “the chosen one” of the Star Wars prequels. Because of his midichlorian levels, Qui-Gon believed Anakin was meant for a bigger and better life off of Tatooine. Anakin grows up to a powerful teen who’s awkward around women he likes, but there’s no denying that his relationship with the Force was special.
Because Anakin chooses to cut ties with the Jedi for good, he turns into Darth Vader. He leads the Empire with a powerful black-gloved fist that’s more than willing to Force choke someone who’s incompetent. The Force allows him to “sense” things too, and so he’s able to react quickly to threats. His only weakness was meeting his son whom he thought died long ago.
6 THE THING
The Thing is a cult classic '80s sci-fi film that introduced a monster that could only be called “the Thing.” The Thing is an alien creature that absorbs bodies and can perfectly imitate what it absorbs. In the film, the scientists begin to freak out because based on the Thing’s progress, it could absorb all of Earth’s life forms in just years.
The humans at the research station begin to grow suspicious of one another since the Thing is so good at imitation. The Thing appears to also be good at imitating ailments. When Norris appears to be having a heart attack, his chest opens up and bites Copper’s arms off. As long as one part of the Thing survives, it lives.
5 THE BORG QUEEN
A lot of our favorite villains are queens, but the Borg Queen is just about the most dangerously powerful sci-fi queen ever. For a quick refresher: the Borg is an alien species in the Star Trek universe that assimilates others, making them Borgs. When they assimilate, they also take all the technological knowledge, making them stronger.
The Borg operate under a collective that’s headed by the Borg Queen. Like a proper queen, she is ruthless when it comes to protecting the Borg Collective. The Borg are one of few villains that are so powerful, the only way for them to get alone was by having a shared enemy. The Borg even went so far to assimilate Captain Picard in one of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s iconic arcs.
Bigger isn’t necessarily better. But the Transformers franchise has giant robots that are its heroes and villains, and it makes for interesting storytelling. From the shows in our childhood, most of us recognize that Megatron is the big baddie for Transformers. In 2007, we saw him come to life in live-action.
Megatron is a ruthless, power-hungry Decepticon. He’s more than willing to sacrifice all of humankind if it means he’s closer to achieving his goal. The fight between him and Optimus Prime in the first Transformers film was brutal and showed how strong they are. Just when you think Megatron is defeated, he shows up in the sequel. By Age of Extinction, Megatron’s body has advanced and he’s lost his “soul,” which made him even more formidable.
3 MR. SHADOW
Mr. Shadow is also known as Evil, which is basically all you need to know about him. Just kidding. He’s the antagonist of The Fifth Element. Usually, when we think of sci-fi villains, we think of robots and aliens. However, Mr. Shadow is a sapient star that’s bent on destruction.
How do you defeat something that’s about moon-sized? Earth sent some ships, but their weapons didn’t do anything; in fact, Mr. Shadow absorbed the shots which made him even bigger. Mr. Shadow can control people’s minds and communicate with them via conventional means even though he’s in space. He’s incredibly intelligent and knows when someone or something is coming after him. Only the power of four ancient stones can stop him.
2 THE DALEKS
The Daleks are the Doctor Who franchise’s most iconic villain. Though they look rather ridiculous, in their time, they struck fear into the hearts of British children. Even in the rebooted Doctor Who series, the Daleks still prove that they are dangerous and powerful.
The Daleks are destructive creatures who hate anything that isn’t a Dalek -- their ultimate goal is to conquer the universe. If it weren’t for the actions of the Doctor, they would have succeeded several times. The Doctor has a personal vendetta against the Daleks, as they are responsible for the destruction of his race, the Time Lords. This is something that the Doctor is faced with, again and again, and tests the Doctor as far as whether or not he’s a good man.
In the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series, the most advanced Cylons are androids look and act just like humans. Humans call them “skinjobs” because of their resemblance to humans. The mystery that unfolds throughout the series is that there are 12 models of Cylons, and some of them are sleeper agents, who don’t know they’re Cylons, who are aboard the Galactica.
The Cylons can download their consciousness into another body if they are in range of a Resurrection Ship. Other than skinjobs, Cylons also took the form of “Toasters,” the Centurion models who were simple fighters and laborers, and Raiders, their flying fighter brigade. Because of their power and intelligence, the Cylons pursued the Galactica unrelentingly across space for several seasons.