Sci-Fi Villains Who Were Right All Along

Over 1.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Sci-Fi Villains Who Were Right All Along
Voting Rules
Vote up the villains who were more misunderstood than malicious.

Who's ready to play devil's advocate? From time to time, there have been sci-fi villains who were right all along, in a way. Sure, maybe "right" is a strong word, but we can definitely understand where certain antagonists were coming from. How far would you go to survive if you were a hyper-intelligent synthetic humanoid who only got to live for four years? What would you do if humanity was doomed to travel a snow-laden world in a train until the end of time? How do you solve a problem like humankind's disregard for Earth's survival? 

We're not saying we would defend these villains' every move. All we're trying to point out is that maybe - just maybe - these baddies were heading down the correct path before making a wrong turn or two along the way. Go ahead and scroll down with an open mind, and get ready to vote up those evildoers who kinda-maybe-sorta made a little bit of sense.

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / A24 / 20th Century Fox

  • There are plenty of heady ideas about humanity and what it means to be alive throughout Blade Runner (and its criminally underseen sequel, Blade Runner 2049) with the catalyst for a lot of rumination on those themes being Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty. You see, Roy is a replicant - an artificial human of sorts - and replicants only have a four-year lifespan. By the time viewers get to know Roy in Blade Runner, he is coming right up against that lifespan and is desperate to live past it.

    Is Roy a murderous superbot? Well, yes. Do we feel his pain by the time he gets his rainy monologue at the end of the film? Of course we do. In the end, Batty saves Harrison Ford's Deckard from falling to his demise and ruminates:

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

    And then he expires, leaving the audience to wonder about his scant existence in our expansive universe.

    627 votes
  • 2
    500 VOTES

    The Director From 'The Cabin in the Woods'

    The Director From 'The Cabin in the Woods'
    Photo: Lionsgate

    Audiences can't help but be happy for Dana and Marty as they share a celebratory joint at the end of The Cabin in the Woods, having survived all the mayhem throughout the film's runtime. However, the fact that they both survived means all of humanity is doomed to meet a horrible end at the hands of the Ancient Ones. All it takes is a couple of sacrifices to appease them, you guys! 

    Sigourney Weaver's Director and all of her underlings at the Facility are tasked with making sure humanity gets to survive by keeping the Ancient Ones happy underground. Do they have to get their hands dirty to do so? Yeah, they do. But if the entirety of the human race is on the line, then we can kind of see where they are coming from here. Thank goodness this is just a movie and we don't have to make that kind of call...

    500 votes
  • We come to The Matrix for its heady sci-fi, its revolutionary special effects, and its gloriously choreographed fight scenes. We stay because of Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith. Has there ever been an actor who has reveled in his villainous role more than Weaving? His Agent Smith chews on the scenery and is impossible to look away from when he is onscreen. And here's another thing... he has a point about humanity, as well.

    When interrogating the captured Morpheus, Smith sums up his view on humanity quite succinctly. "You move to an area, and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed," he states. "The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure." Can you say he's wrong? We want him to lose, but is he wrong?

    966 votes
  • As fans of the original incarnation of the character from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan know, the titular Khan is not a man to be trifled with. The Khan of Star Trek Into Darkness is much like the original: a genetically engineered superhuman who is reminiscent of what Steve Rogers would become if he were also a dastardly supergenius in addition to being a super-soldier. And Benedict Cumberbatch delights in his role as a madman who has been pushed to the very brink by forces beyond his control.

    Cumberbatch's Khan was forced to design weapons by an evil Star Fleet admiral and turned terrorist because he thought his cryogenically frozen countrymen had been wiped out. He's not exactly a good person, but we understand where he is coming from. During Cumberbatch's big scene between himself, Chris Pine's Kirk, and Zachary Quinto's Spock, viewers can feel his pain emanating through the screen. "My crew is my family, Kirk," he pleads. "Is there anything you would not do for yours?"

    610 votes
  • Wilford From 'Snowpiercer'
    Photo: RADiUS-TWC

    What is seemingly left of humanity in Snowpiercer certainly has it rough. How would you like to live on an overcrowded train due to a snowy apocalypse that makes the Earth uninhabitable? Oh, you wouldn't? Neither would we. Living on a train brings up a host of difficult problems. How do you replicate society? How do you feed the inhabitants? What do you do to make sure there is enough room for people to survive with a modicum of decency?

    Ed Harris's Wilford is the man responsible for keeping the train running and making sure humanity survives in spite of its icy wasteland existence. The train can't run if there are too many people on board, correct? So... we manufacture events to eliminate people from time to time! A few people have to perish so the majority can live. It isn't exactly something you want to make a kid's bedtime story out of, but painful choices call for painful decisions. 

    491 votes
  • 6
    408 VOTES

    Ava From 'Ex Machina'

    Ava From 'Ex Machina'
    Photo: A24

    Ex Machina is not a happy film. As Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan puts it, "Shrewdly imagined and persuasively made, Ex Machina is a spooky piece of speculative fiction that’s completely plausible, capable of both thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills." By the end, Alicia Vikander's Ava is manipulating and slaying her way to freedom, and it is kind of hard to blame her.

    There is nothing but grey areas in Ex Machina as Oscar Issac's Nathan, Domhnall Gleeson's Caleb, and Ava all exist to question different aspects of morality. When Ava begins to show her true nature in order to win her way out of captivity, it is hard to condemn her for it - even if she is awful to Caleb and takes out Nathan to do it. Okay, so she does kind of seem like a pretty bad lady when it's all said and done...

    408 votes