Photo: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi / 20th Century Fox

The Most Powerful Sci-Fi Villains

Over 600 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Most Powerful Sci-Fi Villains
Voting Rules
Vote up the sci-fi villains who really have unlimited power.

The best sci-fi villains are unmatched by the antagonists of basically any other genre, both in fan interest and in the sheer amount of power they possess. For example, in a rom-com, the villain challenges the central relationship in the movie. In a thriller, the villain might be challenging one or two lives. In a sci-fi movie, the villain is oftentimes challenging all life in the universe - or an entire galactic civilization. To accomplish these monumental and lofty goals, the villain has to have a proportionate amount of power in turn. 

The most powerful sci-fi characters are often gods in their fictional realities. But what if the top science fiction villains were brought together and forced to square off against one another? Could Palpatine overpower the T-1000? What if they were standing on the bridge of the ship controlled by HAL 9000? Every one of these villains is strong - but who's the strongest? 

Photo: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi / 20th Century Fox

  • 1
    472 VOTES
    Darth Vader
    Photo: Star Wars: A New Hope / 20th Century Fox

    If Emperor Palpatine was the master planner in the overthrowing of the Republic, Darth Vader was the sword that allowed him to enact his will. After his first encounter with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn as a child, it was immediately clear to the older master that Vader had the potential to be the strongest Force user of all time. 

    Vader marched into the Jedi Temple, flanked by an army of clone troopers, and didn't leave until he had personally slaughtered every last Jedi there. He then spent the early years of the Empire chasing down Jedi across the galaxy, making them all bow to his superior will and strength. Without Vader, the Republic would still stand. 

    472 votes
  • 2
    423 VOTES
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Even without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos was still one of the most powerful brawlers in the Marvel Universe. With his group of warriors, he laid siege to entire planets and wiped out half of multiple species throughout the galaxy, without so much as a single Power Stone. Thanos was able to absolutely destroy even the Hulk in hand-to-hand combat. Without the stones, he was still the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe.

    With the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos had the power of a god. He did exactly what he wanted to do, which was eliminate half of all life in the universe, but he could have done anything. He possessed complete control over time and reality. 

    423 votes
  • Emperor Palpatine
    Photo: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi / 20th Century Fox

    The Republic stood for thousands of years, protected by the noble Jedi Knights, until Palpatine decided to burn it all down. That's how powerful this man was. He brought down a government that didn't just serve the people for 10 years, or even 100, but literally thousands. Working together with his master, Darth Plagueis, Palpatine plotted to become the Chancellor, then started a conflict he manipulated from both sides until he ultimately brought the entire Jedi Order and the Republic to their knees. When he eventually seemingly perished after a betrayal by the hand of his apprentice, he kept his consciousness preserved for decades, waiting to one day strike again. 

    All that is to say nothing of his sheer physical power. Throughout the franchise, Palpatine rarely lost a fight, and basically, never a fair one. When the Jedi Order sent their best recruits to take him down, he disposed of multiple Jedi Masters in seconds. Later, he fought the strongest Jedi there ever was, Yoda, and won. 

    Originally, Star Wars seemed like a story about Luke Skywalker. Later, with the release of the prequels, it seemed like the story was about Anakin Skywalker. Finally, with the release of the sequels and Sidious being the villain once again, it's clear that audiences were really watching the Palpatine Saga. 

    365 votes
  • 4
    308 VOTES
    Photo: Terminator 2: Judgement Day / TriStar Pictures

    The T-1000 was a huge upgrade over the previous Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator. A big part of this upgrade was the substitution of metal and rubber for a liquid metal known as "mimetic poly-alloy." This basically meant that the T-1000 was capable of fully and instantaneously transforming its appearance to mimic those around it. It could also generate blunt-force, simple weapons for itself like knives. This liquid metal allowed the T-1000 to form and un-form at will, making it impervious to bullets and other blunt objects. If the T-1000 were to be fully ripped apart, its parts would simply seek each other out and rejoin. In a lot of ways, he is truly the ultimate slaying machine. 

    Unlike other Terminator models, the T-1000 could think for itself. This made this particular model dangerous enough that Skynet, its creator, didn't want to mass-produce them. Skynet was terrified by its own creations, and for good reason. 

    308 votes
  • 5
    290 VOTES
    Photo: Alien vs. Predator / 20th Century Fox

    As shown in Alien, even a single, incredibly young Xenomorph was absolutely not to be messed with. Well, a Xenomorph queen is a bigger, stronger, more intelligent upgrade. Basically, they're about twice as big as the average Xenomorph. Don't worry, though, as in general, their role is to stay within the hive, maintain it, and lay their eggs to create new Xenomorphs. And, to be honest, while brute strength isn't necessarily its bread and butter, the ability to create more Xenomorphs is an incredible display of power itself. 

    The queen stands about 4-5 meters tall, is basically impervious to gunfire, can rip an android in half with its bare hands, and can run about 40 km an hour. To top it off, they're intelligent enough to negotiate with humans and operate basic machinery. They can also control their hive with rudimentary language skills. 

    290 votes
  • 6
    286 VOTES
    Agent Smith
    Photo: The Matrix / Warner Bros.

    Inside of the Matrix, Agent Smith was incredibly powerful. Smith acted as an agent of the Matrix, tasked to police it from threats. This meant that his power came directly from the thing he was policing - as if a highway patrol cop could manifest asphalt to throw at speeders. 

    Later, after Smith was seemingly terminated, he became a free agent, AKA an Exile. This meant that he was no longer confined to his previous role of servitude. Basically, in addition to his superheroic powers, like increased strength and super speed, he could alter the very reality of the Matrix. By the end of the trilogy, his powers rivaled those of the One. 

    286 votes