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: 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.Powerful villain?
- 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.Powerful villain?
- 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.Powerful villain?
- 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.Powerful villain?