Heroes are pointless without a proper villain to challenge them, serve as the foil, and most importantly – drop some of the most quotable lines of all time. A truly exceptional villain can take a mediocre science fiction television series to new levels, or make an already great series even more memorable. From uncomfortably relatable to full-on madness, villains are usually far more interesting than the goody-two shoes heroes that they love to torture. Let’s take a look at seven sci-fi villains that we’d love to see back on our screens in all their villainous, evil glory.
Alpha – Dollhouse
“It appealed to the schizophrenic in me. Both of them, actually.”
Portrayed by Alan Tudyk, Alpha is a rogue Active who has been simultaneously imprinted with nearly 50 distinct personalities. His original personality was the psychopathic Karl William Kraft, a convicted criminal with a zeal for face-slashing, a pastime of the multi-faceted Alpha that would surface occasionally. After a bit of a murderous rampage and an escape from the Dollhouse, Alpha’s villainous ways are motivated by his obsession with main protagonist Echo (Eliza Dushku). The various imprints range from clearly unhinged to goofily agoraphobic, and Tudyk’s portrayal of each imprint results in one of the most chilling villains in sci-fi TV history.
The Smoking Man – The X-Files
“Don’t try and threaten me, Mulder. I’ve watched presidents die.”
The X-Files’ Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is undoubtedly one of the most compelling villains ever created, not only within the realm of sci-fi but in all of television. As a key player in the Syndicate, the shadow government organization that served as the main adversary of Scully and Mulder, The Smoking Man attempts to hide the truth of alien existence from the two agents. He has a long record of evil-doings, such as assassinating world leaders like JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. and attempting to kill the agents on occasion. However, as coldly villainous as he is, The Smoking Man is far more complex – he’s trying to prevent an alien colonization that would completely disrupt society, and is not immune to feelings of guilt.
Servalan – Blake’s 7
“When the Federation finally cleans out this cesspit, I shall have that vulpine degenerate eviscerated with a small and very blunt knife.”
Supreme Commander, and later President of the Federation, Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) made an impression on Blake’s 7 watchers with her cold-but-charming demeanor. The character was originally intended to be a single appearance, but became the primary and most memorable villain of the show. Servalan was something of an elegant megalomaniac, wrapping her ruthless ambitions up in luxurious clothing and pleasant smiles. But don’t be fooled – she had no qualms about sacrificing people and planets to achieve her goals.
Q – Star Trek: The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Voyager
“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”
Q, a godlike entity of the Q Continuum, is probably more of an anti-villain than a true villain. Obnoxious and often rude, Q (John de Lancie) would pop up in order to taunt and toy with the crew of the Enterprise, antagonizing them with his trickster ways, and sometimes even helping them out. It wasn’t all fun and games, however – Q also had a menacing side that would put the crew in real danger. He especially focused his energy on Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and was perhaps the closest thing to an antagonist for the character, providing tension and entertainment over the course of the series.
John Cavil(s) – Battlestar Galactica
“Send a message that the gloves are coming off. The insurgency stops now, or else we’ll start reducing the human population to a . . . more manageable size, I don’t know, say . . . less than a thousand.”
Battlestar Galactica had a ton of fantastically ambiguous characters and each of the Cylons were frightening in their own way, but there was just something completely sinister about the Machiavellian Number One (Dean Stockwell). The Ones demonstrated pure, cold calculation and had extreme disdain for both humanity and their own Cylon creators, with nothing against a little genocide, psychological torture, and memory tampering.
Ba’al – Stargate SG-1
“We’re smart enough to know we’re not actually gods. Well, some of us are anyway. There are always those who will begin to believe their own propaganda. I suppose all you need is enough people to worship you and then what’s the difference? You’re pretty much a god by definition, are you not?”
Ba’al, portrayed by Cliff Simon, is a top choice for those that like their villains a bit more down-to-earth while still having that arrogant flair that a proper antagonist needs. Humorous, genre-savvy, and highly intelligent, Ba’al was one of the last System Lords, but was quite different compared to other Goa’uld. He had a better understanding of humanity, and even occasionally cooperated with SG-1 when faced with universal threats (that threatened his own interests, of course).
Diana – V
“You rely on cunning, intrigue…I prefer the direct approach. Don’t worry, dear Pamela, I’ll do my scientific best to command your fleet. And tomorrow I’ll destroy the rebels! Consider this an early retirement.”
[shoots Pamela in the stomach]
In the original V, Diana (Jane Badler) was just about as cold-blooded as you could get. After the reptilian aliens called the Visitors come to Earth, Diana murders her way up the ladder, eventually taking command of the resource-hungry invaders. She is ruthless in her pursuits, and combined with her intelligence and background in science, Diana has a number of ways of exerting her power. We also can’t forget about her taste for small furry mammals. Diana made a reappearance in the more recent V, but we would still love to see more of her.
Which of these villains do you love to hate the most? Let us know in the comments below.