Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chainclaw's Top Ten Star Trek Villains

Ahh Star Trek, a franchise as well-known as sliced bread. In three short years the exploits of the Enterprise crew and it's spin-offs will have been around half a century. Whether it's television, animation, or feature films, Trek has a massive fanbase. While of course the adventures of Kirk, Spock, Picard, Sisko, and even Janeway or Archer are the core, there can be no mistake that Trek has some great, and memorable, villains.

The variety of villains is one of the biggest differences from Star Trek to Star Wars, which while briefly showcasing other threats usually hinges its tales on the never ending Sith/Jedi conflict. That variety is why I decided to make this list. Be forewarned this list is not based on fan popularity, or which bad guy sells the most toys or merchandise, it's simply the baddies I enjoy the most from the various series.

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10. The Hirogen - A Voyager Villain? Well...yeah. The Hirogen were basically a more television friendly version of the "Predator" alien. I wish I could list an in depth well-grounded reason for my enjoyment of this giant gun toting race, but really it boils down to they looked cool. Plus, I really enjoyed the two parter where the Voyager crew ran around fighting Nazi uniformed Hirogen, mostly because it had a TOS vibe to it.

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9. The Ferengi - Originally designed as one of the first "new aliens" for TNG, the Ferengi went from rather cardboard cut-out mean bad guys to something more interesting. As they evolved they didn't do bad things with a thirst for conflict, their motives were almost always based on greed and the art of the deal. While this made for many humorous and atypical characters, it also delivered bad guys whom always seemed to be underestimated, yet managed to be more than a pain in the rear for the TNG era crews.

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8. The Cardassians - Oh, the evil spoon heads. Originally debuting in TNG, much like the Ferengi, they really were fleshed out in DS9. Unlike the hot blooded Klingons, the aloof Romulans, or greedy Ferengi, the Cardassians were sinister, backstabbing and brutal beings. Reptilian features like their ridged eye sockets and darting pupils, coupled with slicked back black hair, the Cardassians appeared as two legged snakes, slinking their way around the galaxy plotting their machinations. Another tidbit that adds to their menace is continued reference to a costly conflict with the Federation that was never shown fully onscreen. Add their involvement in the Dominion and you have some excellent villains.

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7. Lore - The classic "Evil Twin" to TNG's Lt Cmdr. Data, Lore was a great villain. Unlike his "brother" Lore possessed more human attributes, such as enjoying cruelty, lying with a straight face, and pretty much being a right bastard. Hey, I didn't say they were GOOD attributes. Lore was a master manipulator, playing his brother like a fiddle, duping everyone from his creator to even corralling some wayward Borg into a mini collective. His plans never came close to benevolent, and it was always fun seeing Brent Spiner stretch his acting skills to play a character so like Data but so....not.

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6. Khan Noonian Singh - Or... more universally known as "KHAAAAAAAN!" Singh was a genetic superman awoken in the time of Kirk's original tenure on the Enterprise. Plotting, focused, intelligent, and pretty damn strong, Khan posed a threat to the galaxy, until Kirk dumped him on a backwater planet. This could have been the end of Khan, but in the classic "The Wrath of Khan" the deposed would-be king returned with, well a whole lot of wrath indeed. Stealing the Genesis Device, hijacking the Reliant, and being indirectly responsible for Spock’s death made an impact no Trek fan can ignore. I'm sure you ask, "If he's so bad, why so low on the list?" Simple, Khan had two appearances total, and while his plans were grand originally, in the end his entire world unraveled to enact revenge on Kirk.

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5. The Romulans - As mentioned, cold, aloof, calculating, and devious... a few of the words that scratch the surface of the Romulans. Most of all mysterious really describes them. The Romulans aren't fans of the Federation for much of the time they appear, and their motivations really seem to depend on which Romulan is appearing which episode. I feel Rodenberry really just wanted "Evil Vulcans" and honestly that idea in and of itself is scary as hell. The fact that during the TNG era anyone nearly pooped themselves when a Warbird de-cloaked is a testament to how threatening the Romulan presence was.

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4. The Borg - A race of millions, controlled by one mind. Disturbing to see, terrifying to fight, and futile to resist, The Borg were the big breakout villains of TNG. Later they were even called upon again to help breathe life into Voyager. Short on characterization, the original encounter was to be a lesson to Picard from Q. However, the Borg followed. Ransacking the fleet, assimilating Picard, yeah they were bad. However, like a lot of popular latter day comic villains, the more they showed up, the less threatening they became. Their first few storylines cannot be ignored, but their continued "nerfing" in subsequent appearances is why they don't rank higher.

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3. The Dominion - The Dominion was something the Federation never encountered, an amoral conquering version of itself. Made of various species all worshipping the shape shifting race called The Founders, the Gamma Quadrant proved to hold a very hostile threat for sure. The shape shifters were just the tip of the iceberg, the drug fueled warriors known as the Jem'Hadar outfought and often outnumbered their Federation opposition. With a shaky Klingon alliance, plus the Cardassian and Breen throwing in with the Founders, it took amazing steps to bring almost all the major races of the Alpha Quadrant together(many like the Cardassians and Romulans, for the first time) to finally end the war. The level of doubt the Founders sowed amongst the Federation and physical/military toll the Dominion War took is why they outrank the Borg in my book.

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2. The Klingons - I can site multiple reasons why the bumpy ridged grouches are number two. I'll list the three that stick out. They were the most constant and feared threat in the TOS era. During the aforementioned Dominion War, it was widely believed if the Klingons had joined the Founders, it would have been the final nail in the Federations coffin. They have the ability to effortlessly go from having heroic and sympathetic characters like Worf, to easily going back to having an air of menace if one of the less scrupulous members shows up such as Chancellor Gowron. Finally, they did something even Khan couldn't do. They executed Kirk's son. The biggest difference in Kirk losing two important people in his life is that, well, Spock came back. Unlike the Borg who seemed weaker with more appearances, the Klingons still to this day have this aura of dread to them. They're warriors, good ones, and anything can set them off, and they've been that way for 45+ years. I think that’s good enough for the second slot.

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1. Q - Funny, oddly charming, amusingly arrogant.... oh, and able to bend the universe to his will. Q was a thorn in Picard's side many times, and his appearances range from simply funny yet poignant stories to scary, costly lessons for old Jean Luc. The reason he is such a good villain isn't just because John de Lancie played him so well, it's the fact that in the first TNG episode Q directly states he's judging humanity. This is brought up again as the series goes on whenever he pops up. It's more than a little disturbing that such a seemingly mischievous prankster is in fact judging our entire race, and if he's not impressed...poof. Unlike the Borg or Dominion threats, no fighting, no war, just gone. Fortunately in the TNG finale, it seems our race earned a stay of execution....for now.

Ok, I know some will cry foul for Khan being so low or the outright gall of me to not mention the Gorn or whatever, but this is my list. Feel free to let me know what you think. – Tony/ Chainclaw

1 comment:

  1. Pretty dang good list, Tony! Y'know, the other day, I came across the TNG season 7 episode "Bloodlines" with Daimon Bok; that's the most threatening I've ever seen a Ferengi!

    FYI, the best Borg story IMO is in the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy of novels by David Mack; he ties in TNG, DS9, Voyager and even Enterprise in explaining the story of the Borg. Good stuff.