Into Darkness: Where Does Benedict Cumberbatch Rank Among the Best Star Trek Villains?
March 22, 2013
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Not surprisingly, Star Trek Into Darkness was tops at the box office this weekend and took in over seventy million dollars.
This time around it was Benedict Cumberbatch playing the villain, and he delivered an eerie and memorable performance that ranks among the best in "Star Trek" history.
Which leads us to our list. The crew of the Enterprise remains the heart of the series and is central to its mythos, but they're nothing without their villains. Here's how we rank the top twelve best villains in the history of the Star Trek universe, from the original series to the next generation and beyond.
"A god cannot survive as a memory."
Played by: Michael Forest
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode 2.02, "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
One of the most interesting aspects of the original series was how it challenged our notion of humanity and literally rewrote history. After a giant hand pulled the Enterprise into a planet's orbit, the crew met an alien that claimed to be the Greek god Apollo. They interacted with the creature and learned that not only were the Greek gods real, but they were actually alien beings that traveled to Earth but left after humans stopped worshipping them. After returning to their home planet, most of the other gods got impatient waiting for humans to find them and decided to disperse themselves throughout the cosmos, effectively dying. Apollo remained, confident that human beings would eventually travel through space and find him again. After the temple that was the source of his power was destroyed and realizing he could not make the crew of the Enterprise his slaves, Apollo decided to join his brethren in the cosmos.
"Policemen! I'd recognize them in any century!"
Played by: Daniel Davis
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" – Episodes 2.03 "Elementary, Dear Data" and 6.12 "Ship in a Bottle"
Professor Moriarty was Sherlock Holmes's arch-nemesis and, subsequently, appeared in Data's series of holodeck programs based on the legendary detective. Eventually, though, it was observed that Data was not solving the mysteries but simply memorizing Holmes's solutions and acting them out. When the computer was given a demand to create a real challenge for Data, its only solution was to give Moriarty sentience. After becoming self-aware, Moriarty took control of the ship on one occasion and on another seemingly left the Holodeck, held the ship hostage, and demanded a ship. While he was a nemesis for the crew, he also challenged them on sentient rights, correctly stating that he was a simple program no more than Data was just a machine.
10.) THE GORN
Played by: ???
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Original Series"Episode 1.19, "Arena"
C'mon, we couldn't have like this without mentioning the Gorn, who actually gets name-dropped in the new film. It's a legendarily goofy costume, but it's also emblematic of what made the original series so great, because despite how awful he looks they still managed to insert dramatic tension in Kirk's ridiculous fight scene with him.
9.) JOHN HARRISON
"Is there anything you would not do for your family?"
Played by: Benedict Cumberbatch
Appeared in: "Star Trek Into Darkness"
Any sort of write-up would likely be a spoiler, so we suggest you do what we did: go see the movie and enjoy the Hell out of it.
"I'm not good in groups. It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent."
Played by: John de Lancie
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" – Episodes 1.01 & 1.02 "Encounter at Farpoint," 1.10 "Hide and Q," 2.16 "Q Who," 3.13 "Deja Q," 4.20 "Qpid," 6.06 "True Q," 6.15 "Tapestry," 7.25 & 7.26 "All Good Things"Deep Space 9" – Episode 1.07 "Q-Less""Voyager" – Episodes 2.18 "Death Wish," 3.11 "The Q and the Grey," 7.19 "Q2"
Q is both the name of one of the central antagonists of "The Next Generation" and also the collective he belongs to: an alien race that evolved to the point of being nigh-omnipotent. But unlike most of his species,, Q was more "hands on" with what he considered lesser life forms. He was fascinated by the actions of Starfleet and in particular Captain Picard, who he habitually antagonized but he also considered important to the development of the human race. In addition to "The Next Generation," Q also appeared in the two follow-up series "Deep Space 9" and "Voyager."
7.) COMMANDER KRUGE
"Kill one of them. I don't care which."
Played by: Christopher Lloyd
Appeared in: "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"
Spock's death at the end of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" lasted about as long as it took to get through the credits sequence. The third movie didn't quite live up to the second, but one of the highlights was Christopher Lloyd (yes, that Christopher Lloyd) as the evil Klingon commander hell bent on transforming Genesis, the terraforming (and convenient plot) device that revived Spock, into a weapon of mass destruction.
6.) THE MIRROR UNIVERSE
Played by: Various
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Original Series" - Episode 2.10 "Mirror Mirror,""Deep Space 9" - Episodes 2.23 "Crossover," 3.19 "Through the Looking Glass," 4.20 "Shattered Mirror," 6.08 "Resurrection," 7.12 "The Emperor's New Cloak"
If you're ever watching a TV show and they make a joke or visual gag out of an evil version of someone having a goatee, it's a direct reference to one of the most famous episodes of the original series. After Kirk, Scotty, and Uhuru are beamed aboard the Enterprise during an ionic storm, they find themselves in a parallel universe where Kirk is a brutal commander, Earth is the head of an evil empire, and Spock has a goatee that makes him look like a poet at an open mic in the East Village. Eventually, though, it's revealed that Mirror Spock isn't ENTIRELY evil. This universe was revisited in "Deep Space 9," where members of the crew including Major Kira encountered evil, twisted versions of themselves.
5.) CAPTAIN TRACEY
"We've got to stay alive. Let the Yangs kill us and destroy what we have to offer, and we'll have committed a crime against all humanity. I'd say that's slightly more important than the Prime Directive. Wouldn't you, Jim?"
Played by: Morgan Woodword
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Original Series" Episode 2.25 "The Omega Glory"
Ronald Tracey was a Starfleet Captain who lost his crew to a mysterious virus that he somehow avoided. Driven insane with grief and convinced that the virus somehow held the secret to immortality, he acted in violation of the Prime Directive by choosing sides in an interplanetary conflict. He was thwarted and it was later revealed that the antibodies developed against the virus did not lead to a longer life. As wrong as he was, you couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy.
"Of course I'm paranoid. Everyone's trying to kill me."
Played by: Jeffrey Combs
Appeared in: "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (24 episodes total)
As the crew of "Deep Space 9" traveled further into the Delta Quadrant they ran afoul of the evil Dominion, an empire of genetically engineered soldiers and emissaries that worshipped changelings. One such species, the Vorta, was genetically engineered to direct the subservient soldier race the Jem'Hadar and keep them hooked on ketracel-white, a highly addictive substance whose withdrawal symptoms are fatal. Of all the Vorta the crew of DS9 encountered, the one that proved to be a true thorn in their side was Weyoun. Various cloned versions appeared throughout the run of the series, each one creepier and more devious than the next.
3.) THE BORG
Source: Paramount Domestic Television
"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
Played by: Various
Appeared in: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - Episodes 2.16 "Q Who," 3.26 "The Best of Both Worlds," 4.01 "The Best of Both Worlds Part 2," 5.23 "I, Borg," 6.26 "Descent," 7.01 "Descent, Part 2,"Star Trek: Deep Space 9" – Episodes 1.01 & 1.02, "Emissary""Star Trek: First Contact" (movie)"Star Trek: Voyager" – 22 episodes total
The Borg were a hive mind of deadly cyborgs whose only mission was the assimilation of all life in the universe. They were brought to our corner of the universe by Q, who forced the Enterprise into an initial encounter with them. They eventually arrived in our sector and became the the Next Generation's deadliest adversary, even taking Picard as one of their own and giving him a new name ("Locutus"). After their defeat, they eventually developed individual personalities with one of them, Seven of Nine, becoming a crew member of the starship Voyager.
"One man's villain is another man's hero, Captain."
Played by: Marc Alaimo
Appeared in: "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"
No other villain appeared as regularly or was as deeply entrenched in his respective series as Dukat, who was one of the primary villains on "Deep Space 9" and, occasionally, one of its allies. Before the start of the series he had overseen the station when it was still in Cardassian possession during the occupation of Bajor, and thus felt the station was still his and eventually would be again. As the series progressed, his motivations changed from that of a patriot to someone with a (literal) God complex. What made him so fascinating was the complicated relationship he developed with the crew of the station and the fact that even at his worst, you still sort of sympathized with him.
Source: Paramount"To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"
(from Moby Dick)Played by
: Ricardo MontalbanAppeared in
: "Star Trek: The Original Series"
Episode 1.24 "Space Seed" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"
As tempted as we were to place Dukat as number one, it just wouldn't seem right to have anyone else in the top spot. He is, after all, one of the biggest movie villains of all time. He first appeared in an episode of the original series, where he was awoken from his cryogenic slumber. At one time he ruled over a large portion of the Earth as a dictator along with other genetically engineered superhumans, but after the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s (yep) ended, he fled Earth. After the Enterprise thwarted him, he was given a planet where he and the others could live in peace. Starfleet never followed up on them. As a result, many died, including Khan's wife. Blaming Starfleet and Kirk in particular for her death, Khan engaged in a twisted revenge plot that played out in the second film, which is the consensus best installment of the series.
And there you have it. Are there any that we missed? Disagree with the rankings? Yell at us in the comments! (As if you needed us to ask.)