The Star Trek universe has grown by leaps and bounds since the first episode aired on September 8, 1966. The fan-favorite series is famous for depicting a future where mankind has come to find peace. Humanity now traveled the stars seeking out new life and new civilizations. Star Trek has given the world of pop culture quite a few different heroes.
For each hero that has come from Gene Roddenberry’s creation, there have also been a great number of villains. While not every villain has stood out over time, some have become as well-known as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. These are the villains that have left an impression not only in the Star Trek universe but in pop culture as a whole.
Updated on May 7, 2023, by Alexandra Locke: Star Trek is one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Its focus on exploration and peace is still lauded to this day. However, that doesn’t mean the show is without its villains. Some of the most terrifying TV villains came from Star Trek. As there have been numerous spin-offs and movies, this article has been updated to include even more of Star Trek’s greatest villains.
15 Gary Mitchell (TOS)
Gary Mitchell appeared in one of the most memorable episodes of Star Trek: TOS. He started as a close friend of Captain Kirk and the ship’s navigator for the USS Enterprise. However, the Galactic Barrier irradiated Mitchell, and he gained supernatural powers. Gary’s powers continued to intensify, and as he grew more powerful, he became less human.
Gary Mitchell lost all connection to his humanity, and he put the crew of the Enterprise at risk. He tried to force Captain Kirk to do the one thing no good leader ever wants to do; kill his own crewmate. Gary Mitchell set the standard for what made a good Star Trek foe. He was a character fans rooted against even as they felt for him.
14 Armus (TNG)
While there were several “red shirts” who died in service to the Enterprise, no member of the main bridge crew was permanently killed off without being resurrected somehow. That all changed in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Skin of Evil” from the first season. A few of the best members of Star Trek: TNG‘s away team encountered a powerful being known as Armus.
Armus was a being composed of the discarded evil from an ancient race of alien celestials. He had incredible psionic abilities that he used to strike down Lt. Tasha Yar. She died instantly, and Armus threatened other members of the crew by trapping them inside his inky liquid body. Picard was able to outsmart Armus and free his crew members, but the damage was done.
13 Captain Gabriel Lorca (Discovery)
Star Trek: Discovery introduced the titular new ship and its captain, Gabriel Lorca. He recruited Michael Burnham to his crew and manipulated his mission orders to take the Discovery to another reality. Lorca was secretly from the Mirror universe, a dark alternate reality that first appeared in The Original Series.
Lorca was a Starfleet traitor who turned on the Terran Emperor in the Mirror Universe. He escaped punishment by traveling to another reality. Lorca replaced his counterpart and rose through the ranks of Starfleet to claim his own ship. Lorca was conniving and determined, which made him a dangerous enemy for the new era of Star Trek.
12 The Hirogen (Voyager)
A species of hunters, The Hirogen harried the USS Voyager as they attempted to return to Federation space. Wanting the Voyager and her crew as trophies, various groups of the Hirogen attacked the lost ship numerous times throughout the series.
The encounters varied from one or two of the crew coming across the Hirogen to a two-part episode where some Hirogen capture the ship. They force the brainwashed crew into performing various scenarios on the Holodeck, including a version of German-occupied France. With their insatiable need for the hunt, the Hirogen proved one of Voyager’s toughest challenges.
11 Lore (TNG)
One of the things some fans forget about Data is that he has a brother. Dr. Noonien Soong created Lore, who is a prototype android and the older brother of Lt. Cmdr. Data. He had emotions, but his inability to handle his feelings properly led to Lore becoming a megalomaniac villain. He believed he was better than humans and other organic lifeforms.
Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lore believed he was not only superior to living beings but to his brother Data as well. His association with powerful forces like the Crystalline Entity allowed him to manipulate it and turn it towards destruction. Lore would later lead a group of Borg against the crew of the Enterprise. However, his ego would eventually lead to his destruction.
10 Species 8472 (Voyager)
Despite only appearing in a few episodes, Species 8472 was one of the most dangerous enemies the Voyager ever faced. Hailing from another dimension known as “fluidic space,” Species 8472 used a form of biotechnology for the ships and weapons. They were also known to inflict infectious diseases upon their enemies.
They posed such a threat that it took an uneasy alliance between the Voyager and the Borg to defeat them and prevent a full-scale invasion. While a few ships of Species 8472 survived and continued to harass the Voyager, most them are still in Fluidic Space, waiting for another opportunity to attack human reality.
9 Nero (Star Trek)
Introduced in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Nero was a Romulan, one of the greatest adversaries of Star Trek‘s Federation. Nero blamed Spock for the destruction of the Romulan homeworld. Nero traveled 129 years into the past, which allowed him to use his superior technology to attack the Federation ship known as the Kelvin.
This created the “Kelvin Timeline” of the reboot movie franchise. One of Nero’s most villainous acts was using implosive “red matter” to destroy the planet Vulcan. Nero’s actions set the course for the new Star Trek films, while the current TV shows continued in the original timeline.
8 The Klingons (Various)
One of the best-known alien races from the Star Trek franchise is the Klingons. They started as a futuristic version of the Soviet Union during the original series. However, Star Trek: The Next Generation revealed that the Klingons had joined the United Federation of Planets. Still, their actions in the original series and movies like killing Captain Kirk’s son were hard to forget.
The Federation-Klingon War seen in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery cemented the Klingons as one of the greatest foes in Star Trek. Despite the heroic actions of Lt. Cmdr Worf on the Enterprise and the Defiant, Klingons like Kruge and General Chang helped lay their foundation as a villainous alien race.
7 The Romulans (Various)
While the Romulans have never been given the same standing in pop culture as the Klingons, they are arguably even more villainous. The Earth-Romulan War led to the creation of the United Federation of Planets. The secretive Romulans were so elusive that no one saw their faces for over a hundred years.
When Romulans were finally seen, it shocked everyone to learn that they looked just like Vulcans. The Romulans were once part of the Vulcan society. However, they refused to bury their feelings and become purely logical beings, which led to their exile. The Romulans fought a tense battle against the Federation for control of the Neutral Zone for years.
6 The Xindi (Enterprise)
The Xindi were a collective of six alien races located in the Delphic Expanse. They are sometimes forgotten by fans despite the true horrors they brought to Earth. The main villains in the third season of the controversial Star Trek: Enterprise, the Xindi sent a superweapon to Earth after hearing that Starfleet planned to destroy them.
The Xindi superweapon killed seven million people and left a scar stretching from Florida to Venezuela. The Xindi stand out as the only enemies in all of Star Trek — besides humans, of course — who have caused serious damage to Earth. They also changed the course of history through repeated attacks on humanity that ultimately turned Earth into a galactic power.
5 The Cardassians (Various)
Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a few new alien species who would become lasting threats to the Federation. The Cardassians were a xenophobic race of aliens who were involved in quite a few violent skirmishes over territory. They also occupied the planet of Bajor and committed quite a few atrocities before the enslavement ended.
There were a few memorable Cardassian soldiers who left a lasting impression on fans. Gul Madred captured and psychologically tormented Captain Picard in “Chain of Command.” The former head of Deep Space Nine was Gul Dukat, who was responsible for quite a few war crimes against the Bajoran people.
4 The Dominion (DS9)
While Captain Picard’s biggest problems were Q and the Borg, Captain Sisko and the crew of Deep Space Nine had to deal with the Dominion. Hailing from the Gamma Quadrant, the Dominion was essentially an evil version of the United Federation of Planets. Made up of hundreds of races, the Dominion looked to expand past the Gamma Quadrant using the Bajoran Wormhole.
The Dominion War lasted two years and became one of the deadliest wars in Federation history. It only ended when a secretive faction of Starfleet known as Section 31 created a deadly plague. It threatened to wipe out the shape-shifting alien race known as the Founders, who led the Dominion.
3 Q (Various)
Introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q is an extra-dimensional being of unknown origin who appears to have nearly full control over all time and space. Q takes a specific interest in Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of his Enterprise. He used them to determine if humans deserved to exist. If Picard failed to convince Q, he would erase humanity from the galaxy.
While many of Q’s exploits were fun to watch, it was his actions that first brought the Federation to the attention of the Borg. Q tried to play his games with another of Star Trek‘s best captains, Benjamin Sisko. He quickly discovered that not every human was as willing to play along with his whims when Sisko punched the omnipotent being.
2 The Borg (Various)
One of the most dangerous enemies from Star Trek: TNG was the Borg. They were a hivemind of cyborgs that hoped to wipe out all living things in the universe and replace them. The Borg go from planet to planet, assimilating the alien races they come across and turning them into Borg. They also used up the resources of the planets to fuel themselves and their ships.
The Borg Queen led the Collective when they threatened the Enterprise in Star Trek: First Contact. They can quickly adapt and evolve to overcome almost any obstacle or threat. The only true threat to the Borg was the Federation, and they even attempted to assimilate Earth in the past to erase its place in history.
1 Khan Noonien Singh (TOS)
A former ruler of Earth, Khan Noonien Singh was a genetically engineered superhuman who rose to power during the Eugenics War. He became Star Trek‘s greatest villain after he was overthrown and exiled into space. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he led a cult that nearly killed everyone on the Enterprise before taking the life of Spock.
Khan stands out as not only the greatest villain in Star Trek but one of the greatest villains in sci-fi. The Wrath of Khan reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise, leading to a series of sequels and new shows that continue to this day. Khan was such a compelling villain that he was even brought back for the second movie in the reboot trilogy, Star Trek Into Darkness.
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