Terrifying Star Wars villains you've never heard of

The Star Wars series boasts some of the most frightening villains of all time. From the manipulations and Force lightning of Emperor Palpatine to the ominous breathing of the unstoppable Darth Vader, these villains have terrorized children and adults alike for decades. However, across the different forms of Star Wars media, there are villains that make Vader and the Emperor look like absolute pushovers…and many fans haven't even heard of them. Here are some of the most terrifying villains in all of Star Wars history.

Darth Revan

To the casual Star Wars movie audience, the name "Darth Revan" doesn't mean much. To video gaming Star Wars fans, though, Darth Revan is not only one of the greatest villains ever, but potentially one of the franchise's greatest heroes. He served as the nominal villain of the first Knights of the Old Republic game, in which the player controls a gifted Force adept with memory issues who's haunted by visions of Darth Revan that allegedly stem from his Force connection to Bastila, a Jedi Padawan who helped defeat Revan. In an obvious-in-hindsight plot twist, it turns out that your character actually was Revan, and those noble and honorable Jedi wiped your brain and decided to use you as a tool to fight Revan's evil former apprentice, Darth Malak.

In what would become a hallmark of Bioware games (such as the later hit series Mass Effect), your own decisions about the plot determine whether you carry on in Revan's evil former ways or try to redeem him. But what made him so terrifying in the first place? He and Malak started out on a quest for hidden knowledge and power. They ended up uncovering a Star Forge, a highly advanced bit of alien technology that allowed him to build up an entire Sith fleet from the ground up. Basically, one villain and his sidekick ended up being a legitimate threat to the entire galaxy. Compared to lapdogs like Darth Vader, that's pretty damn impressive.

Durge

The villain Durge was one of the highlights of the Clone Wars cartoon. No, not the hit CGI series: Durge actually premiered in the first traditionally animated Clone Wars cartoons that were created by Genndy Tartakovsky, the genius behind Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack. In that show, Durge makes an impression as a bold military leader who uses droids on speeder bikes to joust Republic vehicles with lances laced with powerful energy. He eventually met Obi-Wan Kenobi, and held his own until the veteran Jedi stabbed the villain in what seemed to be his heart. Durge laughed and renewed his attack, so Kenobi cut him in half and left him for dead. Durge re-formed his body and attacked Kenobi later during a battle in which clones blew his armor off. He burst out of it like some hentai tentacle nightmare and sucked Obi-Wan Kenobi into himself. However, the Jedi burst out of Durge and seemingly killed the villain.

Of course, he wasn't really dead. He was popular enough to be integrated into the then-canonical Star Wars comics which helped flesh out both a backstory for the creature and the details of how he somehow survived his mean bout of indigestion. The comics explained that he was two millennia old and had literally thousands of years of experience hunting Jedi, Mandalorians, and everything in between. Part of what makes him terrifying is that he's been a one-villain wrecking ball for generations. Worse, all this time has served to make him crazier and more lethal, making this ancient killer as unpredictable as he is deadly.

Joruus C'baoth

"Mentally unstable and deadly" is a wonderful segue to the next villain on this list. Joruus C'baoth was one of the antagonists introduced as part of Timothy Zahn's initial trilogy of Star Wars novels. At the time, these books were the biggest of big deals, as they kickstarted the interconnected, quasi-canonical Star Wars Expanded Universe. The pressure was on Zahn to recreate the beloved characters from the movies while also adding unique villains worthy of fighting them, and C'baoth definitely fit the bill.

At first, C'baoth is thought to be simply a Dark Jedi that the Emperor was using to guard a mountain storehouse of deadly Imperial gadgets. He is recruited by Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn who, himself protected by Force-canceling alien creatures called ysilamiri, uses C'baoth as part of psychological warfare against the New Republic. For instance, Thrawn put cloaking devices on smaller ships and used C'baoth to coordinate them. In Zahn's books, cloaking was never used because it blinded the cloaked ship to anything going on outside. However, with Dark Jedi insight, Thrawn could park a cloaked ship inside a planetary shield and make it look like his Star Destroyer was able to fire right through the shield, causing entire planets to surrender to the Empire. This gives C'baoth a taste for power, though, and soon he's mind-controlling entire Star Destroyer crews to his will and rewriting brains from scratch. It's later revealed that he's a crazy clone of the original C'baoth, and he clones a copy of Luke so the young Jedi Master can fight himself. Apparently, even crazy and evil Jedi enjoy the mirror matches of Mortal Kombat.

Darth Nihilus

Darth Nihilius is another villain that hails from the Knights of the Old Republic games, making his appearance in the sequel. Bioware knew Darth Revan and Darth Malak had established a high watermark for Star Wars villains, so they decided to up their game and create a trio of Sith bad guys for the sequel. Nihilus was one of these Dark Lords of the Sith, and in addition to the usual red lightsaber and Sith powers, he had the ability to feed on the living Force in other people.

In truth, it's this power that made Nihilus such a terrifying villain. The ability to feed on the Force sounds a little abstract, but as Obi-Wan was quick to remind audiences, the Force is created by and flows through all living things. In his lifetime, Nihilus was able to enslave and suck the life out of countless individuals, and he eventually became a threat to entire worlds, including Katarr. He sucked the life out of every living thing on that planet except for one woman he turned into his traumatized slave. When you think about it, Nihilus was able to do by himself what it took Vader and the Emperor multiple Death Stars to do. In this sense, he was a validation of Vader's warning that the Death Star was truly insignificant next to the power of the Force.

The original Death Troopers

By now, everyone knows about "Death Troopers," the badass cadre of black-clad stormtroopers that served to protect Director Krennic in his single-minded quest to bring the Death Star to life in Rogue One. However, in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, "Death Troopers" were very different. As described in the Death Troopers novel, they're part of an Imperial bio-weapons project that was used to basically reanimate the dead. Known as project "Blackwing," the zombie virus got out of control (do these things ever NOT get out of control?) and infected an entire Star Destroyer, forcing Han Solo and Chewbacca (along with some original characters created for the novel) to fight their way through a Star Wars mod for Left 4 Dead. The story is notable for being one of the franchise's only horror stories (the prequels don't count) and is the real explanation for those creepy zombie stormtrooper cosplays you see every Halloween.

Lord Starkiller

This next villain hails from the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video games, and the conceit of the character is that he's Darth Vader's "Plan A." Remember when Vader told Luke they could overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together? According to these video games, that wasn't Vader's first time trying that stunt. You play as the character of Galen Marek, an apprentice of Darth Vader who was functionally raised by Vader after Vader murdered Galen's Jedi father. Vader wants to use his apprentice to overthrow the Emperor, and in typical Star Wars game fashion, you must make certain choices, including whether you will ultimately fight Vader or the Emperor. The "good" ending of the game involves the apprentice dying while saving some senators who would go on to form the Republic, whereas the "bad" ending involves Marek being forced to serve as the Emperor's servant after Marek kills Vader.

In some of the DLC for the game, it expands upon who Marek becomes while serving the Emperor. He's known as "Lord Starkiller" (a cool trivia shoutout to the original name for Luke, "Starkiller" instead of "Skywalker") and sports some frightening Sith armor. In these alternate universe DLC missions, Starkiller kills Jabba's rancor, Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In another DLC mission, he actually turns Luke to the Dark Side and makes the young Jedi an apprentice so they (wait for it) can overthrow the Emperor together. So, while little known, Lord Starkiller is powerful enough to go up against some of the heaviest hitters in the Star Wars universe.

Darth Sion

Darth Sion is one of the other Dark Lords of the Sith from Knights of the Old Republic 2, and part of what makes him terrifying is simply his appearance. At a glance, he looks a bit zombie-like, and that's actually quite fitting for his backstory. He was a servant of Exar Kun (more on him directly) who was struck down on the field of battle, and he discovered that he had enough anger-powered Force juice to keep him from dying. The tradeoff was constant physical pain and the fact that he looked like an extra from Resident Evil. Still, he and Darth Nihilus wiped out the vast majority of the Jedi from their time period, and when Sion has his big confrontation with your character, he survives being defeated time and time again due to his ability to keep himself from dying.Your character eventually convinces Sion to let himself die, and the unstoppable force of a Sith warrior is finally able to stop himself. It is interesting to note that, though it came at a great cost, Sion was able to actually pull off the seemingly-impossible goal that lured Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side: using the Force to keep people from dying.

Darth Caedus

While "Darth Caedus" is an impressively opaque Sith name, this warrior had a better known name before all that: Jacen Solo. In a weird example of the Expanded Universe helping to predict future Star Wars movies, the Star Wars novels presented the story of Han and Leia's son, who started training to become a Jedi and eventually fell to the Dark Side and became a terror to the entire galaxy. While the parallels to future big bad Kylo Ren are very clear, it's interesting to note that Jacen Solo's journey to become Darth Caedus was the embodiment of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. For instance, his dark road begins with him believing that it's necessary to make greater and greater sacrifices in order to serve the greater good. He even receives a Force vision at one point that convinces him that if he doesn't turn to the Dark Side, he'll kill Luke Skywalker and plunge the galaxy into chaos (the latter of which happens because of him anyway).

How powerful was Darth Caedus? He survived a year of constant torture while still wrestling with his emotional turmoil, and after becoming evil, he was able to kill powerful Jedi and fan favorite character Mara Jade. He also tortures Luke Skywalker's son (who, also foreshadowing The Force Awakens, was named Ben) and takes on his own Sith apprentice, unlocking the "always two" achievement. The only thing that stops his galactic conquest is being defeated by his twin sister, Jaina Solo…a fact that has many EU fans wondering if Rey in Force Awakens might somehow be a long-lost sibling in order to recreate the story of Darth Caedus on the silver screen (albeit with different characters).

Exar Kun

Part of what makes Exar Kun's story so wild is how, in both his life and afterlife, he has intersected with the stories of so many characters. Kun started out as a powerful Jedi of the Old Republic, thousands of years before the galaxy had heard about any "Skywalkers." His curiosity about all things Sith led to his conversion to the Dark Side, and he ended up enslaving the natives of Yavin IV, the same place that would serve as a base for the Rebel Alliance many years later while they plotted against the Death Star. In fact, those temples you see on the planet were actually constructed by slaves under Kun's command.

Kun ended up taking on another fallen Jedi, Ulic Qel-Droma, as his apprentice, and they kickstarted the so-called Golden Age of the Sith. He terrorized the galaxy, created an army of fallen Jedi followers, and even invented the double-bladed lightsaber that Darth Maul would later rock. He destroyed entire worlds with his wrath and was only stopped when Qel-Droma turned good again and helped defeat him. Kun then used wacky Sith magic to free his spirit form, trapping it on Yavin IV where, in later novels, he tempted one of Luke's students to the Dark Side…a student who nabbed a supernova-generating starship and became a galactic terror in his own right.

Kreia

Kreia, like Kun, has an impressive number of connections to some of these other big bads. For instance, Darth Revan was her apprentice, and a bunch of her other students followed Revan back when he was taking recruits to go fight the Mandalorians. For this, the Jedi Council exiled her, and she joined the Dark Side. She formed a Sith academy and trained a new generation of Dark Side warriors. Later, she later took on Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus as her apprentices, but they betrayed her. The betrayal was pretty much expected—but they were able to cut her off from using the Force, which wasn't.

Kreia felt spurned by both the Light Side and the Dark Side, and she enacted a bizarre strategy in which, like Palpatine would thousands of years later, she played many sides against each other. For instance, she was able to manipulate Sion and Nihilus into hunting down the remaining Jedi while she also worked on converting your character from Knights of the Old Republic 2 to her own views—ones which held that neither the Light Side nor the Dark Side were the "correct path." Her ultimate game plan was to create wounds in the Force (the kind created when many people die at once, a la Alderaan) in order to free people from the Force's influence.

She manages to kill the remaining Jedi Council members with one attack, but not before they reveal they are willing to strip your character of her connection to the Force because she, too, is a wound. You eventually defeat Kreia, but she gets the last laugh…she has exposed that the Jedi are willing to compromise their principles in order to protect themselves. And, as she points out after you defeat her, you have become a powerful and independent warrior because you have transcended the teachings of Jedi and Sith. Ultimately, Kreai's greatest power is one of narrative, as she undermines decades of what audiences have been told about the purity of the Light Side and the evil of the Dark Side, forcing audiences to, as Yoda might say, "unlearn everything you have learned."