The 15 Best Star Trek TOS Villains
Se we are about a week away from heading off to the amazing Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas and I literally couldn’t be more excited. I have been watching old episodes on NetFlix and more than a few times have caught myself humming the fight theme song (if you don’t know what that is odds are you really shouldn’t even be reading this blog).
To say I have Star Trek on the mind lately is a bit of an understatement and last night while watching the Galileo Seven it struck me how many super cool villains and aliens they managed to create without the benefit of CGI or even a real budget. I did some research but found that every list out there for Star Trek villains is cluttered up with all the TNG and DS9 villains, which in my opinion is kind of prosaic. Saying that Q is super cool or the Borg is an evil race is like saying ice cream tastes good or chewing on broken glass is a bad idea. Also, it seems like every list can’t seem to get away from the idea that the villains from Nemesis or First Contact were something more the cliche filler. Therefore I have taken it upon myself to compose a list of the greatest villains from the the Original Series.
Actually, this isn’t so much a stretch. If you take into account the fact that the writers were coming up with these guys without the benefit of 50 years of science fiction to fall back on these aliens (plus a few humans) are amazingly cool. I also give them credit for writing a depth that, in spite of more movie resources, seems to be missing from a lot of modern Trek villains. All the images, by the way, are from the Star Trek T Shirt category.
15. Mugatu, from A Private Little War. A space yeti with a unicorn horn, spikes growing out of it’s spine, and poisonous fangs? The only way this guy could be any cooler is if he could play the banjo and his farts cured cancer. He’s only at number 15 because in the episode he really had a minor role, but OMG awesome.
14. Evil Kirk, from the Enemy Within. I know I listed this episodes as one of my worst for TOS and I stand by that belief. However, even I have to admit crazed, super sweaty cheesy lighting Kirk was pretty damned cool.
13. The Vians, from the Empath. I know these are pretty much the same guys from the Cage and the Menagerie, but here instead of creating fantasy worlds to get Captain Pike to mate with a super hot girl they are using torture and death to get a girl to pretty much kill herself. If you really think aliens are above cruelty and vivisection you need to go watch Fire in the Sky.
12. The Earps, from Spectre of the Gun. Plus Doc Holiday. These guys really had the whole menacing “impending doom” down to a science. I have a few humans on this list, although technically since these guys were projections of the Melkotians they really were aliens.
11. The Buffalo, from the Man Trap. I can honestly say as a kid this was the grossest thing I had ever seen to date (I have since seen things that would probably cause all your internal organs to explode, but will save that for another post). Also, the suckers on the fingers were an extremely nice touch.
10. Evil Spock, from Mirror Mirror. What in the universe could possible be cooler than Spock? How about an evil Spock, with no moral hesitation to kill people? Plus I think the beard was a really good look for Nimoy.
9. Charlie Evans, from Charlie X. This poor kid. All messed up with super powers. I just watched this episode the other night and his fate always makes me sad.
8. The Cheronians, from Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. Say what you want about Star Trek, but subtlety is not one of it’s defining characteristics. When Gene Roddenberry has a point he wants made he tends to do it with a sledgehammer. However, as a parallel for human racism these two were pretty much on the mark.
7. Anton Karidian/Kodos the Executioner, from the Conscience of the King. Maybe it’s because he was playing a Shakespearean actor and I always find those guys impressive, but this guy really gripped me. Human, I know and therefore boring, but still very cool in my book. Of course it could be said that the real villain was his daughter.
6. The Horta, from the Devil in the Dark. I can honestly say this was the one episode that scared the living crap out of me at age seven. The Horta was so freaking terrifying I had a hard time watching it. Of course, looking back on it as an adult I can see it looks like a reject from H.R. Puffinstuff, but I will say this is a perfect example of the show getting as much as possible out of no budget. This episode actually showed what could be accomplished with excellent use of lighting.
5. Harcourt Fenton Mudd, from Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd. I actually got into a debate with a guy on this character. I will admit he is a cheesy as it gets, but there is something in his rapscallion, amoral approach to life that really appeals to me. I wish I had his panache and savvy. I also think the crews treatment and interaction with him, especially Kirk, was really entertaining and well done. Also, he was the first man I ever saw wearing an earring.
4. The Romulan Commander, from Balance of Terror. I listed this as my all time favorite episode in my list of best TOS shows, but honestly while the Romulan commander was amazingly cool I don’t think he was the best villain. However, he definitely was one of the best and was probably the villain I most connected with.
3. Ruk, from What are Little Girls Made Of? It’s freaking Lurch in space! Lurch who is both willing and capable of killing guys! How can this be anything less than awesome??? Also, I was 6’4″ as a Freshman in high school and have always had a bad habit of looming over people. One of my nicknames back then was Lurch, so when I saw him on Star Trek I was extremely happy.
2. The Gorn Captain, from Arena. I’m actually kind of disappointed in myself for my choice for numbers 2 and 1 as they are so obvious. I hate being obvious. However, the Gorn captain is so cool he makes my bones ache. Big, bad, and tough as hell. He kicked seven kinds of hell out of Kirk every time they encountered each other, only to fall to Kirks underhanded and scheming trap using black powder weapons. “Guns don’t kill aliens. Starship captains armed with spikes do”.
1. Khan Noonien Singh, from Space Seed. And the next most obvious choice. I know. Boring boring boring. However, Khan was truly an amazing villain. It just goes to show what happens when you combine a great, well written character with an amazing character actor like Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino. What a great villain.
Well, that’s my list. Feel free to comment here if you feel I missed a good one, or if you think I might have given too much credence to one (I expect to hear about Harry Mudd shortly). I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this. I had a lot of fun writing it. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu, and be sure to read any of my other Star Trek, movie review, or dating advice posts here. If you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at email@example.com. I might see a movie tonight (cheap night at the theater down the street) so look for a review tomorrow. Talk to you soon.