Khan Noonien Singh is no longer the No. 1 villain in the Star Trek universe

Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban on the set of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, directed by Nicholas Meyer. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban on the set of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, directed by Nicholas Meyer. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Star Trek fans have voted and Khan Noonien Singh is no longer the top villain in Star Trek history.

Star Trek fans have spoken and the kingdom of Khan Noonien Singh is no longer. The once great villain from the Original Series episode “Space Seed” and the second-ever Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan, has been formally replaced as the top dog in the villain hierarchy in Trek.

All hail your new lord and master; Gul Dukat.

Dukat as the main foil on Deep Space Nine, and often waffled between a racist warlord, to a man of honor, to murder, to a loving and doting father. He was all over the place like little paint-covered handprints in a hallway, after a toddler’s parents left paint cans out.

Likewise, it was a sight to behold. He was chaotic but authentic. Torn between his duty and his beliefs, not always being things that coincided with one another. What was best for Dukat wasn’t always what was best for Cardassia.

Even if he didn’t always see it that way. He was complex, layered, and brilliantly acted. While the scripts that Khan actor Ricardo Montalban had were great; Deep Space Nine just gave Dukat more to work with. Dukat’s actor Marc Alaimo made every brilliant line he was given seem like poetry, and fans were hooked on his mesmerizing cadence.

He truly felt like he was embracing the idea of being a dictator and Alaimo delivered some of the best performances in Star Trek history.

Gul Dukat is absolutely a better villain than Khan Noonien Singh

While it’s subjective who you like best, it cannot be denied that Gul Dukat simply had more moments to his name. All together, Khan had maybe two and a half hours across his lone episode and movie, while Dukat had hundreds of hours of work across seven seasons to draw from.

In just a sheer volume of moments, Dukat wins this easily. That isn’t the only time Dukat has the clear-cut advantage either. A villain is defined by his reasoning and goals. For Khan, it was vengeance. Sure, he was a dictator and mass murderer before he was frozen and locked away, but fans never saw that. No, fans saw the Khan who only wanted revenge on Kirk. That was what defined him as a villain and while revenge is always a great motivator for a villain, but Dukat had grander aspirations.

For Dukat, it wasn’t revenge or even hatred that motivated him. It was the never-ending belief that he was right. That he was the hero and he would force the entire galaxy to bend to his will and admit that he was right.

His villainy to many was an act of heroism to others and it added so much complexity to the storyline. The people of Cardassia saw him as a hero. It added to his legacy. That made his fall and rise again throughout Deep Space Nine over the series so much more impactful. He went from a hero of Cardassia to a villain and that made him empathetic. It made him, for lack of a better term, more human.

Then he lost whatever decency he had once again and became far worse than anyone ever thought possible.

For Khan, revenge storylines are pretty common. He was excellent in the role but few villains in all of television or film will ever match the level of depth and complexity that Dukat had, and that just made him a better villain for it.

Ranking every Star Trek film in franchise history according to metrics. dark. Next