Star Wars has an interesting history around the franchise’s female villains. Most of the ones who appear onscreen in the nine-film saga are minor characters with little development, like Attack of the Clones’ Zam Wesell and Captain Phasma from the sequel trilogy.
The television shows, video games, comics, and novels under the Disney Star Wars umbrella fare a little better, with complex female villains and anti-heroines like Asajj Ventress, Reva Sevander, Mother Talzin, Governor Pryce, Lourna Dee, and the female members of the Inqusitorious. Most of the time, it feels like they are playing second fiddle to the main baddies like Darth Vader and Count Dooku, but many of them do have compelling stories and character arcs, even if they usually end with death and tragedy.
Legends, which is Star Wars content that falls outside of Disney’s established canon, features some of the most varied and well-developed female villains in the entire franchise. For this list, I wanted to highlight the female villains who aren’t Dark Jedi or Sith (that will be a list for another time) who instead rely on their military strength, political strategy, other strange powers, and their desire to achieve their goals and dominate the galaxy.
Without further ado, here are five female Star Wars villains from Legends you don’t want to mess with.
Once a mistress of Grand Moff Tarkin, Natasi Daala became the first female human to reach the rank of Admiral in the Imperial Navy. Dedicated to the Empire, politically ambitious, and ruthless to her enemies, Daala proved her worth when she emerged from a secret mission that kept her sequestered for 11 years during the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire, and brought fire and blood down upon the New Republic.
She executed a group of Imperial warlords when they refused to unite under her cause, and coordinated several attacks on the New Republic and its allies. Though she was defeated several times by the Jedi, imprisoned, and her faked her own death to escape her enemies, Daala was still an ambitious schemer, motivated by power and revenge. When the men around her refused her expertise and leadership, she murdered them. Natashi Daala doesn’t belong on the second rung of a ladder…she belongs at the top and she knows it.
Viqi Shesh is the type of politician with no true allegiance to anyone but herself and her own ambition. Highly manipulative and clever to a degree, Shesh, a representative from the Kuat system, sought to ensure her longevity in government, not to help the people she was elected to represent, but to secure her own power and place within galactic politics. When her power was threatened, Shesh switched sides to act as a spy for the fearsome and bloodthirsty Yuuzhan Vong during their invasion of the galaxy. Shesh joined the Select Committee for Refugees where she could redirect millions of displaced refugees to worlds she knew the Yuuzhan Vong would later conquer.
The full extent of Shesh’s collaboration with the Yuuzhan Vong remained secret for years until at last the complicated web of deceit she built collapsed around her. Rather than face justice from the people she wronged, and unwilling to let go of the power she’d cultivated for herself through treachery, Shesh threw herself off one of the tall towers on Coruscant. Viqi Shesh lived and died a coward, but her villainous legacy built on enablement and selfishness lived long after she was gone.
Abeloth- out of all the female villains on this list, Abeloth is the most powerful and fearsome.
Abeloth is an ancient and powerful entity, also known as the Bringer of Chaos, who corrupted herself in a desperate attempt to hold on to the life she built with other powerful Force entities, the Ones. The Ones abandoned her after she attempted to gain immortality, but her attempts twisted her mind and gave her dark powers beyond her imagination. Abeloth uses both the light and dark side of the Force, and grows more powerful the more lonely and isolated she feels. She’s skilled at mind control and can force psychosis on her victims, and she often consumes the life energy of anything she encounters.
Some Jedi have compared her to a supernova or Force volcano, with powers many mortals can’t even comprehend. She can also change her appearance, but in her true form, with her pale skin, tentacle hands, stubby arms, and mist surrounding her body, Abeloth makes for a physically terrifying foe. Any being that forces the Sith and Jedi to put aside their differences and fight together is a being you don’t want to mess with.
Ysanne Isard served the Empire as Director of Imperial Intelligence. Like her father before her, Isard became a proficient and deadly agent, though few could match her ruthlessness and ambition for power. Isard’s own father feared her, and he tried to rid himself of her by sending her on a suicide mission, but his daughter survived and vowed revenge. Isard labeled her father a traitor to the Empire, and he was executed as a result, leaving Isard free to climb the ranks of Imperial Intelligence.
Isard ruled with fear and killed anyone who crossed her or failed her instructions. Following the Battle of Endor, Isard made plans to kill and weaken her rivals, eventually naming herself Empress of the New Order. Though her reign didn’t last long, Isard made her mark on the galaxy by attempting to uphold the evil legacy left behind by Emperor Palpatine. Her cruelty and ruthlessness earned her the nickname “Iceheart.”
Charal- one of the earliest female villains to appear in Star Wars.
Charal is a Nightsister who turned her back on her sisters of Dathomir and stole an ancient artifact called the Talisman of the Raven, which allowed her to shapeshift in the form of a raven…because I guess they exist in Star Wars? After escaping Dathomir, Charal crash lands on Endor and begins terrorizing the local Ewoks, naming herself the Witch Queen of Endor. Charal is interesting because she appeared way back in 1984, in the television spinoff film, Star Wars: Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. She’s not very intimidating and spends most of the film trying to steal a starship to escape Endor, but she is the first incarnation of the Nightsisters, one of the coolest all-female groups in Star Wars. Like her sisters, Charal can reanimate corpses, summon green mist, and take over people’s minds. If the Ewoks ever get another (canon) spinoff, it would be great to see their main antagonist be Charal.