At this point, the Fast and the Furious franchise is known for its death-defying stunts, high-octane car chases, brutal fistfights, and an intense emphasis on the family bond between our lovable band of heroes. But with so much action and story at their backs, it’s easy to forget that Dominic Toretto’s gang would be absolutely nothing if it wasn’t for the cavalcade of villains that dare to cross their paths and invite the utter chaos and butt-whooping that comes with having an antagonistic relationship with the "family."
When we first met Dom (Vin Diesel) and company, they were low-level street racers. Now, thanks to a collection of increasingly high-profile and downright bonkers villains, the gang has literally saved the world multiple times. However, in order to achieve the progression that’s believably put these heroes in some of the most epic situations that action movie franchises have to offer, every amazing major villain needed a worse one to precede them. As a result, the franchise is riddled with both forgettable and unforgettable baddies that ended up under Dom’s boot at some point or another.
So it’s worth taking a look back at the villains that paved the way for this increasingly high-stakes franchise to thrive. From forgettable crime lords to incredible super soldiers, here are the Fast and Furious villains ranked from worst to best.
Carter Verone is one of the all-time worst Fast and Furious villains
After the first movie, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner went on the run to Miami where he quickly made a name for himself in the local racing scene and eventually reconnected with his childhood friend, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). Together, they worked with the U.S. Customs agency to take down a serious drug operation run by a man named Carter Verone, who’s played by Cole Hauser. And, well, the villain of 2 Fast 2 Furious isn’t exactly a top-tier bad guy.
Not only is the actor forced to do an Argentinian accent that frankly goes in and out the whole movie, but Verone is relatively small potatoes as far as crime bosses go. Sure, he’s got henchmen and a lot of property, but at the end of the day, he’s just a rich Miami jerk with a dirty cop or two in his pocket. Throughout the movie, his only real leverage over Brian and Roman is that he continues to threaten undercover agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), who’s playing the helpless girlfriend and putting up with his abuse in the hopes of a large arrest.
The real enemy of the movie is the police breathing down the hero’s necks as they reluctantly use their driving talents to bust Verone’s operation wide open. When the time comes, all it takes is a good car crash and a bullet to the shoulder to bring the crime boss down for good. Sure, he vows to hunt the duo down when he’s released from jail, but it’s been the better part of 20 years, and he’s well out of his depth with the larger team as it stands today.
Fenix Calderon can’t do anything right
An exciting thing happened for the franchise in 2009. After two subsequent movies, the cast of the original film that became so popular reunited once again in Fast & Furious. It would take a really powerful bad guy to not only bring the team back together but take on the full brunt of Dom and Brian working on the same team. Unfortunately, audiences had to settle for Fenix Calderon (Laz Alonso).
The character is introduced as Arturo Braga’s number one henchman and best drug runner. He’s established pretty early on as an antagonist when it’s revealed that he killed Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) and has every intention of killing Brian and Dom. What makes him one of the lower cogs on this list is that he fails at literally every job he has in the movie.
First of all, it’s revealed in Fast & Furious 6 that after running Letty off the road and having her at barrel’s end, he decides to get fancy and shoot the gas tank rather than execute her outright. She lives. Later in the fourth movie, he’s tasked with killing the people that helped him run drugs under the U.S. and Mexico border. That team includes Brian and Dom. Surprise — he fails at that too.
After a death-defying climactic chase through underground tunnels, he does manage to wipe O’Conner’s car and is about to execute him when — you guessed it — he fails. Dom crashes into him, and that’s pretty much the end of Fenix’s story right there.
Takashi is pretty much a spoiled brat
Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift is a strange installment in the franchise. In addition to being the lowest-grossing film of the series, it’s the single biggest headache for the timeline of the Fast and Furious movies thanks to the death of Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), who appears in the next three movies.
On top of all that, when it comes to villains, it’s got one of the lower rungs on the totem pole with Takashi (Brian Tee), the self-proclaimed drift king of Tokyo. When young hot shot Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) makes his way to the city looking to break into the racing scene, he quickly learns that it’s not about quarter-mile straightaways in the densely packed urban environment. He gets a face full of humiliation from Takashi before finding himself entangled in a web that includes the villain’s Yakuza boss uncle.
In the end, the duo agree to a drift race, with the loser being forced out of Tokyo for good. If that feels a little low stakes for a franchise that includes our heroes running away from a nuclear submarine, that’s because it is. At the end of the day, Takashi is just a rich kid with great family connections and some driving acumen. However, his biggest feats of villainy have more to do with throwing temper tantrums that see him cheat at races and attempting to kill people on matters of whiny pride alone.
Hernan Reyes isn’t the most intimidating crime boss
Reyes has the distinguished honor of being one of the many villains in Fast 5, a film that’s largely considered as the reboot that the franchise needed to take it out of the realm of dated street-racing movies and into the realm of the stunt-based action genre. Sure, Fast 5 had its driving scenes, but it also ventured into fistfights, heist schemes, and some minor gunplay. Reyes was the spark that lit that fuse.
However, that’s where his acumen as a villain ends. He’s another generic South American crime boss who orders other people to do his bidding and, of course, fails to do anything to scare Dom’s team. Granted, he’s the reason that the disjointed characters from the four previous movies are forced to get together in one setting, but Reyes himself is not a fighter, a driver, or a particularly clever person. In fact, most of the movie is spent seeing Dom and his gang straight-up threatening him just so that they’re able to more easily steal his stockpile of cash.
While actor Joaquim de Almeida does a great job portraying the crime boss, once the chips are down and there are no more people or dirty cops for him to order around, he’s a relatively toothless being who crumbles like a Jenga tower when finally faced with the full brunt of the team.
Louis Kiet gave the Fast and Furious franchise two of its best fights
Kiet is a villain who, while not necessarily being a criminal mastermind, is by far one of the more interesting antagonists of the franchise. In addition, when someone with the talent of Tony Jaa is in a movie, it’s important to give him the credit he deserves. Another actor who deserves a lot of credit is the late Paul Walker, who clearly worked hard on his stage combat training in order to look every bit a match for the incomparable Jaa in the movie. And yeah, the battles between Brian and Kiet are pretty awesome.
The character is first introduced when Dom’s team is intercepting the convoy carrying Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) as a prisoner. O’Conner manages to get on board the bad guys’ bus, and he and Kiet engage in a highly skilled martial arts fight that’s only interrupted when the vehicle they’re on falls on its side. Kiet manages to lock Brian inside as it’s headed off a cliff, but our boy survives.
They encounter each other again at the climax of the movie where they engage in yet another high-speed fight. This time, however, Brian manages to get a clever edge over his opponent and send him down an elevator shaft to his apparent doom. Unfortunately, two Fast and Furious fight scenes, however incredible as they may be, simply don’t give him the edge over some of the other villains on this list.
Riley Hicks is the surprise villain we didn’t see coming
In a world where Dominic Toretto is constantly portrayed as a step above literally everyone he comes across, it takes a lot to successfully pull a fast one on him and the team. However, Riley Hicks manages to do just that in a shocking twist that takes place in Fast & Furious 6.
When the movie opens, DSS Agent Lucas Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is hot on the trail of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). However, he knows that he needs to bring Dom’s team in to successfully apprehend him. Things immediately go south, and it becomes clear that Shaw wasn’t only prepared for Hobbs and Toretto’s involvement … he was actually expecting it.
It turns out that Agent Hicks, who was a top performer in the DSS and even gained Hobbs implicit trust, was working with Shaw the whole time. Not only that, but the two seem to be romantically involved, as well, which came as a surprise to Letty, who kind of had a thing with Shaw herself it seemed.
That’s why it’s not surprising that when Letty and Riley encountered each other in the field, they had one of the better fist fights of the franchise, helped in large part by the fact that actress Gina Carano is a former real-life women’s MMA fighter. Although she meets her end later in the movie, she leaves a distinct mark on the franchise by helping Shaw prepare for a new class of hero by staying a step ahead of them for the better part of the sixth installment in the franchise.
Johnny Tran is the OG Fast and Furious villain
In the hierarchy of threats to Dominic Toretto and his gang, Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is by far the lowest on the list. However, he ranks higher than some villains, in part, because he has the distinguished honor of being the first Fast and Furious antagonist.
Tran is the leader of a gang in Los Angeles that deals in high-end electronics for cars. He and Dom previously had a relationship, but they agreed to a territory truce after Dom slept with Tran’s sister. As a result, each feared the other while in their respective territory. However, while Dom just wanted to race cars and pull off the occasional DVD heist, Tran had an ever-growing operation that got the attention of the FBI.
Unfortunately, he crossed the wrong team at Race Wars when Dom’s friend, Jesse (Chad Lindberg), raced him for pink slips. Jesse runs after losing the race, and Tran goes off on Dom on neutral territory, inviting a vicious beating upon his face. He responds by showing up to Toretto’s house and murdering Jesse and taking a shot at not only Dom but his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), as well. The ensuing chase results in Tran’s death and solidifies the tense relationship between Dom and Brian forever.
In short, no, Tran isn’t one of the worst threats that Toretto has faced. However, when they did cross paths, they were equals, and his death put Dom and Brian on an entirely new criminal level. Add in the charismatic portrayal by Rick Yune, and you’ve got a villain that manages to do a lot with a little.
Arturo Braga raises the stakes
Arturo Braga (John Ortiz) has the rare distinction of being the only villain in the movies so far to return and not be considered an active member of the good guy’s team. He’s introduced in Fast & Furious as a longtime heroin smuggler whose cartel in Mexico has expanded well into Los Angeles. He’s first seen by Brian and Dom when the duo are forced to race each other in order to gain entry onto his team of drivers.
He’s the man that pulls Fenix Calderon’s strings, and he’s therefore responsible for all the hurt that Letty’s apparent death causes. However, his reach extends further than that. While he’s not the strongest or most talented villain, he’s by far the largest crime boss that the gang had come up against at that time. He’s the perfect stepping stone from Johnny Tran, Brian and Dom’s last canonical baddie at that point in the franchise. His operation is far-reaching, driving alone can’t stop him, and it forces the good guys to join forces with the law in order to take him down.
In short, Braga may not be the most captivating villain, but he’s an important chess piece on the board in terms of raising the stakes and making sure these characters don’t stay battling street-level tough guys forever. When he returns in Fast 6, it’s revealed that he’s working with Owen Shaw, who brings the gang more into the government’s pocket than anyone else — but more on that later.
Mose Jakande is quite the problem in Furious 7
While Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was far and away the main villain of Furious 7, it’s actually Mose Jakande that causes the team so much grief in that film.
Born in Nigeria, Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) is a mercenary and warlord who’s determined to bring his little private army into the forefront of world dominance through use of the God’s Eye — a device that allows the user to hack and use any piece of technology in a given area. Hoping to capture this terrifying tech, Jakande kidnaps Ramsey in an attempt to get her to give him the device. Worse still, he almost kills Toretto when our hero tries to rescue the computer hacker, forcing Dom to literally drive off a cliff rather than face the slew of bullets Jakande plans to send his way.
The character becomes a further thorn in the team’s side when he allies himself with Deckard after realizing that they have a shared interest in stopping Dom’s team. However, he makes the grave tactical error of turning on Deckard once he’s outlived his usefulness during their climactic battle in Los Angeles. Once Jakande has the God’s Eye and control over it, he decides to try and kill both Deckard and Dom, which obviously doesn’t work out in his favor. While he may not have had a ton of screen time, he looms large over the seventh movie.
Connor Rhodes is the franchise’s best henchman
The Fast and the Furious movies have a lot of unnamed or downright useless henchmen characters. However, Connor Rhodes (Kristofer Hivju) is perhaps the most influential sidekick in the entire franchise.
He’s incredibly loyal to the villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron), and he’s one of the men responsible for blackmailing Toretto by kidnapping Elena (Elsa Pataky), and he’s even the trigger man when the time comes to execute her just to prove a point to Dom. Not only is actor Kristofer Hivju a physical match for the ever-imposing Vin Diesel, but his character proves a proper foil for him in a movie where the lines of good and evil are blurred.
While Dom is a reluctant participant in Cipher’s villainy, Connor approaches his often heinous tasks with glee. He even attempts to kill Letty more than once in the movie, finally sparking Dom’s rage. Unfortunately, once his blackmailed leverage over Dom goes out the window, he’s no match for an infuriated good guy, and he gets his neck snapped right on the hood of Dom’s car.
Rhodes’ candle burned bright and fast in The Fate of the Furious, but that doesn’t make him any less of a worthwhile villain in the franchise.
Kara can put up one heck of a fight
After squaring off against MMA fighter Gina Carano in Fast & Furious, Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty got a sort of title shot in Furious 7 against none other than UFC superstar Ronda Rousey, who played Abu Dhabi-based bodyguard Kara. There isn’t much to Kara’s character in the movie other than she’s excited to get into a fistfight against another woman in an elegant gown at a lavish skyscraper party, but in fairness, it’s one amazing fight.
When Letty has to infiltrate a prince’s penthouse, she’s spotted by the head of security, the aforementioned Kara. Realizing something is up, Kara pursues Letty to an off-limits area of the party and has three female guards attack her. Once the three guards are dispatched, it’s a one-on-one fight between Letty and Kara that’s one of the more vicious and brutal in the franchise. They even exchange some witty banter, as Letty suggests she knocked out a male guard with her "charm," prompting Kara’s comeback line, "B****, you’re not that charming."
The fight ends in a bit of a draw, with the girls tumbling over a banister onto a DJ’s setup, where Letty is able to make a quick escape from the party. Unfortunately, that’s all of the character that fans get from the movie, but the fight scene itself made up a lot of the marketing for the seventh installment in the franchise. It was so well done that Rodriguez later admitted to actually sustaining injuries while filming. However, she claims she loved the end result.
Owen Shaw is a bad guy who took the franchise to a new level
After years of increasingly scary villains putting the team in increasingly intense situations, the Toretto family finds their way to international acclaim when they’re asked by the American government to help bust a team of similarly trained thieves with a penchant for "vehicular warfare."
The antagonists are led by Owen Shaw, a former SAS operative who’s spent the last few years as a mercenary. He’s revealed to have been the one pulling Arturo Braga’s strings, showing him how to think of his operation more globally than locally. He even ordered the hit on Letty once he realized that she was an FBI informant. And it was on Owen to finish the job that Fenix failed to complete, but that’s when he discovered that Letty had no memory of her past life. So, he took her under his wing and used her spectacular driving and criminal skills to his own advantage.
In many ways, Owen (played by the super recognizable Luke Evans) represents everything that Dominic and his crew have been preparing for their whole lives. His team is essentially a mirror version of Dom’s, and his ultimate goal is to create something that could literally destroy the world. Owen hits them not only on a personal level but a professional one, as well, making him far and away their toughest villain at this point in the series. He would likely be higher on the list if he didn’t return in The Fate of the Furious as an ally to the very man who put him in a coma.
Cipher is pulling all the strings
If Owen Shaw deserves top marks for having Braga in his pocket, Cipher edges him out on the list because she actually had Owen in hers. Played by the inimitable Charlize Theron, she’s revealed in The Fate of the Furious as an expert hacker who’s successfully managed to convince the world that she’s not actually a person but a hacking collective. She uses her skills to move both people and governments around like chess pieces in order to secure herself some massive power, such as use of the God’s Eye and a "Nightshade" device.
In addition, similar to Owen, she manages to hit Dominic really close to home by kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Elena Neves, and the son he didn’t know they had together. However, unlike Shaw who failed to kill both Letty and Mia, Cipher successfully executes Elena just to prove a point. Unlike many of the other villains that dare to cross Toretto’s path, she manages to escape without suffering serious bodily harm. And as the series is still ongoing, it looks like Cipher is set to pose even more problems for our heroes going forward.
Deckard Shaw is a charming and complicated Fast and Furious villain
A lot of people on this list have been given bad marks for joining up with Dom and his crew after spending an entire movie trying to end their lives in deeply personal ways. While normally it’s the mark of a bad villain to become a somewhat morally questionable good guy in the end, it works for Deckard Shaw thanks to the incomparable charm of Jason Statham.
Deckard is first introduced at the end of Fast & Furious 6 when it’s revealed that the accident that killed Han was no accident at all. It was a targeted hit designed to place a shot across the bow of Dom’s family for what they did to Shaw’s little brother, Owen. He then spends Furious 7 on a relentless mission to finally give Dom a run for his money as the film’s core villain. Unfortunately, he’s defeated in a car park fist fight by Dom.
It’s revealed in subsequent movies, though, that Shaw’s reputation as a murderer who betrayed his country was a false narrative created by his enemies. Although he’s quite the badass, he has a code that he lives by. Prior to joining up as a reluctant ally in The Fate of the Furious, he was a mercenary for hire who only took missions that would allow him to sleep at night.
In other words, he’s a complicated villain in a franchise filled with some typical point-and-click baddies. Although his recruitment in Dom’s family is a little unorthodox, the films go out of their way to explain that he belongs, and his charisma led to the first spinoff movie, Hobbs and Shaw, that left very few fans complaining.
Brixton Lore is one of the all-time best Fast and Furious villains
Prior to the spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, precious little was known about Deckard other than he was a well-trained mercenary who you really didn’t want to have a grudge against you. Although his change from villain to hero was pretty much completed in The Fate of the Furious, his involvement with a man named Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) solidified his role as a good guy.
Brixton was in MI6 alongside Shaw early on in their respective careers. However, Deckard didn’t share Brixton’s apathy for human life and, therefore, put a bullet in his head. What he didn’t know was that Brixton survived the assassination attempt and was given mechanical and biological enhancements by a nefarious organization known as Eteon that turned him into an actual super soldier.
All the other additions to this list are villains in their own right, but Brixton’s status as a literal supervillain makes him far and away the worst threat anyone involved with the team has ever had to encounter. Even his motivations stand head-and-shoulders above his competition. Owen Shaw, for example, wanted to unleash a weapon on the world, but he did it for personal gain. Brixton, however, has fully bought into Eteon’s company line about enhancing the human race and making people evolve into the next stage of existence. He even gets particularly cross with Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) when she suggests that he’s merely a profit-based killer.
In short, for a franchise that got its start with street-level villains causing the occasional drive-by over turf wars, an Avengers-level supervillain is hard to compete with.