The Best Sci-Fi Characters of All Time: the verdict

Ellen Ripley and the Doctor went head to head. The votes have now been counted.

Doctor Who 50th anniversary composite

Ever since he stole a blue box and ran away, he’s been in the nation’s living rooms – even when fighting monsters on far-flung planets. And now the man known only as ‘the Doctor’ has won our showdown and is named the greatest sci-fi character of all time.

Since August, you’ve been voting in your thousands. In terms of overall votes the Timelord triumphed, but when it came down to a battle of the sexes – madman in a box versus Ellen Ripley’s tortured lone warrior – it was very, very close. But for all her bravery, the Nostromo’s warrant-officer-turned-warrior could not beat Gallifrey’s greatest hero, who pipped her to the post by just 110 votes. Ripley emerges, however, as your favourite character from sci-fi cinema by some margin.

Alien (1979)

You were overwhelmingly fonder of characters from television than cinema, with characters originating on the small screen taking 61% of the vote. This may tie in with the date statistics, which are heavily weighted in favour of a halcyon period: 22% of votes went for characters from the 1980s, 28% from the 1990s and 20% from the 2000s. This means our most popular decade was when our winner, the Doctor, was not on air, save for a divisive TV movie in 1996.

Sci-Fi still looks like having some way to go when it comes to gender equality. 60% of votes were for male characters, with 33% for female, non-specific entities chalking up 6% and one character qualifying as both – following Michelle Gomez’ casting as the Master/Missy in this year’s series of Doctor Who.

Humanity as whole came out well though, with 67% of you polling for your own species. Aliens took 19%, while robots and computers trailed behind at 14%. Some 82% of the vote went to characters that can broadly be described as heroes, with just 15% for villains and 3% for characters in that ambiguous grey area. Anti-heroes certainly played their part: that most iconic of villains, Darth Vader, makes an impressive stab for domination at number three, closely followed by Avon from Blake’s 7 at four, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly one place behind.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The top 100

  1. The Doctor, Doctor Who
  2. Ellen Ripley, Alien saga
  3. Darth Vader, Star Wars saga
  4. Kerr Avon, Blake’s 7
  5. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly / Serenity
  6. G’Kar, Babylon 5
  7. HAL-9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey
  8. Rick Deckard, Blade Runner
  9. Han Solo, Star Wars saga
  10. Spock, Star Trek saga
  11. John Crichton, Farscape
  12. Roy Batty, Blade Runner
  13. Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood
  14. Captain James T Kirk, Star Trek saga
  15. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  16. Londo Mollari, Babylon 5
  17. The Alien, Alien
  18. Dana Scully, The X Files
  19. Ianto Jones, Torchwood
  20. Yoda, Star Wars saga
  21. Aeryn Sun, Farscape
  22. Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace, Battlestar Galactica
  23. Sarah Connor, The Terminator saga
  24. Doctor Emmet Brown, Back to the Future trilogy
  25. Fox Mulder, The X Files
  26. Professor Bernard Quatermass, Quatermass and the Pit
  27. The Terminator, The Terminator saga
  28. Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5
  29. Captain John Sheridan, Babylon 5
  30. Delenn, Babylon 5
  31. Jack O’Neill, Stargate SG-1
  32. Daleks, Doctor Who
  33. Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  34. Luke Skywalker, Star Wars saga
  35. Gort / Klaatu, The Day the Earth Stood Still
  36. Maria the Robot, Metropolis
  37. Judge Dredd, Judge Dredd
  38. E.T., E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  39. Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi, Star Wars saga
  40. Neo, The Matrix trilogy
  41. Robbie the Robot, Forbidden Planet
  42. Marvin the Paranoid Android, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  43. Marty McFly, Back to the Future trilogy
  44. Rose Tyler, Doctor Who
  45. Samantha Carter, Stargate SG-1
  46. Donna Noble, Doctor Who
  47. Walter Bishop, Fringe
  48. Admiral William Adama, Battlestar Galactica
  49. River Tam, Firefly / Serenity
  50. Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  51. Wall-E, Wall-E
  52. R2-D2, Star Wars
  53. Boba Fett, Star Wars
  54. Arnold J Rimmer, Red Dwarf
  55. Sam Bell, Moon
  56. Leeloo, The Fifth Element
  57. Roj Blake, Blake’s 7
  58. Elim Garak, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  59. Scorpius, Farscape
  60. Thomas Jerome Newton, The Man Who Fell to Earth
  61. Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager
  62. Gaius Baltar, Battlestar Galactica
  63. Chiana, Farscape
  64. Kaylee, Firefly / Serenity
  65. Sarah-Jane Smith, Doctor Who
  66. David, Prometheus
  67. Q, Star Trek saga
  68. Dave Lister, Red Dwarf
  69. Amy Pond, Doctor Who
  70. Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon
  71. Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars saga
  72. RoboCop, RoboCop
  73. River Song / Melody Pond, Doctor Who
  74. Snake Plissken, Escape from New York
  75. Alfred Bester, Babylon 5
  76. Barbarella, Barbarella
  77. John Sheppard, Stargate Atlantis
  78. Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager
  79. Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG-1
  80. R.J. MacReady, The Thing
  81. Dave Bowman, 2001: A Space Odyssey
  82. Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5
  83. Lyta Alexander, Babylon 5
  84. Tetsuo Shima, Akira
  85. The Predator, Predator
  86. Benjamin Sisko, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  87. Gwen Cooper, Torchwood
  88. Kryten, Red Dwarf
  89. Servalan, Blake’s 7
  90. The Master, Doctor Who
  91. Vala Mal Doran, Stargate SG-1
  92. Bo Dennis, Lost Girl
  93. Michael Garibaldi, Babylon 5
  94. Number Six, Battlestar Galactica
  95. Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburn, Firefly / Serenity
  96. C3PO, Star Wars
  97. Riddick, The Chronicles of Riddick
  98. Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell
  99. Laura Roslin, Battlestar Galactica
  100. Doctor Ellie Arroway, Contact

Please note: this page was updated on 19 December to reflect the fact Ambassador Delenn at 73 and Delenn at 35 were the same character. As a result she has moved to position 30, allowing for a new entry at number 100.

BFI Player logo

Discover award-winning independent British and international cinema

Free for 14 days, then £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try for free