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"I could atomize you! Or have bore worm maggots eat you from the inside out! Or push you through an airlock in high orbit and watch your blood boil in the vacuum!"
Ming the Merciless, Merciless: The Rise of Ming issue #3—"Succession Obsession"

Since 1930, Flash Gordon has faced his fair share of malevolent aliens and magic users. Some of these, particularly Ming the Merciless, manage to stand out as the worst of the worst.

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Comic Books
  • 1988 series: Ming the Merciless is the depraved ruler of the planet Mongo who enacts the right of first night to rape any woman he desires. If the husbands resist, Ming is only too happy to murder them and wed the woman to their corpse before taking her. Ming attempts to break Dale Arden's mind to become his submissive woman, leaving Flash to melt in a death trap. Growing furious with Flash's resistance, Ming orders another ally to murder his own son and, when the man can't, Ming murders the boy himself to prove no wish of Ming's goes unfulfilled. Ming obliterates the entire city as a message, regularly starving, torturing and murdering his people and being willing to allow the destruction of another city and killing millions to preserve his rule. Fully willing to kill his own daughter if it benefits him, Ming is a sadistic tyrant who cares for nothing but his own power and pleasure.
  • Zeitgeist & Merciless: The Rise of Ming: This incarnation of Ming the Merciless may be one of the vilest yet. Ming the Merciless begins as the Prince of Mongo, and a ruthless schemer from the start to climbs his way to power by cutting off the wings of a rival and driving her to suicide while mercilessly murdering everyone else in his way, culminating when Ming uses a portable black hole to kill his own father. Ming comes into his own as a violent tyrant, once using his new siege projectors to suck an entire race out into vacuum to freeze to death. When Ming's lover is found to be cheating on him, Ming sets up her adulterous lover to be vaporized-—along with three other planets. Ming continues slaughtering planets as a matter of course, while personally murdering minions and councilors alike for any reason he can think of and destroying the minds of women so they may be his concubines and attempting to force this process on Flash Gordon's beloved Dale. Ming masterminds World War II and Hitler's rise to power, using the Nazis to annihilate major cities while simultaneously pelting Germany with disasters so as not to let them get complacent. When Flash Gordon stands in his way for the final time, Ming merely opts to destroy Earth for the sole purpose of hurting him.
  • Dynamite-Creator/King Universe Appearances  : This incarnation of Ming the Merciless is the greatest evil in his 'verse. The tyrant ruler of Mongo and its colony worlds who seeks to use the mystical Gatestones to take over the universe, Ming has subjected countless billions to death, slavery or horrific experimentation, torturously augmenting millions of innocents into mindless Beast-Men to fill his armies. Ming is no less merciless toward his own men, regularly killing them for any reason he can think of. Ming debuts launching an EMP attack on Earth to black the planet out and cull the weak, before launching an attack on the weakened planet. Ming becomes steadfast enemies with Flash Gordon after, attempting time and time again to kill him and his friends, at one point ordering an entire city gassed simply to kill Flash. Ming culminates his villainy by having Coralia, an underwater planet, destroyed and its populace slaughtered, while capturing its queen Darya and torturing her into a broken shell of herself. Ming even takes out Darya's water-breathing organs and eats them, tormenting Dale Arden by mockingly asking her if she'd like a taste. Ming's final outing has him gassing cities on Earth to twist their residents into Beast-Men, subverting even his final Graceful Loser moment, simply to trick Flash Gordon.


  • Serials: Emperor Ming the Merciless of Mongo is a cruel tyrant who intends to take Dale Arden as a forcible bride while trying to have the heroic Flash Gordon killed. Willing to let the entire Hawkmen people be wiped out, Ming also intends to destroy the world, returning after a seeming demise to ally with Queen Azura of Mars to destroy Earth again. Returning a final time, Ming poisons the Earth with a plague called the Purple Death to kill the human race.
  • 1980 film: Ming the Merciless is the tyrannical emperor of planet Mongo. Every thousand years, Ming tests the life forms of the universe, terrorizing any planet he comes across with natural disasters. If he is recognized as responsible for these catastrophes, he deems the planet and its inhabitants a threat to his rule and destroys it. Setting his sights on terrorizing, and ultimately annihilating, Earth, Ming plagues the planet with natural disasters, causing mass chaos and destruction. The inhabitants of Mongo fare little better under his rule, as Ming is quick to kill them and destroy their kingdoms should they displease him. When Earthlings Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov are brought before them, Ming lusts after Dale and attempts to force her to be his concubine, ordering Flash executed when he stands against him. He later attempts to brainwash Zarkov, all the while gloating about his plans to destroy Earth. His cruelty extends even to his own daughter, Aura; when he discovers that Aura has helped Flash escape his kingdom, Ming has no qualms with allowing his men to torture her to extract a confession. Upon locating Flash at Sky City, Ming has the kingdom obliterated, before attempting to force Dale to marry him, mentioning his plans to cast her off once he's grown weary of her.

Western Animation

Other Media

  • The Master of Mars (link): Pwami, the dictator of Mars and would-be dictator of the rest of the universe, rode his way into power on faulty campaign promises, letting the planet of Mars waste away into a drought shortly after he took over. Anyone who dissents is either subject to Pwami's death traps or trapped on the prison planet of Ceres, where prisoners are starved to death by the dozens. As fond of torturing people emotionally as he is physically, Pwami tries to force Flash Gordon's friends to watch as he is thrown to Pwami's death traps, then later tries to a captive Flash to pilot the very superweapon with which he intends to subject Earth, hoping to break Flash by forcing him to kill his own countrymen.
  • Flash Gordon (1954)'s "The Witch of Neptune", "The Brain Machine", & "Struggle to the End": Zydereen, Mad Witch of Neptune, was the secret power behind the Neptunian throne before she was exiled. For revenge, Zydereen attempts to engineer Neptune's destruction by sabotaging the planet's atmospheric converter, condemning its population to suffocate. Not satisfied with having nearly destroyed her own people, Zydereen attempts to take over the entire galaxy, threatening to use solar rays to obliterate planets that don't fall in line. When she's foiled, Zydereen, out of spite, attempts to burn the entire galaxy and every living soul within it to ash with her solar ray machine.
  • Flash Gordon (1980) first draft script, by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (link): Ming the Merciless is the tyrant ruler of the planet Mongo. When the lizard men of Mongo rebelled against him, Ming enslaved them and forced them to work in awful conditions, with those who collapse and are unable to get back up being thrown into the magma. Directing an energy beam at Earth purely because the planet exists without paying homage to him, Ming intends to wipe out all life on Earth before repopulating it in his own image, bragging about having already done so on a thousand planets. For this task he intends to use the Earth woman Dale Arden, fully intending to discard her when he grows weary of her, having already done so to the mother of his daughter Aura.
  • 2007 series: "Benevolent Father" Ming is the tyrannical ruler of the planet Mongo. Controlling the Source Water, Ming heavily taxes Mongo's cantons and threatens to let them die. When Dr. Lawrence Gordon gets transported to Mongo, Ming puts him under a mind scanner and plans to steal Earth's water to renew his dwindling supply. During his rule of Mongo, Ming has any Deviants discovered in Nasant City killed, despite being a Deviant himself. When Flash Gordon and Dale Arden are captured and brought to Mongo, Ming tries to make Dale his pleasure woman, a common occurrence. Ming tries to start a war between Dactyl and Zurn to hide that the Source Water is depleting. When the Baron of Verden tries to kill him, Ming attacks the village, selling its people into slavery. Ming enslaves countless people in the mines, where they are fatally poisoned, and also approves mind control experiments that fry victims' brains. When the heroes freely distribute water Ming stole from Earth and give credit to the Deviants, Ming poisons the water in order to ruin the Deviants reputation. Not even his own family is safe from his cruelty, as when his son was born with a minor deviation, Ming tried to have him killed, and banished his own wife. Despite seeming to care for his daughter Aura, it is revealed that Ming made her mother swear a blood oath that would kill Aura if Vestra ever acknowledged their relationship, and when his daughter stands up to him, he tries to strangle her to death.