Darth Vader has beaten Hannibal Lecter and Harry Potter’s Voldemort to be named the greatest film villain of all time.

The Dark Night’s Joker came second in the online poll conducted by Empire magazine’s website, the results of which have been released days after stars and fans remembered the actor Heath Ledger on the 10th anniversary of his death.

The Australian star, who played the character in the second instalment of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in January 2008 at the age of 28.

Empire magazine (Empire)

Tom Hiddleston’s Marvel God of Mischief, Loki, was third and Die Hard’s master robber Hans Gruber, played by the late Alan Rickman, was fourth.

Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter from Silence Of The Lambs rounded out the top five.

Elsewhere in the list, Voldemort was in ninth place, the cold-hearted Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was at 13 and horror icon Freddy Krueger, star of the Nightmare On Elm Street series, was at 18.

Empire’s editor-in-chief, Terri White said: “Bad guys are a huge part of what makes movies so damn good. But who’s the baddest?

“Empire readers voted in their droves and named Darth Vader their number one villain of all time. The pull of the dark side is still strong it would seem…”

This month’s Empire magazine, featuring the Greatest Villains Ever, is on sale on Thursday.