‘Dune’ Sandworms, Definitively Ranked

Warning: spoilers ahead for Dune: Part Two

In Denis Villeneuve's Dune universe, sandworms loom over all. They're honored and feared, like God and the devil in one. When they're seen in all their phallic, toothy glory, they're terrifying. When they're not seen, they're somehow even scarier.

In 2021's Dune, the worm is more of a horror story than anything. A boogeyman (boogeyworm?) of the desert plain of Arrakis, slithering below its rolling sandy hills with an insatiable need to chomp on anything it can suck into its black vortex of death. Despite their magisterial presence, the sandworms are only on screen for about a minute and a half in the first Dune—elusive queens. But when it comes to Dune: Part Two, they're everywhere. Big ones, small ones, baby ones, ancient ones—it's a worm party and we're all invited. Jump on board!

With the release of Dune: Part Two, our cups runneth over (with worms). We may not know their names or motivations, hopes, dreams or desires (other than bingeing), but we now have more of a sense of who they are—they’re sand deities who roam as much as rule the desert floor. It could be man's greatest folly to rank his gods, but we are willing to take that risk. Here is the definitive ranking of all the sandworms in Dune.

7. The worm that Stilgar rides (Dune: Part Two)

Remember in the middle of Dune: Part Two when Javier Bardem's Stilgar shouts "Cowabunga, dude" and gives Paul the shaka while carving some major sand on the back of a worm? OK, that doesn't happen, but it may as well have. As Timothée Chalamet’s Paul contemplates his worthiness as a member of the Fremen, he sees Stilgar in the distance seemingly having the time of his life on the back of a sandworm. We only see the worm for a quick flash, hence its low ranking on this list, but its brief appearance does raise some very important questions: Where is he going? Is recreational worm-riding like this just how the Fremen pass the time between Harkonnen attacks? For all the talk of these animals requiring our utmost respect and reverence, this one seemed pretty happy to be taken for a joyride across Arrakis. I don't know—these worms might be chiller hangs than we realize.

6. The worm that Chani rides to escape Paul (Dune: Part Two)

To paraphrase Taylor Swift, nothin' good starts on a getaway worm. At the end of Dune: Part Two, Chani (Zendaya) abandons the victorious Fremen after it becomes clear that Paul is actually pretty bad news. We've all been there—our boyfriend agrees to marry another woman in front of us after he turns out to be a megalomaniacal dictator-in-training with delusions of grandiosity fed to him from the fetus inside his insane mother's womb. Classic. It's a lot, so Chani summons a worm, whips out her hooks and jumps on its back, like she's hailing a cab and telling the driver to ‘just drive’. It’s a power move, and one dripping in so much uncertainty. But we get it—sometimes you just need to hitch a ride on the nearest prehistoric entity and get TF out of Dodge. Props to this particular worm for being a girl's girl and helping bestie escape a toxic situation.

5. The Very Hungry Sandworm (Dune: Part One)

Talk about making an entrance. The first time we see the magnificent worms of Denis Villeneuve's Dune universe is when one is making a beeline to chow down on a succulent spice harvester. From above, we see the sand contort into a swirl as everything gets sucked into the miles-long, fanged circumference of the sandworm's mouth (big ‘us at the Pizza Hut buffet' energy). It provides just enough context in that moment to tell us, yes, we should absolutely fear these beasts, but it does feel like we’re slightly being edged by the worm. It is, in all seriousness, one of the most epic sequences of Dune's first installment, and one that perfectly captures the awe-inspiring fear that comes with these bad boys wriggling below the surface waiting to feast at any moment.

4. The baby worm (RIP) (Dune: Part Two)

“I'm baby" is what the small worm in Dune: Part Two would have said, if it wasn't having the life suffocated out of its worm lungs to make a little cocktail for Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). We learn that the ‘Water of Life’ used by the Bene Gesserit to turn their sisters into Reverend Mothers is actually the bile of baby sandworms, extracted by forcefully holding them under the water and drowning them. When someone drinks it, they either writhe around in incredible agony or are imbued with a kind of all-seeing power—basically, the same experience of ordering a tequila shot when you're already three drinks deep on a night out. However, no worms have to die for our sesh, and for that, we bow our heads for the child. Gone too soon.

3. The big worm (Dune: Part One)

Oh, worm? Oh…worm! By the end of Dune: Part One, we've seen worms slithering mysteriously under the sand and watched their mouths slurp up harvesters and soldiers, but we haven't seen them stand tall in their enormous, wormy glory. Near its final moments, when Paul and Jessica are fleeing through the dunes, they get caught in the path of a worm and it races towards them. It lurches out of the sand, its endless rows of spikey, razor-sharp teeth and slightly butthole-reminiscent mouth eyeing up its latest snack, only pausing when it hears a rhythmic distraction in the distance that it then follows. It's in that moment we get a good, heart-stopping solid look at these mythic creatures and yeah, that's a fucking worm, my dudes.

2. The worm that Timmy rides (Dune: Part Two)

“Timothée Chalamet once rode on my back, you know?”

“Sure Grandma, let's get you to bed…”

When Paul summons a worm to jump aboard and ride as a sort of final hazing mission to be welcomed into the Fremen, he accidentally calls upon the biggest and oldest worm in the desert— the final boss. He leaps onto it, rams two hooks into its skin and takes it for a spin through the hills. It’s the moment the movie takes its first big turn, as Paul is not only welcomed into the Fremens but lifted up as the messianic leader the most religiously fundamental in the crew have been waiting for (and nothing good happens when a white man claims to be a Messiah). So screw Dune Messiah—we need a spin-off Dune movie which is just about this aging worm queen who, with the help of a strapping younger man, realises there's still so much more life to experience. Two tickets for How Worm Got Her Groove Back, please.

1. The three worms that storm Arrakeen (Dune: Part Two)

Three queens coming together to maximize their joint slay. When the Fremens finally lay siege to the Harkonnens in Dune: Part Two, they do so with the tools they know best: worms. Through a dust cloud of sand, three massive worms emerge ridden by an army of desert mercenaries. They slurp up everything in their way—from soldiers to tanks to helicopters—making the path to victory swift (and tasty.) The moment is the beginning of the end for the Harkonnen’s imperialist rule, and it sets the stage for Paul to powerfully take back control of Arrakis (whether that’s ultimately a good or a bad thing will have to be answered in the as-yet-unconfirmed Dune Messiah). It's the kind of moment in a cinema that makes you want to stand up and salute. Worms, man. They'll bring a tear to your eye.

Originally Appeared on GQ