The Lars Empire is the villainous organization from Gradius NEO and Gradius NEO Imperial.
Centuries have passed since the complete eradication of the Bacterians and the end of the Gradius Empire. The Lars Empire somehow obtained the ancient Gradian and Bacterian technology, utilizing them to build a powerful armada to take over Gradius and then the universe. The Gradius Union is formed to counter the Lars Empire offensive, managing to steal one of their newly developed weapons, the Force Viper, which is a replica of the original Vic Viper. The Gradius Union then sends the Force Viper to take on the Lars Empire forces.
Meanwhile, a single Big Core called Big Core Custom which is controlled by defectors within the empire, attempts to escape from the Lars Empire's control, destroying various of their weapons to earn its freedom. However, it encounters with the Force Viper, which mistakes it as an enemy and destroys it. As the Big Core is left drifting in space and eventually sucked into fiery inferno of the artificial sun (seen in Gradius II: Gofer's Ambition), the Force Viper invades the Lars Empire's base and destroys the central computer, blowing up the base and thus defeating the Lars Empire.
- The Lars Empire was named after the original Vic Viper pilot, James Burton, a.k.a Emperor Lars XVIII.
- Gradius NEO Imperial, which features Big Core Custom as the protagonist of the story, has an obvious bad ending and it is the only Gradius game with a bad ending.