There are many reasons why George Lucas' story of a young man, an evil Empire and a galaxy far, far away captured the imaginations of the generation who grew up on that original trilogy, and still reels in younger viewers who encounter the first films, prequels, animated series and various canonical spin-offs. Yes, its archetypal tale of good vs. bad is mythic and timeless — but it's the vast universe that saga set up, full of alien races and oddball technology, that has arguably kept people coming back to dig into the far corners and crevasses of Star Wars' worlds.
Watching the movies, you'd run across a character — sometimes a giant, furry major player, other times a mere face in the background — and you'd think: Where did they come from? What's their story? How did that weird-looking droid become a bounty hunter? What's Boba Fett hiding behind that mask — and where can I get that rocket pack?!? And once the action-figure lines began dipping deep into the supporting players, you really started to get a sense of densely populated this universe was. (Was "Hammerhead" a mean nickname, or the official tag for a whole species of flat-faced badasses?) A minor figure in that wretched hive of scum and villainy who had one line might suggest a huge backstory, or could show up in the sequels/prequels with more of their brethren in tow; even the ones shrouded in mystery turned into fan favorites.
Naturally, some of these denizens in the endlessly mutating multiverse have lefter stronger impacts than others, and once The Force Awakens hits screens, we're sure we'll meet a host of new additions to the roster. But we've taken it upon ourselves to rank the Top 50 Best Star Wars Characters to date — the greatest Jedis and Jabba sidekicks, Wookiee and Ewok MVPs, memorable Empire/Rebel Alliance military men/women and mercenaries-for-hire, loyal droids and disgusting extraterrestrial louts, and, of course, the main heroes and villains. (We've stayed away from non-specific groups and species such as Stormtroopers or Tauntauns — with two notable exceptions.) Let the arguments over why Lobot ranked above Oola begin — and may the force be with you, always.