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50 Best ‘Star Wars’ Characters of All Time

From Mos Eisely aliens to the most dangerous Jedi ever, our updated ranking of the heroes and villains in a galaxy far, far away

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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 why it still reels in younger viewers weaned on prequels, sequels and other 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 of Star Wars‘ worlds.

Watching the movies, you’d run across a character – sometimes a 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 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. 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 ‘bots and 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.)

And we’ve updated the list to include Last Jedi and Solo characters – really, no definitive ranking would be complete without those films’ Resistance fighters, Cloud-Riders and interstellar scoundrels. Let the arguments over why Lobot ranked above Oola begin. And may the force be with you, always.

50

Oola

Respect Oola, one of the very rare roles for a woman of color in the original trilogy. Rejecting Jabba’s disgusting advances, her expressions speak volumes even though she’s doomed to die. It doesn’t help that she’s the pretty woman in the palace who isn’t the heroine of the series. (Leia gets to resist Jabba and live.) Books and comics in the “expanded universe” gave Oola a real story, but the Return of the Jedi Special Edition extended her torment with new shots featuring original actress Femi Taylor. RF

49

Jango Fett

He’s “just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe,” but Jango Fett is legion — literally. Through extensive cloning, the bounty hunter behind the blue Mandalorian armor is the basis not only for his better-known “son” Boba Fett, but for each and every trooper who gives Attack of the Clones its title. From his knock-down drag-out brawl with Obi-Wan to their high-speed asteroid-field chase to his decapitation by Mace Windu’s blade, he’s a key part of the film’s best action sequences. Kudos to Kiwi actor Temuera Morrison, who gives the character rough-hewn gangster gravitas. STC

STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE, Natalie Portman, 1999
48

Padmé Amidala

Almost unmentioned in the original trilogy, Luke and Leia’s mom plays a major role in the prequels: going undercover as her own handmaiden in The Phantom Menace, fighting in a gladiatorial arena in Attack of the Clones, and trying to save her husband’s soul in Revenge of the Sith. She’s right there with the boys, instead of worriedly wringing her hands back home. (Okay, maybe there’s a little of that in Sith.) And as an early supporter of Senator Palpatine’s plans, Padmé Amidala helps set in motion everything that befalls her, making her a lot like her son: a hero whose impulse to help sometimes worsens things. NM

47

Sebulba

Looking like a creature that might have resulted from a three-way between a camel, the Cloverfield monster, and Amelia Earhart, this villainous Dug is The Phantom Menace‘s most fun cartoon monstrosity. A former slave who emancipated himself on the strength of his pod-racing skills, Sebulba is the Wile E. Coyote to Anakin Skywalker’s Roadrunner. “Yoka to Bantha poodoo!” DE

46

Admiral Motti

For a guy sharp enough to work his way up to the position of admiral in the Imperial Fleet, you’d think Conan Antonio Motti would be bright enough to know that you don’t shit-talk Darth Vader to his metal face. His screen time is short, but he’s a pivotal character thanks to the way Darth totally posterizes him in A New Hope. Choking Motti from afar after he gets snippy questioning the power of the Force, Vader delivers a killer one-liner: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Cut scene we’d love to see: Motti then going to Human Resources to report an unsafe work environment. TG

45

Q’ira

Growing up in the same Corellian hellhole as Solo‘s title character, Q’ira (played by Game of Thrones’ khaleesi, Emilia Clarke) is cut from the same cloth as her long-lost love interest. But there’s a big difference: She never really escaped the underworld, and has had to navigate life in the crime syndicate for years. This harsh education has made her a hypercompetent fighter and negotiator, able to save the lives of Han and Lando, kick ass in a swordfight and successfully bluff her way into becoming the the underboss of Crimson Dawn godfather Darth Maul (!). Not bad for a kid from the mean streets. STC

STAR WARS, STAR WARS US 1977 SHELAGH FRASER Aunt Beru MARK HAMILL Luke Skywalker PHIL BROWN Uncle Owen Date 1977. Photo by: Mary Evans/LUCASFILMS/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10365160)
44

Uncle Owen

Poor Owen Lars. All he ever wanted was a quiet life on Tatooine, farming moisture. But just because his widowed father happened to marry the mother of Darth freakin’ Vader, he was plagued by Jedi Knights, Tusken Raiders, and Imperial Stormtroopers. First introduced in A New Hope as Luke’s strict, humorless guardian, Uncle Owen is actually as much of a tragic figure as anybody in the franchise. He tries his best to keep his step-nephew safe from the violence and turmoil shattering the galaxy. He’s paid back in sass, disobedience, and an early grave. NM

43

Admiral Firmus Piett

From a certain point of view, The Empire Strikes Back can be seen as a dark workplace comedy in which Imperial officer Firmus Piett tries to do just enough right so that he’s not killed by Darth Vader. (Just ask Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa, who both get the Dark-Side choke of death during the movie.) Played by character actor Kenneth Colley, Piett was a fan favorite because he seemed to embody the helpless walking-on-eggshells mentality a lot of us have dealt with when we’re working for a real diva of a boss. TG

42

Wedge Antilles

Amid all the praise for Luke, Han and the rest of the Rebel Alliance, Wedge has never gotten his due, serving as a pilot in all three critical battles during the original trilogy — the two Death Stars and the AT-AT showdown on Hoth — and acquitting himself heroically every time. If the universe had an award comparable to the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year — i.e. the best player off the bench — the man would have won it, doing all the hard work for the Rebellion but never enjoying the spotlight. Maybe that’s why the actor who played him, Denis Lawson, turned down a part in The Force Awakens: He’s tired of being a glorified extra. TG

41

Admiral Holdo

A long time ago – well, 2017 – the pop-culture galaxy was governed by two powerful forces: Star Wars fever and the Dernaissance. Vice Admiral Holdo is the chosen one, bringing balance to these equal and opposite phenomena by placing the great Laura Dern right at the center of The Last Jedi. Thrust into the top spot in the Resistance fleet (Admiral Ackbar, R.I.P.), this lavender-haired leader oversaw the rebels’ successful slow-motion escape from Kylo Ren and company, fending off a challenge from hotheaded Poe Dameron in the process. Holdo also sacrificed her own life to buy her friends more time by ramming her ship into the First Order fleet at light speed, and helped create one of the biggest “holy shit” moments in the franchise’s history. STC

40

IG-88

“Bounty hunters. We don’t need that scum.” Oh, how wrong you are, Admiral Piett. What’s arguably the coolest shot of The Empire Strikes Back involves Darth Vader commissioning a group of fierce weirdos to find the Millennium Falcon — and the best non-Boba Fett bount hunter is IG-88, a chrome droid with a head like a menacing coffee percolator. One of the more Buck Rogers-y creatures in all of the series, the lean and tall killer bot suggests a world where machines aren’t just baddies; they’re also looking out for themselves. JH

39

EV-9D9

Working for Jabba probably sucks, which explains EV-9D9’s utterly cruddy attitude in Return of the Jedi (that’s him in the center of the pic). Supervising the mechanical-help deployment in Jabba’s lair and sail barge, he’s surely always in need of fresh hires, considering that his boss has an irritating habit of disintegrating droids that displease him. Of the robots we encounter in the Star Wars universe, he’s probably the surliest, not caring one bit about Threepio’s friendly chitchat or putting up with Artoo’s feistiness. (The character was voiced by Return director Richard Marquand, who died four years after the film’s release.) TG

38

Mon Mothma

A key to Star Wars‘ success is its timelessness, but take one look at Caroline Blakiston’s Eighties sci-fi hair and gown as Mom Mothma in Return of the Jedi and you’d think she just took off her cushioned headphones playing Journey before walking on set. The Rebel Alliance bigwig delivers one of the biggest guilt-trips in all of the series — “Many Bothans died to bring us this information” — which doubles as a rebuke to audience members who thought all this blaster fire was just fun-and-games. A younger version played by Genevieve O’Reilly was seen (but not heard) in Revenge of the Sith, wearing a metal headpiece that echoes Princess Leia’s hair buns. JH

37

Count Dooku

Forgive Count Dooku’s dismal name; even his Sith alias, Darth Tyranus, inspires shrugs more than fear. But embrace Christopher Lee, who brings this master swordsman of the one-percent to life with the technicolor gravitas of Hammer horror. Dooku’s best machinations as a Separatist leader take place off screen; Lee’s Middle-Earth training means his lightsaber skills, however, are devastating. The Count’s final battle with Anakin and Obi-Wan is among the best action sequences of the Prequels, and his death — a vicious execution at the hands of greasy-haired Anakin — is a key moment in the young Jedi’s fall to the dark side. RF

36

Nien Nunb

When Han gave Lando the keys to the Millennium Falcon for Return of the Jedi‘s Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance couldn’t assign just any old co-pilot. Not enormous and furry like Chewie, Nein Numb was still an instantly likable creature, whose optimistic chortle is one of the more exuberant evocations of joy in the entire series. The current (canonical) Princess Leia comics shows how key he was in rescuing surviving Alderaanians from the Empire after the Battle of Yavin. Alas, the Sullustan’s curious name has a rather mundane origin; his package in the creature shop was labelled “Number Nine.” JH

STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, John Hollis (right), Storm Troopers, 1980, Lucasfilms / courtesy Everett Collection
35

Lobot

Think you’re addicted to technology? Checking Instagram every five minutes is nothing compared to Lando Calrissian’s administrative aid in Cloud City. His headphones aren’t downloading podcasts, they’re a port connecting his mind with the central computer system. His name may be a cheap pun on “lobotomy,” but even with no lines each cutaway to the intense, bald systems chief in The Empire Strikes Back makes for a memorable image. His “it’s all good” spin-n-point move when Lando and Han embrace is only topped by his eyes-front awakening when his boss sends him an alert from his digital watch. JH

34

Ponda Baba

Long known as “Walrus Face” to fans whose franchise knowledge was defined by Kenner’s original action-figure line, this aggressive and toothy Cantina denizen illustrates the very relatable dangers of that backwater post Mos Eisley. Darth Vader and Sandpeople are freaky, sure, and imposing in an outlandish way. But a drunk bruiser in a bar, slurring illegible threats? We’ve all run afoul of him. If only we all had a lightsaber-wielding friend to sever that jerk’s arm and end the fight before the bartender has to call the cops. RF

STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI, Jawa, Salacious Crumb, Max Rebo, Droopy McCool, 1983
33

Max Rebo

Most of the hangers-on at Jabba’s palace ooze evil, but for the musicians … well, a gig’s a gig, right? Keeping things lively in the sadistic gangster’s HQ is the toe-tappin “jizz” music of the Max Rebo Band. Sure, the grooves urge the repulsive Hutt to paw at his doomed slave girl Oola, but the blue, elephantine Rebo simply keeps his head down and jams on his parabolic keyboard. “I just work here,” the cutaways in Return of the Jedi imply, and the adorable trunk, chubby arms and tasty licks are enough to earn him a pass. JH

32

Salacious B. Crumb

The best audience you could ever hope for on Tatooine, Crumb was the perpetually cackling critter by Jabba the Hutt’s side, always laughing snidely along with his master’s latest sadistic comment. There are plenty of noxious characters in the villain’s lair, but Salacious was easily the most punch-able — whether it was the way he leered at a half-naked Leia in her slave-girl outfit or dug into poor Threepio’s eye during the battle on the sail barge. Sadly, we were deprived of the pleasure of watching that loathsome lizard-like creature die in excruciating agony: He had it coming. TG

31

Enfys Nest

Looking like a cross between Kylo Ren and a crazed buzzard, the black-clad marauder called Enfys Nest is a terrifying presence as Solo picks up steam, leading a clan of Cloud-Rider sky pirates in daring, deadly raids against Han’s criminal crew. But this fascinating character is more than he – or rather, she  – seems at first glance. Nest is actually a teenage girl (played by newcomer Erin Kellyman) who’s assembled her own rebel alliance of aliens, all of whom have been victimized by the crime syndicates Solo and his comrades have been forced to serve. Under her leadership, they’ve started to fight back. Han’s decision to help her out rather than sell her out is a major step on his road to the Rebellion – and, hopefully, just our first glimpse of an incredibly cool new character. STC

30

Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes

Even “a wretched hive of scum and villainy” needs some hot tunes. This bulb-headed, horn-blowing sextet brightened up the dingy Mos Eisley Cantina, playing a catchy song that later became a Billboard chart hit (courtesy of the disco act Meco). The expanded Star Wars universe builds out the backstory of the Modal Notes — did you know they’re all Biths from the planet Clak’dor VII? — but in the movie all they have to do is look weird and sound jazzy. Because for all the franchise’s fancy special effects, a lot of its visual appeal still comes from actors in rubber suits, flailing about. NM

29

Wicket W. Warrick

12-year old Warwick Davis charmed George Lucas enough to step up from Ewok extra to featured status when original actor Kenny Baker fell ill before shooting a key scene with Carrie Fisher. So Davis, as the furry scout Wicket, becomes our introduction to the inhabitants of the forest moon of Endor. The clever native in a leather hoodie wasn’t a tribal leader or even an ambitious warrior; he’s just your typical Everyewok, saving his best moves for cozying up to Han Solo during tender moments. But his encounter with the Rebel officers set up an alliance that would help destroy the Empire. Respect, Wicket. RF

28

Poe Dameron

Hero, heartthrob, ace fighter pilot and half of the big-screen’s greatest bromance in years: Poe Dameron is all these things and more. The Resistance’s best X-wing pilot is played by none other than Llewyn Davis himself, Oscar Isaac, and kicks off the movie by defying Kylo Ren and conducting a daring escape. He’s the kind of guy who won’t just save his friend’s life; he’ll also give him the badass leather jacket right off his back. Don’t tell us that pat on the shoulder didn’t launch a thousand fanfics. STC

27

General Grievous

His name sounds like a Victorian medical condition, but this evil cyborg one of the more complex villains in Revenge of the Sith. Though mostly robotic, there’s just enough failing organic matter in this bad guy to keep him hunched over and hacking. But when it’s time to face-off against Obi-Wan he shakes off his cloak to reveal an extra set of arms and a knack for wielding lightsabers. (And spinning them like brightly-lit windmills.) Unable to best him using laser swords, Kenobi tears open Grievous’ chest to fire blasters at his shriveled internal organs until fire spews from his eyes. JH

26

Qui-Gon Jinn

All the scorn heaped on The Phantom Menace obscures how good Liam Neeson is as an honorable Jedi knight who mentors young Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) in the ways of the Force. In Qui-Gon Jinn, we can see the wise-elder warrior that Kenobi would grow to become, and Neeson (who had yet to make the transition to avenging-angel action star) brought just the right amount of Zen gravitas to his ass-kicking role. Although the prequels were about Anakin’s character arc, the first installment really belongs to this character, who’s trying to maintain a fragile peace across the galaxy while unseen forces are conspiring to tear it apart. That’s what makes his death at the hands of Darth Maul especially tragic: It’s not just Qui-Gon who’s dying but also his era’s sense of nobility. TG

25

Bib Fortuna

Jabba the Hutt’s right-hand man may have been no match for Jedi mind tricks, but when the Rebels weren’t setting up a complex prison break for Han Solo, the sniveling Twi’lek did an ace job of keeping the debauchery and illegality of the Palace running smoothly. He had the good fortune to have his lekku (or “brain-tail”) dip under his chin like a bib, a wonderful coincidence considering his given name. And being the obsequious slime that he was, he somehow survived the battle on Jabba’s skiff near the Great Pit of Carcoon. JH

24

Admiral Ackbar

With salmon-colored skin, eyes parted to the far sides of his face, and an eminently hook-able mouth, Admiral Ackbar is basically a freshwater fish with arms and legs. But he served with enough distinction to lead the Rebel Alliance into battle in Return of the Jedi, commanding the mission to destroy the Death Star II (a much more strategically complicated affair than destroying the original Death Star). Still, it’s three words — “It’s a trap!” — that led the gill-pocked humanoid to Star Wars immortality. “It’s a trap!” became a Photoshop-friendly meme, and a perhaps inevitable Family Guy episode. Ackbar’s popularity exploded long after Return of the Jedi was released, with appearances in books and animated spin-offs, and a spot in The Force Awakens. ST

23

Finn

He’s the stormtrooper formerly known as FN-2187 who told the First Order to shove it; one-half of a beloved bromance (Poe-mance?) with ace pilot Poe Dameron; a potential love interest for not one but two leading ladies (Rey in The Force Awakens and Rose in The Last Jedi); and no slouch with a lightsaber when push comes to shove. He’s Finn, and as portrayed by English actor John Boyega, he’s the idealistic and entertaining heart of the Abrams/Johnson/Abrams sequel trilogy. Whether you like him flirting, fighting, fumbling or flushing Captain Phasma down a garbage chute, he makes every second of screen time a blast – all of this in a role that defies all previous Star Wars archetypes. Not to mention that he looks damn good in Poe’s bomber jacket. STC

22

Kylo Ren

What happens when you have the power of the Dark Side but lack the self-confidence to properly wield it? You get Kylo Ren, the masked menace with the fiery red lightsaber who serves as The Force Awakens‘ main antagonist. Fueled by the off-kilter intensity of actor Adam Driver, the Star Wars Universe’s new Dark Lord is the emo missing link between Hayden Christen’s petulant Anakin and James Earl Jones’s implacable Darth Vader. He’s strong enough to stop blaster bolts in mid-air (and to kill his own father) but still prone to temper tantrums that leave his underlings running for cover. A fascinating study in contradictions. STC