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The 50 best Star Wars characters

The essential list of our favourite characters in a galaxy far, far away...

Has a cultural phenomenon ever inspired such devotion, such passion, such – for want of a better term – extreme nerdiness than the ‘Star Wars’ saga? From the films to the figures, the tie-in novels to the TIE-fighter coffee mugs, the blogs to the chatrooms to the international fan conventions, it’s the closest thing cinema has to a unifying faith. Exactly why this should be is unclear, even to those of us who worship at the shrine of Skywalker – but we reckon a lot of it has to do with the characters of Star Wars.

They can be intensely heroic or irretrievably evil. They can be alluringly human or repulsively alien. Remote and robotic or cuddly and cute. But the characters in ‘Star Wars’ are endlessly fascinating. So here, in an entirely personal and inevitably controversial list, Time Out’s resident Gonk-geek Tom Huddleston presents the 50 best ‘Star Wars’ characters, in order of greatness.

Think we're dead wrong? You can vote for your favourites using our handy Ranker page – so if you think Admiral Ozzel knocks Han Solo into a peaked cap, let us know.

A note to the nerds: with one notable exception, these characters are all drawn from the official six-film canon, rather than the novels and console games of the ‘expanded universe’. Leave your blasters at the door, and your comments below.

50

Clumsy Stormtrooper

Who is he?
As platoons of Imperial stormtroopers pursue our heroes around the first Death Star, one particularly inelegant footsoldier manages to give himself a mighty good crack on the noggin with a partially-descended blast door.

Why do we love him?
Because we always root for the underdog. And also because imperfection is something to be treasured, particularly in these times of CGI-up-the-wazoo blockbusters (see the deeply unfunny pratfalling battle droids in ‘The Phantom Menace’ for proof).

49

Major Bren Derlin

Who is he?
A Rebel Alliance officer during the short stay on the ice planet of Hoth who bears a striking resemblance to a certain Boston barfly…

Why do we love him?
Because he’s played by the legendary John Ratzenberger, aka Cliff from ‘Cheers’, in an enormous pair of lime-green snow goggles and a pretty dashing ’tache. But it’s a tiny part, which is why almost nobody knows his name (sorry).

48

Itchy

Who is he?
Chewbacca’s dad, just an ordinary hairy-collared guy trying to keep his head down and scratch out a meagre living in this crazy universe.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s the only completely normal dude in the entire ‘Star Wars’ canon: his interests include drinking, snoozing, hanging out with his boys and interacting with pervy holograms while the wife cooks Bantha rump in the background. Imagine a hirsute Homer Simpson and you’re pretty much there.

47

The Rancor Keeper

Who is he?
As his job title suggests, Malakili (his name, apparently) is the burly, leather-hatted slob hired by Jabba the Hutt to tend his captive man-eating monster, the infamous Rancor.

Why do we love him?
Because his weepy distress at the death of his beloved pet provides a moment of completely unexpected pathos in the midst of all the yelling and gunfire, reminding us that even the most mindless killing machine needs someone to love him/her/it.

46

Lobot

Who is he?
Lando Calrissian’s head of security, a slapheaded cyborg mute with a seriously funky wraparound headpiece.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s a great example of what the ‘Star Wars’ series does so well: guys who make a great impression without saying a word. Lobot just strides about the place looking all bald and in charge, defying the Empire without breaking a sweat. The only thing uncool about him is his rubbish name.

45

Admiral Ozzel

Who is he?
The chief officer aboard Darth Vader’s giant star destroyer Executor, and the man in charge of finding those pesky rebels.

Why do we love him?
Because he dies well, and that’s an art. Ozzel’s demise – choking and clutching at his neck as Darth works his long-distance Dark Side mojo – is perhaps the most memorable in the entire series, responsible for giving a whole generation of kids the screaming heebie-jeebies.

44

Chief Jawa

Who is he?
Clan leader for a roving bunch of squeaky, ratlike, robot-scavenging desert midgets. Hey, it’s a living…

Why do we love him?
Because he’s basically the ass-end-of-the-galaxy’s nearest equivalent to a fast-talking used car salesman: roll up, roll up, get the finest robots at keraaaazy prices! Plus he attempts to pull a fast one on old sourpuss Uncle Owen, making him our kind of scum.

43

Death Star gunner

Who is he?
To be fair, we’re stretching the definition of ‘character’ somewhat here (and not, it must be said, for the first or final time). The Death Star gunner is basically just an extremely cool hat with, we assume, a fairly unpleasant person inside.

Why do we love him?
It’s all about the upside-down helmet and the creepy black jumpsuit, which work together to make him look like nothing so much as a Darth Vader mini-me. Plus he’s the man with his finger on the planet-shattering button (well, lever), so he deserves your respect, puny earthling.

42

Jango Fett

Who is he?
He is the clones! Yes, bounty hunter Jango (good name, by the way) is not only the father of little troublemaker Boba, but the genetic source of every clone trooper in the entire galaxy. It’s like one of those sperm-donation comedies gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Why do we love him?
Well, he’s got a good outfit, he’s a crack shot with a poison dart and he’s the original owner of that slinky space-coffin, Slave 1. Plus he’s played by stone-faced Maori hardnut Temuera Morrison, arguably the only living New Zealander not to make it into the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies. Hopefully this goes some little way to compensate.

41

Sebulba

Who is he?
A ruthless pod-racing legend who looks like a genetic blend between a camel and a condom.

Why do we love him?
Because he comes this close – this close! – to splattering little Anakin Skywalker all over the canyon wall, which would not only have wiped out the single most irritating child in the universe but saved a heck of a lot of trouble further down the line. If you can watch ‘The Phantom Menace’ without praying for him to win, you’re made of more sentimental stuff than we are.

See numbers 40-31
40

Salacious B Crumb

Who is he?
Jabba the Hutt’s pet-cum-sidekick, a diseased little rodent with big ears, a ravenous black beak and one of the coolest names in the series. Imagine the psychotic, half-starved offspring of The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s got a bad attitude, and he doesn’t care who knows it. None of Jabba’s ill-tempered pronouncements would be complete without a vicious little cackle from stage right, as Salacious gleefully rubs salt into the wound.

39

Gonk droid

Who is he?
A big, chunky ’70s TV set with Michelin-man feet who hangs out in the darkened nether regions of the sandcrawler making cool noises.

Why do we love him?
The aforementioned cool noises. Plus the fact that he’s clearly just a very small man with a cardboard box on his head, with legholes cut in it – perfect for the lazy Halloween partygoer.

38

Logray

Who is he?
Some will doubtless argue with this inclusion – the only good Ewok, they’ll say, is a dead Ewok, preferably being wept over by his traumatised Ewok buddy. In most cases we’d agree, but Logray, the medicine man of the tribe, is an altogether classier specimen.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s got a bird skull on his head, he’s got snazzy stripy fur, he dances like a demon and we have to believe his position as tribal shaman involves necking a pouch-load of the local wacky herbs and getting jiggy with his spirit animal.

37

General Grievous

Who is he?
The supreme commander of the droid army, and a dark lord of the Sith. In appearance he’s a big skeletal robot with four arms and a human heart. Not that it seems to make him any nicer…

Why do we love him?
Because he can fight with four lightsabers at once! Which is, of course, pretty cool. Plus he pre-empts Darth Vader by having a serious lung infection which causes him to cough and splutter like an 88-year-old asthmatic, which is actually scarier than it sounds.

36

Admiral Piett

Who is he?
An Imperial officer who receives an unexpected promotion when his superior gets telepathically strangulated by Darth Vader. He wears a natty green outfit, topped off with what appears to be the Empire’s equivalent of a flat cap.

Why do we love him?
Because he looks so completely out of his depth. One of the most interesting things about the original trilogy is how it approaches the idea of the banality of evil: sure, Vader might be a terrifying black giant but his underlings generally look like middle-managers from a fusty smalltown bank. Despite being in charge of a vast and destructive starship, Piett seems like the sort of chap you wouldn’t mind sharing a beer with.

35

The Max Rebo Band

Who are they?
Jabba the Hutt’s house band, consisting of flop-eared keyboard legend Rebo, shaved-mole clarinetist Droopy McCool and female-testicle-on-legs Sy Snootles.

Why do we love him?
To be fair, it was a close call between this combo and equally smokin’ ‘Star Wars’ egg-heads Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes. In the end, Rebo’s outfit won the battle of the bands because they were so egregiously ‘updated’ for the Special Edition, transformed from giants of interstellar funk to a hideously CG-mogrified soul-blues outfit. According to online sources, their original name was Evar Orbus and his Galactic Jizz-Wailers (honestly!), so lucky escape there.

34

Aunt Beru

Who is she?
Luke Skywalker’s long-suffering auntie (though not, as it turns out, by blood), a goodhearted woman who has the bad luck to be married to the universe’s grumpiest man.

Why do we love her?
Because she puts up with so bloody much, and her only reward is to be unceremoniously burned and left out in the sun to smoke. In ‘Revenge of the Sith’, Beru and Owen look like a fairly contented young couple, happy to take little Luke under their protective wing – and yet, by the time of ‘Star Wars’, they’re weatherbeaten, world-weary and barely speaking to one another. It’s basically a kitchen-sink drama in space.

33

Mace Windu

Who is he?
A top-level Jedi, member of the Council and all-round protector of the weak and defenceless.

Why do we love him?
Because Samuel L Jackson was such a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan he actively lobbied for a part in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and won. We’re not entirely convinced by Windu – his tendency towards would-be cool cod-Tarantino exclamations feels just a teensy bit forced – but he’s got a groovy purple lightsaber, which wins him a lot of points.

32

Supreme Chancellor Valorum

Who is he?
Pretty much the top geezer in the entire galaxy, the head of the Galactic Senate, and a pleasantly fusty old stick.

Why do we love him?
Largely because he’s played by the legendary Terence Stamp, who looks intermittently bemused, amused and slightly annoyed to be surrounded by blue screens, invisible effects and people with very silly hair. Valorum is, of course, booted out of his job in favour of the devious Palpatine. We imagine him back at home, feet up, sipping cocoa, listening to the news of the collapse of the Republic on the radio and mumbling ‘I bloody told them’.

31

Angry Tusken Raider

Who is he?
A desert warrior with an appearance seemingly modelled on the lovechild of an Egyptian mummy and a 16mm camera.

Why do we love him?
We had to have a Tusken Raider on this list, simply because these Bantha-riding bruisers are the baddest Bedouins in Beggar’s Canyon. This particularly narky specimen is the pick of the bunch, dealing Luke Skywalker a bloody good smack over the head before letting out a genuinely blood-curdling war cry.

See numbers 30-21
30

Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba

Who are they?
The intergalactic renegades who pick on poor Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina bar. Evazan is roughly human save for a spot of facial scarring and a serious werepig nose, while Baba is a dark green reptilian type with a worryingly fleshy, vaguely gynaecological maw.

Why do we love him?
Because they’re hard as nails. These space pirates have the death sentence on 12 – count ‘em! – systems, which makes them very much the wrong guys to mess with (unless you’re Obi-Wan Kenobi, which you aren’t). But are they just business partners, or is there something more serious going on? Is interspecies marriage even legal on Tatooine?

29

General Rieekan

Who is he?
The old-school military man who oversees the Rebels’, ahem, ‘tactical withdrawal’ from Echo Base on the ice-planet of Hoth.

Why do we love him?
Because while everyone else is running about and panicking because the Imperials are on their doorstep, Rieekan just gets on with it, keeping his troops in line at great personal risk. He’s pretty much the last man to leave, but although he seems to survive the invasion there’s no sign of him in ‘Return of the Jedi’. Oh, and also because he has an evident fatherly soft spot for Han Solo.

28

Count Dooku

Who is he?
Aka Saruman, sorry, Darth Tyranus, a dark lord of the Sith who takes centre stage in Palpatine’s evil efforts to topple the Galactic Senate.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s played by horror legend, pagan priest and death-metal pioneer Christopher Lee, and there’s no greater reason than that. Also because he engages in a thrilling, intermittently hilarious lightsaber battle against Yoda, who is approximately a quarter of his size. We were slightly disappointed when he got knocked off right at the start of ‘Revenge of the Sith’, though.

27

Bib Fortuna

Who is he?
Jabba the Hutt’s red-eyed, pointy-toothed, lumpy-browed, tentacle-headed ‘major domo’, aka dogsbody.

Why do we love him?
Because he swans about the palace trying to appear all important and official when it’s patently obvious to any creature with one or more eyes that Jabba and his pals view him as a bit of joke. Also, because even though he has two huge fleshy appendages attached to his head, they don’t seem to serve any purpose except giving him one hell of a neckache. And thirdly, because he’s played by jobbing actor Michael Carter, who got eaten in Tottenham Court Road tube station by a certain American werewolf.

26

Mon Mothma

Who is she?
The proud ice maiden of the saga, and leader of the Rebel Alliance by the time of the final battle – imagine Margaret Thatcher if she hadn’t turned to the dark side.

Why do we love her?
Because she’s chilly and aristocratic, but a fighter to the core. Her address to the Rebel forces in the run-up to the battle of Endor is the icy calm before the storm, although actress Caroline Blakiston does look like she’s wandered in from an episode of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ (she was, in fact, more recently a regular in ‘Midsomer Murders’). Rumour has it that Mothma is set to be played by Judi Dench in the upcoming movies, but we’ll take that with a huge pinch of salt for now.

25

Nien Nunb

Who is he?
Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon at the Battle of Endor – an enthusiastic goon with a natty waistcoat and a face like layered sushi.

Why do we love him?
Because, while everyone else is getting blown to bits and yelling about how it’s a trap, Nien just looks like he’s having a whale of a time, bobbing up and down in his seat and gibbering away in what we’re reliably informed is a dialect of the Kenyan language. In the original script, Lando and Nien were supposed to die in the flaming fireball of the Death Star. We’re really glad the producers changed their minds.

24

Biggs Darklighter

Who is he?
Luke Skywalker’s childhood buddy, a red-hot pilot with an absolutely cracking ’tache and the insouciant manner of an old-Hollywood matinee idol.

Why do we love him?
Because the bond between Biggs and Luke represents the link between George Lucas’s own California childhood and his galaxy far, far away. Luke and Biggs are essentially ‘American Graffiti’ characters gone awol, and the decision to cut most of their scenes together, while justifiable in pacing terms, slices some of the heart out of the first movie. We urge readers to check out these deleted scenes and discover the hero who got left on the cutting room floor. See also: Deak, Windy, Camie and Fixer.

23

Admiral Motti

Who is he?
The Imperial upstart who actually dares to challenge Darth Vader’s authority, and even the existence of the Force. But not for long…

Why do we love him?
Because he’s not just an ass-kissing yes-man on the road to terminal strangulation like pretty much everyone else in the Imperial high command (see numbers 37 and 45). Motti is a realist, dammit, and he believes in firepower and overwhelming force, not magic and mystical mumbo jumbo. Also, because he has the best lipcurling snarl this side of Huw Edwards.

22

Padmé Amidala

Who is she?
Doomed Queen of Naboo, member of the Galactic Senate, wife of the traitor Anakin Skywalker, mother of two kids she’ll never get to see and owner of the weirdest make-up box in the known universe.

Why do we love her?
Okay, so Amidala’s not the snap-talking, blaster-wielding hardass that her daughter turns out to be, but she’s still a fascinating character, bred in tradition, but not tied to it, and in love with a man she must suspect is destined to go badly off the rails. Natalie Portman’s performance is hamstrung by some truly fistchewing dialogue, but there are moments where Amidala’s strength shines through.

21

Admiral Ackbar

Who is he?
The commander of the rebel armada during the Battle of Endor, piscine member of the moronically named Mon Calamari species and deliverer of one of the series’ truly great lines.

Why do we love him?
Because he looks like an enormous leathery, goggle-eyed trout, stands in a slightly camp hands-on-hips fashion and talks like he’s just swallowed a mouthful of Coke. But he still manages to be one of the coolest fish in the fleet. Plus he has a funky extendable chair that allows him to zip about the command centre like that old sci-fi puppet Joe 90.

See numbers 20-11
20

Porkins

Who is he?
Doomed, rotund X-wing pilot who refuses to eject (where would he eject to, exactly?) and gets splattered all over the Death Star.

Why do we love him?
Let us count the ways. Firstly, because he’s the only non-evil fat guy in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, which counts for something when you’re 12. Secondly, because he covers Biggs at great risk to his own safety. And thirdly, because he’s played by the eternally underrated William Hootkins, a remarkable and much-missed character actor whose career spanned everything from ‘Blackadder’ to ‘Batman’.

19

Grand Moff Tarkin

Who is he?
Top dog on the Death Star, holder of Darth Vader’s leash and a man perfectly willing to destroy an entire planet just to make a point.

Why do we love him?
Well, the fact that he’s played by the legendary Peter Cushing does not hurt a bit. But leaving his immaculate thespian heritage aside, Tarkin is still pretty nails: he looks like he smokes about 50 a day, he’s got a whole chest full of medals and that little cock-of-the-head just before his beloved battle station goes kaboom is simply priceless. Plus he’s a Grand Moff. Who else do you know who’s a Grand Moff?

18

Qui-Gon Jinn

Who is he?
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s tutor, and the only sap on the Jedi Council who believes that Anakin Skywalker is anything more than a whole heap of trouble in a bowlcut.

Why do we love him?
Principally, because of his matchless lightsaber skills, classy way with a mystical one-liner and facial resemblance to that fine actor, Liam Neeson. But also because it was here that folks first began to notice the phenomenon of the Jedi beard – well trimmed, very presentable and just like the one George Lucas happens to have. We’re still not convinced by all that guff about midi-chlorians (some sort of microscopic microbe), but we’ll let it go for now.

17

Greedo

Who is he?
The phlegmatic reptilian bounty hunter whom Han Solo abruptly, unceremoniously executes in the Tatooine bar Mos Eisley Cantina – and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Why do we love him?
At least partly because of all the controversy surrounding his death, after George Lucas added a premature laser blast in order to soften Han Solo’s prickly character. But also because he’s got huge, glassy green eyes, a fantastically otherworldly, insectoid voice and is one of the more convincingly realised patrons of that most wretched hive of scum and villainy.

16

Wedge Antilles

Who is he?
The hottest pilot in the rebel fleet, though his superior officer Luke Skywalker does tend to hog the credit.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s a survivor. While his fellow X-wing, Y-wing, A-wing, B-wing and snowspeeder pilots are blowing up, failing to eject and generally crashing into stuff, Wedge keeps his cool and just keeps on blasting, surviving three major battles with barely a scratch. Plus, he’s called Wedge Antilles, which is just the greatest thing ever.

15

Hammerhead

Who is he?
A denizen of the Mos Eisley Cantina bar on the planet Tatooine whose bulbous brown bonce happens to resemble that of a hammerhead shark – or, indeed, a hammer.

Why do we love him?
Hammerhead will have to stand for all those nameless little monsters out there in the dark whose figures we avidly collected even though they barely appeared in the movies: step forward Snaggletooth, Walrus Man, Squidhead, Bossk, Zuckuss, Ree-Yees, Weequay, Klaatu, Barada, Nikto, Prune Face, and too many more to mention. We also love him because he takes centre stage in the single greatest ‘Star Wars’-themed comedy sketch of all time. Please hammer, don’t hurt ‘em!

14

Darth Maul

Who is he?
A dark lord of the Sith, and pretty much the only truly exciting new character from the first prequel, thanks in large part to his crazy Cirque du Soleil facepaint, acid-yellow eyes and double-ended lightsaber.

Why do we love him?
It’s not just about the look, though that is spectacularly cool. As played by martial artist Ray Park – and not overlooking some sterling, skin-crawling voice work from the mighty Peter Serafinowicz – Darth Maul is a sinuous sadist, and we can’t help thinking the prequel series would’ve been improved by keeping him alive a bit longer.

13

C-3PO

Who is he?
A gleaming golden God to some, a deeply annoying buzz-kill to others, protocol droid Threepio is fluent in over 6,000,000 forms of communication, and boy does he love to go on about it.

Why do we love him?
If Threepio had restricted himself to the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy he’d be higher on this list: his appearances in those movies, whether it’s berating R2-D2 for his obstinacy, tapping Han Solo on the shoulder mid-snog or awkwardly buddying up to Jabba the Hutt, are consistently charming and funny. But the prequel trilogy tended to use him as an automatic gag generator, punctuating the action with inappropriate asides (‘this is such a drag!’). Also, how did a slave boy on a remote desert world manage to build a droid that knows 6,000,000 languages? Anyway, let’s hope the new movies restore our cybernetic hero to his former glory.

12

Boba Fett

Who is he?
The ultimate bounty hunter, a ruthless, near-wordless outlaw who roams the Galactic wastes in his coffin-shaped spacecraft taking on dirty jobs for healthy rewards.

Why do we love him?
In the history of cinema, rarely has so much attention been lavished on a character who appears so rarely and says so little. Precisely what it is about this battered, taciturn mystery man that has captured the imagination of so many ‘Star Wars’ fans is hard to pin down, but it probably has something to do with his dinged and dented costume, and the fact that he’s one of the few characters who backchats Darth Vader (see also number 23). Still, the less said about his youthful cameo in ‘Attack of the Clones’, the better.

11

Lando Calrissian

Who is he?
The ultimate charmer, a ramblin’, gamblin’ man who turns his back on his old card-sharking ways to pursue a respectable career as a mining administrator and, ultimately, a Rebel general.

Why do we love him?
Yes, Lando was written into the series after complaints about the absence of black characters in ‘Star Wars’, and accusations of tokenism are hard to refute (his initial characterisation as a treacherous, womanising sleazebag don’t exactly help matters). But if we can look beyond the original cultural context, Calrissian’s matinee-idol charm and un-‘Star Wars’-like moral complexity make him one of the most intriguing figures in the series. Billy Dee Williams gives a magnificent performance, at once enigmatic, reprehensible and dapper as hell, and his failure to become a major star is both a loss to cinema, and an indictment of the industry.

See the top ten
10
1/10

Jabba the Hutt

Who is he?
An enormous green slug with a voracious appetite for heavy licking, hookah pipes, hard funk and little amphibious spider-creatures. Jabba is the most powerful gangster in the Galaxy – though precisely how he achieved this exalted position without really being able to move around or hit people (thanks to his undersized Tyrannosaur arms) is a matter of conjecture.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s such a staggeringly nasty piece of work: corrupt, lascivious, grotesque, an immoral monster to whom the execution of an underling is as everyday an occurrence as making a cup of tea (not that we can really imagine Jabba sticking the kettle on – that’s what our number 27, Bib Fortuna, is for).

On a technical level, Jabba is just a beautiful piece of creature design, taking three months and costing half a million dollars to build and requiring three puppeteers to operate. It’s a genuinely impressive, memorable and convincingly vile piece of engineering, just as unpleasant today as it was in 1983. All of which makes George Lucas’s dismissive comments about the original puppet – and his decision to use a completely naff, plasticky CGI replacement in both ‘The Phantom Menace’ and the ‘Star Wars’ Special Edition – not just wrong, but kind of insulting.

Seen in:
‘Return of the Jedi’ (we’ll generously overlook his other appearances)

Key line:
‘You will soon learn to appreciate me.’ Unless your name’s George Lucas, that is.

9
2/10

Luke Skywalker

Who is he?
The hero, of course! Luke is the clean-livin’, hard-workin’, elders-respectin’, teeth-whitenin’, sister-kissin’ all-American boy from Tatooine whose adventures form the backbone of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. Just a simple kid from a broken home, Luke pulls himself up by his own utility belt and goes on to win shiny medals, master the Force and save the entire galaxy from evil. Result!

Why do we love him?
Because he’s the ultimate family-friendly adventure hero: kind to animals and droids, good at fighting, flying spaceships, swinging across chasms on ropes and doing the right thing, and just a teensy bit bland. There’s a lot in the films about Luke being tempted by the Dark Side, giving in to his hate and choosing the easy path, but never for a second do we believe he’s actually going to do it: hell, he even saves the universe’s most fearsome villain from himself.

None of which is intended as a criticism: Mark Hamill’s performance is consistently intelligent, heartfelt and witty, and Luke never comes close to crossing that line between upstanding hero and annoying goody-goody. But if you can find a ‘Star Wars’ fan over the age of 14 who doesn’t prefer Han Solo, we’ll eat a womp rat.

Seen in:
The original trilogy

Key line:
‘I care!’

8
3/10

R2-D2

Who is he?
A cheeky, level-headed dustbin on legs who comes complete with an Inspector Gadget-like array of convenient little nozzles and appendages. Think Henry the Hoover meets a Swiss army knife, only with personality.

Why do we love him?
From juggling turbolifts on an enemy battleship to saving Anakin Skywalker’s miserable life to fixing Luke’s X-wing stabilisers during the first Death Star run, from mending the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon to cutting his way out of an Ewok trap, Artoo does all the hard galaxy-saving work and gets precious little credit.

It’s no surprise he was the first cast member to be confirmed for the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ trilogy: without him the Imperial forces would be ruling the galaxy and Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie would be little more than glutinous splodges on the inside wall of a trash compactor.

Seen in:
All six movies (and more to come)

Key line:
Concerned uh-oh type beep, as if to say, ‘here we go again’.

7
4/10

Emperor Palpatine

Who is he?
The evil mastermind behind the Imperial takeover of the galaxy. Initially, Palpatine is a seemingly trustworthy senator who guards a terrible secret: he’s actually a Sith Lord, master of evil. Later, he’s a wizened little wizard with the wickedest cackle this side of the Yellow Brick Road.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s the one of the few characters who actually gets deeper and more interesting in the prequel trilogy – and because hey, evil is always fun to watch. Ian McDiarmid’s performance is one of the richest in the series. Yes, there’s a touch of the pantomime villain to him, but that’s part of the fun.

Palpatine’s transition from avuncular politician to devious power-grabber to lightning-fingered madman to all-powerful galactic dictator is deliriously enjoyable to watch, and director George Lucas and McDiarmid work hard to squeeze every ounce of lunatic glee from each successive, excessive incarnation. That said, by the time of the climactic battle in ‘Return of the Jedi’ he’s become something genuinely creepy: a nightmarish man-crone whose spiteful self-assurance and seemingly bottomless capacity for hate makes him the most memorable bad guy in the series – bar one.

Seen in:
All six movies except ‘Star Wars’

Key line:
‘I am defenceless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the Dark Side will be complete!’

6
5/10

Yoda

Who is he?
The diminutive backwards-talking mystical muppet whose knowledge of the Force is second to none. In the original trilogy he’s a marvel of creature design: tactile, sympathetic and loveable. His CGI incarnation in ‘The Phantom Menace’ looks like a rubber troll sprung unnervingly to life, though this does improve somewhat over the next two movies.

Why do we love him?
You have to ask? He’s Yoda! Eight hundred years old and still going strong, master of telekinesis and Eastern philosophy, a whizz with a lightsaber who also has a wicked sense of humour and an odd fascination for pocket torches.

Everything about him is iconic: that idiosyncratic manner of speech (part ageing Jewish comedian, part inscrutable samurai warrior), that unique raspy voice (supplied by Frank Oz, so the similarity to Miss Piggy is understandable), the amazing puppet work, even the really-not-so-terrible CGI in the last two prequels (the way he bounces off the walls during the lightsaber battle is amazing).

Seen in:
All six movies except ‘Star Wars’

Key line:
‘Do, or do not. There is no try.’

5
6/10

Chewbacca

Who is he?
A seven-foot walking carpet with natural furry flares, a resistance-chic bandolier and a vocal repertoire consisting of barks, rumbles and surprisingly-hard-to-imitate growls. Co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewie is another of those ‘Star Wars’ characters who inspires a deep devotion despite his inability to speak – in English, at least.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s the ultimate man, despite being a Wookiee. Chewbacca is tall, hirsute, fashionable, tough, endlessly loyal, a bit of a joker, a crack shot with a crossbow, an expert driver, great at spaceship DIY and we reckon he probably gives the best hugs in the universe.

Every man would love to be his buddy, and what woman wouldn’t want a partner this hardworking, affectionate and dashing? Sure, those heart-to-heart chats might be slightly hard work, but perhaps this is what they mean by ‘sweet nothings’. We also love Chewie because he was played by the loveable Surrey giant Peter Mayhew, who has the best Twitter feed of all the ‘Star Wars’ alumni (it’s @thewookieeroars, if you’re interested).

Seen in:
The original trilogy and ‘Revenge of the Sith’

Key line:
His dismayed howl when the Echo Base doors slam shut against the Hoth night is heartbreaking.

4
7/10

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Who is he?
From thrusting young Jedi hero to desert-wandering retainer to shimmering blue apparition, Obi-Wan is either the selfless, beating heart of the entire ‘Star Wars’ saga, or a total doormat. Still, like the great man said, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s absolutely ruthless with a lightsaber (as our hapless number 30 knows only too well). Because his shades-of-beige wardrobe is both functional and stylish. Because he wears a trimmed beard with boundless elan. And because he’s played by two very fine actors, including perhaps the greatest thespian ever to emerge from this sceptered isle, Sir Alec Guinness.

Still, it does give us slight concern that he’s basically a one-man walking support network for the accident-prone Skywalker family. And where does it get him, really? He’s forced almost to kill his best friend (who is, let’s face it, kind of a dick anyway). He’s left to shuffle around a desert for two decades as a glorified long-distance babysitter. Then, as soon as his life starts getting interesting again, he’s unceremoniously knocked off by said best friend and forced to spend the remainder of eternity as a ghost in the company of the guy who killed him! Now that’s loyalty.

Seen in:
All six movies, in various states of being and nothingness

Key line:
‘If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.’

3
8/10

Princess Leia Organa

Who is she?
The proud, upraised face of the Rebel Alliance: a beautiful, sarcastic, blaster-packing, man-juggling, no-bullshit-taking, Danish-pastry-haircut-wearing icon of womanhood – for two movies, at least. That whole gold bikini incident in ‘Return of the Jedi’ may have dented her feminist credentials ever so slightly, but at least she got to throttle Jabba the Hutt for it.

Why do we love her?
When we were little, Princess Leia was just an annoyance: the last action figure we’d want to unwrap on Christmas morning. Then, as adolescents, she became a bit more (ahem) interesting, but hardly a character to be taken seriously, gold bikini or no gold bikini. But now, as grown-ups, we can look back and realise that Leia, token female though she may be, is actually the most shaded, complex character in the entire ‘Star Wars’ saga.

As a very public figure working for an outlawed cause who doesn’t just lose her family but her entire home planet, she’s got a lot more at stake than either of her flyboy toyboys. As a woman in a man’s universe she stands her ground at every turn – see how she faces down both Tarkin and Vader without breaking a sweat – becoming neither a remote aristocratic figurehead like Mon Mothma or a put-upon drudge like Aunt Beru.

As the only eligible female in several light years she clearly gets a kick out of playing off Han and Luke against each other, and refuses to get sucked into any of that mushy stuff (the ‘just… hold me’ episode notwithstanding). She has the quickest mind, the sharpest tongue and, lest we forget, the most money. But she’s willing to risk everything for the cause she believes in. They picked the wrong Skywalker!

Seen in:
The original trilogy

Key line:
‘I am not a committee!’

2
9/10

Han Solo

Who is he?
The captain of the Millennium Falcon, and the cockiest space pilot in the galaxy. Han Solo is every young boy’s hero, cruising from star system to star system with his hairy BFF, Chewbacca, getting into scrapes, shooting the place up, performing occasional acts of random heroism and being rude to women until they fall madly in love with him.

Why do we love him?
Because it’s damn near impossible not to – his hair is great, his Humphrey Bogart-cowboy-hipster outfit is legendary, his wisecracks are second to none and his lopsided grin has broken a million hearts on a thousand worlds. But there’s more to it, somehow: in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ particularly, Lawrence Kasdan’s crackling, old-Hollywood dialogue combines with Harrison Ford’s evident love of language and sheer insouciance as a performer to raise Han to a place few other movie characters ever reach.

This isn’t just another two-dimensional figure fluttering up there on the screen, this is someone we know, someone we care about. It’s really no wonder so many people take ‘Star Wars’ so damn seriously: how many franchises have managed to generate this kind of uncanny emotional bond between characters and audience? For thousands of people, losing Han would be like losing a friend. A friend with a really, really cool spaceship.

Seen in:
The original trilogy

Key line:
‘I know.’

1
10/10

Darth Vader

Who is he?
We don’t think it’s going too far to suggest that here is the single most iconic screen villain of all time: his appearance is terrifying, his voice bone-chilling, his words pure, dripping evil. But what really turns Darth into the stuff of our childhood nightmares are his actions: from snapping necks left and right – both in person and remotely – to cutting off his own son’s hand (let’s just let that one sink in for a moment), this is a guy who really, really shouldn’t be trifled with.

Why do we love him?
Because, however much we love them, the movies are full of sarcastic space pilots, pistol-packing princesses, upstanding blonde heroes, robot sidekicks and wise old wizards, but there will only ever be one Darth Vader.

His backstory is perhaps problematic – the pre-teen Anakin is just a horrid little squirt, while Hayden Christensen’s grown-up incarnation can’t quite get beyond that terrible dialogue and fully engage as a character. That said, his descent into evil is carefully, convincingly handled, and the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi is truly, operatically magnificent.

But it’s nothing next to Darth’s greatest hits: emerging in a billow of smoke from a shattered blast door; tuning up his TIE-fighter controls like a snooker player chalking his cue; throttling his commanders one by one like the expendable flies they are; revealing the truth to Luke on that rickety gantry; turning on his former master as unearthly electricity howls in the bones of his face; and finally, heartbreakingly, lying stretched out on that medieval pyre as black smoke wreathes around his broken corpse. He is a perfect creation, never to be improved upon. Darth, we tremblingly salute you.

Seen in:
All six movies

Key line:
‘If you only knew the power of the Dark Side.’

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