The 50 best Star Wars characters

We count down our favorite denizens of a galaxy far, far away…

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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.

  1. Key line: “No, I’m all r—aaaaagh!”
    Seen in: Star Wars
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?

  1. Key line: “Terminate her! Immediately!”
    Seen in: Star Wars
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.

  1. Key line: “Remember: your focus determines your reality.” Eh?
    Seen in: The Phantom Menace
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 realized patrons of that most wretched hive of scum and villainy.

  1. Key line: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.” Famous last words.
    Seen in: Star Wars and The Phantom Menace
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.

  1. Key line: “Cut to the left. I’ll take the leader.”
    Seen in: The original trilogy
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!

  1. Key line: “Because my head is like a hammer, and a hammer is like-a my head!”
    Seen in: Star Wars
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.

  1. Key line: “Die, Jedi, die!”
    Seen in: The Phantom Menace
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.

  1. Key line: “We’re doomed.”
    Seen in: All six movies
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.

  1. Key line: “He’s no good to me dead.”
    Seen in: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Attack of the Clones
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 characterization as a treacherous, womanizing 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.

  1. Key line: “Here goes nothin’!”
    Seen in: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

Continue to numbers 10–1 in our list



Users say

1 comments
Janeen V
Janeen V

HEY NOW!!  IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO EAT THAT WOMP RAT!!  I think Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker was one of the greatest all-time fits for an actor IN ANY ROLE!. His combination of hope, purity and  innocence combined with his chronic restlessness and permeating sadness made him so believable that to this day I still believe Luke Skywalker lived in that galaxy long long ago and far far away. .But that hope that somehow managed to fight it's way through all that sadness and restlessness--well that gave even ME hope!!  So, you've found your gal that not only prefers Luke to Han, but absolutely could not even STAND Harrison Ford!  For the record,  I think first place should have been a 4-way tie between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Alec Guiness's Obi Wan, and the inimitable yet lovable Yoda. Who could possibly choose between those 4? All were superb!!!!   But Han Solo? Ohmigod he was horrid!  I saw Star Wars when it first came out, and absolutely could not stand Harrison Ford in that role,  I thought he was so awful that I almost didn't go see The Empire Strikes Back, but loved the other 4 so much that I just had to go. I just closed my eyes when Harrison Ford came onscreen--and still do--and have throughout the years. I feel the same about Samuel Jackson--he was absolutely awful as Mace Windu!  Ford and Jackson are 2 of the highest paid and worst actors of all time in my opinion..... I have to close my eyes when they come onscreen. But all is redeemed with just the sight or sound of Alec's Obi Wan, Mark's Luke, Oz's Yoda or James' Earl Jones' Darth.  SO EAT A WOMP RAT--I'm an original and die-hard Star Wars lover and I cannot and never could stand Harrison Ford's Han Solo! I would have loved Clint Eastwood as Han, though...........

See all Star Wars films

Episode IV: A New Hope

The movie that started it all: a work of pure spectacle and wonder.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The best (and bleakest) movie in the series? Most fans think so.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

We may have been wondering if it was time Lucas tried his hand at universes new.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The film grinds its way from nonsensical plot exposition to anti-climactic finale.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

After the longueurs of The Phantom Menace, George Lucas was taking no chances.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Breathless, dramatic, effects-filled, badly acted and slightly disappointing.

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