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Photograph: Time Out

The 52 best Star Wars characters

The essential list of our favourite 'Star Wars' characters from a galaxy far, far away...

Written by
Tom Huddleston

Just over 44 years ago, in what now feels like a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas released a then unknown space opera: Star Wars. Nearly half a century, nine saga movies, numerous spin-offs and TV shows, and a $4.05 billion sale to Disney later, Lucas’s science-fiction universe has become a cultural phenomenon, one that is woven into the fabric of society and redefined fandom.

But while the laser swords and spaceships are exciting, Star Wars captured the hearts of millions because of its memorable characters – of which there are many. Whether they’re evil, heroic or somewhere in between (we’re looking at you, Lando), characters from A New Hope to The Mandolorian have inspired devotion, passion and, yes, extreme nerdiness. Even the much maligned prequel trilogy gave us the pluck Princess Amidala (although we’ll never think about sand in the same way ever again).

With more Star Wars TV shows – the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series, which sees Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the sage Jedi, and Andor, which follows Rogue Ones Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna), to name just two – joining The Mandolorian and The Book of Boba Fett, what better time to get reacquainted with some of the very best the Star Wars universe has to offer.

Here, in an entirely subjective list compiled by Time Out’s resident Gonk-geek Tom Huddleston and Time Out editors, are the 52 best Star Wars characters in order of greatness.

RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to 'Star Wars'

Star Wars characters: 51-52

Zorii Bliss
Photograph: Lucasfilm

52. Zorii Bliss

Who is she? A spice-smuggler based on the ice-planet Kijimi, and former squeeze of Poe Dameron in The Rise of Skywalker.

Why do we love her? Partly because her angular art-deco helmet and purple threads make her look like something out of 90s action oddity The Rocketeer, partly because underneath it all is the mighty Keri Russell, but mostly because she can put cocky pilot Poe in his place with just a look.

Key line: It’s not a line – she doesn’t say a lot – but that little shake of the head when Poe tries to get under her helmet is priceless.

Photograph: Star Wars

51. 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!

Key line: ‘Because my head is like a hammer, and a hammer is like-a my head!’

Star Wars characters: 44-53

Clumsy Stormtrooper

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).

Key line: ‘Ow!’

Major Bren Derlin

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).

Key line: ‘Your Highness, there's nothing more we can do tonight. The shield doors must be closed. Now, who fancies a beer?’ (Okay, we added the last bit.)


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.

Key line: ‘Erotically charged howl!’

The Rancor Keeper

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.

Key line: ‘Sobs!’


46. 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.

Key line: ‘You won’t walk away from this one, slave scum!’ If only…

Salacious B Crumb

45. 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.

Key line: 

Maz Kanata

44. Maz Kanata

Who is she?
The wrinkly old Yoda-alike with the tiny but piercing eyes, who runs the galaxy’s funkiest reggae party and fancies the pants off Chewbacca (or she would if he wore any).

Why do we love her? Because she’s cheeky but mystical in the proudest ‘Star Wars’ tradition, making saucy Wookiee jokes one minute and imparting the secrets of the universe the next. Her role may have been somewhat hacked to bits in the finished movie – she was supposed to stick around to the end, but JJ Abrams changed his mind – but what remains is enough to make her a firm favourite. Here’s hoping Maz rears her strange little head again in future instalments.

Key line: ‘The Force, it's calling to you. Just let it in.’

Gonk droid

43. Gonk droid

vWho 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.

Key line: ‘Gonk.’


42. 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.

Key line: ‘Squeaky squeaky squeak!’

General Grievous

41. 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.

Key line: ‘I’ll enjoy crushing you!’

Star Wars characters: 33-44

Admiral Piett

40. 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.

Key line: ‘As you wish, my lord.’

The Max Rebo Band

39. The Max Rebo Band

Who are they?
Jabba the Hutt’s house band, consisting of flop-eared keyboard legend Rebo, shaved-mole clarinettist 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.

Key line: ‘Lapti nek, rat a ran wim joct co jappi qaff!’

Aunt Beru

38. 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.

Key line: ‘Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.’

Angry Tusken Raider

37. 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.

Key line: 


36. K-2SO

Who is he?
The lanky, cranky ex-Imperial security droid who helps the Rebels break into the Imperial compound in ‘Rogue One’. Think C-3PO with a bad attitude and verbal diarrhoea (though with the same clipped British accent).

Why do we love him?
Because he’s the first Star Wars sidekick who’s genuinely funny – K-2’s way with a dry, often unintentional putdown is sardonically hilarious. The design is great, too – he’s all hulking and ungainly, like an overgrown metal teenager.

Key line: ‘I find that argument vague and unconvincing.’

Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba

35. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba

Who are they?
The intergalactic renegades who pick on poor Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina bar, having fled the wreck of Jedda. 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 Jedda or Tatooine?

Key line: ‘He doesn’t like you. I don’t like you either.’

Saw Gerrera

34. Saw Gerrera

Who is he?
The first character to transfer from a Star Wars TV franchise (‘The Clone Wars’) to the big screen, Saw is a cyborg Rebel extremist who takes no prisoners (or takes prisoners, then does horrible things to them) in his efforts to fight the Empire.

Why do we love him?
In ‘Rogue One’, Saw and his breakaway Rebel crew are basically Al Qaeda in space, dedicated to battling the darkness by any means necessary. It’s a bold move for a Star Wars movie, and makes ‘Rogue One’ feels grimly relevant. Forest Whitaker may overact a tad, but his grunting, hissing anti-hero is certainly memorable.

Key line: ‘Save the Rebellion! Save the dream!’

Count Dooku

33. 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.

Key line: ‘It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the Force... but by our skills with a lightsaber.’


32. L3-37

Who is she?
Lando Calrissian’s robot sidekick (with benefits)? In ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, L3 is the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon – and she’s a brassy, opinionated droid-rights activist who makes no secret of her affections for her human boss.

Why do we love her?
She brings a bizarre, completely unexpected edge of non-traditional sexuality to the ‘Star Wars’ saga, implying that in this universe, the relationship between man and machine might not be as innocent and functional as we’d always assumed. Oh, and she’s voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge from ‘Fleabag’, who’s obviously a genius.

Key line: ‘You don’t want to press that button with me.’

Mon Mothma

31. 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’). And she was similarly brittle and in-charge as played by Genevieve O'Reilly in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'.

Key line: ‘Many Bothans died to bring us this information.’

Star Wars characters: 21-32

Wedge Antilles

30. 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.

Key line: ‘Cut to the left. I’ll take the leader.’


29. 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.

Key line: ‘I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.’ Famous last words.

Biggs Darklighter

28. 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.

Key line: ‘The rebellion is spreading, and I wanna be on the side I believe in.’

Rose Tico

27. Rose Tico

Who is she?
The plucky Resistance technician who convinces Finn not to jump ship and ends up joining him on a wild ride from the casino city of Canto Bight to the heart of a First Order star destroyer.

Why do we love her?
She’s the beating heart of the Resistance: a former slave who has dedicated herself to liberating the galaxy from the clutches of the First Order. And because Kelly Marie Tran’s performance is just lovely.

Key line: ‘We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate but saving what we love.’

Poe Dameron

26. Poe Dameron

Who is he?
The dashing matinee-idol flyboy in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, General Leia’s trusted emissary who flees the First Order, miraculously escapes death and returns to lead the X-Wing charge against Starkiller Base.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s an old-school charmer, the rightful heir to Biggs Darklighter and Lando Calrissian – all he’s missing is a stylish little pencil moustache (let’s hope he grows one in time for the next movie). We’re still not sure how Poe escaped that TIE Fighter crash on Jakku (plotting isn’t exactly the strong point in ‘The Force Awakens’), but we’re glad he returned for the rousing finale, not to mention his smoking hot runway run-in with Finn. And lo, a meme was born…

Key line: ‘I can fly anything.’

Admiral Motti

25. 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.

Key line: ‘Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader.’

Padmé Amidala

24. 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.

Key line: ‘I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!’

Admiral Ackbar

23. 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.

Key line: All together now: ‘It’s a trap!’

Jek Porkins

22. Jek 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’.

Key line: ‘No, I’m all r-aaaaagh!

The Grand Moff Tarkin

21. The 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 (let's just forget about that uncanny-valley 'Rogue One' recreation, shall we?). 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?

Key line: ‘Terminate her! Immediately!’

Star Wars characters: 11-21

Boba Fett

20. Boba Fett

Who is he?
The ultimate bounty hunter and ruthless outlaw who previously roamed the Galactic wastes in his coffin-shaped spacecraft taking on dirty jobs for healthy rewards… until he was nearly consumed by the Great Pit of Carkoon. Now found vying for criminal dominance in the Outer Rim.

Why do we love him?
Boba Fett exemplifies the battle between O.G. Star Wars and the expansion beyond the original trilogy. Initially, what it was about this battered, taciturn mystery man that captured the imagination of so many Star Wars fans was hard to pin down; he appeared so little and when he did, he said nearly nothing. Perhaps it was his dented costume or the fact that he’s one of the few characters who backchats Darth Vader (see also number 23). His youthful cameo in Attack of the Clones, however, provided more back story to this metal-clad enigma, and now Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, despite its Scorsesean story of crime and power, has further softened the bounty hunter, although actor Temuera Morrison, who has taken over the role, gives a good performance. Still, we’re choosing to remember him as the gun-for-hire with a heart of steel, always ready to kill for cash.

Key line: ‘He’s no good to me dead.’

Galen Erso

19. Galen Erso

Who is he?
The scientist whose work on the Death Star’s weapons system allowed that monstrous machine to be built – but whose bold act of sabotage allowed it to be destroyed again. He’s the Robert Oppenheimer of the Star Wars universe, only with a better developed conscience.

Why do we love him?
Partly because he’s so beautifully played by Mads Mikkelsen, fiercely capturing the sense of man who sees no choice but to abandon his principles. But also because he gracefully plugs one of the biggest plot holes in the original Star Wars trilogy – why a battle station with the power to destroy a planet should also feature a handy self-destruct mechanism.

Key line: ‘Whatever I do, I do it to protect you.’

Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo

18. Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo

Who is she?
Leader of the Resistance following the disastrous retreat from D’Qar, and old comrade-in-arms of General Leia Organa.

Why do we love her?
She’s got purple hair and she’s played by the mighty Laura Dern with a perfect blend of warmth, bite and self-assurance. She sees through Poe Dameron’s macho bullshit in a heartbeat – and sacrifices her life to save her friends.

Key line: ‘We are the spark that will light the fire that will restore the Republic.’

Photograph: Lucasfilm

17. Grogu

Who is he? The almost unbearably delightful pint-sized force user chaperoned by our helmeted hero in streaming series The Mandalorian. Better known to his legions of fans (and toy retailers) as Baby Yoda.

Why do we love him? It’s not just us - the entire world has gone crazy for this tiny green cockle-warming machine. And that’s despite a complete lack of personal detail - we know he’s 50 years old and we know he can use the force, but his name and species are still a total mystery (frankly, we’re not even sure he’s a he). There have been cute critters in Star Wars before - porgs, ewoks, Jake Lloyd - but they’re just so much bantha poodoo next to this little bundle of joy.

Key line: No lines, just adorable little squeaks, grunts, blinks, nose-wrinkles, ear-twitches, and, oh God, we can’t even handle it.

Kylo Ren

16. Kylo Ren

Who is he?
The villain of ‘The Force Awakens’ – and (spoiler alert) the wayward son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, who turned, or was led, to the Dark Side following his Jedi training at the hands of Luke Skywalker, and is now in an almighty teenage piss about everything in the universe.

Why do we love him?
Because he’s just a big stroppy kid, albeit one with 1,000 armoured legions and a planet-shattering death laser at his disposal – also, JJ Abrams hasn’t come out and said it, but we reckon he’s having a sly pop at ‘Star Wars’ fanboys in Kylo’s obsession with Darth Vader’s scorched helmet (oo-er). The scenes between Adam Driver’s Kylo and Daisy Ridley’s Rey are the most dramatic in ‘The Force Awakens’, first his abortive attempt to torture her with the force, followed by his realisation of her untapped power and their thrilling climactic lightsaber smackdown. 

Key line: ‘Wait! I can show you the power of the Dark Side!’

Darth Maul

15. 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.

Key line: ‘Die, Jedi, die!’


14. 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.

Key line: ‘We’re doomed.’


13. Rey

Who is she?
The mysterious heroine of ‘The Force Awakens’, a young orphan with a hidden past who dreams of escape from her drab, backwater existence – but when she gets the chance, isn’t sure if adventure was such a great idea after all. The mysterious heroine of ‘The Force Awakens’, a young orphan with a hidden past who dreams of escape from her drab, backwater existence – but when she gets the chance, isn’t sure if adventure was such a great idea after all.

Why do we love her?
Because she’s like something out of an old-fashioned British kids adventure novel: plucky, proud and a bit posh, with nerves of steel and a whip-smart mouth. Watching actress Daisy Ridley bound up those stone steps on the planet Ahch-To in the final moments of ‘The Force Awakens’, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the BBC fantasy stories we loved as kids: ‘The Owl Service’ or ‘The Secret Garden’, perhaps, with their feisty stage-school heroines. The way she ‘handles’ John Boyega’s Finn is hilarious, too – we can’t wait to see where that relationship goes.

Key line: ‘You will remove these restraints and leave this cell with the door open.’

Lando Calrissian

12. Lando Calrissian

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

Why do we love him?
Yes, Lando was written into the series after complaints about the absence of black characters in ‘Star Wars’. And yes, accusations of tokenism are hard to refute (his initial characterisation as a treacherous, womanising sleazebag didn’t help). But look deeper and Calrissian’s matinee-idol charm and un-‘Star Wars’-like moral ambiguity make him one of the most intriguing figures in the series.

In ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Lando is at once enigmatic, despicable and dapper as hell; and if the newly promoted General Calrissian goes a little soft in ‘Return of the Jedi’, Billy Dee Williams’s sheer personal charm carries the character through. Lando returns (played by 2018’s man of the year Donald ‘Childish Gambino’ Glover) in ‘Solo’, and if anything, the character is even more complex and charismatic, flirting madly with his droid sidekick L3-37 and generally treating the galaxy like his personal playground. 

Key line: ‘Here goes nothing!’

Jyn Erso
Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd/Disney

11. Jyn Erso

Who is she?
The daughter of the man who made the Death Star possible, and a street-smart tough cookie in her own right. When she’s recruited by the Rebel Alliance to find her Pops and steal the plans, she signs up even though it could mean her life.

Why do we love her?
Jyn might be the first ‘Star Wars’ heroine for whom gender simply isn’t an issue: there’s no romantic subplot, no gold bikini and no ‘isn’t she bossy?’ jokes. She’s just hard as nails: a tight-lipped, no-nonsense ass-kicker who refuses to let her Daddy issues get in the way of seeing the mission through. Felicity Jones’s performance is brisk and restrained: this is not a character who wants you to like her. She genuinely doesn’t give a damn.

Key line: ‘Let's just get this over with, shall we?’

Star Wars characters: the top ten


10. Finn

Who is he?
The rootless, nameless First Order stormtrooper and part-time plumbing technician – born FN-2187 – who has a crisis of conscience on manoeuvres on Jakku, rescues Resistance maverick Poe Dameron and sets out to find his way in this big ol’ universe. 

Why do we love him?
Because he’s our wide-eyed guide to the eye-frazzling wonders of ‘The Force Awakens’, desperately trying to come across as cool and collected while permanently panicking on the inside. And also because he’s played by Peckham’s own John Boyega, a remarkable young actor who has unexpectedly muscled his way to the top through a combination of nerdy charm and quiet, steely toughness – perfect for the character of a child soldier who smashes his chains and goes rogue. 

Key quote: ‘The name's Finn. And I'm in charge.’

Luke Skywalker

9. Luke Skywalker

Who is he?
The hero, of course! Luke is the clean-livin’, hard-workin’, elders-respectin’, 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 master the Force and save the entire galaxy from evil (at least temporarily). Yes, his return in ‘The Last Jedi’ was rather more downbeat, but he did manage to rally his strength and face evil one last time…

Why do we love him?
C’mon! 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. Mark Hamill’s performance in the original trilogy is consistently intelligent, heartfelt and witty; and Luke never comes close to crossing that line between upstanding hero and annoying goody-goody.

His return in the sequel trilogy proved wildly controversial, as the Force’s erstwhile champion flat-out refused to throw himself back into the fight. But whether or not you bitterly disagree with writer-director Rian Johnson’s choices here (and frankly, we’re still torn), there’s no arguing with the sheer dramatic heft that Hamill brought to the character, grey and grizzled and alone, torn between friendship and honour and fear of his own terrible power.

Key line: ‘I care!’


8. 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?
Because he’s the real hero of the ‘Star Wars’ movies, consistently getting the others out of trouble just when things look their bleakest. From juggling turbolifts on an enemy battleship to save 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 third ‘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. We’re a little concerned by his behaviour in ‘The Force Awakens’ though – did he really have to leave it so long to tell everyone that he knew where Luke was? Or was he just being dramatic?

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

Emperor Palpatine

7. 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 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.

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. 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).

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


5. 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, is 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’s played by the lovable Surrey giant Peter Mayhew, who has the best Twitter feed of all the ‘Star Wars’ alumni (it’s @thewookieeroars, if you’re interested).

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

Obi-Wan Kenobi

4. 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.

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

Princess Leia Organa

3. 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 may have dented her feminist credentials ever so slightly, but at least she got to throttle Jabba the Hutt for it. And she came back swinging in ‘The Force Awakens’, as a full-blown General with her own Resistance army.

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 as the decades pass, she remains willing to risk everything for the cause she believes in. They picked the wrong Skywalker!

Key line: ‘I am not a committee!’

Han Solo

2. Han Solo

Who is he?
Captain of the Millennium Falcon and cockiest space pilot in the galaxy. Han Solo is every boy’s hero, cruising from star system to star system with his hairy BFF, 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?
It’s damn near impossible not to. His hair is great, his Bogart-cowboy-hipster outfit is legendary, his wisecracks are second to none and his lop-sided grin has broken a million hearts on a thousand worlds. But there’s more to it, somehow: in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Lawrence Kasdan’s crackling, old-Hollywood dialogue combines with Harrison Ford’s insouciance as a performer to elevate Han to a place few other movie heroes ever reach, creating a vital bond between character and audience.

Ford’s importance to the enigma that is Han was thrown into sharp relief by the arrival of spin-off story ‘Solo’, in which Alden Ehrenreich tried to make the character his own and failed spectacularly, despite being a perfectly serviceable actor. To many of us, Han’s ultimate end in ‘The Force Awakens’ came as a real body blow: losing him was like losing an old friend – a friend with a really, really cool spaceship.

Key line: ‘I know.’

Darth Vader

1. 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 the terrible dialogue and fully engage as a character. That said, his descent into evil is convincingly handled, and the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi is operatically magnificent.

But it’s nothing next to Darth’s greatest hits: lightsabering a platoon of Rebel soldiers without so much as a shrug; 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.

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


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