It’s one of the most iconic series of all time, with merchandise in every comic store and spin-off books on every nerd’s shelf. The colorful characters of Star Wars are well known around the world, even to non-fans! Of course, there are a lot of characters in the franchise. Too many, almost. It can be pretty overwhelming. We’ve chosen the 10 best characters so you don’t have to.
10. C3PO and R2D2
Technically, yes, these are two characters, though they do spend an awful lot of time together. They’re the “those two guys” of Star Wars. They’re also like two sides of the same coin: the id (rude R2) and the superego (snobbish, butler-like 3PO). They’re two amusing servants, commenting on the action from the sidelines… and winning our hearts. They sure aren’t great or heroic, but that’s not a bad thing. Also, R2’s fiery trick in Revenge of the Sith was pretty cool.
9. Princess Leia
Oh, dear old Princess Leia. Determined and tough indeed. Even in old age she’s strong-willed and worthy of much praise. Unlike some nobles, this princess understands that the Empire is dangerous and actively fights it. She uses her political position to help the Rebel Alliance, despite the danger this puts her in. That takes nerve, as does suffering through torture on the Death Star and yelling at Grand Moff Tarkin. Also, when Han Solo becomes a bit too flirtatious she rejects his advances. She’s not too shy to explain that he’s making her uncomfortable. Who wouldn’t admire this great woman?
8. The Emperor
Creepy and caped, with grayish skin and a gravelly voice, the Emperor sure is nightmarish. And he’s not just creepy. Oh, no. He’s also one of the most clever manipulators in the Galaxy. He destroys the Galactic Republic, corrupts Jedi, and cons people into feeling sorry for him. It’s crazy. Charmingly professional, he plays a great many roles, especially in the prequels. The Emperor is probably the most evil character in the entire saga. Amazingly, he’s played by the same actor in nearly every movie he appears in. That’s the classically trained Ian McDiarmid, who apparently got a degree in psychology before going into acting.
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7. Mace Windu
Nobody else has a purple lightsaber. Few men could pull that off in a cool way. Also, there are very few people of color in Star Wars. Same goes for bald guys. Windu doesn’t have a a weird haircut or a wizard-like beard. He stands out visually because of this. He has such a calming voice, too. There’s something so noble and knight-like about him. Like Obi-Wan, though more distant and less fatherly.
As a scavenger, Rey is used to dealing with problems on her own. She’s headstrong and self-sufficient. Even her look, from her hairstyle to her clothes, is unique. Then there’s her intense determination and optimism, as well as her inherent goodness. Even when forced to admit that her parents are uncaring “nobodies,” she remains a hero. Nothing can make this girl go to the dark side. In some ways, Rey is the Luke Skywalker of the sequels. Of course, unlike Luke, she’s far from annoying.
5. Obi-Wan Kenobi
While not as wise as Master Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi still stands out. His slow and calming voice, his mysterious and slight smile. He’s so…zen. He also happens to be the mentor to both Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin Skywalker. On a related note, he happens to be the best father figure in the entire series. Everyone else dies (Qui-Gon Jinn, Uncle Owen), ditches (Vader/Anakin), or wasn’t there in the first place (whoever fathered Anakin).
Originally played by classically trained actor Alec Guinness, the younger version of Obi-Wan was played by Scotsman Ewan McGregor. The latter’s expert imitation of the former made the prequels much more bearable.
Small, moss-colored, incredibly quotable. Even if you haven’t seen the movies, you’ve certainly heard of Jedi Master Yoda. Or, in the very least, heard one of his more famous lines. Visually speaking, he’s incredibly distinct. Makeup artist and prosthetic designer Stuart Freeborn based his appearance on that of Albert Einstein. Originally, Yoda (then a puppet) was voiced and performed by Frank Oz. Later on, he voiced the computer-animated version of the famed green guy. Without Oz, Yoda probably wouldn’t be the amazing icon he is today… though he’d still end up on lists like this one. Not everything, voice is, hmm?
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3. Darth Vader
Tall, dark, and foreboding, Vader’s more than a villain. He’s complicated. Confused. More machine than man, though more human than monster. He’s what the best of us could become if pushed too far. Most people, especially teens, know what it’s like to feel abandoned or jealous. He just takes things especially far. That might be because he’s a textbook case of what psychologists call Borderline Personality Disorder. All too often, sci-fi movie bad guys are shallow; Vader has depth. He’s real and relatable and exceedingly human.
2. Han Solo
With his stylish vest, cool manner, and sharp dialogue, Han Solo sure is fascinating. He’s one of cinema’s most iconic anti-heroes. What fan girl hasn’t swooned at his half-smile? What fan boy hasn’t wanted to be him? Charming (though clearly criminal), he snarks and smuggles his way through the Star Wars Galaxy. Part of his appeal lies in his outlaw ways. Unlike the noble and organized Jedi, he follows his own set of half-improvised rules. He’s practical, down-to-earth, and oddly American. Like a cowboy from outer space. Though he’s a bit rough around the edges, Solo’s a real hero at heart. Also, even after marrying Leia and fathering a lunatic and getting old, he never lost his coolness. Few people manage that. It’s certainly a shame they killed him off in The Force Awakens.
1. Boba Fett
In and out of universe, Boba Fett is a legend. Mysterious, silent, and deadly… though honorable, in his own fiendish way. His clothes resemble the usual Stormtrooper armor at first glance, though they’re far more colorful. He’s considered the only good thing about the infamously awful Star Wars Holiday Special. His action figures and merchandise are often the most sought-after. At the time of this writing, the Wikipedia page for “cult following” includes a picture of a Boba Fett cosplayer. Despite having minimal screentime and only a few lines, this dude is huge. Of course he’s No. 1 on our list!