Since the 1970s, Star Wars has revolutionized cinema and pop culture, constantly introducing us to a load of iconic characters in the process. And while some of these onscreen legends managed to stand the test of time, others were an absolute flop. Taking the entire series into account, we’ve ranked some of the most memorable Star Wars characters ever, from worst to best. The real question is: how much will you agree?
25. Jar Jar Binks
When Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, the world catapulted into a united frenzy. People were buying the toys before the movie came out, sobbing during trailer showings, and lining up at the movie theater days before the premiere, decked out as their favorite characters. One thing those movie trailers failed to show us was Jar Jar Binks.
The character was sprung on the masses like a sick joke. Whenever the plot got even mildly interesting in the movie, Jar Jar would toddle onto the scene like a bumbling idiot and squeeze out a few cringe-inducing lines or perform some lame slapstick act. Absolutely nobody liked Jar Jar. He instantly became one of the most infamously hated characters in all of pop culture, and stained what was considered a near-flawless film series up to that point.
24. Vice Admiral Holdo
Were the people ever supposed to love Vice Admiral Holdo? Played by Oscar-nominated Hollywood juggernaut actress Laura Dern, she was introduced in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and was given only a handful of scenes where she was snappy and demanding. In a moment that was supposed to be emotional, she then sacrificed herself for the sake of the Rebellion. However, how many people actually felt bad for the purple-haired hero? Not many.
Vice Admiral Holdo was the perfect example of a flawed trait in the Star Wars sequel series. She was a little more than a device, a character simply thrown together to fill a gap in a movie that was overall intensely divisive among fans and critics. Having this newcomer do something so important detracted from the movie as a whole. If Leia would have been in her place, the scene and movie would have meant so much more.
23. Maz Kanata
Bringing back Han, Chewie, and Leia for the sequels wasn’t enough for Disney. They decided people needed a poor man’s Yoda, and that’s what everyone got in the form of digitized Maz Kanata. Voiced by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, unfortunately, much like Vice Admiral Holdo, Maz Kanata is nothing more than a tool. Writers needed someone to randomly have Luke’s lightsaber — so why not make it some quirky creature who runs a bar, flirts with a Wookiee, and reads minds?
No doubt, Maz had some point in The Force Awakens. However, she is quickly tossed aside in the rest of the sequel series, scarcely given a throwaway line or two. And what about the story of how she even got that lightsaber, which she hints she’ll tell, but never does? Makes one question if she was ever really needed to begin with.
22. Supreme Leader Snoke
Rarely has there been a supervillain of such little importance. Snoke hovered in the background like some inexplicably evil holographic entity for two movies only to be tossed away with close to no effort. Nothing about him was ever explained. Who exactly was Snoke? What’s his connection to the Force, why did he know so much, and how did he get so scarred up?
These things were all left to remain an unsolved mystery. When all was said and done, Snoke proved to be nothing more than a one-dimensional Emperor Palpatine knock-off. The stale character created by Disney comes across as cheap, and when the main villain is cheap, the stakes are far lower, cheapening the film experience as a whole.
21. Rose Tico
Rose Tico is fundamentally a rather tragic character. We were introduced to her in The Last Jedi, and she was immediately lovable, if pitiable. She was a much-needed love interest for Finn, and added an interesting dynamic to the team. As this second sequel film wrapped up, we couldn’t wait to see what tricks she’d have up her sleeve for the third installment.
Sadly, she’d end up having slightly over a minute of screen time and a few meaningless lines. This butchered the potential of her character, and sent the masses into an angry frenzy. Cutting her short simply didn’t make any sense. All of the backstory that had been built up for her was suddenly relegated to the sidelines, as her character, unimportant to the plot, faded into obscurity.
20. General Grievous
Looking back at the prequel series, one can’t deny that General Grievous had a certain coolness about him. However, he’s a character that’s shrouded in unexplained mystery, and ultimately was just made to sell toys to impressionable children across the globe. One merely needs to take a single look at him to see how he’d be an amazing action figure.
He’s half man, half machine, he wields four lightsabers, and is able to roll into a ball. But beyond the merchandising potential, his character with its cartoonish voice in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith bears no consequence whatsoever on the larger stakes at hand. He has a somewhat memorable lightsaber fight with Obi-Wan, but that’s as good as his character gets.
19. Kylo Ren
If Snoke was a villain of little importance, Kylo Ren was a villain of little intimidation. Star Wars went from formidable, legendary, terrifying villains like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, individuals of pure evil, to a guy who basically has the mental disposition of a whiny teenager who was told he couldn’t go to the mall with his friends.
When Darth Vader was angry, he’d go after the person that made him angry. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, would just beat up the wall with his lightsaber, or throw things around. It’s literally hard to believe such a childish character was raised by Han Solo and Princess Leia. How on earth did they go so wrong? Oh, and that unnecessary kiss at the end of The Rise of Skywalker — why?
DJ was another example of the sequel trilogy going bad. When Rose and Finn set out looking for a code breaker, they ran into DJ. Portrayed by the suave Benicio del Toro, he was sly, slick and cool, someone who had potential of being the new Han Solo. Sadly, all the buildup only resulted in him being a minor character.
He appeared, he betrayed, and he was gone. Writers had gold with DJ, and they let it slip right out of their grasp, just like they did with Rose, Snoke, and a slew of other haphazardly put-together characters. If the sequel trilogy succeeded in anything, it was introducing us to a bunch of characters that ultimately meant nothing to the story or series.
17. Count Dooku
Count Dooku wasn’t exactly a bad character. While he did appear to be more of a friendly old man than a Jedi Sith, he did manage to school Obi-Wan and Anakin in a single battle, a feat that definitely requires some skill. The only real issue here is that Darth Maul was so much more badass, and they killed him off at the end of the first prequel.
One can only imagine how much better the series could have been if Count Dooku had never existed and we just had the looming, silently sinister presence of Darth Maul in his place. It would have meant getting to know a more intriguing character a lot better. It seems an embarrassingly improper use of the staggeringly enormous talents of Sir Christopher Lee.
16. Anakin Skywalker
While Anakin definitely deserves some props for his character’s fascinating and complex journey to eventually becoming Darth Vader, it was a hard and sometimes cringey road to that level of greatness. When The Phantom Menace was first released, Anakin was one of the biggest complaints. Most of this had to do with what was deemed bad acting.
The character was so disliked that Jake Lloyd, the child actor who portrayed young Anakin, was bullied ruthlessly for years after. Throughout the rest of the series, Anakin was portrayed by Hayden Christensen. While the character would fall more into his element by the third installment, Attack of the Clones was filled with insufferably whiny childish outbursts and corny romantic lines.
15. Boba Fett
Boba Fett is beloved the world over. He looks cool in all that armor, he barely speaks from beneath the mystery of his helmet, and he managed to get the best of Han Solo. That said, one has to wonder if he really deserves the love bordering on obsession that he gets. Beyond collecting Han Solo, bringing him to Jabba the Hutt, and then accidentally getting killed on Jabba’s sail barge, we don’t really see him doing anything.
What’s more, he barely has any screen time whatsoever. He does sport his full potential in books and comics, but in the films, one can see stormtroopers with more skill than him. When all is said and done, the love that people have for Boba Fett is nothing substantial. In fact, it comes off quite shallow.
Introduced to us in Return of the Jedi, Wicket, and the ewoks in general, are often sitting on a thin line between love and hate. Some people, taken by their adorable fuzziness, warlike yet cuddly, couldn’t help but adore them. And after all, without them, their assault on Imperial forces was a key distraction that helped Han and Leia blow the shield generator, rendering the Death Star vulnerable to an Alliance attack.
However, many others felt the series had officially ‘jumped the shark’ with these characters, designed to be bait for children’s merchandising. The plan worked: ewoks were so popular that they were given two independent films, 1984’s The Ewok Adventure and 1985’s Ewoks: The Battle For Endor.
13. Padmé Amidala
When it comes to the prequel series, Natalie Portman’s Padmé is certainly one of the better characters. We see her personality grow from a teen undercover princess, to deftly wielding a blaster, to enduring the torturous rift between love and duty. However, she is far removed from her daughter Princess Leia.
Most of Padmé’s flaws can be attributed to George Lucas’ writing. While he’s a talented creator, many fans and critics agree he should have left the writing to the professionals, much like he had with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Her lines were often clunky and unnatural, especially when it came to her being romantic with Anakin. More and more, she became a passive prop to her male counterparts.
12. Grand Moff Tarkin
Grand Moff Tarkin was one of the best things about the first Star Wars movie. The guy was so unflinchingly, unmistakably ice cold that he had no qualms about retorting to even Darth Vader. He also took being ruthless to the next level. However, he came with one flaw that couldn’t be ignored.
Tarkin was killed off way too soon! While he went down amazingly with the Death Star, he would have been amazing in The Empire Strikes Back, especially seeing how all of the other commanders were somewhat forgettable. Grand Moff Tarkin brought with him an unforgettable presence. That’s something that was never effectively recaptured by any Death Star subordinate.
11. Lando Calrissian
When it comes to beautifully written side characters, it’s hard to outclass Lando Calrissian. From the moment he was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, when he and his old buddy Han reunited in Cloud City, he was immediately likable. There was no wondering where this guy came from; the story was deftly given to us through a minute of shared conversation between the two characters.
We saw Lando’s character take a number of compelling turns, as he switched from friend to foe to friend again. Then, in Return of the Jedi, he redeemed himself as a hidden agent in Jabba’s palace, before he took command of the Alliance fleet as a general. Then, he and his faithful copilot Nien Nunb blew up the new Death Star and pretty much saved the universe. Even in the Solo spinoff, he is highly enjoyable.
Before BB-8 ever rolled onto the scene, R2-D2 was the cutest little droid that all the kids went nuts over. However, unlike BB-8, R2-D2 actually had purpose. Had he not gotten onto that escape pod with the Death Star plans and Princess Leia’s message, Luke and Obi-Wan would have likely been stuck on Tatooine for their entire lives, and the rebellion would have fallen through in months.
R2-D2 was also one of the only reasons that Luke and the gang were able to escape Jabba’s palace. If worst came to worst, they could have hid the lightsaber inside of C-3PO, but it’s doubtful he has the arm strength to throw it from the cantina to the sail barge. Small yet plucky, R2-D2 routinely proved his worth.
On paper, worrywart C-3PO didn’t do much other than getting the gang in a whole lot of trouble or panic when they were in trouble. We can even recall Han Solo exasperatedly ordering him to be shut off at one point. That said, it was his neurotic behavior that made him such a great character.
Highly intelligent yet decidedly timid and tactless, in a fairly serious movie series, he was the well-planted comedic relief. We could always depend on C-3PO to lighten the mood — and occasionally serve as a much-needed interpreter. One of his great moments is in The Empire Strikes Back when, blown to bits and reassembled, he’s tied to Chewbacca’s back and being taken unwillingly for a run around Cloud City.
What would Star Wars be without Han Solo’s right hand man, er, wookiee? Chewbacca, without a doubt, is the powerhouse of the Rebel Alliance. While he does rock that impressive and stylish crossbow, he doesn’t really need it, as he can basically tear anyone apart with his two bare hands.
Like C-3PO, Chewbacca also brings some comic relief from time to time. One would never believe the laughs that well-timed wookiee roars and growls can bring. However, he also plays a very important role in ridding the world of the Galactic Empire, in both the original and sequel series. Had he not shot Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, Rey and Finn would have likely never survived that lightsaber battle.
7. Emperor Palpatine
When it comes to evil, it doesn’t get much worse than Emperor Palpatine. Over all nine movies, he has been the man behind the chaos that had plagued the galaxy. In The Phantom Menace we see the order and relatively stable democracy in place before this politician from the planet Naboo, in secret a Sith Lord, patiently and strategically dismantled it all in order to achieve ultimate control.
It was only after the first episode that he started slowly ruling things with an iron fist, eventually succeeding in manipulating Anakin and coaxing him along the path into becoming Darth Vader. While he does pop up very randomly in a controversial choice by the makers of The Rise of Skywalker, it’s all forgiven, as he had already created one of the best characters in the Star Wars universe. Plus — purple lightning hands. Need we say more?
If you only ever saw the original Star Wars series, you’d see Yoda as a wise Jedi living in exile in remote swamps. It isn’t explained how this poetic sage of a teacher got there, but he’s living in a tiny hut in a mucky, inhospitable area that looks oddly fitting for his species. Everyone could agree that Yoda chose the worst place possible to go into isolation.
That said, in the prequel trilogy, the masses get to see Yoda in full action, with a developing character who can take on his foes when needed. By the end of Episode III, everyone was able to understand why Yoda’s life path had taken him from a beautiful place like Coruscant to Dagobah, among the ugliest environments in the galaxy. His character was brilliant, shrewd, and instantly lovable.
5. Princess Leia Organa
Princess Leia wasn’t just another damsel in distress in a movie series; she redefined the way we see women on screen, and what it truly means to be a princess. Before Leia, women in sci-fi were almost always dainty and hapless, ultimately serving as little more than a romantic interest for the lead male character.
Leia changed it all. She wasn’t just royalty, but she also knew how to fire a blaster, give commands, and be a leader. Eventually, she’d shed the princess title all together, becoming a commander in the rebellion and, in the sequels, a full-blown general. For the past few generations, she’s been an inspiring role model for girls everywhere, showing by example how to be independent and how to fight back against the system.
4. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the characters of the Star Wars universe who wasn’t just great — he was downright legendary. Not only was he great in the original series where he played a wise old Jedi hermit on Tatooine so strong with the Force that even death could not stop him. He was also compelling in the prequels, carrying them on his shoulders.
Whether played by Oscar-winner Alec Guinness or Golden Globe-winner Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan’s character was the ultimate representation of resourcefulness, level-headed thinking, ethics, and wisdom. If you haven’t gotten enough of Obi-Wan Kenobi, don’t despair. It looks as if Disney has an Obi-Wan show in the works and amazingly enough, it’ll be starring McGregor.
3. Darth Vader
Darth Vader isn’t only the coolest villain to ever come out of the Star Wars Universe, but arguably the greatest and most recognizable villain in pop culture as a whole. While he was a little annoying back in his Anakin Skywalker days, he couldn’t get any more compelling, dangerous, and irresistible in the original trilogy series.
The way he hunted down the rebellion with pure brute force was mesmerizing, and he didn’t even leave everything to his goons. Vader wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and often that meant choking someone from afar. He could pilot a ship to defend the Death Star, use the Force to make objects fly through the air, or even whip out his lightsaber to neutralize Obi-Wan or Luke. Darth Vader can only be described as monumental.
2. Luke Skywalker
Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars knows that Luke Skywalker is the hero of the series. When we consider character development, nobody has changed as much as Luke. Looking back at A New Hope, he was little more than an innocent farm boy in the desert wastelands, dreaming of finding adventure and purpose.
By the third installment in the series, Luke had completely shed his skin of his original character and was someone brand new: a Jedi Knight, measured, thoughtful, mysterious, pained. In the most recent series, he’s more of an Obi-Wan type, a mentor who has suffered immense tragedy. When it comes to characters that the audiences across the generations could grow with and rally behind, Luke is the one.
1. Han Solo
While it’s always going to be hard to choose between Luke and Han when considering who the best character is in the Star Wars franchise, Han has one thing going for him that Luke doesn’t: let’s face it, Han Solo is just way more cool. From shooting first at the Mos Eisley cantina to boldly maneuvering his ship the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field (despite the odds), Han Solo was the hero everyone wanted to be in Star Wars.
His character went under a transformation from a scoundrel to a loyal commander. He had charm and swagger like nobody else, he had confidence to a fault, and while he may not have had the ability to use the Force, he more than made up for it as a soldier and tactician. And above it all, Han came out on top — and got the girl (or, rather, the princess/general).
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