Over the course of four decades, the “Star Wars” galaxy has spawned 11 movies and endless characters, be they Jedi or Sith, Rebels or Imperials, twisted bounty hunters or adorable porgs.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of “Return of the Jedi” (released May 25, 1983), which wrapped up George Lucas’ original trilogy, we’re ranking the 75 best live-action characters in “Star Wars” history, from the original heroes of 1977 to the fresh faces of Disney+ shows like “Andor” and “The Mandalorian.” Some personalities, though, just will never make the cut – sorry, Jar Jar.
Here’s our rundown, from the good to the very, very bad:
75. Admiral Motti
Some Imperial officers like Admiral Ozzel get Force-choked by Darth Vader and die. Motti actually survived such a deadly encounter (before eventually perishing in the explosion of the Death Star), and for that he makes this illustrious list.
74. Captain Phasma
The First Order’s supreme female Stormtrooper had a super-neat suit of armor and so much wasted potential, being thrown into a trash compactor in “Force Awakens” and falling to her apparent death in “Last Jedi.”
73. Carson Teva
Other than Luke Skywalker and Poe Dameron, we haven’t gotten to know many X-wing pilots but Teva, a buddy of the Mando, is the kind of dude you have a beer with at a New Republic watering hole or ask to cut some bureaucratic red tape.
72. Supreme Leader Snoke
He led the nefarious First Order for two movies in the new trilogy and … well, that’s pretty much all we ever knew. Snoke’s on here solely because of the couple of years he gave “Star Wars” fans fits online theorizing about his origins and for taking a supremely nasty lightsaber slice like a champ.
71. Cobb Vanth
The old-fashioned cowboy wore Boba Fett’s armor and weapons as the marshal of Mos Pelgo on Tatooine and was an loyal ally of the Mando – until Cad Bane gunned him down in cold blood.
The droid has low-key been with us the whole time. R5 was in the first film when Luke Skywalker’s uncle buys R2-D2 and C-3PO from some Jawas on Tatooine and decades later is around to help the Mando and Grogu whenever they’re in a pickle. Where’s his Disney+ spinoff, guys?
69. Sy Snootles
The intergalactic version of Stevie Nicks (but kind of better, honestly), Sy belted all the hits as lead singer and dancer of the Max Rebo Band. And it takes some serious talent to keep Jabba the Hutt from throwing you to the Rancor.
The assassin droid worked as a bounty hunter before being blasted by the Mando. But that’s really where his story began, as he was reprogrammed as a protector/nanny for Grogu and, when he perished yet again, became a mechanized machine for Grogu to pilot in battle.
67. Oma Tres
While his name isn’t Luke, Han or Leia, he’s still a GOAT: Legendary “Star Wars” composer John Williams had a quick cameo as the one-eyed Kijimi City bartender in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
66. The porg on the Millennium Falcon
It takes a brave soul to fly into battle as the unofficial mascot of a famous starship after its furry pilot – in this case, Chewbacca – tried to roast you for dinner.
65. Black Krrsantan
Unlike Chewbacca, this Wookiee warrior would have downed that porg raw. Krrsantan first made his appearance in comic books and then made his presence felt in “The Book of Boba Fett,” first as a bounty hunter working for Jabba’s cousins and then alongside the Mando as muscle for Fett’s crew.
64. Bail Organa
Listen, politicians may not have the best reputation in the Milky Way, but in the galaxy far, far away, the senator from Alderaan not only took in Baby Leia and kept her hidden from the Empire but was also integral in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. He’s got our vote.
Before Han Solo hooked up with Princess Leia, Qi’ra was his childhood sweetheart on Corellia. They went their separate ways but both ended up in their own corners of the underworld, with Qi’ra choosing the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate over her love. It’s OK, Chewie turned out to be a better bestie in the long run.
62. Babu Frik
“Rise of Skywalker” didn’t give us many highlights yet at least we got this little droidsmith out of the deal. Cute, feisty and adorably unintelligible, Babu snagged some Sith secrets out of C-3PO’s memory banks and stole our heart in the process.
61. Galen Erso
Sort of the J. Robert Oppenheimer of the “Star Wars” universe, the scientist hatched the technology that was used to power the Death Star’s uber-destructive laser, was betrayed by friends and lost his family, but – knowing its violent capability – purposely built a weakness in the deadly space station.
60. Max Rebo
Jabba the Hutt’s house band leader is what happens when you combine Paul Shaffer, Dumbo and Blue Man Group.
59. Greef Karga
He’s the kind of politician you’d want in a firefight. He had his run-ins with the Mando as leader of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, became a key fighter against the Imperial Remnant, and took on the role of Head Magistrate of the planet Navarro, always going to bat for his people.
58. Peli Motto
Tatooine’s quirkiest space mechanic is also its coolest, with a bunch of jittery repair droids and tons of warm personality. When the Mando’s Razor Crest went boom, she outfitted him with a sweet and super-speedy N-1 Starfighter and is always down to babysit her favorite boy, Grogu.
57. Luthen Rael
By day, he runs a high-end antiques shop and deals with wealthy power players on Coruscant in a bad wig in “Andor.” But on the side, Luthen recruits folks like Cassian Andor as key cog in a spy network and works against the Empire in a growing rebellion.
56. Nien Nunb
The Sullustan pilot doesn’t say a whole lot yet he co-starred in several important “Star Wars” moments: He rolled with Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon when the Rebellion blew up the second Death Star, flew an X-wing in the assault on Starkiller Base and was part of the ragtag crew that took on an overwhelming First Order force during the Battle of Crait.
55. Reva Sevander/Third Sister
A former Jedi youngling when the Empire came to power, Reva eventually joined the Dark Side of the Force as one of Darth Vader’s vicious inquisitors. She harbored a mean streak when it came to Obi-Wan Kenobi yet refused to kill kid Luke Skywalker, showing there was still some light in her.
54. Jek Porkins
He died as a hero during the Battle of Yavin. More importantly, he was a role model for dudes with dad bods who wanted to squeeze into the cockpit of an X-wing.
The clever droid had equal parts strength and sass as confidante and co-pilot for Lando Calrissian during his gambling days and was also all about robot rights, even sparking the occasional mechanical revolution. Although her body was fatally damaged, she lives on in the circuits of the navigational computer aboard the Millennium Falcon.
52. Director Orson Krennic
Anybody in middle management can relate to this Imperial officer who’s saddled with getting a big project up and running (in his case, the first Death Star), forced to deal with uncaring bosses and winds up having some rebellious types screw the whole thing up.
51. Salacious B. Crumb
In some galactic circles, Kowakian monkey-lizards are sold as street meat. Salacious avoided being cooked on a spit, and as Jabba the Hutt’s resident court jester, got a front-row seat to laugh mockingly at those who crossed his boss.
50. Migs Mayfeld
A former Imperial sniper turned mercenary, Migs is usually getting into trouble and palling around with criminals. The guy’s got an honorable side, though, and helped the Mando take down an Imperial refinery – plus gave an old commanding officer a piece of his mind, to boot.
49. Count Dooku
Christopher Lee with an awesome cape and a lightsaber. How do you not love that combination?
48. Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
The Resistance leader with the purple hair was hard to read: She went way back with Leia, but didn’t appreciate Poe Dameron’s trigger-happy attitude. But she made the ultimate sacrifice for her fellow rebels in a strategic ploy against the First Order forever after named the “Holdo Manuever.”
47. Syril Karn
“Andor” gave fans something they hadn’t seen in a while: A complex yet weaselly guy you love to hate. Syril is a cockroach of a civil servant desperately trying to move his way up the Imperial ranks, and every time he gets knocked down, the dude finds a way to sneakily get up again.
Forever famous for being an integral part of the decades-old “Did Han Solo shoot first?” debate. Sadly for this shady green dude, he ends up facedown and dead no matter how many times they edit the original “Star Wars” film.
45. Wedge Antilles
The Tom Cruise of the Rebel Alliance. The X-wing flyboy was a top gun taking on AT-ATs in the Battle of Hoth and being an integral member of Red Squadron during the attacks on both Death Stars.
44. Cad Bane
Don’t let the space fedora fool you. The ruthless gun-for-hire was a deadly shot with a blaster and as nasty an hombre as they come. A final showdown with his old pal Boba Fett didn’t go his way, though.
43. Mon Mothma
The Rebels’ primary mover and shaker behind the scenes, she first opposed the evil Palpatine in the Galactic Republic – putting her personal and professional lives in jeopardy – and then was integral in the growing resistance against the Empire.
42. Darth Maul
The Sith apprentice never got much to do in “The Phantom Menace” before getting sliced in half, falling down a shaft and being left for dead. (Spoiler alert: He got better.) Still, from his horns and tattoos to the double-bladed lightsaber, Maul’s bad-guy chic was hard to beat.
41. Wicket W. Warrick
Arguably the cutest Ewok, Wicket became the unofficial furry mascot of the Rebel Alliance and also has a cooler name than his buds Paploo, Logray and Chief Chirpa.
40. Qui-Gon Jinn
Liam Neeson’s wise Jedi master was the first one to figure out that Anakin Skywalker was something special. It’s probably for the best he didn’t see the very dark turn the kid would take.
39. Fennec Shand
Equal parts major domo, bodyguard and partner, she’s a former bounty hunter and loyal right hand for Boba Fett who plays bad cop to his good cop extraordinarily well. Fennec is the strong and silent type but can be counted on for the occasional deadpan zinger.
38. General Hux
The embattled First Order military man was pretty much the most stressed-out guy in the galaxy, first watching as Starkiller Base was blown sky high and then having to chase various rapscallions in the Resistance before becoming a spy on the inside.
37. Maz Kanata
She likes Wookiees, running a crazy space bar, looking into people’s eyes to see their souls and collecting antique lightsabers. Folks back in the day had Yoda as their feisty oldster and the kids now have Maz.
36. Enfys Nest
We’re probably never getting a “Solo” sequel and the most tragic part of that is we only got one movie with this Cloud-Riders’ leader, an enigmatic pirate and freedom fighter with an awesome look (and swoop bike!) years before being a Rebel was a thing.
35. Moff Gideon
After the fall of the Empire, Gideon made a play for being the galaxy’s No. 1 baddie. He wielded the Darksaber (before Luke Skywalker and Mando teamed up to defeat him), tried many times to kidnap Grogu, headed up the creation of robotic Dark Troopers and overall was a menace to society.
34. Mace Windu
Giving Samuel L. Jackson an awesome tunic and a lightsaber is the easiest way to make sure you have the most groovy Jedi master ever.
The most human of all the various “Star Wars” droids also is the snarkiest robot in the Rebel Alliance. And we adore him for it.
32. Padmé Amidala
The queen of Naboo as well as Luke and Leia’s mom, Padmé honestly wasn’t the greatest at picking guys, and her friendship with Jar Jar was a head-scratcher, too, but she was quite the woman of action when needed.
31. Grand Moff Tarkin
Even a guy like Darth Vader has to answer to somebody, and in the original “Star Wars” there was nobody more ruthless or cunning than Tarkin. Who ordered the blast that took out the planet Alderaan? Yep, that guy. Cold. Blooded.
The protocol droid is always good for getting in the way and giving you odds of death during stressful space missions when you least want or need them. He’s fluent in more than 7 million forms of communication and probably annoying with every single one.
This helpful Ugnaught and Mando pal might be the most honorable guy in the galaxy. We have spoken.
28. Rose Tico
The sister of a heroic Resistance bomber pilot, the mechanic tases traitors, gets her time in the spotlight on a death-defying mission with her idol Finn, and fights with the good guys in one last showdown with the First Order.
27. Figrin D’an
On one hand, the frontman of the Modal Nodes from the original “Star Wars” was an intergalactic one-hit wonder. That said, just like “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “One Night in Bangkok” and “99 Luftballoons,” “The Cantina Band” theme is as tasty a jam as it ever was.
26. Chirrut Imwe
He’s one with the Force, and the Force is with him. The spiritual warrior gave us the most ethereal “Star Wars” quote since “May the Force be with you.”
25. Bo-Katan Kryze
A supporting player in the “Clone Wars” animated series finally got her spotlight in “The Mandalorian,” teaming up with the Mando and rallying opposing factions of her people to bring Mandalore back in a big way.
The little ball droid rolled into our hearts in “The Force Awakens” and is probably staying there for a while. BB-8 loves Poe, kinda digs Finn and is always available if you need a light or a thumbs up.
23. Jabba the Hutt
So corpulent he didn’t even move in “Return of the Jedi,” Jabba was an intergalatic gangster with some serious swag. Owe him some money and you’re likely to wind up in a carbonite frame and hung on the wall as cautionary-tale decor for the next poor soul.
He’s given a face to cannon-fodder Stormtroopers, plus has a penchant for flirting and a heroic streak. So, yeah, Finn’s a “big deal” in the Resistance and in fans’ hearts.
21. Jyn Erso
She watched her mom die in front of her as a child, lost her dad to the Empire and was raised under the watchful eye of a Rebel extremist – so not the greatest upbringing. An ex-con, Jyn more than proved her worth as a hero stealing the plans to the Death Star. In short? She rules.
20. Kylo Ren
Being the grandson of Darth Vader ain’t easy: Do you embrace the light side of the Force like your parents and Uncle Luke, or is the dark side more your thing? With a lot of gravitas and some serious TIE fighter-flying skills, Ben Solo moved up the ranks after a memorable arc in “The Last Jedi” but we’d rather forget that final “Rise of Skywalker” kiss with Rey.
19. Cassian Andor
The “Rogue One” spy gets quite the origin story with the prequel “Andor.” After killing a couple of cops, Cassian goes on the run and winds up aligning himself with the Rebels, helps spark a prison riot, and then resists a fascist regime back home, even though we know his ultimate fate is not a great one.
18. Admiral Ackbar
Pop culture may know him for tossing one very memorable, meme-worthy line in a stressful situation (“It’s a trap!”) yet Ackbar goes bravely into battle against the second Death Star with the Rebel fleet, plus lives long enough to be an important part of the later Resistance.
17. Lando Calrissian
The smoothest of operators, Lando was forgiven too easily after betraying Han Solo and friends and gifting them to Darth Vader for some political capital. He helped save Han from Jabba, became a Rebel general and took down a Death Star, so probably a win in the long run.
16. Poe Dameron
The greatest pilot in the Resistance, if not the galaxy. So he’s got that going for him.
So his name’s not technically Baby Yoda, though he’ll always be known as that in our hearts. And he’s not exactly a baby, being 50 years old. But you can’t dispute the pure heart-melting power of the little guy who’s taken pop culture by storm hanging with his adopted dad, the Mando.
14. Boba Fett
For a whole generation, he was the universe’s most mysterious fan favorite, a bounty hunter who didn’t say all that much and got eaten by a sand monster before we got to know him. “The Book of Boba Fett” however showed the man underneath that signature helmet and rocket pack and gave him an unexpected redemption arc.
13. The Emperor
At one time the baddest man in the universe, no matter what name he goes by. As Senator Palpatine, he created a political situation perfect for the coming of a fascist Empire, and as Darth Sidious, led the fight to wipe out the Jedi. His “Rise of Skywalker” return took away much of that shine, and at the end he wasn’t as scary as …
12. Dedra Meero
While the Empire had its share of fright-inducing folks, you didn’t get more ambitious or sinister than this member of the Imperial Security Bureau. Cold, calculating and highly intelligent, Dedra saw the rebellion coming when none of her other peers did. And good luck to anybody who gets in her way.
The young heroine is fierce, smart, way strong in the Force and an ideal hero for little “Star Wars” fans, no matter their gender, and she doesn’t suffer old Jedi masters (or hotheaded Sith lord wannabes she’s got some chemistry with) who give her a hard time.
Perhaps the most egregious fail in “Star Wars” history was Chewbacca not getting a service medal after the Battle of Yavin. And don’t even go there calling him a “sidekick” – Han Solo’s hairy best friend is the Rebels’ most loyal jack of all trades and also has an affinity for porgs.
9. Din Djarin
The bounty-hunting gunslinging space dad travels the galaxy in a post-Empire world with a tragic backstory and son Grogu in tow. Mando got in trouble for taking off his helmet, although we need to know is he’s got a big ol’ heart underneath that valuable beskar armor.
He’s best known as the other half of an iconic mechanical pairing with Threepio, and that’s all well and good. But one of the neatest “Star Wars” friendships is between Luke Skywalker and Artoo, a duo that remained tight from the sands of Tatooine to the swamps of Dagobah.
7. Obi-Wan Kenobi
The prequel trilogy isn’t good for much, but what those films do is give old Ben a tragic backstory: Before protecting Luke for years and being killed by Vader, Obi-Wan was one of the Clone Wars’ greatest heroes until he and the Jedi were betrayed by his talented apprentice and best friend.
6. Ahsoka Tano
Originally a character in the animated “Clone Wars” series, Anakin Skywalker’s young Padawan figured out that being a Jedi wasn’t much of a career track way before Luke Skywalker also saw the heroic order’s flaws. Now a grown-up getting her own “Ahsoka” Disney+ show this summer, she’s a capable warrior with a pair of lightsabers and a bunch of fight left in her.
Don’t underestimate the wizened little green guy putzing around with a laser sword. He acrobatically took on Palpatine in the prequels, but the Jedi master’s best work came showing Luke the ways of the Force and preparing him to face Vader.
4. Luke Skywalker
Remember when everybody freaked out that no one knew what he was up to as an old man in “Force Awakens”? That’s just how integral he is to the original “Star Wars” trilogy and the overall saga. In terms of all-time hero’s journeys, his is up there, from his humble beginnings on Tatooine to learning of his sinister dad to becoming a Jedi master to sacrificing himself to help the Resistance.
3. Princess Leia
For the longest time, the late Carrie Fisher’s iconic heroine was the only one around in George Lucas’ movie universe, but she still redefined female characters in the sci-fi genre. She took no guff from anybody, particularly not slug-like villains who put her in metal bikinis, and will forever be the gold standard of “Star Wars” women.
2. Han Solo
A protagonist armed with not only a blaster but a signature smirk and questionable morals, the Corellian smuggler flew into fans’ hearts from the start and never let go. In many ways, Solo fueled the narrative as the Everyman caught up in a world of “hokey religions and ancient weapons” while just trying to make a buck. His return in “Force Awakens” – with the insta-classic line “Chewie, we’re home” – meant we were, too.
1. Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker
Much of the primary story of “Star Wars” is Anakin’s, a tragically Shakespearean exploration of what happens when “the chosen one” isn’t exactly that. From superhero to child killer to intergalactic enforcer, Vader’s arc leads him to want to rule the galaxy with his son by his side, though Luke doesn’t turn like his father when given the chance. Anakin does ultimately find redemption through sacrifice, and even after death his presence is still felt through Luke and his grandson, Kylo. This universe has no bigger or more important personality.
More from the ‘Star Wars’ universe:
Star Wars Celebration:New movie will bring back Daisy Ridley as Rey
Fun fact, ‘Star Wars’ fans:A stack of dirty dishes inspired the Millennium Falcon
‘Mama, you’ve made it’:Billie Lourd honors Carrie Fisher at Walk of Fame ceremony