Best Star Wars characters of all time: 20 to choose from
The best Star Wars characters in the galaxy - and without a Jar Jar Binks in sight…
Picking the best Star Wars characters for this list was hugely tricky. The Star Wars universe has given us some of the biggest stars in space itself, and the most instantly recognisable characters, ever.
UPDATE:Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is here. That means the reviews have already started rolling in. We know the last thing you want before you see a movie you've been looking forward to is spoilers, so we've created this Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review round-up that's 100% spoiler-free.
For those who need a reminder: this movie will mark the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. It has unfolded over the past forty-plus years – and with it, we’ll say goodbye to some of the most memorable characters in cinema history.
So many, in fact, we must issue an apology to the unfortunately maligned characters who didn’t make this list - Poe Dameron, Wicket, Qui-Gon Jinn, Grand Moff Tarkin we love you, promise.
With such a Death Star-sized catalogue of films, each full of quirky creatures, narrowing this list down was tougher than a Storm Trooper’s rubber boot.
Submit the additions you don't think we should be without at the bottom, after voting for your top Star Wars characters.
So, after much Force-focusing, here are the ten most iconic Star Wars characters to inspire the imaginations of audiences across this little blue planet….
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Best Star Wars characters
1. Darth VaderView now at Amazon
If Princess Leia gave us the world’s most copied fancy dress costume, Darth Vader has surely given us the most imitated voice impression in any Dad-joke repertoire. James Earl Jones, who voiced cinema’s most iconic villain in the classic first trilogy, requested to leave his role uncredited until Return Of The Jedi, as he thought his contribution too small to warrant it. The distinct sound of Vader’s breathing, meanwhile, was made using scuba breathing apparatus: impressionists take note.
2. Obi-Wan KenobiView the Obi-Wan Kenobi Funko Pop now
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the elder statesman of the Star Wars universe, teaching Luke the way of the Force and central to all that is good with the Rebel Alliance. He sacrificed his life for the good of the good and is sage words of advice help Luke destroy the Death Star. In his younger years, he was also a badass - something we will see more of when Ewen MacGregor reprises his role in the Kenobi TV Series.
3. YodaView now at Amazon
Small but mighty, he is. The iconic design of the oldest Jedi master and Luke Skywalker’s tiny, trusty trainer was created by legendary movie make up artist Stuart Freeborn. He based it on a mash up of Albert Einstein’s and his own face. Yoda may be a little green guy, but look up and image of Freeborn and you’ll see that the resemblance is uncanny.
4. Han SoloView now at Amazon
This scruffy looking nerfherder is the coolest guy in the galaxy. That’s just a fact. But the space pirate wasn’t always going to look so badass. George Lucas has said he originally wanted the character to be a big, green, Creature From The Black Lagoon –style, erm, fish monster. Despite the early design, after working with Harrison Ford on his film American Graffiti, Lucas later changed the character description to the “young Corellian pirate” we know and love.
5. Luke SkywalkerView now at Amazon
Before he was the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, Luke had a very different work-in-progress name – the character was originally named in the script as ‘Anakin Starkiller’. This was later changed to Luke, and ‘Starkiller’ swapped for ‘Skywalker’, because George Lucas was worried that audiences might unwittingly think of the Charles Manson murders when they heard the name ‘Starkiller’. Of course, the name ‘Anakin’ made its way into the series later instead, as Luke’s father’s name.
6. ChewbaccaView now at Amazon
Han Solo’s faithful co-pilot was actually based on George Lucas’s dog – a massive Alaskan Malamute named Indiana. Apparently, she would sit in the front passenger seat when Lucas was driving and people would mistake her for a person.
“Having her with me all the time inspired me to give Han Solo a sidekick who was like a big, furry dog. Not quite like a dog, but intelligent,” Lucas revealed. Chewbacca is also 200 years old in A New Hope. That's a lot in dog years.
7. Leia OrganaView now at Amazon
The upcoming Episode 9 is said to feature a significant amount of General Leia Organa, even though Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016. Leia will live on in the upcoming posthumous performance thanks to unused footage originally filmed for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Not only is Princess Leia’s iconic bun hair style one of the most parodied in all of popular culture, but Leia is one of the most influential feminist heroes in cinema history.
R2-D2 is a stalwart of the Star Wars franchise. He was the vessel that was trusted with the Death Star plans, which lead to the destruction of the thing. He is a skilled starship mechanic and fighter pilot's assistant and basically the best atromerch around (sorry BB-8). He's also had to put up with C-3P0 throughout all the Star Wars movies now and, for that, he deserves a medal.
9. C-3P0View the C-3P0 Funko Pop on Amazon
Yes, he's annoying. Very annoying. But there's something endearing about the droid that can speak 7 million languages but chooses to go around lauding it up like a posh British butler. His loyalty is of no question, though, and this Reddit thread is a brilliant example of why he isn't a baffoon but "a precise psychological operative designed to optimize team performance by redirecting negative feelings away from teammates and onto himself." Marvellous.
10. Boba FettView the Boba Fett Funko on Amazon
27 words and 6 minutes. That's all it took to become one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars franchise of all time. Boba is so popular - or his race is at least - that we got some of his back story, in the prequels and The Mandalorian will also mine the idea of bounty hunters in space. Yes, he had the most rubbish of ends, falling in the sarlacc pit. But that doesn't stop him from being effortlessly cool.
11. Lando CalrissianView the Lando Calrissian Funko Pop on Amazon
Lando is the coolest character in the Star Wars universe. Played originally by Billy Dee Williams (who is set to reprise the role in Episode IX) and effortlessly by Donald Glover in the under-appreciated Solo spin-off, the character is a cad (like Han Solo) who is only out for himself, selling the Star Wars crew out to Darth Vader but eventually helping save the galaxy. He does it in a cool cape, though, so all is good.
12. Darth MaulView the Darth Maul Funko Pop on Amazon
If you are a fan of the Original Trilogy, it's highly likely you hate The Phantom Menace. Kids love it, though, and it does house one of the very best Star Wars characters: Darth Maul. He looks the part, is actually pretty scary (as all Star Wars villains should be) and can fight like the best - with a ruddy great dual lightsaber. Fantastic stuff.
13. Kylo RenView now at Amazon
The Dark Side-turned son of General Leia and Han Solo formerly known as Ben Solo is a villain we can’t help but love. He’s a terrifying, cruel character, but he is also vulnerable and human. One of those human flaws is being prone to temper tantrums – you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a teenager for that reason, but he’s actually older. In a since-deleted tweet, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group confirmed he was "around 29 to 30" years old.
14. Emperor PalpatineView the Emperor Palpatine Funko Pop now
Emperor Palpatine is the big bad that reverberates throughout the whole of the Star Wars universe and it's been announced that he's back for Episode IX. He's an absolute rotter who starts out boring people about trade agreements in the prequels, then shifts into 'I'm going to rule the Empire' mode when he remodels himself as the purely evil Darth Sidious. He also shoots electric out of his fingers which is pretty cool.
15. ReyView now at Amazon
Daisy Ridley’s Jedi-in-training, Rey, has given us a hero cloaked in conspiracy, and in Episode Nine, we have our fingers crossed that the big question of her mysterious parentage may finally be revealed. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren taunts Rey that her parents were “nobodies”, but fans have their own theories.
One of the most popular? That she’s actually Luke’s daughter, thanks to her connection to his lightsabre, being strong with the Force even without training, and their similar story arcs. Well, it is known as the Skywalker saga…
16. Admiral AckbarView the Admiral Ackbar Funko Pop on Amazon
The Rebel Alliance's big military cheers, Admiral Ackbar was always a brilliant presence when he was on the screen. Whether it was muttering the immortal lines "It's a trap!" Or masterminding the Rebel attack when another DeathStar sprung up in Jedi, he's the grizzled, should really be retired veteran the world needs right now.
17. BB-8View now at Amazon
He may essentially be a Swiss army knife on wheels, but our beeping companion is certainly the most adorable droid in all of the galaxy. Evolutionary Biologist JV Chamary explained, in an article for Forbes, there’s a scientific reason audiences love BB-8 so much, too: it’s because he’s childlike. His round body, baby-like chirps and bumbling movements make him toddler-esque, and even more endearing. The little baller.
18. Jabba The HuttView the Jabba The Hutt Funko Pop on Amazon
Jabba The Hut is a grotesque, crime lord whose role in Star Wars is intrinsically linked with Han Solo in Star Wars. Solo owed money to Hutt, so he sends over Boba Fett to find and capture him - which he does, in carbon. Even though he was first seen in Jedi, part of George Lucas' changes to the Original Trilogy meant we saw him in A New Hope, too.
19. FinnView now at Amazon
The hero formerly known as First Order Storm Trooper FN-2187 provides much of audience’s entry point to the most recent trilogy. He’s thrown into a situation, and is instantly overwhelmed by it all. Let’s be honest, we’d all be too, if we had abandoned our Storm Trooper day jobs and got entangled with the Resistance. He also provides a lot of the humour. Boyega has explained, "During the auditions I found that my niche for this character was definitely in the more humour and fear.”
20. GreedoView the Greedo Funko Pop now on Amazon
Who shot first? Who cares, when the iconic scene between Greedo and Solo brought one of the very best characters into the Star Wars universe. Greedo is a Rodian bounty hunter who has mere minutes of screen time - but his character is fleshed out in the Clone Wars animated spin-off.