Another blockbuster “Star Wars” film, Episode 8 titled “The Last Jedi” opening this week, brings up a great question about which characters are really the greatest of all time. When you’re thinking of the “Star Wars” universe, your mind can’t help but go back to the many colorful characters who have been a part of this remarkable film saga.
But who’s the most memorable? Which are really the best? Of course, different fans have different preferences on this question. Do you prefer the characters in the earlier episodes of the series, like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Or do you favor those new characters who have made the strongest impressions, like Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley)? Or do you still lean toward those characters who have remained steady throughout the entirety of the series?
Tour our latest photo gallery above, ranked worst to best, which gives you the perfect chance to compare your favorites with ours as we count down the 20 greatest “Star Wars” characters.
20. MAZ KANATA (Lupita Nyong’o); Episodes 7, 8
Maz, a pirate and friend old Han Solo and Chewbacca, made her first appearance in “The Force Awakens.” Maz is to date the oldest living character in the “Star Wars” canon.
19. EMPEROR PALPATINE/DARTH SIDIOUS (Ian McDiarmid); Episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Imagine that a charismatic senator who schemes his way to become Chief Chancellor of the Galactic Republic is secretly a dark lord in disguise. I mean, what are the odds? McDiarmid’s slimy politico may have even greater resonance now than when he was first introduced over 35 years ago.
18. FINN (John Boyega); Episodes 7, 8
First introduced in “The Force Awakens,” Finn was a stormtrooper who became disgusted at the cruelty wielded by his colleagues and joins up on the other side. As portrayed by Boyega, Finn was the male hero of “Force.”
17. ANAKIN SKYWALKER (Hayden Christensen); Episodes 2, 3
In the second and third installments, we first encountered the teen Anakin Skywalker (played by Christensen) as a Jedi Knight who becomes allied with Emperor Palpatine, a partnership that has dire complications for the Republic. The most dire, of course, is that Anakin would later grow up to be Darth Vader.
16. MACE WINDU (Samuel L. Jackson); Episodes 1, 2, 3
Mace Windu, he of the purple lightsaber, is the Master of the Jedi High Council, who initially has to deal with political concerns, particularly those involving the potential training of Anakin Skywalker. But in Episodes 2 and 3, Windu finally faces down Palpatine’s forces, finally doing battle with the evil Emperor himself.
15. POE DAMERON (Oscar Isaac); Episodes 7, 8
In “The Force Awakens,” Poe Dameron is in many ways the Han Solo from Episode 4, a hotshot pilot who is convinced that he can fly anything and who inadvertently teams up with two other heroes, in this case Finn and Rey.
14. QUI-GON JINN (Liam Neeson); Episode 1
Qui-Gon Jinn is the mentor of a very young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first of the prequel episodes, and when you cast Neeson in the part, you don’t even have to be told that Qui-Jon Jinn has got the stuff.
13. QUEEN PADME AMIDALA (Natalie Portman); Episodes 1, 2, 3
Padme is key to the “Star Wars” family tree. Once the Queen of Naboo who then became a powerful senator who co-founded what became the Rebel Alliance, Padme is the wife of Anakin Skywalker, the mother of both Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, mother-in-law to Han Solo and grandmother to Kylo Ren. Quite a life.
12. REY (Daisy Ridley); Episodes 7, 8
Though not precisely a parallel, Rey in “The Force Awakens” follows much of the same character arc as Luke Skywalker when he was introduced in “A New Hope.” In this case, Rey is a scavenger who gets involved with the Resistance when she meets both Finn and Poe Dameron.
11. LANDO CALRISSIAN (Billy Dee Williams); Episodes 5, 6
An old friend of Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, the administrator of Cloud City and a bit of an isolationist, is forced into betraying his comrade by Darth Vader. But in a crisis of conscience, Lando stands up to Vader, joining the Resistance and freeing his friends and joining the Rebel Alliance.
10. R2-D2 (Kenny Baker); Episodes 1-8
Here’s some great trivia: R2-D2 is shorthand for “Second Generation Robotic Droid Series-2,” but to most of us, R2-D2 is a droid, uttering just beeps and pops. Still that adorable droid is one of the most beloved characters in the “Star Wars” universe, because it, accompanied by his partner 3-CPO, always seems to have our heroes’ best interests at heart.
9. KYLO REN (Adam Driver); Episodes 7, 8
Kylo Ren is basically the Hamlet of the “Star Wars” series. A key part of the “Star Wars” family tree, Kylo is morally conflicted in a profound way (unlike any “Star Wars” character who has come before), it will be fascinating to see where this journey ultimately takes him.
8. CHEWBACCA (Peter Mayhew); Episodes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Like R2-D2, Chewbacca, (affectionately called “Chewy” by Han Solo) is not exactly a conversationalist, but with every utterance, it’s clear, whether he’s delighted or angry, Chewy is there to stand by Han Solo’s side.
7. YODA (Frank Oz); Episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Audiences were immediately entranced by the all-wise, all-knowing Jedi Master Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.” And his bizarre yet hilarious syntax when he speaks has become a pop culture staple. Finally convinced by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda is the one master who teaches Luke the ways of The Force.
6. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels); Episodes 1-8
Appearing in every “Star Wars” film to date, C-3PO is one of the most beloved “Star Wars” characters ever, a humanoid robot with an English accent who seems ready to correct your every grammatical mistake. If C-3PO and his compatriot aren’t ever there to guide us in the future, it won’t feel like a real “Star Wars” film.
5. OBI-WAN KENOBI (Alec Guinness in Episode 4, 5, 6); (Ewan MacGregor in Episodes 1, 2, 3
Where to start with this most pivotal character in the “Star Wars” universe? In Episodes 4, 5 and 6, Obi-Wan is mentor to Luke Skywalker to whom he introduces the ways of The Force. The role’s originator, Sir Alec Guinness, remains the sole actor nominated for an Oscar for his performance in a “Star Wars” film. And in the prequel, he is portrayed by Ewan McGregor, who takes Anakin Skywalker under his wing.
4. DARTH VADER (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) (Episode 4, 5, 6)
One of the great villains in movie history! Once known as Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader was once a Jedi who was supposed to bring balance to The Force but fell under its dark side instead. He is the father of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, as well as the secret husband of Queen Padme Amidala and the grandfather of Kylo Ren.
3. LUKE SKYWALKER (Mark Hamill); Episodes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
It has come down to, as we knew it must, to our final Original 3. In the original trilogy, particularly “A New Hope,” the character arc for Luke (Mark Hamill) is essentially the bulk of the film’s story, and it is his progress from a young farmer to a Jedi knight, after being taken under the wing of Obi-Wan Kenobi and learning the ways of The Force that makes up that film’s gripping drama.
2. LEIA ORGANA (Carrie Fisher); Episodes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
If you’re talking about character growth, no “Star Wars” personality comes close to Leia Organa. Her royal title, Princess Leia, certainly belied her skills with laser weaponry, and as those skills and her courage became recognized, she quickly became a member of the Imperial Senate, a commander in the Rebel Alliance, and by “The Force Awakens,” Leia becomes the founder and General of the Resistance.
1. HAN SOLO (Harrison Ford); Episodes 4, 5, 6, 7
Perhaps it’s just me, but whenever I think of the “Star Wars” series, the character that comes to my mind immediately is Han Solo, the go-it-his-own-way loner who nonetheless finds himself being drawn into and becoming a leader in the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo embodies the courage, the swagger, the romance, and, yes, sometimes the foolhardiness that has helped to make the “Star Wars” saga such an entertaining landmark in film history.
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