Star Wars celebrates its 43rd anniversary in 2020. The franchise is still very much a pop-culture juggernaut in this day and age, as evident by the one-billion-dollar box office return of the disappointing Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker and the viral popularity of Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian.
To celebrate the ending of the Skywalker Saga and the beginning of a more hopeful future for the franchise post-The Rise Of Skywalker, I’m listing down my personal picks for the top ten Star Wars characters of all time.
First, I’d like to clarify that these are my own choices as a lifelong Star Wars fan who have watched every movie and animated series in the franchise (including some of the comics and books as well for good measure).
I have taken the liberty of only including canon characters, and for the sake of diversity, I won’t just be choosing the most popular or iconic characters (not every list needs Han Solo). That’d make for a boring and predictable list, and Star Wars should be anything but.
10. Leia Organa/Skywalker
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope”. That line will forever remain iconic. Ever since she appeared in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Princess Leia Organa (none of that General stuff, she’ll always be royalty to me) is one of the most legendary female characters in pop culture.
Instead of being just another helpless woman or damsel in distress as was often the case in the pulp and science fiction that inspired George Lucas while making Star Wars, Leia is a strong and independent woman, who is more than capable of taking care of herself and protecting others around her.
Despite losing her home planet Alderaan, she still had the will to inspire and lead the Rebellion. When she was enslaved in Star Wars Episode VI Return Of The Jedi by Jabba The Hutt, she swiftly retaliated and killed him using nothing but the chains that bound her.
Leia will always be remembered as a princess, politician, general, fighter, rebel, and more. Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher, may the Force be with you, always.
9. Grand Admiral Thrawn
Out of all the antagonists in the now-defunct Star Wars Expanded Universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn is probably the most popular and iconic of them all, having debuted in 1991’s Heir To The Empire. So much so that Disney allowed Dave Filoni to re-insert him into franchise canon via Star Wars: Rebels animated series.
Grand Admiral Thrawn is beloved by fans for being one of the most dangerous and cunning villains in Star Wars history. He isn’t even a Sith or someone who is capable of using the Force, but his brilliant and strategic prowess makes him a worthy adversary to the Rebels.
In the new canon, Thrawn is an exiled Chiss warrior who is rescued by the Empire, who later rises through the Imperial ranks so quickly that it attracts the attention of Emperor Palpatine himself. With his sheer military tactics, he is able to thwart the Rebels time and time again.
8. Darth Maul
Darth Maul originally appeared in just one movie (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), but his legacy grew that he later survived his apparent ‘death’ and was revived in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. He then even appeared in Solo: A Star Wars Story before finally dying at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine in Star Wars: Rebels.
With his glaring yellow eyes, blood-red skin, horns, and face tattoos, Darth Maul definitely looks the part of being a Sith Lord. If his face didn’t inspire fear, the moment he whips out his double-bladed lightsaber certainly will, which was brought to life by actor Ray Park’s phenomenal acrobatic skills.
He will soon appear again in the seventh and final season of Star Wars The Clone Wars, which will once again see him as the primary antagonist. He will play a major part in the Siege Of Mandalore conflict, as Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker and the Republic attempt to liberate the Mandalorian home planet from his control.
7. Emperor Palpatine
He is the biggest bad of the Skywalker Saga and the one with the iconic gravelly voice. Not only is he one of the most powerful Sith Lord to have ever lived, but he also manipulated the Galactic Republic Senate in decades of political manoeuvering to turn himself into the despotic tyrant of a Galactic Empire.
“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.”
When Palpatine told Anakin the story of Plagueis The Wise, fans have always suspected that the then-Chancellor was responsible for originally manipulating the Midi-Chlorians to create Anakin. While that may never be confirmed to be true, it is part of the myth that is Darth Sidious.
If the fact that he defeated Yoda in Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith and his other feats throughout the movies weren’t enough to convince you of how powerful he is, witness his incredible lightsaber skills and prowess in the scene below, from when he went up against both Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress in Star Wars The Clone Wars.
6. Din Djarin/The Mandalorian
I had to include at least one Mandalorian in this list, and it wasn’t going to be either Boba or Jango Fett. According to canon, they weren’t even real Mandalorians anyway. Din Djarin is the star of the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, and a worthy one at that, portrayed by actor Pedro Pascal.
Strong and stoic, Din Djarin abides by the tenets of the Mandalorian Way, despite not being a Mandalorian by birth. A Foundling, he nonetheless earned his place as a Mandalorian warrior after a traumatic childhood during the Clone Wars.
His relationship and interactions with Baby Yoda is the highlight of the entire series so far.
Despite being the most recent newcomer on this list, he has more than proved himself as iconic as anyone on this list. Din Djarin has shown us what he’s capable of, which is more than I can say about both Boba and Jango Fett (who, like Captain Phasma, were only there to look cool and sell toys).
5. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the first Jedi Knight for many Star Wars fans who grew up with the Original Trilogy. He was Luke’s first master, only known as old Ben Kenobi, who later met his demise at the hands of his former apprentice Darth Vader. He is one of the most iconic Jedi Masters in Star Wars history.
Both versions of the character (Sir Alex Guinness and Ewan McGregor) share the same zen-like patient personality and calming wise voice.
He never gave up, despite losing Anakin Skywalker to the dark side, continuing the legacy of the fallen Jedi Order by keeping watch over Luke Skywalker.
The father figure to us all, Obi-Wan Kenobi is so legendary that he’s getting a live-action series of his own soon, with Ewan McGregor reprising the role. More of the Jedi Master is certainly welcome, in any form, time or place.
4. Master Yoda
Master Yoda is perhaps one of the most iconic non-human characters in all of Star Wars. He is the ultimate master with a level of seemingly limitless wisdom that everyone (even his enemies) respects. He is also the oldest and one of the most powerful Jedi to have ever lived, so there’s that.
His wise sayings are endlessly quotable and his voice is just as iconic, with legendary quotes like “Do or do not. There is no try,” and countless more.
Not only is he strong in the Force, but his lightsaber skills are also masterful, as evident from his duel against Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones.
Yoda embodies the best of Star Wars with his presence in any of the three Trilogies. His name is synonymous with wisdom even nowadays, which is a testament to the enduring legacy of the character over four decades of franchise history. All this from the brilliant puppet wizardry (back in the Original Trilogy) and voice performance of one Frank Oz.
3. Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker is the most obvious choice on this list, and there’s a perfectly good reason for that. He is the original hero of the Original Trilogy, and that will forever be true for all Star Wars fans. Mark Hamill is a living legend, and no disrespect to Harrison Ford, but Han Solo is not the best Original Trilogy protagonist.
Starting out as naive and a bit annoying, Luke grew to be a calm and powerful Jedi Knight in his own right by the beginning of Star Wars Episode VI Return Of The Jedi.
He embodies the very idea of hope, by believing that his father could still be redeemed, even after becoming the monster that is Darth Vader.
The childhood hero of many, Luke Skywalker will always be a hero to all Star Wars fans (let’s just forget that he essentially gave up and abandoned the galaxy in the Sequel Trilogy, shall we?). As far as I’m concerned, Luke is hope personified, just like his father in the end.
2. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
More than any single individual, Star Wars is the story of the rise, fall and redemption of the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. He was the first Skywalker to become a Jedi, and despite succumbing to the dark side for a spell, ultimately fulfilled his destiny of bringing balance to the Force.
Anakin was a man who got overwhelmed by the impossible burden and pressures of being the Chosen One thrust upon him. With the restrictive dogmas of the Jedi Order and those in the Jedi Council never really believing in him, he turned to the one man he thought did: Sheev Palpatine.
As Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker is also one of the most iconic antagonists in pop-culture history.
His gradual leaning to the dark side in Star Wars The Clone Wars have provided more depth and context to his eventual fall from grace in Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith.
Complex and misunderstood, Anakin Skywalker is the true hero of the Star Wars franchise, and one of its best characters. He is and always will be the Chosen One. That is why I will probably always hate the Sequel Trilogy for rendering his sacrifice in Star Wars Episode VI Revenge Of The Sith meaningless.
1. Ahsoka Tano
She’s a fan-favourite Jedi for many, although casual Star Wars fans probably wouldn’t recognize her if they’ve never watched an episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels animated series, which are both canon.
Anakin Skywalker was given an apprentice by Yoda, and it was a young Padawan named Ahsoka Tano. She developed from being annoying as hell character that fans hated (comparable to that of Jar Jar Binks) to becoming one of the most beloved characters in the franchise.
Throughout the whopping 121 episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (so far) and several episodes in Star Wars: Rebels, she went from being an inexperienced and naive Padawan to becoming an independent and powerful Jedi worthy of becoming a Knight. However, she was framed for murder and abandoned by the very Jedi Order she swore fealty to.
Frustrated with the hubris and corruptness of the Jedi Council, she left the Jedi Order for good. She later re-appeared in Star Wars: Rebels fighting against the Empire and even confronting her former master Darth Vader.
At the end of the series, Ahsoka is still alive (set after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi) and was about to embark on another journey to find Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger who vanished when he sacrificed himself to close the portal to the World Between Worlds.
Disney keeps trying to create new female characters to spearhead the Star Wars franchise, with characters like Rey, Jyn Erso, and Rose Tico. However, we already have the perfect female Star Wars protagonist with Ahsoka Tano, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that she’s the best the franchise has ever had.
The chances of seeing an Ahsoka Tano movie being made is realistically low, so fans should appreciate that we’re getting more of her with Season 7 and that we heard her voice in Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker (though she deserved her own Force Ghost appearance, at the very least).
Perhaps we’ll even witness her live-action debut in future seasons of The Mandalorian. One can only hope. Last but not least, Doctor Aphra is the worst Star Wars character ever made.