25. Boba Fett
In perhaps a twist as shocking as the reveal of Luke Skywalker’s father, the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett lands at the bottom of our list — but the galaxy’s coolest armor cannot distract from his lack of function as a glorified action figure. He tracks Han Solo to Cloud City, but does nothing to help capture him. In the battle on Jabba’s sail barge, he confronts Luke Skywalker — only for the Jedi to disarm him and soon be thrown into the writhing mouth of the Sarlacc.
Attack of the Clones gave Fett a more solid narrative foundation (he is in fact a clone from the original Stormtrooper template) but as of late it pales in comparison to Star Wars’ latest venture into the warrior culture of the Mandalorians. Disney+’s titular character is everything Fett should have been — brutal, effective, and looks darn cool while doing it. The loving legions of fans have always been the Kyber crystal of the saga — its true power source. It is perhaps the greatest visible feat of the fanbase that their love for Boba Fett has put him into the mainstream alongside a pantheon of far more active characters.
24. Rose Tico
The Star Wars saga has always focused on a core group of characters stemming from the Skywalker family. The actions of Anakin, Luke, and Ben Solo have affected the lives of trillions over three generations. With conflict always brewing, where would those on the sidelines fit in? Mechanic Rose Tico — per her own admission — is surrounded by pipes all day with a distinct lack of social interaction. With a smudge of coaxium grease on her face, Rose is in a different type of trench daily. Devoted to the Resistance, she works tirelessly to honor her sister’s memory while fighting for freedom from the First Order.
Inspired by the tale of former Stormtrooper Finn’s actions, Rose is star struck when she gets the chance to meet him. Tico at first functions almost as a conduit for the audience — could you imagine the unbridled joy that would flow through you if you were tasked with working alongside the greatest heroes of the Resistance? Unfortunately, Finn is trying to abandon ship at that moment. Rose learns the hard way to never meet your heroes. Yet, it is her dissatisfaction with that encounter that leads her to embody one of Star Wars’ most important themes. Anyone — from Jedi to mechanic — is capable of making a difference. Rose’s knowledge, skill, and bravery are fundamental to the Resistance’s prolonged chase from the clutches of evil.
23. Grand Moff Tarkin
Star Wars’ impact can always be felt most strongly amongst its villains. Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, and Maul — among a universe of others — not only stand strong within the franchise, but within media as a whole. These denizens of the Dark Side can easily distract from the one character in A New Hope that was equipped to hold the leash of Vader. Wholly devoted to the Empire’s sinister ideals, Grand Moff Tarkin was able to highlight his own xenophobia and mention the dissolution of democracy as if making a passing comment about the weather.
The regional governor is the embodiment of the cold fist of the Empire. A New Hope takes place entirely in the Outer Rim, where even habitable planets are far from desirable. We never see the might of the Imperial Fleet or the Emperor himself. This is the far reaches of space — but Tarkin’s vulture-esque features and militaristic precision tell us everything we need to know about the rulers of the galactic core. His quiet ruthlessness and frightening stoicism in the face of planet-wide destruction is just another reason why the Rebellion fights so hard against his casual tyranny.
22. Jyn Erso
After reviving the franchise with 2015’s The Force Awakens, Disney continued to expand the universe with spin-off films. The stories of a galaxy far, far away were originally defined by altruistic Jedi Knights Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin. These two men wanted to leave their humble beginnings to find purpose, but Jyn Erso — protagonist of Rogue One — always wanted to slink back into the shadows and be left alone. She wants to ignore the Rebellion, not head towards it. Apathy is rarely a trait we see in Star Wars.
Whether good, evil, or the grimy in between, characters typically find themselves devoted to a cause. Jyn’s first action is to run from the Rebels attempting to rescue her from Imperial captivity. But, like any great character, Jyn is given a chance to make the right choice at a pivotal crossroads. Her lone warrior streak is left behind as she realizes the hope that these freedom fighters bring to the galaxy. The woman that wanted nothing to do with the Rebellion was in fact instrumental in giving them their first victory — and even at the cost of her own life, it filled her with purpose and bittersweet joy.
21. Mace Windu
With his distinctive purple lightsaber and imperturbable demeanor, Mace Windu would have been an iconic character even if he wasn’t portrayed by profanity-prone superstar Samuel L. Jackson. This prequel-era character gave us a unique look at the fabled Jedi Order — perhaps far deeper than we could have imagined. Episode VIII sees Luke Skywalker telling his new apprentice, Rey, about the undue glorification of the Jedi. The fall of the Old Republic was in fact helped by their greatest protectors. The Jedi of the Clone Wars had grown arrogant, blind to their own hubris in the face of 1,000 years of peace.
Mace Windu has always represented the worst of the Jedi. Though never tempted by the Dark Side, many philosophize that true evil only exists when good people do nothing. Master Windu was always quick to brandish his weapon, dismiss the opinions of the powerful Anakin Skywalker, and could not see the Dark Lord of the Sith — Chancellor Palpatine — before his very eyes. Far from the wise warmth of Yoda or Obi-Wan, Mace Windu’s delayed approach to problems within the very fabric of the Republic was instrumental in the plot to overthrow it. For all his faults, characters like this are important. The Jedi are meant to serve peace and justice, not their own interests. When characters like Luke and Rey strive to make a new foundation for the Jedi Order, it is important to know what not to do.
20. Darth Maul
The greatest of characters can always be defined by their silhouette alone, and Darth Maul — the face of Episode I: The Phantom Menace — is no exception. With a corrosive snarl and fearsome horns, the Sith Apprentice wields his double-bladed lightsaber with the brutality you would expect of his namesake. Darth Vader may be the ultimate face of evil in the Star Wars canon, but his bulky life-support apparatus always limited him in some sense.
With Maul, audiences were able to see the full power of the Dark Side unleashed. Portrayed by martial arts expert Ray Park, Maul battled with the ferocity of a wild animal while looking stylish in his flips and slashes. As opposed to the similarly visually appealing Boba Fett, Darth Maul’s actions had an impact to the story of the films. His murder of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn put young Anakin Skywalker under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi instead. Could galactic history have turned out differently had the danger of Maul not intervened? We may never know, and we should take comfort in that — a lasting impact is what you want from a character.
Redemption is among the chief themes present in the Star Wars saga, and Finn is one of the best torchbearers it has to truly embody it. Formerly known as FN-2187, Finn was taken from his family as a child as part of the First Order’s sinister plot to raise another army of Stormtroopers. His good nature — a companion to his frequent comedic musings — overrides the tyrannical programming and he escapes. Adrift among the dunes of Jakku, he eventually finds true friendship in Rey and Poe Dameron. But even their comradery isn’t enough to anchor him to the Resistance as a whole. More knowledgeable than anyone of the fearsome might of the First Order, Finn often believes that victory is impossible.
Missions that began to save just his friends expose him to more and more citizens of the galaxy — people like his companion Rose that believe freedom for one cannot exist until there’s freedom for all. Away from the brainwashing shelter of the First Order, Finn finds that some crusades are worth fighting for, no matter what the personal cost might be. Examining our own cowardice is painfully difficult, but Finn becomes consistently determined to improve himself. Where he was once a serial numbered Stormtrooper, he is now a General in the Resistance, leading the ground forces to victory. Redemption in Star Wars is typically seen in singular, critical moments, but Finn makes it part of his everyday life, having found a place he can call home among the stars.
18. Padmé Amidala
The Skywalker bloodline is often traced and discussed through Jedi Knight Anakin, but the strength of the Force isn’t the only virtue that fabled twins Luke and Leia inherited. Having served as Queen of Naboo at just 14-years-old, Padmé Amidala was forced to mature quicker than lightspeed to learn the language of Galactic Republic politics. Though navigating political waters is murky at best, Padmé always clung to the hope that her decisions were making the galaxy a better place for its inhabitants. Even when she is swept off her feet by the dashing Anakin — now a man and nearly a fully trained Jedi — Padmé’s efforts are never blinded by love.
In what makes her far wiser than her hot-headed husband, Padmé never lets her emotions get in the way — even at the worst of times. Although the Republic seems sure to claim victory in the Clone Wars, she believes in immediate disarmament and the release of the Chancellor’s emergency powers. Victory that leads to a lack of freedom, even for the winning side, is no victory at all. When she witnesses Anakin’s fall from grace to the Dark Side, she knows she cannot stand by the man she loves. And in the cruelest twist of fate — as she lays dying from disbelief and a broken will due to Anakin’s actions — Padmé is the first person to believe that good still lives in him. It is a strength just as strong as the Force, a hope she passed on to the son she would never know.
With C-3PO’s silhouette and R2-D2’s snarky attitude, Rogue One introduced us to the lanky and frequently disgruntled security droid K-2S0. A reprogrammed Imperial robot now serving the Rebellion, K2 still can’t seem to shake the dictatorship’s cold programming. In often humorous moments, K2 is decidedly blunt and uncomfortably honest. Unlike most of his droid counterparts, K2 interacts with humans and aliens knowing that there is a biological difference — a lack of biology at all, in fact. His comments are typically biting and filled with the existential dread of mortality, but it is never malice that is brought to the screen.
Audiences continue to comment about the laughter and joy K2 brought to them — we can only chuckle when seeing his other crew members squirm and exchange quizzical glances. Particularly delighting in his verbal spars with Jyn Erso, the gears in his metal core eventually warm to the misfit team put together to steal the plans for the Death Star. When all hope seems lost in the heist, K2 elects to stay behind, giving Jyn and team leader Cassian Andor enough time to transmit the plans to the desperate Rebellion. After a barrage of blaster fire, the metal curmudgeon falls protecting his comrades. As Cassian screams into his comlink in mourning, we realize that despite all of K2’s best efforts, he was cared for by those around him.
16. Lando Calrissian
After the roguish charm of Han Solo swept audiences off their feet, the team prepping The Empire Strikes Back tackled an even greater challenge — who could unseat Solo as the galaxy’s smoothest man? Defying the used-universe aesthetic that the franchise famously played on, enter Lando Calrissian, the dapper baron of Cloud City and former captain of the Millennium Falcon. In a world of stark, brutish design, dusty rag tag rebels, and space-wizards, Lando’s winning smile and stylish clothing were our first look into the finer things in galactic life.
But the material glamour of the good-natured gambler doesn’t mean his heart isn’t in the right place. For a time, it’s hard to imagine Lando was most famous for giving up Han Solo to Vader (did you see how carbon-scored and filthy the Falcon had become under Han? Can you blame Lando?). Believing that Han would just be delivered to the Hutt Cartel, he realized Leia and Chewie wouldn’t be safe with him — Vader had other plans. He breaks his Imperial bargain and helps escape Cloud City, and eventually rescues Han from Jabba’s clutches. He continues to stand with the Rebellion and Resistance in their most desperate hours — and never loses that twinkle in his eye.
15. Chirrut Îmwe
As many Jedi are quick to remind us, the Force is not a power exclusive to the revered Knights. In fact, it is not a power at all that one can or should wield like a weapon. It is a path we walk — and it does not belong to any one group or person. Rogue One’s Chirrut Îmwe does not claim to be a Jedi, but he freely shares his respect for the Force, allowing it to surround him and give him strength. Though blind, he is often the one leading the rag tag group of Rebels to their next moral plain — and he can even lead them in a militaristic victory as well.
Similar to Marvel’s Daredevil, Chirrut’s other senses help to see for him, giving him an advantage against the simple visors of a Stormtrooper’s helmet. Perhaps it was the will of the Force that led him to lose his eyesight, and Chirrut allows that to comfort him. Each day we are faced with believing in things we cannot see. We hope to see the sun shine, to succeed in our ventures, and Chirrut demonstrates that faith — of whatever creed — is often times rewarded as long as we believe in it. If we remain true to the paths we walk, it will lead us to the destination we wanted — and oftentimes, beyond.
The loyal Wookiee Chewbacca is among the most recognizable faces — and voices — from the entire Star Wars franchise. Ironically, Chewie is quick to remind us of never letting appearances guide you. His shaggy hair and sharp fangs may form a brutish visage, but they do not fully characterize Han Solo’s co-pilot. At over 200-years-old, Chewie is an ace pilot and amazingly skilled mechanic.
His mighty strength, though awesome to witness, can be overshadowed by his precise technical ability. Chewie has been a part of nearly every major galactic conflict seen on screen and those skills often made the difference between victory and defeat for the forces of good. And at the end of the day, we love Chewie for his heart. His emotions are as large as he is. When he’s angry, he roars. When he’s sullen, he whimpers. He wears his feelings at the end of his paws — yes, the same paws that will rip your arms off if you dare to put his friends in harm’s way.
13. Emperor Palpatine
Though Darth Vader may represent the fallen angel, it is his master — the nefarious Emperor — that truly embodies Lucifer. With a soul as twisted as his craggy face, Palpatine has been the puppet master of all things evil from Episode I to IX. Whether under the guise of Chancellor, Emperor, or Snoke, many faces have masked the cesspool of malevolence that is Darth Sidious. As most know, two of the defining moments in all of Star Wars are the redemptions of Anakin Skywalker and his grandson Ben Solo. The renouncement of the Dark Side is a cornerstone among its chief users.
Even in expanded media, the humanity of characters as brutal as Darth Maul or as calculating as Count Dooku has been explored. The Emperor stands alone as a stalwart figure of whose service of the Dark Side never needs to be questioned. While Vader and Kylo Ren may embody the rage of the Dark Side, Palpatine is content to play the achingly slow long-con. Like a cauldron of poison slowly brewing, he coils, waiting to strike until all the pieces have been moved into his corner. By the time it bubbles over, it is often too late for the galaxy.
12. Poe Dameron
Despite a relatively minor appearance in the resurgence that was The Force Awakens, audiences were eager to see more of the hotshot X-Wing pilot — and The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker certainly delivered. Under the tutelage of General Leia, Poe is in many ways the son that Ben Solo never had the chance to be. In Leia’s eyes, a man of his talent is the future of the Resistance and the Republic. But Poe prefers to be the shining star of the battle, heading towards a Star Destroyer cannon, ignorant to what it could mean for the squad he is leading.
With dashing good looks and skills even Han Solo would admire, Poe is quick to leap to action before questioning the impact that it could have to those around him. He struggles finding the balance between calculated decisions and glorifying battle tactics. Much like the real events of Dunkirk in World War II, Poe realizes that running away doesn’t mean defeat — it means surviving to fight another day. General Dameron comes to understand that heroes can be celebrated, but heroes that dare too often cannot help on the battlefield next time. As he learns to lead, Poe in fact becomes a greater hero than he could ever hope to be by preserving lives on his side rather than taking them on the other.
11. Jabba the Hutt
Although the Special Editions of A New Hope added in a deleted scene that would have introduced him, the first time audiences met the corpulent gangster was in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. When Luke Skywalker brazenly strides into Jabba’s palace as a fully-fledged Jedi Knight, audiences surely thought the slug was done for. But when his response to Luke’s Jedi Mind Trick is just a chortling belly laugh, we knew the Rebel hero still had a challenge to face. Critics of Star Wars are quick to assume that the saga only features characters that can be classified as good or evil. Jabba — like so many others — fits into a grey area of the galaxy that many forget exists. Jabba views himself as a slimy businessman just trying to make a living among the stars.
The epitome of a serialized villain of the week, Jabba and a crew of beautifully designed aliens gave us a break from the bleak aesthetic of Imperial villains and a hint of the life that Han and Lando had left behind. With less than forty minutes of screen time, we knew exactly who Jabba was and how he operated. Some films fail to establish a character even after two hours, but the Hutt kingpin used the mighty weight of his personality — and his mighty weight in general — to make a lasting impact.
10. R2-D2 & C-3PO
Discussing the galaxy’s greatest duo in two separate slides might as well warrant a trip to the Sarlacc Pit — it would be heresy! From personality to appearance, the two droids are as polar opposite as Tatooine and Hoth. Few characters have been present in all three trilogies, but the protocol and astromech droids have seen action on the frontlines of all the galaxy-defining wars. While one spurts off statistics of the dangers they face, the other jumps happily into the action. C-3PO could certainly find plenty of protocol droids amongst the halls of the Senate to commune with while nervously anticipating governmental debate.
R2 is rarely far from a starship hangar with a slew of go-getter astromechs. But beyond their beeping banter, R2 and 3PO have always shown us that partnerships with people that challenge us make us better. Their approaches to blaster fire are wildly different, but their individual skills have saved each other innumerable times. Despite all their arguments, you’ll always find them next to each other at the end of the day, a golden arm comfortably consoling a blue and white dome. R2 and 3PO’s partnership seems to be eternal and we always get the sense these old friends will continue to bicker into the far future of the Star Wars galaxy.
Quite often, Star Wars characters are defined by their courage and morality, and if not, their ability to reclaim those attributes from the depths of darkness. Qi’ra — among a pantheon of amazing characters — has been able to carve out a niche almost wholly unique to her. Growing up a fellow misfit with Han Solo on the smoggy streets of Corellia led her to always put survival first. Sold to the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn as punishment, Qi’ra used her street smarts to work her way up in the organization.
The climax of Solo: A Star Wars Story leaves Qi’ra at a critical junction. Rather than hop aboard the Millennium Falcon, she lies effortlessly to her former lover, electing to continue a coup de tat by claiming the top position of Crimson Dawn. Can we argue with her? After years of subjugation in various forms, she is frightened at the prospect of losing the power she has fought tooth and nail to acquire. Though her personal freedom continues to be limited, her security is not. There is uncertainty in a life with Han. It could make her happy, but it could also leave her vulnerable. And with a past like Qi’ra’s, vulnerability is death.
From the moment Rey was introduced to audiences, the internet was as active as a Mynock hive discussing her origins. There was no way this spunky Jakku scavenger wasn’t a Skywalker… or a Kenobi… or a Palpatine. And The Rise of Skywalker recently rewarded that online sleuthing — she is in fact the granddaughter of the malevolent Emperor himself. Facing the looming weight of the blood in her veins, Rey continues the path that she walked in all three most recent Skywalker Saga films. Consistently doubting herself, Rey believes figures with the last name of Skywalker or Solo will save the day. She downplays her abilities as a pilot or Jedi, hoping that someone else will take up the fight.
She stands amongst these legends, but does not believe she is what can carry the light of the Force to victory. But as these idols continue to fail her, Rey’s greatest strength is when she realizes that she is the hero the galaxy has been waiting for. She chooses to be what the Resistance needs rather than continue to make excuses for others. Much like her mentors Luke and Leia taught her, blood is not what makes someone special or evil — and the children of Darth Vader would know that better than anyone. Rey is kind, giving, and brave; the qualities of the Skywalkers she admires most, and things that her tyrannical grandfather could never understand. Rey, for all her faith in the Force, does not let anything determine the woman she wants to be. She is the one and only architect in her life.
Aside from dour metal grimace of Vader himself, there is no character more visually iconic in the Star Wars galaxy than the diminutive Master Yoda. His cane might swiftly smack those previous words however, as he has never let his size define him. A master in the serenity of the Force, Yoda allows the lights of thousands of generations of Jedi to surround him. Perhaps helped by his peculiar speech pattern, Yoda is certainly the series’ most quotable character, and for good reason. Luminous wisdom flows from the Jedi Master with peaceful and quiet intention.
His words have left us many a time thinking — thinking of how we contend with pain, anger, and the fear of losing the things we love most. Yoda teaches us that the downfall of many is the attempt to control all aspects of life. We frequently find ourselves overwhelmed by the innate desire to dictate where our lives are headed. Yoda allows acceptance of what he cannot control be what gives him the strength to move through the challenges of everyday life. All of our experiences in life are meant to be passed down to the next generation so that they can be better. And at 900 years old, Yoda knows that better than anyone.
6. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Whether we see him as a spry young man in the prequels, or the sci-fi embodiment of Merlin in the original trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi is in many ways the perfect Jedi. Armed with wisdom consistently past his age, Obi-Wan has always yearned for a peaceful solution to any situation. Consistently calm, Obi-Wan’s presence is always to the benefit of whatever character he shares the screen with. Able to look beyond the stubbornness that perhaps came with Master Yoda’s advanced age, Obi-Wan is aware of his own failings and shortcomings before they catch up with him.
He openly admits to Luke that his guidance is perhaps part of what allowed Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader. Even as he battles the newly minted Dark Lord in Revenge of the Sith, he freely states that he knows he failed his dearest friend. The inner turmoil of recognizing your faults is precisely what guides Obi-Wan to his inner peace. His calm explanations of the past help Luke make the choices for himself as he must face his father. His admission that he is far from the perfect mentor is exactly what has made him an excellent guiding force in the lives of whoever encounters him.
5. Kylo Ren
With a sputtering, unstable lightsaber and a mask devoid of emotion, Kylo Ren seemed primed to carry the dark mantle of Darth Vader. But while the latter’s anger was quiet and controlled, Kylo Ren’s outbursts quickly resembled borderline temper tantrums. It was then that we realized this seemingly rabid wolf was actually a scorned cub named Ben Solo. The son of two legends, Ben was the victim of Palpatine’s shadowy mental manipulation from the time he was born. In doing so, young Ben found himself seduced by an allure that all Star Wars fans can relate to — the power of Darth Vader. Tired of being heir to a family legacy he never felt worthy of, the dark warrior desperately carves out a Force-laden life of his own accord. This path becomes infinitely more complicated as he combats and connects with Rey.
Seeing a similarly wayward soul, the two frequently debate — sometimes with a lightsaber — how to make sense of the past while forging the future. But as both Kylo and Rey lose those that inspired their journeys — Luke, Leia and Han — the façade that was Kylo Ren melts away and Ben Solo is born once more. He found someone in Rey that wanted a future with Ben, that cared for Ben, not this dark specter he was hoping to be. After their climactic battle against the reborn Palpatine, Ben’s path leads him to eclipse his grandfather. Desperate to heal a dying Rey, Ben does what Anakin never could — save the woman he loves. At the expense of his own life force, Ben proves able to surpass a legacy he never should have felt burdened with.
4. Leia Organa
The first of the “Big Three” to be seen on screen, Leia proved instantly that her royal title did nothing to suggest she was in distress. Even her romance with Han Solo could not classify her as just a partner in a love story. The age of blockbusters had a slew of female characters that were simply arm candy for the male protagonists. Much like she instills in her pupil Rey, Leia refuses definition. She takes the form of whatever the Rebellion and Resistance needs most — and what she needs most. Despite her brother being the galaxy’s most powerful warrior, Leia — at times — is by far the more capable twin.
When Ben turned to the Dark Side, Luke exiled himself in shame, and Han returned to smuggling. But Leia? She continued to fight for peace and freedom in the galaxy. The shadow of loss and burden never stifled the light within her soul. Though Force-sensitive, her endurance is as much a superpower as anything. The passing of her off-screen alter ego Carrie Fisher was a tragic loss, but it further reinforced the legacy Leia has left behind. Many — regardless of sex, race, or creed — have looked to the sci-fi icon as a symbol of strength and resilience. And nothing would make Leia prouder than to pass something better to the next generation of those that would fight to make the world a better place.
3. Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker
It is not often that three trilogies — nine films — can be traced back to one character. One can easily see the narrative thread in the series that charts the fall, redemption, and legacy of Anakin Skywalker. When Darth Vader first stepped onto the Tantive IV and our screens in 1977, his fearsome and iconic aesthetic were enough to cement his image into our minds forever. But the tortured soul behind the heavy breath and black mask permanently transformed his legacy beyond a cool action figure. Born a slave on the desert world of Tatooine, no galactic scribe would have imagined the pod-racing champion would become the most feared man in history.
Unnaturally talented in the Force, Anakin was deemed worthy of Jedi training and eventually became the face of Republic victories in the Clone Wars. All accolades aside, his true passion in life was his love for Padmé. His journey to the Dark Side began with premonitions that she would die. Desperate to find the power to save her, he ends up destroying all he hoped to save. Left with grievous injuries, his hate of his own faults keeps him alive. Almost in a constant state of masochistic criticism, the man that had become Darth Vader morbidly marched under Imperial flags.
When the shadow of Vader is burned away by the light and love for his son Luke, Anakin reminds us that our worst deeds can be made deserving of forgiveness. His redemption is most obvious when he destroys his evil master, but his true strength is seen in the quiet moments in between. He realizes he is still capable of loving someone — his son. Love often means losing control rather than having it — a beautiful irony given that same fear once put him down the dark path.
2. Han Solo
Pilot. Smuggler. General. A man with too many titles — and often too many debts — takes our No. 2 spot. With buckets of charm and the good aim of his trusty blaster, we often forget Han’s bravado has stemmed from just enough luck guiding his way. He leaps before looking as he finds himself in consistently more harrowing situations — as any great character should. He always conveniently forgets the negatives of the trials and tribulations he’s been through, only using his survival to bolster his own ego. We delight in seeing the gunslinger morph from capable outlaw to sloppy debtor when his luck always runs out.
Typically under constant attack — whether by TIE Fighters or the flirtatious scrutiny of Leia — it’s no wonder that Han’s first instinct is to run away. When faced with fight or flight, Han has typically chosen the latter. He and Chewbacca find another cantina to forget and move on to the next job and star system. The beauty of Han Solo, however, is that he always comes back. Whether it be at the Battle of Yavin or in a metaphysical sense in The Rise of Skywalker, Han cannot ignore the good and loving nature that guides his heart. Whether it be his son, Leia, or his friends, Han is always there when someone needs him most — almost unaware he’s done the exact thing he swore not to do. As Qi’ra tells him in his origin spin-off, he’s the good guy… but just doesn’t know it yet. We know — and as an audience, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
1. Luke Skywalker
From day dreaming farm-boy to legendary Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker is the heart and soul of the entire Star Wars saga. In many ways a near namesake stand-in for franchise creator George Lucas, Luke was always us. Who hasn’t looked to the horizon, wanting more out of life’s frustrating constraints? After seeing the hologram of Princess Leia (perhaps cinema’s greatest call to adventure) Luke gets the life he always wanted — and Star Wars’ greatest hero was born. Despite being a cosmically charged series with lightsabers and starships, Luke has never been an action icon. He wins his greatest victories not through strength of arms but with the guiding light of morality. Whether facing Vader in Return of the Jedi or Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi, Luke actively avoids viewing either as his enemy.
Both dark and light exist in the Force all at once, within each person. Such cosmic forces cannot be battled with a lightsaber — it is through our own inner peace and purpose that we win. Luke finds serenity of the soul by understanding that the presence of darkness does not negate the warmth of the light. He knows this because he has lived through it. Despite facing down Stormtroopers, Hutts, and Sith, Luke’s greatest enemies were fear, arrogance and anger. His peace and purpose is derived from overcoming those elements of darkness daily — something many of us do.
By the time Rey visits the dusty world of Tatooine in The Rise of Skywalker, Luke has passed into the Force. His transparent form beams from ear to ear seeing the newest Jedi truly begin her journey. And so, his story ends as it begins — still looking to the horizon, to the hope that the next day will bring. No matter where in his story you choose to look in the films, Luke is a beacon that all creators of characters hope to ignite — someone who simultaneously represents who we are, and who we want to be.