The 50 best 'Star Wars' characters ever, definitively ranked
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 "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (in theaters Thursday night), which wraps up the long-running Skywalker saga, we're ranking the 50 best live-action characters in "Star Wars" history, from the original heroes of 1977 to the fresh faces of the Disney+ show "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:
50. 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.
49. 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.
'I’m wildly excited':J.J. Abrams on finishing the new 'Star Wars'
Is C-3PO a goner? 5 things that shook us in the new 'Rise of Skywalker' trailer
48. Qi'ra: 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.
47. Max Rebo: Jabba the Hutt's house band leader is what happens when you combine Paul Shaffer, Dumbo and Blue Man Group.
46. Nien Nunb: The Sullustan pilot doesn't say a whole lot yet he's been a key cog 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.
45. 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.
44. Captain Phasma: The First Order's supreme female Stormtrooper had a super-neat suit of armor and, more unfortunately, so much wasted potential between getting thrown into a trash compactor in "Force Awakens" and falling to her apparent death in "Last Jedi."
43. 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 makes the list solely because of the couple of years he gave "Star Wars" fans fits online theorizing about his origins.
42. L3-37: 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.
41. 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.
40. Cara Dune: May the Force be with anybody who dares tussle with the ex-Rebel shock trooper. Cara is the only "Star Wars" woman who looks like she could wreck a battalion of Stormtroopers by herself and have enough strength left for a cantina arm-wrestling match with a Gamorrean guard.
39. Count Dooku: Christopher Lee with an awesome cape and a lightsaber. How do you not love that combination?
38. Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo: The Resistance leader with the purple hair is hard to read: She goes way back with Leia, but doesn't appreciate Poe Dameron's trigger-happy attitude.
37. Greedo: 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.
36. 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.
35. Mon Mothma: The Rebels' primary mover and shaker behind the scenes, she first opposed the evil Palpatine in the Galactic Republic and then was integral in the growing resistance against the Empire.
34. 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 is hard to beat.
33. 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.
32. 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.
31. The Mandalorian: The lone bounty-hunting gunslinger travels the galaxy in a post-Empire world with a tragic backstory and Baby Yoda in tow. Never take off that helmet, Mando, because all we need to know is you've got a big ol' heart underneath that valuable beskar armor.
30. General Hux: The embattled First Order military man could be 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.
29. Maz Kanata: She likes Wookiees, running a crazy space bar, looking into people's eyes to see their souls and collecting antique lightsabers. The old folks had Yoda as their feisty oldster and the kids now have Maz.
28. 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 cool.
27. Mace Windu: Giving Samuel L. Jackson an awesome tunic and a lightsaber is the easiest way to make sure you have the coolest Jedi master ever.
26. K-2SO: 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.
25. 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.
24. Baby Yoda: So his name's not Yoda, though they're of the same species. 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 the Mando.
23. 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.
22. C-3PO: 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.
21. 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."
20. Rose Tico: The sister of a heroic Resistance bomber pilot, the mechanic tases traitors and gets her time in the spotlight on a death-defying mission with her idol Finn.
19. BB-8: 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.
18. Jabba the Hutt: So corpulent he couldn't even move, 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 guy.
17. Chewbacca: 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.
16. Finn: He's given a face to cannon-fodder Stormtroopers, has a penchant for flirting and a blossoming heroic streak. So, yeah, he's a "big deal" in the Resistance and in fans' hearts.
15. 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.
14. R2-D2: 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.
13. 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.
12. Boba Fett: The universe's most mysterious fan favorite is a guy who didn't say all that much and got eaten by a sand monster before we got to know him. You can't argue with fandom, though: Fett's signature helmet, rocket pack and sweet Slave I ship just round out the profile of an iconic outlaw.
11. Poe Dameron: The greatest pilot in the Resistance, if not the galaxy. So he’s got that going for him.
10. Admiral Ackbar: Pop culture may know him for tossing one very memorable 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.
9. The Emperor: 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.
8. Obi-Wan Kenobi: The prequels aren’t good for much, but what they 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.
7. Rey: 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.
6. 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 jam? With a lot of gravitas and some serious TIE fighter-flying skills, Ben Solo makes a major move up the ranks after a memorable arc in "The Last Jedi" and heading into a final "Rise of Skywalker" throwdown with Rey.
5. Yoda: Don’t underestimate the wizened little green guy putzing around with a lightsaber. 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: Everybody freaked out that no one knew what he was up to as an old man in "Force Awakens" because he's just that important to the original "Star Wars" trilogy and the overall saga. In terms of all-time heroes' 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 in 1977 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, whose tale is still unfolding. This universe has no bigger or more important personality.