A long time ago in a cafeteria somewhere in Ohio, kids only got to pick from a handful of characters to grovel over who would win in a given match-up, but 40 years and seven movies later, here we are with a deep well of characters who kicked ass, took names, and maybe lost life and limb along the way.
To keep things simple, we’re taking a look back at characters from the movies who showed us what they were made of, since it would take weeks to consider everyone who ever showed up in a Star Wars property.
Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Force Awakens.
While Chewie has always seemed like a nice, furry friend to the main characters, he has dealt some massive damage in his lifetime — and it’s a long lifetime. Chewie is almost 250 years old by the time of The Force Awakens, so he’s lived a lot more life than you probably expected. By the time the Clone Wars roll around, he's fighting against the invasion of his homeward, rescuing Jedi and building up a body count. After he was saved from Imperials by Han Solo, the two garnered a reputation for their roles as ace smugglers. He’s a deadshot with his bowcaster and a master engineer. He doesn’t hesitate to shoot his own godson after the death of his best friend, which is brutal. And he even risks his own life to blow up Starkiller Base in the wake of his grief.
9. Lando Calrissian
Charisma is a weapon, and Lando’s got the nuke when it comes down to it in that department. The best thing about Lando is that no one, including us, ever knows his true intentions, yet he ends up showing his loyalty when it counts. He’s mysterious, charming and deadly, which makes him one of the scariest characters in the original trilogy. Not to mention he’s the previous owner of the Millennium Falcon, won an entire city in a card game, and played the long-con on the Empire when they came knocking on his door.
8. Han Solo
He shot first, we know this. Han is a brutal, smarmy criminal that somehow has a heart of gold. What makes him badass isn’t just his skills with a blaster or his willingness to participate in extremely dangerous dogfights — its also his smartass attitude mixed with occasional selflessness and warmth. There’s evidence that Han’s ultimate sacrifice was by his own hand, but for what motive we won’t know for sure until the upcoming films reveal all. He’s a crowd favorite, and with excellent reason.
7. Darth Maul
I mean, just look at this dude. Style, finesse, two blades on his lightsaber. Damn. Too bad he went out like a punk.
This droid is like the friend who always comes through for you, and has literally taken a bullet (well, laser blast) for more than one person. He’s also arguably the smartest character in the whole film series, but he’s humble about it. He’s always got top-secret information and there’s evidence he knows a whole lot more than anyone else around him when it comes to political intrigue and personal dirt. R2, like Chewie, has outlasted almost every major character and will probably be around long after everyone else has kicked the bucket.
5. Jabba the Hutt
The most resilient criminals are usually the coldest, and Jabba is the biggest stone-cold bastard in the entire film series. This oversized, drunken slug took pleasure in the suffering and deaths of not only his debtors and enemies, but seemingly random bystanders. He surrounded himself with the most toxic people, but still successfully ran one of the most prolific crime syndicates in the galaxy. It was only appropriate that he got choked out by someone who outclassed him in the chutzpa department.
4. Leia Organa
By merit of her open defiance to the Galactic Empire alone, Princess Leia makes this list. The galaxy bowed to the Emperor and didn’t dare challenge him until the Rebellion began to rise up. One of its primary figureheads was a girl in her young 20s who grew up in a cushy household on a safe planet, yet had a hell of a mean streak and could fire a blaster without flinching. The cut of her jib made Han Solo insecure. She was always willing to risk her life to save another. And she didn’t hesitate to murder someone eight times her size while she was literally chained to him. Respect.
You ever meet an old man whose handshake was so firm it could turn piece of coal into a diamond? Yoda is the Star Wars version of that, dropping wisdom left and right, making bad jokes, lifting freakin’ X-Wings out of the water with his mind, and dying like an OG. And that’s without mentioning his ridiculous-looking but still impressive lightsaber battles with Count Dooku and the Emperor. He may not have struck those guys down, but he definitely scared them half to death.
2. Mace Windu
The only thing missing from Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal as a headstrong and intimidating Jedi was a series of one-liners as he dropped bodies left and right in the Clone Wars. Windu probably earned his seat on the Jedi council by simply staring down the election committee. When he was told to pick his color lightsaber between green and blue, dude said purple. He almost killed the Emperor — the Emperor! No one else got even remotely close until Vader got all sentimental. It was appropriate that the only way he could possibly go down is by a combination of Darth Vader’s teenage angst and Emperor Palpatine’s lightning fingers.
1. Jango Fett
That’s right, Boba Fett didn’t make this list. But his dad did for several reasons, enough to bring him to the top. In the prequel trilogy, Jango — just like Darth Maul — only got one outing on film and suffered from a fatal meeting with the business end of a lightsaber. Why Lucas kept killing off promising villains before they got their moment is beyond reason, but the elder Fett showed more cunning and bravado in the few minutes he made it onto the screen than any other character in franchise history, and his impact on the Star Wars universe was felt long after his death. Consider this: he outsmarted Obi-Wan Kenobi in an astroid field, was the template for an entire army of elite clone troopers, was a better trained and battle-hardened Mandalorian than his “perfect” clone son Boba, captured Anakin and Amidala and sent them to their own execution ceremony, and to cap it all off brought two blaster pistols to a massive lightsaber fight against a horde of Jedi, and only met his death because of a jetpack malfunction. Hopefully the next Fett they introduce has put two and two together and finally upgrades to jet boots instead.