Star Wars is one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time. Its sprawling universe is teeming with characters, including the stars of the flagship films, the characters from canon novels and comics, and the once-canon Extended Universe characters who are now relegated to the (technically non-canon) Legends. Narrowing down this huge universe of characters to pick our favorite 50 wasn’t easy—but we did it. Here are the 50 best Star Wars characters in the galaxy.
Let's settle this right now: Han shot first, and Greedo never fired.
If you like Baby Yoda, allow me to make the case for Yaddle: Lady Yoda.
48. Dash Rendar
With Han frozen in carbonite, a new rogueish smuggler was needed for the Star Wars multimedia project Shadows of the Empire—and so the rather derivative (but still pretty satisfyingly Han-like) Dash Rendar was born.
47. Count Dooku
The doomed Dooku didn't have the best strategic sense, but when the prequel trilogy needed a great secondary villain, he was there.
46. Antinnis Tremayne
Imperial High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne was one of Star Wars' coolest cyborgs. His status within the canon isn't clear right now, but he deserves a place on our list of the best Star Wars characters.
45. Dorsk 81
Dorsk 81 was the 81st clone of the Dorsk lineage and was trained as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker in Kevin J. Anderson's novel Dark Apprentice. He's not canon anymore, but he's one of our favorite Star Wars characters all the same.
He's the fastest podracer in the galaxy, folks.
43. Cad Bane
Star Wars' bounty hunters have always been its coolest characters, and Cad Bane, of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, was one of the coolest.
42. Cassian Andor
The jaded rebel of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story shared a moral arc with Jyn Erso that made Star Wars' first spin-off film one of the best Star Wars movies ever.
41. Supreme Leader Snoke
He went out like a chump, but wasn’t that the point? Not every bad guy is as powerful as Palpatine.
40. Biggs Darklighter
Luke's childhood friend helps connect Luke's personal story to the grander conflict—and he's an ace pilot, too.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's "woke" droid is one of the best things about Solo: A Star Wars Story.
38. Jabba the Hutt
Jabba's brief and ill-fated appearance in Return of the Jedi is only part of the legendary gangster’s story.
37. Saw Gerrera
Saw Gerrera is one of the best Star Wars characters and is arguably the single best character to emerge from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The jaded and ruthless Gerrara made the jump to the big screen for a short but powerful appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
No droid could replace R2-D2 in our hearts, but BB-8 was pretty darn cute.
35. General Holdo
The heroic Holdo's insistence on the proper chain of command makes her the perfect foil to the hotheaded Poe Dameron and helps provide much of the tension in The Last Jedi.
34. Mon Mothma
In Return of the Jedi, Mon Mothma helped ground the soaring story of the heroic rebellion in a bit of political context, freeing Leia's character to join the fray on the ground.
33. Padmé Amidala
Padmé's tragic story takes her from young royal to heartbroken casualty of Anakin's fall to the dark side. But what’s with the accent mark in her name? Nobody seems to actually say it that way.
From the very beginning of Star Wars, prim and prissy C-3PO sets the tone for a fantastic world where robots have fully-formed personalities.
31. Doctor Aphra
Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra first appeared in the Darth Vader comics. She worked for Darth for a while, but this character was too good to be a henchman—so she has since faked her own death and now stars in a Marvel comic book of her own.
30. Admiral Ackbar
Star Wars is at its best when it's just ever so slightly silly—like when a squid-faced alien from a planet literally called "Calamari" croaks out one of the greatest line reads in Star Wars history. "It's a trap!"
29. The Child ("Baby Yoda")
We still have so much to learn about The Child, but we already know the most important thing: They're super cute. Baby Yoda! If you're as obsessed with Grogu as we are, there are a lot of Baby Yoda toys out there to help you transform your home into a tribute to the world's cutest Jedi.
28. Grand Moff Tarkin
Who else could "hold Vader's leash?" Tarkin is the coolest non-Sith baddie this side of Grand Admiral Thrawn. He's the perfect illustration of the cold and bureaucratic evil that keeps the Empire organized.
27. Qui-Gon Jinn
Qui-Gon's sometimes baffling choices actually make him a more interesting character than his drier and less impulsive Jedi peers.
26. "Mando" (The Mandolorian)
The nameless protagonist of The Mandolorian is what many fans always wanted: Boba Fett with a redemptive arc.
25. General Grievous
With all due respect to Darth Vader, nobody took "more machine than man" further than droid separatist commander, General Grievous.
24. Wedge Antilles
Apologies to Poe Dameron, but the heroic leader of Rogue Squadron is the best Star Wars pilot not named Skywalker.
23. Director Orson Krennic
Like Grand Moff Tarkin or Grand Admiral Thrawn, the ambitious Krennic is the Empire at its most institutional. For all the extrajudicial Force-choking Vader does, Krennic's bureaucratic brand of evil remains the scariest and most realistic aspect of the Empire.
22. Poe Dameron
Arrogant ace Poe Dameron feels like a Han Solo figure at first, but his devil-may-care attitude soon turns out to be a damn-the-rules commitment to what he feels is right. He's the Dirty Harry of the Resistance.
21. Mara Jade
Mara Jade, the Emperor's-Hand-turned-Jedi-Master, is one of the coolest characters in the old Extended Universe.
20. Ahsoka Tano
Anakin's padawan in Star Wars: The Clone Wars gives an emotional weight to his turn to the Dark Side that's as powerful as anything in the prequel trilogy.
It just wouldn't feel like Star Wars without Han's iconic sidekick. "Chewie" is a complex character with a great back-story, too—but let's stick to the comics and novels and not talk about that Holiday Special.
18. Rose Tico
Rose's character was given a rich back-story in The Last Jedi, only to all but disappear in Rise of Skywalker. Hopefully she'll get her due in her comic book series.
17. Lando Calrissian
The sly and charming Lando pairs perfectly with his old buddy Han Solo. He has many of the same traits, but he's just different enough to draw out some fascinating contrasts.
16. Jyn Erso
Erso is the hero of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and is arguably the best Star Wars character in that extremely strong ensemble cast.
15. Mace Windu
For all intents and purposes, Mace Windu is the Jedi council in the prequel trilogies: Powerful, brilliant, but too comfortable and condescending, and all too late in seeing the existential threat that is developing right under the council’s nose.
14. Darth Maul
Darth Maul gets a Boba Fett-style introduction in Episode I, where he looks very cool, says very little, and then dies. But, actually Maul is (somehow) not dead, and his character has gotten some very cool stories in the extended canon.
He beeps! He boops! He's super cute! R2-D2 is a perfect example of the magic of the Star Wars universe, where things that might be cold, slick and metallic are instead gritty, colorful and alive. When Kenny Baker rocks R2 back and forth, he gives real character to a robot that never says a word in English in the entire series.
The ultimate Jedi master is a puppet. What could be more Star Wars than that?
11. Boba Fett
Star Wars' coolness has a lot to do with its aesthetic, and that was never more obvious than when a whole generation of fans became obsessed with a character that barely says anything in The Empire Strikes Back. Boba Fett got some more background in comics, novels, and the prequels, but he was already cool the moment he put on that helmet.
10. Grand Admiral Thrawn
Thrawn was the ultimate bad guy of the original "sequel trilogy:" Timothy Zahn's superb Thrawn trilogy. A smooth but ruthless genius, the calculating Thrawn was the perfect foil to the Force-sensitive idealist good guys. His time as the top baddie was rendered non-canon when Disney took over the Star Wars story, but he was too cool to be left in Legends and has been brought back into the official timeline with new appearances.
9. Kylo Ren
In the sequels, Kylo Ren is the most interesting bad guy since Vader himself. He's a deeply flawed and frustrating character who deliberately emulates Darth Vader's guy-with-a-cool-helmet aesthetic while involuntarily emulating Anakin's impatience, immaturity, and— ultimately—long-dormant sense of right and wrong.
Finn is something of a rarity in the Star Wars movies: A character that flips early on from bad to good, and stays there. He's reminscent of some figures in the novels and comics, but he's not much like the other come-to-the-light characters in Star Wars—such as Darth Vader, who takes an awful long time to switch back to the good team and then promptly dies. With Finn, we get to see what a redemptive figure can do with more time left to make things right.
7. Sheev Palpatine/The Emperor
The architect of evil in the Star Wars universe, Palpatine is one of the all-time best Star Wars characters. He's not as conflicted as some others, but he's much more conniving. His plotting and political maneuvering are among the most interesting actions taken by any character in Star Wars.
Rey's heritage was a subject of controversy among Star Wars fans, but the identity of Rey's parents was always less interesting than her drive to find them and her reactions to the answers (both wrong and right). Rey's character and her relationship with Kylo Ren is the most interesting thing about the sequel trilogy.
5. Leia Skywalker Organa Solo
Leia's character is as interesting as any in all of the Star Wars universe. She's a part of the Skywalker family drama, of course, but she's also a political figure: A princess at first, later a general, and always a leader in a precarious position opposite an oppressive power. She's also the Superman-like survivor of a doomed planet, a mother, and strong with the Force (to the point of being a full Jedi, at least in the Legends timeline).
4. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi spans the Star Wars saga like few other characters, and that makes him dynamic and interesting in a way that only the best Star Wars characters are. We get to see Obi-Wan as a young apprentice (Episode I), a maturing Jedi Master (Episode II), a heroic leader (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), a betrayed friend (Episode III), and—in the original film—a wise and aged warrior who still has a sparkle in his eye.
3. Han Solo
The rogueish Han Solo is one of the most perfect Star Wars characters. Funny, charming, and less selfish than he appears, he's a classic archetype perfectly suited to his role in the original trilogy, comic books, and novels. The slightly more complex Han of the sequel trilogy and Solo: A Star Wars Story is no less memorable.
2. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
The character of Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader, is what Star Wars is all about. Anakin is a heroic and tragic figure in the prequels, a villian in the original film, and a redemptive figure in Return of the Jedi. His long shadow hangs over the sequels, and his complex character is the subject of countless comic books, novels, TV show episodes, video games and more. Darth Vader is so much more than just the cool suit—though it is a really cool suit, isn't it?
1. Luke Skywalker
Luke's is a classic protagonist on a hero's journey in the first Star Wars film (the first in release order, that is). But Luke's character isn't a simple archetype. The family dramas of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi make him a more interesting figure, and the sequels find him in isolation after a stunning and personal failure.
Luke's earnest heroism and occasional impatience and hubris are all over the novels and comics, just as they are all over The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi.
It's easy to see Luke as the bland and simple default hero of the series, and the idea of a pure and unbeatable Luke helps explain why some fans were so upset with his role in the sequels. But Luke has been much more interesting than this since at least Empire. Though not as black-and-white as his father's good-to-bad-to-good-again arc, Luke's struggles with his own flaws and temptations make him the center of the Star Wars moral universe, just as he's at the center of the family drama that Star Wars is all about.
Who else could be the best Star Wars character of all time?