Everyone can remember the moment when they first saw “Star Wars.” Whether it’s the originals, the prequels, or the latest entries, this saga has a passionate hold on all who watch. With eleven installments, it’s spawned so many memorable characters who define all of us. So, with dozens of iconic characters to choose from, this was not an easy list to piece together. But, after a lot of soul-searching, here is the list of the top ten characters within the Star Wars universe.
10R2-D2 (Kenny Baker)
Star Wars has given us many essential side characters who’ve taken our hearts from the moment we meet them. It’s no coincidence a lot of them are also droids. While BB-8 has been a great new addition, he would’ve never existed if it wasn’t for R2-D2. Canonized by the late Kenny Baker, we first meet Artoo as the feisty droid with a mission to get the Death Star plans to the Rebels. Along with his counterpart C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), their mission lands them in the ownership of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and the rest is history. R2-D2 is the most reliable droid in all the galaxy, and without him, our heroes would’ve never defeated the Empire.
9Emperor Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)
Known as the most powerful Sith Lord to ever live, Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine is the evil figurehead, always pulling strings from afar. Starting as a distinguished senator from the planet of Naboo, he quickly schemes his way to Supreme Chancellor by the end of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” What starts as a good thing turns into a sinister betrayal as he unveils his true form. Once revealed, he appoints himself as the first Galactic Emperor. Beyond destroying the Republic, he also corrupts Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) against the Jedi.
Eventually, Palpatine destroys the Jedi Order and successfully turns Anakin into his new apprentice, Darth Vader. Though he’s won, the Emperor’s never satisfied. Its why he forces Vader to convert Luke to the dark side of the force. So power-hungry, the Emperor doesn’t see Vader betraying him to save Luke, leading to his downfall. With “The Rise of Skywalker” hinting at his return, we should expect he has something diabolical in store for our heroes.
8Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor)
Played by two actors over two trilogies, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has gone through some hard burdens in his lives. As the young apprentice to master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), he had to take over training young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) when Qui-Gon passed away. Through time, he grew to love Anakin like a brother. But when the young apprentice passes over to the dark side, it destroys Obi-Wan. Years pass, and he becomes a mentor to Luke, telling him the ways of the force and the truth about his father. By being this guardian for Luke, this gives us someone to watch over our hero as he makes his journey.
7Yoda (Frank Oz)
As the oldest and most powerful Jedi Master, Yoda has seen it all. While he was the presiding Grand Master of the Jedi Council, his voice rang with wisdom and understanding. When the Jedi fell to the Empire, Yoda was the only one who could face off against Palpatine. Ultimately failing to stop him, he went into seclusion full of regret. But when Luke comes needing a master and training, Yoda finds his chance to redeem himself. Through his teachings both alive and beyond, Yoda educates Luke about the values of success, failure, and what it truly means to be a Jedi. He is the ultimate teacher, one we can all aspire to be.
6Rey (Daisy Ridley)
She may have started as a nobody from Jakku, but Rey has slowly turned into one of the most powerful Jedi in history. As a scavenger waiting for her parents to come back, she’s been alone most of her life. It’s not till BB-8 comes around where she opens up to the idea of leaving Jakku and helping the Resistance. By doing this, the world she knows changes forever as she realizes what and who she is. Rey is the hero of our time, showing you don’t need to come from a famous lineage to be an inspiration. Bringing Rey to life is Daisy Ridley, who, just like her character, was an unknown before “The Force Awakens” changed her life. But just like the original cast, she was perfect casting and cemented herself in this franchise.
5Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)
When the light emerges, the dark side of the force comes to balance. So, with Rey being our new hero, we need someone who could match her step for step, and his name is Kylo Ren. Portrayed masterfully by Adam Driver, Kylo is the son of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). He’s turned to the dark side of the force when Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) persuades him to betray his uncle, Luke Skywalker. While mirroring the downfall of his grandfather Anakin Skywalker, he hasn’t fully converted to the dark side when we meet him in “The Force Awakens.”
But by the end of “The Last Jedi,” he kills Snoke and embraces his rage and longing for revenge. With this, he inherits control of The First Order to use at his disposal and becomes the most dangerous man in the galaxy. Now he will use his resources and anger to stop Rey at all costs in episode nine.
4Han Solo (Harrison Ford)
Charming and scruffy, Han Solo is the human personification of the word cool. Embodied by the legendary Harrison Ford, Solo is introduced in “A New Hope” as the captain of the fastest ship in the galaxy. Hired by Luke and Kenobi, Han’s a massive skeptic of the force and only focuses on sticking out for himself. Han has always been someone running from his problems. But when trouble strikes, he helps Luke rescue Leia and, by the end, enlists in the Rebel Alliance. When the chips are on the line, Han’s there for everyone, no matter what. He beautifully returns in “The Force Awakens” as a mentor to Rey, to help her find a secluded Luke. Known for being the biggest scoundrel in the galaxy with a heart of gold, Han Solo is hard not to love.
3General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher)
From the moment she steps on screen, you realize this space princess turned general is truly special. From being a natural-born leader and the voice of reason to fighting off stormtroopers, she’s always been inspiring. Leia Organa is one of the best female characters ever to grace the screen. She’s in a constant search of peace and justice throughout the galaxy. Whether she’s with the Rebellion or the Resistance, she stands for everyone, ready to fight on their behalf. Though her part will be minimal in the last installment, she spirit embodies all the hope this franchise strives to be.
2Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)
At its core, Star Wars has been about someone from a small town looking to the horizon, desperately wanting more. In the original “Star Wars,” Luke is the someone when we first meet him. But it’s not long before his life does change, and he becomes a mighty Jedi Knight. Young at first, Luke molds into the ultimate embodiment of the light side of the force. He is selfless, willing to save the ones he loves by putting his life on the line.
While some see him in “The Last Jedi” as stubborn and not himself, it’s the best example of who Luke has always been. He is not perfect, not a chosen one but rather the one to bring the Jedi back to what it was. By the end of episode eight, he assumes a role like Yoda and Obi-Wan, helping the next Jedi, Rey, become who they need to be.
1Darth Vader (James Earl Jones, David Prowse)
One of the most recognizable villains in the history of cinema happens to be the essential character in the saga. This mechanical figure used to be Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi thought to bring balance to the force. Instead, his rage consumed him, leading to Anakin’s death and the birth of Darth Vader. Vader is the ultimate henchmen, with galactic carte-blanche to do whatever and kill whoever he needs to. It’s almost comical how evil he is, primarily when he uses his force choking abilities.
But beyond his destructive ways, he’s a machine with a massive amount of conflict due to his past. He shows this friction when trying to turn Luke, his son, to the dark side. Though Luke knows there’s still good in him, Vader can’t find a path to the light. It’s not till Emperor Palpatine has Luke pinned down when it awakens for him, and Vader destroys his master. By doing this, he finds redemption and saves the little good he has left in him.