A while back, I compiled a list of the Star Wars characters that I felt were the worst ones in existence. Those were beings that either should have been more properly developed or should have never even been conceived in the first place. This time, I have selected ten Star Wars characters that I feel are the best ones ever created, taken mainly from the original trilogy on account that those films are superior to the prequels. Again, Star Wars characters who have never been seen in any of the films are ineligible, but anyone who has appeared in at least one film is fair game. The ten best Star Wars characters of all time are:
10. Lando Calrissian: This old friend and rival of Han Solo initially resides at Cloud City and is forced into betraying his pal so that Darth Vader can lure Luke Skywalker into a trap. Later on, he does his part to save the galaxy, aiding in the rescue of Han at Jabba’s Palace and leading the assault on the second Death Star. Lando is a bit of a con man, to be sure, but he remains likable due to having an appealing charm and becoming a fine leader in the end. It helps that Billy Dee Williams, who portrayed him, gives a fine performance, resulting in a character who only appeared in two films, but who nevertheless became far from forgettable.
9. Chewbacca: Han’s Wookee partner has a wild attitude, but possesses a heart of gold. He is loyal to the cause of stopping the Empire, aiding in tasks such as posing as a prisoner, trying to repair C-3PO, and taking over the controls of an Imperial machine. Chewbacca even offers some comic relief, such as grabbing some food that is rigged so that he and the rest of the team become ensnared in a net. Sadly, he was underutilized in Revenge of the Sith, but this creature still has a charming appeal underneath his beastly appearance.
8. Princess Leia: Leia is not just another damsel in distress…she is a girl who knows how to keep her cool under pressure. She bravely refuses to tell Vader about the plans for the Death Star, even when she is threatened with death or when her home planet of Alderaan is destroyed. Later, it is she who straggles Jabba the Hutt to death and proves that she is willing to go down fighting even against overwhelming odds. Leia is also tough, but gentle, around Han, all of which give her quite a strong personality. By far, she is the best female protagonist in the entire series.
7. R2-D2: This resourceful little droid may not appear to be useful at first glance, but he quickly proves himself to be a valuable member of the fight to defeat the Empire. He makes decisions that initially seem rash, and often causes C-3PO to doubt his intentions, but in the end they turn out to be well worth the effort. Additionally, Artoo is a multipurpose droid who can plug in to machinery, cut through ropes, and even hover through the air. Being an important cause to the galactic war, and having a personality that is quite strong for a robot, makes Artoo a valuable part of the Star Wars franchise.
6. Han Solo: Han starts out as something of a reluctant hero, doing tasks strictly for the money. However, he eventually realizes that the future of the entire galaxy is at stake, and becomes a strong member of the rebel alliance, aiding Luke in his mission to destroy the Death Star and helping his friends evacuate Hoth. What really makes Han a great character, however, is his suave charm, his ability to act quickly, and his witty remarks. Harrison Ford turned Han into one of the most memorable characters in the series, and more than thirty years after his first appearance, his appeal has not dwindled in the least.
5. Emperor Palpatine: This heartless villain shows absolutely no mercy to anyone who gets in his way. It is he who persuades Anakin Skywalker to join the Empire, ultimately using the young boy’s negative emotions over the death of Padme Amidala to change him into Darth Vader. In Return of the Jedi, he further proves his villainous worth by attempting to have Luke join the dark side, and trying to electrocute him with his lightning attacks when the young Jedi refuses. Quite a strong villain, though another one on this list ranks higher…if only Darth Maul underwent a similarly strong development.
4. Yoda: Do not be fooled by Yoda’s diminutive size, as he proves to be an important part of the series. In the prequels, he is a strong Jedi warrior, even when things get quite rough. In the original films, he is still powerful and wise even at 900 years old, using his powers to levitate Luke’s ship out of the swamp, giving the young boy useful advice, and informing him that he has a sister just before he passes away. All that, combined with Frank Oz’s voice and masterful puppetry, make Yoda someone whom we could all turn to for guidance.
3. C-3PO: Of all the comic relief characters in the Star Wars universe, C-3PO is one of the few who is actually genuinely funny. He and R2-D2 prove to be a comedy team, with their banter becoming pure gold despite the latter’s speech strictly consisting of beeping sounds. On top of that, Threepio’s anxiety is often hilarious, and he also does his fair share of saving the day, particularly when he acts as an Ewok god and convinces them to aid them in the final battle. Make no mistake…both droids are well-developed and memorable, though I have a preference for Threepio on account that he is wonderful and much funnier than Jar Jar Binks will ever be.
2. Luke Skywalker: This boy has a dream: to leave his uncle’s farm and become an expert pilot. The powers that be set his goals in motion, and Luke finds himself facing many trials in his quest to become a great pilot as well as a Jedi Knight. Luke’s struggles and conflicts throughout, especially when he learns that Vader is his father, are convincing and believable, and unlike Anakin in the prequels, you never get the sense that he whines about anything. These strengths make his quest very compelling, and as a result, they make Luke the series’ best hero.
1. Darth Vader: Darth is quite a menacing villain and perhaps the best developed antagonist in the entire series. He mercilessly punishes his followers for disobeying him or doubting his plans, and seeks to use his Death Star stations to destroy numerous planets. However, he also has conflicts of his own, mainly in that he still possesses some of his good self inside. That part of him finally awakens as he saves Luke from being killed by the Emperor, though he in turn gives up his own life in the process. Having a villain go from being a black-hearted being to one who is reformed in the moments before his death results in the creation of an iconic cinematic bad guy, and the strongest of all the characters in the history of Star Wars.
These ten characters are among the best, most memorable, and well-developed ones ever featured in the Star Wars series. Whether they have appeared in all or most of the films, or only some of them, they have created a lasting appeal that remains to this day. Their personalities are quite strong, and one wishes that the characters on my worst list were as good. Whether you are watching the films for the first time, or for the 100th time, you will likely feel that the characters on my list are among the best ones ever made in movie history, and they shall never be forgotten for a long time to come.