The Star Wars Universe has brought us many beloved and memorable characters; from the roguishly charming and devil may care smuggler Han Solo, to the sardonically wise Master Yoda, and the menacingly intimidating Darth Vader. It has shown us what happens when naive farm boys temper their fear and grow into brave heroes, and proud princesses become fierce military leaders. Its densely populated galaxy has no shortage of curious creatures, from Banthas to Gungans, and vehement villains, from Sith Lords to political fanatics. It has every class and caste of person, from bounty hunters to crimelords, pleasure slaves and senators. And though there is nothing if not variety in Star Wars, there exist those characters that get under our skin whether by their very presence or what they represent.
At various times over the decades that Star Wars has been a completely unstoppable pop culture juggernaut, there has been the sense that certain characters exist merely as marketing ploys, to placate executive whims, or to simply cater to George Lucas’s almighty vision. CBR has rounded up the 15 most offensive characters in that galaxy far, far away that must have used some Jedi mind tricks to get put on screen.
15. JAR JAR BINKS
One of the most hated characters in the entire Star Wars Universe, Jar Jar Binks appeared in The Phantom Menace and unfortunately, in two films afterwards. Since Qui Gon first collided with the clumsy Gungan while trying to outrun Trade Federation trooper carriers on Naboo (and because he didn’t just let him get run over), the Gungan owed him a “life debt” (and yet where was Jar Jar when he faced Darth Maul?!).
An orange amphibian that was designed to provide the prequel comic relief like Threepio and Chewie had done in films before him, he was the stereotype of a rastafarian on helium. Awkward, clumsy, and just plain stupid, he was more in the way than he was a help to anyone, and because he was left to his own devices in Attack of the Clones as Senator Amidala’s stand-in, supported Palpatine’s ascent to power.
In the Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker began his life as a slave, first in the keep of Gordola the Hutt, before being sold to the Toydarian junker Watto. Watto is depicted as crude, greedy, with a huge hooked nose and a heavy Middle Eastern accent. When Queen Amidala’s Nubian cruiser is forced to land on Tatooine and Qui Gon Jinn has to go to Watto’s shop in Mos Espa looking for a new hyperdrive, he encounters the Toydarian and it is an instant battle of wills.
Qui Gon tries to negotiate with Watto via Jedi Mind Tricks, but the Toydarian is too shrewd for mind control to work. When Anakin wins the pod race later in the film, he’s depicted as a sore loser who never learns, as when Anakin encounters him again in Attack of the Clones, he’s become a money lender dealing with salacious criminal types.
13. JABBA THE HUTT
Like any self respecting crimelord, Jabba the Hutt, is a greedy, power hungry, misogynistic worm. His family have been controlling what accounts for a great deal of Tatooine’s economy for some time. Moisture farming may pay the bills for Lars, but Tatooine has no natural resource to export, which means most of its economy is bolstered by gambling. If you want to find a place in the galaxy to get away with illegal activities, it’s Tatooine, and that’s just fine with Jabba.
Though he may be a fat unappealing slug, Jabba doesn’t see himself that way, and constantly has scantily clad female dancers entertaining him in his palace. In Return of the Jedi, he keeps Princess Leia enchained in a metal bikini at the foot of his dais, where he runs his slimy tongue over her flesh any chance he gets.
12. NUTE GUNRAY
As Viceroy of the Trade Federation, Nute Gunray is a powerful and influential individual, capable of constructing and maintaining a trade blockade around the planet of Naboo. He later joins Count Dooku’s Separatist movement, pledging military support against the Galactic Republic, since he’s eager to engage in activities that the Republic would never allow.
Like all Neimoidians, he is portrayed as speaking with an Asian accent, wearing ceremonial garb, and plays to the stereotype of caring only about gaining the upper hand in business transactions. Of course the trade federation responsible for all major importing and exporting in the galaxy would come across as a stereotypical Japanese businessman. Suspiciously salient is the substitution of “l’s” for “r’s” in his speaking voice.
11. EMPEROR PALPATINE
The Galactic Empire came about because of the subterfuge and sinister machinations of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, aka Senator Palpatine, in an attempt to rule the galaxy with the power of the dark side. He succeeds in this by creating a conflict for the Galactic Republic to respond to and out of necessity become militarized. Once he became Supreme Chancellor he dissolved the Galactic Republic into the first Galactic Empire and conveniently had an army at his disposal.
This army was made up entirely of humans, from the lowliest radar technician in the Death Star to the Grand Moffs that controlled entire systems. This is in great contrast to the Rebel Alliance, which was comprised of hundreds of alien races. Emperor Palpatine was credibly xenophobic and basically viewed humans as the superior vision of his Empire.
10. GENERAL HUX
Surprise, the military leader of the First Order is a stuff-shirted Brit that believes in totalitarian government, the enslavement of inferior species, and views humans as the supreme race in the galaxy. This is very much in keeping with the cadre of Imperial officers used throughout the original trilogy, but there is something different about Hux. He likes to grandstand in front of legions of troops, and drone on and on about the supremacy of the First Order.
Now we’ve heard Emperor Palpatine address the Galactic Senate in similar bombastic tones about the grandeur of the Empire, but this is the first time we’ve seen a military leader address his troops with all the zealotry of a dictator. At the conclusion of The Force Awakens, when Starkiller Base is about to activate, the entire scene looks eerily similar to photographs around WWII, complete with fluttering red banners.
9. PRINCESS LEIA
One of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, a General of the Resistance, a Senator in the Galactic Senate, and a beloved wife and mother, Princess Leia has had an impressive resume. Raised by aristocratic politicians on Alderaan, her true parentage lay with Padme and Anakin Skywalker, giving her DNA rich with The Force and a famous brother.
Despite her pedigree, it also assists in making her character bossy, bad-tempered, and spoiled. Speaking in the language of sarcasm and backhanded compliments, there’s been scarcely a character who’s escaped her sharp tongue. She has some of the most offensive dialogue said on-screen; upon seeing Luke for the first time when he’s come to rescue her, she mocks his height, refers to Chewie as a “walking carpet”, and refers to Han as a “scruffy looking nerf herder”.
8. GRAND MOFF TARKIN
Tarkin was easily one of the coolest villains in the OG Star Wars trilogy, not because he had Vader’s intimidating presence or Palpatine’s crazy Force powers, but because he was a shrewd tactician that could be calm under pressure. Of course, he was also arrogant and overconfident in both his and the Empire’s abilities, which ultimately led to his demise in the explosion of the first Death Star.
When he returned to once again to sneer on screen in Rogue One, it was highly controversial because 1) Peter Cushing had been dead for decades and 2) it was considered inappropriate to use his likeness without his consent. While Disney had gotten permission from Cushing’s estate, and the CGI/motion capture that brought him to life were extraordinary, the offense comes from fabricating a performance by an actor that they may not have done themselves just to legitimize the narrative.
Originally George Lucas planned for the Empire to have built its energy shield for the Death Star on the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk, not the forest moon of Endor. However, because of budgetary concerns, the Rebel allies were now Ewoks. Prior to this, no creature was ever stuck into Star Wars simply because it was marketable or cute. But then Lucas had kids, and suddenly alien teddy bears were the Rebels’ last hope against the evil Empire.
That Ewoks exist is an offense to common sense, because aside from home field advantage, there’s no conceivable way that their primitive weapons are a match for military might of the Empire. While Stormtroopers have been known to be more or less useless, Kashyyyk itself was already mowed down by clone troopers in Revenge of the Sith (which would become the basis for the Imperial army), and the Empire has only improved technologically.
6. SAND PEOPLE
Large sections of A New Hope were filmed in the Tunisian Sahara desert, serving as the planet Tatooine, birthplace of Anakin Skywalker. Later Luke would be raised on the sparsely populated planet, and have several run-ins with the Tusken Raiders, or “sand people”. Clothed in long robes and layers to ward off the blistering heat from Tatooine’s twin suns, their features are obscured with still more wrapped linen, making them a faceless enemy.
As if the term “sand people” wasn’t bad enough, they are clearly representative of the bedouin and Arab tribes that live in similar parts of the world. They are nomadic, violent, and only speak in aggressive grunts. They are scavengers, thieves, and at one point called “animals” by Anakin himself. If there are any positive aspects to their culture, they are never shown on film.
Stormtroopers are the faceless enforcers of Imperial military might in the galaxy. Their ranks initially filled with clones, the accelerated aspect of the clones’ growth cycle made it necessary to draft and enlist human infantry. The Rebel Alliance Army of the classic trilogy (and the Resistance of The Force Awaken) is comprised of volunteer forces that engage in guerilla warfare, often shown as smart, capable, and quick thinkers, making the stormtroopers the closest to “grunts” or “jarheads” in the Star Wars Universe.
These “canon fodder” stereotypes are milked at every chance. Whether it’s that Stormtroopers are clumsy, stupid, “weak minded” and susceptible to Jedi Mind Tricks, or just bad shots, it’s clear that any semblance of a formal military is treated as mindless, with the exception of officers, who on film are always politically motivated and self serving.
4. SALACIOUS B. CRUMB
Who? The scrawny Kowakian monkey-lizard that snickered maniacally at others’ misfortune from the foot of Jabba’s dais, often eyeing his master’s large worm like tail as if it was a tasty snack. Apparently all monkey lizards are known for their sophisticated sense of humor, and this particular one was cunning enough to sneak about Jabba’s starship to ensure a bright future as the slug’s court jester. He gets his surname from illustrator Robert Crumb, known for drawing well-proportioned women (of whom Lucas was a fan), and his first name from a derivative of the noun “shoelaces”.
This little guy is annoying, obnoxious, and offensive. Just because we can’t understand what he’s saying, doesn’t mean we don’t get that he’s mimicking and mocking everyone that comes to Jabba’s court. He delights in your misery because if he can make Jabba laugh, he gets to live one more day.
Every time a Twi-’Lek female is depicted in the Star Wars Universe, they’re wearing next to nothing. Take the blue twin Twi’Lek slave girls massaging Sebulba’s feet in The Phantom Menace or, most notably, the slave dancer Oola in Return of the Jedi. She left her home planet on Ryloth to pursue what she thought was a budding dream as a dancer but instead ended up as a slave dancing for a notorious crimelord on Tatooine.
Oola was supposed to have a significantly larger role than to just dance around half naked in front of Jabba, refuse his advances, and then get eaten by his pet Rancor for laughs. Her escape was storyboarded but, due to budget constraints (that also gave us Ewoks instead of Wookies), her fate was sealed.
2. SY SNOOTLES
As if the revisions to the original Star Wars trilogy weren’t in many ways offensive enough, the Special Edition trilogy brought us characters like Sy Snootles, lead singer of the Max Rebo Band, that performed jazzy tunes in Jabba’s palace and on his sail barge. She wasn’t originally in Return of the Jedi, and contributed to one of the most auditorily offensive scenes ever when she was digitally put in.
During Oola’s dance sequence Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band play, and what was once a background number becomes a mainstage showstopper, and it does just that; completely halts the action so we can all listen to the inane cacophony. That, combined with Oola’s shrieking while she’s dropped into the Rancor pit makes you wish Sy was on her way to the Sarlacc Pit in the next scene.
The first stormtrooper Star Wars audiences can match to a face is FN-2187, a young human male that ends up deserting the First Order. Being a part of the First Order wasn’t his choice; he was taken from his parents and put to work for the Empire. It’s in this way that Finn’s narrative is not unlike a former slave.
Taken from his parents, put into bondage, he is assisted in his desertion from the First Order by Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who is the white guy that happens to give him a name (evoking shades of Roots’ Kunta Kinte being called “Toby” by his white masters). Finn spends the rest of The Force Awakens being clumsy, scared, or in constant need of assistance from his white pals. Not exactly the winning characterization for the first African American lead in a Star Wars film.
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