When you think of Star Wars, you're probably thinking about the epic lightsaber battles, Sith lords like Darth Sidious and wise Jedi Masters like Yoda. The Star Wars universe has been growing over the past few decades since the original trilogy was finished and now, that universe is full of plenty of great characters. Sure, a lot has been cut out since the Star Wars canon was reorganized in 2014, but the new canon still has a lot of amazing stuff in it. That is why we're hoping the upcoming films will shift focus.
Out of all the most popular characters in the Star Was canon, shockingly few women are given much focus, though that seems to be changing if the new films are anything to go by. That shift is great because there are clearly many fiercely powerful and likeable female characters. With that in mind, here are the 15 fiercest female warriors in that galaxy far, far away. To be clear, we're taking characters from the films and television series, sticking to the women that are part of the new canon. That is why, as much as we loved them, characters like Mara Jade and Jaina Solo will not be appearing on this list.
15 LEIA ORGANA
The first and arguably the most important on this list of the fiercest women of the Star Wars universe has to be the one and only Leia Organa (played by Carrie Fisher), who first appeared in Star Wars: A New Hope (directed by George Lucas) as the bold and fiery agent of the Rebellion.
You could tell she was going to be a fierce character from her first scene. In it, she bravely stands up to Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) and commits to telling what we now know for certain, thanks to the events in Rogue One (directed by Gareth Edwards) to have been an obvious lie. That takes serious backbone, the likes of which we haven't really seen in other characters. It's no wonder she was chosen to lead the Resistance.
14 JYN ERSO
We only had one film to get to know Jyn (played by Felicity Jones) but it seems that was enough. Throughout Rogue One, Jyn displayed all the qualities of a great hero. She was never afraid of diving into dangerous situations, she only cared about doing the right thing and being the force of good that penetrated the evil. Even one with as hard a shell as the Empire.
She showed no real fear when the Death Star destroyed Jedha and barely seemed nervous when Rogue One infiltrated Scarif. She may not have exactly led her squadron but it's clear to see why she was integral in its creation. Her drive and commitment, while leading her to act out and rebel, gave her comrades hope enough to fight even when they knew that they wouldn't make it out alive.
13 LYRA ERSO
We can't ignore Jyn's mother, Lyra (played by Valene Kane) who we saw act bravely at the beginning of Rogue One. In that first scene when Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn) arrives to take Galen away, Lyra rushes her daughter to safety before fearlessly marching toward Krennic and his death squad troopers with a blaster hidden away.
Though she's not in the film for very long, her undeniable courage shows us just where her daughter gets it from. She was able to look Krennic in the eye, dismiss the very real threat in front of her and tell them all that they will fail before blasting Krennic in the shoulder while she went down in a blaze of glory. Like a mother lion whose cub was under threat, Lyra Erso was pure ferocity.
Thirty years after the original trilogy finished, we were reintroduced to that galaxy far, far away in the aftermath of the Empire's collapse. It was Rey who led us through it, learning about the Resistance and the First Order as we did. This former scavenger from Jakku was thrust into a fight against the new galactic threat and managed to rise above it all as something more than she thought she could be.
We are of course talking about her force abilities and how she was able to grasp it and use it to her advantage more quickly than anyone we've seen before. Even more amazing is how she was able to take on Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) one-on-one and emerge the victor despite never training with a lightsaber.
11 PADMÉ AMIDALA
Amidala was a young girl when we first saw her in The Phantom Menace (directed by George Lucas), yet she has covertly been accomplishing a lot. Masquerading as a handmaiden, Amidala had been trying to free Naboo from the clutches of the Trade Federation and their blockade.
Even after her time as queen ended, she continued to fight against the corruption of the galaxy by opposing the Military Creation Act in the senate and by fighting Count Dooku's forces on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. As if that wasn't admirable enough, while pregnant in Revenge of the Sith (directed by George Lucas), Padme travels to the magma-filled planet of Mustafar to confront Anakin. Whatever your thoughts on her character, you cannot say that her willingness to brave danger isn't admirable.
10 AAYLA SECURA
A perfect example of an awesome female character who didn't get enough attention is Aayla Secura, who first appeared on screen in Attack of the Clones. You'd be forgiven for failing to notice this Twi'lek Jedi knight since she's never given any lines and her backstory is only known to those who have read the Star Wars comics by Dark Horse.
Luckily, she's still in the current Star Wars canon and fans can get reacquainted with the character through Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series in which we see Aayla (voiced by Jennifer Hale) prove herself to be a calm and confident leader in "Jedi Crash" (written by Katie Lucas), guiding young Ahsoka Tano and a squad of clones while Anakin was taken out of the action. She's also a fiercely capable warrior, aiding Obi-Wan in his fight against Darth Maul in "Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir, Part Three" (written by Jeremy Barlow, artwork by Juan Frigeri and others).
9 AHSOKA TANO
She may not have been given any time in the films, but Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka, is a central character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. We see her grow from a nervous padawan to a confident rebel warrior, standing up for herself after being let down by the Jedi Order and by her fallen former master, Darth Vader.
She knows who she is and what she can do and she no longer keeps herself back. We see that clearly in Star Wars: Rebels, in the episode, "Twilight of the Apprentice" (written by Dave Filoni) when Ahsoka (voiced by Ashley Eckstein), now a more mature, more powerful force user duels Darth Vader while still showing compassion, in an attempt to save her former friend and mentor. She's the character you root for because of all she's been through and all the fight she still has left in her.
8 HERA SYNDULLA
Star Wars: Rebels focuses on the crew of the Ghost, a small group of rebels fighting the Empire. The ship is piloted and owned by Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall), who acts as the heart of the team. We know she's a trustworthy pilot and friend, since she's the only one allowed to know the identity of Fulcrum, who we later discover to be Ahsoka Tano.
She's a formidable opponent, especially when in control of her ship. Throughout the series, we see her evade and destroy plenty. As early as the episode, "Out of Darkness" (written by Kevin Hopps) in which she takes on four TIE fighters. So we're not surprised that she quickly rose to the rank of general, as evidenced in Rogue One in which we hear her name being called out.
7 SHAAK TI
For some reason, they've tried to kill this particular Jedi Master off multiple times in at least two deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith. Neither of those scenes show her in action. She first appeared in Attack of the Clones, seen fighting on Geonosis with the rest of the Jedi council in defence of Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme.
Her story was expanded in Star Wars: The Clone Wars in which we see that she was assigned to oversee the training of the clone army on Kamino. In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode, "ARC Troopers" (written by Cameron Litvack), we see just how capable she is a Jedi warrior when she, along with several clone troopers, defend a hangar from droids. It's a real shame that we couldn't see her fight more in the films.
6 ZAM WESELL
Unlike many of the others on this list, Zam isn't exactly one of the good guys. She was introduced in Attack of the Clones to assassinate Senator Amidala. She was an accomplice of Jango Fett, who killed her before she could reveal any information about her employer.
It was a brief appearance but let's look at what she did in that short time. She struck at Senator Amidala, she almost took out Obi-Wan Kenobi and she gave two Jedi knights quite a chase. That's more than most people could do, which is why we have to acknowledge the boldness with which she attacked. If it were any other pair of Jedi knights, without the recklessness of Anakin or the wisdom of Obi-Wan, she probably would have gotten away with it.
5 ASAJJ VENTRESS
This dark Jedi has been around for quite a while. With her unique appearance and dual lightsabers, she's been a favorite villain of many, which is why she was kept in the new canon. She has a complicated past, going from slave to warrior. As a result, there's a lot of anger within her. That's clear when we see her fight in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. With her ferocity in battle, she's more than capable of taking on more than one Jedi.
In the episode, "Cloak of Darkness" (written by Paul Dini) for example, she was able to hold her own against both Jedi Master Luminara and her young Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. In fact, Ventress comes quite close to killing Luminara and might have succeeded if not for the timely intervention of Ahsoka. When talking about fierce women in Star Wars, there's no way we could have left Asajj Ventress out.
4 KETSU ONYO
Star Wars: Rebels introduced us to the Mandalorian bounty hunter, Ketsu Onyo (voiced by Gina Torres), an old friend of Ghost crew member, Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar). She first appeared in the episode, "Blood Sisters" (written by Kevin Hopps) in which she took down a group of stormtroopers single-handed with nothing but her quick reflexes and her spear.
What makes her so fierce is her willingness to turn to violence when anything stands in her way. Of course, she has her limits. Despite shooting at her and swinging at her, Ketsu couldn't bring herself to kill Sabine. It's a noble quality she possesses, though you wouldn't know it after seeing her fight and show why she's one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy. Just look at the way she was able to give cover to the rebels in "The Forgotten Droid" (written by Matt Michnovetz).
3 MAZ KANATA
One of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens (directed J. J. Abrams) was Maz (played by Lupita Nyong'o), who was apparently an old friend of Han and Chewie. She's more than a thousand years old and made her riches as a pirate and a smuggler. You can see that in the film, particularly in the confidence and wisdom she exhibits.
You can also tell that she's seen a lot when she's talking to a panicking Rey and she walks her through embracing her destiny as if she'd had that conversation a thousand times. Then the First Order attacks and she barely flinches, quickly taking control and ensuring everyone knew their roles, something that was expanded on in The Force Awakens novel (written by Alan Dean Foster).
2 STEELA GERRERA
We saw Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker) in Rogue One but his character was actually introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the episode "A War on Two Fronts" (written by Chris Collins) in which we were also introduced to his sister, Steela Gerrera (voiced by Dawn Lyen-Gardner), the tough, hands-on leader of the Onderon Rebels.
She marched on with her soldiers, unafraid to get her hands dirty. She fought bravely alongside Jedi knights and was able to hold her own. Unfortunately, she fell during a rescue attempt in "Tipping Points" (written by Chris Collins). She was definitely one of the braver humans in the Star Wars universe and it's a shame she's unlikely to show up in future films. The most we can hope for is a flashback or two showcasing that fiery, stern personality.
1 CAPTAIN PHASMA
Famously underused in The Force Awakens, Captain Phasma (played by Gwendoline Christie) was promised to have a larger role, one The Last Jedi (directed by Rian Johnson) will presumably make up for. The chrome-plated captain is fierce in the more traditional sense. She's violent and vicious and we can see that even in the few scenes she had in this film.
She's cold and heartless, evident from the lack of remorse for the execution of dozens of unarmed civilians on Jakku and a complete dismissal of the remorse felt by her subordinates. We saw that when Finn removed his helmet, clearly racked with guilt, and Phasma appeared behind him, purely concerned for his duties and not his ability to perform them. She's the perfect representation of the First Order's military order.
What other fierce females left an impression on you? Tell us in the comments!