We all love the Star Wars universe because it’s truly an unlimited space — there’s a corner of the galaxy far, far away that has something for everyone, if you only look hard enough. So alongside the beloved characters like Leia, Luke and Han, the Star Wars universe is also filled with hundreds upon hundreds of characters who appear briefly, and probably forgettably, only to show up as the hero of their own story. In many ways, there are no small parts in the Star Wars universe.
With the release of The Force Awakens taking us to the future of the galaxy far, far away and Rogue One taking us back to where the Star Wars stories all began, some characters have had chances to be redeemed, to go on to bigger and better things. Such is the history of Star Wars, as it’s being completely rewritten every time it loops back on itself. However, this tendency has shown us some truly egregious situations where the movies could have latched onto a character and expanded them, but instead, they chose to build an amazing backstory for the character without showing any of it. These 20 characters never got the love they deserved in the movies, but they definitely should have.
20. QUI-GON JINN
As the Jedi Master who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, discovered the Chosen One — Anakin Skywalker — and who fought Darth Maul to a standstill, Qui-Gon Jinn’s death left Star Wars fans wanting more. Played with gravitas (and just the right amount of fun) by Liam Neeson, Qui-Gon was a charismatic Jedi Master, someone who could be a font of knowledge about the Republic before the Empire, about the Jedi Order, about the Force itself.
Tragically, with his death at the end of The Phantom Menace, the movies pulled the rug out from under us — much of the remaining two movies is about either global civil war or the Dark Side and the Sith. Jinn at least does reappear in The Clone Wars cartoon, leading Yoda in the series finale to discover the secret to returning as a Force Ghost.
19. GENERAL GRIEVOUS
General Grievous has the distinction of being a character who was introduced in The Clone Wars so that he could appear in the upcoming Revenge of the Sith. Grievous was actually an alien who had so many cybernetic modifications that he was basically just a brain in a robot body by the time of the Clone Wars. The real crime here is that the build-up to Grievous in Revenge of the Sith was such a cool lead-up — you got to see him in action, bringing it to the Jedi, learning how to fight with lightsabers — and then his appearance in the movie was such a wet fart.
He has a decent fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then his remaining organs get set on fire, somehow. If only they had bothered to show something to make him look cool before Obi-Wan made him look like a wimp.
18. OWEN LARS
Owen Lars and Beru Whitesun were the adoptive aunt and uncle of Luke Skywalker. For many years, Star Wars canon seemed to imply that Owen was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s brother, due to things Kenobi had said, but in Attack of the Clones he was revealed to be Anakin Skywalker’s stepbrother. Owen’s father bought Shmi Skywalker out of slavery from Watto years after The Phantom Menace, and he subsequently freed and married Shmi; Owen never really knew his stepbrother, who turned out to be the greatest mass murderer in a thousand years.
The confusion on Owen’s identity, his proletarian occupation coupled with his proximity to Darth Vader, and his parenting to Luke are all rich areas that the movies glossed over or ignored entirely before Owen’s tragic death alongside his wife.
17. WEDGE ANTILLES
The Wedge Antilles of the Star Wars movies is no slouch, by any means — he’s an ace pilot, even if he does have to pull out of the Death Star trench run, and he is one of Luke’s earliest friends in the Rebellion. There’s also mention of him taking possession of C-3P0 and R2-D2, in their long before they were bought by Princess Leia.
After a relatively brief series of appearances in the movies, Wedge became a major force in the Expanded Universe/Legends books; he took leadership of Rogue Squadron, and created an offshoot, black ops squadron called Wraith Squadron. Both went on to be major forces in the elimination of the remnants of the Empire, as well as essential parts of the newly-founded Republic’s defensive strategy.
16. CHIRRUT ÎMWE
Really, any of the main characters in Rogue One could have been on the list, as the ending leaves the audiences wishing they had more time with the entire cast, but we went with Chirrut Îmwe, the last of the Guardians of the Whills. Îmwe’s order was charged with protecting the Temple of Kyber before the Empire looted it; now, he seeks peace in the ways of the Force as a spiritual concept, unconcerned with Dark Side and Light Side.
Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills YA novel includes a lot of backstory about Chirrut and his beleaguered partner Baze, and their history with Rebels like Saw Gerrera, but Rogue One left a lot of his backstory hazy. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if Rogue One had been the first in a series, with answers to come — unfortunately, it is not.
15. MON MOTHMA
The strong voice at the head of the Alliance, Mon Mothma was a Chandrilan diplomat, and one of the original politicians to openly rebel against Chancellor Palpatine. In close accordance with Senator Bail Organa and Senator Padmé Amidala, she helped plant the seeds of the Rebellion that came to fruition in the original Star Wars trilogy.
After the events of Return of the Jedi, she became the Chancellor of the New Republic, and led a period of peace and demilitarization, while also coming to the defense of an ostracized Leia after the public revelation of Vader as Leia’s father. The retirement of Mothma as the New Republic’s head of state is what allowed the bitter divisions of the galaxy to fester and manifest into the First Order. All she does in the movies is deliver strong, stately speeches that drop a lot of expository information on the audience.
14. KIT FISTO
One among many cases of characters who briefly appeared in the movies but went on to have extremely cool stories on The Clone Wars is Kit Fisto, a Nautolan Jedi Master from the planet Glee Anselm. Fisto was present for the beginning of the Clone Wars in the Battle of Geonosis; he was one of only a handful of Jedi to survive. His combat prowess is often on display in The Clone Wars, and his fight against General Grievous is a standout — had Grievous fought fair, Fisto might have even beaten him.
Fisto was one of the true leaders of the Jedi army during the Separatist Crisis and the Clone Wars, even rising to a seat on the Jedi Council. However, after the Battle of Geonosis, his only screen time in the movies is when he and his fellow Jedi are killed almost immediately by Palpatine for trying to arrest him.
13. SENATOR BAIL ORGANA
The father of General Leia Organa Solo, Bail Organa is mentioned exactly zero times by name in the original Star Wars trilogy, but became known to fans after biographies of Leia began appearing in canonical reference guides to the Star Wars universe. His story first made an appearance in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series, with Jedi Master Jorus C’Baoth mediating a dispute between the Organas and other aristocratic families on Alderaan; after that, Senator Bail Organa began appearing more and more often in Expanded Universe/Legends stories as a freedom fighter, one of the fathers of the Rebellion in the wake of Palpatine’s usurpation.
In the movies, we’re relegated to basically a short scene of Organa accepting baby Leia from the Jedi, and an appearance in Rogue One, but we deserved so much more of His Serene Highness, Prince Bail Organa, First Chairman and Viceroy of Alderaan.
12. BOBA FETT
Boba Fett is generally talked about as one of the biggest bosses in the Star Wars universe, but the evidence on-screen is thin, at best. He shows up at the end of Empire Strikes Back to witness the carbon freezing of Han Solo and take him away at the end, after Darth Vader has done all the hard work; he returns at the beginning of Return of the Jedi as one of the guests in Jabba’s palace, but he is done in by a blind Han Solo’s mishap, and he gets eaten by the Sarlacc.
11. ADMIRAL ACKBAR
Admiral Gial Ackbar is to the Rebellion and their war against the Galactic Empire what Patton was to World War II, or Ulysses Grant to the American Civil War. He’s not just a respected tactician, he is in many ways the face of the Rebellion — a non-human as the military commander of the Alliance, he’s a slap in the face to the Empire’s subjugation of non-humans.
A Mon Calamari, Ackbar is a representative of one of the two major species on his home planet Mon Cala, the other being the Quarren. He has served in active military duty since the Clone Wars, and he led the charge in both the Battle of Endor, which killed the Emperor, and the Battle of Jakku, which banished the Imperial factions to unknown space. And all he gets credit for is calling out a trap when he sees one; what a shame.
The difference between Greedo and the rest of the characters on this list is that their appearances outside of the movies made them look better; Greedo’s appearance in the movie is the best he’s ever looked. A Rodian of thoroughly middling personality and ability in the employ of Jabba the Hutt, Greedo’s biggest claim to fame was the capture of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes so they could serve out their debt to Jabba as his house band.
Unfortunately, D’an and his band used their incredible hearing to eavesdrop on Greedo planning to con Jabba. Nothing ever went Greedo’s way, including his appearance in Star Wars: first, he didn’t get a shot off at Han Solo at all; then, he got off a shot, but it was comically off-base. Greedo’s nickname is truly apt: “The Unlucky Rodian.”
Bossk, a Trandoshan, was one of several bounty hunters assembled by Darth Vader to hunt down Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. In the film, all he really gets to do is stand in the bounty hunter lineup and be The Lizard Guy, alongside The Robot Guy, and so on; he grumbles a threat Admiral Piett’s way, but otherwise he goes unnoticed.
Just by the look of him, he’s definitely worth a pause in the film, as his costume looks truly strange. However, it turns out Bossk is a very senior bounty hunter, and he is one of several bounty hunters who took in an adolescent Boba Fett and trained him to be a bounty hunter; he also fought alongside Ezra Bridger in Rebels.
What’s truly mind boggling about Yaddle and Yoda isn’t that they are the only two members of their species to appear in Star Wars, but that there’s no backstory for either of them — there isn’t even a canonical name for their species. Meanwhile, every side character in Rogue One probably had pages and pages of backstory, an official species name, their break-up history; the only two members of a species that produced Yoda, one of the greatest Jedi Masters of all time, is basically a cipher.
The decision to introduce Yaddle for the prequels and then to not only not chase down anything about her and Yoda’s cultural heritage, but to not even have her appear in The Clone Wars or anything related, is an unbelievable wasted opportunity.
7. BIGGS DARKLIGHTER
One of Luke Skywalker’s friends from Tatooine, Biggs is introduced in Star Wars, but he only gets a brief amount of time on-screen, mostly limited to flight group meetings on Yavin IV and the actual run on the Death Star trench. Biggs is presented as Luke’s buddy from back home on Tatooine, a familiar face in the crowd of the Rebel base, but there’s more to it than that.
Biggs left home to join up with the Empire and attend flight school at the Imperial Academy, but upon graduation, he defected to the Rebel Alliance. His symbolic role in the films is to give Luke something to aspire to, a hope that he will be able to make it out of his aunt and uncle’s moisture farm one day, but there was so much more to Biggs that they could have mined.
6. DARTH MAUL
Darth Maul is a special case on this list; while his role was almost wasted in the actual Star Wars movies, he features heavily in the stories of both The Clone Wars and Rebels. Darth Maul only appears in The Phantom Menace, speaking a handful of lines, but mostly using his dope double-lightsaber — the first major modification to a lightsaber in the films — to cut down Qui-Gon Jinn in front of Obi-Wan Kenobi, before Kenobi literally cuts him in half at the waist.
Everyone assumed that was the end of the Darth Maul story, but The Clone Wars picked up the thread in a big way, essentially positing that Darth Maul was so angry and had so much hate within him that he just would not stay dead.
5. NIEN NUNB
Nien Nunb is one of the more respected puppet creations in Return of the Jedi — he has a small but essential role as Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot in the Millennium Falcon during the Rebel assault on the second Death Star. In the movie, he speaks a Kenyan dialect (fun fact), and mostly serves to be someone kind of cute who can relieve the tension in the Falcon‘s cockpit, but Nunb is actually one of the best pilots in the entire galaxy.
He was one of seven surviving pilots after the assault on Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, and he once smuggled an entire transport’s worth of Alderaanians off an Imperial-occupied world without even getting noticed. He was present when Leia founded the Resistance to fight the First Order, and we can only hope he continues to be present for galactic history.
4. GENERAL CARLIST RIEEKAN
General Rieekan makes a brief appearance in the Star Wars universe, in only a couple of scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. He commands Echo Base on the ice planet Hoth, and that’s about all that is revealed about him. But Rieekan is another survivor of the planet Alderaan, like Princess Leia, and goes on to become one of the most respected military officers in the Rebellion.
At the Battle of Jakku, he organized an effort to try and steal a Star Destroyer, which ended when the captain of the Star Destroyer crashed it on the planet’s surface rather than let the Alliance have it. In the non-canonical Legends continuity, Rieekan was a haunted survivor of Alderaan who blamed himself for its destruction; he later went on to become Minister of State and Director of Intelligence for the New Republic before retiring.
IG-88 is barely present at all in the filmed Star Wars universe; he is present alongside Bossk, Dengar, Zuckuss and 4-L0M in the bounty hunter lineup during The Empire Strikes Back, but he doesn’t do anything or have any lines. Some highlights of his earlier bounty hunting career appeared in some Legends short stories, but his career tragically ended on Bespin, where he was destroyed by Boba Fett before IG-88 could contest his claim to Han Solo.
IG-88 was the first of a line of assassination droids created in secret, but rather than allow himself to be tamed, he recognized his inborn talent for killing and went off to make his own way in the galaxy, killing and kidnapping wherever he went. He was also destroyed (non-canonically) by Han Solo’s best friend, Dash Rendar, in the classic N64 Shadows of the Empire game.
2. GENERAL CRIX MADINE
General Crix Madine is one of the most famous defectors from the Galactic Empire to the Rebel Alliance. A special forces commander, Madine specialized in training and leading guerilla squadrons, particularly into occupied territory. His defection to the Rebel Alliance came with a promotion to General, and in his new capacity, he planned the strike team’s assault on the second Death Star’s shield generator on the forest moon of Endor.
The unspoken, unaddressed history of his Imperial career gives Madine a sense of gravitas, a faint glimmer of a man haunted by things that he has done even as he must continue to do those things for different people, but all we get is an expository scene for Luke to interrupt in Return of the Jedi.
1. CAPTAIN PHASMA
When the trailers for The Force Awakens started dropping, the Star Wars fandom was gaga for a lot of things, but a few got special attention. Captain Phasma, with her chrome-plated stormtrooper armor and her boss-fashion cape was eye-catching, and the reveal that the coolest-looking stormtrooper in the trailer was actually a woman, and the actor playing her was no less than Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), excitement peaked.
Action figures were released on Force Fridays to maximum hype, and then when the movie came out… nothing happened. Captain Phasma has a couple brief scenes, but is no more memorable than, say, Captain Needa. She is supposedly playing a much bigger part in The Last Jedi, so hopefully we only get to see more of her.
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