The Star Wars Universe is a big, broad, beautiful setting populated by a colorful cast of characters. And we’re not just talking about your Han Solos, Princess Leias and Jar Jar Binkses. Major Spoilers brings you some of the Star Wars universes’ lesser known denizens…
One of the great things about the Star Wars universe is just how big that sandbox is. That first entrance into the Mos Eisley Cantina is one of the most memorable moments in all science fiction, and justly so; a motley crew of assorted, realistic aliens who each seemed like they had their own story to tell. And indeed, through the glory that is the Expanded Universe, almost every single character appearing on-screen in the movie series has been expanded upon in some way, from the weird bat creature ordering a beverage at the cantina to that dude who cries when Luke kills the rancor. In many ways, George Lucas’s media empire was built on capitalizing on these individuals. Through comics, video games, TV shows, tie-in fiction and action figures, their story has been told. In compiling this list, we looked for characters that appeared on screen at least a little (although some didn’t) and that we had a special affection for. Here are ten of Major Spoilers’ favorites.
10. Itchy First Appearance: The Star Wars Holiday Special
GEORGE: Man oh man, the legendarily bad Star Wars Holiday Special is just as terrible as the people say… and Itchy is perhaps the most terrible of all the terrible characters from this putrid TV special. Delight in the worst Wookie costume (and costume design) of all time! Watch (in horror) as Itchy enjoys his favorite erotic movie. Gouge out your ears as Itchy mewls incoherently for 20 minutes to his terrible, ugly family. Now we know why Chewbacca spent all of his time with Han Solo. All that Life Debt stuff was just an excuse to get out of that horror show he called a home.
ROB: Wookie watching porn, that’s all that needs be said.
GEORGE: You might know Devin Felth better as the “Look, sir! Droids!” sandtrooper who finds physical evidence of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the remains of a crashed escape pod. Yes, even this minor character rated a backstory. It’s one that finds him involved in the early development of the AT-AT, banishment to the Stormtrooper Corps, and eventual defection to the Rebellion. As the story goes, he even shot his commanding officer in the back as they attacked Docking Bay 94, aiding in the Millennium Falcon’s escape from Tattooine. Heady stuff for a random grunt who found a metal ring in the sand.
ROB: I did not know this. That’s actually pretty cool. I wonder what made him turn.
ROB: Commander Cody is the bad ass clone commander in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series, amongst other appearances. In one 5-minute episode he leads a team of 5 Clone Troopers to take down an entire occupied city and completes the objective without saying a word. Everything he’s done otherwise has been similarly impressive and has prompted me to get both a Lego set and the Transformers toy that include him.
GEORGE: I just like Commander Cody as a reference to that great 70s country-rock band, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. They possibly had the best album covers of all time. “Hot Rod Lincoln,” ya’ll. Check ‘em out.
GEORGE: KIT FISTO!!! is one of my favorite Star Wars characters for two reasons. One, he is the perfect example of George Lucas being a total lunatic when it comes to naming characters (I mean, Count Dooku? C’mon…). Two, KIT FISTO!!! is a great phrase to scream in the faces of unsuspecting strangers.
But Kit Fisto is also pretty cool as a character. A member of the amphibious Nautolan race, as well as a Jedi Master, Fisto’s big black eyes, green head tentacles and unnerving grin made for a memorable background character in the prequels. He also had a chance to shine in both Clone Wars TV shows, with his signature episode coming in Chapter 5 of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars.
ROB: What else is there to say? Kit Fisto is a very unique design and was given one of the better episodes in Genndy’s Clone Wars. A badass Jedi fighting under water, lightsaber boiling the water it’s in, air bubble made with the Force; the imagination of Kit Fisto is astounding.
ROB: Mon Mothma’s initial screen time in Return of the Jedi lasts for less than 30 seconds, and yet here she is. Why is she so important, well for one, she’s the head of the entire rebellion at that point and one of only two women to survive the original trilogy. Fortunately she’s been given a ton of room to expand her back story throughout the EU and she is one of the most important players in the Galactic government as far back as the Clone Wars. Of course, she remains important after Return of the Jedi, becoming the first Chief of State for the fledgling New Republic after the fall of the Empire.
GEORGE: Caroline Blakiston, the actress behind Mon Mothma, really sold that line about Bothans, didn’t she? I wonder if anyone even knew what a Bothan was at that point. In the Star Wars universe, the ability to sell nonsense lines about Bothans and Gundarks and Womp Rats is necessary to turn small roles into legendary characters.
ROB: Everyone knows who this guy is, whether or not they realize it. Bib Fortuna is Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo. He’s the white-skinned Twi’lek shown with Jabba everywhere. This is the man working directly with Jabba to procure the rarest pieces of Jabba’s collection, as well as handling most of the visitors to Jabba’s Palace and barge. Not only that, but he is one of the few people to escape the barge’s destruction, with what remained of Jabba’s fortune to boot.
GEORGE: Bib Fortuna taught me the meaning of the (supremely excellent) word “majordomo.” His bulbous-headed, sharp-toothed appearance and sibilant speech helped set-up the creepy vibe of Jabba’s Palace that was so key to the flow of Return of the Jedi. He’s another one of those backgrounds characters that is a cornerstone in making the Star Wars universe feel like an expansive, lived-in reality.
ROB: Master Shaak Ti was one of the more visually interesting Jedi on Geonosis. It wasn’t until Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars that I fell in love with her though. Shaak Ti is the only Jedi to face General Grievous twice and survive both times. While the first doesn’t go well, despite numbers on their side, the second is astounding. Ti is the only Jedi against Grievous and a number of his droid guards and she chases him away. So we have a bad ass lady with an awesome design that is respected by most of the Jedi Order, what’s not to like? The only disappointment comes with her end in the first Force Unleashed game, but I’ll let you feel that for yourselves.
GEORGE: I got a lot of beef with the Star Wars prequels – but the non-CGI character designs aren’t part of that. Shaak Ti is one of the most visually arresting characters in the whole Star Wars universe; colorful, intriguing and intimidating. It helps that she’s got a cool story to match, too.
GEORGE: Admiral Piett might’ve famously said “Bounty hunters, we don’t need their scum,” but I bet the suits at Lucasfilm disagree. Boba Fett made the biggest impression, becoming one of the Star Wars universe’s most beloved characters with less than five minutes of total screen time. And all of the bounty hunters who debuted with Boba Fett are immediately arresting in their own way, even without any dialogue.
My favorite of them is the assassin droid, IG-88. Like Fett, he has a unique, striking appearance. Also like Fett, his background got weirdly retconned in the Clone Wars-era, as preceding sequences of assassin droids were added to his backstory. My favorite thing about IG-88 comes from short story collection Tales of the Bounty Hunters, where we learn that he not only was trying to single-handedly foment a droid revolution, but succeeded in downloading his consciousness into the second Death Star’s computer systems… right before Lando Calrissian blew it up. Oohhhhh.
ROB: Then we can’t forget his inclusion in the Shadows of the Empire video game. One of the hardest bosses to defeat, IG-88 was quite a pain. Besides, being a fully free and sentient droid is kind of a unique thing in Star Wars. Even our main droids are still owned.
GEORGE: I forgot about that level in Shadows of the Empire and you just gave me PTSD remembering trying to beat it.
GEORGE: Almost every line from that famous Death Star Trench Run is quotable, but none of those doomed Rebel pilots made an impression on me quite like Jek Porkins. Partly it’s because it looks like his X-Wing just randomly blows up, part of it is actor William Hootkins’ great line readings, but it is also in no small part due to his woefully terrible name. The Rogue Squadron series of books by Michael Stackpole would later expand on this idea, intimating that his crash was partly caused by his habit of tuning up his inertial compensators to offset his weight (as well as saddling him with the nickname “Piggy”). But Jek Porkins is more than a bizarre, extended fat joke. He was also one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest ground attack pilots, a member of the famed Tierfon Yellow Aces,
On a personal level, Jek Porkins also figures into one of my favorite roleplaying memories, as I played a Jedi LARPer named Jek Porkins in a Mage game run by Major Spoilers’ own Rodrigo. It was awesome.
ROB: For me, Porkins is amazing for two things. First, his nickname, “Piggy” gets passed on to one of my favorite Extended Universe characters, Voort saBinring, a Gamorrean with enhanced intelligence from the Wraith Squadron parts of the X-Wing series. The other comes from a cameo appearance as a Boo in Super Mario Galaxy, if you’ve played it you know who I’m talking about.
ROB: Admiral Pellaeon is one of the greatest characters to come from the Star Wars Extended Universe. Anyone who’s looked into the Star Wars Extended Universe just a little bit will find the Thrawn Trilogy, the “unofficial” chapters VII, VIII, and IX. One of the primary players in the Thrawn Trilogy is Grand Admiral Thrawn’s right-hand man, Gillad Pellaeon. While Thrawn loses and dies in the end of the books, Pellaeon not only lives, but eventually becomes the head of the Imperial Remnant and the Supreme Commander of the Gallactic Alliance, the government that replaces the New Republic. He did this based off of Thrawn’s dictum, “I am right until proven wrong” with the reversal “I am wrong until I prove myself right.”
GEORGE: Pellaeon really is great. He’s one of those background characters who isn’t flashy or super-powered, but grinds away doing the tasks that keep things humming.
So there you have it, folks. Major Spoilers picked ten out of hundreds of background characters from the Star Wars universe – but no doubt you have your own favorites that didn’t make the cut. So, who you got?