A Star Wars movie is the kind of entertainment where any background character can become a cherished icon, simply by virtue of a cool design or a memorable prop. (Case in point: Willrow Hood.) And while the franchise has given us some of the most iconic characters ever to grace the silver screen, it’s also given us a bounty of beloved bit players to whom only Expanded Universe lore granted names and (often surprisingly elaborate) backstories. (More on that note to follow.) Ahead of The Rise of Skywalker’s Dec. 20 release, this is EW’s ode to the great minor characters of the Star Wars cinematic canon — key word cinematic; you won’t find anyone who doesn’t appear on screen here (sorry, Mara Jade). Read on to see if your favorite B-lister made the cut.
FN-2199, a.k.a. TR-8R (Liang Yang/David Acord)
Also also known as the stormtrooper who launched a thousand memes, FN-2199 stormed into viewers’ hearts with a single line, bellowed at ex-trooper Finn (John Boyega): “Traitor!” That The Force Awakens doesn’t delve deeper into Finn’s relationships with his fellow stormtroopers represents something of a missed opportunity, and TR-8R here stands as an emblem of that tantalizing lost subplot.
Admiral Piett (Kenneth Colley)
One maybe-undervalued aspect of The Empire Strikes Back is how memorable its roster of Imperial henchmen is. Admiral Ozzel (Michael Sheard) is a mustached bundle of overconfident bravado. You can see a flash of mortal dread on Captain Needa’s (Michael Culver) face as the realization of his doom settles in. And Kenneth Colley, as Admiral Piett, makes palpable this man’s ever-present desperation to avoid the Force-choking fate that takes so many of his colleagues. Forget The Mandalorian; we’d like to see an Office-esque Star Wars spin-off about the day-to-day life of a Star Destroyer crew.
Dr. Cornelius Evazan (Alfie Curtis)
You probably know Dr. Evazan simply as the guy who accosts Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina, in an exchange that’s weirdly hilarious for how grave the situation should be. (Curtis’s line readings are pure, uncut gems. “He doesn’t like you. I don’t like you either!”) He also has a terrifically chilling backstory: Per Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, Evazan was a cosmetic surgeon who began performing horrifying medical experiments, including creating a group of cyborg servants called the Decraniated. He apparently more than earned the death sentence on 12 systems.
IG-88, Dengar (Morris Bush)
Darth Vader’s assemblage of bounty hunters in The Empire Strikes Back is a literal murderer’s row of great character designs, of which Boba Fett is the best and most iconic. Lethal droid IG-88 is close behind Fett in that department, however (as The Mandalorian’s first episode probably reminded you), looking like the world’s weirdest Erector Set brought to menacing life. According to Wookieepedia, the droid is also known as the second-best bounty hunter in the galaxy, after Fett. (Brief aside: the idea of a galactic bounty hunter ranking system brings to mind the great oddball Japanese movie Branded to Kill, in which yakuza hitmen are somehow ranked and our protagonist is No. 3. Google it, we implore you.)
The partially-mummified-looking Dengar doesn’t rank quite as highly in terms of design, but he too has a great, twisted backstory. The bounty hunter was grievously injured during a high-stakes race against Han Solo, and rebuilt by the Empire as an emotionless cyborg hell-bent on vengeance. Well, not quite emotionless: “The doctors allowed him to feel hope at the empty promise that if Dengar was successful in serving the Empire, he would be returned to his old self.” You know, for kids!
Paige Tico (Veronica Ngo)
Paige Tico’s brief arc in the opening minutes of The Last Jedi is an arguably more effective (and inarguably more efficient) portrait of the Star Wars’ hoi polloi combatants than Rogue One. Across less than five minutes, director Rian Johnson crafts a compact tale of sacrifice in war, as Paige scrambles to drop a payload of bombs on a First Order starship after the rest of her fleet is decimated, even at the cost of her own life. Veronica Ngo needs no dialogue to make you feel the wave of emotions coursing through her noble Resistance gunner.
Lobot (John Hollis)
Lobot is the type of unsung hero common to both the Star Wars galaxy and our own: the quiet, under-the-radar assistant who is constantly keeping things running smoothly. As Lando Calrissian’s (Billy Dee Williams) trusted aide in Cloud City, Lobot helped our heroes escape Imperial custody and assisted with the city’s evacuation, but didn’t even get a spot on the Millennium Falcon for his trouble. We demand #JusticeforLobot! (Also, this writer only just realized while researching this piece that Lobot is short for lobotomy.)
Elan Sleazebaggano (Matt Doran)
The unsubtly though appropriately (and, let’s be honest, delightfully) named Elan Sleazebaggano is the centerpiece of Attack of the Clones’ indisputable best scene, cementing his legacy in three lines, with an assist from Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor): “You wanna buy some death sticks?” “You don’t want to sell me death sticks.” “I don’t wanna sell you death sticks.” “You want to go home and rethink your life.” “I want to go home and rethink my life.”
The Max Rebo Band, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes
Two ragtag musical groups just trying to scrape by through residencies on Tatooine, the Max Rebo Band (of Jabba’s Palace) and the Modal Nodes (of the Mos Eisley cantina) are, in a sense, stand-ins on this list for all the original trilogy’s superb practically created aliens and creatures. The Rebo Band is a veritable menagerie of wild and weird characters, from Droopy McCool to Rappertunie (we swear we’re not making these up) to the eponymous frontman (pictured). And Figrin D’an and his unflappable band are collectively one of Star Wars’ most indelible creations, with a simple-yet-memorable design paired with one of the franchise’s goofiest-yet-catchiest tunes (courtesy, of course, of the great John Williams). Really, they embody what Star Wars has always been best at: capturing and expanding the imagination through sound and image.