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Forty-five years ago, on May 25, 1977, Star Wars opened in theaters across the United States — and sci-fi cinema has never been the same. Since then, there have been three cinematic trilogies centered around the Skywalker family, a gazillion Star Wars toys and action figures released and most recently, new Star Wars TV series steadily releasing on Disney+. There’s an era of storytelling for everyone, but for most fans, there's still nothing like the original, Star Wars: A New Hope.
To honor George Lucas' origin story on this big anniversary, SYFY WIRE sorted through the imaginary characters, creatures and planets of Episode IV, and decided to bestow medals to the OG characters first introduced in Star Wars: A New Hope (and, yes, Chewbacca gets one this time). Since it's the 45th anniversary, we've ranked our top 45 characters, from those who are a bit of a dusty footnote in the canon of a galaxy far, far away, right up to the biggest heroes and villains that made the first movie an instant classic.
He’s the pug-faced Mos Eisley Cantina bartender, and the kind of charmer who routinely serves a dirtbag clientele but singles out droids as the real problem.
44. Commander Bob Hudsol
A Commander in the Rebel Alliance, he was the guy monitoring the Rebel strategy center on Yavin 4 during the battle and was standing up on the dais during the victory ceremony. Not exactly a firebrand, but even Star Wars needs middle management.
43. Arhul Hextrophon
A Major in the Rebel Alliance and another guy on the dais of the victory ceremony. A true winner when it comes to names that earn the best Scrabble scores.
42. General Vanden Willard
This is the General who welcomed Princess Leia Organa to Yavin 4 after she was rescued from the Death Star. A friendly face is always nice to see, even in space.
41. Nahdonnis Praji
In the opening of the movie, Praji was one of the first Imperials to board the Tantive IV and search its computer for the stolen Death Star plans. He proves that even Vader has a staff of computer geeks to get things done.
An opportunistic Kubaz spy at the Mos Eisley Cantina who snitches to the Imperial Stormtroopers about the location of the Millennium Falcon.
39. Corporal Osleo Prennert
This is the sentry seen on duty in the crow’s nest pointing the DH-17 blaster pistol at the Millennium Falcon when it landed on Yavin 4. He totally beguiled us with that weird helmet and the blaster that looks like a speed gun.
38. Momaw Nadon
An Ithorian hanging out in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Every kid every since has affectionately called him Hammerhead.
A Snivvian customer having a drink at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Collectors of the Kenner action figures know this guy as Snaggletooth.
The Tusken Raider who attacks Luke Skywalker before Ben Kenobi scares him off into the Tatooine desert.
35. Leesub Sirln
A Qiraash customer at the Mos Eisley Cantina. One of the few females hanging at that dank watering hole.
34. Lieutenant Pello Scrambas
Hero alert! A member of Princess Leia Organa’s personal security detail, Scrambas was in the front line when Darth Vadar boarded the Tantive IV.
33. Biggs Darklighter
Originally, Biggs had more scenes in the movie, but due to the edit, only made it onscreen during the Battle of Yavin. He’s Luke’s childhood friend on Tatooine who left the home world to join the Rebel Alliance as an X-wing pilot with the call sign “Red Three.” Sadly, Darth Vader takes his fighter down.
32. Raymus Antilles
In the crazy melee of the opening battle, this poor rebel captain of the Tantive IV gets choked out by Dark Vader. But you may not know that he was also the owner of R2 and C-3PO before Luke took over their titles.
31. Jon "Dutch" Vander
Also known as “Gold Leader,” he’s the Gold Squadron leader in the big X-wing battle. Some may not know that he defected from the Imperial Navy to join the rebellion. Smart move.
30. Edmos Khurgee
Not exactly a brainiac, this is the Imperial in charge of searching the Millennium Falcon. Kudos to being terrible at your job, sir!
29. Colonel Wullf Yularen
He’s the dumb dumb Imperial who walked right by Han, Luke and Chewie as they badly impersonated Stormtroopers in the Death Star. Was he blind?
28. General Moradmin Bast
If there are Imperial heroes, Bast should be remembered for being the ONE guy who actually encouraged Tarkin to evacuate the Death Star. Of course, he was summarily ignored but Bast has clear rights to the galaxy’s strongest “I told you so!”
27. Lirin Car'n
What makes an ear worm an ear worm? Let’s lay some of the Cantina song’s longevity to this enthusiastic kloo horn player for Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes.
26. Figrin D'an
The band leader of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, the musical act playing at the Mos Eisley Cantina when Kenobi and Skywalker arrived looking for a pilot. Not only is the song a banger, but he’s played by makeup legend Rick Baker.
25. Red Four
One of the brave Red Squadron pilots, John D. Branon is remembered because he was brutally shot down by a TIE fighter in the mission to destroy the Death Star. A wince moment that helped set the stakes.
24. Red Six
Fans call him Porkins, but let’s have some better respect for this X-wing pilot who dies during the attack on the Death Star.
23. Garven Dreis
Also known as “Red Leader,” he’s the pilot who takes the Red Squadron into the Battle of Yavin. Pretty good job!
22. General Cassio Tagge
There’s always a worry-wart in every organization and for the Imperial’s, this is the officer who said the Death Star was really vulnerable due to those missing plans. Was he wrong? No.
21. Admiral Conan Antonio Motti
A living legend! He’s the Admiral who was force squeezed by Vader and still lived to tell the tale. Hope he played the lottery after he changed his pants later.
20. EG-6 Power Droid
Ok, we know it's not the coolest droid, or the most important droid. But when this guy lumbered around inside the Jawa sandcrawler, that's when audiences absolutely wondered, "Is that a walking garbage can??" And then everyone kinda fell in love with the weird battery droid that's now so beloved they're called "Gronks."
19. Jabba the Hutt
Technically, he appeared way after the original release in the Star Wars: A New Hope: Special Edition where his cut scene was restored. Appearing as the CGI version of the crime lord badgering Han Solo for his credits, this scene is not great. But it is the intro of one of the universe’s best villains.
18. Ponda Baba
The Aqualish smuggling partner of Evazan. He starts a ruckus by picking on Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Ben Kenobi ends up taking his arm off with a lightsaber slash. Baba should pick better friends.
17. Dr. Cornelius Evazan
There’s always a bar bully. Seeing easy prey in Luke Skywalker at the Mos Eisley Cantina, Evazan acts as Ponda Baba’s wingman translator. But then he ups the obnoxiousness by bragging about his bad rep in the galaxy. He throws Luke across the bar but then gets some Jedi justice by Kenobi.
16. Easily Mind-Tricked Stormtrooper
The bucket heads are the terrifying foot soldiers of the Empire and Darth Vader. With their white armor and anonymous voices, they are pretty menacing. But it doesn’t take long to figure out that they’ve clearly never had a day of target practice and have very impressionable minds, as Ben Kenobi proves quite handily in Mos Eisley.
15. Jan Dodonna
One of the big brains of the Rebel Alliance, Dodonna looks like your hippy uncle who grows weed in his shed but he actually plans the attack on the first Death Star. The Dude in Space.
A Rodian bounty hunter working for Jabba the Hutt. He definitely pulls his blaster first on Han Solo in the Mos Eisley Cantina, but he wasn’t the first one to pull the trigger. (Well, depending on what edition you’re watching.) RIP Greedo.
13. Beru Lars
The heart of the Lars homestead, Luke’s step-aunt is the kind voice encouraging Luke to cool his jets about leaving Tatoonine. She took on a lot of potential heat raising the Skywalker kid and she doesn’t get enough credit.
12. Owen Lars
The grumpy step-uncle and surrogate father to Luke. He’s a gruff moisture farmer working the desert of Tatooine. Not exactly the warmest guy, but he did his job hiding and raising the Skywalker heir.
11. Chief Jawa
The tiny desert traders of Tatooine. With their cute cloaks and signature language, they love a great trade…but stealing is even better.
10. Wedge Antilles
One of the rebel pilots who survived the Battle of Yavin. Making it out alive laid the groundwork for him to become a fan favorite across multiple films — to say nothing of his many appearances in the now non-canon Expanded Universe.
9. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
Who wouldn’t kill for those deadly cheekbones? They’re the perfect accessory to accentuate that Grand Moff Tarkin may be human but he’s almost as terrifying as Darth Vader. With his crisp British accent and ruthless approach to the rebellion, the galaxy is lucky he went down with his big space laser.
The fussy protocol droid "fluent in over six million forms of communication" is the annoying exposition-providing character that everyone loves to hate.
The scrappy astromech droid tasked by Princess Leia Organa with taking the Death Star plans to Ben Kenobi. He only communicated with bleeps and bloops but somehow that tin can manages to win hearts everywhere.
6. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Known as the desert hermit of Tatoonie, he put himself into self exile when he failed in keeping his padawan from turning to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader. One of the last Jedis in the galaxy, he steps up to help Luke Skywalker follow his destiny and access the Force within him.
The Wookie co-pilot and BFF of smuggler Han Solo. Despite only speaking Shyriiwook, it’s still pretty clear that he’s the smarter of the two and is constantly breaking Solo’s balls.
4. Han Solo
The Corellian pirate for hire and pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Smug and brash, there’s a heart of gold under all that swagger. He ends up helping get Princess Leia out of the Death Star brig and gives Luke just enough time to land the kill shot on the battle station.
3. Princess Leia Organa
Alderanian royalty and a leader of the Rebel Alliance, she loads the stolen Death Star plans into R2-D2 and ignites the series of events that will connect her with the future heroes of the fight: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and more. Also, one of the greatest sci-fi heroines ever. Period.
2. Darth Vader
The terrifying Sith lord of the Empire. An acolyte of Palpatine and the brute force bent on wiping out the rebellion. In the very first scene, he asserts himself as a terrifying villain and then continues to scare the hell out of kids and adults to the very last tench battle. With the heavy breathing and the red lightsaber, he’s still the benchmark for baddies in all of sci-fi.
1. Luke Skywalker
The farm boy from Tatooine who dreams of a bigger destiny and a life far away from the farm. Enthusiastic, a tad whiny and very brave, Luke is the personification of Joseph Campbell’s Hero's Journey. A great pilot and not bad with a lightsaber, his adventures in the galaxy are exhilarating and still resonate today.