What would Emperor Palpatine be without an army of stooges at his back? Not Stormtroopers, mind you... stooges. Admirals, Generals, toadies, and flunkies who are all vying for power. They're all petty, they're vindictive, they usually don't last long, and they are almost always highly entertaining. They are a Star Wars mainstay, and a proud tradition.
The tradition continued (as almost everything Empire-related did) into the sequel trilogy, with the First Order ushering in a new age of stooges. Some of these guys were stooge-lite, trying to recapture the glory days of flunky-dom, but others were ex-Imperials who were some of the only people around with any sense.
How do you go about ranking these stooges? It's not easy, but if the character comes after the Emperor (or the Supreme Leader) in the food chain, they are eligible. Darth Vader and Kylo Ren are exempt because those guys are enforcers. They mean business, and they are usually the ones who toss these guys around like rag dolls... or just chokes them to death. With one notable exception, none of these guys can tell Vader which way to shove his show.
We'll be looking at their competence and considering how entertaining they are to watch. With that in mind, and in honor of the impending release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, let's start climbing the ladder of aspiration and rank the top 10 career opportunists of evil in the galaxy far, far away.
Note: Separatist stooges don't apply, because the entire faction is one giant stooge, and the list would be overrun. (That said, Nute Gunray is such a huge stooge that he becomes a "huge stooge-flunky" mega-stooge by the time he finally gets cut down.)
He came out of lightspeed too close to the system! Yeah, never think that you're smarter than Darth Vader, and even if you think it, just do what the man tells you to do. Admiral Ozzel doesn't, so he dies before the Battle of Hoth even starts.
This dude is a model of incompetence. He has a little measuring contest going on with Captain Piett, and this causes him to make bad decisions. Vader is way past the point of tolerating bad decisions, so Ozzel gets the honor of being Vader's first choke in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Competence: Close to zero.
Entertainment: Good. It's fun to watch him try to prove his bad takes to Vader, and he's even more fun while dying.
Commander Jerjerrod ("Moff" in the credits, though that's never spoken, it never is), is famous for "doubling his efforts" in the opening scenes of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. We see him briefly during the rest of the film, though at one point he had a slightly larger part to play.
A deleted sequence featuring Jerjerrod would have had him confronting an order from the Emperor to have the Death Star II blow the Endor moon itself. Jerjerrod has a crisis of conscience and doesn't really know what to do. He may be a stooge, but he has some kind of soul? Weird, but true.
Competence: As an Imperial? Not good. As a human? Better than most of these idiots.
Entertainment: The deep, deep gulp that he takes before the platform of Darth Vader's shuttle lowers is a gorgeous moment.
This guy, oh my Force. What an a**hole. When will these stooges learn not to stand up to Darth Vader? In the middle of a meeting of the morons in Star Wars: A New Hope, this guy is so very proud of the Death Star, something he had almost no major role in creating. Vader gives him a warning, so Motti shoots him shade.
Yeah, not great, Bob. Vader chokes Motti almost to death before he is called off. If Tarkin hadn't intervened, then Motti would've been dead, no question. For the rest of the film, Motti mostly acts as an assistant to Tarkin, and he mostly does his job well.
Competence: Medium? Other than sticking his shaft out in front of Vader, he doesn't display any kind of incompetence. Aside from total hubris, that is, and thinking that he's invincible now.
Entertainment: The way this guy sneers, puffs, and huffs is hilarious.
Does anyone like to scream and shout as much as Armitage Hux? Probably not. Does anyone in the sequel trilogy get kicked around as much? Also, probably not.
While Hux mostly got his scream on in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his true flunky colors come out in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Supreme Leader Snoke literally wipes the floor with him, Poe Dameron openly mocks him, and Kylo Ren throws him around like a rag doll. If he survives the saga I'll be amazed.
Competence: He knows how to scream and stay alive. In the First Order, that's really all you need.
Entertainment: Through the roof, especially in The Last Jedi.
Peavey is mostly at Hux's side in The Last Jedi, and he looks tame by comparison. So would a dinosaur on fire.
Peavey shows himself to be competent, and perhaps a little annoyed by the silliness on display. He's really on this list for his delivery of one line, and one line only: "I believe he's tooling with you, sir."
Competence: High, so the First Order probably doesn't value him.
Entertainment: Also high. See the above line, we love it.
If you thought Hux is fun when he starts screaming, then boy do we have a treat for you. Possibly no one in Star Wars screams with as much hilarity as Director Orson Krennic does in Rogue One. ARE WE BLIND?
He's good at what he does... he really got the Death Star project moving in the first place. He needs the credit for that, though, and this lands him in trouble with Tarkin, Vader, and the Emperor. He also got played by his "friend" Galen Erso, so, he wasn't as great as he thought he was.
He's not all bombast, either. The way he blows his cheeks out after hearing about Lyra's "death" in the first scene of this movie is incredible, and there are countless little ticks like this in the film.
Competence: He's good, but not as good as he thinks. He made mistakes... and they end up being pretty major. Thankfully he doesn't live to see the results.
Entertainment: So incredibly high. We could watch this guy for days.
A former Imperial who now finds himself surrounded by feckless kids — it's no wonder that Captain Canady looks like he is fully aware that he backed the wrong horse. For all of the First Order's muscle, this veteran is surrounded by idiocy at every turn. He lets everyone around him know it, too.
He doesn't last long in The Last Jedi, but the moments we have with him are priceless. He thinks that he can do better than everyone around him, and he's not wrong. Sadly, the incompetence around him (and Poe Dameron's flying) punches his ticket.
Competence: Very high. He might be the most competent officer in the First Order.
Entertainment: Also very high. The look on his face before he dies is another priceless moment. Priceless we say!
An all-time classic character, there's no way that Captain/Admiral Piett wasn't going to be really high on this list.
When it comes to the original trilogy, he's kind of the only stooge who lasts more than one film. That alone places him high, but he also consistently demonstrates steady competence and decent leadership. He takes over for the departed Admiral Ozzel (not missed) with aplomb, and even when we think he's gonna get the final choke in Empire... Vader just walks away.
He really comes into his own in Jedi, being so bold as to test Vader (and survive!) with lines like, "I was about to clear them." Sure, he's completely wrong for clearing them, but still. Another special moment is when he tells a subordinate that the Emperor "has something special" planned for the Rebellion fleet.
Competence: Nobody really lasts longer, so pretty high. He makes mistakes, but no one kills him for them. He should not have let that shuttle through, but we're gonna let that slide.
Entertainment: Consistently high. He's always good to have around, gives killer line readings, and his death in Jedi is another classic. We love the shot of him jumping into the console bay.
Why do we love General Veers as much as we do? We really don't know, but the love runs high. Very high.
He's only in Empire, and we never see him again after the Battle of Hoth. Still, he displays a demeanor that many other Imperials should learn from. He shows proper deference to Vader, and when it's his turn to lead the charge during battle, the man gets the job done. Need some power generators taken out? Call this man.
Supposedly he was going to make a return in Jedi, but it didn't happen. We're almost glad it didn't, because he likely would have died, and for whatever reason we like imagining Veers (a villain, most definitely) going on to lead a wonderful life of peace and romance.
Competence: Very high. He gets it done every time. Well, he got it done that one time, which is more than Ozzel can say.
Entertainment: Very high. Haughty without the hubris, clipped without being gauche. He is the very model of a modern Imperial General.
Grand Moff Tarkin
Was anyone else going to take the top spot? Of course not. This almost isn't fair, because Tarkin isn't really a stooge at all. He's a major power player, a master manipulator, and he's likely on the same level of power as Darth Vader himself. When he tells Vader to stop choking Motti, Vader listens to him. That's no small thing.
He takes out Alderaan, he takes out Krennic, he takes responsibility for the Death Star, and he comes so close to winning. How was he to know that a Force-sensitive farmboy would make a one-in-a-million shot?
His genius knows no end, except for the one fatal flaw that takes down almost all stooges and flunkies — once again, it's hubris. When given the chance to evacuate the Death Star, he refuses. There's no way these Rebel upstarts can win, so come on. There's no way! He's gonna stay right where he is. That's right where he died. What a moment of triumph. Not.
Competence: Off the charts huge. He's brilliant, and the Empire lost one of their best assets when he perished with the Death Star. The Emperor created the rank of "Grand Moff" for him and held him in the highest regard. That almost never happens. The Rebellion is lucky that he got taken off the board in the first film.
Entertainment: The stuff that dreams are made of. Darth Vader is the showier villain in A New Hope, but Tarkin is the one who shows his face and gives the evil of the Empire a human identity. He lulls you into thinking that he's a gentlemen, and then he starts shouting about "military targets." You never really know what to expect from him, aside from utter brilliance every time he says, "you may fire when ready."