Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.
George Lucas' universe is populated with all types of fantastic creatures and strange critters. This week at Debate Club, we're paying tribute to the best non-human characters in the Star Wars franchise. And like everything else related to these movies, our list isn't going to make everyone happy. So we'll just warn you now: Threepio didn't make the final five. Sorry, Goldenrod.
For more of SYFY WIRE's coverage of other beloved Star Wars characters, check out our list of characters who deserve their own spin-offs.
You've got quite a hill to climb to come up with another cute robot for the Star Wars series, but J.J. Abrams and company pulled it off with the soccer-ball hero of The Force Awakens.
BB-8 is more hyperactive than his predecessors — more of his era — which gives him the enthusiasm of a puppy, or maybe a sugar-addled child. But he's just as handy and heroic as any sidekick, and prone to making very excited (and exciting) sounds during high-speed chases. And he gives a mean thumbs-up.
Jabba the Hutt
There are many ways in which Lucas didn't understand what made the original trilogy special, but here's one that isn't mentioned very much: What's so imposing about Jabba at the start of Return of the Jedi was that, before then, we could only imagine what he looked like. (The way Han Solo talks about him, we're already primed to fear this notorious crime boss.)
The revised A New Hope featured a digital Jabba talking to Han, which took away some of the surprise, but for original viewers, we were blown away by this slimy, disgusting blob who ruled his lair in Return. That gross tongue. That deep, ominous laugh. Those impossibly big eyes. Jabba was a feat of puppetry and villainy, equally awe-inspiring and stomach-churning. Bo shuda.
You know, when we first meet this Jedi master in The Empire Strikes Back, he's pretty cute then, too — just this adorable little green puppet with big ears and Frank Oz's voice. But what's made Yoda so enduring is that those initial impressions were misleading: He's actually a wise old warrior who helps educate Luke in the ways of the Force.
Yoda has a lot of gravitas, even if speaks a little strangely he does. Also, he's one of the few characters who maintains his dignity in the prequels — although we'll admit that him jumping around during lightsaber battles is a little goofy.
Not all of Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story works, but the scene where Han Solo and Chewbacca first meet and become friends might be the one moment when the film is everything those involved wanted it to be: funny, sweet, inspiring and cool. But that's Chewie, who ends up not only being a loyal No. 2 but the emotional heart of The Force Awakens: his howl when Han buys it will haunt us forever. Everybody needs a Chewie.
The name came from a request from a sound editor on George Lucas’ American Graffiti, who asked for "Reel 2, Dialog Track 2," shortened to R2-D2, and history was made. Lucas to this day says R2-D2 is his favorite character, and why not? There have been operas written that don't contain as much expressiveness and raw human emotion as R2-D2's beeps.
The most purely likable character in all the films — and there are a lot of likable characters in these movies — Artoo remains the heart and soul of the entire franchise. And remember: He was supposed to be a main character in The LEGO Movie until Warner Bros. lost the rights to use him at the last minute. That would have been something.