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Feature
The 30 Greatest Star Wars Characters
From Admiral Ackbar to... Yoda - we count down Lucas' best creations

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... 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 ...
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20. Tie Fighter Pilot

Back in 1977, along with the droids bickering in the desert, the only Star Wars clip ever to be shown on TV, be it on News At Ten or Screen Test, was the escape from the Death Star attack. And if one thing stuck in the mind of impressionable ten year-olds, beyond that hairy gorilla co-pilot thingee, the squat robot that put out a fire and the shaggy-haired kid in a judo suit, it was the image of a TIE fighter pilot sitting in a cauldron of a cockpit, stars rushing by in the background, moving in for the kill.

Looking like the offspring of a drunken one-night stand between Darth Vader and a stormtrooper, we now fully understand that the TIE fighter pilot is the epitome of sleek unknowable cool - especially compared to their Rebel counterparts. Where TIE pilots are bedecked in good-for-all-occasions black, the Rebels sport orange jumpsuits that would be garish for a CBeebies presenter; while the Rebel pilots witter on about "the size of that thing" and "Beggar's Canyon back home", TIE aces have a taciturn demeanour, talking only when necessary ("Yes, sir" and "Look out" is the extent of their dialogue in A New Hope), otherwise keeping schtum.

In a galaxy seemingly governed by incompetence - stormtroopers are not much better than the fey Rebels, banging their heads or shooting with a Stevie Wonder-esque precision - TIE fighter pilots are the model of clinical, efficient professionalism.

Featured almost fully-formed in a very early Ralph McQuarrie concept painting, TIE pilots also point to another joy of the SW universe: the level of detail and logic applied to even the smallest bit-part character. The helmet, bulkier than a stormtrooper's, suggests reinforced padding or an internal communication system, the connective tubes seemingly providing life-support gases.

Enhanced by such vivid minutiae, the TIE pilots have prevailed through their masked impenetrability, mysterious devotion to their cause and their almost kamikaze mentality. That and the action figure smelt like liquorice. IAN FREER

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Your Comments

1 WTF?
AS usual this list is screwy, how does Portmans stroppy bitch beat Windu? Windu chopped off Jango Fetts head and he gets stepped over by a fucking biker scout? A princess? Some red draped security guard from the Death Star? Probaly the greatest JEDI ever, and you miscreants piss on his eternal memory. Fuck all y' all ! More

Posted by DAVIDK on Wednesday June 19, 2013, 13:09

2
Dannybohy, if you stopped reading Empire in the 90s, what you still doing here? My Name is Legion, it's not the 30 most important characters but the 30 greatest characters! Sheesh! More

Posted by zeech1941 on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 19:18

3
Dannybohy, if you stopped reading Empire in the 90s, what you still doing here? My Name is Legion, it's not the 30 most important characters but the 30 greatest characters! Sheesh! More

Posted by zeech1941 on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 18:23

4 RE:
Empire haven't got a clue. This is exactly why I stopped buying the magazine religiously like i did in the mid 90s!, the fecking stupids lists!! everybody likes a list, but every damn issue and always complete and utter shite. More

Posted by Dannybohy on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 14:41

5
Yoda 'species indeterminate?' actually Yoda is a Whyll. Star wars.com says so? It's just a shame he never got to win a light saber fight, the chance to name a DVD chapter 'The Triumph ofvthe Whyll ' would have been hard to resist More

Posted by PaoloCorleone on Monday November 5, 2012, 14:37

6 Bad Mother Fucka
Mace Windu no 29??? Biatch please... More

Posted by JohnMcClane81 on Saturday November 3, 2012, 20:58

7 The Pilots
Where is Wedge Antilles, he survived both Deathstar runs. Where is Biggs Darklighter, he died that we might live. More

Posted by Avoid on Saturday November 3, 2012, 11:42

8 Interesting point by Legion!
Boba Fette is a cool character but Luke should surely be above him. Only other change would be Darth Vader at number 1. More

Posted by guysalisbury on Friday November 2, 2012, 13:30

9 Sam Jackson is great, but Mace Windu isn't
Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Padme Amidala and Count Dooku were some of the worst written, one dimensional, no-depth characters ever to grace the big screen, they were definitely not great creations and should not be included in this list. More

Posted by Jamie_M on Friday November 2, 2012, 13:20

10
Oh yeah forgot too say...fck luke Skywalker, Han is the man More

Posted by UncleFknBully on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:58

11
Wtf...where is Salacious B.Crumb? More

Posted by UncleFknBully on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:55

12
Congratulations Empire on once again completely missing the point when it comes to what made Star Wars work. Luke Skywalker is the most important character. Why? Because he represents us, our longing to be somebody, to do something important, to escape from the mundane and grow as an individual. The binary sunset scene alone pisses all over the entire prequel trilogy. Yet you place him 7th, below Boba Fett! A nothing character when you actually look past all the fanboy shite. You didn't get it thirteen years ago, and you still don't get it now. More

Posted by My name is Legion on Friday November 2, 2012, 02:46

13 Excellent List
I agree with this list almost 100%, although I wouldn't have included some of the lame, one-dimensional prequel pseudo-characters like Mace Windu. (Actually, with the exception of Darth Maul, I probably would've left the prequels out entirely. Those movies, after all, don't feature characters so much as merchandising opportunities.) In Windu's place I would've added Grand Moff Tarkin, somewhere higher on the list. More

Posted by intelandroid on Thursday November 1, 2012, 23:45


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