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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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5. Chewbacca

Chewbacca

George's dog, Indiana, may have lent his name to a certain fedora-topped icon, but we owe him far more than just Dr. Jones. "Indiana used to ride on the front seat of my car," says Lucas. "He was a big dog, and when he sat there he was bigger than a person, so I had this image in my mind of this huge furry animal riding with me. That's where Chewbacca came from."

Appropriately, the Millennium Falcon's first mate remains man's single best friend in the Star Wars universe. In a galaxy where loyalty is at a premium and double-cross and deceit run deep, it's this 200 year-old Wookiee that's its beating heart, the character you would always most want by your side when the going got tough. (The Expanded Universe novel Rebel Dawn tells us that he and Han Solo first met when Han - then a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy - found him unconscious aboard a slave ship and was ordered by his superiors to skin him; Han refused and Chewbacca swore a "life-debt" to him in return.)

Chewie has some fine moments in A New Hope - his chess-based tantrum, the prison-wing ambush - but it's in The Empire Strikes Back, and Cloud City especially, that he really shows his true colours; his mistrust of Lando, his carrying then fixing of the broken Threepio and his heartbreaking howl of anguish as Han gets frozen in carbonite, misting over millions more eyes than any number of "I love you"/"I know" romantic one-twos ever could. Here was, quite simply, the best chum an intergalactic smuggler could ever have.

"George thought of him as looking like a lemur with a huge, ape-like figure," remembers designer Ralph McQuarrie. "I added an ammunition bandolier and rifle. I had shorts on him and a camouflaged flak jacket, but that was edited out..." Of course, over the years Chewbacca has faced far bigger obstacles than dodgy beachwear. He survived 1978's TV car-crash that was The Star Wars Holiday Special, in which we were introduced to his extended family of Mallatobuck (aka Malla), Attichitcuk (aka Itchy) and Lumpawarrump (aka Lumpy).

He dodged a bullet in Return Of The Jedi, where an original and subsequently discarded storyboard saw him take a Boba Fett laser bolt intended for Luke onboard a desert skiff. And he ultimately met his maker, in officially the No.1 Most Memorable Moment of the Expanded Universe, when in the 1999 novel Vector Prime he sacrificed his own life to save that of Han's son, Anakin. (A tragedy that saw Solo subsequently sink into alcoholism and depression.)

That his return, alongside an army of fellow Wookiees, was a draw second only to the birth of Vader for fans in the build-up to Episode III, is proof positive though that, no matter how untimely his demise, the popularity of the saga's purest character, the Mighty Chewbacca, is timeless. Not bad for a walking carpet. MARK DINNING

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Have Your Say
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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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