"Star Wars" is predominantly a world of good against evil: the Jedi vs. the Sith, the Rebellion vs. the Empire, the Resistance vs. the First Order. The list goes on. However, it's the morally ambivalent parts of the universe that provide the franchise with some of its most vibrant and memorable characters.
Chief among these is the eclectic range of bounty hunters, assassins, and mercenaries that inhabit the underworld of the "Star Wars" universe. While often conceived for aesthetics, many of them have been fleshed out and developed in the "Clone Wars" animated series. The popularity of shows like "The Mandalorian" and "The Book Of Boba Fett" makes this the perfect time to take a deep dive into the backgrounds of some of the franchise's scummiest characters.
Below are 15 of our favorite "Star Wars" rogues. We're sticking with those who appear onscreen in some form, albeit making use of the Expanded Universe for some of their more detailed backstories.
Often condemned as one of the worst assassins in "Star Wars," Zam Wesell isn't entirely deserving of this reputation. While Jango Fett was hyped up as the ultimate bounty hunter in the build-up to the release of "Attack Of The Clones," his underling ends up doing most of the bounty hunting.
A Clawdite shapeshifter, Wessell is hired by Fett to assassinate Senator Amidala, a mission in which she comes perilously close to succeeding. Initially bombing Amidala's ship, killing her handmaiden, and decimating her entourage, then sneaking a pair of poisonous alien centipedes into her room, Wessell even gives the Jedi a run for their money in a high-speed chase that ends with her being fatally silenced by Fett.
As with most of the minor characters, Wesell's backstory in the Expanded Universe is much more interesting than what appears onscreen. Unfortunately, much of this has been erased to make room for the new canon, so it's unlikely we'll see Wessell's past in any media going forward. It's a shame we never saw her utilize her shapeshifting abilities or succeed in a single assassination mission, but she plays a pivotal role in the story and remains an enigmatic presence.
The reason Boba Fett's "father" is so low on this list (aside from a general reluctance to populate the top half with three characters who wear the same helmet), is that he doesn't do that much bounty hunting in his one appearance in the "Star Wars" series. He acts more as a bodyguard for Count Dooku and an intermediary for the assassination attempts on Senator Amidala's life.
Still, he remains an imposing presence in "Attack Of The Clones" and a highlight in an otherwise lackluster film. He holds his own in a fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi and captures both Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. Nevertheless, he largely acts as a gun-spinning plot device rather than a memorable character in his own right.
Typically, Fett's coolest moment comes just before his downfall. In the Geonosian arena, he calmly guns down a charging Reek with a single shot only to be immediately decapitated by Mace Windu. It's an unceremonious end, but his legacy continues in Boba Fett, who takes up his father's mantle as the galaxy's most notorious bounty hunter.
Zuckuss And 4-LOM
Zuckuss and 4-LOM are probably the least well-known of the bounty hunters briefly shown in "The Empire Strikes Back," but they have such an intriguing look that they are worth including here. While both have an insectoid appearance, this is just a coincidence. Zuckuss is the one clad in robes and a breathing apparatus. Zuckuss is a force-sensitive Gand Findsman (essentially a tracker), while 4-LOM is a protocol droid who reprogrammed himself to be the perfect bounty hunter. Paired up by Jabba the Hutt, they have a fun, bickering relationship that is nonetheless mutually beneficial. 4-LOM is the emotionless tactician, while Zuckuss utilizes his intuition to hunt down their targets. They happily work for the highest bidder until Zuckuss fully commits to the Rebellion in a rare conscientious move for a mercenary.
Until now, Dave Filoni has resisted reintroducing original Star Wars characters in his spin-off TV series, but interestingly, it's rumored that 4-LOM may make an appearance in the upcoming "Obi-Wan Kenobi". It remains to be seen if Zuckuss will appear alongside his partner, but it's a dynamic we would love to see brought to life onscreen at some point.
The most controversial film in the sequel trilogy, "The Last Jedi" may have its fair share of peaks and troughs, but one constant is Benicio Del Toro's mercurial, morally ambivalent code-breaker, DJ. He's potentially the least typical "Star Wars" character to appear in the series and is more than a little reminiscent of "Columbo" than any Sci-fi character. His unassuming, crumpled appearance along with his stutter and shambling nature leads to him being underestimated by everyone he encounters.
Charismatic and dryly funny, DJ subverts expectations brilliantly. After appearing to bond with the heroes and being set up as a thief with a heart of gold, it's revealed that he's just a thief, selling his employers out as soon as they are caught by the First Order. Yet, it's difficult to condemn him for his betrayal. He bears no malice towards the heroes, and his actions remain consistent with his cynical worldview. As he says himself: "Good guys, bad guys … made-up words."
One of the many problems in "The Rise of Skywalker" is that DJ never returns to redeem himself. But maybe it's better this way. He remains exclusively part of "The Last Jedi." That seems appropriate enough given how intrinsically linked he is to the film's themes. DJ is a nuanced character who betrays the heroes and gets to walk away without a scratch.
From the deadly droid C-21 Highsinger to the bizarre, tentacled Derrown, there were plenty of colorful bounty hunters created for "The Clone Wars," but none stick in the memory quite like Embo. Voiced by creator Dave Filoni, he's one of the few recurring bounty hunter characters in the series and somehow emerges as altogether more honorable than the likes of Cad Bane and Aurra Sing. A reticent and implacable Kyuzo (a species that shares its name with the coolest character in "Seven Samurai") Embo has a distinctive look, dressed in Samurai-style robes with a Bowcaster and a wide-brimmed hat that doubles as both a shield and weapon.
He remains an enigmatic character largely because we never see his face, and his alien dialogue is never translated for the audience's benefit. He also tends to appear as part of a unit rather than freelancing on his own, meaning he has the luxury of sitting back and looking mysterious while other characters dole out the exposition. Less villainous and unscrupulous than other bounty hunters, he works alongside the Jedi and the Separatist forces alike. He became a fan favorite very quickly, and of course, he has a terrifying yet adorable pet, the wolf-like Marrok.
After Boba Fett, it's the Trandoshan Bossk who makes the biggest impression in "The Empire Strikes Back" as the reptilian bounty hunter who intimidates the Imperial officers when they deride bounty hunters as scum. As shown in "The Clone Wars" episode "Padawan Lost," in which a family hunts down Ahsoka and a group of younglings, Trandoshans are obsessed with hunting. Bossk is no different but has found a way to make his natural tendencies more lucrative, reveling in the pursuit of his quarry as much as the final capture. A collector of Wookiee pelts (Wookiees and Trandoshans being natural enemies), when the call comes to hunt down the Millennium Falcon, Bossk leaps at the chance to add Chewbacca's skin to his collection.
Bossk gets even more to do in "The Clone Wars." He mentors the young Boba Fett and seems more even-tempered than in his appearance in "The Empire Strikes Back" would indicate. He helps Fett in his plan to take revenge on Mace Windu and takes a proactive role in the planning of a train heist. Bossk takes more of an interest in Fett's training than anyone else, not even holding a grudge when Fett's plan lands him in prison.
Another mentor of sorts to Boba Fett, Aurra Sing made her first on-screen appearance in "The Phantom Menace." She later appears regularly on "The Clone Wars," allying herself with reprobates like Cad Bane, Hondo, Bossk, Dengar, Embo, and pretty much every bounty hunter gang that forms throughout the series.
A memorably sinister-looking character with pale skin, dark rings around her eyes, a strange antenna, and a punkish hairstyle, Sing is shown to be incredibly skilled at her job. She's especially adept with a sniper rifle. Completely ruthless, Aurra Sing does not shy away from killing bystanders or even turning on her partners as demonstrated when her accomplice, Castas, insults her behind her back. She casually guns him down without hesitation and carries on with her conversation.
While it is confirmed in "Solo" that Sing was killed by Tobias Beckett, that is a showdown we would love to see depicted at some point.
Comedian Bill Burr might be an unlikely choice for a "Star Wars" heavy, but he winds up being one of the most memorable characters in only two appearances. A former imperial sharpshooter, Migs Mayfeld is first introduced in Season 1 of "The Mandalorian" as part of a group of mercenaries who double-cross Din Djarin on a job. He butts heads with Djarin immediately but survives the episode which sees him locked in a prison cell.
His appearance in Season 2 is one of the show's highlights and a refreshing change of pace. He is recruited to help Djarin infiltrate an Imperial mining hub where he confronts his personal demons head-on in the form of Valin Hess, his former superior officer. The story of Operation Cinder is a harrowing memory for Mayfeld that informs his character's entire outlook.
In the subsequent firefight, we finally see Mayfeld show off his sharpshooter skills, taking out several stormtroopers before blowing the entire base up with a well-placed shot. Unlike other prominent supporting characters, Mayfeld demonstrates a genuine change in his character. We last see him turning over a new leaf. Let's hope this is not his last appearance in this universe.
The most striking of the six bounty hunters who appear in "The Empire Strikes Back," wrapped in bandages and dented armor, Dengar's scarred face tells you all you need to know about his character. In the Expanded Universe, he is a formidable hunter with an interesting backstory. An old acquaintance of Han Solo from their time together on their home planet of Corellia, Dengar nurses a hateful grudge against the smuggler who caused the accident that led to his scarred, bandaged appearance. Dengar carries his resentment with him and leaps at the opportunity to hunt Solo down when summoned by Darth Vader.
In the Expanded Universe, it's Dengar who rescues Boba Fett from the Sarlacc pit. Fett views Dengar as his equal, working with him on several occasions. Dengar's portrayal in "The Clone Wars" (by superfan Simon Pegg) makes him more easy-going than previous incarnations of the character, making crude asides during his mission but holding his own against his opponents.
He appeared in "Rise Of Skywalker" in an anonymous cameo, and I'm hoping we get more of this backstory in the future. Of all the bounty hunters from the original trilogy, Dengar is the one we would like to see reappear in some form. Pegg has been outspoken about his willingness to return to the role, so let's make it happen!
As far as the IG series of droids goes, IG-88 might look imposing and sinister but outside of the Expanded Universe, he doesn't do all that much. From his very first appearance, IG-11 from "The Mandalorian" is a much more idiosyncratic, memorable character. Walking towards his targets, loudly announcing his intention to kill them if they get in his way, IG-11 is hardly subtle and soon finds himself grudgingly fighting alongside Din Djarin despite his impulse to just activate his self-destruct function the minute they are pinned down. He proves a formidable opponent, systematically shooting the bandits with pinpoint accuracy. This clinical approach proves his undoing though, as his rule-following programming leads to Djarin shooting him in the head to prevent the droid from hurting Grogu. That's not the end of his character though, as the Ugnaught Kuill reprograms the droid to act as a nurse, bodyguard, and nanny for Grogu.
Taika Watiti brings a nice balance of comedy and pathos to IG-11 that you might not expect from his mechanical appearance. His eventual demise continues Disney's trend of killing off droid characters (see also K2SO, Q-90, and L3-37). In what is potentially the saddest scene in the series, IG-11 asserts, "There is nothing to be sad about. I have never been alive".
Casting Woody Harrelson in the role of the charmingly duplicitous Tobias Becket was a masterstroke. There aren't many actors who could believably play both sides of his character: the charismatic, grizzled veteran and the pragmatic opportunist with a ruthless streak. Harrelson reconciles the two sides without it ever feeling contradictory or unbelievable. He brings a lot of pathos and makes him incredibly likable.
Introduced as a roguish but sympathetic mercenary, Beckett initially fills the role of mentor to Han Solo, training him and giving him his iconic blaster. He appears to be on the heroes' side, and he is — as long as their goals align with his. More than anything else he looks out for No. 1, something the film's heroes seem to overlook.
Beckett is the perfect mentor for Solo and sets the title character up for his appearance in "Star Wars: A New Hope." In many ways, Beckett is the man Solo would have been if he hadn't made the choice to stick with the Rebellion. Faced with a similar choice, Beckett chooses his self-interest and ends up paying for it with his life. If nothing else, the final shootout with Solo sets up the "Han shot first" scene perfectly, which is an apt legacy for such a roguish character.
Ming Na-Wen's dead-shot assassin made a strong enough impression in her initial appearance in "The Mandalorian" that she was brought back as a main character in Season 2. Introduced as an elite mercenary, she proves her worth as a sniper only to be unceremoniously shot and left for dead.
Thankfully she's rescued by Boba Fett and fitted with a cybernetic stomach. Now owing a life debt to Fett, she acts as his chief confidante and master assassin, a job title she earns in the final episode. While Fett, Din Djarin, and their allies fight it out in the streets, Shand finds the hideout where all the rival bosses have gathered and takes them out quickly and efficiently.
Her appearance in "The Bad Batch" is effective. We don't know what her intentions are at first, so the reveal that she's been sent to protect the child clone, Omega, is a pleasant surprise. "The Bad Batch" both capitalizes on her ruthless reputation and develops her character by showing her protective attitude towards the clone. That being said, there's no greater testament to her status as a top mercenary than the fact she took on the infamous Cad Bane in a one-on-one fight and walked away unscathed.
"I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold." The first words from the titular Mandalorian sum up his character perfectly. Introduced as a taciturn, no-nonsense professional, Din Djarin is one of the most sought-after bounty hunters in the galaxy. It is only when confronted with his latest bounty, an adorable baby alien named Grogu, that he reveals a sliver of humanity. This sets off a chain of events that changes his character irrevocably.
A mixture of tropes from Westerns and Samurai films, "The Mandalorian" is one of the more intriguing additions to "Star Wars" lore. Part Clint Eastwood, part Toshiro Mifune, Djarin fits right in. A very different character from Boba Fett, Djarin is a member of the Children of the Watch, a fanatical sect of Mandalore that follows a strict creed ("This is the way") that involves vowing never to remove his helmet.
He's a lot more human than Boba Fett (or at least Fett from the original trilogy), quickly warming to the diminutive Grogu, and he remains incredibly protective of him throughout the series. He even goes as far as removing his helmet in his attempts to rescue Grogu from the remnants of the Empire, an act that leads to him being excommunicated from his fellow Mandalorians.
The needle seems to have moved on Boba Fett recently. A fan favorite who has been dismissed by some as a glorified extra in the original trilogy, Fett has generated much interest despite originally having only four lines of dialogue. I'm a big defender of Fett. He's the one bounty hunter recruited by Darth Vader who successfully tracks the Millennium Falcon and comes perilously close to killing Luke Skywalker before falling prey to dumb luck.
From the child clone attempting to avenge his father to the cold-hearted hunter we know and love, he's also the only bounty hunter we see grow up. In the Expanded Universe, we see more development of his character in which he makes good on his reputation by repeatedly proving to be a thorn in the side of the heroes.
He would be higher on this list if it wasn't for "The Book Of Boba Fett" in which he's less villainous and honestly, less interesting. While the show adds depth to his character, it also robbed him of a lot of his mystique, sacrificing his cunning and wiles in favor of some admittedly badass moments. He is still worthy of his position based on his previous appearances as an enigmatic professional who has the moxie to talk back to Vader without fear of reprisals. Ultimately, Fett should have remained a shady supporting character rather than the focus of his own show.
I've said it here before. Cad Bane shouldn't work in a sci-fi fantasy. Decked out with blasters that look like six guns, a wide-brimmed hat, and a long duster, he should be a Western cliche. Instead, he emerges from "The Clone Wars" as one of the most memorable original characters in the entire "Star Wars" universe. He proved popular enough to return in both "The Bad Batch" and "The Book Of Boba Fett." He is everything you want from a bounty hunter: Bane is cunning, resourceful, and utterly amoral. Unlike some of the more morally neutral entries on this list, he's assuredly a baddie and takes such pride in his work that it's hard to suppress a smile when he comes out on top.
Corey Burton's guttural vocal performance is perfect. It's just the right blend of alien and Western archetypes. He's not necessarily the strongest fighter, but he gets by on his wits and his quick draw. He's the character I had hoped Fett would be. Cad Bane is never one to shy away from a fight, he knows when to cut and run, and he always has a backup plan. He singlehandedly takes on a Rancor and duels two Jedi at once, emerging unharmed, all of which makes his final fate in "The Book Of Boba Fett" incredibly underwhelming. However, his death is still under debate, so Cad Bane could yet live to fight another day.
Read this next: The 12 Best Boba Fett Moments In Star Wars Shows And Movies
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