Star Wars has been fundamentally changing how movies are made ever since the release of A New Hope in 1977. In the years since, the franchise has continued to transcend modern storytelling as a multi-generational phenomenon. These aren’t just stories about spaceships and aliens, although that may be the initial draw⏤they’re tales of family, love, loss, and countless other narrative underpinnings told and retold across time.
Check out this quick video essay detailing what makes Star Wars so special.
Spanning a film saga, animated television ventures, live-action series, and countless other properties, there’s no shortage of strength out there amongst the stars. If you want a deeper dive into the myth, take a look at this video of George Lucas discussing why his space opera is so evocative. At nearly an hour long, you have plenty of time to pour yourself some blue milk and enjoy.
We can’t forget about Star Wars Legends and The Extended Universe, either. A collection of densely complicated stories and characters, Legends follows Star Wars adventures outside of the official storyline acknowledged by Lucasfilm and Disney. Here’s a 2-minute explanation of the difference between the accepted canon and Legends.
Many fans may not know much about the characters encapsulated in Legends, but for the ones who do love them dearly, leaving those characters out of the conversation wouldn’t be fair and could make deep-core devotees act something like this, which wouldn’t end well for anyone.
It’s also worth noting that power in Star Wars doesn’t just come from The Force. In the all-encompassing space saga, strength can mean many things, not just in terms of Jedi, Sith, and anyone who can lift rocks without touching them.
With that in mind, rounding out our opening crawl, here’s a comprehensive look at some of the most powerful Star Wars characters of all time.
As the son of the Chosen One, Luke Skywalker is hands down one of the most powerful characters in the Star Wars universe. From battling the Empire and destroying The Death Star to confronting Emperor Palpatine, there seems to be no end to the Jedi’s exploits.
Luke is even rumored to have used The Force to pull down a Star Destroyer according to the novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker. That’s no easy feat and incredibly hardcore. He may have not been the one to bring balance to The Force, but he certainly knew how to use it. Speaking of bringing balance to The Force…
Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader
Here he is, the Chosen One. Created by The Force itself, Anakin Skywalker’s power level is absolutely off the charts. Anakin was a powerful and well-respected Jedi general throughout the Clone Wars and fought with cunning, ingenuity, and a ruthlessness that foreshadowed some of his darker tendencies.
Darth Vader, on the other hand, was a cold and gripping Sith. Unstoppable, he carried out Emperor Palpatine’s bidding across the galaxy in a hate-fueled vendetta that lasted over two decades. Vader is arguably the most powerful Force user of all time.
This centuries-old little green guy is one of the most recognizable characters in Star Wars and also one of the most powerful. Training Jedi for over 800 years, Yoda was able to master almost every known Jedi technique and eventually unlock the power of immortality. Not only that, but his infinite connection to The Force allowed him to see into the future on countless occasions, helping him to predict significant events and warn others of prospective danger.
Yoda’s small size had no impact on his fighting ability, either, as he was able to channel The Force through his body to incorporate acrobatics and speed.
Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious
Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, is the mastermind behind all the pain and turmoil seen across The Skywalker Saga. From the shadows he started a war, infected the mind of Anakin Skywalker, gained power as Emperor, and left a horrifying trail of bodies along the way. His schemes were so calculated that even the Jedi couldn’t sense his terrible presence until it was too late. Plus he’s the actual senate, and politics can be pretty scary.
Rest assured that it wasn’t just his impressive mind games that kept Palpatine in supreme power. He was also a formidable lightsaber combatant and dulled out force lightning with ease. In his time, there were few who could stand up to this Dark Lord of the Sith.
As the former apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka had a lot to live up to. She not only exceeded those expectations but has become one of the most beloved and powerful Star Wars characters to date. Found by Jedi master Plo Koon at the age of three, Ahsoka displayed incredible Force strength early on, so much so that at the tender age of 14 she became an apprentice during The Clone Wars, which was incredibly rare.
She also created her own lightsaber fighting style, left the Jedi Council, and forged onward into the galaxy, helping those who needed it most. With the new Star Wars: Ahsoka live-action series set to hit Disney Plus in 2023, only time will tell what’s in store for the wayward Jedi.
The first Legends character on this list, Revan is quite possibly the most divisive Star Wars character ever created. Revan was a battle-hardened warrior that was nearly unstoppable, mastering the seven forms of lightsaber combat and many other Force techniques. All the bloodshed inevitably led Revan to The Dark Side, though, and for a time he was known as Darth Revan. Eventually he would turn back to The Light, but his history remained complicated.
Revan is even said to have been able to not only wield two lightsabers in his hands, but also use telekinesis to utilize two more sabers independent of his body. Fans love him, yet Lucasfilm and Disney seem weary to use him. Why? No one knows. We can only hope that it changes someday.
Mara Jade (Skywalker)
Another formidable female, Mara Jade acted as Emperor Palpatine’s “Hand” and later as Luke Skywalker’s wife. You might be thinking to yourself, “I didn’t know Luke was married,” and you’d technically be right. Mara Jade Skywalker is another character born from the Star Wars Legends canon and has yet to be brought into the larger accepted canon by Lucasfilm.
As a Force-sensitive assassin who would later become a Jedi Master, Mara was unmatched. She murdered countless rebels and corrupt imperials and toppled organizations at the drop of a hat. After the death of Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, Mara was given one last order from her master: kill Luke Skywalker. When she found him, Jade and Skywalker were forced to work together on a monster-infested planet and thus their love was born.
As the Star Wars universe expands, there have been rumors of a live-action adaptation of Mara and Luke’s story, with Brie Larson reportedly in talks to play the elusive role. Take a look at that article here.
You may know Ben Solo, better known by his Sith name, Kylo Ren. What you may not know is that he was heavily based on the Legends character Jacen Solo, the man who would later become Darth Caedus. Jacen had an incredibly strong connection to the natural world through The Force and was able to control animals and even strong-minded humans with his telekinesis.
Jacen’s desire to protect the galaxy and live up to his uncle, Luke Skywalker, is what led him to The Dark Side. Much like his grandfather Anakin, Jacen was obsessed with keeping order at all costs, although he was the one that ultimately paid the price for it.
The man who needs no introduction, Obi-Wan is the Jedi master responsible for training two Skywalkers and connecting so deeply to The Force that he was able to learn the secret of immortality, much like Yoda. Obi-Wan was able to use his power to bolster his physical strength, running faster and jumping higher than many of the Jedi of his time. He was also a master of the Serusa lightsaber fighting style, which as a defensive technique has no weaknesses. Anyone who truly controlled the form was unbeatable, and Obi-Wan proved himself to be a tough opponent time and time again.
Possessing great wisdom, Obi-Wan was an integral part of the Jedi Order and did his best to uphold the strict code of ethics which they lived by.
Darth Maul was an immensely powerful Sith Lord, and during his time in the dark did some serious damage. A master of the double-bladed lightsaber, Maul’s technique helped him best Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and almost did the same to a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. After being chopped in half by Kenobi, Maul was thought to be dead, yet he survived. During that time, he let his hatred grow his immense power.
It wasn’t just Force or physical power that Maul possessed; the Sith also had a political acumen that led him to become the leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. Anyway you slice it (pun intended), Darth Maul was a seriously powerful Star Wars villain.
There you have it, a list of some of the most powerful characters in the Star Wars universe. But it wouldn’t be very fair to leave out these non-Force using dishonorable mentions:
Jabba the Hut
As the ruthless leader of the Hut Cartel, Jabba was one of the galaxy’s most powerful gangsters. His crime syndicate was over 600 years old and used any means necessary to maintain its vice-like grip on the criminal underworld. The Huts were smugglers, slavers, thieves, and bounty hunters that left little to interpretation. With Jabba, there were no second chances, something Han Solo found out the hard way.
Grand Admiral Thrawn
Here’s a character pulled directly from Legends and thrust quickly into the mainstream with his introduction in Star Wars Rebels. During his time, Thrawn was a machiavellian character that was able to outsmart every single opponent he faced. In his twisted ways, he used philosophy, espionage, and intimidation to command his forces with an iron fist. Here’s his chilling introduction into the canon. With Ahsoka’s addition to the cast of Star Wars characters getting a live-action series, it looks like Thrawn will have a large part to play.
Last but certainly not least, we have the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. With Boba Fett’s recent takeover of the Hut Cartel on The Mandalorian, it looks like Star Wars just added another incredibly tough power player to its ranks. Unrelenting, Boba Fett may be the deadliest man in the Star Wars universe. He’s well-versed in just about every weapon type, can take a punch or two, and somehow escaped the Sarlacc Pit, which no one had done before or since. Catch his upcoming show The Book of Boba Fett on Dec. 29.
Star Wars is an ever-changing universe, filled with diverse characters and locations that seem too numerous to count. As more and more Star Wars stories are told over the years, it’s safe to say that we’ll have plenty of new characters to fawn over. Until then, these are some of the ones that wholeheartedly deserve their places among the most powerful.