Star Wars Characters That Are More Important Than You Knew

The "Star Wars" universe continues to expand. Ever since Lucasfilm was officially sold to the Walt Disney Company for over $4 billion in November 2012, it seems like there has been another announcement about the galaxy far, far away almost every day. In the past decade, we've seen all-new "Star Wars" films and a plethora of shows on Disney+.

Although there is more content than ever before, the "Star Wars" universe is larger than some fans may realize. The first "Star Wars" spinoff novel, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye," was released in 1978. Alan Dean Foster's book was the first addition to the ever-growing Expanded Universe. A majority of the content released before 2012 is now deemed non-canon as part of the Legends rebranding. Many of the characters in both the Legends and modern canon have had a major influence on the rest of the "Star Wars" saga.

These "Star Wars" characters are more important than you know.

Darth Bane

In 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," Mace Windu references the Sith "Rule of Two." This ancient philosophy limits the number of Sith Lords to only a couple. There is only ever one master and one apprentice. The Sith are so hungry for power that they could not sustain an entire order of initiates like the Jedi. The apprentices learn to destroy their teachers and then take on a new trainee of their own.

When George Lucas made this revelation, it conflicted with some of the projects that had already been released. In Dark Horse Comics' "Tales of the Jedi" series, a huge order of Sith Lords waged epic conflicts against the Jedi Council and the Galactic Republic. To rectify this discrepancy, the character of Darth Bane was created. Bane is the Sith Lord that creates the Rule of Two.

Author Drew Karpyshyn explained Bane's backstory in his three books, "Darth Bane: Path of Destruction," "Darth Bane: Rule of Two," and "Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil." Bane joins the ranks of the Sith army but realizes that their numbers are too great. He destroys the Sith Order and takes on a young girl named Zannah as his apprentice. Ultimately, Darth Zannah kills Bane.

Darth Plagueis

One of the best scenes in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy is the moment when Darth Sidious-Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) tells "The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise" to Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). Palpatine explains that an ancient Sith Lord named Darth Plagueis was able to "influence midi-chlorians to create life" and learned the secret of immortality.

In canon, Darth Plagueis isn't quite as ancient as Palpatine suggests. Palpatine is the apprentice in the story that he tells Anakin. James Luceno's Legends novel "Darth Plagueis" explains the history of their relationship. Palpatine is merely an ambitious politician on Naboo when Plagueis recognizes that he is strong in the force. The Sith have been in hiding for over 1,000 years. Plagueis decides that the only way for them to make a resurgence is to influence the Galactic Senate. He helped orchestrate events that lead Palpatine to become the new Supreme Chancellor. The events of "Darth Plagueis" take place before and during "The Phantom Menace."

However, Palpatine deceives his master. He secretly begins training Darth Maul as his apprentice. Although Plagueis has begun to experiment with midi-chlorians, Palpatine kills him before he unlocks immortality.

Grand Admiral Thrawn

It is hard to think of a time when "Star Wars" content wasn't everywhere. However, the "Star Wars" universe was relatively quiet in the late 1980s. After "Return of the Jedi," there had only been a few animated cartoon shows and Marvel comic books released. This changed in 1991. Timothy Zahn's novel "Heir to the Empire" revitalized the "Star Wars" canon and changed the Expanded Universe forever. The novel takes place five years after the destruction of the second Death Star. While the New Republic has been established, the remaining forces of the Galactic Empire gather under a new leader: Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn unites the disenfranchised Imperial worlds and creates a massive fleet. Although Thrawn is ultimately defeated by Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and their allies, their victory does not come without a hard-fought conflict. Thrawn proved that there was room for new "Star Wars" villains that weren't force-sensitive. He continued to be a popular character in the Legends canon and was reintroduced under Disney.

Zahn has written new novels featuring Thrawn that are part of the modern canon. "Thrawn," "Thrawn: Alliances," and "Thrawn: Allegiance" develop the backstory of the fearsome villain throughout the events of "Star Wars: Rebels" and the original trilogy. Zahn also flashes back to the "Clone Wars" era with the "Thrawn Ascendancy" trilogy.


Dave Filoni's animated series, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," helped initiate a new generation of "Star Wars" fans. However, it was not the first "Star Wars" television show that was set between the events of "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith." An animated micro-series, simply titled "Star Wars: Clone Wars," was created by "Samurai Jack" and "Dexter's Laboratory" showrunner Genndy Tartakovsky. Tartakovsky's "Clone Wars" ran for three seasons on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. Similar to Filoni's show, "Clone Wars" explores the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other Jedi Knights during the war against the Separatists.

"Clone Wars" features many of the most popular characters from the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, but it also introduces a few new faces to the franchise. Durge is one of the fiercest opponents that Obi-Wan ever faced. Durge is a member of the Gen'Dai species, a seemingly indestructible alien race that has advanced healing capabilities. Even after Obi-Wan slices him open with his lightsaber, Durge can regrow his limbs and sew his body back together. Dooku employs Durge as a commander in his army of droid forces.

Although Obi-Wan seemingly defeats Durge in "Clone Wars," he managed to survive in the "Republic" comic series. Ultimately, Anakin destroys Durge shortly before the events of "Revenge of the Sith." "Clone Wars" is no longer considered part of canon, but Durge was reintroduced in the new "War of the Bounty Hunters" storyline from Marvel Comics.


The "Star Wars" saga has had an interesting relationship with comic book distributors. The original 1977 "Star Wars" film was adapted into a six-part series from Marvel Comics. Marvel continued to release new adventures set in the "Star Wars" universe until 1986. "Star Wars" comics went dormant in the late 1980s, but in 1991, Dark Horse Comics relaunched the brand with the popular "Dark Empire" series.

However, the rights to "Star Wars" comics reverted to Marvel in 2012, following the Disney purchase. The first comic book series introduced in the new canon, simply titled "Star Wars," pays homage to the original comics from the 1970s and 1980s. It even reintroduced one of the strangest characters in the "Star Wars" universe: a gunslinging bunny rabbit named Jaxxon.

Jaxxon is a member of the sentient humanoid rabbit species known as the Lepi. This odd character first appears in the eighth "Star Wars" comic book alongside his aptly-titled spaceship, "Rabbit's Foot." Han Solo hires Jaxxon (who goes by the nickname "Jax") as part of his Star Hopper gang, but the friendly rabbit ultimately decides to resume his occupation as a smuggler. Jaxxon has his fans and was reintroduced by Disney in a 2018 edition of the "Star Wars Adventures Annual" comic series.


There is no "Star Wars" project that is quite as notorious as "The Star Wars Holiday Special." Aired only once on CBS in 1978, "The Star Wars Holiday Special" is a two-hour variety show featuring celebrities like Art Carney, Jefferson Starship, Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and Diahann Carroll. The story revolves around Luke (Mark Hamill), Han (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fischer), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) as they celebrate a Wookiee holiday called "Life Day." Chewbacca is desperate to get home to his home planet, Kashyyyk, so he can celebrate with his wife, Mallatobuck (Mickey Morton), also known as "Malla."

"The Star Wars Holiday Special" was such a disaster that Lucasfilm has never officially released it in any format. The only evidence that it exists is a brief animated segment, titled "The Story of the Faithful Wookiee," that was added to Disney+'s "Vintage Star Wars" tab. Before the rise of the internet, the only copies of the special were bootleg tapes of the original broadcast. Malla is still considered to be Chewie's wife in the official canon. She is included in the 2021 anthology book "Life Day Treasury," which pays homage to the holiday from the famously derided television special.

Prince Xizor

In 1996, Lucasfilm unveiled one of its most ambitious multimedia projects ever. The "Shadows of the Empire" campaign told one connected story. Essentially "a movie without a movie," it included a novel, a children's book, a video game, a comic book, and even an official soundtrack.

"Shadows of the Empire" explores the Rebel Alliance's search for Han Solo between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." Luke wrestles with the revelation that Darth Vader is his father while Leia and Lando search for Boba Fett. However, "Shadows of the Empire" also introduces a brand new villain: Prince Xizor. Xizor is the head of a criminal empire known as the Black Sun.

Xizor gains an audience with Emperor Palpatine. He hopes to earn the Emperor's favor by finding Luke. However, Xizor's real intention is to get revenge on Darth Vader. Vader released a biological weapon on Xizor's home planet, Falleen, which devastated the population. Xizor is killed at the end of "Shadows of the Empire," but the Black Sun appears in "The Clone Wars" and "Solo: A Star Wars Story." 

Dash Rendar

The main storyline for "Shadows of the Empire" presented a challenge for the "Star Wars" creative team. Who would fill the cynical yet heroic role left in Han's absence? Dash Rendar was essentially a new spin on Solo. A fellow Corellian smuggler, Dash helps Luke, Leia, and Lando search for Boba Fett. Like Han, Dash is a flying ace and inherently doesn't trust joining a cause like the Rebellion. However, he is no friend of the Empire. Dash fearlessly sacrifices himself so that the "Millennium Falcon" can avoid its Imperial pursuers.

Despite their similarities, Dash is described as being Han's biggest rival. In the 2011 novel "Shadow Games," Dash reluctantly aids Han and Chewie in a story set before the events of "A New Hope." While "Shadows of the Empire" and a majority of the older "Star Wars" books exist only in Legends, Dash was added to the modern canon thanks to a reference in "Solo: A Star Wars Story: Tales from Vandor" by author Jason Fry.

Exar Kun

The Rebel Alliance base on Yavin IV in "A New Hope" has a secret history that you may not know about. Luke uses the base as his new training facility for the Jedi Academy. He teaches the next generation of heroes. However, Luke does not realize that thousands of years earlier, Yavin IV was occupied by the Sith Lord Exar Kun.

In the "Tales of the Jedi" Dark Horse Comics series, Exar Kun is a former Jedi who turns to the dark side. Kun and his apprentice, Ulic Qel-Droma, stage a rebellion against the Jedi Order. Kun is ultimately defeated. His force spirit becomes trapped on Yavin IV. Thousands of years later, Kun's ghost helps convert Luke's student Kyp Durron to the dark side. Kevin J. Anderson's novels "Jedi Search," "Dark Apprentice," and "Champions of the Force” chronicle Durron's fall from grace. Although this storyline is no longer part of canon, Kun's reign of terror is referenced in an official guidebook for "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

Rael Averross

Claudia Gray's 2019 novel "Master and Apprentice" is one of the best modern "Star Wars" novels. The book provides important insights into Obi-Wan's relationship with his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Although the two Jedi appear to be friendly with each other in "The Phantom Menace," they did not always see eye-to-eye. Eight years before "The Phantom Menace," Qui-Gon is invited to join the Jedi Council. Although he is honored, Qui–Gon realizes that if he accepts the invitation, it would mean giving up Obi-Wan as his apprentice.

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's relationship becomes even rockier when they are joined by another Jedi Master, Rael Averross. Like Qui-Gon, Averross was trained by Dooku. Averross attempted to teach an apprentice of his own, but his student was tragically killed. When Qui-Gon sees Averross' faults, it strengthens his desire to teach Obi-Wan. He rejects the offer to join the Jedi Council and accepts that his true role is to be Obi-Wan's master. Obi-Wan is impressed by Averross' skills in combat but recognizes that not every Jedi is cut out to be a teacher.

Ciena Ree

Claudia Gray's 2015 young adult novel "Lost Stars" helps to reframe the events of the original "Star Wars" trilogy from a new perspective. The book follows two young protagonists, Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell, as they grow up on the planet Jelucan. In a storyline inspired by "Romeo and Juliet," Ciena and Thane find themselves on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War.

Ciena and Thane both join the Imperial Academy, winning the favor of Grand Moff Tarkin. Although Ciena rises through the ranks, Thane begins to have doubts about the Empire. He ultimately decides to join the Rebel Alliance after meeting Wedge Antilles. In the Battle of Jakku, Ciena and Thane lead opposing armies against each other. The wreckage of this conflict is where Rey resides at the beginning of "The Force Awakens."

The Imperial fleet is defeated, and Ciena becomes a prisoner of war. Thane holds out hope that his lifelong love will see the errors of the Empire and accept a position in the New Republic.

Darth Krayt

Dark Horse Comics' "Star Wars: Legacy" series is one of the most ambitious storylines in the Legends canon. The series takes place over 100 years after the events of "Return of the Jedi." The Jedi Order has regrouped on the planet Ossus. A Sith army led by Darth Krayt massacres the temple, initiating a new Jedi Purge. Krayt invades Coruscant and takes over the galaxy. Unlike Darth Sidious or Darth Bane, Krayt does not believe in the Rule of Two. He creates a massive legion of Sith Lords known as the "One Sith."

Krayt was once known as A'Sharad Hett, the apprentice of Ki-Adi-Mundi during the Clone Wars. A'Sharad survived Order 66 but turned to the dark side. A'Sharad takes up the ways of the Tusken Raiders. He attempts to kill an infant Luke, but Obi-Wan defeats him in combat. He holds on to his bitterness. A'Sharad remains in hiding and prepares to get revenge on the Jedi Order.

Doctor Aphra

The new Marvel Comics series "Darth Vader" introduced the character of Doctor Aphra, who is essentially the Indiana Jones of the "Star Wars" universe. Aphra is an archeologist who searches the galaxy for mysterious artifacts. She instantly became a fan favorite. The spin-off series "Doctor Aphra" began in 2016.

Aphra is also a major character in the "War of the Bounty Hunters" storyline, which takes place between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." After Han's carbonite-frozen body is taken by Boba Fett, the galaxy's mercenaries attempt to steal Fett's prize and claim the bounty for themselves. Aphra is just one of the many characters who joins the hunt for Han.

Aphra is a unique "Star Wars" hero. She finds herself on both sides of the conflict. She's one of the few characters who earns Vader's respect. Aphra is also one of the first LGBTQIA+ characters in the galaxy far, far away. It is inspiring to see that "Star Wars" continues to reach out to a diverse set of fans.

Gilad Pellaeon

The destruction of the second Death Star plunges the Galactic Empire into chaos. With no centralized leader, the Empire is divided into various fleets, each following a different commander. Grand Admiral Thrawn makes a valiant effort to wage war against the New Republic, but he is killed at the end of "The Last Command." Thrawn's second-in-command, Gilad Pellaeon, is left to lead what remains of the fleet.

Unlike Thrawn, Pellaeon is open to the idea of peace. He served in the Galactic Republic before it became an Empire. In Timothy Zahn's novel "Vision of the Future," Pellaeon brings the war to an end. He signs a peace treaty with the New Republic. Surprisingly, Pellaeon becomes one of Luke's allies in the "New Jedi Order" series. He leads the Imperial Remnant forces to protect the galaxy when the villainous Yuuzhan Vong army invades.

Pellaeon was added to the modern canon thanks to "Rebels." His voice is heard in the episode "Family Reunion — And Farewell."


The bounty hunters who appear on Darth Vader's star destroyer in "The Empire Strikes Back" have gone on to many adventures in the Expanded Universe. The Trandoshan prize hunter, Bossk, became an instant fan favorite. He comes from a long line of bounty hunters. His father, Cradossk, is the leader of the Bounty Hunter's Guild.

In the young adult series "Star Wars: Episode II Adventures," Cradossk and his son are pitted against another father-and-son bounty hunter duo: Jango and Boba Fett. The stakes are personal for Cradossk. He has hated Jango ever since he refused to join the Bounty Hunter's Guild. Unfortunately, Cradossk and Bossk aren't quite as effective as a team as the Fetts. Cradossk grows irritated by his son's stupidity.

Cradossk appears in the mobile game "Star Wars: Galactic Defense." The Trandoshan home planet, Trandosha, also appears in Season 3 of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."