The Star Wars Universe spans hundreds of thousands of years across thousands of planets. It’s one of the largest fictional universes fans can enjoy. And it’s been published in just about every medium you can think of–novels, graphic novels, movies, TV shows, anime, manga, plays, audio dramas, audiobooks, and everything in between.
Across all those different mediums are hundreds of stories, from action adventures to gripping romances. I have a library of almost 200 Star Wars novels and graphic novels myself, and that collection is but a sliver of the literature Star Wars has birthed over the decades.
Frankly, those stories would be incomplete if they didn’t have some of the most inspiring, compelling, intelligent, and all-around badass women in all of fiction.
Bottom Line Up Front
It doesn’t matter if she’s on the light or dark sides. It doesn’t even matter if she’s picked a side. Star Wars has been putting genuinely unforgettable women in their stories for 40 years now, and it doesn’t seem they’re planning to stop anytime soon.
Star Wars Before Disney
Disney bought Lucasfilm ltd., the production company that makes everything Star Wars, in 2012 to the tune of $4.05 billion. It’s not as if Star Wars was struggling for cash and needed rescue, though. They had been chugging along strong for decades on their own, hosting conventions, publishing NYT best-selling novels, and keeping fans as hardcore as ever. But when Disney entered the picture, things changed.
In the same way that Marvel went from a comics publisher to a household name in entertainment overnight, Star Wars became more mainstream than at any point in its past. That attention made the executives at Star Wars feel responsible in several ways for the content they gave to their fans. Though Star Wars had a wide variety of content for fans to enjoy–everything from baby and children’s books to intense horror novels for adults–Disney scrapped just about every story that existed from Star Wars’ Extended Universe.
The old Star Wars stories are called Star Wars Legends, and technically they have no bearing on the current Star Wars Universe. But since so much of the recent Star Wars Universe is based on the old one–and often takes old characters and gives them new names–the old universe is still worth exploring.
Disney decided to do things differently in Star Wars, starting with a clean slate. With more inclusion, more equality, and even more variety than before. They could pull off such a thing handily with Disney’s deep pockets.
Now, ten years after Disney purchased Lucasfilm, Star Wars is still going strong. But to avoid confusion as you peruse this guide on the women of Star Wars, I decided to leave out Legends characters.
It would be a crime if I didn’t start this list off with the fearless leader herself, Mon Mothma. With a long career in politics and activism, Mon Mothma started out as a representative of Chandrila and ended up the Chancellor of the New Republic. Wise beyond words and exuding an infectious calm everywhere she went, Mon Mothma isn’t just a good choice to lead the New Republic. She’s the only choice.
Peli Motto is comedic relief personified. A human who operates Hanger 3-5 on Tattooine, Peli Motto is just your average person trying to make their way in the galaxy. And perhaps she’s looking to make as many credits as she can along the way. She runs into Din Djarin and Grogu during their adventures and becomes their de facto ship engineer. She’s spunky, goofy, and someone who helps ground the Star Wars Universe.
Wildly active during the Clone Wars, Aalya Secura was a Twi-lek Jedi Master who turned Jedi General during violent conflicts. Friends with Ahsoka Tano and Annakin, Aalya Secura, saw plenty of combat while leading her battalion of clone troopers. She was also a skilled pilot, flying dozens of missions during the Wars. Unfortunately, she died during the Battle of Felucia when Order 66 was activated.
Ahsoka went from being an annoying padawan to the mother of the Jedi underground railroad. Someone who experienced the hypocrisy and corruption of the Jedi Order firsthand, Ahsoka cast off her Jedi titles and became an unaligned Force-user, a renegade Jedi.
After all the combat she saw during the Clone Wars, Ahsoka became a wise leader who could offer advice to younger generations of rebels. Ahsoka Tona is one of the few Force-users who refused to accept the rule of the Galactic Empire or that her master was lost for good. Ahsoka goes on to help Luke rebuild the New Jedi Order and help establish the New Republic.
Shaak-Ti was a Togruta Jedi Master during the Clone Wars. Like Aayla Secura, Shaak-Ti became a General with her own command of clones. She was asked to oversee the production of clones on Kamino, and such was her trustworthiness. During Order 66, Shaak-Ti barricaded herself inside a Jedi Temple and meditated relentlessly. She recorded holocrons, sent her mind across the cosmos, and saw into the future. She met her demise at the end of Darth Vader’s lightsaber.
Padmé Amidala Naberrie
What can I say about the one and only Padmé that you don’t already know? She was the queen of Naboo before representing her people in the Galactic Senate. She was born to the Naberrie family, a middle-class family with no aspirations to lead.
But Padmé had a yearning for public service and was elected queen, thus giving her the title Amidala. She’s more than a senator or politician, as Padmé has seen plenty of combat in her life. Secretly married Anakin Skywalker just before the Clone Wars, Padma gave birth to Luke and Leia.
A Tholothian who sat on the Jedi High Council, Adi Gallia was a wise warrior, fierce Force user, and stellar sword fighter. During the Clone Wars, she undertook many missions with her fellow Jedi Plo Koon, Obi-wan Kenobi, and Annakin Skywalker. Adi Gallia served as an ideal Jedi for others to look up to. Unfortunately, Adi Gallia was killed in a duel with Savage Opress.
Shmi is Anakin Skywalker’s mother. She was a slave on Tatooine and gave birth to Anakin without a father. While Anakin was training at the Jedi Academy, Shmi was bought and released from slavery by Cleage Lars, a moisture farmer. Shmi was a loving mother who greatly influenced Anakin’s desire to prevent the ones he loved from dying. She died in Anakin’s arms after being tortured by Tusken Raiders, a moment that caused Anakin to reach towards the dark side more than he ever had before.
Leia Amidala Skywalker Organa Solo (that’s a mouthful) is the daughter of Anakin and Padmé, and Force-sensitive, just like her brother. She was a politician, a revolutionary, a political prisoner, a rebel leader, a general, a Jedi Knight, a wife, and a mother.
Leia was the fearless leader who filled in Mon Mothma’s shoes after she stepped down, and just like with Mon Mothma, I don’t think anyone else would qualify. Leia spent her life serving others and was dedicated to making the galaxy a better place. She was an inspiring leader and showed that actions always speak louder than words.
Her name is Phasma. That’s it. Like Madonna or Jewel. She comes from the Scyre Clan on the planet Parnossos. She grew up hard and strong and became the military leader of her clan. When she first encountered the First Order, she knew she had to join their elite ranks.
She sold out her clan, abandoned her planet, and began rising through the ranks of the First Order. She was so formidable that she started a secret cadre consisting of General Hux, Kylo Ren, and herself. Though she died in Episode 9, many members of the Star Wars Universe don’t believe that was her end.
Palliduvins are kind of weird. They stand out a bit with abnormally long fingers and skin so pasty you can almost see through it. And among Palliduvins, Auura Sing stands out. With a comlink implanted in her skull and a sniper rifle on her back, Auura Sing was a recognizable bounty hunter.
Working with the likes of Cad Bane, Jango Fett, and Darth Maul, Auura Sing got around. She began life as a padawan, but failed the trails quickly and left to live a life sold to the highest bidder. She met her end after a fatal run-in with Tobias Beckett.
Fennec Shand can’t die. Well, she won’t die. A mercenary of legendary status, Fennec Shand is skilled at everything a killer needs to survive in the Star Wars Universe. Vibroblades, blasters, explosives, ships–you name it, Fennec has killed someone with it. After forming a network of shady connections, Fennec found herself an enemy of both Imperials and the New Republic. After Boba Fett saves her life, the two team up as an unstoppable murderous duo.
Bo-Katan has had one crazy life. From siding with the Maul brothers to siding with the Jedi; from overthrowing the ruler of Mandalore to breaking the ruler of Mandalore out of jail; from terrorists to the leader of an entire planet. Bo-Katan Kryze of House Kryze is Mandalorian royalty.
At the end of the day, she’s just a good old-fashioned Mandalorian: a capable, fierce, badass warrior who wants to see her homeworld independent and secure. She might make some bad decisions along the way, but her goals are pure enough.
Enigmatic doesn’t quite cut it. One of the most proficient sword fighters in the galaxy, Asajj Ventress lived a life of pain and longing. She was born on Dathomir to a clan of Nightsisters but was quickly whisked away to live as a slave. Then was rescued and trained in the Force by a wandering Jedi.
Next, she became a pirate warlord right before becoming a gladiator slave. Then she got adopted by Count Dooku and was his assassin for a while before she left the dark side and became a bounty hunter. Until she finally ended up falling in love with a Jedi and working on the light side once more. She was one of the few people who could stand toe-to-toe with Jedi masters like Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi and laugh about it afterward.
Amilyn Holdo was Admiral of the Resistance Fleet for a short time after the majority of command was killed by Starkiller Base. A life-long politician and serving member of both the Alliance and Resistance, Holdo was only happy when working with Leia on something important.
Born to the planet Gatalenta, Holdo became friends with like-minded Leia at a young age, and the two grew up as freedom fighters together. Her suicidal attack on the First Order is now named the Holdo Maneuver.
Rose Tico is a member of the Resistance and a full-time hater of the First Order. She started her military career as a maintenance worker. Still, after surviving multiple battles and comprising the last few members of the Resistance, she was promoted to leader of the Engineering Corps. Rose worked behind the scenes to counteract the First Order’s advanced tracking technologies and even invented a specific kind of cryptography to hide Resistance ships better.
How do I speak of Rey without spoiling everything about her mysterious history? Well, she grew up as a space junker, skilled at scavenging valuable items and resources from forgotten shipyards. She may or may not be related to a powerfully evil person. She may or may not be somewhat ashamed of that relation and adopts the last name Skywalker instead.
Rey is an incredibly powerful Jedi and a dyad in the Force. She’s clever, genuine, and resolved to make the galaxy better. Without her, the Resistance surely would’ve failed, and the First Order would rule the galaxy.
Hera Syndulla, pilot extraordinaire, basically started the Rebellion. Born into conflict on her homeworld of Ryloth, Hera became a freedom fighter at a young age. It wasn’t until she left her planet’s struggle for freedom that she discovered her first-rate piloting skills and teamed up with Kanan Jarrus.
Looking to be part of a bigger fight, Hera immediately caught the attention of Bail Organa and started her own rebel cell shortly after. She was a pillar of the early Rebel Alliance and stuck around all the way to the New Republic, where she helped teach the next generation of kickass pilots.
Mandalorian, rebel, artist. Sabine Wren from clan Wren served on the Ghost crew with Hera, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper. She once wielded the Darksaber and helped expose the Empire’s puppet government on Mandalore.
She’s credited with creating the first widely distributed Rebellion propaganda and perhaps even the Rebel Alliance symbol itself. A warrior first and everything else second, Sabine was more than instrumental in the early Rebellion. The last we see of Sabine is when she teams up with Ahsoka Tano in search of Ezra.
Chelli Lona Aphra
Dr. Aphra was an archeologist that operated mainly after the fall of the Galactic Republic and almost exclusively for Darth Vader. Though Dr. Aphra isn’t a bounty hunter herself, she is good at managing a bounty hunter team and always gets results for her boss. Dr. Aphra travels with her trusty murder droids, BT-1 and 0-0-0. She was essentially Darth Vader’s personal intelligence agent and was damn good at it.
Mallatobuck is Chewbacca’s wife. There’s little else we know about her. She was captured and enslaved the same as Chewy, but after the battle of Kashyyk was reunited with her husband and son.
Qi’ra is everything you want in an underworld leader: calculating, ruthless, and skilled in several forms of murder. Growing up in the ship-building world of Correlia, Qi’ra was born into a life of abject poverty and borderline slavery.
She worked her way up from those dirty alleyways to be second in command of Crimson Dawn, one of the deadliest criminal syndicates in the galaxy. After murdering her boss and forming an alliance with Maul, Qi’ra took over Crimson Dawn and ushered in an era of crime dominance.
Enfys Nest was an early rebel fighter who helped fuel some of the first Rebellion missions. Part pirate, part rebel operative, Enfys Nest was most concerned with stopping Crimson Dawn activity in its tracks, which she did. Often.
Wielding an electroripper staff that could cut through metal, beskar steel gauntlets, and repulsor lifts in her boots to enhance her jumps, Enfys Nest was a warrior of the future. She led the Cloud Riders, a band of pirates hell-bent on screwing over Crimson Dawn whenever they could.
Who is Reva? A survivor, an inquisitor, and someone whose full story is yet to unfold. Reva was a padawan at the Jedi Temple during Order 66 and watched as her friends and classmates were murdered by Darth Vader. But Reva’s a survivor and made it through the carnage alive.
Years later, she joined the Inquisitors at a chance to get close to Vader and get revenge for all the death he caused. Revenge is all she cares about. But after speaking with Obi-Wan Kenobi about her past and goals, she agreed to leave her revenge behind and open herself to a brighter future.
Cere Junda was a former Jedi Knight who worked during and after Order 66. After blaming herself for her padawan turning to the dark side, Cere cut herself off from the Force entirely. Still looking to make a difference, Cere eventually finds the goal of rescuing a Jedi Holocron and working to rebuild the Jedi Order.
Ah yes, the Second Sister. Trilla Suduri was at one point a padawan of Cere Junda and survived the slaughter of Order 66. She and her master were captured by the Imperials at some point and tortured, and that torture turned Trilla rotten.
She dedicated herself to pleasing the Emperor and would often torture her own subjects before killing them. She was a ruthlessly efficient Jedi hunter. Yet, despite her connections to the dark side, before her death, she pleaded to Cere and Cal to avenge her and all the dead Force users who Darth Vader and the Inquisitors had killed.
Merrin is not to be messed with. She has mastery over dark Force rituals that would make Sith think twice about crossing her. Living on Dathomir during the height of Imperial control, Merrin is the last surviving Nightsister to lead her clan of Zabrak warriors.
She makes a mistake in befriending Taron Malicos, a fallen Jedi, but quickly rectifies that mistake by helping Cal Kestis kill him. Though she is a wielder of dark side powers and abilities known as magicks, she joins Cal Kestis and former Jedi Cere aboard the Stinger Mantis to get revenge on the Empire.
You don’t get much more elite than Iden Versio. Daughter of Admiral Garrick Versio, Iden was commander of Inferno Squad, a unique team of special forces stormtroopers who worked in clandestine operations. Working at the height of the Galactic Civil War, with the Rebellion in full force, Iden defected from the Empire during Operation Cinder, a military operation that would see her planet follow in the same footsteps as Alderaan. After almost three decades as a commander in the Rebel Alliance, Iden passed away right before the battle of Starkiller Base.
Maz is one of the closest things we’re going to get to a god in the Star Wars Universe. She’s well over a thousand years old and shows no signs of slowing down. Known for hundreds of years as the Pirate Queen, Maz Kanada is a Force-sensitive humanoid.
We don’t really know what she is, but we know she’s from Takodana. And she’s old. She’s spent a thousand years traveling the galaxy, collecting treasures and trinkets. During that time, she’s allowed just about any smuggler, pirate, or rebel to stay in her castle for a free night, or a discounted extended stay. Maz has connections that span the universe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she knows much more than she lets on.
Jannah is a former First Order stormtrooper who defected after being given some obviously evil orders. The First Order is known for capturing and brainwashing child soldiers to fight for them, and Jannah was one of those soldiers. Alas, their indoctrination didn’t stick too well since Jannah led her battalion of stormtroopers to defect with her.
They rose up, broke off their bonds, and lived as freedom fighters for a time. Until they crossed paths with Finn and his team of rebel fighters. Jannah ends up partnering up with Finn to take down the Sith fleet, using her engineering skills to deadly effect. The last we see of her, she’s sitting with Lando discussing her unknown homeworld.
A former child soldier and experienced criminal, Jyn Erso lived life by her own rules. She was separated from her parents at a young age and raised by Saw Gerrara and the Partisans. Jyn took part in violent terrorist attacks against the Empire at a young age and learned the criminal underworld well.
After being abandoned by the Partisans, Jyn drifted around the cosmos for a while until she joined forces with the early Rebellion, who was looking for Saw Gerrara. Jyn worked with Cassian Andor to steal critical data on the first Death Star, which helped the Rebel Alliance destroy the space station.
Question: Hang on, didn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi have a girlfriend at one point?
Answer: Sort of. Duchess Satine Kryze, sister to Bo-Katan. They met while they were young–Obi-Wan a padawan and Satine essentially a political intern. But they fell in love almost immediately. Relationships can be complicated in a galaxy far, far away, and this one certainly was. They loved each other but never acted on those feelings. Satine died at the hands of Maul, part of his revenge on Obi-Wan for taking his legs.
Question: I’d heard that Luke Skywalker got married, is that true?
Answer: Legends is packed with so many good stories. The story of Mara Jade Skywalker, former Imperial assassin turned Jedi Master? One of the best. Alas, she’s not a part of canon Star Wars. In Disney’s Star Wars, Luke was every part the monastic warrior and never married.
Question: Dude, where’s Oola?
Answer: Alright. I can understand someone being upset I didn’t put Kydel Ko Connix on the list, despite her minuscule involvement, but Oola? Really? She was around for about five minutes and got eaten by a Rancor. The end. I don’t understand why people are still enamored with her character.
Question: This can’t be every female character in Star Wars, can it?
Answer: Obviously not. I didn’t even bring up Legends characters, and those are my favorite. But just staying in Canon, there’s Zorii Bliss, Steela Gerrera, Barriss Offee, and Mina Bonteri to name a few. There are at least a dozen more. They just aren’t as notable as the ones listed above. Think of this list as the who’s who of Star Wars. If you know the women on this list, you can expertly join any Star Wars conversation you overhear.
The Star Wars Universe is full of characters for fans to marvel at. Each one is memorable and unique in their right, bringing a different emotional weight to the galaxy far, far away. This list is but a primer, a brief, a rough crash course to some of the most remarkable women in Star Wars. Do yourself a favor and dive more into Qi’ra, Dr. Aphra, and Hera and you won’t be disappointed.
The Star Wars Universe simply wouldn’t exist without the foundational women that bring it such worth. With a stellar track record of 40+ years, I’m sure Star Wars will continue to birth radically incredible women for decades to come.
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