best female star wars characters

Star Wars is back in full swing with the long-awaited arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the heavily praised eighth entry in the Skywalker saga. The movie picks up just after the events of The Force Awakens, with our newly anointed heroine, Rey, coming face-to-face with Luke Skywalker. Rey was an instant fan-favorite, her strength a subject of intense debate, adoration, and speculation. She enters The Last Jedi as a powerful force to be reckoned with, and as the first female lead of the series, she blazed a trail that paved the way for Jyn Erso in Rogue One, and – hopefully – whole cadres of empowered intergalactic women.

But Rey wasn’t the first (or last) important woman in the world of Star Wars. The previous films – not to the mention the TV shows, books, and comics – are chocked full of a diverse selection of female heroines and villains. In honor of Rey, and The Last Jedi’s two new lady leads – Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico and Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo – we’re counting down the very best female characters in the Star Wars universe.

Note: In order to keep this list manageable, we’re only including characters who exist in the current Star Wars canon. So don’t expect Mara Jade to show up here.

best female star wars characters rose tico

10. Rose Tico

We have no doubt that in a few years’ time Rose will float way closer to the top of this list. But for now, our experience with her is limited, and in the interest of avoiding spoilers, we’re staying mostly hush-hush. What we can say is this: Rose’s spirit is so contagious in The Last Jedi, and her chemistry with Finn so adorable, that we want way more from this rebellious little spitfire. Hopefully we’ll see some of that in the novel, The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron, which features Rose on the cover and comes out on December 15, 2017.

best female star wars characters mon mothma

9. Mon Mothma

Though she only appears briefly in Return of the Jedi and Rogue One, extended materials – from The Clone Wars to tie-in novels like Aftermath: Empire’s End – have filled in much of Mon Mothma’s backstory. As a Loyalist leader, she was one of the first people to directly oppose Palpatine as the Republic began to crack, and helped forge the Rebel Alliance from its ashes. She’s pretty much as rad as a person can get, and tops it off with those regal white robes and steely glare. She’s an instantly recognizable character not for her screentime but for her impact, which extends far beyond her “many Bothans” street cred.

best female star wars characters holdo

8. Amilyn Holdo

As with Rose, there’s not much we can say about Holdo without spoiling The Last Jedi for those who haven’t seen it. We’ll steer clear of that conversation for now, but we can add that she’s ranked above Rose not because she’s “better” – The Last Jedi is still fresh and hard to properly sort out – but because we know just a little bit more about her. A young Holdo appears in Claudia Gray’s excellent Princess Leia tie-in novel, Leia, Princess of Alderaan as an instantly lovable oddball. Quirky, odd, lyrical (think Luna Lovegood), she’s a unique presence in Star Wars lore. Though her onscreen counterpart is decidedly grown up and a little less whimsical, this is still a character we care about. And hey, any friend of Leia is a friend of ours.

best female star wars characters sabine

7. Sabine Wren

With her purple pixie cut and graffiti artist credentials, Sabine is the closest Star Wars gets to punk rock. Throw in an affinity for explosives and a lot of spunk, and you get one of the most unique and modern characters in the galaxy. As a Mandalorian, like Boba Fett, she had to clear the expectations that come with that bounty hunter association. She’s definitely got a knack for breaking rules, but she’s also one of the first-known members of the Rebel Alliance, where she puts those skills to good use. At the end of the day, we love Sabine because she exudes cool, something no other gal in the Star Wars universe is capable of in quite the same way.

best female star wars characters jyn erso

6. Jyn Erso

What Jyn might have been will always be better than what Jyn was, but that doesn’t mean she’s totally lacking strength or impact. It’s just that so much of her rich journey is relayed to us in exposition – notably, her history as an extremist militant – and some of her character motivation feels lost in the reshoot chaos that surrounded Rogue One. But Jyn is still one of our primary Star Wars heroes, the central figure in a war story that’s so different from what came before and after. She’s brave, and ultimately gives her life to fuel the Rebellion. It’s hard post-Rogue One not to feel Jyn’s sacrifice in the margins of A New Hope, a reminder that our beloved heroes get to live on and have adventures because of what she gave them.

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