The 14 Best Star Wars Creatures Ranked

"Star Wars" just wouldn't be "Star Wars" without the decades of world-building that went into creating that galaxy long ago and far, far away. A variety of planets, their people, and their environments create unique settings for the fantastical stories we grew up with. Life itself is a necessary ingredient for making a fictional world feel lived in, and the creatures of "Star Wars" are not only part of these intricate landscapes, but memorable in their own right.

The artists that bring "Star Wars" to life — creators like Ralph McQuarrie, Terryl Whitlach, and Phil Tippett — are magic makers, each as important to the franchise's legacy as George Lucas himself, and the creatures on this list represent some of their best work. They're sometimes freaky and often adorable, becoming squeezable plushies or surprising toys on our carefully maintained bookshelves (which, yes, are also full of tie-in novels and Black Series figures). Over the years, each found a durable place in "Star Wars," and in our hearts.

14. Krykna and Knobby Spiders

Ralph McQuarrie produced oodles of unused concept art for the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Among the most intriguing pieces was a painting of a gigantic, spindly arachnid facing down Luke Skywalker on Dagobah. This creepy critter went unused until 2016, when Ezra Bridger and the crew of "Star Wars: Rebels" established Chopper Base on Atollon. Gradually, the new arrivals realized they weren't alone on that isolated world. Deep underground were the Krykna — sleek, white, hard-skinned arachnids that were drawn to strong emotions. It was a horrifying turn of events for the rebels, and a mark of Kanan Jarrus' power that he could travel among them.

"The Mandalorian" would return to that long-ago piece of concept art. In season 2, Din Djarin crash lands on Maldo Kreis with passengers in tow. It's a frozen wasteland planet, pockmarked with underground hot springs where the knobby white ice spiders leave their eggs. Even more faithful to McQuarrie's artwork, these spiders are relentless and blast-resistant, turning the 10th episode of "The Mandalorian" into a horror show.

13. Krayt Dragons

Once upon a time, the Sarlacc was the king of Tatooine. But its true conqueror laid in wait from the beginning, its skeleton glimpsed in the opening minutes of "A New Hope." The sprawling bones of a Krayt Dragon were an implication of how terrible life on this desert world could be. But years before a live one was seen in "The Mandalorian," the Krayts became one of our favorite creatures in the expanded universe, now branded as "Star Wars Legends."

Dragons are inherently cool, so it's understandable that these awe-inspiring critters became frequent fliers once writers and creators got ahold of them. "Knights of the Old Republic," the blockbuster RPG from Bethesda, made a canyon Krayt the focus of its Tatooine sequence. They went on to be mentioned dozens of times, but it took Din Djarin to make the live creatures canon. In "The Marshal," the Mandalorian and his charge assist a tribe of Tusken Raiders in taking down a massive Krayt that lives in a former Sarlacc nest. The pearl they extract is another homage to the Krayt's non-canon legacy, a priceless rarity that once powered lightsabers.

12. Mynocks

Kids have loved weird, goopy, creepy critters since time immemorial, so it should be no surprise that they glommed onto one of the weirdest beasts of "Star Wars." The bat-like Mynock has a rich merchandising history, spotlighted at Disney's Galaxy's Edge and available as a cute plushie in the wake of the "Star Wars: Galaxy of Creatures" web serial. Not too shabby for a miniature galactic horror!

Mynocks can survive without atmosphere, seemingly favoring asteroid fields over their homeworld of Ord Mynock. We first meet them in "The Empire Strikes Back," when a flock of the creatures assault the Millennium Falcon while it's docked inside what Han Solo and his friends assume to be an ordinary asteroid. The Falcon departs as quickly as it can, but the Mynocks went on to reoccur as unwelcome guests and instigators of notably disastrous incidents in Legends and other canonical materials.

11. Nexu

Someone, and we're not going to name names here (except we absolutely are), thought putting spider-like eyes on the meanest-looking cat the galaxy could offer was going to be a good idea. In sculptor Robert E. Barnes' defense, the Nexu is one of the most striking critters to come out of the "Star Wars" prequels. Lean and muscular with a heavy, split tail, this thing tried to take a chunk out of Padmé Amidala in "Attack of the Clones." The next time a nexu appeared in canon, it tried to eat Omega in the second episode of "The Bad Batch." The Nexu have a niche, and they're very good at it.

The Nexu are huntable in the popular but non-canon "Knights of the Old Republic" MMO, and typically got a mention in the grittier Legends books, like "Death Troopers" or "Darth Plagueis." With a head like a fanged shovel and those eerie, emotionless eyes, they're not easily mistaken for sweet and cuddly. Seen at the Galaxy's Edge theme park, a lone Nexu is nothing more than a trophy head high up on a wall.

10. Kowakian Monkey-Lizards

A Kowakian monkey-lizard first appeared in "Return of the Jedi," as the improbably named Salacious Crumb, chittering at Jabba's side. These scampering little freaks look like they escaped from a drug rehab run out of the basement of a Muppet museum, and bonus — they're semi-sentient, meaning they can think about how troublesome they intend to be. Very troublesome, as it happens.

These kleptomaniac bastards found a natural home alongside pirates and scumbags. Instead of pretty space parrots, the infamous pirate Hondo Ohnaka kept a number of Kowakians around, even sending them off on heists without adult supervision. Their best appearance in canon? "The Mandalorian" sees Din Djarin pass a food stand on Nevarro in "The Sin," where some freshly roasted Kowakian on a stick can be yours for just a few credits. A Kowakian puppet is available at Galaxy's Edge, but dear God, why would anyone, save for a dedicated Weequay cosplayer, want one of these things in their house?

9. Rancors

The wildest thing about "The Bad Batch" is how this bittersweet animated series about a bunch of clone orphans made bulky rancor beasts into something adorable (Okay, that's maybe not the wildest thing about "The Bad Batch", but it's up there). Rancors are big, ugly suckers, bipedal reptilians that tower over the average humanoid. They're carnivorous and far from stupid, with a solid amount of animal cunning going on upstairs. They're also surprisingly lovable to some in the galaxy. It's a strange but memorable moment in "Return of the Jedi" to see that the death of Jabba's prize Rancor hits its handler right in the soul.

"The Bad Batch" goes back in time to the rise of the Empire, and one odd job sees the rogue clones off to rescue a lost pet named Muchi. It's a burning hunch that this missing mutt is going to be a lot more to handle than the clones expect, but even so, this youthful, pink-skinned Rancor turns out to be both a terror and a cutie. Rancors pop up regularly in action figure sets, but so far, nobody's had the courage to sell us a pink-collared plush Rancor.

8. Purrgils

Grand Admiral Thrawn is a villain so beloved that he broke back into canon with a hero's welcome. Yet this new iteration of the Chiss tactical genius has two weaknesses where his original self had almost none. One, he's about as politically savvy as a brick. And two, he never saw those space whales coming.

The space whales are called Purrgil, and "Star Wars: Rebels" featured them as part of Ezra's growth as an empathetic young Jedi. They're massive, neon-bright, intelligent, and they can jump through hyperspace with pinpoint accuracy. They're adorable, in a what-the-kriff kind of way, with eyes nearly bigger than a human being. Ezra's first encounter with the species is scary for young viewers, but it makes his final strike against Thrawn and the Empire feel surprisingly magical and real. It's the culmination of a promise, in a way. The results are bittersweet. Both Thrawn and Ezra disappear at the climax of the Battle of Lothal, courtesy of the Purrgil. It's likely that won't be the last time we see these majestic giants.

7. Tauntauns

Tauntauns are taken for granted in "Star Wars." They're off-white, kangarooish beasts of burden, native to the icy planet Hoth. They have hard, goat-like horns and durable skin, which means someone thought about how a Tauntaun would realistically have to work against the ice to survive. That's the good stuff, the best examples of world-building.

Slicing one of these bad boys open to turn them into a gory sleeping bag means a traumatized human can survive the frozen wastelands until help arrives, but that space-heater blubber comes with an olfactory cost. Tauntauns stink, and it's that fact we tend to remember first. There's no description of the stench, but the look on Han's face tells us everything we needed to know. They don't get much screen time elsewhere in "Star Wars," despite their big moment in "The Empire Strikes Back," but they're one of the more surprising critters to have plenty of plush toys made of them (including a mangy-looking but accurate little guy available at the Disney parks).

6. Ewoks

There's a tangible age division between those who think Ewoks are cool and those who do not. Fans who grew up during the prequel saga and beyond may have a different viewpoint on the natives of Endor's jungle moon than those of us who were, like, seven when these suckers gripped our imaginations. Yes, they're designed to be as cute as possible, and the merchandising went all out on the charm offensive. Looking back, it's admittedly a bit much, but ... no, sorry, I still like 'em.

The Ewoks are, nonetheless, a bit cringe, playing on ugly stereotypes of the noble savage with the fuzzy meter turned up to squishable. They have a close-knit tribal culture, and they're pretty canny little warriors. Their guerrilla abilities are played up in "Star Wars Battlefront II," in which a coordinated squad of players can turn the Ewok Hunt mode into a nightmare for the invading Stormtroopers.

The two made-for-TV Ewok movies and a related cartoon aren't canon, but they are available on Disney+. Be advised that the films can be dark. Indeed, the second one starts with the lovable human family meeting a gruesome fate.

5. Blurrgs

"Ewoks: Battle for Endor" is an unlikely place to find the roots of some beloved ideas. This now non-canon film gave today's rich galaxy two special introductions. The first, through some neat retcon shenanigans, are the Nightsisters. The second is the unlikely heartbreaker of a pack animal, the Blurrg.

First airlifted back into canon during "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the Twi'lek resistance movement on Ryloth and its leader, Cham Syndulla, favor the animals to move ordinance and supplies quickly. The weird, bipedal reptiles got a blink from long-time fans at the time, but that was all. Yet it's the Blurrgs that help set the tone of "The Mandalorian," with its premiere introducing the taciturn old Ugnaught Kuiil and his herd of feisty, hard-to-tame creatures. The Blurrgs become the only way our new Mandalorian hero can traverse the wastes of Arvala-7 to reach his target, and his mercenary abilities don't mean much to these unimpressed beasts. But the Mandalorian eventually perseveres in taming his mount, and makes riding the bulky Blurrgs look pretty damn cool, to boot.

4. Convoree

The Convor (plural: Convoree) is a perfect little oval of owl-like joy. Introduced without fanfare in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," they first appeared in the wilds of a Trandoshan moon. They flit in the background as Ahsoka Tano attempts to rescue herself and a pack of younglings from becoming targets in the most dangerous game. They continue to reappear where Ahsoka does, and for everyone else, they're highly desirable pets.

There's something more to some of these space owls, though. There's a special Convor out there named Morai. Morai, pretty with her tropical green plumage and white chest, seems to be the avatar, or mystic messenger, of the Daughter, part of a strange triad of Force mystics from Mortis. Ahsoka survived her Mortis trials alongside her master, Anakin, even conquering death itself. For that victory, Morai tends to be found wherever Ahsoka is, though seemingly of the bird's own volition. This unique Convor is glimpsed in the forests of Corvus, where Din Djarin finds Ahsoka on the hunt for the Magistrate's secretive master, Thrawn.

3. Banthas

Banthas are just big ol' space buffalo, and that alone would be reason enough to love them. Massive and hairy, with curling, rippling horns, the bantha look like they were rejected from "The Dark Crystal" for being too charming to terrify younger viewers. The only people to love the richly wood-toned Banthas more than the average kid are the Tusken Raiders, who treat the beasts like part of their family. It's chilling to see one of these sweet things sucked up by a Krayt during "The Mandalorian," when Din Djarin comes across Cobb Vanth's small-town troubles.

A "Galaxy of Creatures" animated short put fresh focus on these chill critters. Pack herbivores with a gentle face under all that hair, they're docile when undergoing the Tatooine version of a car wash. Most plush toys play up their good nature, showing off that big smile. Even Build-A-Bear has gotten into the Bantha-loving gig, although the round, bearlike face on their version can be jarring at first glance.

2. Porgs

Like Ewoks, Porgs can have a divisive effect on audiences. They're aggressively cute, a successful attempt to fold the endangered Irish puffins found on location into something suitable for "Star Wars." "The Last Jedi" lampshades the schmaltzy issue, putting these puntable penguins in opposition to an exhausted Chewbacca, who wants to turn them all into yummy Wookiee barbecue. The merchandise is saccharine, including adorable children's books like "Chewie and the Porgs," which this writer owns and isn't sorry about it.

An unwary shopper can find themselves drowning in Porg merchandise, from jingly mid-price silver pendants and charm bracelets, to premium plushies and LEGO projects. The blank, staring eyes of a Porg can induce horror in the less-enthused "Star Wars" fan, however, especially if one's Porg-hating spouse wakes in the night to find a life-sized plush looming over their face (Fortunately, Porgs are pretty harmless as far as home infestation goes). They're also not going away anytime soon, which is good news for those of us addicted to these slack-faced cheeseballs ... and bad news for our tired partners.

1. Tookas

The best part of writing is getting the chance to highlight the things we love. We — and the internet, collectively — love cats. The Tooka is first seen in "The Clone Wars" as a plushie on a kid's shelf on Ryloth, in a special kind of merchandise foreshadowing. It wasn't until "Star Wars: Rebels" that these kitties became a spotlight special.

The tabby Loth-cat is a popular Tooka subspecies, native to Ezra Bridger's homeworld of Lothal. They became symbolic of Ezra's connection to his world and reflective of his struggle to master his empathetic abilities. A unique white Loth-cat later becomes a spiritual guide to Ezra, reappearing on occasion after the loss of Kanan Jarrus.

Tookas and Loth-cats continue to flourish across the galaxy, with live-action appearances in "The Mandalorian." "The Bad Batch" also notes their feline perfection, granting the clone bruiser Wrecker a Tooka plush that he eventually shares custody of with Omega. While there's no Wrecker-branded Tooka toy yet available (get on it, Disney), there are a few plushies of the Loth-cat out there, including an animation-authentic one from Build-A-Bear.