George Lucas’ creation of the Star Wars saga was influenced by classical mythology – specifically Joseph Campbell’s research into the “hero’s journey” – so its stories tend to feature straightforward heroes and villains. Luke Skywalker is a bright-eyed optimist with an unwavering drive to do the right thing and, although Darth Vader was later redeemed, he was initially introduced as the faceless embodiment of pure evil.
But, from ice-cool gunslingers like Boba Fett and Han Solo to morally complex Force users like Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress, there are plenty of Star Wars characters who walk the fine line between hero and villain.
8 Migs Mayfeld
In The Mandalorian’s standalone first-season adventure “Chapter 6: The Prisoner,” Mando is recruited to help a crew of outlaws – including ex-Imperial sharpshooter Migs Mayfeld, played spectacularly by guest star Bill Burr – to break their partner-in-crime out of a New Republic prison. Mayfeld was more or less a traditional villain in this episode, turning the tables on Mando and leaving him stranded in a locked cell.
When Mayfeld returned in season 2’s “Chapter 15: The Believer,” he earned some redemption by teaming up with Mando to get information from an Imperial Remnants compound (and blowing up the entire compound on his way out).
7 Jango Fett
In Attack of the Clones, Jango Fett is introduced as a villain as the job of assassinating Padmé is outsourced to him and Obi-Wan tracks him down to the cloning operation on Kamino. He gets into a gadget-laden fight and eventually an intense space battle with the legendary Jedi.
But Fett isn’t a traditional villain with malicious intentions. He’s just out for money so he can provide a good life for his cloned son. By his own admission, Fett is “just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”
6 Lando Calrissian
When Han and the Rebels are fleeing from the Imperial fleet in the middle act of The Empire Strikes Back, they seek refuge on Cloud City with an old frenemy of Han’s, Lando Calrissian. Lando is characterized as an even cooler, even more suave version of Han himself.
Lando is initially revealed to have sold out Han and his friends to Darth Vader, but when Vader keeps altering their deal, he’s inspired to switch sides and join the Rebel cause.
5 Asajj Ventress
As an assassin who was trained to harness the dark side of the Force by Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress was introduced as a sinister side villain in The Clone Wars. But she turned out to be a lot more complex than she initially seemed.
By the fourth season of The Clone Wars, Ventress had a change of heart and became a more morally upright antihero. After being betrayed by Dooku, Ventress unsuccessfully sought revenge against him, turned to work as a bounty hunter, and ended up teaming up with some of her former Jedi enemies.
4 Din Djarin
The titular bounty hunter was introduced as a quintessential lone wolf antihero in the pilot episode of The Mandalorian. He strolls into a shady saloon, effortlessly kills a bunch of goons with his deadly arsenal of gadgets, and callously tells his latest bounty, “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.”
Since taking a baby under his wing and constantly risking his own life to save that baby, Mando has been more of a traditional hero than an antihero – but he’s still a cold-hearted killer with shaky ethics.
3 Anakin Skywalker
Darth Vader was introduced as a faceless symbol of evil in the original 1977 Star Wars movie, but he was humanized in The Empire Strikes Back when he was revealed to be the biological father of Luke Skywalker and redeemed in Return of the Jedi when he made the ultimate sacrifice to save Luke from the Emperor.
When Lucas went back to fill in the backstory with a prequel trilogy, he characterized Anakin Skywalker as a tragic hero in the vein of Hamlet or Michael Corleone. The Clone Wars animated series leaned even more heavily into the antihero aspects of Anakin’s character.
2 Boba Fett
Bounty hunter Boba Fett was introduced as a side villain in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader hired him to track down the Millennium Falcon. Jeremy Bulloch played him spectacularly as a spaghetti western gunslinger in the mold of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” character from the Dollars trilogy.
Starting with The Mandalorian’s second season, Boba has been brought back to life, played brilliantly by Jango Fett actor and clone template Temuera Morrison. Morrison is reprising his role in the spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett, in which he’ll take over the criminal underworld of Tatooine.
1 Han Solo
By the end of the original trilogy, Han Solo was one of the heroes of the Rebellion. But when he was first introduced in Mos Eisley Cantina, he only cared about his own self-interest (and that of his Wookiee companion Chewbacca). When he agreed to take Luke and Obi-Wan to Alderaan, he was just looking for an easy paycheck.
Even after joining the Rebels, Han continued to be a gunslinging antihero who got into shootouts with bounty hunters and owed money to crime lords. After the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order, he ended up going back to his old smuggling ways.
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About The Author
Ben Sherlock (3141 Articles Published)
Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, and independent filmmaker. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant, covering Mando, Melville, Mad Max, and more. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature, and has been for a while because filmmaking is expensive. In the meantime, he’s sitting on a mountain of unproduced screenplays. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop. You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time.