My passion for Star Wars runs deep, but so too does my passion for alien species – not just in Star Wars, either, but in all IPs. Sometimes, they’re not even aliens, as with most fantasy genres, for example (you know, elves, orcs, trolls, and such), but, regardless of their origin, I’ve always enjoyed non-human characters. In fact, one of my favorite things about Star Wars is just how many alien species exist in the galaxy far, far away, and how many more are sure to be added as the vast and varied tales continue to unfold. So, for my sort of homage to the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, I decided to make a list of my 40 favorite alien species! (Yes, this was as hard as it sounds.) I hesitate to call it a ranked list, exactly, it’s more like a fluid group with the species I like the most toward the top. As you can see from the picture above, I changed my mind several times during the process, and if I did it again from scratch I’m sure I’d end up with an entirely different list, perhaps even with new species added and others left out (there are also eraser marks you probably can’t see). That said, take a look at what I came up with and see how it compares to yours! (Okay, I don’t really expect anyone to make their own top 40, but maybe a top 10…5?) Anyway, without further ado, here’s Rick Dees and the Star Wars Top 40:
Thanks to Mas Amedda’s incredibly rad visual appearance (much more so than the little he actually did), Chagrians rocketed their way to #1 in my heart after seeing Episode I and never looked back. The rest of the list may vary, but this spot is solid.
I have a thing for horns…anyway, the Devaronian in the iconic cantina scene from A New Hope was always a standout when I was a kid, and continues to be a favorite today. I was super stoked to see a Devaronian have a fairly important role in Star Wars Rebels in the form of the one and only Vizago.
Embo is the best bounty hunter…ever! That’s right, I said it, and I stand by it. So, yeah, Embo being Embo is basically why Kyuzo find themselves so high on the list, but, honestly, Constable Zuvio is a really rad character too, despite being Zuvio’d (a verb meaning “left out”) of The Force Awakens. If you haven’t read his short story, “High Noon on Jakku,” I highly recommend it.
Not having Wookiees in the top 5 would be a sin, if you ask me. Since Han is my favorite Star Wars character, you know I have a huge soft spot for Wookiees. Not to mention Krrsantan is one of my favorite characters from the Marvel comics…also, I’m kind of a big, hairy guy in real life, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least give the most Bryan-like Star Wars species a place near the top of the list.
That’s right, the weird, stalk-eyed, horse-mouthed Gran crack my top 5…what of it? I’ve always liked this species for their decided non-human appearance. Several people may think they’re goofy, and they sorta are, but I like them anyway. It was great to see one featured in The Phantom Menace, as the podracer Mawhonic.
6. Kel Dor
Initially, this was a choice made, as you’ll come to find to be the norm, on aesthetics alone, but became much more than that because of how awesome Plo Koon is in the Clone Wars cartoon. Also, it’s always intriguing to see species that have to wear some kind of breath mask, etc. to survive outside of their home planet’s conditions.
And the first Disney-era species on the list goes to *drum roll* the brothers Two-Tubes! I like this species for many of the same reasons I like Kel Dor, but also due in large part to the first @astarwarscomic, “Two Tubes.” If you haven’t been properly introduced to the boys at A Star Wars Comic, do yourself a favor and check them out, you won’t be sorry.
So, keeping up with my fondness for species with horns, Iktotchi takes the next spot on the list. I think I was drawn to this species because I’m a huge fan of the movie Legend, and they remind me of Tim Curry’s devil-like character. Plus, you know, horns are hella cool.
I guess in keeping with my fondness for species with neat adaptations to survive off-world, I present to you the insectoid Gand! As a kid, the bounty hunter scene in Empire Strikes Back was always a highlight – I was always a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more made of the hunters fighting for the bounty…hey, maybe that’d make a decent Star Wars Story…
Rounding out the top 10 we have what may have been Wookiees if not for, I assume, George Lucas’s desire to make them more like his dog. I enjoy how often new Star Wars content continues to draw from the magnificent concept art that Ralph McQuarrie came up with all those years ago. I also really enjoy Zeb’s character, and how the animators took him from concept to cartoon. I have my fingers crossed that he doesn’t become collateral damage in the upcoming final season of Rebels…
11. Yuuzhan Vong
Oh yeah, you read that correctly, just short of ending up in my top 10 are the fandom-splitting Yuzzahan Vong. Personally, I thought the Vong were exactly what Star Wars needed when they hit the scene, and I look forward to their triumphant return to canon because, let’s face it, they’re one of those dangers Thrawn talks about from out there in the Unknown Regions…when the self-mutilating zealots of biotechnology arrive on your doorstep, will you be ready?
Again with the horns! I just can’t help myself, though, and, really, what’s not to like about Zabraks, especially when the first time you really see one in action he’s a red and black Sith Lord? Nothing, that’s what not to like, nothing. Honestly, though, I think Jas Emari from the Aftermath books is probably my favorite Zabrak right now…
Did someone say horns and headtails? Well, probably not, but those are two distinguishing features of Togruta that I certainly enjoy, how ’bout you? In fact, that combination is what drew me to Chagrians, but there’s just something I like more about what the Chagrians have going on than Togrutas. I was super stoked when I found out that Anakin’s padawan was going to get the Togruta treatment, though – I’m really glad they resisted the temptation to make Ahsoka a human. More aliens in prominent roles, please!
I think I low-key have a thing for headtails/tendrils as well as horns and survival apparatus – though, to be honest, I always see Nautolan headtails as dreadlocks you’re born with, so they’re more a hair accessory than the squid or octopus appendages I imagine they were inspired by…at the end of the day, though, they just look cool as hell…
It occurs to me just now that Star Wars has a slight monopoly on big, white, hairy beings: Wampas, Eloms, Gigorans (which appear later), and, of course, the Talz. I feel like Talz should really appear earlier in the list, but I already took the picture of the handwritten list and I don’t feel like redoing it…so, yeah…I did wear a Muftak t-shirt today, though, so I think that makes it okay…? Anyway, my favorite thing about the Talz is how decidedly non-human they are. Aside from the Gran and maybe the Gand, they’re the least humanoid species in the list so far.
A frog-like species with a huge mouth that screams and runs amok on the Empire in Rogue One. Enough said.
By all accounts, this species shouldn’t even exist: it was a background extra from the original release of A New Hope that got cut from the special edition because it’s essentially just a werewolf mask…but I love wolves, so the wolf-man stays.
I have a special place in my heart of Ithorians because I had an old roleplaying character that was an Ithorian Fringer named Woldon – plus I’m a big fan of the Ithorian bartender with the talk box from Rebels…and the original one in A New Hope is really cool too…also, they’re another fairly non-humanoid species, so kudos for that…
Sticking with the non-humanoid vein, these guys are straight up goofy-looking, but in a terrific way. With protruding eyes that are below their creepy-looking mouths giving them and upside-down face, I’d say they are the least traditionally humanoid appearance from the neck up of any species on the list so far, for sure, and perhaps overall…
Cards on the table, I was afraid @BoxerlessBossk might read this, notice the species of his beloved Bossk didn’t crack the top 20, and immediately sever all ties, so the lizard men come screaming in at number 20 for the sake of Wesley…also they really are pretty cool…
Or as I first referred to them, fat Trandoshans. Turns out, though, they’re way cooler than that…when you need muscle with messed up teeth and goatee horns, you call a Dowutin.
The Dashade are up this high for one particular reason: Khem Val, the Dashade companion for the Sith Inquisitor class in the Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. Sith Inquisitor was the first class I played in the game, and, whatever flaws TOR had/has, story was not one of them, including the story of Khem Val.
See, told you they come up later…anyway, Gigorans get a nod because they’re big, burly, and have that cool survival apparatus that you all now know I enjoy on my aliens. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Moroff was all but invisible (despite his massive size) in Rogue One, but his legend already looms large as Gigorans have already made an appearance in the Doctor Aphra comic…
Another “blink and you’ll miss ’em” species, the Melitto are on the list for three reasons: they’re cool because they don’t have eyes, they use the survival apparatus that I like, and “The Weapon of the Jedi” story is fantastic and features the notable Melitto, Sarco Plank.
This species, like the Dashade, get a spot fairly high on the list because of video game nostalgia, this time for Knights of the Old Republic (although they too make an appearance as a playable species in the aforementioned MMO The Old Republic). I’m more of a dog person, for sure, but I like cats too…and, you know, member berries…
Twi’leks are perhaps one of the most prolific species, outside of humans, obviously, in all of Star Wars. I enjoy this species because they seem to be able to be born just about any color in the rainbow, and that’s fun for roleplaying and storytelling. Other than that, Twi’leks are Twi’leks, they really don’t need much elaboration…oh, also, Hera.
27. Mon Calamari
Ah, the old squids themselves, the Mon Cal. Another fairly prolific species, they were elevated to new heights first through the Clone Wars, and then through the unwavering dedication to actually fighting the Empire by Admiral Raddus in Rogue One. They’re also remembered fondly by even the most casual of Star Wars fans for the “It’s a trap!” meme…
I’m guessing most people are reading this now or read it in the picture and said to themselves, “huh?” To be honest, I forgot until I googled it again and then I was all, “oh, hell yeah!” Sure, this species had a small cameo in The Force Awakens, but they’re not on the list for that, oh no, they made the cut because of the blood-thirsty bounty hunter from the Darth Maul comic, Vorhdeilo. If you think about it, though, a small, pink and yellow insectoid species was just what Star Wars needed…especially if they’re all blood seekers like Vorhdeilo…
Hopefully you’re not getting tired of video game nostalgia yet, because, once again, that’s why the Rakata are on the list…secondarily, though, they get a spot because they’re making their way, slowly, back to canon – most interestingly in the form of Rakata Prime being listed in The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary…could the return of the Rakata to known space be the new version of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion? I hope not, but I think something with the Rakata is coming so hold on to your butts…
I chose Whiphid for the list because I have really fond memories, oddly, of a Whiphid Jedi that appeared in the other Clone Wars cartoon series. Also, they’re big and nasty-looking with cool tusks…and, frankly, there aren’t enough tusks on this list…
31. Tusken Raider
We’re getting toward the end and things are getting tight…I honestly considered not including Tuskens or Jawas (who are next), but I couldn’t follow through with it in good conscious…they’re just too iconic, too much part of all that is Star Wars because they were so much a part of how it all began…also, they played such a key role in Anakin’s fall to the dark side I feel like this homage is the least I can do…
I have but one thing to say: Utini!
Ah, the species that is suddenly everywhere 30 years after Return of the Jedi…while I do like the look of the Abednedo, it still seems weird that there were so many of them featured with different associations and affiliations…I’ll take it, though, don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate getting more than one example of a species in such a vast galaxy…
Another prolific species that I think is the most “sci-fi-looking” species in all of Star Wars – that doesn’t mean they’re not cool, though, so on the list they go! Oh, just by the way, uh…Han shot first! *runs away cackling*
One of the million dollar questions in Star Wars continues to be: what do Bothans look like? Even in the old EU when there were visual representations, they were pretty varied – sometimes they looked like dogs, sometimes more like horses…it’s no wonder it’s such a controversy…it remains to be seen if we’ll ever get a definitive answer so, for now, Bothans remain safely anonymous…but their legendary spy network and their assistance in acquiring the plans for Death Star 2 are too important to leave them from the list just because they may end up looking like giant rats or something…
With a deep cut into the old EU, I’m coming in late in the list with Fosh, the rad-looking avian aliens. Love or hate the New Jedi Order series, it’s hard to argue that Fosh aren’t amazing to look at, if nothing else…
Space monkeys, ladies and gentlemen, space monkeys. They had me at Bistan’s crazy laugh on the Rogue One sizzle reel…
38. Pau’an / Delphidian
Okay, so…here is where I start cheating: I picked two species here because they look sort of similar, and because, well, I wanted to, dammit! Anyway, these species both have what look to be clay faces with lines carved in them, only one is light-colored and one is darker. Also, really, I just wanted to through Delphidians in because I wanted to mention that the Crimson Corsair, the amazing-looking guy in red that Finn almost leaves with in The Force Awakens, is Delphidian…and I wanted to list Pau’ans because they’re super cool…so you get a two-for-one, hooray! (Did I mention the Grand Inquisitor was a Pau’an? Because he was…)
39. Chiss / Pantoran / Britarro (aka the Blues Brothers)
Yeah, I know, cheating again…but these three blue-skinned species are all very, very similar – in fact, they reference that Thrawn is mistaken for a Pantoran, because those wondering have no knowledge of the Chiss, in his novel…and so you get a couple extra blue guys, no harm done, right?
That’s right! Leaving you with the cute and cuddly, flesh-eating species that helped end an Empire! (Because, according to @starguments, they all rolled Triumphs.) Enjoy…
Alright, there you have it: 40 alien species for 40 years of Star Wars! That turned out to be a little more ambitious than I’d planned, but it was good fun just the same…so, who’s on your list that I missed? Who’d I include that wouldn’t even be in your top 100? How’s your top 5 or 10 look vs. mine? Do a little species soul-searching, hit me up in the comments section and we’ll keep the celebration of Star Wars going all weekend long! Or, you know, don’t, and just lament my choices to yourself…either way, though, may the Force of the last 40 years be with you…
*Images taken from Wookieepedia.