If there’s one enduring image from A New Hope it is the scene where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi enter the dimly lit cantina in Mos Eisley. Exotic aliens of a dozen species sit together in a smokey bar, enjoying (possibly) the repetitive strains of the Bith house band. Conversations in a number of languages hang in the air and sense of a pure “alien” environment is effectively created. It was so effective that the scene was mirrored in Return of the Jedi with Jabba’s Palace, Coruscant‘s Outlander Club in Attack of the Clones, and most recently in Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens.
The alien characters of the Star Wars saga are some of the most endearing and memorable, from the mighty Chewbacca to the wise Yoda to the loathsome Jabba. The Star Wars films, television series, comics, and books introduce dozens of unique and distinct species into the Star Wars Canon. And when you factor in the number of species created by the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends), the number of species in the universe clocks in at over 1,500!
Here we look at some of the most important species introduced into the Star Wars mythos.
The Ewoks are a primitive, tribal species native to the forest moon of Endor introduced in Return of the Jedi. They are a social and gregarious species although wary of outsiders. Hunting, gathering, and foraging are the main focuses of an Ewok’s life. Deeply spiritual, the Ewoks have a great reverence for nature and believe they descended from a sacred tree known as the “Great Tree,” and have a golden deity that bears some resemblance to C-3PO, which is an extraordinary stroke of luck for our heroes during the opening stages of the Battle of Endor.
Despite their primitive culture, the Ewoks were instrumental in turning the Battle of Endor in the Alliance’s favor after the Empire lured them into a trap on the Sanctuary Moon. Trained and battle-hardened warriors used bows, spears, and rocks to kill Imperial stormtroopers while using ingeniously constructed log traps to counter the larger Imperial war machines.
Home planet moon: Endor
Distinctions: Possibly cannibalistic (if eating another species can be classed as cannibalism) but merchandising-friendly teddy bears
The Geonosians are the insect species native to the desert planet Geonosis introduced in Attack of the Clones. Separated into hives, the Geonosians control large droid factories that the Confederacy of Independent Systems used to create their battle droid army. The opening battle of the Clone Wars is waged on Geonosis after the Republic discover the Separatist build-up.
Geonosis became a battlefield later in the war as the Republic invaded in force. During the battle, the Jedi encountered Karina the Great, a Geonosian queen who used brain worms to control a horde of undead Geonosian warriors. Following the Clone Wars, the Empire sterilized the planet which resulted in the near extermination of the Geonosian species.
Home planet: Geonosis
Distinctions: Originally designed the Death Star
The Hutts inhabit the planet Nal Hutta and pretty much control the criminal underground in the galaxy. First introduced in Return of the Jedi,the Hutts had nevertheless been alluded to since A New Hope. Gangsters and crimelords, the Hutts deal in slaves, spice running, assassination, and generally have their pudgy little fingers in as many pies as possible. If there’s illegal money to be made, the Hutts are usually profiting off of it.
Hutts are associated by kajidics, which are a combination of crime cartel and family. They have a long lifespan and are capable of living for several centuries (notwithstanding encounters with disgruntled Alderaanian princesses). They often surround themselves with underlings and hired mercenaries to project their power for all to see.
Home planet: Nal Hutta
Distinctions: Easily strangled
The diminutive Jawas live on the desert planet Tatooine (Star Wars love these types of planets). They exist as scavengers and scrap merchants, traversing the deserts of their homeworld using massive tracked vehicles called Sandcrawlers which function as both a communal living space and mobile trading depot. Clad in brown robes, Jawas carry ionisation blasters of their own design and trade with the moisture farmers who eke out a living in Tatooine’s harsh environment.
In A New Hope, Jawas were responsible for selling the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to Uncle Owen’s
Skywalker Revenge Imprisonment Camp moisture farm, setting into a series of events that led to not only the deaths of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, but the entire Jawa Sandcrawler tribe. Talk about buyer’s remorse.
Home planet: Tatooine
Distinctions: Quite possibly a set of sentient glowing eyes covered by a robe
Notable members: That Jawa who sold the droids to Uncle Owen (smoking corpse), Kekit (Rebel)
The long-necked Kaminoans introduced in Attack of the Clones are a reclusive species of master cloners hailing from the water world of Kamino. They are contracted to produce a clone army for use by the Galactic Republic. Perfectionists in their craft, the Kaminoans work for those willing to pay the large amount for their services.
During the Clone Wars, the Kaminoans continued to produce and train clones for the Republic’s war efforts. They were dispassionate in their assessment of clones that they considered to be training at less than optimal performance and suggested such defective units be terminated.
Home planet: Kamino
Distinctions: Like to know how big your … pocketbook is
Often described as the soul of the Rebellion, the Mon Calamari donated their star cruisers to the Alliance Fleet. Without the Mon Calamari, the Alliance would not have had the ability to confront the Imperial Navy at the Battle of Endor. They call the planet Mon Cala home, which they share with another aquatic species, the Quarren. The two species fought each other during the Clone Wars when the Mon Calamari king Yos Kolina was murdered. The resulting weakened leadership allowed Separatist forces to contest control of the world.
Mon Calamari-produced starships are a wonder of design redundant technology. Organically shaped, each cruiser is considered to be a work of art by Mon Calamari and no two are exactly alike. The Mon Calamari were introduced in Return of the Jedi, typified by Admiral Ackbar and his brave crew. (Note to all Alliance personnel: Do not order the fish during dinner).
Home planet: Mon Cala
Distinctions: Great at recognizing traps.
The cowardly and opportunistic Neimoidians were responsible for blockading and later invading the peaceful planet of Naboo. Principal members of the Trade Federation, the Neimoidians coveted wealth above all else. They opposed the taxation of traders routes passed in the Republic Senate and sought the aid of Darth Sidious to help them during the events of The Phantom Menace.
The Neimoidians and the Trade Federation later joined the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars. The leadership of the Trade Federation was cut down by the newly anointed Darth Vader on Mustafar.
Home planet: Neimoidia
Distinctions: Worry about the legality of the situation
The Toydarians were from the imaginatively named Toydaria. Their constantly flapping wings give them a limited flight capability. Some aspect of the Toydarian’s physiology gave them the ability to resist Jedi mind tricks which Qui-Gon Jinn found out about when attempting to negotiate a deal with Watto in The Phantom Menace.
The Toydarians were initially neutral in the Clone Wars, with both sides trying to sway the race to their cause. An incident involving Jedi Master Yoda and dark apprentice Asajj Ventress saw the Toydarians ally with the Republic.
Home planet: Toydaria
Distinctions: Mind tricks don’t work on them. Money does.
The Tusken Raiders of Tatooine are a xenophobic and violent species who are the bane of the planet’s moisture farmers. They constantly raid outlying settlements and farms, and even the outskirts of larger towns like Anchorhead. Despite their penchant for violence, Tusken Raiders formed a deep mystical bond with their pack animals, the bantha.
Tusken Raiders are indirectly responsible for Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the dark side. After a tribe of Tuskens kidnapped his mother which resulted in her death, Anakin slaughtered the entire tribe in anger. Tuskens were also responsible for Luke Skywalker’s meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi after the youth stupidly decided that spying on Tuskens was a safe occupation. He was luckily rescued by the yodeling of a crazy old wizard .
Home planet: Tatooine
Distinctions: Can ride single file
The imposing Wookiees are one of the most enduring alien species introduced into the Star Wars universe, exemplified by the mighty Chewbacca. Standing over two meters tall, Wookiees are fiercely loyal and capable warriors with a reputation for a gentleness that belies their appearance. They also have a reputation for removing limbs from those that offend them. Or beat them at Dejarik.
The Wookiees defended their homeworld of Kashyyyk against a Separatist invasion at the end of the Clone Wars. Republic forces under the command of Jedi Master Yoda reinforced the Wookiee armies in the fierce Battle of Kashyyyk. The Wookiees showed their loyalty to Yoda, with whom they had good relations, by helping him to escape when the Jedi Master’s own clone troops turned on him during the execution of Order 66.
Home planet: Kashyyyk
Distinctions: Known to pull peoples arms out of their sockets when they lose
Thanks for joining us for another installment in our Star Wars 101 article series! Look out for the next exciting chapter.