“Bounty hunters. We don’t need their scum.”
In 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars fans were introduced to the galaxy’s bounty hunters. Six fearless and ruthless bounty hunters were selected by Darth Vader to hunt down the crew of the Millennium Falcon. Vader had one stipulation on the hunt. He wanted the crew of the Falcon alive, so no disintegrations. Only one proved up to the task. A man named Boba Fett.
Since their debut in The Empire Strikes Back, bounty hunters have become an integral part of the Star Wars mythos. Bounty hunters were featured in scores of Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends) tales. Roleplaying games encouraged players to take on the roles of bounty hunters. At least one video game was dedicated to playing as the bounty hunter Jango Fett. Players can choose to be a bounty hunter in the MMORG Star Wars: The Old Republic.
So what is it about bounty hunters that fascinates Star Wars fans? Is it the cool armor and weaponry? The ambiguity of being loyal to nothing but credits? Or the no-nonsense attitude of these fearless hunters? Here we take a look at some of the most prominent bounty hunters in the Star Wars universe.
4-LOM and Zuckuss
4-LOM is a protocol droid who overrode his programming to become a thief and bounty hunter. He often works with fellow hunter Zuckuss, a member of the ammonia-breathing Gand species. The pair are two of the hunters assembled by Darth Vader to hunt down the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. Recognizable by his insect-like head, 4-LOM’s name is an acronym of sorts for the phrase “for love of money.” Zuckuss is a “findsman,” a mystic tradition on his homeworld known for their legendary tracking abilities.
Legends stories detailed 4-LOM and Zuckuss’ early bounty hunting adventures and later exploits. In the aftermath of the Battle of Hoth, the pair end up rescuing the crew of the Rebel evacuation transport Bright Hope. They eventually join the Rebel Alliance for a spell and were part of an operation intended to free Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. It did not end well.
When 4-LOM and Zuckuss’ action figures were released by Kenner in 1982, the names were transposed and each was mistakenly identified as the other. The names were reversed during the publication of West End Games’ Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back and has stuck ever since. Unless you count the brief time they were transposed again for Star Wars in 100 Scenes (which, as one of the new Canon Star Wars publications, caused a slight bit of confusion until it was cleared up as a mistake).
First introduced as a bystander to Anakin Skywalker’s famous win at the Boonta Eve Classic on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace, Aurra Sing is a near-Human bounty hunter. She is identified by her pale skin, long fingers, built in radio antenna, and top-knot hairstyle. Following the death of Jango Fett, Aurra helped to train Boba Fett during the Clone Wars alongside Bossk and Castas. The trio helped him as he tried to exact revenge on Jedi Master Mace Windu for the death of his father.
Aurra Sing tangled with the Jedi several times during the Clone Wars. She kidnapped Republic naval officers, attempted to assassinate Senator Padmé Amidala, and was part of Cad Bane’s team that seized control of the Senate Building in an attempt to secure the freedom of Ziro the Hutt.
Aurra Sing’s story in Star Wars Legends delved deeper into her past. Aurra was a former Jedi Padawan who was kidnapped by slavers and trained by Anzati assassins. Holding a deep hatred for the Jedi she opposed them on several occasions. Aurra also met Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo some forty years after the events of the Original Trilogy. She was hired to assassinate the Hapan Queen Mother Tenel Ka and her daughter Allana – who was Han and Leia’s granddaughter via their eldest son, Jacen Solo.
Boba Fett needs no introduction. He is the poster boy for Star Wars bounty hunters. Introduced in The Empire Strikes Back and seemingly killed off in Return of the Jedi, Fett’s story begins in Attack of the Clones as the genetic clone of Jango Fett who wanted a son of his own to raise. Witnessing his father’s death at the hands of Jedi Master Mace Windu during the Battle of Geonosis, Boba swore vengeance.
Fett attempted to kill the Jedi Master with the help of fellow bounty hunters Aurra Sing, Castas, and Bossk. They ultimately failed but Boba led a bounty hunter syndicate during the Clone Wars, working for Otua Blank. During the Galactic Civil War, Fett captured Han Solo on Bespin, and was allowed by Vader to take the smuggler to Jabba the Hutt, effectively collecting both bounties on Solo’s head. During Luke Skywalker’s rescue of Han, Fett took a nosedive into the Sarlacc.
Fett’s Legends career is much longer. He survives the Sarlacc and is nursed back to health by fellow bounty hunter Dengar. Fett even serves as the best man at his wedding! A long stint as a bounty hunter follows, initially operating the shadows pretending to still be dead before making his presence known once more. Various cameo appearances throughout books, comics and games enshrine Fett as a Star Wars legend (no pun intended).
He eventually attains the title of Mandalore, leader of the Mandalorian clans and leads his people in the fight against the Yuuzhan Vong. He also discovers he has a granddaughter named Mirta Gev. Mirta had been sent by her mother to kill Fett for abandoning her at a young age but Mirta teamed up with her grandfather to help him find a cure for the clone degeneration that was killing him. Boba Fett, family man. Who knew?
Bossk is the Trandoshan bounty hunter summoned by Darth Vader to hunt the crew of the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. He owned a modified YV-666 light freighter that he named the Hound’s Tooth. During the Clone Wars, Bossk worked with Aurra Sing and Castas to train Boba Fett. He later helped him in his attempt to kill Jedi Master Mace Windu.
Bossk later works with Fett and a number of hunters including Dengar, C-21 Highsinger, Latts Razzi and Asajj Ventress to protect the property of Otua Blank from the Kage Warriors. He also had several adventures on the planet Lothal alongside a young Force-sensitive street urchin named Ezra Bridger.
In Legends, Bossk shared a more fractious relationship with Fett. The Trandoshan had wrested control of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild away from his father, Cradossk, by murdering and subsequently eating him. Bossk was the killer of Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn’s father, Hal, and had a running feud with Chewbacca that went deeper than the normal hatred between Trandoshans and Wookiees.
Cad Bane is the Duros bounty hunter with a sweet taste in hats who became the galaxy’s foremost hunter after the death of Jango Fett. Over the course of The Clone Wars, Bane worked for the Hutts, the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and Darth Sidious himself. His only loyalty was to money. Bane never minded what he did as long as he was getting paid to do it. Stealing from the Jedi Temple? No problems. Kidnapping Force-sensitive children? No sweat. Part of team to kidnap Supreme Chancellor Palpatine? Where does he sign up?
Bane worked hard to counteract the abilities of the Jedi, which is just as well considering how many times he faced them. He had cybernetic breathing tubes surgically connected to his windpipe to prevent Force choking, contact stunners meant to simulate the effects of Force lightning, and rocket boots that rivaled Jedi agility and speed.
Bane’s origins lie both in unused bounty hunter concept art for the Original Trilogy (basically a man in hat) and the need to create a bounty hunter character for the show. Initially, The Clone Wars team sought to bring the character of the Gen’Dai bounty hunter Durge into the show re-imagined as a Human character. Later input from George Lucas led to the Western take on the character inspired by Lee Van Cleef in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and For a Few Dollars’ More.
The Corellian-born bounty hunter called Dengar first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as one of the half-dozen hunters hired by Darth Vader to track down the Millennium Falcon. Wearing battered blast armor and a turban, Dengar was part of Boba Fett’s syndicate during the Clone Wars and helped to defend the cargo of Otua Blank. He was later hired by the Hutts as protection.
Dengar’s story throughout the Legends universe was marked by a singular incident – a crash during a swoop race against Han Solo himself. The accident caused massive facial scarring and brain damage. Imperial medical experimentation saved his life but at the cost of becoming a near-emotionless killer. The only emotions he could feel were rage, hope, and loneliness. Dengar adopted the codename “Payback” and worked for the Empire for a time before returning to bounty hunting. He also wanted revenge on Han Solo.
Embo is a Kyuzo bounty hunter from the planet Phatrong. During the Clone Wars, he was regarded as one of the best bounty hunters of the era with his bounty tallies second only to Cad Bane. He worked with Sugi as part of her band of bounty hunters that were contracted to protect farmers on Felucia from Hondo Ohnaka. Embo was also part of Moralo Eval’s team that attempted to kidnap Supreme Chancellor Palpatine on Naboo.
Embo employed a shield-hat in combat that he could use as protection, a weapon, and as a snowboard. He preferred to wield a bowcaster, usually a weapon favored only by Wookiees and aging Rebellion generals. Embo was often accompanied by his pet Anooba, Marrok.
His species – Kyuzo – is an homage to Akira Kurosawa’s film Seven Samurai, as one of the main characters is named Kyuzo. In fact, the episode in which he first appears, Bounty Hunters, is a direct homage to the film. Both stories share the concept of seven warriors defending a peaceful town against a larger hostile force. With few choices available to them, the warriors train the villagers to fight.
IG-88 is a rogue IG-86 sentinel droid. He was one of the bounty hunters summoned by Darth Vader to the Executor to hunt the Millennium Falcon following the Battle of Hoth. He was one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy and one of Boba Fett’s chief rivals.
The IG-88 of Star Wars Legends was a little different. For a start, there were four of him. Designated IG-88A, IG-88B, IG-88C, and IG-88D, the four droids massacred their design team then set forth to create a droid revolution to take over the galaxy. To do so, they took over the droid manufacturing world of Mechis III and began planting the seeds of their galactic takeover. IG-88A was the nominal leader, while IG-88B entered the galaxy as a bounty hunter – it is this droid that responds to Vader’s call for bounty hunters. IG-88C and IG-88D oversaw the droid construction work.
All the droids suffer ignoble ends. IG-88B was killed on Cloud City by Boba Fett while attempting to capture Han Solo. IG-88C was also killed by Fett, this time over Tatooine as it attempted to acquire Solo from Fett’s possession. IG-88D assisted IG-88C in its attack on Fett but was damaged in the effort. Limping to Ord Mantell, IG-88D faced the smuggler Dash Rendar and was destroyed. As for IG-88A … he learned of the second Death Star and arranged to have his sentience programming uploaded into the battlestation’s computer core. Taking control during the Battle of Endor, IG-88A was destroyed when the Rebels blew up the superweapon.
Jango Fett was, until his death at the Battle of Geonosis, the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. Styling himself as a simple man trying to make his way in the universe, he wore Mandalorian armor and traveled the galaxy in his starship, Slave I. Despite his appearance, he was not a Mandalorian and was labeled as a common bounty hunter by Mandalore’s government.
Jango was recruited prior to the Clone Wars to serve as the genetic template for a clone army grown in secret on the planet Kamino. Apparently commissioned by the Jedi, the army was to serve the Republic. Aside from his considerable fee, Jango requested another boon. An unaltered clone who had not been modified to grow at an accelerated rate like the others. He raised this clone as his son, named Boba.
Jango in Legends was a full-bloodied Mandalorian, even rising to the rank of Mandalore. Orphaned in the civil war between the True Mandalorians and the Death Watch, Jango joined Jaster Mereel’s True Mandalorians. He became Mandalore following Mereel’s death and later fought and killed Jedi at the Battle of Galidraan. His final test before becoming the template for the clone army was to hunt down Komari Vosa, Count Dooku’s former Jedi padawan. Jango Fett’s legacy lived on in his own son and the millions of clone troopers drawn from his genetic template.
Ketsu Onyo is a bounty hunter from Mandalore. But does that make her a Mandalorian bounty hunter? Introduced in Star Wars Rebels, Ketsu shares a history with Ghost crewmember Sabine Wren. Both were former Imperial cadets on the planet Mandalore before defecting. A life of bounty hunting awaited them until the pair fell out. Sabine blamed Ketsu for being greedy and leaving her to die.
Ketsu joined Black Sun and several years later ran into Sabine while on an assignment to recover EG-86, a GNK power droid. The droid held information vital to the nascent Rebellion and Sabine, along with her crewmates Ezra Bridger and Chopper, were intent on collecting the droid as well. After several confrontations, Ketsu and Sabine reconciled and the pair delivered the droid to the Rebellion.
Sabine had present Katsu with an offer to join the Rebellion, which she accepted. Her personal starship was the Shadow Caster, a Lancer-class pursuit ship.
Sugi is a Zabrak bounty hunter who leads a group of hunters – Embo, Rumi Paramita, and Seripas – in defending a farming village on the planet Felucia. The village was raided constantly by pirates under the command of Hondo Ohnaka. Joined by the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano, the seven warriors taught the villagers to defend themselves.
Sugi was later contracted by Wookiee general Tarfful to rescue Chewbacca from the Trandoshan moon of Wasskah. The Trandoshans regularly captured live sentients and hunted them for sport. She transported the general and his soldiers to the moon in her starship, the Halo. The group rescued Chewie along with Ahsoka Tano and several other Jedi younglings captured by the Trandoshans.
The Clone Wars saw Sugi employed by the Hutts on a number of occasions. She once advised her niece, Jas Emari, to run away from home due escape her troubled upbringing. Jas would become a bounty hunter like her aunt during the Galactic Civil War.
A bounty hunter and marksman from Concord Dawn who wanted to be one of the best of his era, Rako Hardeen is the central figure in the Jedi Order’s attempts to stop Moralo Eval’s plot to kidnap Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars. Hardeen is hired by the Jedi to stage the murder of Obi-Wan Kenobi; he believed the hit is real, however. Hardeen is then arrested and hidden away by the Order. This allows a surgically-altered Kenobi to take his place. Hardeen’s new reputation as a Jedi killer allows him to be recruited into Moralo Eval’s plot.
Of course, the majority of Rako Hardeen’s appearances in The Clone Wars were not him but a disguised Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi had undergone facial reconstruction using nanotechnology and utilized a voice emulator to mimic Rako’s voice.
Rako Hardeen’s helmet was based on early concept art for Boba Fett’s helmet. The design had previously been used in the Star Wars universe before. The helmet of the mysterious bounty hunter Mist from West End Games’ The Kathol Rift was based off the same concept art.
Zam Wesell is a member of the shape-shifting Clawdite species. Employed by Jango Fett, she attempted to assassinate Senator Padmé Amidala twice. The first time, she arranged to blow up the Senator’s starship when it landed on Coruscant. Fortunately for Amidala, she used a decoy and cheated death. The second time was by deploying venomous kouhons into her bedchamber. She was caught in the act and pursued by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin.
A furious chase through the canyons of Coruscant’s cityscape ensued. Eventually, the confrontation came to a head at the Outlander Club where she was literally disarmed by Kenobi. Before Zam could reveal her employer, Jango killed her with a Kamino saberdart.
Zam’s Legends history saw her in a long bounty hunting partnership with Jango Fett. As a Clawdite, Zam’s true appearance was of a reptilian humanoid. She commonly chose to appear as a Human female. Zam’s abilities allowed her to completely change her appearance and gender.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the galaxy’s bounty hunters. Check back soon for the next installment in our Star Wars 101 article series.