With an entire galaxy of job opportunities, you’d think the inhabitants would be free to follow their passions. Hey, maybe they did...but that doesn’t mean they were good at them.
We can’t all be Emperor Palpatine, sitting on a genocidal plan for decades, cutting down Jedi Masters like dandelions and achieving absolute power through cunning manipulation. For every one of those, there are thousands of Stormtroopers who couldn’t so much as scratch the side of a sand crawler, provided that sand crawler has the face of a dashing smuggler or beautiful princess.
Some of these folks have reputations as the best at what they do, and you may even have watched the movies and believed it. But maybe look a bit closer, and you'll see there's a whole lot more incompetence, clumsiness and plain lack of sense than you realized. Here are fifteen Star Wars characters who are well and truly bad at their jobs.
15 Boba Fett - Master of Doing Nothing
We’re giving Captain Phasma the benefit of the doubt here, given that she has two movies left in her trilogy to do more than one useful thing.
The same sadly can’t be said for Boba Fett, master of silently standing in place and looking impressive…and that’s about it. He’s one of the galaxy’s most recognizable characters, renowned as a gun-slinging badass and revered in the universe as one of the best bounty-hunters in the business. But how much does he actually get done throughout the saga?
Well, he follows the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City while the rest of the bounty hunters scatter to the four winds, which gives him the perfect opportunity to…call in the Imperials and have them do all the heavy lifting. Capturing bounties by yourself is so hard, you guys. After this, Fett spends the rest of the movie whining to Vader about his money, taking failed pot-shots at Luke and flying away with a prize he did almost nothing to secure.
By the time Return of the Jedi rolls around, Boba Fett is back to hanging around in corners, glaring at people from behind his helmet and desperately trying to salvage some street cred, which all goes out the window when a blind Han Solo knocks him into the Sarlaac Pit. Which, we feel the need to point out, is still his canonical death. Fearsome bounty hunter indeed.
14 Jango Fett and Co. - Way too Much Outsourcing
Too bad the flawed-but-fun game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter isn’t considered canon anymore, since it actually shows us Jango Fett getting some serious work done, and even taking down a Dark Jedi single-handed.
Instead, we’re mostly left to watch the elder Fett fail over and over again in Attack of the Clones, proving that incompetence really does run in the family. The first mistake we see him make is outsourcing, specifically to his associate Zam Wesell. Apparently not willing to dirty his hands with the job he was paid for, Jango tasks Zam with blowing Senator Amidala into steaming bits on the landing platform.
After this plan goes south, Jango of course rolls his eyes and takes matters into his own hands, except he does the exact opposite of that and lets his idiot lackey have another shot. With a clear view of a sleeping target, the crafty duo attempt to…release a couple of poisonous centipedes. Not a bomb, or a few well-placed blaster shots. Centipedes.
Shockingly, this plan also ends in failure, leading to Jango sighing in relief as he executes Zam with the one weapon the Jedi can use to track him to Kamino, as opposed to killing her literally any other way. And then he just goes and hangs out there for Obi-Wan to find him. We’re starting to think that all a person needs to be labelled a fearsome bounty hunter is a menacing helmet.
13 Grand Moff Tarkin - No Sense of Strategy
The Emperor is mostly to blame for the creation of the Death Star, but since he did such magnificent job of toppling the Jedi Order and seizing control of the galaxy, we can overlook him indulging a little.
Meanwhile, Grand Moff Tarkin should know better, given that he’s supposed to be a brilliant military commander and carries a great deal of sway in the Empire. Someone with the intelligence and refined accent of Peter Cushing really should’ve stepped in at some point and realized that the Death Star has no real practical purpose beyond making everyone in the galaxy hate the Empire (as in, more than they already do).
But alright, let’s say that Tarkin did voice his objections, but was overruled. The Death Star was built, Tarkin was put in charge and what was one of the first things he did? Blow up a planet full of pacifists. For no good reason, other than spite. Buzzing with his victory over a sentient chunk of earth with no way of fighting back, we later see the Grand Moff employ his military genius to very slowly float around the planet of Yavin, instead of just blowing it right up and watching the Rebel base be annihilated at the same time. Once again, the day is won for the good guys because the bad guys delegate to the wrong people.
12 Mace Windu's Strike Team - Just Terrible Jedi
Ask the internet about this one and you’ll receive scores of responses. That’s the thing about Star Wars; if there’s no good answer for something, you can generally handwave it away with ‘the Force did it’.
In a duel between four Jedi Masters and one Sith Lord, there was a lot of Force going on. Still, 99% of the people who saw the duel in Palpatine’s office weren’t thinking ‘gosh, look at how Sidious just used Force Scream to paralyse the Jedi before striking with such immense speed that they didn’t even see him coming!’
No, they saw Palpatine spinning forward like a rugby ball, land in front of the Jedi (all of whom were Masters, by the way), draw back his lightsaber with one of Ian McDermid’s exaggerated facial expressions, then run one of his opponents through…while said opponent was looking completely the other way, like he’d just seen a really nice piece of artwork. One more average slash and a second Jedi bites the dust. Three seconds of unimpressive parrying later, fan-favorite Kit Fisto lies dead on the floor, and we still haven’t seen Palpatine do anything particularly impressive outside of an unnecessary corkscrew jump.
They’re made to look less like an organised Jedi strike team and more like the random Jedi Mace Windu found sitting around in the staff lounge and decided to invite along, because the more the merrier. Are there lore reasons Palpatine killed them so easily? Maybe. But the way it was shot just told everyone that Jedi Masters are actually a bunch of brain-dead putzes who can’t stay focused on a fight for three seconds.
11 Greedo - Awful Reflexes
Somehow, Greedo is a playable character in Star Wars Battlefront. Just let that sink as in as you ponder everyone else who got skipped over.
We’re sure he has a rich a complex history, explored in a twelve-book series that is definitely no longer canon, but once again, most people have just seen the movies. Movie Greedo has about a minute of screen-time, and his entire purpose in life is to establish Han Solo as a charming smuggler with the itchiest of trigger fingers.
Still, at least we’re never given any indication that Greedo was meant to be good at his job. He has one other appearance in the Clone Wars series, where he once again screws up his mission and barely escapes with his life. Outside of this, all we end up seeing of him is a deleted scene in The Phantom Menace (the best one!) where we see him get the stuffing knocked out of him by Anakin, as part of George Lucas’ ongoing campaign to make a galaxy of trillions have interactions happen between the same 20 or so people.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s precisely zero bounties collected, zero missions completed, one count of ownage by a whiny child actor and one embarrassing death…courtesy of a person Greedo had at gunpoint.
10 Jar Jar Binks - Not Built for Politics
As a Bombad General of the grand Gungan army, Jar Jar Binks isn’t the worst. As a potential secret Sith Lord, he’s absolutely brilliant.
As a senator? Not so much. In fact, the gullible and trusting Jar Jar is the main reason that Palpatine is able to seize complete power for the duration of the Clone Wars and eventually install himself as Emperor. Whoops?
It’s astounding that Jar Jar was ever able to become a senator in the first place, since he barely displayed that he had two brains cells to rub together and never showed any aptitude for diplomacy. This is the hapless Gungan with such a poor grasp of economics that he thought he could randomly eat whatever he found at a market and not have to pay. The guy had never been near a civilization outside of his own, yet at the time of AotC had risen to become a junior representative, as if he was somehow the best the Gungan race had to offer. His promotion comes as Padme becomes a target for assassination, and she’s forced to leave Jar Jar in charge instead of literally anyone more capable.
A few whispered words later and Representative Binks is handing ultimate power over to his good buddy Sheev (because starting a war was what Padme wanted, right?), plunging the galaxy into one war after another that eventually cause the deaths of billions.
9 General Grievous - A Greatly Exaggerated Reputation
General Grievous first showed up in the Clone Wars animated series (that is, the cartoon before the CG one), where he was shown to be an unbeatable machine, able to annihilate one Padawan, four knights and one Jedi Master single-handed.
It was a good start, and his streak continued in the next series where he hunted Palpatine and his Jedi protectors through the streets of Coruscant and managed to snatch the Chancellor with only minimal resistance. Some time later, the second Clone Wars series had Grievous constantly clashing with various powerful Jedi, often to the point of stalemate.
And then we have his final chronological appearance, Revenge of the Sith…and it’s downhill from there. You can blame it all on his chest compartment being crushed by Mace Windu, but that’s now debatably canon, leaving us with a movie Grievous who kills a grand total of no Jedi. What we end up seeing is the infamous Jedi hunter forced to flee from Anakin and Obi-Wan, later engaging the latter in a 1v1 fight (despite Obi-Wan being surrounded by hundreds of droids at the time) where we see Grievous’ skills are 100% blade spam and nothing else.
One awkward lizard-hula-hoop chase later and Grievous dies to a few well-placed chest shots.
Did we mention he was supposed to be a brilliant tactician? Too bad we never see him win any battles.
8 Obi-Wan Kenobi - Leaves Friend to Agony, Creates Monster
Entire tomes have been written on Obi-Wan Kenobi and his odd tactical decisions throughout the original trilogy. As it turns out, the prequels don’t really do much to redeem him in this regard.
In his defence, Obi-Wan was never prepared to train someone like Anakin, having taken on an apprentice about five minutes after becoming a Jedi Knight, and a difficult one to boot. Their relationship become more like that of brothers, when Anakin probably needed more of a strict authority figure to reign in all those impromptu freefalls and scads of arrogance.
That was Obi-Wan’s failure, but at least he did his best with a tough situation. No, where he completely and totally dropped the ball was the end of his duel on Mustafar. Killing a downed opponent isn’t the Jedi way, we get that, plus Anakin is rolling around next to that lava lake like a chargrilled burger patty and that’s enough to make anyone walk away. But when your evil former bestie is dying an agonising death from both injuries and flames melting the skin from his bones, that’s when you DO something, Obi-Wan. Maybe just…reach down and poke him in the brain with your lightsaber.
Walking away was sheer cruelty, as well as a move that doomed the galaxy (and a load of hidden Jedi) to the tyranny of Darth Vader. And what’s Obi’s next move? If you guessed ‘hiding Vader’s son on his home planet without so much as a change in surname’…well, you’ve seen the original trilogy. That works for keeping the audience up to date with who belongs to which family, but otherwise not one of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s smartest moves.
7 The Jedi Order - Totally Blind
Speaking of Jedi and humongous mistakes that condemned countless people to an agonizing fate, let’s turn out attention towards the entire Jedi Order in the waning years of the Republic. The Jedi Council knew from the first appearance of Darth Maul, possibly before, that there was a Sith Lord among them. Their comments in AotC make it pretty clear that they know this Sith is close, and also that there’s a sinister plot brewing. Dooku even straight up tells Obi-Wan that the senate is in control of a Sith Lord, which at least bears some looking into.
Then RotS rolls around and we have Mace Windu just coming straight out with lines such as “I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The Dark Side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor.”
I don’t know about a galaxy far, far away, but in colloquial terms that’s what we like to call ‘hitting the nail on the head’. If one of the most powerful Jedi Masters blurts out a line that basically says ‘the guy in charge is clearly evil and wants to kill us all’, that’s when you take some kind of action. Their response? They decide to wait it out, see what’ll happen and apparently just hope that they’re all wrong and Chancellor Palpatine is totally a neat guy.
Maybe we can blame this whole thing on a Lucas-esque script writing fumble, but what it looks like is that the wise, powerful and precognitive Jedi are having regular meetings with their greatest enemy, actually sense the Dark Side around him and it all goes completely over their heads. There’s being fooled by clever manipulation, and then there’s…whatever happened here.
6 Anakin Skywalker - Worst Bodyguard Ever
Anakin was never particularly good at being a Jedi; it’s part of what turned him to the Dark Side in the end (even to the point where they were evil…from his point of view). Every time we see him involved in Jedi business, Anakin is doing something he shouldn’t be: recklessly throwing himself into a high-speed chase, getting up close and creepy with the girl he’s supposed to be guarding, and then the ultimate Jedi no-no. He goes and falls properly in love with Padmé (as opposed to dream-stalking her for ten years), compromising his mission and also leading Padmé astray.
‘Astray’ here means on a wild goose chase to Tatooine, where Anakin’s rampant emotions led to him slaughtering an entire village. Fresh off his first batch of murdered children, Anakin is then in prime condition to drag Padmé (this is the woman he’s supposed to be guarding, by the way) into an actual warzone, though not before almost getting her killed in a gladiatorial arena.
We’re not saying Padmé had no agency of her own- she chose to go along, and was more than capable of taking care of herself- but the fact still remains that it was Anakin’s job to keep her out of danger, and he failed that one in spectacular fashion.
5 Vader's Wingman - Easily Spooked
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen A New Hope, you’d be forgiven for forgetting a few details of the final Death Star trench run.
What you’d think would happen was Han Solo charging into the fray in the Millennium Falcon, blasting off part of Darth Vader’s wing, saving Luke and allowing him to fire the crucial torpedo shot that saved the Rebellion. Vader wasn’t destroyed, but he’d be sent spinning out of the fight until the next movie.
Except that’s not how it happened. Vader had two wingmen during the trench run, and these two were presumably picked because they were head and shoulders above the rest. We know piloting a TIE Fighter doesn’t require a huge amount of skill beyond the ability to fire perfect shots just over the bough of an X-Wing and making your crashes look fiery and spectacular. Still, you’d think this due were a cut above the rest.
Until Han fires a shot, which completely misses everything. The guy on Vader’s right gets spooked, yanking the controls and slamming right into his boss, which was actually the entire reason the Rebellion won the fight. Seriously, was this an inside job? Because if so, this guy was a hero. If not, Darth Vader must’ve just picked a random duo standing around in the hallway for his climactic confrontation in the hopes that they could at least
Wait…that’s what he actually did? Well, maybe we owe someone an apology.
4 Kylo Ren - Worst Duelist Ever
Kylo Ren makes an impressive first showing in The Force Awakens, albeit one that’s identical in many ways to Darth Vader’s entrance thirty years prior. We even see him freeze a blaster bolt in mid-air, which is cool even if also sort of nonsensical. Things start to fall apart when it’s revealed that Kylo Ren is a glorified Darth Vader fanboy whose idea of me-time involves long sessions alone with his granddad’s burned helmet, whining about how he just wants to be evil but it’s too hard.
For someone in a military command position, Ren/Ben has about as much control over his emotions as angsty teen Anakin. The minute he receives bad news, it sparks a temper tantrum that destroys an entire console of expensive equipment and solidifies him as that guy at work no one wants to talk to.
And the ultimate fail? Kylo takes his sweet time beating Finn, who isn’t even a Jedi and uses his lightsaber like he brought a badminton racket to a baseball game. Fresh off his drawn-out victory, Ren then has to contend with Rey, who’s never ignited a lightsaber in her life and still manages to stomp him in a 1v1 before a convenient earthquake separates them.
Kylo might have received a blaster bolt to the side before the fight, but Jedi have all kinds of ways to deal with injuries in a fight, the Dark Side notwithstanding. However you slice things, Kylo Ren should probably go back to a training saber before he’s ready to duel again.
3 The Devastator Crew - No Understanding of how Droids Work
Speaking of that first, iconic scene in A New Hope, there are plenty of similarities between that and Force Awakens. Stormtroopers murder a bunch of people, menacing guy in black makes a grand entrance, the Rebel/Resistance scum is captured, but not before sending the crucial plot MacGuffin plans away, safe in the circuits of a cute little droid who communicates in beeps and boops.
The main difference with the version thirty years later is that BB-8 gets away scot-free into the desert, cloaked in darkness and unencumbered by an irritating protocol droid with an inability to shut up.
R2-D2 and C-3PO make their getaway in an escape pod, which doesn’t escape the notice of the Devastator. In a galaxy teeming with droids of all shapes, sizes and levels of intelligence, and with stolen Death Star plans their entire reason for being there in the first place, what does the genius duo on the bridge do?
Nothing much. They know full-well what they’re looking for, and it’s not a person. Yet because the pod has no life signs they just…let it go, like a couple of air-headed imbeciles. When Darth Vader gets wind of this he manages to put two-and-two together, thankfully, and orders his men to find the pod, but we’re still left thinking what was going through the heads of those two guys. It’s like the only possibility they could think of was that someone swallowed the plans.
2 Han Solo - Not a Great Smuggler
If Han Solo isn't one of the most renowned smugglers in the galaxy, he's at least one of the slickest. In his first appearance we see him gun down an unfortunate bounty hunter from across a table without batting an eye, he's in possession of the fastest ship in the galaxy and he's made friends with a Wookie who has a penchant for ripping off limbs.
All of these should probably stand him in good stead when it comes to operating outside the law, but really, how much does Han actually get done? The first time we see him, he's ticked off Jabba the Hutt due to getting rumbled by Imperials and dropping all the cargo he was supposed to be delivering. Han then spends the rest of the trilogy engaged in heroics, like he was just waiting for a reason to drop this smuggling gig and it just so happened to come along in the form of a beautiful princess with cinnabon hair.
Han eventually does make it back into the wonderful world of smuggling in Force Awakens...where we see that he's so bad at his job that he has every lowlife in the galaxy thirsting for his blood. And then his cargo breaks loose and starts eating everyone, putting an end to Han's smuggling career for good.
1 Stormtroopers - Just Bad at Their Jobs
They just had to be here, as they’re cinematic legends when it comes to utterly failing at your job.
Imperial Stormtroopers, as we’re told, are precise. The Empire has access to vast resources, so you’d think its military force would be well up to scratch. Stormtroopers even get a pretty good showing the first time we see them, managing to take over Princess Leia’s ship with only a few casualties. And then almost every time after that we see them, they’re getting destroyed like they put their helmets on backwards and their armor is made of tinfoil.
It’s the same for pretty much any army of flunkies you’ll see in fiction, with the only difference being that Stormtroopers are supposed to be better. Obi-Wan straight up tells us that they’re good shots, which is just great until you tally up all the shots that actually find their targets for the rest of the movie (here’s a hint: it’s zero). Empire Strikes Back has Vader doing all the heavy lifting while Stormtroopers die around him, while at least the third movie gives them a few Rebel flunkies and Ewoks to shoot at.
In short, we’re sold Imperial Stormtroopers as an elite death squad. What we get is a mass of tin-men who couldn’t hit the broad side of a Star Destroyer.
But then, there’s always TR-8R. Good old reliable TR-8R…
Any other Star Wars characters who need to find a new line of work? Let us know in the comments.