Prior to Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, it was up to various authors to populate and expand George Lucas's fictitious universe with all manner of new worlds, aliens, starships, and characters. Star Wars fans didn't know that a prequel trilogy was ever coming after the original trilogy debuted in the '70s, so these authors had free range of the intellectual property and created the Expanded Universe.
These days for continuity's sake, Disney wiped the slate clean to make room for its own linear canon. This means that all the EU stories are now simply dubbed Star Wars Legends. Some of the storylines, characters, and events of these books, graphic novels, and even video games constitute what many Star Wars fans feel to be the true heart of the Star Wars Saga.
10 MARA JADE
Mara Jade was a character developed by acclaimed Star Wars author Timothy Zahn for his Heir to the Empire trilogy of books in the mid ‘90s. She was established as the “Emperor’s Hand”, a secret operative that specialized in espionage even Darth Vader knew nothing about. Her last command was to kill Luke Skywalker before the Emperor was killed, an order she intended to carry out even after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Her confrontation of the Jedi hero resulted in the pair having to begrudgingly work together to survive a catastrophe, making her play a key role in Luke Skywalker’s story arc during the series. Their many crossed paths would cause animosity to morph into ardor, with the Jedi Master one day wedding the fiery, beautiful, and deadly Mara Jade.
9 BARON FEL
On screen, there's been a lot of fuss made over ace Rebel fighter pilots, but what about the elite pilots that gave their lives for the glory of the Empire? Soontir Fel was such a pilot, whose skill at the controls of a TIE fighter was unmatched. He led the disgraced 181st Imperial Fighter Wing to glory, garnering the title Baron of the Empire.
A double cross by the Empire led Fel to seek out the Rebel Alliance, where he fought alongside ace X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles of Rogue Squadron. He was captured by the Empire and sent to aid Grand Admiral Thrawn's armada, made to once again prove that his deadly skills at aerial combat were always meant to serve evil whether he liked it or not.
8 TALON KARRDE
Like the infamous Han Solo, Talon Karrde was a smuggler of some renown, known for his wit and irresistible charm. He also dabbled in the dangerous trade of information brokering, selling data to the highest bidder. He once rescued Luke Skywalker from Imperial scouts threatening to take the Jedi Master to Grand Admiral Thrawn, earning his perpetual gratitude.
After creating the Smuggler's Alliance, Talon Karrde and his second in command Mara Jade assisted the New Republic in many dangerous skirmishes against the Imperial Remnant after the destruction of the second Death Star. When their warring was done, he turned his underworld firm into an information sharing brokerage to maintain the peace.
7 CORRAN HORN
Corran Horn could have lived ten lifetimes for the amount of valor and heroism he packed into his. Force adept at a yung age, he joined the Corellian Security Force on his home planet, unaware that his grandfather was a famous Jedi Master. Later, he joined Rogue Squadron and became one of its premier fighters alongside Wedge Antilles.
It wasn't until his wife was kidnapped that he decided to use his abilities with the Force, having been made aware of his gifted heritage by Luke Skywalker. He would later train with Skywalker, and one day sit on the Jedi Council of the New Jedi Order in times of great crisis.
6 NOMI SUNRIDER
The stories of Nomi Sunrider were passed down to every Jedi for generations. Born Nomi Da-Boda, she took the name Sunrider when she married Andur Sunrider, whose possession of Adegan crystals got him ambushed and killed in front of her. For their infant daughter Vima's sake, she joined the Jedi Order, taking Sunrider's place as an apprentice under Jedi Master Thon.
Sunrider would go on to be placed in charge of an important Jedi relief mission that successfully saw an end to the Sith reign on Onderon. It was only after the Sith War ended, and Sunrider climbed the ranks of the Jedi Order to be given the rank of Grand Master, that she was able to rebuild the Order into what it was in the time of the Republic.
5 PRINCE XIZOR
Prince Xizor was a wealthy Falleen prince of the House Sizhran at the time of the Galactic Civil War. He was the nefarious leader of the underworld crime syndicate Black Sun. From his opulent dwelling on Coruscant, he was a high-powered member of society while engaging in the most salacious business deals behind closed doors.
A bitter rival of Darth Vader's after the Sith Lord ordered the eradication of the prince's entire family, he targeted Luke Skywalker to make Vader look inept in the eyes of the Emperor. This didn't go over well for the Falleen, but his unique personality and presence was an intriguing foil to the particular brand of evil the Emperor and Vader represented.
4 ADMIRAL DAALA
There weren't many known women in the Imperial Navy, something which the First Order improved upon. There was one officer however that proved regardless of her sex she was undeniably fit for command; Admiral Daala. She entered the Imperial Academy under an alias, and after beating many officers in simulations she was taken under the wing of Grand Moff Tarkin.
He later sent her to the Maw Installation, a think tank for some of the brightest minds and scientists to invent and test various superweapons for the Empire's use. It was there that she created the Sun Crusher, a potentially more devastating weapon than the Death Star (and a likely inspiration for Starkiller Base). She reappeared many times as a thorn in the Rebel's sides, why not one final appearance against the Resistance?
3 YSANNE ISARD
One of the premier officers in the Imperial Navy, Ysanne Isard was the Director of Interrogation during Emperor Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. Specializing in various nefarious torture techniques, she took pride in extracting information from Rebel spies, Imperial defectors, and even those within the Empire conspiring against her.
Women in the Imperial Navy were few and far between, but Isard commanded a great deal of respect nonetheless. She cut a distinct figure, with her distinguishing orange uniform and two-toned hair.
2 EXAR KUN
Exar Kun was an infamous Sith that lived over a thousand years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He was one of the most powerful Sith that ever lived, and formidable with his double-bladed lightsaber, a saber Star Wars fans would later see wielded by Darth Maul in Episode I. Kun was a polarizing figure even among the Sith, having forsaken the Jedi Order but still being conflicted about the teachings of the Sith Path.
Kun tried to unite the Sith and lead attacks against the Jedi Order, and with each attempt he grew stronger. Unfortunately, the Jedi would eventually discover a way to defeat Kun, but he used his Dark Side abilities to trap his essence inside a holocron, waiting to be released long after the Jedi Order had been eradicated by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader.
1 KYLE KATARN
Kyle Katarn exists as an amalgamation of many Star Wars characters we’ve seen since he was first introduced in the Expanded Universe with the Jedi Outcast graphic novels and video game. Once a promising Imperial officer like his father, he defected from the Empire when he learned the atrocities his father committed. He joined the Rebel Alliance and became committed to bringing the Empire to its knees.
Katarn ventured to places of great Force concentration, such as the Valley of the Sith, and learned the ways of The Force through ancient Jedi holocrons. He was unlike the Jedi we think of today in their ascetic robes and pious attitudes.