Star Wars wouldn’t be the same without its aliens. George Lucas’ fantasy world may place human characters such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo at the forefront, but the popular franchise wouldn’t be nearly as iconic without its colorful array of aliens, creatures, and monsters.
Since the Mos Eisley Cantina introduced us to Rodians, Bith, and Wookiees, fans have been enraptured by the diverse landscape of species that populate the galaxy. Many of these fantastical beings were conjured by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Star Wars’ creature design was so revolutionary it pushed past the usual period piece fare at the Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Costumes and Hair in 1978.
One of the things that makes Star Wars fresh and exciting every time a new entry is released is the new concepts for critters and aliens that are released. In The Force Awakens we met Rathtars and the pirate legend Maz Kanata, and the world couldn’t help but be charmed by The Last Jedi’s Porgs.
Though your average Porg probably wouldn’t fare too well against an army of Stormtroopers or a powerful Sith Lord, the fictional galaxy is also bursting with warrior species, crime lords, scientists, and the odd eldritch monster.
Here are the 15 Most Powerful Star Wars Races, Ranked
Insectoid aliens are always bad news. Concept artists do this on purpose, drawing inspiration from creatures on Earth that are more removed from our own line of evolution. The Geonosians, with their bulbous eyes and tough exoskeletons, are an ugly and vicious race.
Much like bees or ants, they operate within a hive system. Their hierarchy consists of a queen who controls the other mindless drones and warriors. This places them fairly low on the intelligence scale. Your average Geonosian is basically created to take orders and follow the hive. While this makes them an annoying enemy during the Clone Wars, they are an easily defeated one.
However, their engineering skills are surprisingly efficient. They were frequently used as cheap labor by the Trade Federation to design factories and even the infamous Death Star.
14 Tusken Raiders
First introduced with a terrifying war cry in A New Hope, Tusken Raiders are a pesky race that are indigenous to Tatooine. Unsurprisingly, they hold a particular affinity for water, believing it is a precious substance. They can't really be blamed for their frequent raids on moisture farms, as the desert planet is pretty scarce of lakes and pools.
The Tuskens can hold their own in a fight, but they aren't the brightest beings. They are easily fooled by an out-of-practice Ben Kenobi and his walking stick in A New Hope. However, their role within the Star Wars universe grows nastier in Attack of the Clones, when they kidnap, torture, and murder Anakin Skywalker’s mother, Shmi.
We can’t help but think that this atrocity contributed significantly to Anakin’s descent to the dark side. Despite their primitive intelligence and limited strength, they should not be taken lightly.
Almost looking like bipedal moths, this primitive species was greatly underestimated during the Clone Wars. Their attempt to colonize their home turf lead to the Republic’s grisly defeat on Orto Plutonia. It seems the previously tribal people now have access to space travel, as we can spy a Salz enjoying a beverage in the infamous Mos Eisley Cantina.
Though they pose no threat to our heroes, they possess surprising strength and their shaggy fur and tough resilience protect them from the harsh conditions of their home planet. Much like Hoth, Orto Plutonia is covered in snow and subject to terrible storms.
Tall and strong, with sharp talons on their hands and feet, the Talz are a peaceful race, yet can be a formidable enemy. Their greatest strength lies in their vision, as they have four eyes -- two for seeing in the dark and two for well-lit environments.
While the Rancor are considered semi-sentient, they're still horrifying creatures. First seen imprisoned in a hidden chamber below Jabba’s Palace, a Rancor almost had Luke Skywalker for lunch, were it not for some quick thinking and a heavy door.
Since its introduction in Return of the Jedi, this huge, clawed behemoth has been one of Star Wars’ most iconic monsters, appearing in numerous video games, comics, and animated series. A subspecies of jungle Rancor prove a particular annoyance for Starkiller in the first Force Unleashed video game.
With a thick hide, powerful jaws, and insatiable appetite, it ranks amongst the galaxy’s most threatening predators, though they can’t be all bad. The handler for Jabba’s Rancor is seen mourning its death pretty hard, so perhaps they make really loyal pets.
The Devarionians are the red-skinned race that made Star Wars fans wonder, “What’s the devil doing on Tatooine?” While it may appear that Satan has taken residence among our favorite hive of scum and villainy, aside from the odd crime syndicate, extended lore has established the natives of Devaron as a particularly advanced and reasonably benevolent race.
As they have a matriarchal society, the females hold most positions of power. The males are much more nomadic, as their primary desire is to wander the stars. They’ve been doing since before the days of the Republic.
Their success as one of the first races to master space travel is impressive, and their biology is fascinating. Possessing black blood that builds a resistance to toxins and poisons, Devaronians would consume sulfur to augment their strength and speed. Long-term use is dangerous, but it’s wise not to cross a hot-tempered Devaronian just in case they’ve had a recent dose of the good stuff.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who love the Ewoks, and those who are wrong. Admittedly, it’s a little silly that a tribe of teddy bears manage to defeat an army of Stormtroopers, but you can’t help but root for the ultimate underdog.
Though their intelligence is limited, famously worshipping an uptight protocol droid (sorry Threepio) as some sort of idol, they’re fast learners. They are shown quickly adapting to combat and military tactics to overpower the Empire’s troops on the Forest Moon of Endor.
Star Wars is ultimately for kids. Ever since Warwick Davis charmed Princess Leia as the adorable Wicket, it’s been a staple of the series to include some cute critters alongside the menacing creatures, predators, and bounty hunters we've come to expect.
Not to be confused with the Twi’leks, the Togruta are characterized by their decorative horns and head-tails. They have become one of Star Wars’ most iconic alien designs, despite only a brief appearance in the prequels.
Though the race are known in the films through Jedi Master Shaak Ti, it’s Ahsoka Tano’s appearances in the animated Clone Wars series that have made the species a mainstay of the franchise. Perhaps the most popular character to have never appeared in the live-action films, Ahsoka is a spunky and occasionally reckless Jedi Padawan.
Their penchant for war and tendency to produce powerful Jedi make them a formidable race. While arguably under-utilized, the Togruta manage to contribute one of the most memorable characters to the Star Wars lore.
Much like the Togruta, the Zabrak have become popular through one character’s brief, yet admittedly cool, appearance in the prequels. Widely considered one of the best moments in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul is the most famous example of a Zabrak. The fight between Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon gave us wicked fast combat, iconic facial tattoos, and that double-bladed lightsaber.
Arguably the second most popular facepaint design behind Spider-Man, Maul was unfortunately dispatched in his first film. However, without the murder of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan would probably not have been the same character.
The extended universe has since resurrected Maul and given him some nifty robotic legs. Regardless, his prequel-salvaging appearance in Episode 1 is enough to rank his species as one of the more iconic and formidable races in Star Wars canon.
7 Yoda's Species
The most mysterious race in all of Star Wars. What are they called? Where are the rest of them? How do they get around with those stubby legs? Exiled to Dagobah, Yoda is known as one of the oldest and most powerful Jedi.
Combining masterful puppetry and the iconic voice of Frank Oz, the introduction of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back is one of the reasons the movie retains the top spot on many fans’ lists of best Star Wars films. His CG appearance in the prequels is welcome, but doesn’t quite recapture the same magic as the original puppet.
Thankfully, Yoda is not the last of his people. There is a female, Yaddle, who has previously appeared on the Jedi Council. Seeing as the only two examples of this species are proven to be Force sensitive, they can easily be considered one of the stronger aliens of the franchise.
Yes, Jar Jar Binks is the most annoying character in the history of the franchise, perhaps in the history of movies in general. However, let's forget about him for a second and focus on the facts.
Gungan technology is some of the most advanced we’ve seen, with no other race we know of mastering habitation on both land and sea. Though primitive, their underwater city is sprawling and magnificent, creating a breathable atmosphere and safe haven beneath the sea of Naboo.
With a little help from a young podracer by the name of Anakin Skywalker, the Gungans eventually defeated the Trade Federation’s droid army and were instrumental in Amidala’s plan to lure the forces away from Naboo’s capital. It’s unfair for one character to represent an entire race, and it’s hard not to appreciate the Gungans' kooky design and relentless optimism.
Probably the most important villain who doesn’t wield a lightsaber, Jabba the Hutt is a wealthy and disgusting crime lord. The giant slug has a fondness for exotic friends, sadistic entertainment, and women in chains. Maintaining a presence throughout the original trilogy, Jabba won’t rest until Han Solo pays the debt he’s owed.
Like a hedonistic Roman Emperor, the Hutts are a race of gangsters, and Jabba isn’t nearly the worst of them. They frequently work alongside the Empire and use their cunning and lust for power to retain a tight grip over their territories.
Growing to obscene sizes and dripping with mucus, the average Hutt is a nasty sight and among the most vile races in the galaxy. The majority are obese and essentially immobile, but a little extra weight isn’t an issue for a species of crime lords who rule through fear.
4 Mon Calamari
Though their name sounds delicious, Mon Calamari are far from an Italian seafood dish. The planet of Mon Cala has produced vital pilots and tacticians for the Rebel Alliance, some of whom even became Admirals of their own vessels.
The most famous is, of course, Admiral Ackbar, who served for sixty years as one of the greatest assets for the fight against the Empire. Instrumental in the destruction of the second Death Star, Ackbar saved the lives of countless rebels by wiping out the last remnants of oppressive evil in the galaxy.
Nor should we forget Admiral Raddus, whose sacrifice in the Battle of Scarif was pivotal, leading to Leia’s evacuation ship in The Last Jedi being named after him. Though not a colonizing or influential race, their crucial role within the alliance can’t be underestimated and their intriguing Crustacean design ranks among the best.
Our favorite sidekick and loyal friend to Han Solo, Chewbacca is a member of the proud, long-living race or Wookiees. Their strength is frequently unrivalled, their loyalty unquestioned, and their thick fur acts as both protection and camouflage in the right situation.
Chewie was not a recipient of a well-deserved medal following the destruction of the first Death Star, an egregious oversight in the original trilogy. He may speak in roars and grunts, but his intelligence is never contested. His role as Han’s co-pilot was vital during the Resistance's fight against the Empire.
Though now deemed non-canonical, Chewbacca and the Wookiees were seen as so powerful that the only way to kill him off was to drop an entire moon on him. This happens in the novel by R.A. Salvatore, Vector Prime.
Though her role in Attack of the Clones is convoluted and messy, the bounty hunter Zam Wessell belongs to a species with an ability no other race we’ve encountered possesses – shapeshifting. Able to disguise themselves as almost anyone, Clawdites make for expert assassins and spies.
Although their true form can be sensed by powerful Jedi, their abilities made for a tough challenge for Obi-Wan and Anakin on the airways of Coruscant, as Clawdites are also efficient pilots and marksmen.
The biological ability to change shape can't be overlooked. No other race possesses this cunning power and it’s a shame that we’ve yet to see another Clawdite villain live up to this potential of doing some serious damage.
Perhaps the most recognizable alien species in, George Lucas drew inspiration from Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind when designing the serene and mysterious clone scientists of Kamino.
Clearly not the most physically threatening race we’ve discussed so far, the Kaminoans earn their points for mastering the most complex technology in the Star Wars universe -- cloning. These scientists don’t need to be tough warriors when they have an army of clones to do it for them.
Largely keeping to themselves and remaining neutral on their remote water planet, it’s unclear what they do to pass the time when they’re not creating legions of powerful clones. However, their gigantic eyes allow them to see into the ultraviolet spectrum. They’re probably too busy seeing things we couldn’t possibly imagine to involve themselves in silly, intergalactic disputes.
Are there any Star Wars races that should have been included? Leave your feedback in the comments!