With the release of The Phantom Menace in 3D to theaters, George Lucas has once again thrust Jar-Jar Binks upon the masses. But the wretched Gungan hardly has a monopoly on defacing the Star Wars universe. Here are ten characters at least as annoying as Jar-Jar — maybe even more so.
I would have titled this article “Aside from Jar-Jar, the 10 Most Annoying Star Wars Characters.” But there isn’t enough room in the header.
It’s not like you need me to tell you that Jar-Jar is annoying. He’s not just the worst Star Wars character ever — he’s one of the worst characters in the history of cinema. Part of me still wonders if George Lucas created him as a way of testing the loyalty of his fans. “I bet I can put a character that’s the embodiment of fingernails-on-a-chalkboard in one of my movies — and people will still pay to watch it!”
Here are ten more horrible characters Lucas spoon-fed us — and expected us to swallow, no questions asked, just because they came out of his brain.
Call it an obvious, heartless choice if you want. Doesn’t matter.
As the Ewok we spent the most time with in Return of the Jedi, Wicket represents his people for the audience — for better or worse — and that’s why he’s on this list. The Ewoks take you right out of the action of the final movie, giving the main characters time to frolic and be silly, at a time when… Hey, isn’t there something kinda important they were supposed to be doing? Like destroying the Empire?
Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewie are sent on a crucial, time-sensitive mission by the Rebel Alliance to covertly take down the Death Star’s shields. Important business, their friends in the Alliance counting on them, the entire fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. But not only do Han, Luke, and Chewbacca let themselves get caught by this tribe of critters that look about as threatening as a Care Bear, they take time out to enjoy some downtime and entertain the tribe. Meanwhile, the Rebel fleet is on its way.
It’s also impossible to get past the fact that Lucas’ original (and far superior) plan was for the latter half of Return of the Jedi to be set among the Wookies on Kashyyyk. That would have been a real treat for fans of the ever-popular Chewbacca, letting the story keep its grownup tone, and it would have a much more believable way for Han’s Rebels to draft an army to take down the Empire’s shield generator.
Instead of the intelligent, epic science fiction climax we dreamed of… Lucas gave us the cuddly furry little teddy bear people. Probably because they were more kid-friendly and made for better toys.
9) Dash Rendar
When George Lucas first began development of the prequel trilogy, he decided to ramp up fan interest in the franchise (wholly unnecessary — our interest never waned) by inventing a new story that bridges the time gap The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It was everything but a movie — a novel, video game, comic book, even a soundtrack — but Shadows of the Empire was connect-the-dots storytelling of the worst kind, explaining things like where Leia got the “Boushh” disguise she wore to Jabba’s Palace in Jedi, and how Luke mastered the Force (“Suddenly, it was just there!”).
Another atrocity brought on by Shadow is Dash Rendar. With Han Solo frozen in carbonite during this time period, you can practically hear the creation-by-committee brainstorming session: “Han’s out of the picture… Hey, I know! We should create a new character that’s just like him!” Meet Dash. He’s a Corellian smuggler who plays by his own rules, hates the Empire, and owns a ship that’s remarkably similar to the Millennium Falcon.
But one more thing: Why is he wearing scifi football pads?
8) Fode & Beed
The two-headed alien announcer at the Boonta Eve Podrace in The Phantom Menace. One spoke English (aka, “Basic” in Star Wars lore), the other Huttese. The English-speaking one was voiced by comedian and voice actor Greg Proops. I, like most people, find Proops’ smarmy shtick to be “fake” and therefore grating. This is reason enough, but Fode and Beed put yet another pockmark on the film that should have been Star Wars’ triumphant return — but was instead one long yawn, filled with one exasperating, farcical side character after another. Like this absurdity.
7) Dexter Jettster
You’re not going to believe this news! The setting of a popular 70s sitcom has been found, after being missing for many years. Even the proprietor of Mel’s Diner is still toiling away, making greasy food for patrons and employing beehive-sporting (android) waitresses. But somehow transplanting the diner to Coruscant has given Mel knowledge about weapons from far-flung planets — knowledge that exceeds even the collected data of the massive Jedi Archives.
I know Lucas relished the creative freedom he had with the prequel trilogy, but the problem with absolute creative freedom and control is that there’s nobody there to tell you when you have an insanely stupid idea.
6) J’ywz’gnk Kchhllbrxcstk Et’nrmdndlcvtbrx
(No, I didn’t make that name up.) This guy, also known as Joh Yowza, was the CGI “counterpoint to Sy Snoodles” added to the Jabba’s Palace scene for the revised musical number in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. With the help of his abhorrent new song, Yowza (seriously?) made a mostly tolerable scene utterly unwatchable. When the Special Edition of Jedi hit theaters, I don’t think any of us realized that Joh Yowza was a perfect preview of the kind of “entertainment” that the prequels would soon deliver.
5) Boss Nass
It wasn’t enough that we had to sit through Jar-Jar for an entire film? We had to deal with others of his buffoonish race, too?
Aside from the obvious stuff… Can somebody please explain to me why this big fish guy is the leader of the Gungans? He’s already annoying as all get out with his idiotic jowl-wiggling, but why doesn’t he look like the rest of his people? Seriously, look at him! Every other Gungan has eye stalks. Nass’ eyes sit right there on his big ol’ face. Are we supposed to believe that he’s so fat that his face is swollen up to cover his eye stalks? What’s the deal?
4) Ahsoka Tano
The idea behind Ahsoka is an interesting one: what if Anakin Skywalker had his own Padawan during the Clone Wars?
But why did she have to be such a brat? When we first met her, she was a great deal like Anakin was when we first met him in Phantom Menace: a headstrong, disobedient child, ruled by her emotions, and always getting herself into trouble. How could anyone on the Jedi Council have believed that Anakin was the right Jedi to purge her of these traits? The answer is that of course they wouldn’t have.
I’ve been waiting for Ahsoka’s inevitable death (she’s out of the picture by Revenge of the Sith) since she first appeared, though I will grant that as she’s matured over the course of the series, she’s become a lot more tolerable. She would be higher on this list if not for her character growth of late, and the writers and animators and voice actress behind Ahsoka on The Clone Wars TV series deserve some real kudos for breathing life into a girl that was born as a caricature.
I’m hoping she’ll go out with a bang — maybe succumbing to the Dark Side herself, as a pivotal development on Anakin’s road to his own downfall — but history is telling me not to hold my breath.
3) Young Boba Fett
Boba Fett was one of the best characters of the original trilogy. He succeeded where Greedo and countless others failed, in capturing Han Solo. He rarely spoke, he was loaded with weapons, he was lethal in action, and he had a wicked cool look.
Then Attack of the Clones came along and showed him to us as a young boy. And once again, Lucasfilm gave us a whiny, annoying little punk. His whoops and hollers while his “dad” fended off an attack in the rain from Obi-Wan Kenobi were just as painful to watch as Jake Lloyd destroying that Federation ship in Phantom Menace. I suppose Lucas wanted to show us that Boba Fett started out as a pretty “regular kid” like any other, but he instead raped our memories of the most bad-to-the-bone bounty hunter in the galaxy.
2) Ziro the Hutt
Why the heck is there a pampered, effete, English-speaking Hutt in the Star Wars universe? I can’t conceive of the mind that dreamed this abomination up — and actually thought it was a good idea.
Ziro is quite possibly even more annoying than the reviled Jar-Jar Binks. The only difference is that Jar-Jar got more screen time.
1) Anakin Skywalker
A cautionary tale if there ever was one — and not because of his story arc. I don’t blame Jake Lloyd or even Hayden Christensen for Anakin sitting at the top of this list. I blame Lucas and his casting director, Robin Gurland. In both cases, they picked the absolute wrong actor for the role. This is all the harder to swallow when you consider how many truly great actors appear in the prequels: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Terrence Stamp, etc. But the ones we remember are Lloyd and Christensen, and for all the wrong reasons.
Even more than the casting issue, I blame Lucas for not doing his job in designing a better character. The problem with Anakin Skywalker comes down to this. In revealing Anakin’s backstory, Lucas made Darth Vader the main character of the entire saga. Yet there was not one interesting thing about Anakin until he became a villain. If the prequels were the story of Anakin’s downfall, then it goes without saying that we should have cared about him before he turned dark. We needed to empathize with him, to understand his motivations and identify with them, to put ourselves in his shoes and wonder if we would have reacted differently. This is basic Writing 101. Your audience must care about your protagonist. Even if they don’t like him, even if they vehemently disagree with his every act, they have to invest in him.
Anakin Skywalker, the character, was a complete failure. Not only do we not invest in him, we don’t want to.
It’s not like Lucas had nothing to work with. Like so many aspects of the prequels, he actually had a lot of good ideas for the character. Anakin is a former slave, a gifted pilot and soldier, a quick-tempered orphan, and he’s given an enormous amount of power that he never learns to use responsibly (where’s Uncle Ben when you need him?). He has intelligence but no wisdom. Strength but no restraint. It’s like, since Lucas knew that we knew it was a foregone conclusion that Anakin would become Darth Vader, he decided there was no point in creating a character with anything resembling complexity or nuance or… humanity.
Instead of biting our nails and rooting for Anakin to hold onto his humanity, we simply waited, with rolling eyes and sighs, for him to finally don that black suit. And we never cared one good spit about him until he did.