In a widespread space opera such as Star Wars, an equally large and diverse array of alien species inhabit its universe. Since the Original Trilogy, the creatives working with Lucasfilm have dedicated themselves to crafting believable, loveable, or oddball creatures for fans.
Not every design is an absolute hit, but the ones that work become instant icons. Thanks to artists such as Stuart Freeborn, Neal Scanlan, and more, viewers have enjoyed some of the best creature designs in movie history. Looking back over the Saga, here are the top ten alien designs from Star Wars.
Notable Zabrak characters have popped up across the Star Wars universe since Darth Maul’s debut in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Looking back at the marketing for the film, it is no wonder Maul was front and center on nearly everything. The jarringly disturbing yet beautiful design of Zabrak facial tattoos paired with the devilish red skin and horns made for an instantly iconic visage.
The design has gone through a few changes over the years. With the introduction of Maul’s brother Savage Oppress, a yellow shade was used instead of the iconic red, as well as a far more jagged horn shape. The core design has remained, though, making Zabraks an essential Star Wars alien.
When it comes to simplistic alien designs, it doesn’t get much more human than the Twi’leks. This is no issue though, as Twi’leks are some of the most iconic humanoid aliens since Star Trek‘s Vulcans. Notable characters of this species include Hera and Cham Syndulla, and the Jedi Master Aayla Secura.
With their twin Lekku and saturated skin tone, Twi’leks are simple, perfect designs. While they retain so much humanity, the small otherworldy additions never feel hokey. Seeing them in a scene always makes the environment feel more Star Wars-y (yes, that is an adjective in this case).
Another simplistic design, Jawas feel even more alien due to their plain look. Abnormally small, with glowing yellow eyes and donning only a brown tunic, these little desert dwellers search Tattooine for any lucrative scrap they can find.
The design of the Jawas proves that old adage: less is more. While there is nothing overly complicated or impressive about the design on paper, the fact that we can see so little of these critters allows for the audience to infer their own interpretation. Anything could be hiding under the hood of a Jawa, making them far more mysterious than their reputation would lead one to expect.
The Porgs are certainly the newest alien to appear on this list. While they only just made their debut in 2017’s The Last Jedi, they have secured their status in the Saga forever. These little critters hail from Luke’s island on the planet Ach-To.
Inspired by the puffins who call the real-life island of Skellig Michael home, these small bird-like creatures are arguably the cutest in the entire Star Wars saga. Not since BB-8 has a design stolen the hearts of fans so quickly. The Porgs are everywhere in merchandising, and fans cannot get enough of them. Their sheer cuteness and popularity earned them this spot on the list.
Rodians are some of the most alien-looking creatures in the Star Wars franchise. Green skinned, bug-eyed, with a propensity for bounty hunting, these natives to Rodia have appeared in Original and Prequel trilogies, as well as Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Obviously, Greedo is the first to come to mind, but there have been many other Rodians throughout the series. Onaconda Farr, the senator from Rodia, also played an essential (if brief) role. Rodians, like Twi’leks, are just one of those designs that scream Star Wars. They are essential but rank a bit higher for their iconic look and silhouette.
5 Mon Calamari
Mon Calamari are instantly recognizable due to the impact of Admiral Ackbar and his fellow rebellious Mon Cal heroes. Though not a central character, Ackbar is without a doubt one of the biggest fan favorites. Now, with Admiral Raddus’ inclusion in Star Wars: Rogue One, fans have even more Mon Calamari characters to fall in love with.
Fish-headed aliens might not seem like the most loveable in the Galaxy, but it is the combination of their outrageous design with excellent writing that makes these characters stand out. They are oddball and jarring, but heroic and outspoken. They add a non-human element to the Rebellion that makes the battle between them and the Empire feel that much larger.
4 Tusken Raiders
Like the Jawas, Tusken Raiders have a very mysterious design. Unlike the Jawas though, there is a definite surface look to them, and it is terrifying. Native to Tatooine as well, these beings terrorize the frontier inhabitants. Wrapped in rags, with nothing but a ventilator and pipe-like eye sockets, they resemble terrifying and ruthless mummies.
The real faces of these alien beings are hidden, similarly to the Jawas, but, because of this, they instil fear as opposed to curiosity. For beings who are defined by their savage brutality, one can only imagine what kind of nightmare lies beneath the rags.
Jabba the Hutt had been teased for two movies before he had shown up (originally). Every time Han or someone else mentioned him, a sense of dread always permeated. Because of this, his design needed to both surprise and fit all of this hype. The final look did that and more.
The giant three-person operated puppet was unlike any other creature seen in the Star Wars universe. Resembling a giant slug, yet somehow worse, Jabba is both disgusting and fascinating to look at. The sheer realism captured in his design was unreal and has yet to be met by nearly any other design in Star Wars.
2 Yoda’s Species
This entry has less to do with Yaddle, and everything to do with Yoda himself. When The Empire Strikes Back was filming, nothing felt like a bigger risk than the execution of Yoda and his performance. Thanks in part to makeup and effects designer Stuart Freeborn, the voice-work and puppeteering of Frank Oz, and the endless imagination of George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, and Jim Henson, Yoda was brought to life. The impact of this one puppet changed creature design forever.
If Yoda had not been a believable character, the entirety of Empire would not have worked. Because of this success, one of the most iconic characters in cinema was born. Even in developing his CGI counterpart, Lucas and his team studied the exact movements of Oz’s practical performance. Yoda was and continues to be a perfect design.
While Yoda was revolutionary, no design has stolen the hearts of fans as much as Chewbacca and the Wookies. These furry beasts are larger than life, with most clocking in at nearly seven feet in height and over three-hundred pounds in weight. Covered head to toe in (normally) brown fur, Wookies are essentially what would happen if Bigfoot was part dog.
It is the dog aspect in particular that makes these aliens so beloved. Lucas claimed that Chewbacca, in particular, was inspired by his own canine pal. The real-world implications of their design and inspiration shed a bit of clarity on people’s love for Wookies. They’re the closest thing in the Star Wars galaxy to man’s best friend.
NEXT: Star Wars: 10 Weirdest Aliens in the Mos Eisley Cantina