Since Disney purchased the rights to the Star Wars franchise back in 2012, the pop culture juggernaut has committed to yearly releases of live action films that follow what they have defined as the Star Wars canon. Combine that with the always expanding and just as entertaining expanded universe, what seems like boundless numbers of species coexist in the galaxy. Comic books, video games, novels, and animated series, all feature a vast variety of creatures that fight for both the dark and the light side of the force.
Although most of the highest ranking characters on the power scale tend to be human like Anakin and Luke Skywalker, plenty of the heavy hitters are part of their own race and pack quite a punch. The debate on which species reign supreme is one that will never be finite, and you can rest assured fans have yet to even meet some of the most lethal and legendary of all. George Lucas’ passion project has lived on to become more relevant than ever, as proven by the releases by the most recent major films, but as it stands now, here are the 15 most powerful alien species in the Star Wars universe.
How many difference species can say they’ve had Han Solo on ice and Leia enslaved in a bikini? Sure, that situation ended with Jabba being choked by his own chains, but that temporary victory is definitely worth something. Until his demise, Jabba in particular managed to play both sides of the political coin to get what he wanted and maintain his reputation as a feared crime lord.
Hailing from the planet Nal Hutta, the Hutts are enormous, slug-like galactic gangsters of the galaxy. They are the Al Capones and the Mickey Cohens of space crime, using their power to provide leverage, both politically and socially. In the case of the Hutts, money equals power, and they always manage to be ready to collect.
Speaking of Jabba, the Rancor is most well known for being the beast Luke Skywalker faced when he visits his home planet of Tatooine to rescue Han Solo and Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. Rancors are native to the planet Dathomir and, although they fall low on the intelligence scale, razor sharp teeth and a penchant for devouring humans whole compensate for what they lack in brains.
Often used as vicious killing machines, Rancors were domesticated as beasts of war and commonly used to fight their owners’ battles. Even though they often answered to a master, they were one of the primary reasons an owner was feared and respected enough to have power at all.
Zabrak are largely recognizable by the protruding horns on their heads, but they are also known for having two hearts. That doesn’t mean they were particularly sensitive though, as Zabrak are an independent and often ruthless species. They originate from the planet Iridonia, but can be found in the ranks fighting alongside both the Republic and the Empire.
Zabrak undergo intense martial arts training as they grow, preparing them for life as a warrior. Even their intelligence level is higher than most other species, making Zabrak valuable and respected allies and worthy opponents in battle. Often arrogant, Zabrak feel as though their superiority over other races has been earned.
Technically a clan descending from Zabrak, Dathomirian are members of the clan who hail from the planet Dathomir, the females of which are called Nightsisters, and the males called Nightbrothers. After the rise of the Sith, two of the only known Dathomirian survivors were Shelish and Darth Maul.
As a prodigy of Darth Sidious, Darth Maul is the reason the Jedis learned of the existence of the Sith in The Phantom Menace and fell to Obi-Wan as a result. However, fans who are only familiar with the film lore wrongly assume that Darth Maul was killed by Obi-Wan, when he did in fact survive to later form his own army called the Shadow Collective.
Also known as Ancients because of their unmatched lifespan, the Pau’an hail from Utapau. Although largely a peaceful race and respected due to the wisdom they gained from living year beyond most creatures, Pau’an occasionally used their intelligence and experience for the dark side.
In the Clone Wars, one Pau’an who served as a Jedi Temple Guard betrayed the Jedi Order by becoming the Grand Inquisitor for the Empire. Sometimes power comes in the form of information and willingness to play to one’s strengths rather than physical force. Pau’an tend to switch alliances along with whatever way the wind blows, which can work to their benefit as long as they don’t get caught.
Celestials predate the galactic realm itself and are often referred to as the Architects. It is believed that they created the existing balance between the dark and light sides of the Force. The origin of Celestials is unknown, and the enigmatic nature of Celestials is part of what makes them so powerful. Three of “The Ones” made an appearance in an episode of the Clone Wars, but by and large this species is only referenced or mentioned rather than present. Being responsible for the creation and maintenance of the balance between good and evil makes you powerful enough not to have to show your face too often.
Don’t laugh. These little critters might be goofy, occasionally annoying, and seemingly powerless at first glance, but Ewoks can kick some serious ass. Ewoks are natives of the moon of Endor, and the Rebel Alliance wouldn’t have survived the events of Return of the Jedi without them. Ewoks’ primitive nature and resourceful personalities equipped them to yield power over their home, and their passion gave them the power and desire to defend it.
Ewoks only average about one meter in height, so they have had to learn to maintain their territory by learning unconventional methods of battle. After all, their resourcefulness and combat skills allowed them to defeat multiple storm troopers and even take down a scout walker or two. If that’s not powerful, what is?
The creature that came closest to taking down Luke Skywalker, the Wampa of Hoth. Though its size and sheer mass of animalistic makeup and primal behavior exude terror and power, what’s really intimidating about the Wampa is the way it prefers to devour its prey. The Wampa hunts down its victims, stuns, them, then drags them back to its lair only to hang them upside down for convenience and storage for whenever the Wampa feels like having a meal.
As far as first impressions go, the Wampa set the tone of an entire film more so than any other with its presence in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke’s prompt kidnapping settled the film into a doomsday infused dynamic, with the villain constantly on step ahead of the hero.
One of the first things we learn about the Wookiee when introduced to the Star Wars universe is that they have a tendency to pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose a simple game of chess. When referring to the power a Wookiee yields, it’s a physical, brute force kind of power that intimidates opponents by first glance even when taking in their sheer size and stature.
Aside from temperament and toughness, the Wookiee also has the upper hand in intelligence and emotion. Wookiees have proven themselves to be one of the most loyal species in the galaxy, so the likelihood of betrayal by one after you’ve built a relationship is slim to none. In Wookiee we trust.
Hailing from the planet Ryloth, the female Twi’lek were often enslaved because of their sex appeal, to other creatures with health and political power. Sometimes these Twi’lek were able to use their slavery as a way to move undercover through the groups in power to gain intelligence for their comrades. Many Twi’lek went on to become powerful players in the galaxy, such as Jedi Knight Aayla Secura and Imperial Senator Orn Free Taa. Also, who could forget about Bib Fortuna, the majordomo to Jabba the Hutt? Twi’lek may never be at the very top of the food chain, but it leaves them less vulnerable to be sitting at the right hand of power.
Natives to the Champala in the Inner Rim, Chagrian are amphibious creatures with blue skin that makes them resistant from all forms of radiation. The most powerful Chagrian is Mas Amedda, who was the Speaker of the Senate during the Old Republic. Amedda, as you may remember, was the one who presided over the “Vote of No Confidence” that stripped Chancellor Valorum of his title and paved the way for the takeover of Senator Palpatine.
As art often imitates life, we know that political power is often the biggest strength to have in the Star Wars universe. Although Amedda ended up under the thumb of Darth Sidious, he wielded the power of knowledge by his awareness of the true identity of Senator Palpatine. Plus, Chagrian have incredibly bad-ass horns on their heads.
Another amphibious species, Nautolan are from the planet Glee Anselm. The Nautolan have had multiple Jedi Masters among them, including Kit Fisto, who served in the Clone Wars, and Sulan, who served in the Cold War during the Old Republic. With a uniquely sensitive sense of smell, Nautolan can sometimes find it overwhelming to live out of the water, as this sensitivity can provide them the ability to take on the same feelings as other creatures around them. The Nautolan actually had in their line a family dynasty of Jedi, which were the members of the surname Gynt. A Jedi family dynasty? Take that, Skywalker clan.
We can hold Sarlacc responsible for the tragic demise of everyone’s favorite Bounty Hunter, Boba Fett. The largest of the species on this list, Sarlacc is actually over 100 meters tall, but you would never know it unless you were forced to experience the millennia of hell that goes along with hopping down inside its jaws of death. When young, Sarlacc are able to move around to catch their prey, but once they mature, this species must stay put and trap those who come across its path. A creature so powerful that its victims come to it, not to mention said maturity doesn’t even happen for 30,000 years. I’d want to stay put and retire after that long too.
2. Snoke (Unknown Species)
It might be cheating to include Snoke on this list, because ever since The Force Awakens was released in December of 2015, fan theories have been running rampant throughout the internet about who and what Snoke actually is. Speculation over his identity covers a wide range, from Darth Vader to Mace Windu, but the most popular theory is that Snoke is in fact a Celestial. However, until that is confirmed or denied, we can keep him (it?) in his own category. Although we didn’t witness much of what he’s capable of in the last film, one can assume that his stature and respect by other members of the dark side – along with the fact that he’s referred to as “Supreme Leader” – speaks volumes about his power and influence in the universe.
1. Yoda (Unknown Species)
It seems fitting that the last two creatures on the list would be so powerful that they’re the only one known of their kind and are part of an unnamed species. Both Yoda and Snoke are often referred to simply as “Force-sensitive species,” which basically means all-powerful, right? Although they’ve often been compared to the Lannik species because of the resemblance in appearance, no concrete name has been given to Yoda’s race.
Yoda is the most powerful Jedi Master to ever exist in the galaxy, proving once and for all that it’s not your size that matters, it’s how you use your light saber. Although he was forced into hiding after the Jedi were all but wiped out, Yoda never really faced an opponent who could beat him. Came for death, Yoda did. Not the other way around.