Well, we’re here, nerds. We made it. Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars and announced a new slate of films just over three years ago and we’ve been foaming at the mouth for more content from our beloved galaxy far, far away ever since. I’m keenly aware that this time tomorrow (at the time of writing), I will have already seen The Force Awakens twice. I don’t know how I will possibly sleep tonight.
I started this week off with a look at the villains within this franchise, followed by an extensive ranking of the ships and vehicles. Kent pumped out a Best Droids list yesterday. And today I finish up our extended geek out with a look at all of the creatures, both good and bad, that populate the Star Wars universe. Now, it should be noted that I define creature as a living being that is not (or does not appear to be) sentient. So I’m cutting out all of the various alien species within this vast galaxy. I think I might do that list next year when the Rogue One debuts. But for our purposes today, we’ll only be discussing the 22 named creatures that show up in the six films. Enjoy the list and as always, send me your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Twitter @BGill12. Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you. Always.
22. The Sea Monsters from Phantom Menace (Episode I)
This scene is the worst. THE. ACTUAL. WORST. That stupid submarine, five more pointless minutes with Jar Jar, and these awful sea creatures (colo claw fish, opee sea killer, and sando aqua monster). I despise these things.
21. Shaak (Episode II)
As you might have guessed, the bottom portion of this list will be heavily populated by creations from the prequels. The shaaks need not exist for one thing. And second, it’s basically just a cow with a huge butt. We couldn’t figure out a way to do that practically?
20. Orray (Episode II)
Here’s how I know the orray is worthless: In the process of making this list, I’ve had to look up this creature at least three times. Quite the impression, isn’t it?
19. Eopie (Episode I)
Eopies are the perfect illustration for many of the problems with the prequels. There’s was just so little creativity spent on these movies. “What if we took a camel and made it a little lamer?” “Done!”
18. Ronto (Episode IV)
I very strongly considered leaving this off the list altogether to take a stand against the digitally-added creatures from the special edition cuts. But you can’t really avoid this thing; it’s basically George Lucas just screaming, “LOOK AT THE COOL THING I CREATED WITH MY COMPUTER! LOOK AT IT!”
17. Varactyl (Episode III)
Based solely on creature design, the varactyl is pretty solid. Not bad at all, really. And then it opens its mouth and starts screeching in a manner reminiscent of Dumb and Dumber. The varactyl deserved to die.
16. Worrt (Episode VI)
The fact that the worrt is this high on the list really speaks volumes about the awfulness of the creature design in the prequels. Giant frogs that get three seconds of screentime aren’t exactly hot property in this universe.
15. Mynock (Episode V)
I can’t decide if the fact that mynocks live inside a giant space slug’s stomach makes them dumb or awesome. Also, I’ve always found it funny that the mynocks are what tip Han off to his location. In the Star Wars universe, people just KNOW that these weird winged things live inside other life forms. That’s some kind of reputation.
14. Kouhun (Episode II)
We never see the Kouhan in action but you do get the impression that they’re nasty buggers. Their affiliation with one of the dumber plot points in Attack of the Clones (and that is saying something) doesn’t help their cause.
13. Dewback (Episode IV)
More than anything, I’d like to know what the Stormtroopers who were forced to ride a giant komodo dragon were thinking when they landed on Tatooine. You know these things can’t possibly smell good.
12. Reek (Episode II)
Of the three arena monsters that are sent to kill Anakin and Obi-Wan when they both suddenly forget how to use the Force for 20 minutes (I just died a little), the reek is significantly less impressive than its cohorts but does look the least super CGI-y. So that’s something.
11. Dragonsnake (Episode V)
What do we really know about the dragonsnake? It lives in the waters of Dagobah and it doesn’t enjoy the taste of metal. And yet that scene is extremely memorable and as a kid I desperately wanted to know more about this thing.
10. Bantha (Episodes IV and VI)
Great creature design on what could very easily be a worthless entry on this list. It is amazing that the same person who went to such great lengths to create the bantha practically couldn’t be bothered to use costumes for virtually anything in the prequels.
9. Ackley (Episode II)
The ackley would be an iconic creature if only the CGI used to create it wasn’t so bad. Even still, it is sufficiently creepy and the design is solid.
8. Kowakian Monkey-Lizard (Salacious B. Crumb) (Episode VI)
If you didn’t know Salacious Crumb’s middle initial was “B” or that he identifies as a kowakian monkey-lizard, then are you really even a Star Wars fan? Just kidding, I had no clue about either of those fun facts. I did, however, think Salacious Crumb was stinking cool as a kid and I like to think his family tree intersects with the gremlins somewhere down the line.
7. Tauntaun (Episode V)
We know more about the tauntaun than most of the creatures on this list. For starters, they handle snow quite well. Second, they make a very memorable sound. And third, they’ll keep you warm in a pinch. What else could you ask for in a goat-kangaroo thing?
6. Nexu (Episode II)
Easily the coolest creature in all of the prequels, the nexu features a great design and seems to actually have a purpose on screen. If we cut the ackley and the reek from the gladiator ring altogether, the scene would lose nothing and would actually probably improve by letting us see this thing in action a little longer.
5. Sarlacc (Episode VI)
Return of the Jedi has always been my favorite film in this franchise and as a kid, the sarlacc pit both terrified and fascinated me. A living hole in the desert that eats you for eternity. That’s about as creepy as it gets. It’s an iconic creature and the only reason it isn’t higher on my list is the added elements from the special edition that strip it of some of its mystery.
4. Exogorth (Space Slug) (Episode V)
I’m not exactly sure how a giant space slug goes about taking up residence on an asteroid but let’s not start poking holes. When you watch Empire for the first time, the unease you feel when Han realizes this cave is not what he thought it was and shock you get when you see the teeth…it’s an inspired scene.
3. Dianoga (Trash Monster) (Episode IV)
Raise your hand if you were a little freaked out about the trash monster the first time you saw A New Hope. It’s cool, you’re in the circle of trust. The dianoga is a fantastic creature design and it preys on your fear of the unknown. I wasn’t totally sure Luke was going to make it out of that trash compactor alive and that scared the crap out of me as a young viewer.
2. Wampa (Episode V)
In the original script for Empire, the Rebel base gets bombarded by a horde of wampas in the midst of the Imperial invasion. Now, I’m not saying that would’ve made the movie better; but it would’ve been a crazy scene because wampas are AWESOME. This is also one of the few spots where the special edition actually adds something because you get a much better glimpse at the horror this thing really is as it just goes to town on a tauntaun leg. I would watch an entire movie about the Rebels trying to carve out a space on Hoth while these suckers roam around. So cool.
1. Rancor (Episode VI)
When you think of creatures in the Star Wars universe, your mind immediately goes to the rancor. It’s iconic (even if the special effects look dated now) and the design is perfect. Whereas many of the creatures in this franchise draw inspiration from real life animals, the rancor is entirely unique. And that scene is downright scary even after you’ve seen it a few times. My son watches all or part of a Star Wars movie nearly every day (please don’t call CPS) and the only part in the entire trilogy (he doesn’t consider the prequels to be real Star Wars so I’m doing something right) that he asks me to skip over is the rancor scene. And for bonus points, the toy was marvelous in appearance and grand in scale.