The eleven Star Wars movies feature a variety of fascinating character arcs. Some characters, such as Qui-Gon Jinn or Grand Moff Tarkin, only appeared briefly and remained the same, but many more Star Wars heroes and villains underwent remarkable personal changes to make their character arcs come to life.
A good character arc will show a person gradually changing over time, usually for the better. Such an arc may involve the character learning new skills, gaining emotional maturity, becoming braver, and winning internal and external conflicts alike. Star Wars‘ best characters all have arcs just like that, with some of these characters totally reinventing themselves in the process and embracing a destiny they never knew they even had.
10 Luke Skywalker
The original Star Wars trilogy introduced one of sci-fi’s greatest heroes of all time, Luke Skywalker. Luke’s arc had a rough start, with his adoptive aunt and uncle dying before he fled the Imperials on Tatooine. Then, he found his destiny as a Jedi and Rebel hero, and he even resisted the Dark Side’s call and redeemed his father.
A few decades later, Luke gave in to despair when his nephew Ben Solo fell to the Dark Side, but Rey convinced Luke to believe in hope once again. Luke ate his words about ending the Jedi Order and bravely gave his life to save the Resistance from afar, becoming one with the Force after one last heroic deed.
9 Leia Organa Solo
Princess Leia Organa was introduced as a damsel in distress when Vader captured her Rebel ship, but before long, Leia was taking charge of her own rescue as a warrior princess with unbreakable resolve. Also, she resisted the call of the Dark Side even better than Luke did, despite suffering more than him.
Leia rose to become a great Rebel leader, and she also had an inspiring romance with Han Solo. In her later years, Leia became the Resistance’s respected general in command, standing up to the First Order and training Rey while the New Republic did practically nothing.
8 Han Solo
The lovable rogue Han Solo was introduced as a bitter loner who didn’t believe in hope or friendship aside from having Chewbacca as his co-pilot. After spending time with Luke and Obi-Wan, though, Han was inspired and realized that he was meant for more than spice smuggling.
Han showed his true heroic colors when he volunteered to save Luke from Vader’s wrath during the Death Star battle, then found love with Leia, helped take down the Empire, then had a son. Han even risked and lost his life trying to bring his fallen son Kylo Ren back to the light, his fatherly love far stronger than any fear.
7 Jyn Erso
Like Han Solo, the outlaw Jyn Erso was a down-to-earth rogue who only looked out for herself and had a cynical view of the galaxy. She lost her father to the Empire and could have just run away, but then she decided to take a stand and make her father’s sacrifice worth it.
Jyn learned to believe in hope despite overwhelming odds, and led a team to Scarif to retrieve the Death Star plans or die trying. Jyn succeeded, then died moments later in Cassian’s arms, going from a selfish loner to a young woman who could give her life for a greater cause.
6 Poe Dameron
Poe Dameron was a charming X-wing pilot who made his debut in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Poe was always likable and fun to watch, but he was also too brash and reckless, and he cost the Resistance fleet almost everything in 2017’s The Last Jedi as a result.
Poe was humbled after that, but he didn’t give up his enthusiasm and hope for the Resistance cause. After those losses, Poe stabilized as a brave, creative hero who didn’t mind playing second fiddle to Rey, who was the true hero who’d take down the First Order.
5 Emperor Palpatine
Emperor Sheev Palpatine, or Darth Sidious, had a good character arc not because he inspired Star Wars fans, but because he was a terrifying, powerful, and fascinating supervillain to watch in action. He craftily turned Anakin to the Dark Side in the prequels, and even correctly criticized the Jedi Order to further convince Anakin to turn his back on them.
Emperor Palpatine also has intriguing, if dark, historical analogs. Fans can easily compare him to Adolf Hitler as the tyrannical ruler of a hateful regime, but Palpatine can also be considered the sci-fi Julius Caesar, who took over a Republic and exploited the law to become a dictator of a brand-new Roman Empire.
4 Lando Calrissian
Han Solo’s good friend Lando Calrissian made his first chronological appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a slick outlaw who cheated at a card game and had a fancy wardrobe to express his vanity. He was a total scoundrel, but he was also a brave, creative hero who soon became Han’s fellow adventurer.
Lando gradually became even more heroic over time, though he regretfully took part in Vader’s trap in Cloud City. Ridden with guilt, Lando boldly led the evacuation of the city, then helped fly the Millennium Falconinto battle to take down the second Death Star. Some years later, he flew into battle once again to take on Palpatine’s massive fleet on Exegol as well.
3 Kylo Ren
Han and Leia’s son, Ben Solo, turned to the Dark Side because he was confused and conflicted on the inside, unable to resist the temptation of the Dark. He rebranded himself as Kylo Ren and learned much from Supreme Leader Snoke, but deep down, he was still the noble Ben Solo.
Kylo Ren killed his father in the vain hope of ending his internal conflict, then wrongly thought it was his destiny to lead the First Order. In The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo finally made his fateful decision and abandoned the Dark Side and even his red-bladed lightsaber to help Rey take down the Sith no matter what.
2 Anakin Skywalker
Even if Anakin Skywalker had clunky romance dialogue in the prequels, he did have a fascinating and highly consequential story arc in the first six Star Wars episodes. He was born as a resourceful and hopeful slave, then realized his dream to become a Jedi and aggressively learn and see many new things.
Anakin fell to the Dark Side because of his emotional attachments, then hated himself for causing Padmé’s death and being Palpatine’s tool. He felt trapped as Darth Vader, but when Luke refused to turn, Vader was inspired to become a Jedi once again and defeat his master. He died happy, telling his son Luke that the latter had been right all along.
1 Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a popular Star Wars character who was a co-star in the prequels alongside Anakin. Obi-Wan first appeared as a wise but brash and goofy Jedi who cracked jokes, but after he failed to prevent Anakin’s fall, he was humbled and realized that his destiny was totally different than expected.
Obi-Wan determined that the Force would return to balance not by his own hand, but by Luke’s. So, Obi-Wan graciously went into exile despite his many fears and immense sadness and dutifully prepared Luke Skywalker to become the galaxy’s next best hope. Then Obi-Wan gladly gave his life aboard the Death Star to make sure that hope stayed alive.
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