Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The Star Wars universe is teeming with life, with memorable people, places, and droids who make the fictional galaxy far, far away so narratively rich. Women throughout Star Wars lore, especially, have long formed the backbone of this sprawling universe.
Unfortunately, it’s usually the women of the sci-fi franchise who find themselves being swept under the rug on the big screen. The very same women who rally rebel forces, run side by side with scoundrels, and deliver Imperial Star Destroyer-sized zingers are repeatedly banished to lesser roles, meaning there’s a whole world of female characters waiting in the wings who we barely know. For every Rey Skywalker and Jyn Erso, there's a dozen characters like Sana Starros and Mon Mothma who never get their due.
Star Wars as a franchise has made a habit of introducing fresh faces with promising roles and then sidelining them. We saw this in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in which Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico, who took center stage in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, was given just over a minute of screen time in the latest movie.
While there are many ways future Star Wars movies, TV shows, comics, and games can improve upon the way female characters are utilized in the story, it’s important to get to know some of the women already part of the established Star Wars universe, all of whom just don't get enough time in the spotlight.
First appeared in: Marvel’s Star Wars #4
The Star Wars universe is filled with male scoundrels, vagabonds, con artists, and general ne’er-do-wells. We rarely get to see women with Han Solo’s cantankerous brand of charm. Sana Starros (left), who first appears in Marvel's Star Wars 4: Skywalker Strikes, Part IV, gives us a chance to see a female spin on Star Wars‘ scum and villainy. She also may or may not be Han Solo’s ex-wife...or it could all be a ruse. That’s part of the fun when her character is introduced.
Starros and Solo have known each other since his smuggling days, before he joined the rebellion in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Their marriage was originally part of a scam to pull off a robbery. However, the nerfherder double-crossed Starros and took her cut of their score, leaving her high and dry. Not one to be trifled with, she set out after Solo and even eventually cornered him and Leia Organa, nearly turning the princess over to Imperial forces.
Starros’s brutal tenacity and willingness to take out anyone who stands in her way make her a total badass. Her journey to track down Han Solo after his double-cross is the kind of female-centric story that the galaxy needs more of.
First appeared in: Star Wars: Darth Vader #3
Young, spunky Aphra is firmly Team Vader, and that alone is an indicator of her fearlessness. You don’t deal regularly with a Sith Lord like Vader unless you’re a force to be reckoned with, and Aphra is certainly someone you wouldn’t want to cross.
The talented “rogue archaeologist,” who made her first appearance in the pages of Darth Vader 3: Vader, Part 3, began working under Vader due to her highly sophisticated ability with droids. She sought out and activated both 0-0-0 and BT-1, seen above on this list, and lived to tell the tale. This act spoke volumes to Vader, who tasked her with building his own private army of loyal droids.
The pair traveled to Geonosis, where Aphra was able to pull off the heist of a lifetime: an entire droid factory. She later used the factory to manufacture an entire series of BX droid commandos. In the comics, Aphra consistently proves her ability and pedigree as a capable strategist, always a step ahead.
But Aphra is more than her profession or allegiances. She's a brash anti-hero channeling Solo's swagger with the unpredictability of any roguish bounty hunter throughout the universe. What will she do, and who will it affect next? This wild card is a loose cannon, but her antics are always entertaining.
First appeared in: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) had major roles in the early parts of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and was an important part of the movies' marketing and promotional materials. However, her role in the movie ultimately turned out to be a minor one, disappointingly so given the acting chops from Christie and the imposing aura that she exuded even without her chromium stormtrooper armor.
Phasma was to be the "tough veteran commander" of the First Order's stormtroopers when she was brought to life. As a result, fans delighted in her gleeful cruelty, the single shred of humanity she still clung to despite being a ruthless leader, and her overall vibe.
Because Phasma seemingly met her demise in The Last Jedi, we ultimately didn't learn as much about her as we would have liked, though much of her backstory was filled in by way of a companion novel titled Phasma. It revealed her brutal and difficult past, which eventually molded her into a seasoned warrior who would salvage crashed starships for weapons and supplies. She was even the leader of the Scrye clan at a young age. She's never been one for questioning whether she should kill anyone in her way — only when.
First appeared in: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) is a tough-talking scoundrel clad in a bronzed helmet and a maroon bodysuit. A native to Kijimi, she's a no-nonsense warrior whose story would have made a fantastic spin-off companion series to The Rise of Skywalker, so we could explore her adventures that took place long before the Final Order's fall.
We first meet the ex-spice runner during a later scene in The Rise of Skywalker, after Resistance agents had headed to the icy planet Kijimi in search of a path to the desert planet Exegol, hidden within the Unknown Regions. It appeared that she wasn't on the best terms with Poe Dameron, revealing that the pair had a history together.
Both Bliss and Dameron had shared a time as spice runners before Dameron joined the Resistance, which she saw as a move that felt like "abandoning" her. While it isn't directly stated, the pair's interactions are indicative of a previous relationship. It's possible they may have been more than friends, especially given Bliss's unwillingness to assist the trigger-happy flyboy and his friends initially before leading them to Babu Frik.
And while Star Wars certainly has its share of romance, it could have been very interesting to see more of Bliss and Dameron’s day-to-day interactions as “co-workers” of sorts.
First appeared in: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Jannah (Naomi Ackle), like Finn, is a former First Order stormtrooper who ended up deserting the the organization by leading a rebellion against alongside other warriors to freedom. She ended up settling on Kef Bir after deserting, during which she honed her alien horseback riding skills and lived peacefully with her tribe of First Order deserters.
Jannah is a fierce fighter who lives by her principles, having abandoned her role as a stormtrooper as a direct result of saying no to an order to eliminate innocent villagers. She's clearly full of passion and grit, driven to do the right thing in any circumstance. She may also be uniquely attuned to the Force, as indicated during a conversation between Jannah and Finn during The Rise of Skywalker. Jannah and Finn shared a "feeling" that they needed to leave their ranks. This vague feeling they alluded to was likely a reference to the pair’s burgeoning Force sensitivity.
When she became an ally to the Resistance, seen later throughout The Rise of Skywalker, it was tantalizing to know more about her and to understand more of her previous role as a stormtrooper, especially what went into her decision to become one in the first place. Perhaps Jannah is a character we’ll end up seeing more of in the future, after all.
Kaydel Ko Connix
First appeared in: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Kaydel Ko Connix (Billie Lourd) is an important member of the Resistance hailing from the planet Dulathia. She served under General Leia Organa before as an operations controller, which made her a formidable ally to have thanks to her experience as a military strategist.
During her time at the Resistance headquarters on D'Qar, she coordinated comms between X-wing pilots and their commanders, as evidenced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After the Resistance scored a victory at Starkiller Base, she was promoted to lieutenant under Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who she worked under as a sensor ops officer aboard the MC85 Star Cruiser Raddus in The Last Jedi.
Despite Connix's strength and often heroic actions, she's not given much screen time beyond what's required for her to carry out the above actions. It's unclear what kind of person Connix really is other than a stalwart Resistance devotee capable of keeping calm under pressure. But she'd be a fantastic character to hear more from someday, especially given that Lourd is the late Carrie Fisher's daughter.
First appeared in: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
When it comes to Force-sensitive women in the Star Wars universe, few showcased more strength than Knights of the Old Republic's Bastila Shan. A Padawan during the Jedi Civil War, this Talravin youth grew up to become a massively important character that players would get to know over the course of the popular role-playing game.
Shan is exceptionally gifted with the Force, though she didn't grow up wishing to join the Jedi Order. Instead, her mother made that decision for her, believing the life Shan would have lived with her parents (namely her father's hunts for prized beasts and the treasure they’d bring) would be too dangerous for her. Shan took on Jedi training, and ended up becoming a formidable ally to a Jedi strike team tasked with capturing the Sith lords Darth Revan and Darth Malak.
Shan is a powerful Jedi with friends in high places, and even though she once turned to the Dark Side under Darth Malak (following a week of torture) she was able to redeem herself, even helping to bring Revan back around to the Light Side as well. She did all of this more or less independent of a "squad" or team to assist her, and only served to grow wiser and more powerful throughout the Knights of the Old Republic continuity.
However, given that Bastila isn't the protagonist of the game and players have their own unique role in the story to play, she isn't in the spotlight as often as she could be, which means there's still plenty about her that we don't know.