The Star Wars universe is bigger than ever, thanks to Disney’s new mandate that everything that gets published is in canon, along with the movies. But if all you’ve done is watch the movies and TV shows, there’s a whole half of the universe you’re missing.
Here are all the new, notable and most interesting characters from all the Star Wars books and comics released so far, including Rebels, Imperials, Jedi, aliens, bounty hunters, and even a few droids. Spoiler warning, obviously—but if you want to know what else is going on in a galaxy far, far away, it’s essential to know about these characters.
Before A New Hope
Depa Billaba (Kanan)
She was the Jedi Master to Kanan (star of Star Wars Rebels, back when he was going by Caleb Dume.) Captured by space pirates at an early age, she was rescued by Mace Windu, who not only brought her into the Jedi order, but trained her himself. Eventually she also joined the Jedi High Council, and made background appearances in the Council scenes in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. She was fighting the Separatists on the planet Kaller with Caleb Dune when Order 66 was enacted; she was meditating at the time, which allowed her to receive a Force vision of the danger. She sacrificed herself to the clone soldiers, given Caleb enough time to escape.
Janus Kasmir (Kanan)
A Kalleran criminal and con artist who ran into Kanan, then called Caleb Dume, both before and after Order 66. He had no love for the Jedi or the Separatists— but when he found Caleb hiding in Plateau City, he fed and took in the young Jedi. After hearing a message calling all Jedi to return to Coruscant, Caleb actually stole Janus’ spaceship. When he discovered it was an Imperial trap, Caleb brought the ship back, but Janus banished him. The two later ran across each on Kaller, after Kanan had beat up some criminals Kasmir had intended on fleecing; as punishment, the Kalleran forced Caleb into his crew, telling him to get rid of everything that marked him as Caleb Dume, including his name—and that’s how he became Kanan Jarrus. The two made great partners in stealing and smuggling, skills Kanan continued to utilize later, but to help the Rebellion.
Isval (Lords of the Sith)
A former Twilek slave who helped lead a rebellion on the planet Ryloth alongside Cham Syndulla (whom you might recognize from Clone Wars, or as the father of Hera on Rebels). She loved Cham and hated the Empire, and gave her life for both causes. She even confronted Darth Vader, sacrificing her life so Cham could continue fighting against the Empire.
Ciena Ree (Lost Stars)
Born on the planet Jelucan, Ciena enthusiastically joined the Empire after it liberated her impoverished planet. She attended the Royal Imperial Academy, receiving top marks and going on the command track. She was assigned to Darth Vader’s flagship Devastator, where she narrowly avoided being killed on the Death Star along with many of her friends and fellow former students. Although she was appalled at what she considered the Rebellion’s act of terrorism, eventually she began to see that the Empire was evil. At first she thought maintaining order was the greatest good, then she hoped to change the Empire for the better from within, but she finally stayed purely because of her vow of service, as Jelucans take their honor very seriously. Ciena was the commander of the crashed Star Destroyer on Jakku, seen early in The Force Awakens.
Thane Kyrell (Lost Stars)
Thane was Ciena’s childhood friend who also joined the Royal Imperial Academy, following the pilot track. Their childhood friendship blossomed into romance, but while Ciena stayed in command ships among fellow Imperials, Thane flew TIE Fighters to various planets and into various battles, and saw the Empire’s evils first hand. Eventually he deserted, helped by Ciena, who had him declared dead. But Thane’s conscience eventually got the better of him, and he joined the Rebellion, pitting him against his love.
After A New Hope
Evaan Verlaine (Princess Leia)
A native Alderaanian, Evaan was mentored by Queen Breha growing up, giving her a love of its royal family and the Rebel Alliance it supported. After the Death Star destroyed the planet, she pledged her service to Princess Leia as they searched for other survivors who had been off-planet, while the Empire was hunting them down. She protected Leia as they traveled to Naboo, Sallust and other planets (since the Empire had a bounty on the princess’ head) and together they brought together thousands of Alderaanians. When this group came to together to discuss electing a new leader, Verlaine assumed Leia would take the role; instead, Leia nominated Verlaine.
Sana Solo (Marvel’s Star Wars)
Born Sana Starros, Sana is most notable for claiming to be Han Solo’s wife. Han Solo claims this is 100% not true. Who is lying? Well, more on that in a bit. We do know for certain, however, that Han has been avoiding Sana for years—which could just as easily be because she’s crazy and dangerous. At any rate, Sana tracked down Han—who was unfortunately hitting on Leia at the time—in the Monsua Nebula, right before the Empire attacked. Sana’s plans to turn Leia in for her bounty, and basically kidnap her husband, were dashed when Han reveals he is also a Rebel, and if the Empire lands he’ll be killed too—forcing Sana take both Han and Leia prisoner while escaping from the Empire until she figures out how to get rid of one and not the other.
Eventually Sana reveals that she and Han were married—but it was part of a scam job the two pulled together. When the deal went sour, Han ran off with Sana’s cut, and she’s been trying to track him down since. After Leia saves Sana from a monster outbreak in Grakkus the Hutt’s arena, Sana and the group part amicably—although there’s no mention as to whether she ever got actually got the money she was looking for.
Grakkus the Hutt (Marvel’s Star Wars)
He was a Hutt crimelord on Nar Shaddaa—known as the “Smuggler’s Moon,” since it was basically one big criminal underworld. He controlled a legion of bounty hunters and smugglers, indulging in crimes and contract killings all over the galaxy, which funded his passion for collecting Jedi artifacts. When Luke Skywalker visited Nar Shaddaa in the hopes of hiring a pilot to take him to Coruscant, Luke got into a bar fight and was forced to use his lightsaber. One of Grakkus’ operatives pretty much immediately stole the weapon and gave it to the Hutt. It actually worked out kind of all right for Luke; trapped in the Hutt’s massive collection of artifacts, Luke had access to over a dozen of Jedi Holocrons containing recordings of past Jedi masters. Then Grakkus decided Luke would better serve him fighting to the death in the crimelord’s arena. This decision didn’t work out well for anybody.
Doctor Aphra (Darth Vader)
The “rogue archaeologist” came to Darth Vader’s attention for her technological ability, particularly with droids—she managed to find and reactivate 000 and BT-1, two of the deadliest droids in the galaxy, without being murdered by them. Vader sought her out to help him acquire an army, having fallen out of favor with the Emperor after A New Hope. Aphra took him to Geonosis and commandeered the last remaining droid factory there. Later, after learning the name of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, Vader sent her on a sensitive mission—find the Naboo doctor who performed the autopsy on Queen Amidala’s corpse, to confirm whether she had still been pregnant when she died. Aphra is young and spunky, and is an odd match for Vader, but the Sith Lord has spared her life on several occasions, while Aphra has also gone out of her way to rescue her new master.
0-0-0 and BT-1 (Darth Vader)
Like C-3PO, 000 is a protocol droid; like R2-D2, BT-1 looks like an Astromech. Also, they tend to squabble with each other. Other than that, though, they are totally different—because both droids basically want to kill all humans (and frequently ask their master Dr. Aphra for permission to do so). Triple-Zero is programmed for etiquette and torture, which he enjoys quite a bit—he has been known to laugh while setting droids on fire—while BT-1 is an assassin droid, created by the Empire in a program that was shut down immediately after BT-1 killed all his creators and blew up the base it was housed in. They are, without a doubt, the greatest characters in the new Star Wars continuity—not least of which is because of the time they manage to capture Luke Skywalker after painting the normally black 0-0-0 gold, disguising him as C-3PO.
Nakari Kelen (Heir to the Jedi)
One of Luke Skywalker’s new love interests in Disney’s new Star Wars canon. After her mother was jailed for writing a presumably dirty song titled “Darth Vader’s Many Prosthetic Parts,” Kelen joined the Rebel Alliance. Her slugthrower skills got her paired with Luke on a mission to rescue the cryptographer Givin Drusil Bephorin from Imperial clutches. The two fell for each other, and Luke even told her about his burgeoning Force talents. Alas, she was killed in the line of duty.
After Chewbacca crash-landed on Andelm-4, he came across a young girl named Zarro, who managed to enlist the Wookiee into helping her free her people from the evil crimelord Jaum. Jaum had enslaved the planet’s inhabitants into mining Andelm beetles and selling them to the Empire (they power blasters, somehow). Chewie and Zarro basically liberate the entire planet themselves—including Zarro’s dad—and even take out a Star Destroyer. But the real reason you need to know Zarro is that she’s the person who’s currently hanging onto Chewbacca’s medal, after the Wookiee gave it to her to remember their adventure by.