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The Force is strong with this one: A definitive ranking of the most powerful Sith and Jedi in the Star Wars films

Spoiler alert: It’s not Jocasta Nu.

To celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, throughout the entire month of December AiPT! will be covering all the latest news and updates, reviewing the latest comics, teaching you how to build your very own lightsaber on our YouTube channel, breaking down all the best theories on our podcast, showcasing the best cosplay, ranking the best Sith/Jedi and so much more.

Listen to the latest episode of our Star Wars podcast, Talkin' Tauntauns!

If there’s one thing nerds love more than anything else it’s a contest of strength. From the age old debate of “My dad Vs. your dad” to pretty much every comic crossover since Secret Wars, there’s no more beloved – or contentious – argument in fandom than “who would win in a fight.” These dorky donnybrooks are particularly heated whenever a particular property is built around a warrior class – say a mystical order of space monks who use telekinesis and laser swords to stage epic battles that skirt the lines between samurai showdowns, the chivalrous combat of medieval knights and (occasionally) gladiatorial battles to the death between man and beast. Yes, you guessed right I’m talking about the epic science fiction fantasy saga that is Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. EDIT: I’m being told by my editor that this piece will actually be about Star Wars, not Starchaser. Apologies to any fans of awesome, if derivative, 80s action cartoons.

It’s…uh…not all that similar actually…

Note: So the thing about the Star Wars series is that it is dense and involved. There are countless books, comics, video games, Christmas Specials, toys and …uh….parodies that all presuppose an auteur’s own particular vision of a galaxy far far away. As such, what is and is not canon in this series isn’t always clear. As such, rather than spend the rest of my adult life pouring through Wookiepedia pages, watching Cartoon Network originals and re-playing Shadows of the Empire on N64 in a vain effort to get a firm grasp on official EU canon, this list will be based entirely on the films. For the purposes of this power ranking, we’ll only be looking at the core 6 films (orig-trig and the prequels), Rogue One and The Force Awakens. The rankings will be decided based on on-screen actions, presence and importance to the overall narrative. I recognize that there are several things done by many of these characters in the extended universe that makes them considerably more badass, but given that I can’t binge the entirety of Rebels before The Last Jedi comes out, this is what we’re we’re left with.

Honorable Mentions:

But first, this guy…

Chirrut Îmwe
Rogue One

First off, it’s really cool that they got Donny Yen into the Star Wars Universe and made him an interesting badass with a sensitivity for the force. He’s potentially the most interesting character in Rogue One and convincingly dispatches of Imperial Stormtroopers with ease. The thing is…dude’s not a Jedi. Respect the game, Donny. You’re out of your element. (Ip Man is still the s--t, though.)

4 Lightsabers does not a Jedi make.

General Grievous
Revenge of the Sith

This is a somewhat contentious opinion, but I think Grievous is pretty cool. He’s an evil cyborg who quad-wields lightsabers from the Jedi he’s killed. He’s responsible for the deaths of a lot of of EU jedi knights, led the droid armies of Palpatine and had a bad ass fight with Obi-Wan that involves both a giant lizard mount and a crazy space unicycle. He would be on this list…if he were an actual Sith and not just a giant, lightsaber-wielding cyborg.

Admit it, you know like 3 of their names.

23). Cameo Jedi
Various Prequels

Before the Emperor enacted Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, the Star Wars universe was absolutely lousy with Jedi. There were knights all over the place, whether they were out patrolling the galaxy or just hanging at the Jedi temple on Coruscant. As such, there just wasn’t enough time for the first three chapters to give them all something to do. Now that Disney has decided to release a new Star Wars film every year for the next…ever, fleshing out these background characters is essentially the whole purpose of the extended universe. As such the names below may be awesome in their own ways, but their rolls in the films are limited to…

Oppo Rancisis – hanging out in the background of Jedi Council meetings.

Yarael Poof – hanging out in the background of Jedi Council meetings then dieing offscreen.

Pablo-Jill, Bultar Swan, Even Piell – Participating in the Battle of Geonosis then disappearing.

Quinlan Vos, Luminara Unduli, Bariss Offee, Depa Billaba, Adi Gallia, Plo Koon – Not doing anything in the films but being more interesting in the cartoons/comics.

Yaddle – There’s a female Yoda? How is that not bigger news? Why did I have to look this up?

She’s what would it would look like if your nan was a Jedi

22). Jocasta Nu
Attack of the Clones

She’s a librarian. Full stop. She makes it above the cameo Jedi for actually having lines in the movies and (somehow) surviving Order 66. In the EU she escaped Courscant in an effort to preserve the historical documents and teachings of the Jedi Order which is nobel…except when you consider she could’ve potentially helped save a few younglings. Oh well, to each her own, I guess.

He may not be much of a looker, but damn is that a fly belt.

21). Coleman Trebor
Attack of the Clones

That the Cole-man made it to the Jedi Council and participated in the Battle of Geonosis is what gets him on this list. The fact that he was then blasted in the chest by Jango Fett and fell to his death prevents him from getting any higher than this. Fun fact: Dude was named after Rob Coleman, an animator for Industrial Lights and Magic, which is cool. Though the fact that he’s a creepy lizard guy is a little less flattering.

This is about as much action as this guy sees in the whole series.

20). Eeth Koth
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones

Another background Council member, Eeth did participate in the Battle of Geonosis…sort of. Was he there? Sure. Did he swing his lightsaber at some battle droids? I think so… I mean, it’s likely. The thing is, after that brief skirmish in the fighting pit, dude joins up with the clone troopers to continue the assault and pursue Count Dooku….buuuuuuut his ship is shot down and that’s all we see of him for the rest of the series. In the Clone Wars cartoon he was kidnapped by General Grievous but survives and goes on to do nothing.

Oh, uh….spoiler alert. Agen Kolar kinda sucks.

19). Agen Kolar
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

This dude was a member of the Council. He fought in the battle of Geonosis, and was part of the crew Mace Windu assembled to arrest Palpatine…which is where he met his end as the first Jedi Master to fall to the evil emperor’s red lightsaber. I mean, sure you could say that Sideous got the jump on the 4 PSYCHIC WARRIOR KNIGHTS THERE FOR THE EXPLICIT PURPOSE OF APPREHENDING HIM, but come on man. Sideous is definitely a bad dude (see his posting further down) but going out like a lil b---h is not how you want to be remembered.

“Wait, what do you mean FIRST to get killed by Palpatine?”

18). Saesee Tiin
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

So most of that stuff about Kolar applies to the Tiin man as well, except that he also appeared in episode one and was the SECOND to die at the hands of Palpatine. So you know…progress?

There’s sort of a theme to this portion of the list…

17). Aayla Secura
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

A Jedi Knight who never achieved the rank of master, Secura checks a lot of the boxes of the people before her on this list. She fought on Geonosis, didn’t have a ton of impact on the storyline and said pretty much nothing in all of her screen time. She did gain some popularity for her look, but that wasn’t enough to help her survive Order 66, where she was the first Jedi to be killed by the traitorous clone troopers. That she couldn’t even get her lightsaber up in time to defend herself drops her below some of the others on this list.

Seen here in happier times.

16). Stass Allie
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Same old song and dance here. She fought on Geonosis, then was blown up on a speeder bike as a part of Order 66. She gets the edge on Aayla for a less obvious betrayal. Interestingly enough, Stass here was created as a retcon – as the actress who played Adi Gallia in The Phantom Menace couldn’t make it to Australia to film Attack of the Clones. Since the new actress looked too different from her predecessor to pass as the same woman, the writers decided to create a new character instead.

The rare shot of her without a lightsaber poking through her chest.

15). Shaak Ti
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

This one may sting for fans of the Clone Wars cartoon, of which Ti was a mainstay, but in the films she just didn’t do a whole lot. She was a member of the council who fought in Geonosis, sure, but bears the unfortunate distinction of having two on-screen deaths be lost on the cutting room floor for Episode 3. Official canon has her dying at the hands of Vader as a part of Order 66 (lame), but she also got fridged in a deleted scene wherein General Grievous killed her as a means of antagonizing Anakin and Obi-Wan early in Revenge of the Sith. Still, she remains very popular based off both her (admittedly cool) design and role in the EU.

There’s always that one extra who looks right at the camera.

14). Kit Fisto
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Get this: This guy was on the Jedi Council and fought in the battle of Geonosis! He was really popular in the Clone Wars cartoon! He didn’t have much to do in the movies! That all being said, he was more of a “featured extra” than those below him on this list. Dude was was front and center in the battle scenes of Episode 2 and initially survived Palpatine’s betrayal, only to then bite it as the evil Darth Sidious engaged he and Mace Windu in a more fair fight. He’s another Jedi that scores this high largely on design, but past this green-dreadlocked chump, things get a little more serious.

Look at him. It breaks his heart that he’s not in the top 10.

13). Ki-Adi-Mundi
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Largely known as “conehead guy” among my friends and I, Mundi is one of the three main Council leaders throughout the prequel trilogy. As such, dude stands above the rest of the list thus far for a few reasons. First off – dialogue. He’s got it. Yeah most of it is exposition, but still. Second, despite being a member of the council, dude doesn’t stayed tethered to Coruscant. He’s often out in the field, fighting the trade federation and serving as a general to the allied forces. As such, it’s no surprise that my man Mundi goes out like a G. Mid battle when Order 66 came across, Mundi recognizes that he’s being betrayed and manages to take out a few Stormtroopers before succumbing to multiple laser blasts in one of the more resonant death scenes in the entire series.

“I swear, I’m a big deal…you’ll see!”

12). Snoke
The Force Awakens

Told you it was all heavy hitters moving forward. It may be contentious to have the supreme leader of the First Order this low on the list, but come on. Dude only appears in one movie (thus far) and as a hologram. His list of known feats, beside all the evil stuff his henchmen do in Episode 7, essentially boils down to “corrupted Ben Solo.” He clearly is strong with the force but appears to be more strategically minded than Palpatine, given his close relationship with Armitage Hux. Other than that, dude is a mystery. It’s very likely that if I were to do this list after The Last Jedi he’d be ranked higher, but given his limited exposure in The Force Awakens, 12 is as high as he goes.

If we did this list next year, Rey would probably be in the top 10.

11). Rey
The Force Awakens

Another potentially controversial placement, but Rey’s limited on screen activities will keep her out of the top 10 for now. As the protagonist of this new trilogy, we will undoubtedly see new and great feats from Daisy Ridley’s Rey, but for now we can only judge her based off what she accomplished in The Force Awakens. With literally no training, Rey manages to master the Jedi Mind Trick, lock down force telekinesis and show enough skills with a lightsaber to best Kylo Ren in one-on-one combat. It’s really nothing to sneeze at, and given that she will now be training with a Jedi Master in Luke Skywalker, I’d expect her to climb this list considerably over the next few films. Unfortunately, most of the top 10 is packed with a murderer’s row of powerful Jedi whose stories have (largely) already been written. Rey’s, on the other hand, is still a work in progress.

“I’m gonna make you proud, Pepaw!”

10). Kylo Ren
The Force Awakens

Yeah it’s kinda s----y to lump all the new characters together like this, but (again) the rest of this list is comprised of serious heavy hitters with multiple films to build their reputations. As such, Kylo Ren has some growing to do before people stop viewing him as an Emo Darth Vader fanboy. That shouldn’t suggest Ren is a scrub. Dude is a proficient force user (stopping a laser blast in mid air, which is something no other Jedi or Sith has done on screen), an expert with a lightsaber (though he may want to fine tune the Kyber crystal regulator, because his beam is all over the place) and has learned advanced interrogation and mind-reading skills from his new master, Snoke. True, Rey managed to one up him on all of that through natural talent alone, but Ren was still clearly stronger and more adept with his Sith talents. It will be interesting to see him develop over the next several films, and – by proxy – where he lands on future lists like this.

A Star Wars fanboy’s version of 6 minutes in Heaven.

9). Darth Maul
The Phantom Menace

It’s time we, as a fandom, had an important conversation about Darth Maul. He is undoubtedly the coolest looking Sith (though not as iconic as Vader), his most important scene was set to Duel of the Fates (arguably the best song in the series) and he killed friggin Qui-Gon Jinn…uh…spoilers? He’s a total badass and Ray Park’s wushu training would have made his fighting style unique even if dude wasn’t rocking a double-edged lightsaber. That all being said…dude had like 2 lines of dialogue and about 6 minutes of screen time. Dude totally rocks those 6 minutes, and has become the most fondly remembered part of the prequels for many, but he just can’t stack up with the other names remaining on this list. Fun fact: those two lines of dialogue I mentioned? Park was dubbed over by British comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

“What? That ‘aint no system in the galaxy far, far away that I ever heard of. They speak English in What?”

8). Mace Windu
The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Mace Windu could be in the top 10 by virtue of being played by Samuel L Jackson alone. I swear that dude emits a low level radiation that makes everyone within a 20 foot radius seem less cool by comparison. In addition to being one of the three leaders of the Jedi Council, Windu led the allied attack on the Trade Federation in Geonosis, decapitating legendary bounty hunter (and genetic basis for the clone army) Jango Fett in the process. Murda Ma¢e was also the first person on the council to suspect that something was rotten in the state of Coruscant. When evidence of Sheev Palpatine’s evil schemes came to light, Windu put together a posse to apprehend the secretive Sith lord. Yeah, his crew got straight murdered by Darth Sidious, but my man Mace actually had skeevy sheev on the ropes and begging for his life…until Anakin’s heel turn saw him chop off Samuel L’s arm and send him flying to his death. If we take into account all of the EU properties he appears in (be it comics, books or cartoons) he only comes off as more of a badass. Unfortunately for fans of the purple-lightsaber wielding Windu, his feats – as impressive as they were – were always secondary to the central plot. No matter how awesome Jackson was in the role, he was never meant to be at the center of the story. As such, my man Mace comes in a little low in the top 10.

“Which one of you bastards said I had to use the force to open my bottle of Metamucil?”

7). Count Dooku
Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith

Perhaps the second most metal Sith on the list (though Christopher Lee has literally made several heavy metal albums – including a Christmas album), Count Dooku (AKA Darth Tyranus) was the secondary villain for the latter portions of the prequel trilogy. He effectively led the loosely defined secessionist movement that grew out of the trade disputes of Naboo in The Phantom Menace, and led from the vanguard. He was onsite at the battle of Geonosis, engaging several masterful Jedi in the process. Not only does he absolutely school the duo of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, he actually goes toe-to-toe with his former master Yoda, fighting the diminutive dueler to a standstill. In that fight, the Dook of Earl displayed a unique hybrid fighting style that focussed more on disarming an opponent (literally in the case of Anakin) rather than the powerful lunging swings of western knight-style sword fighting. His nimble style also allowed him to again best Kenobi in his second face off with the Ani-Ken team, though Skywalker’s matured power and increased affinity for the dark side allowed him to sever the Count’s hands and then his head to secure the win. He’s another character that is heavily expanded in the EU, even gaining his own evil badass padawan in Asajj Ventress – who probably would have made the list if I went through and actually watched Clone Wars. Still, the Count is a total monster and well worth a spot in the top

“I can tell you that I don’t have any credits. But what I do have is a particular set of lightsaber skills…”

6).Qui-Gon Jinn
The Phantom Menace

Though he’s a little light on accomplishments, the impact of Qui-Gon is what gets him this high on the list. Dude was trained by Count Dooku, turned down a role on the Jedi Council so he could stay in the field, trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, who (if you can’t tell yet) ranks pretty high on this list, and put in an impressive showing against Darth Maul before succumbing to his opponent’s double-edged lightsaber. His biggest contribution to the Galaxy Far Far Away, however, has to be finding and beginning the training of one Anakin Skywalker, perhaps you’ve heard of him. Qui-Gon recognized the potential in the man (boy) who would eventually bring balance to the force…by betraying the Jedi order and turning to the darkside but then making an 11th hour face turn to save his whiney son from being electrocuted to death by an octogenarian wizard in a bathrobe. You know, that old chestnut. Much like my boy Mace, Jinn was portrayed by a real life badass. This time it was a pre-Taken Liam Neesons, who brought a serious gravitas to the role. A lesser actor may have made Qui-Gon feel a little one-note or forgettable, but my boy Liam Neesons turned in a performance that was soulful and badass, with the kind of humility that really informs the disposition of his padawan (Obi-Wan) in later films. Jinn’s the Jedi Master you wish you had…well unless we’re counting the next guy…

Seen here looking pleased with himself for using the Jedi mind trick to convince Luke that he didn’t just fart.

5). Yoda
The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

What can you even say about Yoda? He’s friggin Yoda. He is literally what most people think of when they think of a wise old master. Dude trained  slew of Padawans during his 800 years at the head of the Jedi Council, churning out star pupils like Count Dooku and Count Luke-oo (That’s Mr. Skywalker if you’re nasty) in the process. As head of the council, Yoda also served an important political role in the young republic, leading the republic’s forces in several conflicts – including the Clone Wars. Sure the droids have been in more one movie than Yoda, but this little green man is in almost every piece of extended universe material that features the Jedi. Dude is the keeper of the flame, the soul of the Jedi, but he – like Qui-Gon, like Windu, is almost always a background character. As such, he just can’t really measure up to the impact of the top 4.

Luke using the force to keep his combover from showing.

4). Luke Skywalker
Revenge of the Sith (as a baby), A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens

This is probably the most controversial placement on this list, but let’s look at this logistically. As the central protagonist of the original trilogy, what did Luke accomplish? He helped rescue Leia from the Imperial forces, blew up the Death Star and then…killed a rancor and got his ass kicked a lot. Like a lot a lot. Don’t get me wrong, Luke is a big deal and the one of the most powerful characters of his era…it’s just that it’s an era without Jedi. Skywalker started his training late, never finished it, then the only true master he could learn from died. Yeah he played a pivotal role in the defeat of the Empire (the Death Star alone would put him in the top 10), but any time he went up against another force user he got crushed. He manages to get one up on his father in Jedi, but I think we all know that Vader threw that fight because he realized he didn’t actually want to kill his own son. There are some neat stories in the extended universe featuring the farm boy made good, but if we’re going off the films alone, I’m kind of throwing dude a bone by putting him over Yoda. As it is, he’s an apple that fell pretty far from the tree.

“Give in to it! Pull my finger!”

3). Sheev Palpatine
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

If this list were just based purely on the impact that a character had on the Star Wars universe, ole Palp Fiction here would be number one with a bullet. The man single handedly brought down the Jedi; used his political savvy to take control of – and eventually disband – the galactic senate; he oversaw the creation of two Death Stars (one of which literally blew up the planet Alderaan); he was responsible for the return of the Sith order; and did it all in his bathrobe. Palpatine is one of the only characters who is actually bettered by the existence of the prequels. If you were to watch the films in sequential order, you get to see the story of a man who schemed his way into a position of power right under the noses of a tribe of telekinetic order of warrior monks, even swaying their prophesied messiah to turn against his brothers in the process. In the orig trig, he operates as more of a man behind the scenes, but even when he deigned to get his hands dirty, the man proved to be a powerhouse – using Force lightning to subdue a Jedi easily 60 years his junior. When we see Sheev ditch diplomacy and grab his lightsaber in Revenge of the Sith, dude is even more impressive. First off, Darth Sidious runs through 3 of the 4 Jedi Masters sent to arrest him with ease. He then fought Mace Windu – the baddest dude in the galaxy – to a standstill before Anakin was able to turn the tide for him. Even after the serious disfigurement he experienced as a result of that conflict, the man STILL had enough in him to best mother f-----g Yoda one on one. First he whaled on him with a lightsaber, then – when he got tired of that – fucker started chucking hoverpods at him ’til the dude had to run for his life. The extended universe has a lot of weird Palpatine stories of varying quality (dude has his own clone saga), but his onscreen time can only be topped by the two most important men in the Star Wars mythos.

That he ranked this high despite that mullet should speak volumes.

2). Obi-Wan Kenobi
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back (as a force ghost), Return of the Jedi (as a force ghost)

If Yoda is the public ideal of the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan is the epitome of a Jedi knight. When we first met old Ben Kenobi, he was a crazy old coot who chased off the Tusken Raiders by stumbling around in his bathrobe. While you should avoid shambling old men chasing off local merchants in a loosely tied bathrobe in real life, Obi-Wan here took a 14 year old farm boy and introduced him to the goddamn force. The guy showed Luke how to use – and build (off screen) – his own lightsaber, trained him in some subtle forms of mind control and extrasensory perception, then faced off with the strongest dude in the universe and sacrificed himself to ensure the safe escape of the Skywalker twins. He then did something that no other Jedi has done before, and came back as a blue force ghost – a feat that only master Yoda and Kenobi’s own Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, were able to match. While Luke and Leia sometimes hinted at Obi-Wan’s heroic past, it wasn’t until the prequels that we actually got to see what a young badass Kenobi could do. Now played by Ewan McGregor, young Obi-Wan was gallant, strong and fast. Dude was fearless and dove headfirst into danger, sometimes to his detriment, but often to rousing success. Kenobi is responsible for the defeats of Darth Maul, Grievous and a fresh off his heel turn Darth Vader. He was a decorated leader of the republic’s forces during the Clone Wars, balancing his time between the front line and council duties on Coruscant. He was a participant in nearly every major lightsaber battle in the series, is the lead of of great EU material (like the Clone Wars cartoon) and is just…so damn handsome. Wait, what? For real though, there is no Jedi better than Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Sith on the other hand…

Go on. Tell me that someone else should be number 1. I’ll wait.

1). Anakin Skywalker
Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

There could only ever be one. The chosen one. The man to bring balance to the force. While he could be painted as a villain in the original trilogy, with the entire series (thus far) taken into consideration, Anakin Skywalker is clearly the tragic hero of the Star Wars universe. Like Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar, Ani is a flawed man in a position of power who does what he thinks is right until the weight of his actions finally become too much for him to deal with. Taking in the entire series means you also have to deal with him as a kid (ugh) and as an awful, awful teenager (Hayden Christiansen is the worst), but seeing his path to the dark side (no matter how poorly acted) is an important part of understanding who Darth Vader is. I know most people have disavowed the prequels, and I sure as hell won’t defend episodes 1 and 2 beyond some of the fight scenes, but I really appreciate the narrative arc of Darth Vader. That being said, holy s--t is Vader cool. Every scene he’s in, your gaze is drawn to the 7-foot-tall asthmatic cyborg. His costume is cool, that voice is undeniable and every time he gets to swing a lightsaber it’s magic. Shoot, my podcast cohost Dave had to subside his hatred for Rogue One when he saw the AMAZING 2 MIN MURDER SEQUENCE tacked on to the end of the film. The EU only grows his myth, but his screen time alone is enough to make Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader the best Jedi or Sith out there.

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