It is well documented that we — we being James and Katharine — are obsessed with the names in Star Wars. We even have our own not-at all-scientific rating system to judge our favourite, comical names from the galaxy far, far away: The Poe Dameron Scale™. And we are proud now to introduce the PDS to the world.
Image: Poe Dameron, Lucasfilm/Disney
The Poe Dameron Scale, or PDS, is named after the Star Wars-iest character around, Oscar Isaac’s suave X-Wing pilot, who to us best represents the quintessential absurdity Star Wars character names often have. A name is rated out of five Poes, with general sound, spelling, and resemblance to real words all taken into account. Laziness gets points deducted, while using a real word but spelled weirdly which also sounds awesome when said aloud would earn many extra points.
To show you how it works, we’ve compiled a list of 20 of our favourite Star Wars names, both good and bad, and then judged them according to the PDS. We have provided these rankings below using the system’s proprietary Poe Dameron Heads, as well as an explanation of how each name earned it, so that you too can see the PDS in action, so to speak.
The PDS has been a time-honoured tradition in our Slack chats — and now, we hope it will be your tradition, too. Truly, there is no better way to rank Star Wars character names than with a pile of Poe Dameron’s heads.
Image: Young Jedi Knights: Dark Knight
Lowbacca was Chewbacca’s nephew in the old EU and a Jedi. This name is so stupid and lazy that it is infuriating. INFURIATING. It’s just designed to mimic Chewbacca’s name by taking a real word with a “w” at the end and putting it in front of “bacca”. His nickname is even Lowie, which is somehow so much worse than Chewie. And yet, the laziness is kind of perfect for a Star Wars name, when so many of George Lucas’ own name creations are just too on the nose. It makes “Lowbacca” a perfect example of a Star Wars name, but it’s still not quite good enough to rate two full Poe Damerons.
Image: Star Wars: Obsession #4, art by Brian Ching
Sure, on its own, Soon Baytes is not that great of a Star Wars name. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be on this list. Except when you realise that Soon Baytes isn’t the great name, it was his name and his title that made him great, because Soon was a Jedi Master. Which meant, yes, there’s totally a Star Wars character who gets referred to as “Master Baytes”.
We’re immature enough that this makes us giggle, and we’re willing to bet creator Randy Stradley giggled too — after all, he infamously named the character in an attempt to get back at a Lucasfilm editor who would rigidly add “Master” in front of every Jedi’s name in Stradley’s comic scripts.
Image: Art by Cam Kennedy
This Dark Empire II character already had an amazing design — meant to be a heavily disfigured Jedi, he basically looked like the torture droid from A New Hope with arms and a squat head balanced on top. But his name is like someone put the effort in to make a Star Wars-arse name and then promptly gave up half way through. Empatojayos? Incredible. Brand? Meh. But still, potent enough when mixed together. He makes our cut.
Image: The front cover to Tarkin (from Del Rey), the book
A small-time Navy officer introduced in Tarkin, Rancit was ultimately executed for thinking it would be a great idea to work with a Rebel cell in an attempt to get himself a promotion. He was an idiot, sure, but you can’t really fault his name, evoking wonderfully evil, rancid-y tones.
Image: A New Hope, Lucasfilm
Would you believe this is the name of the Tusken Raider that menaced Luke in A New Hope? We had no idea, either. But also, that is too many rs. Like, it would have been enough at “Urorrur”, but then adding on another two with apostrophes is just obnoxious. How on earth are you meant to say it? Are the capitalisations meant to make a difference? We don’t care, really, it just makes trying to say it out loud a ton of fun.
Pash with Wedge Antilles (The Last Command 4, Edvin Biukovic)
His name is Cracken. Pash Cracken. He’s another hotshot pilot, this time the son of General Airen Cracken. In a weird twist of fate, with the old EU now not canon, Pash’s dad is still alive and well in canon and Pash has been relegated to the dust heap of history. Which is shame because he again has a one-syllable word as a first name and a last name which onomatopoeically conveys coolness. It also, unfortunately, means that when you combine his first and last names, you get the word “Crash”, which just isn’t good for a pilot. Although it is hilarious.
Image: A New Hope, Lucasfulm
Jek Tono Porkins
Porkins, if you don’t remember, was the large X-Wing pilot in A New Hope that died because he couldn’t pull his ship up. The name “Jek” gets the usual Star Wars points for being a single-syllable first name that vaguely sounds like it could be a name (see also: Poe, Biggs, Bail). But the real joy here is that his last name is Porkins basically so that he could be given the nickname “Piggy”. Which implies that the Star Wars universe has pigs. And calls the meat they eat from them “pork”. This name is deep. It raises questions.
Katharine already once described Warlord Zsinj as “named by someone headdesking into a keyboard while reading the outline to” The Courtship of Princess Leia, which was the book he premiered in. And we stand by that. It’s just… letters. Arranged to look good on the page but to strike absolutely no fear into anyone when said aloud. He is a ridiculous man made more ridiculous by his name.
Image: Clone Wars, Lucasfilm
One of the first villains in Clone Wars, this Separatist General is what happens when you try way too hard to do the classic Star Wars bad guy name technique of just picking negative words and go fully on into absurdity. I mean, his first name is worm, for crying out loud. We get it, he’s evil, no need to linguistically bash it over our heads!
Image: Rebels, Lucasfilm/Disney
One of the bumbling Imperial officers from the first few season of Rebels, this mainly amuses us because it reminds of the closest to a Star Wars name we have in real life, Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s decadent and snooty in the best way — a perfect match for his character design — but probably not evil enough for the Empire. It’s a wonder he made it to Commandant, honestly.
Image: Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm
Emperor Palpatine is an all-time iconic Star Wars name. It just drips off the tongue in the most delightfully evil manner. But when the Tarkin novel in Disney’s new canon decided that somehow Palpatine really needed a first name, it screwed up real bad — by which we mean it screwed up amazingly — by giving the most evil man in the galaxy the Star Wars first name equivalent of Clive. Or Gary. Sheev is not a sinister name. In fact, it’s decidedly hilarious. Do you think he turned to the dark side because all the kids on Naboo took the piss out of his name?
Image: Attack of the Clones, Lucasfilm
A) His name rhymes. B) He’s a member of the “Besalisk” species, which ranks up there with “Mon Calamari” in terms of alien species names. C) His first name is a real name, but is somehow rendered completely ridiculous by the last name. D) Jettster is so close to “Jet Star” it is honestly amazing.
Image: The Force Awakens,
Hux has the classic “X” sound of evil in it, while sounding exactly like the disappointed exhale you too would have if this is how your child turned out. Armitage sounds like it should have some kind of military meaning, but it doesn’t. It actually comes from Middle English word for hermitage, which also seems right for this character. This is in the classic Star Wars tradition of taking a real thing — it’s a town as well as a last name — and putting it in a weird place (see also: Any of the Antilleses).
Image: Clone Wars, Lucasfilm
When you already took Maul for a character name and need to make his brother, this is what you get. It’s like someone on the Clone Wars staff looked at General Grievous and went, “You know, I bet we can make a name that’s more blatantly evil.” Bonus points though for pronouncing his name like it’s a ridiculously posh British person saying “Savage”, though. “It’s Sahvahhj, dahling.”
Image: Attack of the Clones, Lucasfilm
OK, we’re cheating a little here — although credited in Attack of the Clones as Elan Sleazebaggano, the old EU gave Obi-Wan’s potential death stick dealer the much more “sensible” surname of Sel’Sabagno. But he doesn’t have that in the new canon, so we can safely ignore it — who wants a sensible Star Wars name, honestly — to say SLEAZEBAGGANO CAN’T BE SOMEONE’S SURNAME, OH MY GOD. Talk about predestiny with a name like that, right? Have any of the Sleazebagganos gone on to be doctors, lawyers, prominent Senators? Or are we to assume that they’re all, well, sleaze bags like Elan? We can only ponder.
Image: Heir to the Empire 1, Olivier Vatine, Fred Blanchard
He’s a smuggler who first showed up in the Thrawn trilogy and whose name is Talon — yes, like the bird claws — Karrde — yes, like playing cards. He gets two extra points for that. He’s also a man who named his flagship the Wilde Karrde. ALL his ships were puns: Uwana Buyer, Starry Ice, the Etherway. There’s a brazenness to how corny this name is that comes all the way back around.
Image: Clone Wars, Lucasfilm.
Plo Koon is a pure example of the best kind of Star Wars name. One that is objectively ridiculous but also is really satisfying to say out loud. Do it now. Plo Koon. Plooooo Koooooon. We named the scale after a name just like that: Poe Dameron. How can we not love Plo Koon? And for how perfectly this name fits the scale, he gets a controversial full marks.
Image: Essential Readers Companion
Leader of the Imperial Remnant in the old Expanded Universe and husband of Jaina Solo, Jegged Fel carries on the great legacy of Imperial-associated Star Wars characters whose names are weirdly sinister, despite the fact Jagged — known as Jag to his friends, which is almost even funnier — was, more often than not, a close ally to the Jedi and the New Republic. But come on, Jagged is how you describe a cliff face, not a man’s name. It’s amazing how silly this is.
Image: Behind the Magic, Lucasfilm
Salacious B. Crumb
Big name for a tiny shrieking monkey. Salacious B. Crumb was that little creature that sat next to Jabba the Hutt, a jester with a truly amazing laugh. His name is a marvel because it includes two actual words and a superfluous middle initial. It’s also a very intense name for a creature that I’m pretty sure most people didn’t even realise was a person and not a pet the first time they saw the movie.
Image: The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm
Honourable Mentions: All the Darths
Since these names are chosen to be intimidating and not given, it’s hard to properly rate them on the Poe scale. But we do want to point out the endless entertainment of the Sith Lord naming conventions. Vader, it turns out, was the least weird of a group that includes Maul, Tyranus (kudos for usually just going by Dooku, even if that is somehow more hilarious than Tyranus), Plagueis, Sidious, Bane and, truly amazingly, Millennial. We assume it was student debt that drove him to the Dark Side.