Image: Dark Horse. Empire #9 Art by Douglas Wheatley.
The Star Wars saga is filled with characters who never get the spotlight, but captured the minds of fans, no matter how minor or inconsequential their appearances were. Here's 11 blink-and-you'll-miss-them Star Wars characters that became more prominent than you could ever imagine, thanks to the multitude of tie-in media that made up the Expanded Universe.
11) Biggs Darklighter
Biggs Darklighter is much, much more important to Star Wars than the movies ever let on. He's meant to be Luke's best friend -- and when they're at long last reunited, Vader cruelly and permanently wrenched the duo apart in an explosive manner in the Death Star trenches. And yet, Biggs has maybe five minutes of screen time to his name. He's supposedly hugely important to Luke, but we meet him, he blows up, and he's never mentioned again, a mustachioed dot on the greater canvas of the Skywalker saga.
The Expanded Universe corrected that in big ways by building on the Biggs we would have met in scenes cut from A New Hope, detailing how he joined the Imperial Academy and eventually got stationed aboard the Rand Ecliptic, and defected to the Rebellion -- alongside another member of the Ecliptic's crew who we see in the movies, Derek "Hobbie" Kilvian, who had his own mutiny on the Ecliptic going on at the same time as Biggs'. Confusing! But at least it put a bit more meat on the bones of a character we probably should have learned more about before he violently exploded.
10) Aayla Secura
This Twi'lek Jedi Knight ranks alongside the likes of Plo Koon, Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi Mundi, and a host of other notable "background Jedi" as one of the most beloved minor figures of the prequel trilogy. But her journey to Expanded Universe fame was actually different to most of her fellow Jedi friends. Aayla was first created by Jan Duursema and John Ostrander for Dark Horse's series of Star Wars comics, but after George Lucas saw a piece of cover art depicting the character, he loved the design so much Aayla was added to the crowd of Jedi who arrive in Attack of the Clones' Geonosian arena battle sequence.
Aayla went on to re-appear in the Clone Wars cartoon and even was one of the handful of Jedi we see slaughtered in Revenge of the Sith's portrayal of Order 66. But she thrived as essentially one of the primary characters of Dark Horse's Star Wars comic when it turned into Republic, further depicting the events of the Clone Wars.
Such a minor character we never (technically) see him on screen, Boushh was the bounty hunter Leia purloined armour from to infiltrate Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi. So of course, the EU gave us everything we needed to know about the real Boushh, up until the moments he got bumped off so someone could pass his armour on to Leia. A cool-headed professional who used his helmeted gear to portray an air of mystery about himself (which meant conveniently, no one knew what Boushh really looked like by the time Leia impersonated him), the EU actually made this Ubese rogue a trained Jedi killer. Hell, it even "canonized" Leia's thermal detonator threat in Return of the Jedi, noting Boushh as an expert with the grenades, because everything has to happen for a dumb reason in the EU.
Although never an official member of the bounty hunters' guild, Boushh was aligned with a subsection of the guild called the Crimson Nova, which dedicated itself to cashing in on Order 66 to track and murder Jedi for the new Empire. After his prequel-era adventures, Boushh went on to work for the Black Sun crime syndicate, before foolishly attempting to barter for more money on one of his contracts, which lead to the Black Sun's leader Prince Xizor having poor Boushh bumped off. At least someone kept his armour!
Speaking of Bounty Hunters, IG-88, like basically every other bounty hunter that stood on the bridge of the Executor in Empire Strikes Back, was an awesome-looking mystery that the Expanded Universe couldn't resist needlessly solving. Given that he arguably had the coolest design of the bounty hunters we got a glimpse of -- evil robots are always a good thing -- IG-88 was embraced by the Expanded Universe. So much so, it revealed there were actually four of him.
The IG droids were assassin droids who inadvertently gained sentience and violently murdered their creators, looking to spark a galaxy-wide droid revolution. IG-88A, the mastermind of the plan and the first of the four droids, hid in a droid factory on Mechis III, while IG-88s B, C, and D went into the world of organised crime to act as front for A's plans of droid domination. B is technically the one we meet in Empire, as C and D became A's guards on Mechis. However, IG-88A eventually found himself on his own, after B got killed by, who else, Boba Fett, who then proceeded to murder C and D when they went after the Mandalorian to avenge their brother.
All alone, IG-88A uploaded himself to the computer core of the second Death Star and secretly took control of many of its systems, hoping to turn himself into a giant planet killer. If that wasn't wild enough, he used this vast, almighty power to basically play practical jokes on Emperor Palpatine himself, locking and unlocking doors at whim to annoy the Empire's supreme leader. Before IG-88A could carry on the IG line's mission of anti-biological-carnage, however, his new body got blown up by the Rebel Fleet over Endor.
7) Davin Felth
Of course the guy who says "Look sir, droids!" in A New Hope has a 4,000+ word entry on Wookieepedia. Davin Felth is that guy, and a would-be Rebel. Increasingly dismayed at the savagery of the Empire he served, after witnessing the murder of Owen and Beru Lars, Davin decided that the Empire was too evil to support. Assigned to search for R2-D2 and C-3PO, Davin eventually got caught up in trying to apprehend the escaping Millennium Falcon -- but being inspired by Han Solo's daring stand against the Stormtroopers, Felth not only shot his commanding officer in the back to save Han's life, but decided to remain in the Empire as a double agent for the Rebellion in the process.
Oh, and he was on Tatooine because he was a promising young AT-AT pilot who discovered the fatal flaw that tow cables could be used to trip up and disable the giant walkers. General Veers himself got Felth demoted to remote world duty to hide the flaw in his design, because why not make all these minor characters be involved in the weirdest way?
6) Arvel Crynyd
Star Wars is filled with iconic deaths, and yet one of its most vital deaths is one of its weirdest: This is the A-Wing pilot who crashes into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer in Return of the Jedi, disabling it and turning the tide of the battle in the Rebel Alliance's favour.
But unlike a lot of other entries on this list, Arvel's "life" in the Expanded Universe didn't reveal his history before he accidentally smashed himself into the bridge of the Executor -- it depicts him being honored as one of the great heroes of the Rebellion. After being bestowed the New Republic Medal of Bravery posthumously, he not only got an award named after him -- the Crynyd Award for acts of bravery in Starfighter combat -- he even got a liberated Star Destroyer named after him when it was drafted into the New Republic fleet. Seems harsh, given how he died.
5) Mauler Mithel
Remember the TIE pilot who freaks out when the Millennium Falcon shows up at the Death Star trench in A New Hope, tells Vader to watch out, and then barrels into the Dark Lord of the Sith before exploding into the wall of the trench? Then you remember decorated TIE Pilot "Mauler" Mithel.
Mithel was given a background where he is a lot less incompetent than the movie made him seem. With 27 confirmed kills to his name before Yavin, Mithel was an elite member of Vader's Black Squadron, and trained as the Dark Lord's personal wingman. He even had a son, Reiji Mithel, who served aboard Grand Admiral Thrawn's flagship Star Destroyer, the Chimaera. He lives on as part of the X-Wing tabletop miniatures game, where his special ability lets him do more attacks... if he's up really close with an opponent. Oops.
4) Bidlo Kwerve
We've waxed lyrical about this joyously silly piece of Star Wars canon before, but here's the short story: Remember that skull Luke throws to bring the door down on the Rancor's head in Return of the Jedi? It had an owner and everything.
A surly gangster who appeared in several short stories and comics, Bidlo Kwerve was an agent of Jabba, and an occasional rival to his fellow Corellian Han Solo. Bidlo died during a power struggle with Bib Fortuna to become Jabba's Majordomo, holding the dubious title of the first person to be eaten by the Rancor. The Star Wars card game made the first fateful connection between Bidlo and the skull, and it eventually became canon -- and even stayed canon when Disney bought Lucasfilm.
Far right: The real heroes of Star Wars. Far left: some losers.
Orrimaarko is perhaps much better known by a far sillier name, given to him by Kenner's Star Wars toy line: Prune Face. Because he looks like a prune.
This background commando glimpsed aboard Home One in Return of the Jedi reached newfound fame thanks to his funnily named action figure, which naturally meant he got given an edgy EU backstory. A hardened guerrilla fighter who helped liberate his homeworld of Dressel, Orrimaarko reluctantly joined the Alliance only to be subjected to racist jokes at his expense by the human-centric members of the Rebellion. Bitter he wasn't selected to lead the Alliance's taskforce on Endor, he played second fiddle to Han Solo, and eventually retired to Dressel after the New Republic formed, which reverted to its isolationist, xenophobic ways.
Empire Strikes Back introduced us to this silent cyborg assistant of Lando Calrissian with a few scenes where he, well, stood about and had a few lights on his fancy robot ear muffs sparkle. He didn't do much. Lobot was left behind when the heroes fled the city, so he found himself forced to work for the Empire... and that meant in the time between the Empire's occupation of Cloud City and its liberation, at one point Lobot got re-programmed by Ugnaught terrorists looking to overthrow the Empire's grasp on the city, giving him a vindictive streak. As you do.
Lobot kept some of the changes to his morality caused by the Ugnaught subterfuge when Lando returned to liberate Cloud City, and used his new mean streak to go to Tatooine and get vengeance on EV-9D9, the interrogator droid at Jabba's Palace seen briefly in Return of the Jedi. I should probably mention the EU also gave these two completely unassociated characters a deep rivalry because, before EV-9D9 worked for Jabba the Hutt, she was a gone-rogue advisor droid on Cloud City who had attempted to blow it up behind Lando and Lobot's back? Yeah, really.
Eventually, after the Empire was defeated (and actually overtook Cloud City again for a brief period of time), it would be Lobot's turn to become the Baron Administrator of Cloud City, a post he'd hold for decades while still occasionally going on adventures with Lando.
1) Willrow Hood
There could be only one name at the top of this list -- one of the most infamous background characters in Star Wars history. Long known as Ice Cream Maker Guy, simply because all we see him evacuating Cloud City with is a piece of tech that is... well, very clearly an ice cream maker, he eventually got the name "Willrow Hood" in the Star Wars card game from Decipher, where it was established that Willrow was actually a secret Alliance contact in his mining company, A'roFilter.
It was later explained the ice cream maker is actually a computer core containing A'roFilter's rebel contacts, and Willrow was actually bravely protecting the Alliance's agents by safely taking the core out of the Empire's grasp on Cloud City. You really can't make some of this stuff up.