Andy Markham looks back at 10 memorable characters who only appeared in one single scene in the Star Wars saga.
The Star Wars saga is so littered with unforgettable characters and creatures that there are almost too many to list. There's probably no other movie franchise out there that is quite so rich with characters of all descriptions. For that reason, however, some have to fight their way into the films and don't get the crack of the whip that they deserve. Some characters only appear in one solitary scene in the whole six films. But somehow, we still remember them! Here we pay tribute to those characters so ingenious and memorable that with just one scene, they left an indelible impression...
We begin with A New Hope, and there are a couple of characters in the Cantina sequence who make the list. First up is the deliciously nasty Dr. Evazan - who you will remember as that guy who "doesn't like you" and "has the death sentence on twelve systems". He decides to murder Luke for no reason at all other than he doesn't like the cut of his jib, and promptly becomes the very first victim of a lightsaber on-screen, courtesy of Obi-Wan. I don't know what it is about Evazan - maybe it's the odd facial features, or the drawling voice, or the hint at his diabolical backstory (death sentence on 12 systems... seriously, who is this guy?) - but as random lightsaber victims go, you can't beat this guy.
Figrin Dan and the Modal Nodes
You probably don't recognise those names, so I'll make it easier. That's the name of a band. Yep, Figrin Dan and his lot are much more commonly known as the Cantina Band! Now who doesn't remember their funky tunes? These awesomely designed chaps are there whilst Luke is meeting Han and Chewie for the first time, Greedo dies, and Luke almost gets killed by Evazan - and all the while, they happily chirp away in the corner, keeping our feet tapping right through the scene. It's a neat idea to show us a group of guys who aren't at all involved in the story and are just happily earning a living entertaining people, and adds a lot of richness to the galaxy. Combine that with John Williams' surreal classic, and you get the most unforgettable band in the galaxy.
We move on to the Battle of Yavin, which is full of one-off characters who mostly all perish in the ensuing dogfight. The real power of the battle is how the characters are vivid enough to make a quick, lasting impression - and therefore it means something to us when they die. Most memorable of all, though, is old Porkins. First of all, what an unfortunate name for the only overweight pilot we ever see. And also, he's the very first pilot to die in the battle, rather suddenly and largely due to his own ineptness. In the midst of all this high drama, we get a huge slice of black comedy with Porkins' grisly death, and it's very effective. Cover me, Porkins.
On to Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and after the Millenium Falcon once again eludes Vader, the dark lord enlists a rogues gallery full of bounty hunters of all shapes and sizes, most of whom we never see again. Amongst them is the reptilian-looking thing called Bossk, who doesn't take kindly to Piett's insinuation that "we don't need their scum" and growls menacingly at the officers below. That's all we get of Bossk, but it's all we need. An awesome design combined with a funny little exchange and a rare moment of humour for the Imperials makes Bossk the stand-out of the bunch (apart from a certain Mandalorian, of course).
Straight on to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and this one may surprise you. I'm sure pretty most of you will remember Mon Mothma, the female, white-garbed, mysterious leader of the Rebel Alliance who appears at the alliance strategy assembly to plan the Battle of Endor, and then never appears again. Yes, she's in just the one scene. Easily the most plot-important character to make a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance such as this, and also notable for being the only major female Rebel to appear in the films apart from Leia. Her frosty, mournful demeanour, her unexplained history and her miniscule appearance makes her a very notable member of the one-scene club.
Also in Return of the Jedi is this guy, whose name even I didn't know until I looked it up. Anyone, hand on heart, recognise the name Officer Renz? He's just some random officer on Endor who manages to break in to the captured bunker and point his gun at Han. And then he speaks his only line, but it's one of the most memorable of the whole film and a fan favourite... "you rebel scum". Then, quick as a flash, he's gone - but what a line, and what a malicious, evil delivery. That guy (Barrie Holland) made the most of his one second in the spotlight. For struggling actors with bit parts, Mr Holland shows you how it's done.
And on we go to the prequel trilogy. The prequels are much lower on this kind of character, focussing more heavily on the core cast and allowing characters to come to and fro throughout the story. But there are still the odd few who make only a brief but memorable cameo. In The Phantom Menace, chief amongst them is bounty hunter Aurra Sing, who appears in one wordless shot during the Podrace, watching from afar with a rifle on her back. Expanded Universe fans will know all about Aurra Sing - she appeared all over the place back in the 90s, and was popular enough to earn this one-second snapshot in the film. Her sinister look and her role in the wider universe cemented Aurra's appearance as one of the highlights of the Podrace.
Next up is Attack of the Clones, and this one may be cheating a little, but it still sort of qualifies. Zam Wessell, the bounty hunter sidekick of Jango Fett who is tasked with assassinating Padme, is actually a pretty well-known character who most fans would recognise by name, and appeared in a lot of EU material. But she only appears in the very lengthy chase scene, from the Coruscant balconies right down to the seedy nightclubs - which could be considered a one-scene appearance. Zam is a pretty awesome character - she's a shapeshifting bounty hunter who tries to kill Padme and Obi-Wan in the space of 10 minutes! - and is a common choice for a character who should have had more screen time. Well, there's always the Anthology films!
Probably the most immediately obvious example from the prequel trilogy is curious creation Dexter Jettster, a giant, alien chef who owns a diner in the depths of Coruscant. What's strange about Dexter's appearance is that he's actually given a lot of lines and significance to the story - he has a past relationship with Obi-Wan, he explains the concept of the clones and introduces Kamino, and is apparently the only person on Coruscant who has ever heard of that planet - pretty impressive for one scene. Then just like that, he's gone again. Very strange. Sure, he's basically used to dump a load of exposition onto Obi-Wan and the audience, but he marks himself out as a funny, quirky little character in the process. More Dexter please.
And we finish with a return to the cantina for the most memorable one-scene wonder of them all - Greedo, the slimy, nasty bounty hunter who Han encounters in Mos Eisley, and who reveals to us that Han has got quite the price on his head. After some tense exchanges between the pair, Han has enough of the Rodian and calmly shoots him dead on the spot (and he does so FIRST, obviously). Greedo's single scene acts not only as a defining character moment for Han, who displays his moral ambiguity for the first time here, but also as a deeper exploration of the seedy underworld of the Star Wars galaxy, and Greedo was the template for all the bounty hunters, miscreants and lowlives that followed. Nice work, Greedo.
Who are your favourite one-scene wonders from Star Wars? Let me know who's been forgotten in the comment section!
Andy Markham is a writer, musician, graduate, and super-geek. Ginger
glasses-wearer. Star Wars obsessive and Doctor Who enthusiast.
Specialises in film music and currently writing his first book on the