Everybody knows being a Jedi is the coolest job ever. You get to travel all over the galaxy, you can move objects — and control people — with your mind, and, oh yeah, you get a lightsaber. The Jedi are the defenders of justice across the entire universe, but even they can’t fight an Empire on their own. In Rogue One, we were exposed to a uniquely different Star Wars film — not one Jedi so much as makes a cameo (there’s a Sith Lord, but no Jedi). Even without the help of a Force-wielder, the crew of Rogue One manages to storm Scarif and get the Death Star plans into the hands of the Rebel Alliance, thus kickstarting a sequence of events that leads to the downfall of the Empire. And they did so without the help of a single lightsaber.
In the spirit of the heroes of Rogue One, let’s take a look at 13 characters who held their own in the galactic struggle for peace, all without the use of the Force.
1 and 2. Han Solo and Chewbacca
If there’s a Star Wars equivalent to “You complete me,” Han and Chewie are it. Han has defined what it means to be a rogue in the Star Wars universe, ascending him to the rank of most popular non-Jedi character, if not the most popular character period. Yet no one can rise to those kinds of heights without the help of some friends. While we may never understand a word Chewbacca says (or growls), we do know that the walking carpet is all heart. Chewie may bicker with Han over repairs or laugh at his expense, but there’s no better companion for even the scruffiest of nerf-herders.
It was one thing when Rex was palling around with Ahsoka and Anakin, getting into one adventure after another, but the cagey Clone Wars vet catapulted to a new level of awesome when he joined up with the crew of the Ghost in Season Two of Star Wars Rebels. The grizzled captain of the Grand Republic Army brings the exact kind of experience and no-nonsense attitude that Kanan and co. need in their quest to take down the Empire.
4. Jyn Erso
In just one movie, Jyn redefined what it means to be a hero in the Star Wars universe. Reluctantly pushed into a situation that she played no hand in creating — her father’s creation of the Death Star’s weapon system and the flaw he plants within it — Jyn is forced to not only complete a most dangerous task, but she must also rally a fledgling Rebel Alliance into action. Jyn’s determination and commitment to deep-seeded values of hope, justice, and the spirit of rebellion played no small role in driving the rebels to securing freedom for the galaxy.
In a world without a Jedi Academy or Padawans, or any of the other pre-Empire comforts, every Jedi needs someone to pick them up when they fall. Luke had Han, Ezra has Kanan, and Rey — Rey has FN-2187. Finn. While Finn doesn’t quite have a handle on how the Force works (and Han tells him as much in one of the best moments in The Force Awakens), he proves he doesn’t need to in order to save his friend from Starkiller Base. What Finn lacks in Force sensitivity — though he may want to take a class or two in lightsaber dueling, just to be safe — he makes up for in courage and dedication.
6. Mon Mothma
Like so many Star Wars characters — Biggs, Nien Nunb, every bounty hunter who isn’t Boba Fett — Mon Mothma rose to iconic status despite appearing onscreen for just a few minutes. Her time as a senator from Chandrila was well chronicled in The Clone Wars, but it’s her role in Rogue One that finally gave us a glimpse into her vital leadership role within the Rebel Alliance. From there, Mon continued to be instrumental to dismantling the Imperial army, and she even served as the New Republic’s first chancellor. Some of the fiercest rebels, as Mon proves, don’t need weapons to take down an Empire.
7 and 8. Cham and Hera Syndulla
To use the word “stubborn” to describe this father-daughter pair would be a considerable understatement. You have to jam headstrong, obstinate, and stubborn together to get some kind of super word that encapsulates these two Twi’leks. Both their refusal to bend or compromise, though, is always rooted in their steadfast devotion to their causes. For Cham, it’s protecting Ryloth’s freedom against the Separatists and, afterwards, the Empire; for Hera, it’s building a rebellion that’s strong enough to overthrow the totalitarianism strangling the galaxy. And while Hera needs both Kanan and Ezra to achieve her ends, they need her just as much, if not more, and in ways that are more profound than the Jedi duo may even realize.
9. Lando Calrissian
Who in the Star Wars universe is cooler than Lando Calrissian? Nobody, that’s who. We’re talking about someone who managed to betray his friend and his guests and then, moments later, escape with the very people he betrayed (well, minus Han). Then, before you know it, he’s rocketing himself right to the rank of general in the Rebel Alliance. There’s only one man who possesses the smoothness required for that kind of maneuvering: Lando. And we haven’t even gotten to the part where he blew up the second Death Star while flying the Millennium Falcon. If that’s not the pinnacle of cool, then nothing is.
10. Hazram Namir
As the sergeant of Twilight Company in Alexander Freed’s excellent novel Battlefront: Twilight Company, Namir gives us a fresh perspective on the conflict between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance — one that is well-removed from any help a Jedi can provide. Namir’s cynical and a bit world-weary, and through his eyes we see a Rebellion military that may not always have a handle on what they’re doing. Still, Namir’s contributions, along with the grunts that he leads, prove indispensable not only to the rebels but also to Luke.
11. Norra Wexley
When wars end, its combatants — at least those on the winning side — get to go home. Norra Wexley, a Y-wing pilot who flew beside Lando in the Battle of Endor, got a taste of home after the Empire was toppled, but just a taste. When Norra is called upon to rescue Wedge from the clutches of the Empire on Akiva, she forms the rag-taggiest group of ragtags and frees the rebel pilot. But, in the process, she finds herself back in the conflict with the Imperials. This time, though, she’s doesn’t hunt TIE fighters across the stars — she hunts war criminals trying to elude justice.
12. Chirrut Îmwe
There’s no way for any single person to come closer to using the Force without actually using the Force as Chirrut (or does he use it?). The Star Wars story has always been rooted, at times, in faith, and Chirrut is a living embodiment of what it means to lead with your belief. As a Guardian of the Whills, Chirrut (along with his friend Baze Malbus) dedicated his life to protecting kyber crystals, the material that powers a Jedi’s lightsaber. Through his service, Chirrut became “one with the Force,” and we can all agree that while he’s not a Jedi, the Force is most certainly with him.
13. Saw Gerrera
Speaking of Rogue One, it featured a face familiar to those who watched The Clone Wars: none other than Saw Gerrera, the Onderon freedom fighter-turned-rebel extremist. While headstrong and more than a little cocky, Saw does what rebels do best. He fights back against the forces of oppression and inspires others to do the same. Saw’s tactics welcome scrutiny — and by the time we catch up with him in Rogue One, we see the toll the war has taken on both his body and his mind — but no one would ever question his determination to see the Empire toppled.
Who’s your favorite non-Jedi hero or rebel? Let us know in the comments below!
Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. He’s also a Star Wars obsessive, who is lucky to spend his time playing Star Wars action figures with his two sons by day and writing Star Wars-inspired stories by night. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.