Twi’leks are among the most popular alien species in the Star Wars universe. Since their first appearance in Return of the Jedi, Twi’leks have appeared in all three prequel movies, their home planet Ryloth was shown in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and they have been an indispensable species in numerous Legends stories. Looking to brush up on your Twi’lek trivia? This article will introduce you to standout members of the species; you will never mistake Pampy for Supi and you‘ll recognize Ann from Tann Gella. Now let’s meet some beautiful, devious, corrupt, and brave Twi’leks!
Return of the Jedi, Enter the Twi’leks
The first Twi’leks were developed for Return of the Jedi, but the species would remain unnamed until the publication of The Star Wars Sourcebook by West End Games in 1987. The first Twi’lek to appear on screen was Bib Fortuna, the majordomus of Jabba the Hutt. In Jedi, Bib falls victim to Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Mind Trick, and allows the hero admittance to Jabba’s throne room — angering the slimy crime lord. Still, the pale Twi’lek with sharp teeth served Jabba for more than 30 years — and even witnessed young Anakin Skywalker’s triumph in the Boonta Eve Challenge in 32 BBY. After being called “The High Beeser of Hoth” in early drafts, Phil Tippett came up with the final design for Bib. In the screenplay of the movie, Bib’s first appearance is described as follows: “Walking toward them [R2-D2 and C-3PO, red.] out of the darkness is Bib Fortuna, a humanlike alien with long tentacles protruding from his skull.”
The beautiful Oola was a dancing girl, chained to Jabba in Jedi. When she protested against one of Jabba’s vile commands, the Huttese crime lord decided to end her life by dropping her into the rancor pit. The novelization of Return of the Jedi by James Kahn was one of the first sources to confirm that Oola belonged to the same species as Fortuna, so we got to see both male and female Twi’leks in Episode VI. Lyn Me is one of the new characters added to the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. She is a chalk-white female Twi’lek singer and dancer who is part of the Max Rebo Band.
Expanding the Twi’lek Galaxy
Twi’leks are often adored or abused because of their beauty and sensuality, but not all Twi’leks struggle in the fringes of society. In Attack of the Clones, Jedi Knight Aayla Secura made a short appearance. Aayla was originally created by Jan Duursema and John Ostrander for Dark Horse Comics, but when George Lucas saw her image on a comic cover, he decided to use her in the movies. Aayla’s fanbase continued to grow with more appearances in Revenge of the Sith and in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Without a doubt, Aayla is one of the most popular Twi’leks around.
Another female Twi’lek Jedi was Finn Ertay, killed by Darth Maul in an Outer Rim Spaceport during the Clone Wars. Jinx was a male Jedi youngling who had been taken prisoner by Trandoshan hunters, led by Garnac. With the help of Ahsoka Tano and Chewbacca, Jinx, and fellow youngling O-Mer managed to escape from the Trandoshan hunting grounds on Wasskah.
Many Twi’leks come to Coruscant seeking employment or looking for a better future. Ayy Vida was a dancer who frequented the Outlander Club, hoping that someone would free her from her partner and crime lord Hat Lo. Vida befriended Lunae Minx, a purple Twi’lek also found in the Outlander (and who was once known to fans as Nabrina Smoo).
Jan Dez is a Rutian (blue skin) male Twi’lek, and an associate of the Quarren informant Lauli Wahlo during the Clone Wars. When Ahsoka Tano and Tera Sinube were looking for a stolen lightsaber, Dez and Wahlo pointed them in the direction of the Spider Arms Hostel. Koyi Mateil lived in better circumstances, but her plans were far from benevolent. Mateil was the wife of the old Duke Teta, and she secretly hoped that he would die, enabling her to inherit his fortune. Together with her husband, Mateil visited the Coruscant Opera House during the events of Revenge of the Sith.
Senator Orn Free Taa is a fine example of the corruption and the decay in the Galactic Senate during the last decades of the Republic. The corpulent senator, who exceptionally has four Lekku (or head-tails), was often found in the company of sensual aides, such as Pampy (blue skin) and Supi (green skin). While Free Taa enjoyed the privileges of the highest echelons, his political rival Cham Syndulla fought for the freedom of his people during the Clone Wars. When the Separatists invaded Ryloth, Syndulla took up arms and led a group of Twi’lek freedom fighters, including the minstrel Gobi Glie and his second in command Tae Boon. After the valiant sacrifice of Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di, Syndulla resolved his issues with Free Taa. With the help of Master Windu and his forces, Syndulla defeated Wat Tambor’s Separatist forces in Lessu and was heralded as the liberator of Ryloth. The Battle of Ryloth would be remembered as a gruesome battle, with many victims. During their campaign on Ryloth clone troopers Waxer and Boil met the young Twi’lek girl Numa, who was hiding in the ruins of the city of Nabat. Numa was eventually reunited with her uncle, Nilim Bril, and she never forgot her rescuers, who she called “Nerra” (brother).
Syndulla might have freed his people during the Clone Wars, but many Twi’leks still lived in dire circumstances. Shakka was a Lethan (red skin) Twi’lek slave of the Anx slave trader Graxol Kelvyyn. She was present in Watto’s box when Anakin Skywalker won the Boonta Eve Challenge. The beautiful Rutian twins, Ann and Tann Gella (Tann is the one showing more of her abdomen), were slaves and yobanas (masseuses) of the Dug podracer champion Sebulba. The Gella twins caught the attention of more than one Podracer in the circuit, including Teemto Pagalies and Mars Guo. Trella Bare’ah worked as a dancer in Jabba’s palace during the Clone Wars and was a friend of Greedo, which probably didn’t help her a lot. Ratch, the captain of a GS-100 Salvage Ship named the Raider, fared even worse. When his crew picked up Asajj Ventress after the Battle of Sullust during the Clone Wars, the apprentice of Darth Tyranus felt betrayed by her former master. Ventress killed Ratch and his Weequay crew before setting course to Dathomir, where she went looking for her past and her future among Talzin’s Nightsisters.
Suu Lawquane is a Twi’lek with pink skin who lived as a farmer on Saleucami during the Clone Wars. She had two young children: Jek (4 years) and his sister Shaeeah (5 years). Suu’s children are hybrids and prove that Twi’lek and human DNA can successfully be mixed. The Lawquanes met a wounded Captain Rex who took special interest in Cut, the stepfather of the children. Cut Lawquane was a clone trooper deserter who abandoned his duties after the Battle of Geonosis. Because Rex realized that Cut and Suu lived happily together, he didn’t report Cut’s desertion.
Another Twi’lek character that will soon be introduced in Star Wars Rebels is Hera Syndulla. Hera is the 24-year-old captain of the Ghost. She has witnessed the suffering of her people and she convinces Kanan Jarrus to become a rebel against the New Order. Together with Kanan she serves as a mentor to the younger members of her crew.
[Interesting to note is that Senator Chi Eekway was once considered a Twi’lek, before she appeared as the Pantoran daughter of Baron Papanoida in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Hasbro sculpted her as a Twi’lek action figure in 2006.]
These are but a few Twi’leks that have been brought to life for over thirty years. Legends stories also gave us a lot of unique and loveable members of the species. Names such as Mission Vao, Darth Talon, Darth Ryun, Tott Doneeta, and Cesi Eirriss will surely ring a bell. And with the upcoming appearance of Hera in Star Wars Rebels, Twi’leks still play a huge role in the galaxy far, far away.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), is an administrator for Yodapedia and has written four character back stories in ‘What’s the Story?’.