On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents “Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.
There are heroes who loom so large in Star Wars that you don’t even have to say their last names to know who they are. Luke. Leia. Han. Lando. But what about the characters with faces you know, but names you don’t?
In honor of an incredible 40 years, let’s learn more about six characters from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back that you might not have had the chance to meet until now. Whether they’re an indispensable assistant that helps our heroes, or someone who runs across the screen for just a split second (literally), these Star Wars characters each deserve their own turn in the spotlight.
The surgical droid tasked with helping Luke Skywalker recover from the wampa attack, 2-1B has an extensive medical memory bank to assist patients of all species. Not only does 2-1B aid Luke, he treats all rebel troopers affected by the freezing, treacherous landscape of Hoth.
His soothing, “Take care, sir,” as Luke departs makes 2-1B stick out as a genuinely thoughtful caretaker. So much, in fact, that Luke requests the same droid treat him when he makes it safely to the rebel fleet after his disastrous duel with Darth Vader.
2. General Carlist Rieekan
General Rieekan is the commander of Echo Base on Hoth. His distinguished military career started during the Clone Wars when he fought for the Republic. Later, he would join the Rebel Alliance to honor the memory of his home; like Princess Leia, Rieekan hails from Alderaan and was off-planet when the full power of the Death Star was unleashed.
Aware of how vulnerable the rebels were on Hoth, he kept all seven levels of the rebel base on alert at all times. His preparation paid off. General Rieekan evaded the Empire’s clutches on board the very last transport to escape from the icy planet.
3. General Maximillian Veers
One of the few Imperial officers to not incur Lord Vader’s wrath, General Veers is both unflappable but cautious when speaking to the Dark Lord of the Sith. Veers confidently directed the ground assault on Hoth from the cockpit of an AT-AT. Did you know that AT-ATs have codenames? They do, and Veers’ is designated Blizzard One.
The ambitious Imperial Army officer calls the Inner Rim planet of Denon home and, although it might be difficult to imagine, is a family man.
Cyborg, Cloud City Chief Administrative Aide, and loyal friend to Lando Calrissian, Lobot is a one of a kind Star Wars character. He’s a man of few words, unable to vocalize but able to communicate directly through the city’s central computer. He can process data and information at machine-like speed thanks to his cybernetic headpiece, but the ability comes at a cost.
Lobot was once a human and Lando’s compatriot, but a heist gone wrong resulted in his cybernetic implants completely removing his personality. Nevertheless, he remains loyal to his friend Lando, who is determined to cure him of his emotionless condition.
5. Toryn Farr
There was one calm voice calling out through the smoke-filled air during the Battle of Hoth, and it belonged to Toryn Farr. The Chandrila native ordered the covering fire that would be a direct hit on the Star Destroyer Tyrant. “Stand by, ion control… fire,” might not be one of the most recognizable quotes from The Empire Strikes Back, but her quiet command is a pivotal moment that resulted in the safety of rebel troopers escaping from Echo Base.
Farr stayed on Hoth, issuing directions to get the troopers off-planet, until the last transport departed.
6. Willrow Hood
Even if your years of Star Wars fandom stretch all the way back to 1977, you still might not know the tale of Willrow Hood. Hood is seen for just a split second in The Empire Strikes Back as Lando Calrissian calls for the evacuation of the city. Clutching a camtono — the container that also stores The Client’s beskar in The Mandalorian — and clad in an orange jumpsuit, the fleeing Hood runs past our heroes. The valuables stashed in Hood’s camtono remain one of the galaxy’s greatest mysteries.
In recent years Star Wars Celebration has become the home of a new tradition called “The Running of the Hoods,” in which fans dressed in orange jumpsuits and holding a similar container gather and run across the show floor. The parade is a sight to behold and has granted the character cult hero status. (You’ll even find Willrow Hood in Marvel’s Star Wars #22, published in 2015, in a quick cameo.)
Kelly Knox is a Seattle-based freelance writer who loves creating Star Wars crafts with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.