There's a lot of characters living in a galaxy far, far away, and not all of them get to share the spotlight for long.
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The Phantom Menace
- One of the most obnoxious things about Jar Jar is that he is unnecessary: Boss Nass, who was played by BRIAN BLESSED, is much funnier in his few appearances. Had he simply been the only comic relief character, the film would be much better.
- Darth Maul likewise has an overall lack of screentime and character development; more than one fan has argued that the trilogy would have been overall stronger if he'd survived and remained The Heavy throughout all three films, essentially absorbing Dooku and Grievous' roles, as Maul killing Qui-Gon gives him a personal connection to Obi-Wan and Anakin that the latter two lacked, and the shared desire for revenge against Maul could have tested both Obi-Wan and Anakin, with their decisions further setting them as Foils for each other. Perhaps in compensation, he returns and receives a fleshed out Ascended Extra role in The Clone Wars since Lucas realized how much he messed up and how much potential he wasted.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi, who arguably should have been the main character of the film considering that he is The Mentor of both Anakin and Luke Skywalker - spends most of the film just sitting things out beyond a few fight scenes, relegated to the background while Qui-Gon goes out and does all the work, creating a huge Continuity Snarl in the process.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu is criminally underused, appearing in very few scenes. This was fixed in the sequels.
- They got Terence Stamp to play Chancellor Valorum, and yet he likewise only appears in two scenes and gets even fewer lines.
- C-3PO ends up staying on Tatooine with Shmi instead of going with Anakin. Regardless of who built him, C-3PO still has the same programming and personality and is every bit the droid we knew and loved, and acceptable comic relief, as opposed to the terminally unfunny Jar Jar. Maybe it would've helped if C-3PO went with Anakin and started his friendship with R2-D2.
Attack of the Clones
- An assassin who's also a shapeshifter? Awesome! (And also hyped in the pre-release publicity.) Sadly, Zam Wessel's ability to change her appearance is never actually used in any way whatsoever, even in a crowded bar where it would seem that looking like someone new (and taking your distinctive headgear off) might help you approach your targets.
- Jango Fett gets sadly little coverage. We never learn what in his past would make him so willing to take such dangerous jobs against the Republic and the Jedi, nor how he met Dooku. Maybe this is fitting considering how brief Boba's actual screen time was in the original trilogy.
- Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru from A New Hope first appear here chronologically, but they're barely in the film. Owen is introduced as Anakin's stepbrother, but the story doesn't allow them to form any sort of bond (much less establish a reason as to why Owen and Beru would be willing to take care of Luke later on) considering their only interactions with Anakin are informing him that his mother's been kidnapped and grieving briefly with him at her funeral. This also contradicts Owen's attitude and Obi-Wan's account in A New Hope — where it seems like the two men had a long history together — since this appears to be the only time they ever actually meet and there's no evidence that Anakin kept in any sort of contact with his stepbrother during the Clone Wars.
- Due to being worked into the script after a typo regarding an alias of Sidious, the namedrop of a past Jedi named Sifo-Dyas, who ordered the secret creation of a clone army on Kamino, was a decent foundation for some sort of ongoing mystery. Unfortunately, there was never any further investigation into the character in the films (The Clone Wars would later cover it), and now comes off more like a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
- Christopher Lee as Count Dooku is one of the few characters who could be as imposing as Darth Vader without scary armor, makeup, sound effects or dubbing...and he's kept off-screen for most of the film, and barely has anything to work with when he is on screen. Worse, he's killed at the beginning of the following film.
- Dex apparently lived a long and exciting life as an adventurer and Obi-Wan's buddy before settling down to run his restaurant. His one scene is certainly adequate for this movie, but it's surprising that the Expanded Universe hasn't done more with him.
Revenge of the Sith
- An odd retroactive example that needs Rewatch Bonus. When you watch this film again after you watched The Clone Wars, it's easy to get the feeling that many Jedi are killed in spectacularly unceremonious Dropped a Bridge on Him kinds of ways during the execution of Order 66. Especially Kit Fisto and Plo Koon, who are a couple of The Clone Wars' Ensemble Darkhorses.
- Aayla Secura is a bigger example, and a non-retroactive example given her non-canon presence in Legends' Dark Horse comics series prior to making her canonical appearances in Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars. She doesn't even get a Dying Moment of Awesome, or an Uncertain Doom!
- General Grievous, Separatist military leader and The Dreaded, gets little screentime to show off what he's made of before his sole opponent defeats him during their final duel in the canon. This can be especially frustrating as when he first appeared in the franchise through Genndy Tartakovsky's non-canon Clone Wars series, his fearsome reputation was far from an Informed Attribute.
Return of the Jedi
- One reason why many feel that the film is a weak climax is that there is very little for Han and Leia to do in the climax of the story; Lando is the one who flies the Millennium Falcon whilst leading the Rebels against Death Star II, while Han, Leia, Chewie, and Ewoks fight a land battle entirely separate from Luke's confrontation with Vader and Palpatine in the throne room.
- Particularly glaring is Leia's treatment; retconned into a Skywalker solely to tie up a loose plot thread, she doesn't get any screentime with Darth Vader in the film and barely any time to process the earth-shattering revelations that Luke is her brother and Vader note is her father. This increases especially in the wake of the Sequel Trilogy where Leia is haunted by her father's legacy, and Carrie Fisher's untimely death means that a major part of her character's arc will never be dealt with on-screen.
- While there were dozens of people in Jabba's palace who didn't get so much as a name; compared to all the comics and action figures and so on that Bib Fortuna was given, we only know the name of the girl he was seen with, which is Jess, because of the ending credits, and from a single trading card one decade later.
The Force Awakens
- Captain Phasma. Gwendoline Christie in a suit of awesome chrome armour, and what do they do with her? Throw her in a trash compacter off-screen. According to Word of God, she'll have a bigger role in the next films. Made all the more frustrating by the fact that she could easily have taken the place of the random riot control trooper who demolishes Finn in hand-to-hand combat and demonstrated her badass credentials, but doesn't even participate in the raid on Maz's castle.
- Poe Dameron got much less screen time than the other two leads. This was because originally his character died in the beginning, but after filming many films that involved killing his characters off, Oscar Isaac requested him to survive. This then applies to the next two films as they both had different interpretations of Poe's character, which understandably results in little payoff to his role. Oscar Isaac actually said knowing how the part would end up at the end of the trilogy, he'd have preferred Poe dying in the first film instead.
- The production team snags the stars of The Raid Redemption and The Raid 2: Berandal, three noted martial arts performers, but they don't engage in an actual fight scene before getting taken out by monsters. From interviews with the trio, it appears that they pitched a physical fight scene to J. J. Abrams, but Abrams deemed it too violent for the film.
- Similar with the Guavian Death Gang. A fiery youth with large dark ominous eyes in black leather with a huge gun and an awesome brogue leading a bunch of Super Serum-infused cyborg warriors described in the Visual Dictionary as "Utterly Inhuman"...and they get wasted by tentacle monsters and easily blasted by Han wielding Chewie's bowcaster. To their credit, they got to fight a bit and Bala-Tik was a snitch for the First Order...while the guys from The Raid just got eaten or ran off in terror.
- Many people were excited by Max von Sydow's casting and were disappointed that his character, Lor San Tekka, is killed by Kylo Ren within the first few minutes of the film. It doesn't help that within the film we find out very little about him and why he has part of Luke's map; you have to read Expanded Universe comics to gain any sense of his significance.
The Last Jedi
- Snoke. Although his death sequence is an impressive Bait-and-Switch that helps develop Kylo Ren's character, it nonetheless comes at the cost of completely erasing any storylines they could have tackled with the character, especially after Snoke's origins and motivations were such a longtime source of speculation (Many people even speculated he was Darth Plagueis reborn). None of that is even remotely resolved either; we still don't know his origins. Andy Serkis has addressed this, stating that they decided to keep his backstory mysterious for any prequels.
- Captain Phasma. She gets to actually do something, unlike last film, but when all is said and done she really doesn't have that much more screentime compared to The Force Awakens and likewise seemingly dies. It didn't help matters that in a deleted scene, Finn calls out Phasma for her Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder, causing her to kill the nearby Stormtroopers and attempt to finish off Finn to cover her tracks; while she still dies, that scene would've brought in aspects of her personality that have been previously relegated to the books and comics. On the other hand, Phasma's death in the final film leaves her fate far more open-ended than the deleted one (with the official Youtube clip of the deleted scene even titled "Phasma's End"), raising hopes that she may have survived. These hopes were dashed when Rise of Skywalker confirmed she did in fact die.
- DJ. Built up to be a mysterious and menacing galactic criminal, DJ ultimately has extremely little involvement in the plot except to just get Finn and Rose on Snoke's flagship, betray them, and effectively disappear from the film and not coming back for the sequel.
The Rise of Skywalker
- Rose Tico gets no further development and is in fact Demoted to Extra, barely ever sharing any screentime with the other protagonists. This was supposedly due to the intent for her to serve as an anchor between the other protagonists and Leia at the Resistance base, but technical limitations regarding the footage of Carrie Fisher forced those scenes to be cut. However, several scenes involving just her and Rey were also cut, so make of that what you will. Viewers have found that Rose has approximately seventy-six seconds of screentime in the entire film (compared to The Last Jedi, where she had about eleven minutes of screentime).
- Hux, who's been a major villain for the first two films and is revealed to be a mole for the Resistance in an attempt to bring down Kylo Ren, gets killed off pretty quickly about halfway through the film and nobody comments on it.
- Anakin Skywalker briefly shows up, but only as a disembodied voice. Not having him appear as a Force ghost to offer advice or help either Rey, Kylo, or both seems a bit of a wasted opportunity, especially seeing as he's one of the central characters of the whole franchise. This also goes for all of the other Jedi whose voices encourage Rey before she takes down Palpatine, as their voice-only appearances contribute to what many people felt was a lackluster final battle of not only the film, but the entire saga. According to unverified claims and speculation, the original plan was for them to have the Jedi show up in person, and they allegedly even filmed them in costume, but it was removed for some reason.
- Rey's father is revealed to be the child of Palpatine, the Big Bad of the whole series, who possibly inherited his immense Force powers and gave up a position as his potential heir to be a junk trader. Just who is this person? When and where was he born, what was his relationship with Palpatine like and why did he choose to go into hiding? What about Rey's mother? Well, keep guessing, because beyond some brief cameos, we find out squat about Palpatine's previously never-mentioned kid and the person he loved, not even their names.note
- The Knights of Ren finally make their appearance, and overall are only utilized as just grunts. Although they are introduced with awe and dread, their actual on-screen duty is to march in step with Kylo Ren or stand around menacingly without actually interacting with any other character until the very end. The one scene that hinted at a major role, where they covertly pursue the main trio to Kijimi (a la Boba Fett chasing the Falcon), is seemingly forgotten, since the heroes fulfill their mission unmolested and although Kylo Ren's flagship arrives, the Knights themselves appear to still be looking for them. They get no focus or characterization beyond being Kylo's mooks before getting easily killed by him when he returns as Ben Solo, making their inclusion after two films of build up incredibly anti-climatic, especially after the battle between Rey, Ren, and the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi showed that there was potential to make an interesting team fight. The possibility that they are Force users, and believed to be some of the Jedi Luke was training years ago, stands out as disappointing.
- General Pryde is built up as an imposing and capable military leader. Intriguingly, he does not seem even slightly worried about the cultist Final Order or the resurrected Palpatine, and implies he served the Emperor personally in the past. That never gets explored in any depth, and none of the heroes even indicate that they're aware of his existence.
- Luke Skywalker only shows up in three scenes (one as a Force ghost where he coaxes Rey out of her Heroic BSoD, one as a voiceover cameo only, and a final cameo with no dialogue right at the end). It's particularly disappointing for fans who felt letdown by Luke's role in the previous films (he's absent for most of The Force Awakens and has no dialogue, while his portrayal in The Last Jedi remains controversial).
- Zorii Bliss, a mysterious spice smuggler with a Cool Helmet and a chequered past with Poe, only has plot significance in the second act as a MacGuffin holder (and to be an Implied Love Interest for Poe) and then doesn't show up again save for a few brief scenes near the ending. It doesn't help that she was advertised as a badass outlaw, but in her sole action scene she is swiftly taken down by Rey.
- Jannah has the potential to be an interesting character; she's an ex-stormtrooper who defected like Finn and now leads a tribe of warriors on an ocean moon (many of whom are also ex-stormtroopers); she also expresses an interest in finding out who she was before being kidnapped by the First Order. In the film itself however, she not only doesn't appear until near the third act, her main role is apparently just to be Finn's Implied Love Interest as she barely interacts with anyone else. Her role on Kef Bir ends up being pretty irrelevant to the plot because Rey gets to the Wayfinder by herself; the only plot significant thing Jannah does is help Finn take down a First Order flagship in the final battle (which at least gives her a better track record than Zorii) and some argue that even then she could easily have been substituted with Poe or Rose. It's hinted in the Visual Dictionary that she could be Lando's long lost daughter, but this is never explicitly brought up in the film (their sole interaction is a brief conversation right at the end as the plot is winding down). As for the rest of her tribe, they're just nameless extras who pop up in the background from time to time.
- Something of a retroactive example with Snoke. It's explained at the start of the film that Snoke is apparently a cloned puppet of Palpatine's, which some people felt was a wasted opportunity to have a dangerous and intriguing new Star Wars villain that wasn't Palpatine (or directly connected to him). It doesn't help that the reveal creates some inconsistencies with how Snoke has been portrayed and described in previous installments (and thus can come off as an Ass Pull). Snoke is subsequently never mentioned again for the rest of the film, not even to clarify how exactly he factored into Palpatine's plan.
- The Sith Eternal, a cult devoted to the Dark Side and restoring the Sith Empire with thousands of members, who have been secretly working for decades to build up a new fleet on Exegol and resurrect Palpatine. The first time they're even mentioned in the Sequel Trilogy is The Rise of Skywalker (mostly to handwave Palpatine's return) and then they don't do a whole lot except chant ominously and get curb-stomped by Rey and Ben.
- In the wake of this film, there have been quite a number of articles arguing that the most wasted character in the trilogy is Finn. There's been plenty of Jedi drama since the beginning of the franchise, but Finn offered the most unique perspective in the films yet: a viewpoint stormtrooper character, and one who abandons the First Order for the Resistance. There was so much they could have done with that, from exploring what exactly made him rebel against the indoctrination he had probably been subjected to since childhood, to what it was like for him to fight his former comrades, to the possibility he might try to convince other stormtroopers to join him in rebelling, and they just didn't do any of that. The Rise of Skywalker actually hints (and J.J Abrams confirmed) that Finn is intended to be Force-sensitive, potentially setting him up to become a Jedi like many had hoped he would be from the Force Awakens, but this aspect of Finn's character is never explored in any depth, never really has any significance to the plot (besides him being able to guess which ship to blow up based on "a feeling"), and isn't even made explicit in the film. John Boyega admitted to being disappointed by how Finn was used in the trilogy, to the point of feeling like Disney used him as an Advertised Extra Token Minority (which was supported by a lot of people across the political spectrum, conservative and liberal alike), especially compared to Rey and Ben Solo/Kylo Ren.
- For all the hype over his return, Lando Calrissian doesn't really get a whole lot to do in this film. He is tasked with the vital mission of recruiting allies for the Resistance, saving the day in the climax, but all of this happens offscreen; discounting Chewbacca, he only directly interacts with the other heroes once on Pasaana. And he never once interacts with or so much as speaks about Kylo Ren, even though they presumably knew one another given Lando's closeness to his family (the expanded universe established that Lando was actually an Honorary Uncle to Ben Solo).
- Do you remember Maz Kanata, the cool old pirate lady who is Force-sensitive, has useful contacts for the Resistance, knew Han, Chewie and Leia personally (and possibly knows Lando too), was a bit of a mentor to Rey and somehow got hold of the Skywalker lightsaber? You'd be forgiven for forgetting she even exists in this film, as she only has a handful of short, plot irrelevant appearances. Maz doesn't even go to Exegol with the fleet, despite having previously demonstrated herself to be handy with a blaster. The fact that she has knowledge of the Force and related artifacts, which is directly central to this film's plot, and was actually around before, during and after the rise of the Sith, makes her minuscule role even more baffling for some viewers.
- In the end, Rey herself is overall considered to be a rather large waste of a potentially intriguing female Jedi character (to which the fans were always, actually, pretty open, considering the franchise already had many-a-Action Girl before). A rehashed start of story (specifically being an orphan growing up on a desert planet much like Luke), an extremely fast rise in terms of gaining power (she gains what is implied to be Chosen-One level powers in a week compared to the years-long training period of both Anakin and Luke), the fact she takes up the name "Skywalker" at the end, the fact she also is an Ace Pilot without any training, the discardment of her unique origin in favour of her being a Palpatine (a rather weird retcon that even Last Jedi detractors considered to be absolutely unnecessary), and you see why exactly people stand behind the regularly-heard claim that "Rey is a Mary Sue".