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Characters In The Rise Of Skywalker With More Meaning Than You Realize

Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker is both a tribute to and the conclusion of the past 42 years' worth of Star Wars stories. Not just the ones on the big screen, either. Over the years, the Skywalker Saga has spilled into more animated TV shows, novels, comic books, video games, and reference books than you could possibly count.

Aside from the old Legends line, which is no longer canon, The Rise of Skywalker references all of them (and even then, you'll find a few similarities to Dark Empire and Timothy Zahn's original Thrawn trilogy). Almost every character with a notable amount of screentime — and even a few without — means something more to the overall Star Wars mythos.

These characters may not play a big role in The Rise of Skywalker, but they're big figures in the larger Star Wars universe. They deserve their due. Don't judge these folks by how many lines of dialogue they have or what they do in the movie. They're a big deal.

(Spoilers for Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker ahead.)

Snap Wexley

Greg Grunberg is known as J.J. Abrams' good luck charm. The actor, who has been friends with Abrams since they were kids, has played a role in almost every single one of Abrams' projects, including Felicity, Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible 3, and Star Trek. Heck, he's even in J.J.'s comic books. So, naturally, Abrams gave Grunberg his own Star Wars character, too: In Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker, Grunberg is back as ace pilot Snap Wexley, who first debuted in Abrams' The Force Awakens.

Snap is more than just a cushy role for a buddy, though. In Disney's expanded Star Wars canon, Wexley also played a pivotal role in bringing the Empire down for good. As depicted in author Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy, Temmin "Snap" Wexley was the son of Rebel pilot Norra Wexley, who fought at Endor. After the Battle of Endor, Temmin and his modified battle droid Mr. Bones joined his mother, the former Imperial officer Sinjir Velus, a bounty hunter named Jas Emari, and the New Republic's Jom Barell to create a task force devoted to hunting down ex-Imperials.

Wexley helped free the Wookiees on Kashyyyk, and as a teenager flew an X-Wing during the Battle of Jakku, where the Empire made its last stand. As seen in the Poe Dameron comic, Wexley joined Poe's Black Squadron as an adult, where he became one of the Resistance's best reconnaissance pilots.

Aftab Ackbar

Mon Calamari Admiral Gial Ackbar is more than just a meme. He was a staunch ally of the Republic during the Clone Wars, one of the Rebel Alliance's most valued leaders during the Galactic Civil War, and one of the co-founders of the Resistance. He was also a brilliant tactician, a former prisoner of war, and a family man.

The last bit came to light in Marvel Comics' Star Wars: Allegiance, which bridges part of the gap between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. With the Resistance forces decimated after the Battle of Crait, Leia needs new ships, so she heads to Gial's home planet Mon Cala to recruit some fresh allies. By that point, Admiral Akbar was dead — he perished when the First Order attacked the Resistance flagship — but Leia, Rey, and the rest were greeted by his son, Aftab.

In the comic, Aftab helps Leia foil the plot of a Quarren terrorist, assists in her fight against the First Order, and forges a new treaty between the Quarren, the Mon Calamari, and Leia to get the Resistance the help it needs. By Episode IX, he's joined the Resistance in full. You can see him at the Resistance HQ, offering advice during some of the briefing scenes.

Allegiant General Pryde

Allegiant General Pryde, played in The Rise of Skywalker by Academy Award nominee Richard E. Grant, makes quite an impression. Not only is he a sour, foreboding officer in the same vein as Peter Cushing's beloved Grand Moff Tarkin — a similarity that's entirely intentional — but by the end of the film he's Kylo Ren's right-hand man, having replaced General Armitage Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) during his rise to power.

The movie doesn't share much about Pryde's past, but we learn late in the film that he also served the Empire under Emperor Palpatine. According to one of Disney's YouTube videos, he also helped train the First Order's legions of stormtroopers (in fact, when we first meet him, Pryde claims that the First Order needs to kidnap more children to augment their army).

According to the new Star Wars timeline, that means that Pryde was probably a close friend of Armitage's father, Brendol Hux, who was in charge of training Imperial soldiers at the Arkanis Academy during the Galactic Civil War, and who oversaw the First Order's stormtrooper training program during its ascendency. That also explains why Pryde was so eager to see the younger Hux dead: Armitage helped Captain Phasma kill Brendol, leaving Armitage clear to assume power.

Kaydel Ko Connix

Resistance operator Kaydel Ko Connix is just as important to Star Wars' legacy behind the scenes as she is onscreen. A native of the planet Dulathia, the young woman rose to prominence as an operations controller during the attack on Starkiller Base. Shortly afterwards, Connix supported Poe Dameron in his mutiny against Vice Admiral Holdo, although Leia doesn't seem to hold that against her. By the time the Allegiance comic book miniseries takes place, Connix is right back in the action.

More significantly, Kaydel is played by Billie Lourd, known for Scream Queens and American Horror Story and the daughter of Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher (in The Force Awakens, Connix even sports Leia's signature hairdo). As Lourd tells it, J. J. Abrams initially asked Lourd to audition for the part of Rey. That role eventually went to Daisy Ridley, of course, but Abrams liked Lourd so much that he created Kaydel Ko Connix specifically for her.

It's a sweet story, and it's made even sweeter by Fisher's part in The Rise of Skywalker, in which Leia sacrifices herself to save her onscreen son. That's sad enough already, but once you see Connix somberly watching Leia's funeral scene? Cue the waterworks.

Beaumont Kin

If you were watching TV or movies in the '00s, you'll recognize actor Dominic Monaghan right away. The English actor played the hobbit Merry in The Lord of the Rings, and had a leading role on Lost, which was co-created by J.J. Abrams. After Lost ended, Monaghan and Abrams remained friends. While Abrams was writing The Rise of Skywalker, Abrams and Monaghan bet on a World Cup soccer game. The prize? A role in Episode IX. Obviously, Monaghan won the wager, and Beaumont Kin was born.

Abrams might've created Beaumont for his friend, but he didn't give the character very much to do in the movie. Thankfully, a couple of comics have fleshed out Kin's personality. In Star Wars Adventures #27 through #29, Kin teams up with Chewbacca to liberate the Wookiee's homeworld from the First Order. We learn a few tidbits about Beaumont along the way. Kin's parents thought he was useless, which is why he joined the Resistance. He also fancies himself a historian, although he's not quite as smart as he thinks he is — while he boasts about reading Shyriiwook, the Wookiee language, he's shocked to learn that Wookiees have different dialects.

In fact, overcompensating seems to be Kin's whole deal. He pretends to know Chewie, a war hero, better than he does, and despite his brave façade he's scared of ghosts. Still, when push comes to shove, Beaumont rises to the occasion. The Resistance is lucky to have him.

Wedge Antilles

Remember that moment in The Rise of Skywalker when an old man shows up in an X-Wing during the climactic space battle and all of the hardcore Star Wars nerds in the audience cheered? Wedge Antilles is the reason why. Played by actor Denis Lawson, Wedge was one of the only supporting cast members who appeared in all three installments of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Unlike Luke, Leia, and Han, Wedge was just an ordinary guy. He was a gifted pilot and was devoted to the Rebel Alliance, but he wasn't necessarily special — and that made fans love him. That love increased when author Michael A. Stackpole published Rogue Squadron, a novel about Wedge that became its own mini-franchise. In the Rogue Squadron novels, Wedge went from a glorified extra to a leading man, conducting espionage missions against the enemies of the New Republic alongside his teammates from the cockpit of his X-Wing.

In the new, Disney-approved continuity, Wedge helped Norra and Temmin Wexley put down the last vestiges of the Empire in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy before settling down with Norra on the planet Akiva. His domestic bliss didn't last. After the Battle of Crait, Temmin returned to lure Wedge back to the fight, and the Rebel hero had no choice but to suit up again.


That's not just any Ewok watching happily as a First Order Star Destroyer blows up above the forest moon of Endor. That's Wicket W. Warrick, the first Ewok that Leia (and the audience) met in Return of the Jedi. It's even the same actor in the suit. According to The Rise of Skywalker's end credits, Willow and Leprechaun star Warwick Davis suited up again for The Rise of Skywalker, returning to the role that he originated when he was just 11 years old.

Wicket was arguably Return of the Jedi's biggest breakout star, and he went on to become one of the most widely featured Star Wars characters throughout the '80s. In 1984 and 1985, Davis played Wicket again in two made-for-TV movies, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, which saw Wicket and his fellow tribe members save hapless humans from Endor's various threats. 

Wicket was also a main character on the Ewoks animated series, which ran for two seasons on ABC. He's appeared in his own series of kids' books and a 14-issue comic book series, and even popped up in person — with Davis in the suit — at George Lucas' daughter's birthday party. Love 'em or hate 'em, the Ewoks are a big part of Star Wars' legacy, and it's only fitting that the most famous of them all would show up to bring the Skywalker Saga to a close.

The Jedi voices

When Rey is at her lowest moment, when Palpatine is about to strike his final blow and end the Jedi for good, the young Jedi finds inspiration from an unexpected source. The voices of past Jedi echo in her ears, giving her the encouragement she needs to stand up and face down the resuscitated Emperor for the very last time.

You'll recognize a few of those voices immediately. Luke is there, of course. So is Yoda. Then things start to get interesting. Qui-Gon Jinn, voiced by the one and only Liam Neeson, gets a line or two. Ewan McGregor is already slated to return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a Disney+ series, but it's good to hear his voice, too. After all, Episode IX is supposed to wrap up the entire Skywalker Saga. It's nice to see the prequels get their due.

But it continues. Ashley Eckstein's voice shows up as Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's former apprentice on The Clone Wars. Star Wars Rebels' resident Jedi, Kanan Jarrus, joins the cacophony, courtesy of Freddie Prinze Jr. It's not just the cinematic Jedi who encourage Rey. It's all of the featured Jedi in the new Star Wars canon. Good thing, too. To take out Palpatine, Rey needs all the help she can get.