When Return of the Jedi bowed in 1983, it seemed like it was the end of the Star Wars saga. That would have been a real shame, since it would've meant audiences would've never met some of the best Star Wars characters ever created. Thanks to Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel, Heir to the Empire, which kicked off an Expanded Universe of books, comics, and games, fans now have quite the list of cool Star Wars EU characters. Delve into this lore, and you'll discover Jedi heroes such as Kyle Katarn and fearsome Sith like Darth Malak.
In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced that a whole new trilogy of films and a series of standalone films would go into production. But in order to do this, Disney had to pretty much wipe the Expanded Universe slate clean. The old books, comics, and games were relegated to the "Legends" timeline, which consists of stories that are no longer in continuity. Everything Disney has released since then is considered the canon Expanded Universe.
But whether they're in the old, non-canon timeline or the new one, there are plenty of great characters that make up the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Many of them are even as good (or better) than the characters in the movies. These Star Wars characters most fans don't know might give a fan-favorite like Han Solo a run for his money!
Revan is the star of the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which many fans consider to be one of the greatest stories ever told in the galaxy far, far away. This faceless Jedi was once a great leader during the Mandalorian Wars before traveling beyond the edges of the known galaxy and returning as the Dark Lord of the Sith. His reign of terror ended when a group of Jedi managed to defeat him and wipe his memory.
Revan is a captivating character, despite the fact that we never hear him speak. His redemption and return to the light side still pulls at the heart strings to this day.
There are few animated Star Wars characters who are more beloved than Ahsoka Tano, who was introduced as Anakin Skywalker's Padawan learner in The Clone Wars. This Togruta Force user left the Jedi Order before its eradication and continued to fight the Empire alongside the Rebellion many years later. Even after witnessing so much death and destruction, Ahsoka has always had a good heart.
Grand Admiral Thrawn has the distinct honor of being the first major villain introduced after the death of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. Thrawn is a brilliant strategist and virtually unstoppable on the battlefield. While he first appeared in the novel Heir to the Empire and was later wiped from continuity, Thrawn is so awesome that Disney decided to bring him back to the official canon as a villain in the Rebels animated series.
You ask any fan of the old Star Wars EU who their favorite non-movie character is, and you're more than likely to hear the name Mara Jade Skywalker. This Force user began her life in the service of the Emperor, who used her as an enforcer and assassin. After her master died, Mara Jade decided to leave her assassin life behind and become a smuggler. That is, until she met Luke Skywalker in the Timothy Zahn novel Heir to the Empire. Eventually, Mara Jade becomes Luke's wife.