When director George Lucas and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie brought us into a galaxy far, far away in the original Star Wars trilogy, they showed us a variety of unique worlds. As the series continued from there and evolved into being one of the biggest franchises in the world, the design of planets became a complex art that some films succeeded at, and others did not.
This raises the question; which Star Wars planet is the worst, and which is the best? If these were all to be ranked, what order would they come in?
First, let me explain my scale for ranking these planets; I’ll be scoring on a scale of 30 points in three categories.
Plot Significance: so, out of these three categories, this the most straightforward; how important is the planet to the plot of the movie it’s featured in, or to the overarching story. In this way, the perfect planet is one that couldn’t be replaced by any other.
Design: Usually related to visuals, but design can go down to the characters, the ships, the animals, and anything related to the planet. The worst type of design is one that is easily forgettable, while the best is one that is visually striking as well as thematically relevant.
The hardest of the three categories to explain is Plausibility, which scores how believable the planet is, usually in a sociological and ecological way. (In theory, none of the planets are really that plausible; no habitable planet would be all desert, all snow, or even all urban sprawl.) So, plausibility is especially relative. In order to be plausible, a planet should have an ecosystem, a society, an economy, and whatever else it needs to feel lived-in. Worlds that change across the movies feel plausible and well-developed. Since plausibility is difficult to gauge, the average plausibility score is about 6. Below that indicates that the planet is not very believable, and above that means it is rather believable.
Also, it’s worth noting that for this post, I’ll only be including the live-action theatrical releases; namely, the Skywalker Saga and the two Anthology films. If I were to include The Mandalorian or The Clone Wars series, this post would be much longer than it already is.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the planets of the galaxy!
Appearances: Rogue One
Plot Significance: 3 Design: 4 Plausibility: 6 Total: 13
Before ranking this list, I went movie by movie, trying to list all of the planets I could think of. Some of them, I couldn’t recall by name, but I could still think of – like “Oh, yeah, that’s where Maz Kanata’s place in Force Awakens is!” And I could still recall what the planet looked like, and what happened there.
After checking against Wookieepedia, this was the only planet I remembered nothing about. It’s from the middle of Rogue One, which, let’s be honest, is the weakest part of the film. For me, this planet fittingly finds its place at the bottom of the list.
36. Numidian Prime
Plot Significance: 2 Design: 5 Plausibility: 6 Total: 13
I’ll always hate this planet on principle alone. This is where the little epilogue of Solo takes place, Han finds Lando and challenges him to a card game to win the Falcon back. My dislike for this planet comes from A: the movie should have ended one scene earlier, B: we’re barely there for long enough to appreciate the design, and C: Solo, more than any other Star Wars movie has too many planets – Numidian Prime comes last and ends up feeling like the most tedious because of it.
Appearances: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi
Plot Significance: 4 Design: 5 Plausibility: 5 Total: 14
This planet is just diet Yavin. It’s not particularly interesting. This is just a planet for the Resistance to have a base on. Initially, I forgot that this was a separate planet from Takodana, where Maz Kanata’s establishment is.
Plot Significance: 4 Design: 5 Plausibility: 6 Total: 15
Like much of the visual aesthetic in Solo, Mimban is pretty bland. It’s an Empire-occupied planet where Han is fighting while in the Infantry and meets Beckett’s (Woody Harrelson’s) crew. It’s also where he meets Chewbacca.
Mimban’s gloomy design likely comes as a consequence of one of the main characters fighting in a war here. Much of Solo’s color pallet is dark and bland, but this is probably the one planet where that feels fitting. Mimban isn’t memorable or ground-breaking, but it does everything it needs to.
Plot Significance: 4 Design: 5 Plausibility 6 Total: 15
This is another one from Solo that is fine but forgettable. This is where the first heist in Solo takes place. The heist is exciting enough, even if the planet isn’t exceedingly interesting. Then, there’s the lodge where they meet with Lando, which is a microcosm of a lot of the movie’s problems, like L3 and the poor lighting.
Neither good or bad; I just don’t have much to say about Vandor.
32. Hosnian Prime
Appearances: The Force Awakens
Plot Significance: 4 Design: 6 Plausibility 5 Total: 15
I really can’t undersell my dislike for Hosnian Prime. A recurring theme on this list is going to be my contempt for planets that get destroyed by the bad guys because usually they are far less significant than the plot tries to tell us. What consequences are there from Hosnian Prime being blown up? None. It doesn’t change how the lead characters go about attacking the First Order, no one seems upset about it, and perhaps worst of all, in the next film, when they put out a distress call to summon potential allies, no one comes to fight the genocidal fascist regime. That makes me doubt Hosnian Prime’s importance. It’s difficult for me to believe that the legislative capital of the galaxy gets blown up and there’s no impact on the plot of Force Awakens or its sequels – that certainly takes away from Prime’s plausibility score.
That being said, the one shot we get of the planet is neat; it looks like a less clustered Coruscant.
31. Kef Bir (The Ocean Moon of Endor)
Appearances: The Rise of Skywalker
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 7 Plausibility: 5 Total: 17
Yeah, I bet you didn’t realize that this was actually supposed to be different from the planet in Return of the Jedi, did you? Honestly, if the scenes set on Kef Bir had been set on the Forest Moon of Endor, that planet would be higher on this list.
For Plausibility, Kef Bir loses some points. Why is there one large piece of Death Star wreckage? Wouldn’t it show more signs of erosion or animal habitation? We get that Jannah and the other former stormtroopers are supposed to be scavengers, but why does the place look like there isn’t any other wreckage? Why is the Sith dagger designed as a map on this planet despite the fact that you’d need to be standing in the exact right spot to use it?
But that being said, I do love the way they utilize the Death Star wreckage. It provides tension when trying to get there and makes for an incredible and dramatic setting for the duel between Rey and Kylo Ren as the waves crash around them. Then, fittingly, the waters calm down when Kylo is confronted by the ghost (memory?) of his father, and the evil in him is stilled.
Again, I think I would rate this higher if we were just seeing another part of the same planet from Return, but it’s still a fitting place for this film’s second act. This planet isn’t perfect, but it is memorable.
Appearances: The Rise of Skywalker
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 6 Plausibility: 6 Total: 17
“HEY HEYYYYY!” – Babu Frik
Kijimi suffers from the fact that it gets destroyed not long after it was introduced, but more so is just a victim of Rise of Skywalker’s relentless pacing. We don’t spend that much time here, but we can begin to get a sense of what it’s like here; it’s cold, the First Order frequently does night raids, and there’s at least some criminal element there. It’s debatable if the already clustered plot of Rise of Skywalker needed to stop here, but it’s inoffensive and well-enough designed.
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 6 Plausibility: 7 Total: 18
“There is no war here unless you’ve brought it with you.” – Tion Medion
Again, there’s not really that much here to distinguish Utapau from the rest of the planets on this list. I do like the welcome party Obi-Wan meets with, (quoted above) because they add an element of anxiety to the scenes that take place there. But like, yeah, the battle between Obi-Wan and Grievous happens here, but the planet itself doesn’t add that much, I think.
28. Yavin (Yavin 4)
Appearances: Rogue One, A New Hope
Plot Significance: 6 Design: 6 Plausibility: 6 Total: 18
Yavin is probably the least original planet the original trilogy introduces us to. All in all, it’s fine, just underdeveloped. Obviously, Yavin is best known for the battle that takes place in the space above it. But from all three aspects, this planet could just as well be any other. It’s replaceable and not particularly interesting. I don’t think it’s an exceedingly hot take to suggest that none of the planets on which the heroes have a base are really unique – Hoth being the clear exception. Most often, these planets just have a lot of green vegetation as a means of being visually reassuring for the viewer.
27. Canto Bight
Appearances: The Last Jedi
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 7 Plausibility: 7 Total: 19
I’m anticipating that I’ll have a slew of angry comments about the fact that Canto Bight isn’t in last, but I tend to think it does get a lot of mostly undue hate. In a lot of ways, I do think Canto Bight feels like an unnecessary filler side-quest and would have preferred if Rose and Finn could have just made their way aboard the First Order ship and started their story from that point. But I still find a lot to like here.
By the same token, I kind of like the design of Canto Bight and how it relates back to the themes of the movie. Good and evil is not black and white, so we get the arms dealers who sell to both sides of the war. Cultural heroes are important, so we get the young workers who idolize Luke at the end of the movie and seek to use the Force.
Speaking of the gamblers and the workers, this planet feels more plausible than what we get with Coruscant, where it’s just one big urban sprawl full of one demographic. Here, we get to see wealthy and poor alike. We get to see the casino and the racetrack, but we also get to see a little field and beaches. This could have just been space Monte Carlo, and it was just a little bit more.
Also: Long live Broom Boy.
26. Ajan Kloss
Appearances: Rise of Skywalker
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 7 Plausibility: 6 Total: 18
Again, another forested planet where our protagonists hang out. See most of what I said for Yavin. This one is slightly different because we get to see the jungle training course that Rey has designed. I think that’s awesome, and certainly makes it more interesting than Yavin, if nothing else.
Plot Significance: 6 Design: 6 Plausibility: 7 Total: 19
Savareen, the planet where the climax of Solo takes place, could have been just another generic desert planet. But the bodies of water and outpost settlements make it an interesting enough backdrop for the movie’s conclusion. Han’s final showdown with Beckett is made just a little bit more exciting since it is set on the cliffs of Savareen.
Appearances: Rogue One
Plot Significance: 5 Design: 8 Plausibility: 6 Total: 19
Rogue One isn’t your father’s Star Wars, that much is certain. What helps ground that fact is the movie’s cold open on the planet Lah’mu. It’s a pleasant looking, green planet that is soon desecrated by the Empire. We watch as Jyn’s mother is killed by Imperials and her father is taken hostage. Having it happen against the background of a beautiful, lush planet makes the violence feel a little more sinister, and… for lack of a better word, imperial.
Appearances: Rogue One
Plot Significance: 6 Design: 7 Plausibility: 7 Total: 20
Jedha is… I have difficulty knowing where to start with Jedha. The planet is the source of Kyber Crystals, which are an integral part in the construction of lightsabers, and that alone makes it rather significant to the overarching plot of Star Wars; not to mention, this was the first attack point of the OG Death Star – only the Holy City was destroyed, but it is still an historic event in the Star Wars galaxy. That being said, the Holy City
From a plausibility perspective, Jedha actually plays a pretty important part in the believability of the Star Wars galaxy; a pilgrimage site among believers of the Jedi “religion.” I think that Jedha in particular makes sense as a pilgrimage site when compared to other Jedi landmarks; Coruscant, home of the Jedi Council, would be too controlled by the Empire, and Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi, would be too obscure. So that makes Jedha just right.
All things considered, I feel like if we had gotten a better look at Jedha, outside of an anthology film, it would likely be in the top half of this list, if not one of my favorites. Imagine having Jedha from the perspective of George Lucas; wouldn’t that have been something?
22. Starkiller Base
Appearances: The Force Awakens
Plot Significance: 7 Design: 7 Plausibility: 6 Total: 20
It’s a just bigger Death Star, which I think is dumb from a storytelling perspective, but I can buy from a worldbuilding perspective. Starkiller Base, like the Death Star before it, is a glorified macguffin for the Resistance, but I find myself appreciating it more specifically because instead of it being a space station, it’s its own planet. That doesn’t make it quite interesting enough on its own merit, but there are certain ways Starkiller Base distinguishes itself from the Death Star. From a design perspective, one has to praise the one beautiful shot when the Base is firing, when we see some of the trees on the planet get destroyed by the strength of the blast.
Appearances: Attack of the Clones
Plot Significance: 6 Design: 6 Plausibility: 8 Total: 20
The battle on Geonosis – fun as it may be – is a bit of a clustered mess. But that being said, there are a few things really worth admiring here. First off, if you’re going to have an army that is entirely composed of droids, you’d better have a substantial manufacturing planet. So – for better or for worse – we get to see the droid manufacturing plant, and that’s fine. (We also get to see that the Geonosians are developing the first Death Star!) And then the fact that this planet also has a colosseum also makes it feel more like a living, breathing, planet. Geonosis has a manufacturing populace, and then an entertainment center for this populace. If nothing else, that makes it feel lived-in.
To be continued…
Special thanks to Andrew Rainaldi at Pop Cultural Studies for providing this guest post.