In this article:
- Rey is mistakenly credited with being one of the first (or even only) female jedi in the Star Wars universe.
- While the male characters defintiely get all the glory (and the screentime), the Star Wars universe is filled with female Jedi characters who are criminally underrated.
- These 8 female Jedi have achieved great feats of heroism and badassery.
- Whether you like her character or not, Rey is still an important step toward fixing Star Wars’ lack of female leads problem.
The Star Wars universe is filled with stories of valiant Jedi Knights, ruthless Sith Lords, mystical Force users, and massive armies duking it out to see who gets control over the galaxy. With such a big fictional world and so many characters in it, it’s a no-brainer that there are several cool female Jedi who have helped shape the fate of the galaxy.
Ask your average movie theatergoer to name a female Jedi, though, and the majority of them are going to name Rey. A recent addition to the Star Wars franchise, Rey serves as the leading protagonist for the Star Wars sequel trilogy. But despite viewer misconceptions, fans have pointed out that our yellow lightsaber-wielding heroine is far from being the first female Jedi or even the coolest one of them.
So here are some of the coolest female Jedi to show up in any of the Star Wars media!
1. Ashoka Tano
If you can name a female Jedi that isn’t Rey and you’re under 25 years old, chances are that you’re thinking of Ashoka Tano.
Since her debut in Star Wars: Clone Wars movie, Ashoka has quickly become one of the Star Wars fandom’s most beloved characters. While she was initially badly received, fans grew to love her in Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and Star Wars: Legends series because of her evident growth as a character.
Ashoka is a Togruta from the planet Shili with a talent for sensing the feelings of others. This led to her being discovered and recruited into the ranks of the Jedi Order where she became Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan.
Ashoka’s natural talent allowed her to keep up with Anakin’s increasingly grueling training practices and quickly became a master of the Force jump and the famous Jedi Mind trick. Though she and her master eventually parted ways, Ashoka didn’t succumb to the Dark Side. Instead, she learned to become her own person and see how the teachings of the Jedi Order were failing the Jedi themselves.
The female Jedi is best known for her unique fighting style that uses two lightsabers.
2. Mara Jade
If you’re part of the first generation of Star Wars fans, Mara Jade is likely the female Jedi that you thought of.
Mara Jade first showed up in the 1991 Star Wars novel, Heir to the Empire written by Timothy Zahn. Heir to the Empire was the first book of The Thrawn Trilogy where another fan favorite, Grand Admiral Thrawn, was introduced.
This female Jedi started out as part of the Emperor’s Hand, a group of Force-sensitives who served as Emperor Palpatine’s secret service. She committed numerous atrocities at Emperor Palpatine’s behest and, if the extra freedoms Palpatine gave her were to go by, she was a pro at it.
After Palpatine’s death, Mara Jade lived as a smuggler and began to develop an identity outside of the Empire and Palpatine himself. Eventually, she met Luke Skywalker and renounced the Dark Side to become a Jedi Knight.
Because of her previous training in the ways of the Force, Mara Jade soon became a Jedi Master and a part of the Jedi Council. She also worked to establish the New Jedi Order alongside Luke Skywalker.
TLDR: Mara Jade is such a badass female Jedi because she’s practically a Black Widow with Force powers in space.
3. Nomi Sunrider
With a name like Nomi Sunrider, you can tell this female Jedi was the main character in her own life story.
Like Mara Jade, Nomi Sunrider was a Jedi Master who became part of the Jedi Council, even serving as Grand Master in Star Wars: Legends. But unlike Mara Jade, Nomi Sunrider wasn’t trained early on as a Force user. In fact, she didn’t believe in her own abilities in the Force despite her husband, a Jedi Knight, constantly telling her that she also had a strong innate connection to the Force.
But if she was so hesitant to become a Jedi, why count her as a badass?
Following her husband’s death, Nomi Sunrider had to step up and become a Jedi in her own right, all while raising a young daughter as a single mom. It was during an incident where she had to save her daughter from a pair of hssiss, reptilian beasts that have been corrupted by the Dark Side, that she discovered her natural talent for battle meditation.
Battle meditation is a rare Force ability that helped strengthen a Jedi’s allies while slowly chipping at an enemy force’s mental resolve.
Nomi Sunrider is notable for being one of the combatants of the Sith War after which she became Jedi Master and had the honor of calling the first Jedi conclave. Though she’s mostly been forgotten in the newer Star Wars media, her in-universe legacy cements her as one of the great historic figures of the Jedi Order.
4. Meetra Surik
Nomi Sunrider’s daughter became a Jedi Master herself and later, the master of Meetra Surik, a female Jedi who Ashoka Tano’d before Ashoka Tano came to be.
Meera Surik wasn’t the most powerful Force user of her generation. Far from it ― many masters in her time noted how average her gifts were compared to her peers. Still, Meera Surik had two unique gifts: she could sever people’s connection to the Force and she was a natural leader.
Meera’s deep compassion and ability to inspire people won over her fellow Padawans. However, Meera had a fall from grace that led to her exile from the Jedi Order.
After seeing the devastation that the Mandalorian Wars brought to the people of the Outer Rims, Meera agreed to join a Jedi faction led by Revan (yes, that Revan) under whom she served as a general. Upon realizing that Revan and his recruited Jedi Knights were starting to succumb to the Dark Side, Meera returned to the Jedi Order to try and convince them of her moral stance.
The Jedi High Council saw her as a traitor, however, and had her stripped of her title as a knight. Meera stood her ground and destroyed her own lightsaber in an act of defiance, prompting some Jedi Council members to consider why so many Jedi kept leaving for the Dark Side.
5. Shaak Ti
Shaak Ti was a female Jedi who was part of the Jedi High Council in the days of the Galactic Republic. Just like Ashoka Tano, she’s a Togruta who hails from the peaceful world of Shili.
Not much is known about her childhood, but we do know what she was like, her responsibilities as a councilor, and what kind of influence she had on others.
Shaak Ti oversaw the training of the Republic’s clones while balancing state interests with her own compassion. Like many of her kind, Shaak Ti was innately attuned to others’ emotional states and was incredibly compassionate. This made it hard for her to train clones just for them to be cannon fodder.
Aside from her strong morality, Shaak Ti was also powerful in the Force. She’s depicted several times as being able to lift heavy objects using telekinesis, doing Force jumps, and generally being a badass that dual-wielded a lightsaber and an electro staff.
6. Jocasta Nu
Jocasta Nu is another female Jedi who achieved the rank of Master within the Jedi Order. However, she didn’t go on to serve as a combatant. Instead, Jocasta was the Chief Librarian of the Jedi Order, storing and providing valuable knowledge about Jedi tradition, history, and training techniques in the vast Archives of the Jedi Order.
Before you write her off as an old librarian, Nu was part of the Jedi High Council before she started her archivist career. As a testament to her abilities as a Jedi Master even in her advanced age, Nu was one of the few Jedi who survived the Jedi Purge, much to the shock of the Grand Inquisitor who underestimated her because he had never seen her fight before.
Jocasto Nu remained true to her mission as a librarian while in hiding, doing her best to preserve holocrons and record knowledge that could be used to revive the Jedi Order.
7. Depa Billaba
Depa Billaba was a female Jedi Master who was personally trained by Mace Windu after the older master rescued her as a child from space pirates. She was especially skilled in fighting with a lightsaber thanks to her master’s rigorous training. Later on, she became a Jedi Master and part of the Jedi Council, serving alongside Mace Windu.
As a master, Depa was said to be exceedingly strict but didn’t hesitate to goof around with her students, fostering bonds with them just as she did with her own master. Although Mace Windu taught her the Vaapad variant of Form VII, she preferred to use Form III. The preference rubbed off on her students, such as with Kana Jarrus, who tended to use the form more often than other Jedi do.
During Order 66, Depa was forced to fight the clone troopers under her command. She stayed behind and fought until her death to allow her Padawan to escape.
8. Luminara Unduli
Luminara Unduli was a female Jedi Master from Mirial, an Outer Rim planet. Following the traditions of her home planet, she chose a fellow Mirialian to be her Padawan.
As a Jedi Master, Luminara was adept at Form III and was known for her awe-inspiring bravery. Like Depa Billaba, she was renowned for her abilities as a lightsaber duelist since few Jedi could come close to withstanding a fight with her.
Luminara Unduli was last featured in The Rise of Skywalker where we heard her and other Jedi Masters speaking to Rey through the Force.
If These Female Jedi Are So Cool, How Come We’ve Never Heard of Them?
A lot of Star Wars fans take issue with Rey’s character, but whether you’re on the pro-Rey or anti-Rey side of the fandom, it’s time to acknowledge why so many people think Rey is the first female Jedi.
Female Jedi don’t get a lot of screentime.
The majority of key movie roles in the Star Wars series are played by male characters and while we’ve seen Jocasta Nu and Luminara Unduli in the movies, let’s be real here: How many of us actually remember them?
Even in Star Wars movies that supposedly have female lead characters, much to the chagrin of a vocal minority of Star Wars fans, these female Jedi and Rebels have fewer lines than their male counterparts.
In Rogue One, the Star Wars movie where Jyn Erso, a woman, was the main character, the male second lead, Cassian Andor, had more speaking lines than her. While the sequel trilogy has Rey, a female lead, showing up on screen more than any other Star Wars movie, an in-depth study by the Los Angeles Times found that she had drastically fewer lines in her own movies compared to how many Luke and Anakin Skywalker got in theirs.
When you start to see how few of them get to be impressive characters entirely on their own, it becomes a little easier to excuse someone like Rey who, as Matthew Legaretta argues in-depth, might not even get as much hate if she were written as a man.
TLDR: There’s going to be at least one angry comment under this about “SJW bullshit corrupting muh Star Wars” even though around half of moviegoers are women.
Perhaps the true bane of female Jedi is figuring out how to meet and substantially surpass the Bechdel test. For now, it’s up to the valiant, majority female fanfiction writers for Star Wars to make that happen.