24. Qui-Gon Jinn
(Write-up by Joe Prescott, Dork Side of the Force Staff Writer)
If watched in chronological order, the very first line in the Star Wars Saga goes to this character. Albeit a one word line of “Captain”, it is Qui-Gon Jinn who opens the Saga. Played with a cool presence by renowned Irish actor Liam Neeson, he was the first Jedi portrayed on screen since Luke Returned in 1983 and would become a standout part of The Phantom Menace alongside his Padawan Obi Wan Kenobi and his adversary, Sith Apprentice Darth Maul.
Headstrong and self-assured, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is a formidable enemy and a powerful ally. Trained by Count Dooku, he would eventually become Jedi Master to Obi Wan Kenobi and very briefly a young Anakin Skywalker. Believeing Anakin to be the child to bring about the Prophecy of the One to bring balance to the Force, his initial reaction of the Jedi Council’s dismissal of the Prophecy was of disbelief and frustration, a reaction that caused a stir on the Council who guided him down off his misguided ideas into eventual acceptance. His questionable ethics leading to that point were foolhardy and occasionally dangerous (tampering with Watto’s chance dice, Mind-tricking Boss Nass into handing over Jar Jar) and eventually led to his downfall at the double-blade of the faster, deadly Sith apprentice Darth Maul.
We all know Liam Neeson for his recent resurgence as a tough guy out to rescue his [insert family member here], but he has always been an intelligent and physically imposing character actor, so his role as Qui-Gon Jinn was a hit with the fans. A good performance pulled him through some schlocky lines, and his slightly Harvey Dent-esque moral practices made for a rounded character that would resonate throughout the prequel trilogy, once Master Yoda taught Obi Wan to communicate with him after Episode III. He is a thoughtful, somewhat reckless Jedi Master guided by his own ideas, and arguably caused a portion of Anakin Skywalker’s descent towards the Dark Side.
Next: The baddest Chiss in the galaxy