Most Star Wars fans wish they could fly to Tatooine until they remember the creatures that live under the picturesque sand and the piercing glow of the planet’s dual suns. But while we’d probably die if we visited all the planets depicted in Star Wars since 1977, no one can argue that the series doesn’t contain rich worldbuilding with impeccably designed creatures.
And all these years later, the Star Wars universe continues to grow, bringing with it a wealth of terrifying new monsters to wig out audiences, whether in theaters or watching Disney+ on their couch. The hefty expansion of the Star Wars canon, from standalone films like Rogue One and Solo to series like Clone Wars and The Mandalorian, offers even more knowledge and screen time for both the beasties we fell in love with during the original trilogy and new ones from its various sequels and spinoffs. So, brace yourself as we look at the most terrifying Star Wars creatures that haunt fans as children and delight them as adults.
(Warning — some spoilers below.)
Don’t fall in in the sarlacc pit
Only a crime lord as egotistical as Jabba the Hutt would try to domesticate a sarlacc. Han is quick to scoff at the mention of the beast until C-3PO tells him, "In its belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years." Yikes. Jabba frequently uses Tatooine’s sarlacc pit to punish anyone who crosses him until the giant slug gets bested by our favorite space heroes in Return of the Jedi – but not before a temporarily blind Han Solo manages to shoot Boba Fett, knocking him into the pit.
Most people shorthand the sarlacc’s hidey-hole to the sarlacc pit, but the Tatooine creature’s home base is actually called the Great Pit of Carkoon, residing in the Dune Sea (where there’s definitely no water to be found). According to the Topps collector cards, sarlaccs are real sexist jerks. They start as spores, and the male species is smaller than the female species but not for long. The parasitic males feed off of the females until they swap sizes — the female becoming small and puny, and the male reaching monstrous heights so he can explode into a bunch of spores, continuing the gory cycle.
If you thought Yoda’s species takes a while to age, the sarlaac needs 30,000 years to grow into maturity. After that, they find a dank hole to settle into, digesting unsuspecting passersby for millennia.
The krayt dragon will send you to the pearly gates
How many Tusken Raiders does it take to kill a krayt dragon? Too many, plus a lonesome Mandalorian. Most people wouldn’t bother trying to take on the beast, as its venom can dissolve organic matter. But no challenge is too large for The Mandalorian‘s Mando. While season 2’s "Chapter 9" is the first time we see a live-action krayt dragon, their lore is dispersed all throughout the franchise. Remember that colossal skeleton C-3PO happens upon in New Hope? That would be a krayt dragon, and they’re a lot scarier when they’re breathing.
While the massive beasts aren’t pretty to look at, they hold some hidden treasures. For anyone brave enough to root around in a krayt dragon’s gizzard, they might find ultra-rare pearls. So, just how valuable are these bad boys? Jedi can use the pearls to construct lightsabers, which puts their value through the roof for anyone strong enough to take one down.
If you’re wondering who’d win the battle between a krayt dragon and a Sarlacc, the krayt dragon reigns supreme. When Mando and the Tusken Raiders fight the dragon in The Mandalorian, the creature has taken up residence in an abandoned Sarlacc pit. It’s unlikely the Sarlacc just picked up and moved out of its home, so the krayt dragon probably turned it into lunch meat before stealing its crib.
Space slugs love snacking on scruffy pilots
Star Wars is known for its massive beasts, but the space slug in The Empire Strikes Back takes the cake. It’s not often you fly your bulky spacecraft into a cave, only to discover that said cave is … alive?
While the name doesn’t do much to impress, the space slug that Han, Leia, and Chewie fly into when they escape an Imperial onslaught is almost more terrifying than the danger they just ditched in the asteroid belt. TIE fighters can shoot, but at least they can’t swallow you whole.
Hiding out in asteroids isn’t uncommon for these guys, and according to the Topps space slug trading card, the beasts reproduce by merely splitting in half, resulting in two smaller creatures. For any space slugs who can’t achieve the reproduction process, they have the capability of reaching almost 3,000 feet. For the most part, space slugs aren’t a threat to humans or humanoids — until you fly straight into their gullet. The beasts prefer to eat the minerals contained in their asteroid home, energy emissions, and likeminded silicon-based snacks (like mynocks).
Sure, let’s clone the gigantic Zillo Beast
The coolest Star Wars monsters aren’t only relegated to the live-action screen. The animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars has seen its fair share of creeptastic space dwellers, too. One legendary monster for the books is the Zillo Beast, who’s all chill to slumber peacefully until the pesky Battle of Malastare wakes it up during the Clone Wars. They don’t call it Star Wars for nothin’.
The award for waking up the giant reptilian goes to an electro-proton bomb, and of course, the ever power-hungry Palpatine seeks to study and ultimately abuse its power. But it’s not so easy to tame a 300-foot space monster with three arms and a swarm of spikes on its tail. After Anakin subdues it for study, the Zillo Beast breaks free and leaves a mass of carnage in its wake until poisonous gas manages to take it down. So, what does Palpatine decide to do after that? Clone it. Will they ever learn?
The Geonosian brain worm causes serious brain freeze
Not all monsters have to look terrifying to be terrifying. The Geonosian brain worm looks harmless enough … until it flies into your body and begins controlling it from within. But it’s not only the living who are at risk of the brain worms’ control. During Clone Wars, Queen Karina the Great uses the parasites to set up camp in a swarm of dead Geonosians to create an undead army. The Republic defeats them, but not before one escapes, infecting a clone trooper named Scythe and setting off a chain reaction.
All you need is one of these creepy worms to start an outbreak. Before long, the clone troopers on the Republic medical ship, TB-73, are completely taken over by the brain worms until Anakin and Ahsoka Tano devise a plan to ice them out. Literally. The pair uses shallow temperatures to fight off the worms, managing to save numerous troopers and Scythe. Still, it’s not a creature anyone wants to come across.
Is there a bigger fish than the sando aqua monster?
Star Wars has never really been keen on underwater adventures — until The Phantom Menace, that is. Most of the space beasts we see in the series are prone to hiding underground or in asteroids, but the sando aqua monster just chills in the seas of Naboo. The creature looks like a cross between a T-Rex and an amphibious Godzilla, towering in the water and ready to pounce on anything that crosses its path. The sando aqua monster can swallow most of its prey whole, but that doesn’t stop it from ripping creatures apart with the claws that allow it to swim in the depths of Naboo’s seas.
Luckily for Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Jar Jar Binks, when they happen upon the monster in The Phantom Menace, it’s much more interested in eating the gooberfish that’s attacking their ship than eating the crew themselves. Qui-Gon, always a wealth of wise one-liners, notes, "There’s always a bigger fish." However, if there’s a bigger fish than the sando aqua monster, he certainly doesn’t want to meet it.
The reek proves that people are the real monsters
Despite his proclivity toward the Dark Side, Anakin Skywalker is one of the fiercest warriors in the galaxy. But even he has a rough time Force-controlling a reek in the Geonosian execution arena during Attack of the Clones. After Anakin initially tames it with the Force, the wild beast wreaks havoc on the arena, tearing apart people and droids alike, proving to be unstoppable to a significant number of Jedi, including Yoda and Mace Windu. But where they fail to take the beast down, Jango Fett succeeds, finally putting an end to the creature’s steep body count.
It’s hard to blame the reek, though, as the Geonosians forced it into a gladiator life. Given that the reek looks like a cross between a rhino and a bull, the metaphor makes sense. Rhinoceros have been poached nearly to extinction by humans, and people frequently pit bulls against humans for sport. It looks like the galaxy isn’t the only place that uses and abuses its creatures. The novel, Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, reveals that Ylesia-native reeks are generally herbivores, but the arena force-feeds them meat to keep them aggressive. So, it looks like the inhabitants of Geonosis who force them to fight are the real monsters.
The rancor is lazy Jabba’s terrifying assassin
Rancors may look like mangled pieces of meatloaf, but their fangs are nothing to laugh about. While the creatures aren’t inherently violent, their ferocity tends to be coveted by those with ill intentions — like Jabba the Hutt.
As is a popular trend in the galaxy, Jabba weaponizes a rancor, forcing it to carry out executions underneath his throne room that Jabba himself is too lazy to perform. Luke gets the honor in Return of the Jedi when the gangster uncovers his less-than-stellar disguise.
Certainly not the heftiest beast in Star Wars, averaging about 14 feet, a rancor’s tough hide is impervious to most weapons like blasters. However, not many creatures can withstand their head getting smashed down by a huge gate, which is all it takes to slay the beast. The canon novel, Aftermath: Life Debt, reveals that the rancor’s name is Pateesa. RIP Pateesa. You might’ve been a good dude if Jabba didn’t enslave you.
Rathtars are Star Wars monsters with real bad attitudes
The canonical 2017 comic Darth Maul 1 reveals that the slippery beasts called rathtars hail from Twon Ketee, where they were the subjects of hunting for sport at the tail end of the Republic’s reign. Darth Maul faces off with some of the creatures himself, realizing that they prefer to hunt in groups.
Decades later, after Han Solo saves the galaxy a bunch of times and watches his only son turn into a homicidal maniac, he had to do something to pass the time. And what better way to make it through those gloomy galaxy days than smuggling a bunch of tentacled monsters on the Eravana for King Prana?
After Han lost the Millennium Falcon during The Force Awakens, it’s surprising his new smuggling ship withstands the force of three rathtars at all. Unbeknownst to Rey, she lets the beasts loose. Thankfully, bloodthirsty rathtars don’t seem to prefer what they kill (as long as it’s something), and two of the creatures take care of the rival gangs hot on Han’s trail. Meanwhile, Rey takes care of the other one right after it almost kills Finn. Apparently, one great way to kill a rathtar is jumping through hyperspace when it tries to take a joy ride on your ship, and the Millennium Falcon escapes the gripping tentacles of the rathtars with Rey, Finn, Han, and Chewie on-board.
Knock, knock, it’s a mynock
Mynocks aren’t massive beings, but you’ll probably scream if one flies into your face. Just ask Leia. The pesky creatures are basically space bats, except they’re a lot nastier and a lot oozier. They’re the bane of every pilot’s existence, thriving anywhere and everywhere that’s bound to be annoying. Even more fun, they habitually chew through wires, deplete energy reserves, and absorb matter. If your power is wonky, it’s probably either because the Empire is doing something shifty or a mynock is all up in your space.
The parasitic beings get their jollies attaching themselves to spacecrafts for an all-expenses-paid energy meal, which isn’t exactly ideal when you’re flying through the deepest reaches of space with nowhere to recharge. Star Wars fans first meet mynocks in The Empire Strikes Back during their fateful travels into the gullet of a space slug. The annoying beasts have been mentioned and appear in countless Star Wars projects since.
Bor Gullet will discover the truth
It’s bad enough when your Force-sensitive friends can feel your emotions. It’s even worse when a giant purple monster treats you to its DIY lie detector powers. Worse of all, when this creature gets to work, finding the truth usually drives its unwilling subject insane.
Star Wars fans meet the empathic Bor Gullet for the first time in the standalone prequel film, Star Wars: Rogue One. Like most of the beasts in Star Wars, the creature — a Mairan — is enslaved and forced to use its powers to its master’s end. In this case, that would be Saw Gerrera — a Resistance extremist from Onderon.
On Jedha, we witness Saw use the Bor Gullet to torture the truth out of Bodhi Rook, a former Empire pilot who now sides with the Resistance. Saw’s goal? To find out if Galen Erso is really alive. After the Bor Gullet roots around his mind, Bodhi is an incoherent mess, recovering just enough to escape — only to be killed by the Death Star later.
Ice spiders are cold, but they’re not chill
"Chapter 10" of The Mandalorian will have you questioning whether you’re watching Star Wars or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. To be quite frank, one franchise with a cave full of man-eating spiders is quite enough for one genre, thank you very much. However, that didn’t stop The Mandalorian writers from dedicating almost the entire episode to a species of ice spiders that will haunt fans’ dreams for eternity. Yet again, we have to wonder how much Mando is feeding the Child since he has yet to see an egg he doesn’t want to put in his mouth.
And thus begins one of the most terrifying 20 minutes in TV history, where Mando, Baby Yoda, and Frog Lady fight off a swarm of ice spiders on the planet Maldo Kreis. And if the idea of ice spiders isn’t enough to freak people out, the creepy-crawlies are fitted with green blood and a circular row of fangs that look like they belong on a rathtar. No, thank you. Luckily, after the creatures all but destroy the Razor Crest (Mando’s ship), former Rebellion leader Carson Teva saves the day, shooting down the spiders. Can someone burn this cave, please? Asking for a friend.
A summa-verminoth disfigures the Falcon
If you think rathtars are bad, get a load of the summa-verminoth — gigantic tentacled beasts that hang out on Maelstrom in the Kessel sector. The creature’s tentacles are locked and loaded with electric stingers and suckers, and their dozens of eyes help them stalk prey.
We meet the summa-verminoth for the first time while a young Han completes the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs during Solo: A Star Wars Story. As it turns out, the smuggler had rotten luck with space monsters even before he started working for the likes of Jabba the Hutt. With a dismayed Lando Calrissian on board, the Millennium Falcon wakes up a slumbering jellyfish giant. Needing a distraction, Han releases the Falcon‘s escape pod, and the summa-verminoth chases it down.
Han’s luck must rub off on the creature, as it gets sucked into a gravity well, where its skin gets ripped from its body. The beast is more significant than fans might think, though. It provides the reason for the Falcon‘s unique shape (that fans have long questioned and ridiculed). Detaching the escape pod that Han never replaces for some reason gives the ship its iconic misshapen look.