Luke. Leia. Anakin. Obi-Wan. Vader. Palpatine. Most of Star Wars’ biggest characters can be identified by one name, and generate some emotional reaction for us, potentially good or bad. However, the Star Wars cinematic universe has generated many other characters that, at first glance, challenge us to muster up anything more than apathy. However, examining a couple of characters relegated to the background may help us to better understand the struggles of the common man (or droid… or alien) in this galaxy far, far away.
TC-14 has the notable distinction of being the first character to appear in The Phantom Menace with female characteristics (if you don’t count Obi-Wan’s ponytail). Others may best remember her for only being a silver-plated copy of the beloved protocol droid C-3PO. However, once you get past your looks, you start to gain sympathy for TC-14, employed by a couple of Trade Federation scumbags. According to canon informational material, TC-14’s mind was routinely wiped so she wouldn’t develop a conscience, which implies that TC-14 was quick to realize that she wasn’t in the best line of work. Her intelligence is further proven when you notice that, in the movie, she’s the one to point out that the “ambassadors” are Jedis, while the ship captains, apparently thinking that robes are a fashion statement, are relatively ignorant of the impending danger up to that point. TC-14 is truly the brain of that operation.
In A New Hope, Luke mentions his friend Biggs offhandedly several times before he actually appears onscreen. You hear him very little and he dies during the Death Star attack; it appears to affect Luke emotionally even though we barely knew what was under that checkered helmet of his. This was later explained by the release of deleted scenes from this seminal movie. One scene was filmed where Biggs has returned to Tatooine after graduating from the Imperial Academy, the school that Luke wishes he could attend. Biggs explains to Luke that he had decided to seek out the Rebellion, which gets Luke hyped up. So Biggs probably played a bigger role than we imagined in Luke developing a hatred for the Empire. (Of course, that whole murder of his aunt and uncle probably didn’t help.) In a restored scene in the Special Edition, Biggs also vouches for Luke, calling him one of the best bushpilots in the Outer Rim. All this helps us to understand that Luke’s friend, who we barely get to understand, had an important influence on his life even before his encounters with the Force.
She’s probably the most background of all characters on this list, appearing for approximately two seconds in The Phantom Menace as the vendor who gets angry at Jar Jar Binks (OK, I can already identify) for eating her gorgs, a lizard-like food, without paying for them. However, according to Star Wars Galaxies, Gragra, like many of us after dealing with a problematic customer in the retail industry, despairingly thought to herself, “Am I really going to do this for the rest of my life?” Somehow, this stupid Jar Jar moment impulsed her to begin a spinoff sauce business in addition to her gorg selling so that she could buy a ship and leave Mos Espa to start a new life. If only the rest of The Phantom Menace were that inspirational.
This lizard is most remembered for causing annoyance to Return of the Jedi watchers by means of his incessant cackling. However, Card Trader explains that Crumb was enlisted by Jabba the Hutt to serve as his jester. Working for a crime lord is usually a dicey proposition, and more so for Crumb, who would be killed by Jabba if he was unamused by Crumb for an entire day. Of course, with your life at stake, you’re gonna treat every remotely funny action like an 80s sitcom, with laugh track all over the place. Crumb is forced to do a thankless job, and truly embodies the sad clown in our society.
As you can see, life in the Star Wars universe is just like life for us: a couple of huge characters that dominate the news while the majority of people live out their lives fighting their own personal battles to stay alive, get ahead or defeat a giant spherical ship.