Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar - an unsung hero

With Return of the Jedi now 30 years old, we pay tribute to its finest character.

As the epic conclusion to the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy celebrates its 30th birthday, we decided to pay tribute to the real hero of ‘Return of the Jedi’ – Admiral Ackbar. Since the Empire was brought to its knees by the Rebellion three names have rung out loudest among all others – Skywalker, Organa and Solo.

Sure Han Solo and Leia Organa were integral to the ground assault that lowered the second Death Star’s shields but all Luke Skywalker did was have a scuffle with his dad and get a bit electrocuted. Vader and the Emperor presumably would have died in the Death Star explosion anyway.

So we submit to you, our loyal readers, that the true hero of the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is none other than the lobster-headed mastermind of the daring attack on the Imperial space station. Not only the best character in the film, but arguably the most instrumental. 

Fashion statement... Who wouldn't wear this? (Credit: Big Willie Styles)
Without his steely determination and incomparable leadership skills the Battle of Endor would surely have been lost. It takes a special kind of leader to rouse spirits as he did after deducing that the Death Star being fully-operation despite reports was in fact… a ruse.

Born Gial Ackbar, the future space commander is a member of the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy’s Mon Calamari species. He also has a detailed history thanks to the Expanded Universe of ‘Wars’ fiction, which has pretty much fleshed out every character seen in the saga to date.

His story begins strangely as a slave to ‘A New Hope’s Grand Moff Tarkin, played by Peter Cushing. Eventually freed by a high-ranking Imperial official he is later recruited by the Rebellion thanks to the knowledge he had gathered working so close to the Empire’s high command. 

Following the events of the original trilogy of films he became Supreme Commander of the New Republic’s defence force, going on to write the snappily-titled ‘Fleet Tactics and Combat Methodology’. Maybe his high rank post-‘Return of the Jedi’ will see him make a cameo in J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars 7’? We can certainly hope so.

It's a trap... Get it? (Credit: Geek Exchange)
Tim Rose played the character on screen in ‘Return of the Jedi’ but his voice was provided by Erik Bauersfeld, who would later reprise his role in the video game ‘Star Wars: X-Wing’. Originally hired as a puppeteer for the scenes in Jabba The Hutt’s palace, Rose most notably played the slug-like crime lord’s cackling pet Salacious B. Crumb.

Already a member of legendary visual effects man Phil Tippet’s team, Rose would late ask his boss about a name in the script - Admiral Ackbar, who Tippet described as a “background character”. It was then that he asked Rose to play him, unaware what a role it would become.

If you judge ‘Star Wars’ characters by their ratio of fame to screen time (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?) then Ackbar’s only real competition is Boba Fett, a bounty hunter whose sole moment of note in ‘Episode VI’ comes when he falls into an enormous vagina-monster in the sand dunes of Tatooine.

Always a fan-favourite, Ackbar enjoyed renewed popularity as the internet age dawned, proving to be a meme-in-waiting thanks to his most famous line of dialogue. In 2002 an admin on the Something Awful forums posted a picture of Ackbar with the famous line inscribed across it.
In more recent years he’s been parodied countless times, with ‘Robot Chicken’ providing the best of all in 2007 when they aired an advert for Admiral Ackbar Cereal. "Your tongues can't repel flavour of that magnitude!"

'Now with brine shrimp' - Ackbar's cereal spoof (Credit: Tumblr)
In 2010 he found further fame after an attempt to make him the official mascot of the University of Mississippi went viral. The attempt gathered momentum after students pushing for it were considered to be attempting to mock the school. This just made them want it even more however and soon the internet caught on.

A video made by ESPN snappily documents what happened, from the initial drawing of one student to the letter sent to the university from ‘Star Wars’ production company LucasFilm. Sent with the requisite sense of humour it read: "Lucasfilm is flattered that our ‘Star Wars’ fans at the University of Mississippi are considering electing Admiral Ackbar as their mascot.

“The last time we checked in with Admiral Ackbar, he was leading the Rebel Alliance Fleet on a critical mission so it will be difficult for him to show up for the games!"

Unsuccessful, the University eventually selected a Black Bear as their mascot, which is not nearly as fun.

Mississippi students wanted Ackbar for their own (Credit Youtube)

The good name Ackbar lives on though. He overcame adversity as a slave to achieve a high rank in the Rebel fleet before bringing an oppressive government to its knees. He’s also very adept at stating the bleeding obvious, and on that note we’ll leave you with the man himself...

The immortal phrase... (Credit: Memeorama)
Think the Admiral gets the Star Wars credit he deserves? Let us know in the comments below.