Who Are The Wookiees? The Courageous Fuzzballs Of Star Wars Explained

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star wars wookiee

Since the very first Star Wars movie, one of the most compelling characters was the Wookiee warrior Chewbacca. While the Disney franchise gave us more info about this awesome species in everything from the disastrous Star Wars Holiday Special to the most obscure books and comics, the average fan doesn’t really know much about these fuzzballs other than the fact they like to rip arms out of sockets when they lose a game.

If you’d like to know more, you can put that old Holocron away: we’ve got everything you need to know about these fuzzy friends of the Jedi and the Rebellion. Who are these Star Wars creatures, the lovable and fierce Wookiee?

Wookiees are tall, fuzzy creatures who hail from the planet Kashyyyk

If you’ve seen a single Star Wars movie or show featuring Wookiees, you probably know some of the basics. These aliens are tall, fuzzy creatures who hail from the planet Kashyyyk (which fans finally got to see in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).

star wars wookies

In Star Wars, Wookiees disdain clothing most of the time in favor of just rocking out in their fur, which is a result of living on a planet that is mostly composed of swamps and forests rather than the industrialized cities found on planets like Coruscant.

And as every Star Wars fan knows, one of the biggest characteristics of Wookies is that they are unable to speak in Galactic Basic due to a quirk of their vocal cords, instead expressing themselves in a series of growls and other primal noises.

While it can be difficult to communicate with Wookies without a protocol droid like C3PO, Han Solo is living proof that anyone can eventually learn to understand and even speak (at least a little bit) the Wookiee language.

Wookies can be up to three meters tall

Other important features of Wookiees are their claws, which are just as useful for climbing trees back home as they are for ripping into enemy soldiers. In various Star Wars stories, such soldiers are generally scared Sithless at the sight of an angry Wookiee because these warriors can be as tall as three meters.

Their height and their claws, along with their tendency to fly into mindless rage when they get angry enough, cemented Wookiee’s reputation as a race that nobody really wants to mess with.

Nobody but the Empire, that is. In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we saw how fiercely the Wookiies fought against the separatists on behalf of the Old Republic. But when that Republic became a Galactic Empire, many Wookiees were slaughtered and many more enslaved so they could be used in Imperial projects ranging from insane science experiments to the construction of the Death Star.

When that Republic became a Galactic Empire, many Wookiees were slaughtered and many more enslaved so they could be used in Imperial projects

While it’s weird to imagine aliens from a forest planet working on the scariest weapon in all of Star Wars, you should know that most Wookiees are like Chewbacca: very good with mechanical repairs, engineering, and anything to do with technology.

This made them a powerful slave workforce for the Empire, and as more rebels (including influential figures Saw Gerrera and the Jedi Cal Kestis) began liberating these Star Wars Wookiies, more of them began lending their considerable skills as engineers and warriors to the Rebellion.

As we see in Solo: A Star Wars Story, rebel hero (and former Imperial) Han Solo eventually liberates the Wookiee Chewbacca, and both of them have a profound impact on the Rebellion after joining up. One of the biggest effects of their signing on with the Rebels is that they helped to liberate the entire planet of Kashyyyk from Imperial control.

Han Solo and Chewbacca helped to liberate the entire planet of Kashyyyk from Imperial control.

This led even more Wookiees to join in the fight against the Empire, and they were rewarded for their efforts: in the years since the Empire’s seeming defeat at Jakku, Kashyyyk has grown back into the lush world it was before Imperial control.

While Chewbacca is a mighty warrior in his own right, he might not have stuck by Han Solo in their assorted Star Wars adventures if not for the Wookies holding friendship and honor in such high respect. After Han Solo freed him, Chewbacca swore a life debt to his savior, and that eventually extended to Han’s growing family and close friends such as Luke Skywalker.

Considering that Wookiees often live to be over 400 years old, life debts are a big deal, especially Chewbacca’s: in the old Star Wars Legends stories, we see that even after his death, Chewbacca’s son Lumpawarrump and his nephew Lowbacca continue fulfilling his life debt.

Star Wars Wookiee

While Star Wars has mostly focused on Chewbacca, there are other famous Wookiees throughout the Star Wars lore. One such Wookiee is Tarfful, the general who fought alongside Yoda on Kashyyyk.

We have also seen Wookiee Jedi, including Gungi in the Clone Wars era and Jedi Master Arkoff and Padawan Burryaga Agaburry in the High Republic era.

Star Wars has shown us the occasional exception to friendly, honor-bound Wookiees, including Krrsantan, a bounty hunter who isn’t afraid to work for slime like Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt.

On the whole, though, in Star Wars, Wookiees are one of the simultaneously fiercest and friendliest creatures in the entire galaxy. And we can only hope to channel some of their good cheer and (if necessary) warrior spirit next time the in-laws come over during our annual Life Day celebration.