Once a niche hobby, these days cosplay transcends all interests and obsessions, it pays no mind to genre, and it’s practiced by almost everyone at some point. Simply put, superfans love playing dress-up. Everything from A-Rod jerseys to Joker facepaint, the gear and attire that identify our beloved heroes can make us feel like the heroes themselves. So it’s no surprise that one of the most celebrated fandoms of all time lends itself to some very serious and elaborate cosplay — on and offscreen. And through the years, many movies and TV shows perfectly captured the thrill and devotion of dressing like characters from a galaxy far, far away.
Here are the 10 best instances of Star Wars cosplay from television and film.
10. The cast of Star Whores, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
If you knew nothing about director Kevin Smith — and chose to cram alcohol-soaked cotton balls into your eyes and ears since 1994 — then you might’ve missed that he’s pretty keen on Star Wars. So it stands to reason that Zack and Miri, his two leads who turn to the adult film industry to raise some coin, would choose the Lucasfilm franchise for a pornographic parody. Starring Hung Solo, Princess Lay-her, and a cast of scantily clad droids and Jedis, it’s exactly the type of porno you’d expect Smith to direct.
9. Jennifer Aniston as Slave Leia, Friends
Informally dubbed “The One That Made a Hackneyed Sci-Fi Fetish Go Mainstream,” this episode of Friends couldn’t have played more into the hands of teen boys in 1996 than if Mira Sorvino was spotted in a Barbarella outfit. In it, Ross confesses his Slave Leia crush to his GGG girlfriend Rachel, who happily fulfills the fantasy. And as truly unsettling as it is to see a sexually charged David Schwimmer, it’s always nice when a primetime sitcom shows a couple explore something new in the bedroom.
8. Kristen Wiig as Boushh, Paul
Anyone could order a Vader helmet off Amazon or braid their hair into danishes to qualify as a Star Wars cosplayer, but it takes a real fan to craft the costume of a Lucasfilm deep cut like Boushh. Briefly seen at the end of the Simon Pegg-Nick Frost comedy Paul, Kristen Wiig is wearing the same bounty hunter disguise that Leia donned to infiltrate Jabba’s palace and rescue Han in Return of the Jedi. It’s the kind of obscure and esoteric reference that earns a rare nod of respect at a comic convention.
7. The Point Place, Wisconsin Gang, That ’70s Show
Like any geeky kid during the late ’70s, Eric Forman (Topher Grace) was obsessed with Luke, Obi-Wan and the rest. So when the gang donned costumes for a full-on fantasy sequence, it made for one of the show’s most memorable moments with Red as a Jedi master of insults.
6. Redd Foxx as Obi-Wan, Kris Kristofferson as Han Solo, Paul Lynde as Grand Moff Tarkin, Donny & Marie
Given how popular the franchise still is today, it’s hard to imagine a Star Wars parody that’s nearly four decades old. But this clip of Donnie and Marie Osmond cavorting with Redd Foxx, Kris Kristofferson, and Paul Lynde in Star Wars getups shows every one of those 40 years. Between the painful song-and-dance numbers, Lynde hamming it up, and Foxx clearly not understanding the bit, this treasure trove of so-bad-it’s-flawless kitsch should definitely replace the unbearable Star Wars Holiday Special for all future Life Day parties.
5. Kevin Spacey as Han Solo, Saturday Night Live
At first blush, a premise like “What if Jack Lemmon auditioned to play Chewbacca?” sounds like a hacky Evening at the Improv bit, but that would be underestimating Kevin Spacey’s talent as an impressionist — as well as the endless entertainment Norm Macdonald’s Burt Reynolds always brings. Doing what SNL does best, this sketch rolls out rapid-fire celebrity impressions and highlights each actor’s confusion with familiar premises. All in all, we’d gladly trade The Phantom Menace for two-and-a-half hours of this.
4. Trick-or-treater as Yoda, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Speaking of The Phantom Menace, freeze-framers already know that a group of E.T.s attend the Galactic Senate, thus linking both movies’ universes. But the overlap was already implied 17 years prior in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial during the trick-or-treating scene. Wearing a surprisingly detailed Yoda costume, one diminutive candy-seeker prompts our beloved alien to approach him and repeat “Home! Home!” And while it certainly piques our interest into the relationship between the species, we wouldn’t want to tempt Spielberg or Lucas to explore it in another prequel.
3. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, The Simpsons
Showcasing his talent as a voice actor, Mark Hamill plays himself dressed as Luke Skywalker for Springfield’s Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con in the episode “Mayored to the Mob.” In the middle of his cash-grab pitch for Sprint, Hamill is surrounded by rampaging nerds and requires the bodyguard assistance of Homer to escape — but not without faking an injury so that he can be carried outside to safety. Hilariously self-deprecating with some great takedowns of convention-goers, the guest spot has us wondering if Carrie Fisher ever wanted to stop by The Town With No Discernible State.
2. Everyone in Spaceballs
Cosplay doesn’t always have to be dead-on accurate down to every detail. Occasionally, the inspiration allows the wearer to broaden the scope to include, say, a nebbish and bespectacled version of Anakin Skywalker in an oversized Vader helmet. Mel Brooks’ take on the Star Wars franchise offers up a rich series of classic gags and performances by Joan Rivers, John Candy, and Dom DeLuise, who plays crime boss Pizza the Hutt. Very silly, very goofy, but definitely funny.
1. Diehard Star Wars fans as Triumph’s unwitting targets, Late Night with Conan O’Brien
It wasn’t too long ago that being a nerd actually earned you ridicule and scorn rather than a shared celebration of a work with another stranger. And managing to squeeze in one giant verbal wedgie before the entire world turned into geeky, Robert Smigel slipped on his Triumph the Insult Comic Dog hand puppet and visited the line outside the Attack of the Clones premiere for a classic segment on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Fans — as well as the Conan audience — were unprepared for Smigel’s barrage of putdowns, the best of which involve Vader’s chest button panel and the lifelong virginity of an unborn child. Brutally funny, this is both Smigel and Star Wars fandom as their very best.