A Guide to Star Wars Imperial Ranks

Star Wars Imperial Ranks

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Star Wars may have been a simple story of good versus evil back in 1977, but the franchise has become one of the most well-documented and detailed in all of popular culture. There are countless Star Wars shows, novels, and video games that establish the ground rules for Jedi ranks as well as the Sith, and the Galactic Empire is no different. If anything, the oppressive autocracy is one of the most fleshed out organizations in the entire franchise.

It makes sense why. The Galactic Empire was partially based on the Third Reich, and the rankings for Imperial officers mirror the way that rankings are given to real life officers. There are quite a few rankings to keep track of, however, so we decided to break them down and pinpoint a few notable characteristics (and examples) for each. Before you know it, you’ll be able to identify Captains and Admirals on sight.

The Galactic Empire has both an army and navy, and while there is overlap in terms of rank, there are some minor differences between the two in terms of how they are identified. The Imperial Officer ranks are detailed below from lowest to highest.


Midshipmen/Ensign Imperial officer from Star Wars

Midshipmen is the lowest possible rank, and is generally reserved for newcomers. The badge for a Midshipmen is predictably simple, as it consists of one red square and one blue square. There haven’t been many examples of prominent midshipmen characters in the Star Wars franchise, because they have little say in the decision-making process. Their low rank also makes them undesirable targets for the rebels,  who would not get very far if they were to impersonate a Midshipmen or ensign.


Imperial Lieutenants Dedra Meero and Sheckil
Imperial Lieutenants Dedra Meero and Sheckil

The Lieutenant badge is one of the easiest to recognize from a visual standpoint. A Lieutenant wears a three-tile badge on their uniform, though the color of the badge varies depending on whether they are in the Imperial Navy or Army. An Imperial Navy badge has two blue titles and one red, while the Imperial Army badge has two red tiles and one blue. 

One of the earliest examples of a Lieutenant is Sheckil (Jeremy Bulloch), who appears in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). A more recent and prominent example of an Imperial Lieutenant is Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), who played a complicated role in the first season of Andor (2022).


Imperial Captain Gilad Pellaeon from Star Wars
Captain Gilad Pellaeon

Captains and Colonels occupy the same level rank, but the former pertains to the army and the latter pertains to the navy. A Captain sports a badge containing three blue tiles and one red, while Colonel badges are made up of three red tiles and three blue ones. Tobias Beckett uses Captain colors to disguise himself in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).

Gilad Pellaeon is perhaps one of the most famous Captains in Star Wars history, as the character was introduced in the 1991 novel Heir to the Empire and has made animated and live-action appearances in the Star Wars shows Star Wars: Rebels and The Mandalorian, respectively.


Commodore Galen Erso
Commodore Galen Erso

Commodore and Brigadier are the army and navy equivalent of the same rank, and their badges are fairly close in design. A Commodore badge consists of four red tiles and four blue tiles, while a Brigadier badge sports two blue tiles followed by four red. The duties for both titles involve commanding large squadrons and reporting directly to Admirals.

A Commodore badge can be seen on the person of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson) during early scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). There are, unfortunately, no prominent examples of brigadiers in the franchise. Not yet, at least. 


Imperial Army General Orson Krennic and Admiral Wullf Yularen
Imperial Army General Orson Krennic and Admiral Wullf Yularen

General and Admiral are highly respected and sought after positions in the Galactic Empire. The General badge is notable for having six red tiles, while its Naval counterpart, the Admiral, has a badge with six blue tiles. There are slight variations when it comes to the subdivisions of these titles, including Lieutenant General and Vice Admiral, but the duties are largely similar.

Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the most iconic example of an Imperial Army General, and the six red tile badge can be seen on his uniform during the opening scene of the aforementioned Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Wullf Yularen was a prominent Admiral for a time, but he resigned in order to serve as a Colonel in the ISB, or the Imperial Security Bureau.

Moff/Grand Moff

Wilhuff Tarkin

Moff is an interesting title because it doesn’t really have a historical counterpart. It’s a term invented for Star Wars, and the badge meant to denote the position has never actually been shown onscreen, according to We do, however, have a badge design for the slightly elevated title of Grand Moff, thanks to the character of Wilhuff Tarkin (Peter Cushing).

As seen in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), the badge for Grand Moff consists of six blue tiles, three red and three yellow. It’s a lot, but it’s fitting given that the Grand Moff is tasked with commanding both the Army and Navy.

Grand General/Grand Admiral

Grand Admiral Thrawn

The highest known rank in the Star Wars universe is Grand General/Grand Admiral. The people who inhabit these titles are personally selected by the Emperor, and report directly to him. As such, the Emperor, or a proxy for the Emperor, are the only ones capable of giving orders to a Grand General/Grand Admiral.

The badge for the Grand General/General Admiral contains six blue tiles, three red tiles, and three yellow titles, much like the Moff badge. The only difference is that the blue titles are broken down into two smaller sections of three, as opposed to being arranged in one straight line. 

The most famous Grand Admiral is Thrawn, who was introduced in the Heir to the Empire novel trilogy (1991-93), and has continued to be a prominent figure through appearances in Star Wars Rebels (2014-18) and Ahsoka (2023).

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