- "Every day more bounty hunters are searching for me. I'm going to pay off Jabba before he sends any more of his remotes, Gank killers, and who knows what else. I've got to get this price off my head while I still have a head."
- ―Han Solo explains his departure from Echo Base to Leia Organa
Ganks, also known as Gank Killers, were a bloodthirsty, bipedal sentient species. Members of the species usually wore high-tech battle armor from head to foot, so to most non-Ganks their physical appearance remained unknown. Under the armor Ganks were hairy and powerful, with yellow, squarish faces and beady eyes. They sported cybernetic implants that allowed them to communicate with one another silently. Ganks were rarely seen alone, as they moved around in packs and worked together to accomplish their aims. They relished opportunities for violent mayhem and massacring others, a joy that only embellished their reputation as bloodthirsty killers.
Among the many mysteries surrounding the Ganks was the name of their true homeworld, since most members of the species resided on the Hutt-controlled industrial moon known as Nar Shaddaa. There they often were found working for Hutts—acting as mercenaries, bounty hunters, bodyguards, and assassins. They were infamous throughout the galaxy for their role in the Gank Massacres, when they were hired by Neimoidian traders to protect them from the ravages of the Porporite species, who were intent on gaining access to ryll spice. The Ganks wiped out the Porporites and then mounted a full-scale campaign of conquest against neighboring groups until stopped by the Jedi and the Galactic Republic.
Biology and appearance
- "I'll pass on attackin' a Jedi. Ain't ya got some easier job that needs doin', like takin' on a hundred Gank Killers?"
- ―Finhead Stonebone rejects Bogga the Hutt's suggestion that he kill Jedi Master Thon
The Ganks were a sentient humanoid species of fur-covered carnivores. The typical member of the species had a face that was squared-off and yellow in color, the expression trapped in a perpetual snarl that non-Ganks found unattractive. Small, mean-looking eyes peered from above the maw, and ears facilitated the sense of hearing. The head sat atop a thick neck, which emerged from between broad, strong shoulders. These capped two thickset, powerful arms, which terminated in hands with five fingers each. In contrast, their legs were relatively short; over all, the average member of the species stood 1.6 meters tall. Their heavy build afforded Ganks great strength, yet they were also spry runners. They augmented their bodies with cybernetics, making them a species of cyborgs. These implants allowed Ganks to engage in silent communication with their fellows.
Society and culture
- "This is from Smada the Hutt. It's your turn to disappear."
- ―A Gank Killer
Among members of other species, precious little was known about Gank culture well into the days of the New Republic. The exception was that the Ganks were fabled for their violent and ruthless nature; even the slightest perceived insult was enough to throw a Gank into a violent rage of retaliation. Outsiders similarly knew little of the organization of Gank society, or whether they had any central rulers at all. What was well known was that the Ganks were a war-loving and regimented species, whose members enjoyed occupations that allowed them to fight and shed blood, such as that of assassin, bodyguard, bounty hunter, and mercenary. They were in particular demand by the Hutts, who had enough Ganks on retainer to constitute a small army. Their warlike ways and physical strength ranked the Ganks among the galaxy's most redoubtable fighters. The species had no compunctions about premeditated murder, which lent them the nickname "Gank Killers."
Ganks rarely left any flesh exposed, so few non-Ganks had any idea what they truly looked like. They wore mechanized battle armor into combat. A typical suit consisted of cobbled-together pieces, such as a prolate spheroid-shaped helmet with small holes at the front and two thin poles emerging from each side. Other elements included pauldrons, a chestplate, a belt, a loincloth, pants, a holster, knee and elbow pads, gloves, knee-high boots, and small sheaths tied around the wrist to accommodate combat knives. From their necks some Ganks hung a variety of objects, including old teeth. They otherwise had access to technology on par with the rest of galactic society, such as vibroblades.
Ganks rarely traveled alone; they preferred to work in packs to achieve their goals. Although their society was divided into clans, they worked mostly in small groups of between two and five. Indeed, they worked so well together that sentientologists hypothesized that Ganks possessed at least basic telepathic abilities that allowed them to remain in constant communication with one another. However, no scientist was ever able to spend enough time in close proximity to a group of Ganks to prove or even provide evidence for the theory. Ganks tended to kill any outsiders who approached them—including nosy anthropologists. An exception was the Senior Anthropologist and Shi'ido shape-shifter Mammon Hoole, who used his species' natural shape-shifting ability to infiltrate a pack of Ganks long enough to determine that they communicated through cybernetic implants, thus granting them an edge over other possible bodyguard candidates for the wealthy Hutts of Nar Shaddaa, a moon of the Hutt homeworld, Nal Hutta.
Ganks communicated verbally as well; some spoke Galactic Basic Standard. They also communicated through gestures and sounds, such as laughing when amused, shrieking when frightened, grunting when in pain, and screaming when injured severely. A terrified Gank betrayed itself through the eyes.
The Ganks' original homeworld was unknown to outsiders. However, at some point in their history, members of the species voyaged to Nar Shaddaa, which, over time, became their adopted home. There they took to working for the Hutts as assassins, bodyguards, bounty hunters, guards, and mercenaries. Their lust for blood, their affinity for working together as an effective team, and their ability to communicate with each other through mechanized means made Ganks prized assets of many a Hutt gangster, so Ganks were frequently seen on the moon as part of Hutt entourages.
The Ganks became infamous for their violent ways during the Gank Massacres, which erupted in 4800 BBY. At the time, Neimoidian merchants discovered ryll spice on the planet Ryloth and cornered the market in its distribution. The monopoly agitated the Porporite species, for whom ryll was highly addictive, sending them into homicidal rages upon its consumption. Neighboring factions, including the Neimoidians themselves, hired the Ganks for protection from the Porporites and to eliminate the threat they posed. The Gank clans committed genocide on the spice-addicted species, completely wiping them out. Encouraged by their success, the Ganks then embarked on a full scale war against the Galactic Republic. Their uprising was put down in 4775 BBY by the Jedi and their Republic allies after Supreme Chancellor Vocatara sent a force of juggernaut war droids and the Rocket-Jumper Elite Advance Unit to stop them. The Neimoidians' use of Gank mercenaries rather than bounty hunters also constituted the first significant challenge to the dominance of the Bounty Hunters' Guild. In response, some guild members took a page from the Ganks and worked for whomever paid the most, eventually fracturing the guild as more hard-line members quit in disgust.
As early as 3999 BBY, the species had come to be known as "Gank Killers" due to their penchant for killing other sentients without remorse. During the Cold War, a period of unrest between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, the word "gank" was used as an insult in general galactic parlance. The species remained closely associated with the Hutts, although one group of Gank mercenaries moved into Imperial territory and geared up to pillage Empire-aligned planets. When the Sith Empire spotted them, they dispatched an operative to negotiate with the Ganks and persuade them to leave peacefully, thus avoiding hostilities between the Empire and the Hutts. The name "Gank Killer" remained current into the Clone Wars, when the Besalisk restauranteur Dexter Jettster punned that the sliders he sold at his diner on the planet Coruscant had "no additives or Gank fillers."
By the latter years of the Galactic Republic, most Ganks lived in the lowest levels of Nar Shaddaa. According to a legend that arose during the period and remained popular among Jedi Padawans, a group of fourteen Ganks once confronted the Korun Jedi Master Mace Windu, surrounding him with blasters drawn. Windu simply placed his hand on his lightsaber, looked each Gank in the eye, and said, "It's your decision." They dropped their weapons and turned themselves in to their would-be opponent. Some Jedi thought the tale apocryphal, but it became an integral part of Windu's mystique among the members of his order.
Galactic Civil War
- "Hoole, you're a fool! Do you think a few frontier settlers are a match for my Ganks!"
- ―Smada the Hutt and his Gank forces face off against Mammon Hoole and Enzeen villagers
After the rise of the Galactic Empire, Ganks remained an active threat in the galaxy. In one instance in 19 BBY, the Sullustan journalist Den Dhur accidentally bumped into a group of three Ganks on the streets of Coruscant while stumbling home drunk from a bar. One backhanded him and knocked him over, while another pulled a vibroknife on the Sullustan's prone body in the gutter. Just before the Gank could cut him, the droid I-5YQ came to Dhur's aid. Upon hearing the droid's threat, the Ganks silently agreed to flee.
During the Galactic Civil War, Ganks operated on several planets beyond Hutt Space. For instance, the Rodian bounty hunter Greedo noted Ganks in the Mos Eisley Cantina on the planet Tatooine when he visited that watering hole with Spurch Goa and Dyyz Nataz in 0 BBY. That same year, the Human siblings Tash and Zak Arranda ran afoul of Ganks and their employer, Smada the Hutt, on the planet D'vouran. In an effort to pressure the Arandas' caretaker, Mammon Hoole, to assassinate a target for him, Smada had a Gank thug assault Tash in the Don't Go Inn to underscore his message that Hoole must work for him. The timely intervention of the Human smuggler Han Solo, the Force-sensitive Luke Skywalker, and their companions convinced the Gank to release the girl and Smada to flee. Unperturbed, Smada used his Gank minions to accost the Aranda children again and again, eventually joining five Ganks on his hoversled to kill Zak and kidnap Tash, thus blackmailing Hoole into accepting Smada's offer of employment. Hoole arrived with twenty-four local villagers and convinced Smada to flee with his entourage. Smada continued his quest and sent a Gank assassin to shadow the children, who led the stalker to an abandoned laboratory, where they were accompanied by a local man named Kevreb Bebo, whom the Gank shot. The children fled, but Zak was captured and imprisoned in Smada's stronghold under guard by six Ganks. When Tash came to negotiate her brother's release, Smada and his Gank bodyguards were forced to take cover when they heard a krayt dragon roar—actually a trick by the droid DV-9, who came to the Arandas' rescue with the children's skimboard. The Ganks opened fire, but the children possessed a shield generator shaped like a pendant that protected them from blasterfire. Seeing his Ganks unable to leap high enough to seize the children, Smada shot the board itself, and the children disappeared. Smada and six Ganks located the quarry outside, where the Hutt ordered one Gank to capture the children. Instead, the Gank disappeared. The same fate befell the next Gank, who was swallowed up by the earth itself. The remaining five Ganks clambered aboard Smada's hoversled to avoid similar deaths, but the Hutt whipped all but one off with his tail, and the ground swallowed them up. The Enzeen villager Chood appeared and explained that D'vouran itself was consuming the Ganks. When the Enzeen attacked, the remaining Gank leapt off the sled and ran for the forest. The planet ate the Gank.
Two Ganks were hired by the Human Dominic Raynor to kill fellow Human gambler Lando Calrissian and his cyborg assistant, Lobot, less than two months after Calrissian became the Baron Administrator of Cloud City on the planet Bespin in 1 ABY. In 2 ABY, a Gank bounty hunter was hired by a Human counterpart named Thune to capture the Corellian smuggler Kaj Nedmak. The Gank loaded the prisoner in the back of a Y-wing starfighter and flew it to a rendezvous with Thune, who had captured the Human smugglers Celia Durasha and Treytis Prash and stolen their ship, the Faceted. As Thune brought Durasha out to meet the Gank, Nedmak attempted to escape, but the Gank overpowered him, bringing him to the Faceted on Thune's order. However, as the Gank ascended the gangway, Nedmak fell to his knees and tripped the Gank, who fell down the ramp. In the confusion, Durasha and Nedmak overwhelmed Thune and took her captive. Nonetheless, the Gank bounty hunter recovered, shot Durasha's hand, and ordered the two to release Thune. Durasha then retrieved her blaster and shot and killed the Gank.
Prior to the Battle of Hoth, Jabba the Hutt had Gank Killers in his employ. He sent some of them after Han Solo when the smuggler failed to pay back a debt he owed the crime lord. Solo cited the Ganks chasing him as one reason why he had to abandon the Alliance to Restore the Republic to settle up with Jabba in 3 ABY. Jabba enlisted Gank Killers to capture the police partners Spurch Goa and Thaffe, as well as Dyyz Nataz, a smuggler traveling with them while the investigators pursued a counterfeit ring. Unbeknownst to them, Jabba had set the ring up specifically to entrap the investigators, who had annoyed him with their frequent arrests of his associates. The Ganks captured the trio, brought them onto an ore hauler, and tortured Goa and Thaffe for hours to gain intelligence for their employer. The pair refused to divulge any sensitive information, however, so the Ganks instead decided to kill the police officers. They ordered the partners to play sabacc against one another to determine who would die first. Thaffe lost on purpose, prompting the Ganks to shoot him. Goa went berserk and escaped, and Nataz freed himself in the ensuing chaos. The prisoners overpowered and killed the Ganks and then used the ship to make their escape.
New Republic period and beyond
- "Shhh… Keep your voice down. It's Ganks! Those creeps work for the Hutts."
- ―Han Solo, to Leia Organa Solo on Nar Shaddaa
The Ganks maintained their mystique well after the rise of the New Republic due to their penchant for killing any researcher foolish enough to attempt to study them up close. One exception was the shape-shifting Shi'ido Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole, who managed to infiltrate a group of Gank Killers by changing his form to resemble theirs. Hoole had infringed on a Hutt's good graces, and the Hutt sent a group of Ganks after the scientist. Hoole turned a corner and assumed the form of his pursuers. When the group realized they had lost their target, they stopped to decide their next move. Hoole heard nothing, leading him to realize that the Ganks were able to maintain communication with one another through cybernetic implants. When they realized Hoole was an imposter, he transformed into a Rishii avian and flew away. Hoole later included an entry on the Ganks in his book The Essential Guide to Alien Species, in which he recounted his discovery.
Also in Hoole's book was a breakthrough in understanding Gank biology made by another researcher, Doctor Hira Deboota of the Coruscant State Coroner's office. During the regime of the New Republic, Deboota noticed after performing an autopsy on a member of the cybernetic Yaka species that the Yaka's implants were similar to those of the Ganks, albeit slightly more advanced. Deboota hypothesized that Gank circuitry was a prototype for the final implementation of the devices used in the Yakas, a species whose cybernetic heritage came when the Arkanian species experimented on them.
On a trip to Nar Shaddaa in 10 ABY, a group of Ganks teamed up with the Mandalorian bounty hunter Boba Fett to capture Han Solo and his family. Later that year, a group of Ganks working for the Hutts confronted Solo; his wife, Leia Organa Solo; and his former partner Salla Zend in Nar Shaddaa's Corellian Sector while the trio of Humans attempted to find a starship to take them to the Emperor's throneworld of Byss and to find the ancient Jedi Vima-Da-Boda. When the Ganks located the Solos, they demanded that the Humans surrender to the Hutts. Organa Solo unholstered her blaster and shot the pair of Ganks. When three more rushed to the scene, the Solos called their Wookiee partner, Chewbacca, to help. A rival gang of bounty hunters, also searching for the Solos, arrived and attacked the Gank Killers. In the fighting, the Ganks and bounty hunters wiped one another out, and their quarry escaped.
During the Yuuzhan Vong War, in 28 ABY, at least two Ganks joined the group of Yuuzhan Vong sympathizers known as the Peace Brigade. When a group of Jedi Knights reached the planet Ylesia and a battle broke out, the Ganks locked themselves in a bunker used by the Ylesian Senate. The Jedi Jaina Solo and Lowbacca infiltrated the bunker, and the Ganks opened fire. Lowbacca then bashed their heads together, ending the threat they posed.
Behind the scenes
- "I've got to pay off Jabba the Hutt or I'm a walking dead man […] there will be too many [bounty hunters] to stop… Remotes, Gank killers, even Bell Cambos."
- ―Han Solo explains his reasons for leaving Hoth in the second draft script for The Empire Strikes Back
The Ganks date to the second draft of the script for Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, revised by George Lucas from the first draft by Leigh Brackett on April 1, 1978. In it, Han Solo tells Leia Organa that he must leave the Rebel Alliance's base on the ice planet Hoth to pay off Jabba the Hutt. Organa protests, but Solo replies that if he fails to pay Jabba the money he owes him, "there will be just too many [bounty hunters] to stop… Remotes, Gank killers, even Bell Cambos." The line was altered before shooting in 1979, and the reference to Gank killers removed. Nevertheless, in his 1980 novelization of the film, writer Donald F. Glut included a variant of the line, as did Archie Goodwin in his 1980 comic book adaptation, thus preserving the reference. Solo's quote was repeated in The Empire Strikes Back Official Poster Monthly 5, also published that year.
Exactly what a "Gank killer" was remained unaddressed until issues 3 and 4 of the comic book series Star Wars: Dark Empire were published by Dark Horse Comics in 1991 and 1992, respectively. The comics, written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy, feature Hutt background characters with armored retainers. Although the comics never explicitly refer to these as Ganks, Bill Slavicsek's 1994 second edition and 2000 third edition of A Guide to the Star Wars Universe make such an identification. The species' background was expanded upon by Michael Allen Horne in 1993's Dark Empire Sourcebook and by Ann Margaret Lewis in 2001's The Essential Guide to Alien Species. The latter source includes an image of the species by R. K. Post. Ganks have since played minor roles in several Star Wars novels and stories, including John Whitman's Galaxy of Fear: Eaten Alive (1997), Walter Jon Williams' "The New Jedi Order: Ylesia" (2002), and Michael Reaves' Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight (2008).
Many sources, such as 1994's second edition of A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, are unclear as to whether the terms Gank and Gank Killer refer to the same thing, or whether the Gank Killers were a subset of the Gank species as a whole. However, 2000's third edition update to that book, also by Slavicsek, clarifies that the terms both refer to the species as a whole. The species is also mentioned in sourcebooks such as the Star Wars Encyclopedia, The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, and the codex of the 2011 video game Star Wars: The Old Republic.
- Tales of the Jedi 4 (Mentioned only)
- Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith 3 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan (Codex entry)
- Star Wars (1998) 17 (Mentioned only)
- (Mentioned only)
- Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
- A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale
- Galaxy of Fear: Eaten Alive
- Galaxy of Fear: Planet Plague
- Galaxy of Fear: The Brain Spiders
- (Mentioned only)
- "Crimson Bounty"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 14
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back novelization (First mentioned)
- Star Wars (1977) 39 (Mentioned only)
- Dark Empire 3 (First appearance)
- Dark Empire 4
- Dark Empire II 2
- Dark Empire II 3
- The New Jedi Order: Ylesia
- The Empire Strikes Back Official Poster Monthly 5
- Dark Empire Sourcebook
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
- "Straight from the Horse's Mouth: A Guide to the Tales of the Jedi Universe, Part 2"—Star Wars Insider 27
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Handbook 3: Dark Empire
- "When the Empire Struck Books"—Star Wars Insider 49
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
- The New Essential Chronology
- The New Essential Guide to Droids
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Galaxy at War
- The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
- The Bounty Hunter Code: From the Files of Boba Fett
- Lords of Nal Hutta
- Fly Casual