Rancors are semi-sentient reptiles that appear in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Measuring up to five meters (over 15 feet tall) or more, they were generally benign but could be driven to madness and violence if abused and mistreated.
Rancors were originally native to the planet Dathomir, which is the home of the Nightsisters, the Force-sensitive witches who ruled the planet. The Nightsisters often tamed and trained rancors as mounts. There were many subspecies of rancor, and these were found on different worlds where they had been imported long ago; jungle rancors lived on Felucia, and the more common rancors were found on other worlds such as Tatooine, though they were rarer there due to the harsher desert conditions. Two rare variants besides these existed: the rage rancor, and the shadow rancor. Both were extremely dangerous and more belligerent than the normal and jungle rancors.
Rancors when wild were generally dangerous only when startled or hungry. When tamed, they could bond easily with people, and could even love their keepers. However, if mistreated or starved, rancors could be driven to viciousness, as was the case of Pateesa, a rancor owned by Jabba the Hutt. Jabba preferred to feed people who displeased him to Pateesa, but the rancor suffered needlessly due to Jabba often starving him so as to encourage the rancor to eat his enemies. This forced Luke Skywalker to reluctantly kill the rancor out of self-preservation and needing to put the mistreated animal out of his misery. The rage rancor and shadow rancor were naturally aggressive by comparison, and were avoided at all costs when possible.
Rancors had tough, leathery skin, long arms and sharp claws on 4-fingered hands. They had short snouts filled with sharp teeth for eating meat, and their eyes were small in relation to their body size, while their nostrils were large. Rancors had different skin color depending on the subspecies; the jungle rancor had the brighter coloring on its skin; orange spikes over a shell of blue and grey skin with red eyes, and a noticeable beak. In many respects, its proportions were more turtle-like than a normal rancor's. It was also the largest and fastest rancor subspecies, able to move surprisingly fast for a creature its size (over 40 feet tall). Normal rancors were greenish brown in color. The rage and shadow rancors were generally gray and drab, but where the shadow rancor resembled a darker version of a normal rancor, the much larger rage rancor was even bigger and more extreme; it had massive spikes on its body and tusks coming out of its cheeks.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Pateesa, Jabba's rancor, appeared in the film when Jabba dropped the twi-lek slave Oola into his lair. Pateesa quickly ate her, causing the onlooking Jabba and his minions to cheer the rancor on in entertainment. Jabba later would drop Luke Skywalker into the rancor's pit, along with an unfortunate Gamorrean named Jubnuk. Pateesa ate Jubnuk before attacking Luke, who held off the rancor long enough to send the door to Pateesa's small holding pen crashing down on the rancor, killing him and putting Pateesa out of his misery, as he had been mistreated too long to ever be retrained.
A small herd of jungle rancors appears in the second season of the series, specifically episode 17: "Bounty Hunters". Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano watched the rancors pass them by after crash-landing on Felucia, and left the area quickly afterwards, making sure not to startle the enormous beasts.
- It is never specified who designed the rancor for Return of the Jedi.
- The rancor's sounds were created using dachshund and elephant sounds.
- A jungle rancor also appears in a deleted scene of the film "Star Wars: The Clone Wars", in which Anakin fights Asajj Ventress atop its back.
- The rancor was supposedly deigned after one of the design team "mixed a bear with a potato".