With his distinctive fish-like skin, high-domed head, and large fish-like eyes, Ackbar was realized in Return of the Jedi through the use of a half-body puppet and slip-on mask, depending on the camera angles used. He was portrayed in the film by puppeteer Timothy D. Rose, who asked to play the part after he was impressed with a sculpt of the puppet. Ackbar was voiced by Erik Bauersfeld, who made up the voice he believed matched the character after looking at a photo of Ackbar.
His famous line "It's a trap!", which he says during a scene in Return of the Jedi, has become a popular Internet meme. Ackbar's first name, Gial, was not established until the April 2012 release of the Star Wars reference book The Essential Guide to Warfare.