41 of The Most Shocking Moments of the Star Wars Films

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This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the entire Star Wars saga.

“Hey, kid.”

We were treated to a welcome scene when Han Solo’s memory appeared to Kylo Ren in The Rise of Skywalker. Welcome, yet surprising on at least two fronts. Han was dead, having been killed by Kylo two films earlier, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Harrison Ford, who played Han, also didn’t seem likely to return in the limited capacity he could. Ford didn’t like the character, wanting him dead three films earlier in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

The scene J.J. Abrams treated us to is just a continuation of shockers in the Star Wars saga. In Star Wars, we find it’s full of surprises. In fact, one of the components of that sweet Star Wars DNA, that makes Star Wars so enjoyable, are the surprises. Here are 41 of the most shocking moments in the films, in no particular order.

Darth Vader’s Big Reveal (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back)

Darth Vader threatens Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Here’s to perhaps the most shocking moment in not just Star Wars, but all of film. The big reveal of Luke’s real father. Just as shocking as it was so long ago.

Princess Leia Organa is Luke’s sister (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi)

Star Wars Flashback; Luke's sister
(Image: Lucasfilm ltd.)

Luke had taken romantic interest in Leia, so this was rather surprising.

Yoda pulls out a lightsaber (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones)

(photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

When Count Dooku calls for the display between he and Yoda over skills with a lightsaber, so many of us thought “What?! Yoda doesn’t have a lightsaber!” because we never saw him with one in the original trilogy.

The Natalie Portman/Keira Knightly Padme Amidala switcheroo (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace)

One of the savviest doings by a Lucasfilm team.

A resurrected Darth Maul appears (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

When Qi’ra went to receive instruction from the leader of Crimson Dawn, hardly anyone could have expected that Darth Maul would appear. Especially since Maul was dead, cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Maul was first seen resurrected in the television show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But that doesn’t mean that anyone expected the Crimson Dawn head to be Maul nor know how much Star Wars owner Disney was going to give a nod to television occurrences in the films.

Now, if a Star Wars version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the backdrop of the Empire could just start with a Darth Maul/Qi’ra film …

Palpatine is back (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Clone Palpatine; Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Not when the film he returned in, The Rise of Skywalker, started, but before it was known, before a trailer revealed it.

Star Wars Becomes A Horror Movie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

Scariest Star Wars Character; Lightsaber duel
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

He swept one soldier up to the ceiling, pulled three blasters out of soldiers’ hands all at once, and on top of that he moved down a hallway, mowing down more soldiers, even though he was amazingly outnumbered. Never had audiences seen the display Vader puts on at the end of Rogue One. It showed just how potent the Sith Lord was.

Obi-Wan Kenobi disappears (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope)

Obi-Wan Kenobi Series
A wary Ben Kenobi looks over Luke Sywalker and what should be a very familiar droid. (Image: Lucasfilm, Ltd.)

We did not know that some Jedi had the power to go to what Yoda describes as “the netherworld of the Force,” and thus disappear. But this is what happened in A New Hope as Darth Vader pressed his foot on the robe that was left behind.

Vader cuts off Luke’s hand (Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back)

lightsaber duels

Especially for children watching the film, it was surprising to see the hero lose his hand.

Han Solo’s memory appears to Kylo Ren (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Han Solo Jacket

Han was dead and couldn’t return as a Force ghost because he’s (probably) not Force-sensitive. Plus, Harrison Ford couldn’t have been expected to return since he wanted Han killed off previously.

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