Star Wars has its fair share of death and destruction mixed in with its fantastic space battles and lightsaber duels. Whether it’s a satisfying well deserved death for the evil foes or the sad emotional departure of one of our heroes, Star Wars pulls no punches when it comes to becoming one with the Force. Below is our ranking of deaths within the Star Wars universe. Each one makes the list for a different reason: sad, heroic, momentous, tragic. It can be hard to compare them to one another, so we went with our guts on this one.
12. Count Dooku
Dying in the opening act of the prequel’s finale, Dooku’s death was a remarkably meaningful one to the saga as a whole. Anakin’s dual lightsaber beheading of Dooku proved to be one of his first concrete steps towards the dark side. Forsaking the Jedi way of mercy and compassion, Anakin opts to relieve Dooku’s shoulders of his head. Story aside, it was a pretty cool moment… “Do It.”
11. Jyn Erso/Cassian Andor
Dying in each other’s arms on the beaches of Scarif. Romantic? Maybe… Epic? … Definitely! The final moments of Rogue One’s heroes deliver a tragic punch to the gut. Given only moments to savor their success, Jyn and Cassian bravely meet their fate knowing they have potentially saved billions of lives from the hand of the Empire.
10. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Realizing his part in the story had come to an end, Obi-Wan surrenders himself to Vader’s blade. What started on Mustafar was finished. The circle was now complete as apprentice struck down master. After becoming one with the Force, he is still able to play a large role in counseling Luke as he moves towards his eventual confrontation with his father. Ever the selfless Jedi, Obi-Wan proves it yet again.
9. Kanan Jarrus
What should have been a moment of triumph suddenly turns into one of tragedy. As the fuel cell below them explodes, Kanan summons all of the strength he can to hold the flames at bay so his “family” can escape. That last look between Hera and Kanan still gets us…
8. Sheev Palpatine (Death #1)
There’s something so satisfying about seeing Palpatine’s fortunes change in an instant. One moment he’s completely in control with his apprentice by his side. The next moment he’s being hurled down a bottomless shaft. It wouldn’t be the last we’d see of him, but it felt great for 36 years…
7. Han Solo
Everyone’s favorite smuggler dodged death for decades before being run through by his Son’s lightsaber. Even in his dying moments, he finds the strength to reach out and reassuringly touch his son’s face. An absolute tear-jerker if we’ve ever seen one. It turns out this unconditional love would play a part in Ben’s eventual redemption. He’s gone, but his memory lives on…
6. Leia Organa
Speaking of Ben’s redemption… the Princess turned General selflessly sacrificed herself to say one word to her son… “Ben”. This whispered plea ultimately led to the collapse of the façade of Kylo Ren. In one of the most emotional moments in Star Wars memory, Leia disappears and becomes one with the Force at the same moment her son does.
5. Luke Skywalker
After years in exile, Luke Skywalker triumphantly re-emerges in the Resistance’s most desperate hour. Confronting his fallen nephew, Luke never lands a blow. After revealing himself to be a Force vision, an enraged Kylo Ren realizes that his enemies have escaped. Luke’s body becomes one with the Force as the sun shines in the horizon. A fitting callback to the beginning of his journey.
We debated adding this one to the list. It’s just so tragic… but the weight of this moment can’t be denied. Anakin’s deception is shown to be complete when he willingly slaughters the future of the Jedi Order at his new master’s bidding. A chilling moment but a fitting visual for the darkness that had consumed him.
3. Order 66
We knew it was coming and we still weren’t ready. Granted this is more than one death, but the slow dark montage of the fall of the Jedi Order hits like one big death. Jedi after Jedi falls at the hands of their former brothers in arms. It’s a powerful moment that hammers home the new reality of a galaxy without the Jedi Order.
When 900 years old you reach… you die. Yoda’s final moments serve to finally give Luke Skywalker the truth he so desperately sought. Vader truly was his father and… there is another… he has a sister! Even though Luke is initially troubled by this information it turns out to be exactly what he needed to redeem Vader. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
1. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Could there really be anyone else in the top spot? The long-awaited redemption of the ‘Chosen One’ brings about the fulfilment of the ancient prophecy. For a brief moment, Anakin Skywalker returns to bring balance to the Force by destroying his former Sith Master. As Luke removes the mask to finally glimpse his father’s face, we see the truth and power of redemption personified. Luke’s refusal to make the same choices as his father finally broke the hold that Palpatine had on him.
Allegiant General Pryde – Engulfed in a fireball on his own command deck and blasted out the front window? Come on that’s just cool!
Captain Canady – He only had one more bomber to take out… You had one job, Canady! At least he had the guts to look death right in the face in his final moments.
Exploding Jawa – Okay, this one is more about that sweet Mandalorian rifle… but that Jawa had it coming…
Jabba – Strangled to death by the same chain he used to restrain Leia. Ironic…