Death in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
The Most Emotional Deaths of the Saga
No one likes to watch their favorite characters die, myself included. The more you care about the character, the more the death hits home. It can be like watching a beloved friend die. The more emotional the death scene, for whatever reason, the more emotion we, as the viewers, feel. With Rogue One ending in such a high death count, I felt it was time the deaths of the Saga were ranked. These are my rankings, so you may disagree with where I’ve placed a specific character, but I’m going by how the death’s affected me. I was hoping for a top ten list, but I only came up with nine. Note: Spoilers for the films, The Clone Wars animated series and the book Dark Disciple.
9. Obi-Wan Kenobi
I was three when I first saw Star Wars after checking it out of my local library. I don’t remember being shocked when Obi-Wan died. I think, even at that young age, I understood what his body disappearing in the way that it did meant. It wasn’t until I got older that I truly understood that Obi-Wan was sacrificing himself for Luke, Leia, and the cause. However, since I had seen the death hundreds of times by this point, it didn’t impact me emotionally the way it might have had I seen it for the first time at an older age.
8. Han Solo
As a Han Solo fan, I can’t believe I’m ranking this one so low. Han’s death is a pivotal moment in The Force Awakens and is witnessed by Rey, Finn, and Chewie. However, I saw it coming a mile away. As soon as he took that first step towards his son, I started shaking my head and hoping they weren’t going to go for such an obviously set up kill shot. And they did. I was understandably upset, still am. I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw this death coming. What makes this death emotional though is not only that Han is a fan fave, but that his own son killed him. I know you can debate weather Kylo deliberately killed him, or if Han allowed himself to be killed, but that’s a discussion for another post.
7. Padme Amidala
Going into the Prequel Trilogy, I had a feeling Padme would meet a dark end and I was right. Despite the fact that Leia mentions remembering her mother, Padme dies tragically giving birth to her twin children. The explanation given is that for reasons the droids can’t explain they are “losing her.” If the explanation hadn’t been a “broken heart” I think this death would have had a bigger emotional impact on nineteen-year-old me. Instead, I felt it was a cop out. I’ve since read a theory that states that Palpatine drained her of life while she was giving birth in order to keep Vader alive through his cyborg procedures, and to ensure that she died. The secret of the Sith Vader had been hoping to learn to save Padme, actually killed her. It would explain why the droids had no explanation for her dying, and give this death a more hefty emotional weight. However, it wouldn’t change the predictability of this death.
6. Shmi Skywalker
Unlike the last two deaths, I didn’t see this one coming. While I was hopeful we’d see Shmi again, I was generally surprised when we did. I also did not count on her dying in Anakin’s arms. I was hoping for a joyful reunion, not a tearful one that pulls at the heartstrings in a totally different way. Not only does this scene have the impact of Shmi’s death, but it is the impetus for Anakin giving into his darker emotions and killing in cold blood for the first time. Her death was shocking, and lead to even more death earning this one a middle spot on my list.
5. Qui-Gon Jin
This was the first death in Star Wars that really hit me. I liked the wizened master and to this day I don’t like this scene. I remember being shocked and angry that this charcter died. I’m pretty sure I let out my own silent “No!” when watching in the theater. I could feel just how upset Obi-Wan was in that moment. To thirteen-year-old me, only the bad guys died in the end. We knew Obi-Wan trained Anakin and not Qui-Gon, but I didn’t see why he had to die. I still don’t. I truly think that Qui-Gon’s wisdom and council would have gone a long way to help Anakin during his training. Then there’s the fact that poor Obi-Wan had to watch his Master be run through, unable to help him. A double impact for this one for the loss of life and the loss of wisdom and understanding Qui-Gon brought to the Order.
4. The Crew of ‘Rogue One’
Oh, man. I knew there would be some loss of life in Rogue One. How could there not be on such a high stakes mission? But all of them?! ALL of them! Six months later and I’m still angry at that ending. I was stunned and shocked as one after another they died, albeit a little less shocked each time as I began to realize what was happening. If I had been at home, I would have been yelling at the screen. I’m pretty sure I did yell at the screen the last time I re-watched it. Brodhi and Chirrut’s death’s get me every time. I hate that Baze sees the explosion from their ship and resigns himself to die too. As for Jyn and Cassian, that last moment of them embracing and also resigning themselves to their fate is almost too much. I wanted them at least to live. I kept thinking they might be Rey’s parent’s, but that theory was literally blown to bits. What makes it worse is the explanation that they were all killed because they aren’t in the original movies. I left they theater in such a state I had to get home and watch the original as soon as possible. Their deaths had such an impact on one of my best friends, who is not a big Star Wars fan, that she texted me after watching the movie in shock as well saying it had renewed her interest in the saga.
Yes, I’m putting his death separate from the rest of the crew. When K2 was shot and fell over, reduced to nothing more than a smoking hulk of metal I audibly gasped I was so shocked. As did the person sitting next to me in the theater. I remember thinking “Did they just kill a droid?” I don’t think anyone was expecting the droid who said the first thing that came into his circuits to “die”. He’s a droid after all, and so far the only droids we’ve seen die have been Battle Droids. But K2 not only fought bravely to protect Cassian and Jyn so that they would have the time they needed to find the Death Star plans, his final act is to seal them in and sacrifice himself for their safety. He even says goodbye after giving them final instructions on how to get out. I’m tearing up just thinking about this scene as I write this.
2. Asajj Ventress
This is the only death that does not appear on screen. Instead, it happens in the novel Dark Disciple which was adapted from unused episodes of The Clone Wars. I’ve never been a fan of dark side characters, however I enjoyed Ventress’s evolution over the five seasons of the show from Sith apprentice, to dark acolyte, to bounty hunter. She was definitely an intriguing character. After reading this book though, she’s now gained more of my respect, especially given the circumstances of her death. An emotional scene that has earned her the number two spot on my list.
While on a doomed mission to take out Count Dooku, Ventress meets, teams up with, and subsequently falls in love with Jedi Master Quinlan Vos. In the book’s climax, after failing to turn Quinlan back from the dark side, she sacrificed herself, taking the full impact of a very vicious bit of Force Lightning. She then spends her last breaths dying in her lover’s arms. Talk about tragic. The death is worthy of Shakespeare really in terms of it’s emotional impact. The act has the intended consequence of bringing Quinlan back to the light, as well as bringing herself back to the light. It also represents the loss of everything that could have been. A Jedi and a former Sith in love, willing to leave everything behind to be together, but tragically torn from one another is not something I ever expected to see. I read this part over my lunch break and was left reeling afterwards, and I had to be on the reference desk. A Jedi brought back to the light, but at the cost of the life of the woman he loved and the future they wished they could have together. Emotional and tragic. I also couldn’t help but notice that Obi-Wan is silently watching the final exchange between Asajj and Quinlan, no doubt understanding exactly how his old friend feels. Which brings me to my number one death.
- Duchess Satine Kryze
I quickly became a fan of Obi-Wan and Satine’s relationship in The Clone Wars. The idea that Obi-Wan, who seemed so straight laced at first meeting, could have fallen in love as a younger man was more than intriguing. It meant he wasn’t that different from his Padawan. The fact that he admits that he would have left the Order for her shows how much Obi-Wan loved Satine.
But then there was that death scene. Late in season five, Satine fell victim to a political coup and becomes a pawn in a game she didn’t know she was playing. The Sith Lord Darth Maul hijacks Pre Vizla’s coup by killing him in a duel. He then uses Satine as bait to lure Obi-Wan to Mandalore. Obi-Wan is forced to watch as Maul once again kills someone he loves. However, Maul’s attempt to “destroy” Obi-Wan by taunting him so that he will give in to his darker emotions fails. Unlike his Padawan, Obi-Wan solemnly accepts Satine’s death in what I think is the most heartbreaking scene in the saga. Satine confesses her undying love for Obi-Wan, but dies before he can say anything in return. Even more so than Assaj’s death, it’s like a scene out of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Two lovers who chose duty over love, only to be used against one another resulting in one of their deaths in a heartbreaking scene. Definitely Shakespearean, and it packs one hell of an emotional punch.
Well that is my list! Which death in the Saga gets you all emotional? Do you agree or disagree?