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The Best Star Wars Moments Of The Last Decade

Once 2005's Revenge of the Sith ended, it was fair to think we wouldn't be getting many more stories from the Star Wars universe besides video games and the occasional animated series. But once Disney acquired the Star Wars brand, things changed quickly. Between Disney's multi-billion dollar purchase back in 2012 and the end of the decade, there were five feature-length films, another animated series, more video games, a resurgence of Marvel's Star Wars comics, and the first of what will likely be many live-action original series on the Disney+ streaming service. 

Perhaps most significantly, general audiences have been exposed to more of the Star Wars mythos that exists outside the so-called "Skywalker Saga." The darker corners of Star Wars found in the suicide mission of 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or in Disney+'s The Mandalorian used to be the exclusive stomping grounds for only the most hardcore fans. Now they're such huge hits that even people who haven't seen The Mandalorian are melting over the cuteness of Baby Yoda.

So once again, Star Wars stands huge in popular culture, and it doesn't look to be fading away into a Force ghost anytime soon. While opinions always differ, the 2010s have given us scenes that undoubtedly made fans cheer or cry in theater seats and living rooms. Here's our assessment of the best Star Wars moments of this last decade. 

Luke Skywalker returns in a truly memorable Star Wars moment

If you took a survey about what questions most fans were asking themselves upon first watching 2015's The Force Awakens, one of the top choices — if not the top — would have to be the same question most of the characters struggled with throughout the film: "Where's Luke?" We got Han and Chewie. We got Leia. We even got the droids. But the Jedi hero of Episode IV through VI was nowhere to be seen for most of The Force Awakens, and it was enough to make you wonder if he was going to show up at all. 

Luke's eventual portrayal in The Last Jedi would not be met with universal praise. But the moment at the end of The Force Awakens in which Rey finally meets the Jedi master is wonderfully done. After finding all the pieces of Luke's map and landing on the remote island where Skywalker is hiding out, Rey climbs a crest to find him a hooded, cloaked figure. As she holds out the lightsaber to him, Luke throws back his hood and says nothing. 

It's a perfect ending that leaves you wanting more. You want to know why he's on the island, why he left the map fragments to be found, and whether or not he has any idea what's been happening in his absence. Heck, you just want to know what his voice sounds like these days.

The Porgs arrive in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi would attract no end of fandom controversy for more reasons than we care to list here. But the film brought one new addition to the Star Wars universe was that was an unquestionable success — the Porgs. The little, screeching fluffballs were in a lot of the Last Jedi advertising, with one brave Porg in particular belting out an absolutely adorable battle cry on the Millennium Falcon's dashboard. 

Now, Star Wars has no shortage of adorable aliens designed for comic relief and Christmas merchandising. And like one of their narrative ancestors, the Ewoks, the Porgs got their share of bashing on the web once they started popping up as Chewbacca's co-pilots in The Last Jedi TV spots. But one of the things that makes the Porgs' introduction to Star Wars different than other cuties — and, honestly, a little more disturbing — is that at first, they're food. Chewie starts off seeing the little guys as no more than snacks, but they eventually win him over so hard that he lets them on the ship. 

You have to admit, that's kind of awesome. They were the movie's "cuties," and they begin as hero food. It isn't like any of the heroes started off eating Ewoks or Baby Yoda. In Return of the Jedi, if you remember, the Ewoks are the ones who want to eat the heroes. Oh, how the roasting spits have turned.

Mando meets Baby Yoda in one of the last decade's cutest scenes

We would be a whole pack of scruffy-lookin' nerfherders if we didn't mention perhaps the most awww-inspiring and merchandise-promising Star Wars moment of the decade — the Baby Yoda reveal. 

Unless you're spoiled by the social media gifs and memes about the cute frog-muncher — which is possible if not, at this point, likely — you have no idea going into the first episode of Disney+'s The Mandalorian that it's going to end with a cooing, little Yoda-like baby. Everything about the series feels like a bleak Western classic or a bloody samurai epic, with its hero being a gun-for-hire who takes work from remnants of the Empire. Even the character who proves to be one of Mando's closest allies, the diminutive Kuiil, helps the bounty hunter in large part to stop people like Mando from coming to his home. Once Mando and the killer droid IG-11 fight their way past the target's guards, it's a genuinely jaw-dropping surprise to learn their target is an infant in a floating egg — a member of the late Yoda's mysterious species. 

The reveal was an absolute master stroke, and the shot of Baby Yoda's little green hand reaching for Mando's gloved finger is sure to be burned into Star Wars' fans memories for years to come. 

Han and Chewie come home

The Force Awakens brought with it the heartbreaking death of one of the original trilogy's favorite heroes, the original scruffy-lookin' nerf-herder himself, Han Solo. 

But before Han proves he hasn't learned the important lesson of staying off catwalks over bottomless shafts, the smuggler returns to the movie screen exactly as he should. With Rey and Finn having stolen the Millennium Falcon while escaping Jakku, they're later grabbed by who they initially think is the First Order but proves to be a fan-favorite duo hauling carnivorous beasts. Before our younger heroes can do anything to stop them, Han and Chewie pull the Falcon into their hangar with a tractor beam. After an ominous series of clangs and bangs, Han and Chewie storm onto the legendary ship with guns drawn. Once they don't see anyone, Han relaxes a little, smiles, and says, "Chewie ... we're home."

It's an awesome moment, particularly for fans of the original films. It doesn't come as much of a surprise, as Han's line was heavily used in the promotional lead up to The Force Awakens. But it's still tough not to cheer at least a little when the line is delivered.  

Rogue One's most powerful moment

With the exception of the digital Princess Leia's cameo, the closest we get to a Jedi hero in 2016's Rogue One is the warrior-monk Chirrut Îmwe. Chirrut is not a Jedi himself, but as a member of a religious order charged with protecting the Temple of Kyber, Chirrut understands the Force better than any of the heroes of Rogue One. Shortly after we first meet him, in spite of his blindness, Chirrut beats the tar out of a squad of Stormtroopers harassing Jynn and Cassian.

Throughout the film, he repeats the phrase, "I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me," often to the irritation of Chirrut's friend (and possibly more), Baze. It's precisely this phrase that Chirrut repeats over and over in the climactic scene of the film, when he makes it possible for the heroes to contact the Rebel fleet fighting in orbit. In spite of the console being on the other side of a no man's land filled with laser fire, Chirrut picks up his staff and repeats, "I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me," while walking into a storm of gun blasts. Miraculously, he survives the long walk to the console and hits the right switches, allowing Bodhi to contact the Rebel fleet and let them know to take down the Scariff planetary shield in order to receive the Death Star plans. Unfortunately, Chirrut dies moments later when the console is destroyed, but his sacrifice remains one of the most touching and iconic moments of the film. 

Leia uses the Force

Ever since it was revealed in Return of the Jedi that Leia was Luke Skywalker's twin sister and had the same Force potential within her, fans have wondered if we'd ever see Leia the Jedi. Before Episode VIII, we only see brief moments of Leia's intuition. When Luke tells her that she's his sister in Return of the Jedi, she tells him somehow she's always known. Later, in The Force Awakens, it's clear Leia is able to feel the moment her son murders Han Solo, much as Yoda reels in Revenge of the Sith when so many Jedi die as a result of Order 66. 

However, we see the true extent of Leia's powers in The Last Jedi. When Kylo Ren targets the bridge of Leia's ship — killing, among others, Admiral Ackbar — Leia is sucked into the deadly vacuum of space. Miraculously, she's able tap into her Force potential long enough to survive and actually pull herself back to the safety of her ship. Granted, a lot of hardcore Star Wars fans weren't thrilled with it, but for everybody else, it was a huge crowd-pleaser. 

IG-11 shows us how droids can kill

Anyone who's been fortunate to learn how hilarious actor/director Taika Waititi is in movies like the Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, or the 2019 satire Jojo Rabbit had to be excited about the actor's voice work for The Mandalorian's bounty hunter droid IG-11. The unveiling doesn't disappoint, as it was one of the best moments of the series.

During a thrilling shoot-out, IG-11 easily brushes aside the asset's guards (at least, at first), and his droid body allows him to attack in multiple directions simultaneously while reacting to numerous assaults. Once Mando shows up, IG-11's more comic side comes out. First, there's the droid's stubborn refusal to stop negotiating with Mando abut the "reputation credit" for the job, even though the both of them are still dodging laser fire. Then there's the droid's annoying habit of "initiating self-destruct sequence" pretty much any time things look even a little difficult for him and Mando. Still, there's no denying that IG-11 can hold his own, and the droid gave us one of the best Star Wars action scenes of the decade.

Han wins the Falcon in Solo: A Star Wars Story

One of the best things about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that it gives us a lot of the Millennium Falcon. Still, for anyone who's seen the original trilogy, they're just waiting to find out when young Han is going to win the thing from Lando already. 

If you've watched The Empire Strikes Back, then you know Han won the Falcon "fair and square" in a card game from Lando Calrissian. Once we find the younger versions of both scoundrels looking at each other from across a card table, we think we're finally about to see Han's famous win ... but we're wrong. At least, at first. Han's luck runs out at his first game of sabacc with Lando, but he joins Beckett's crew anyway. 

Lando later leaves Han and his friends high and dry when it looks like the Marauders are about to take them out, but Han doesn't forget the ship he fell in love with. In the final moments of the film, Han tracks Lando down, snatches the card from the sleeve gadget Lando thinks no one can see, and truly beats the rival smuggler fair and square. It was the perfect note to end Solo on, and it felt exactly how the card showdown between these two reluctant heroes should've played out. 

Rey defeats Kylo in one of Star Wars' best lightsaber duels

By the time your first viewing The Force Awakens is over, you're probably wanting nothing more than to see Chewie ripping Kylo Ren's arms off and feeding them to him. We've watched the villain not only torture and murder innocents, but we've been forced to witness of the most heart-rending moments in Star Wars — the murder of Han Solo at the hands of his son.

But after killing Han and almost murdering Finn, Kylo Ren gets his just desserts on the snowy surface of Starkiller Base, when Rey teaches him exactly what a Jedi is. Better still, she does it with Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber, a weapon that Kylo claims belongs to him. The moment Rey is able to reach deep within herself and achieve the calm and confidence she needs to defeat Han Solo's murderer is one of the most powerful scenes of the new trilogy. Plus, it's a truly beautiful shot.

It's that much more powerful when you remember that no one in the audience knew exactly who the Jedi in this movie was going to be. There was a lot of smart misdirection going on into the promotional lead up to The Force Awakens. Most of the trailers and TV spots showed Finn, not Rey, wielding Anakin's blue lightsaber, even going so far to feature shots of the short duel between Finn and Kylo. 

Vader massacres the Rebels

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn't a movie with a lot of lightsaber duels. There are no colorful Sith/Jedi clashes and no conflicting politics within the Jedi Council. Regardless, Darth Vader makes two cool appearances, perhaps most memorably in a hallway slaughter scene where he boards the Rebel command ship and relentlessly cuts down the troops who've just successfully uploaded the Death Star plans. 

The plans survive the hallway attack, but none of the Rebels in the hallway do. Most of the Rebels in the following hallway don't live, either. One finally races through the airlock of the Tantive IV, which just barely has time to detach with Princess Leia on board. Ironically, while Vader doesn't feature much in Rogue One, this scene is arguably the single most brutal Vader scene in the history of Star Wars. And, if you can believe it, there's an even more violent version of the scene that you can find on the Blu-ray.

In a way, this was a scene Darth Vader very much needed. After watching the three prequels which were filled with masterfully choreographed lightsaber duels, going back and watch the comparatively stiff, lumbering Darth Vader can sometimes make you wonder how he was ever a threat. The Rogue One hallway scene reminds you of exactly what this monster is capable of. 

She's never really gone

Carrie Fisher tragically died one year before the release The Last Jedi — a fact that can't help but lend heartbreaking power to certain scenes. Fans and critics may always be divided over the quality of the film, but regardless of feelings about the movie, you've got to have some heartstrings pulled when Luke tells Leia that "no one's ever really gone" before kissing her tenderly on her forehead. 

The moment is a bit of serendipity. It wasn't planned ... at least least the kiss wasn't. Mark Hamill told Entertainment Tonight that he spontaneously decided "in the take" to do it, saying, "It just happened." However, that the crew wasn't ready for it, but they told him to do it again. 

Hamill said the scene was "really momentous" for him "because Luke was saying goodbye to his sister forever." And unfortunately, Hamill lost his friend Fisher before the scene was shown in theaters. Hamill said that because of the loss, he still can't watch the scene. "She'll be forever missed," Hamill said, "and she's irreplaceable."

One of the best Star Wars moments of the last decade took place on a talk show

Perhaps one of the best things about the new trilogy is that Mark Hamill shows up on more talk shows, and he always uses the opportunity to gives us some great anecdotes about the making of the original Star Wars trilogy. One of the most memorable examples not only reminds us of what keeping spoilers a secret was like before the age of the internet, but it also shows us what a fantastic impression Mark Hamill can do of Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford. 

On a 2017 episode of The Graham Norton Show, Hamill talks about how he was one of the only people who knew that Darth Vader would be revealed to be Luke's father. According to Hamill, an alternate scene was filmed in which Vader instead tells Luke that Obi-Wan Kenobi killed his father, and Hamill had to keep the real twist a secret from the rest of the cast. So, as Hamill tells it, a year and a half later at the screening for Empire, after the famous scene, Harrison Ford turned to Hamill and said, "Hey, kid, you didn't f—– tell me that." But when relaying the story to Graham Norton, the voice Hamill delivers the line in is perfect Harrison Ford. We knew Mark Hamill was great at voices, but we had no idea he could do Luke's voice and Han's voice, too. 

Luke shows his lightsaber more respect

Having died toward the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker's Force ghost returns in The Rise of Skywalker and his entrance is perfect. Believing she's lost any chance of finding the hidden Sith planet of Exegol and fearing her potential for turning to the dark side, Rey swipes Kylo Ren's TIE fighter and flies to Ahch-To, the planet where she finally discovered the disillusioned Luke Skywalker in the closing moments of The Force Awakens. After she intentionally crashes the craft, the TIE fighter is being destroyed in a raging fire when Rey takes out Luke's old lightsaber. She hurls it at the fire, only to see Luke's hand reach out and grab the weapon.

It's a powerful call back to the the early scene in The Last Jedi when, after being offered his old lightsaber by Rey, Luke flings it behind him like garbage. Now, in the afterlife, Luke's clearly got a different perspective. If we still don't get the reference, Luke's Force ghost drives the point home by telling Rey that "a Jedi's weapon deserves more respect." And in case the scene doesn't already have fans applauding, Luke uses the Force to lift his submerged X-wing out of the water so Rey can use it get to Exegol. We're immediately reminded of a similar act that he fails at in The Empire Strikes Back, earning him a hard lesson from Yoda.  

The Resistance gets some backup

In the battle above the Sith planet Exegol during The Rise of Skywalker, things are looking bad for the Resistance. Reinforcements haven't arrived from the Galactic Core, and the good guys are running out of ships. A hopeless, defeated Poe is apologizing to his fellow Resistance pilots over the coms when finally the Millennium Falcon arrives with a massive fleet that would make just about any Stormtrooper soil their armor. 

The shot introducing the fleet is beautiful, and the scope of the gathering is epic. It has to be one of the largest fleets on screen in the history of Star Wars, if not the largest. And throughout the Skywalker saga, the heroes are constantly tackling endless numbers of enemy ships with what always seems like just a handful of pilots. Often, they only get about five minutes to plan an attack and herd everyone to the flight deck. Huge chunks of The Last Jedi is spent watching as the Resistance fleet is whittled away to nothing. So it makes it that much more powerful when the saga ends with the emergence of a fleet that looks like it could eat the Death Star and ask for seconds.

All the Jedi help Rey in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

At the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey finds herself physically alone in her confrontation with Emperor Palpatine, but in every other way, she's got plenty of company. Just like we found her chanting in the beginning of the film, Rey repeats the phrase "be with me," and finally, she gets an answer that reaches back to every corner of the Skywalker saga. The filmmakers gather an army of Jedi voices from the live-action films and the fan-favorite animated series, all assuring Rey they're with her.

You might not be able to distinguish them all from one another, but the credits confirm that from the live-action trilogies we hear Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Frank Oz as Yoda, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, and Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn. From the animated series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, the chorus includes Angelique Perrin as Adi Gallia, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus, Jennifer Hale as Aayla Secura, and Olivia D'Abo as Luminara Unduli. If anything was ever meant to be a love letter to Star Wars fans, this is it. Bringing together so many voices for a single scene is something no one expected. And the chorus of Jedi ends with Rey using Luke and Leia's crossed lightsabers — as well as the power of all the Jedi who came before her — to bring a satisfyingly final destruction to Emperor Palpatine.