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The Saddest Star Wars Moments Ever

As far as films go, the Star Wars saga isn't your typical screen fare, but instead, it's a multi-generational experience that's been with some moviegoers for their entire lives. As a result, Star Wars fans tend to have a unique connection to the series that heightens their emotional response to everything from specific movie moments to behind-the-scenes production dramas.

And while the Star Wars movies don't exactly deliver the emotional impact of, say, a Sophie's Choice or a Schindler's List, the audience has such a high level of attachment to the franchise that it's not uncommon for viewers to get hit in the feels. Sure, the Star Wars series might be a space adventure about wizards with light swords, and yes, it's had its fair share of questionable story choices, but the various installments have still been packed with moments that run the gamut between shocking and genuinely heartbreaking.

So today, we're taking a look at some of those moments that made fans weep and left audiences depressed. From tragic deaths to emotional meltdowns, here are the saddest Star Wars moments ever. (Beware, there are tons of spoilers below.)

The fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru proved Star Wars wasn't playing

In 1977, Star Wars IV: A New Hope (or, as it was called then, Star Wars) kicked off a cultural phenomenon that would eventually become one of the most successful franchises in the history of film. And a lot of the film's success was because the story was built around the reluctant heroism of a young Luke Skywalker, a farm boy who'd quickly become one of the most iconic characters ever. As all fans remember, Luke initially rejected Obi-Wan's call to adventure, citing concerns that Kenobi wisely called out for coming from the fledgling Jedi's Uncle Owen. A cranky old moisture farmer, Owen was of the opinion that it was better for Luke to keep his head down and remain working on the farm. 

Things changed quickly, however, when Luke returned home to find that his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had been slaughtered by Imperial Stormtroopers. Not only was this the very literal killing off of the ideas and roots that would've kept Luke on Tatooine, but it was the first time that we as an audience saw how real the stakes were in this new universe. It was a high-impact moment that showed us Star Wars wasn't going to be all weird aliens and quirky robots, and that the fight against evil would result in real victims.

Obi-Wan's death left Star Wars fans devastated

For most of us, A New Hope was our introduction to the Star Wars universe, and as the ball got rolling and we met our cast of central characters, it felt pretty safe to assume they'd be our heroes for the entire adventure. That went for Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi, too. After all, he was wise, he was powerful, and he could make Stormtroopers do pretty much anything with the wave of his hand. With his magical abilities and background as a Jedi Knight, it seemed that Obi-Wan would be sticking around for quite a while to train young Luke in the ways of the Force. 

But with one slash from his old apprentice Darth Vader, that assumption was proven wrong as Obi-wan disappeared mysteriously from his robe. This one hit hard, with Star Wars creator George Lucas showing us that the stakes were high and that no one was safe from Vader and his Imperial minions. In that terrible moment, Luke's cry of anguish reflected our own feelings as viewers left wondering what the untrained Skywalker would do now without the guidance of a master.

Things took a sad turn for Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back

By the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we were all feeling pretty good about things. The Death Star had been blown up in the first film, and now, the rebels had escaped Hoth, Luke was getting his first real Force training on Dagobah, and Solo, Chewie, Leia, and the droids had all given the Empire the slip and made their way to the beautiful Cloud City.

But our confidence in the situation dropped fast when C-3PO was blasted by unknown attackers. Our hopes plummeted even further when it was revealed that the incredibly charming Lando had betrayed our heroes to Darth Vader. Things were looking terribly grim by the time Han Solo was all trussed up and ready to be frozen in carbonite and shipped off to Jabba the Hutt. However, deep down, we all thought something would happen at the last minute to turn the tide. 

Nope. Han ended up encased in carbonite without a hitch, his face frozen in a twisted grimace of dismay. And as he was carted off to Boba Fett's ship, audiences were all still rooting for a rescue that wouldn't come ... well, at least not until the next movie.

Darth Vader's big reveal was an emotional gut-punch

These days, everyone knows that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's dad. It's one of the greatest movie plot twists and possibly the most quoted and recognizable moment in cinematic history. But even now, this shocking reveal still works as emotional punch to the gut.

But back in 1980, it must've been absolutely devastating for fans watching The Empire Strikes Back. Han had been stolen away by Boba Fett, the Millennium Falcon had barely made its escape, and Luke had fought a ferocious battle against Darth Vader that looked worse for Skywalker every minute. Fans were given an instant of optimism when Luke struck a glancing blow with his lightsaber, but the moment was short-lived as mere second later, Vader slashed back in a maneuver that severed Luke's hand. 

Then came the terrible reveal — that the evil Darth Vader was in fact the father of our hero, Luke Skywalker. It was a heavy moment that turned the whole saga upside down and left jaws dropped everywhere. And things didn't get much better after that. Luke fell into a literal abyss, and even though he was saved by the Falcon, the movie ends with the Rebels bruised and beaten. Yeah, The Empire Strikes Back is a bit of a bummer.

The death of Yoda had Star Wars fans sobbing

When it comes to beloved characters, without a doubt, one of the fan favorites of the entire franchise is the green, backwards-talking, pint-sized force powerhouse that is Yoda. We fell in love with the little guy during The Empire Strikes Back thanks to his humor, wisdom, and unique look. But sadly, around for long he would not be.

In Return of the Jedi, Luke paid his aged master a final visit (at least until Yoda visited Luke as a Force ghost in The Last Jedi), during which he revealed that he's lived an incredible 900 years before imparting a bit of final advice. With his dying words, he revealed that Luke has more kin somewhere out there in the galaxy, then he faded away, a la Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope.

It was a heavy moment for Star Wars fans. After all, a fun and insightful character was gone, Luke was seemingly left entirely on his own bereft of guidance (except for Force ghosts, of course), and a bit of potentially troubling intelligence was revealed regarding the Skywalker family. In short, Yoda's death left both Luke and the audience in mourning.

The saddest scene in Return of the Jedi involved an Ewok

For all its climactic drama, Return of the Jedi had an undeniably lighthearted, child-friendly vibe that arguably informed how the prequel trilogy to come would be toned. Much of this feeling — if not all of it — was derived from the furry presence of the Ewoks.

Ewoks have been a rather hotly debated element of the movie over the past several decades. When we all saw it as kids, the Ewoks were great with their snuggly cuteness, often goofy antics, and awesome tree houses. Later viewings as adults, however, caused many more mature fans to question the inclusion of the Ewoks, who come off as a very obvious attempt to sell toys. And the less said about the made-for-TV Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, the better.

One undeniably emotional Ewok moment, however, came during the Battle of Endor with the death of the Ewok Nanta — and yes, the Ewoks do have names. While much of the battle had been rather silly, with the Ewoks looking poised to win, things eventually took a turn for the worse, with the Empire letting loose with some heavy firepower. Nothing highlighted the dire circumstances more than the scene where two Ewoks were hit by a blast from an AT-ST walker, leaving poor Nanta dead on the forest floor.

It's a moment that struck a sad chord with kids and even adults, and it took a lot of silliness out of the fight as we realized that even these fun little bears weren't impervious to blasters.

Darth Vader's tragic farewell

Over the course of three movies, Darth Vader became more than a mere movie icon. To this day, he's arguably the most recognizable character in the history of cinema. And some of us loathed him for his evil brutality, while still others were thrilled by his ... evil brutality. And hey, the helmet was cool, too. But however you felt about Lord Vader, it's hard to claim that we ever felt much sympathy for him.

That was until his sudden realization that he loved his son Luke, his resulting turn-and-toss of the Emperor, and his subsequent death due to Emperor's hand lightning. It was a high-impact moment. After all, here was this villain who'd terrified us across three films, and suddenly, we're given a glimpse of his humanity and heroism and left wondering who the man behind the mask would've been had the Dark Side not consumed him.

Qui-Gon's death had everyone screaming 'nooooo'

The Star Wars prequel trilogy has its fair share of both fans and haters, but no matter you're opinion on The Phantom Menace, we can all agree that the 1999 film definitely had some memorable moments. The pod racing scene was fantastic, and who doesn't love the "Duel of the Fates"? Of course, when it comes to weeping profusely, one of the saddest scenes in the entire franchise came when Qui-Gon Jinn bit the dust.

This tragic death came when the Jedi Master was facing off against Darth Maul. While Qui-Gon was something of a one-dimensional character who we didn't get all that close to, Liam Neeson is such a good actor that we all felt something when he met his fate at the end of Maul's blade. Plus, the impact of his death was accentuated by young Obi-Wan Kenobi's horrified reaction, which effectively elicited audience flashbacks to one of the original trilogy's saddest scenes — the death of Obi-Wan himself.

Star Wars got incredibly sad with the death of Anakin's mom

In The Phantom Menace, we were introduced to a nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker who seemed too exuberant and innocent to one day become the dark and evil Lord Vader. By the following movie, Attack of the Clones, however, we saw Anakin quickly taking big strides toward the Dark Side.

Perhaps no moment marked his start down the unavoidable path to joining Palpatine more than the death of his mother, which came after she was kidnapped and mistreated by the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine. The young Jedi had just returned home to rescue his mom from slavery, but he arrived literally moments too late to save her. Enraged, he murdered the Sand People en masse — we're talking men, women, and children — thereby starting himself firmly toward the Dark Side and into his famous helmet.

While it's hard to say that the actual of death of Anakin's mother herself was the primary instigator of audience sadness — we did, after all, only spend a few minutes with her an entire movie before — the whole scene is heavy with doom because we know that she was one of the last things tethering her son to goodness. Her death spurs him to commit a mass murder that we're all-too-aware is his first major step toward becoming the most feared figure in the galaxy.

The end of the Jedi was devastating and depressing

The Jedi Knights spent thousands of years serving as protectors of the galaxy and keepers of the Force, but that all changed abruptly in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine — aka Darth Sidious — gave Order 66. In one tragic swoop, the vast majority of the Jedi were killed off when the clone army turned on them, and Palpatine's grand plan to consolidate his power was completed. Only a handful of Jedi Masters survived, most notably Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.

But as the clones were killing off the Jedi, Anakin was sent to the Jedi temple where the Younglings — Force-sensitive children who were Jedi in training — had gotten word of the attack and were trying to figure out what to do. They looked to Anakin for guidance, but little did they know he'd already been turned by Palpatine and had taken on the name Darth Vader. And yeah, he proceeded to kill them all. It's a tragic moment that even the most powerful of Jedi didn't see coming, and fans were left absolutely stunned and saddened by this dismal turn of events.

Anakin's downfall was the ultimate tragedy

The second half of Revenge of the Sith was essentially one long catastrophe that closed out the prequel trilogy while setting things up for A New Hope. The Jedi were destroyed, Anakin-turned-Vader choked and nearly killed Padme, Obi-Wan was forced to fight and nearly kill his once friend and pupil, Padme died during childbirth (the births of Luke and Leia being essentially the only bright spot in the whole situation), and Kenobi and Yoda were forced to go into exile. 

But perhaps the heaviest moment came after Obi-Wan had defeated Vader in battle, as the young Sith lord writhed in pain and hatred ... while being burned alive. Here, we as an audience were forced to look in horror at a character we'd watched grow from a child as he became utterly unrecognizable, both spiritually and physically. And a few scenes later, as we watched Anakin become encased in his iconic black uniform and helmet, we knew too well about the terrible actions to come. Much like The Empire Strikes Back, Revenge of the Sith was one downbeat movie.

Han Solo's death was one of the saddest moments in Star Wars history

In a franchise that's packed with much-loved characters, arguably the fan favorite of fan favorites is Han Solo. His dashing charm, good looks, wit, and bravery won over pretty much everyone. That's why his death came as such a surprise and hit so hard. We were all thrilled by his reintroduction in The Force Awakens, and fans were excited to spend another three films with Han and his furry companion.

But when the eventual confrontation began with his son, Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren), the situation certainly had an ominous atmosphere to it. Nevertheless, very few people had any idea that the smuggler's death was coming. That's why when Ren plunged his lightsaber into his father, gasps could be heard throughout theaters everywhere, and moviegoers wept openly. 

While we did get to see Han return momentarily in Rise of Skywalker, for all practical purposes, his death meant the end of the character. Not only was it one of the saddest moments in Star Wars, but it was one of the most tragic and shocking deaths in movie history, period.