Even the most die-hard Star Wars fans can step out of their fandom for a moment and view the series of films with some objectivity. We love that galaxy far, far away, but recognize that there are some scenes and moments that are just not right, and they make us cringe. After all, who wants flawless beauty? It’s uninteresting.
So, really, the flaws are part of what makes Star Wars great. And those cringe-worthy moments come in many different forms. It could be awkward dialogue writing or bad acting, a questionable turn of events or an annoying character trait, or maybe just a bizarre concept. One thing we would like to make clear, though, is that this is a Jar Jar free zone. He’s too easy a target. We all know he didn’t work out the way George Lucas had hoped, so let’s just leave him alone, just this once. And no Special Edition gripes. That’s another list.
Get ready to shudder at the 12 Star Wars Moments that Make Fans Cringe…
12. The Podracing announcer(s)
There are a lot of cringe-worthy attempts at humor in the prequel trilogy, but one of the most unfortunate examples is the two-headed announcer at the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace, named Fodesinbeed Annodue (aka Fode and Beed). All they are is bad stereotypes of real-life sports announcers, commenting on the weather and the size of the crowd, pointing out the obvious. Half of their dialogue starts with, “I see…”
We started this entry off talking about humor. And the thing with this two-headed dude is their tone of voice suggests they’re being goofy, and they look silly, but they’re not actually saying anything funny. One of them speaks Basic (English to you and me) and the other speaks the language of the Hutts. Fode, the Basic-speaking side, is voiced by hilarious comedian and co-star of Who’s Line is it Anyway?, Greg Proops, who they could’ve allowed to improvise some funny lines. But apparently not. He’s just an exposition machine.
11. Alderaan pronunciations
There are four characters in A New Hope who say the name of the planet Alderaan. And all four pronounce the word differently. Sure, it’s a made-up name, but could they not have all agreed on a single pronunciation? Princess Leia says it a number of times, both as a hologram and in person, pronouncing it All-der-on. The double-a in the name would suggest a long-a sound in the last syllable, which makes this one baffling. Grand Moff Tarkin puts a bit of a Shakespearian spin on it, with Ole-de-ranne – slightly rolling the “r” and ending it as though it rhymes with the name “Anne.” Leia and Tarkin say it within three seconds of each other, completely differently.
The same goes for Obi-Wan and Luke. They’ve just watched Leia’s hologram pronounce it All-der-on. Then Obi-Wan tells Luke he “must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to Ole-de-ranne.” He says it similarly to Tarkin, only without the rolled “r.” Immediately after he says the name of Leia’s home planet, Luke says it in a slightly more Americanized way, like Awl-de-ranne.
Some of this discrepancy definitely has to do with accents, with Peter Cushing (Tarkin) and Sir Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan) being British, Mark Hamill (Luke) being American, and Carrie Fisher being an American occasionally doing something resembling a British accent. But if this pronunciation video is correct, Hamill came closest to getting it right.
10. Anakin whining about the sand
In Attack of the Clones, Anakin is just starting to grow on Padme, romantically speaking. This is important: he has just barely opened her eyes to his being boyfriend material. They’re looking out over a beautiful scene at a Naboo lake retreat. There’s a lush garden, a shimmering lake, majestic mountains. Padme begins to reminisce about her school days, swimming on a nearby island.
She paints a serene picture of childhood. “We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us… and try to guess the names of the birds singing.” If you’re sweet on that girl, you smile and tell her what a beautiful memory that is. But not our man Anakin. His response: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.” Gee, thanks for ruining my memory, Padme must be thinking. But Anakin turns it into an awkward pass, changing the subject to Naboo’s softness and smoothness, then touching her arm. Oh, Anakin, you do have game.
Granted, little Anakin in The Phantom Menace is an easy target. But this list just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his grating “Yippees.” We’re not blaming poor little actor Jake Lloyd for this. This was all George Lucas and his screenplay. We love Lucas, he is, after all, the creator of this beautiful and enthralling universe. But he occasionally drops some seriously disjointed dialogue. And the kid who goes on to be one of the most feared villains the galaxy has ever seen saying “Yippee” time after time is a prime example.
Who says, “Yippee”? A poorly-written kid in a 1950s TV show? Bruce Willis, on his way to saying something much, much cruder in Die Hard? The point is, it’s an antiquated exclamation, maybe something Lucas and his friends said when they were kids in those very same 1950s. And, somehow, it made its way into the mouth of Anakin Skywalker – not once, but twice. The first time, it’s after Watto, his slave master, tells him he can finish his slave chores and then go home. The second time is perhaps a little more warranted, when Qui-Gon tells him he’s going to be trained to be a Jedi.
8. No medal for Chewbacca
Luke Skywalker has destroyed the Death Star! No more planets will be destroyed in the foreseeable future! Han Solo and Chewbacca played a heroic role in the legendary Battle of Yavin as well! So the triumphant music swells as the Rebels gather together for a celebratory ceremony. At the front of the hall, Princess Leia stands in her formal gown with other Rebel luminaries, plus the droids, Luke, Han and Chewie. Leia proudly places medals around the necks of Han and Luke. But Chewie totally gets the shaft! No medal for the Wookiee. He shouts a supposedly celebratory growl just before the credits roll – but is he really shouting, “Where’s my bleeping medal?”
Were the Rebel leaders rabid anti-Wookieeites? It certainly seemed at the very least like a questionable omission. The films never explained it, but the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe offered this overly simple explanation: Wookiees don’t care about tangible awards. Still, the EU went on to depict Han later requesting a medal for Chewie anyway, which Leia offered in a private ceremony.
7. Anakin hitting on Padme
When last we saw Anakin and Padme, at the end of The Phantom Menace, Anakin was 10 and Padme was 14. They hadn’t known each other very long and, at best, their relationship was something akin to a big sister/little brother kind of dynamic. Then, in Attack of the Clones, things get weird. Now, Anakin is 19 and Padme is 24. They haven’t seen each other in about a decade. The first time he sees her, he leers creepily at her.
Her first words to him are those of an aunt who hasn’t seen him since he was a little boy. “My goodness you’ve grown,” she says. But Annie immediately, inappropriately, goes all playa on her: “So have you… grown more beautiful, I mean…” She quickly shuts him down, saying, “You’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine.” After she leaves, he goes on to reveal to Obi-Wan that he thought about her every day since they last saw each other. It’s one thing to have a schoolboy crush, but it’s another thing entirely to immediately get all flirty right away, especially when she doesn’t appear even remotely interested in him as anything more than an old childhood friend.
6. Padme lost the will to live?
There’s only one explanation given in Revenge of the Sith for Padme’s death while giving birth to Luke and Leia. A medical droid says it doesn’t know why she’s dying. “She has lost the will to live,” it says. Are we really supposed to believe that? Sure, we suspend our disbelief when we watch Star Wars movies. We believe that this is a world where the Force exists and there are aliens and starships that can jump to hyperspace. People die in a lot of different ways, ways that aren’t possible in our lives, and that’s fine: they’re sliced by lightsabers, shot by blaster fire, eaten by rancors and sarlaccs, force choked, exploded in Death Stars and in planetary destructions. These are all believable ways to die in this galaxy far, far away. But losing the will to live? That’s pushing our disbelief too far.
Sure, she had been choked by Anakin not long before her death, but she survived that and the medical droid said that she was completely healthy, despite being on her death bed. So what was it really? Something “real” had to have killed her. There are fan theories that describe how Darth Sidious was responsible, but they’re just that: theories. The film doesn’t tell us any more than she lost the will to live.
Until The Phantom Menace, fans were perfectly happy believing in the Force as it had been explained in the original trilogy. It was “an energy field created by all living things,” according to Obi-Wan in A New Hope. Certain people simply were stronger in the Force and could manipulate it to do their bidding, from lifting an X-wing fighter out of a swamp, to choking someone. That was enough. We could buy that, mysticism and all.
But in The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon went all science-y on us with the Force. Suddenly the Force was quantifiable, and that just didn’t seem right. The Master Jedi tells young Anakin that there are microscopic life forms called midi-chlorians that live inside our cells and speak to us, “telling you the will of the Force.” Little Anakin had few perfect lines of dialogue, but he got it bang-on when he said, “I don’t understand.”
4. Luke whining on Tatooine
When they were young, both Luke and his father had a real whiny streak. Luke’s whining is particularly grating early in A New Hope when they’re still on Tatooine. But his bad mood is understandable. He doesn’t want to be there. It’s not where his destiny lies, living on this desert planet performing the most menial of tasks. He’s so desperate for some excitement that even those menial tasks have a hierarchy in his mind. What would you rather do: clean up two droids or drive somewhere to pick up power converters? It seems that Luke would rather do the latter, when he moans, “But I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters.” There’s no stage direction in the script to pour on the whiny tone for this line, but Mark Hamill does it anyway. And it’s just a little too much.
Later, when Luke is cleaning his new droids back at the Lars homestead, he gets his whine on again. Frustrated with his lot in life, he groans like a petulant child, “It just isn’t fair. Oh, Biggs is right. I’m never gonna get out of here!”
3. Luke & Leia in the Ewok village
There’s no denying there’s iffy dialogue writing pretty much across the board in the Star Wars movies, and the scene between Luke and Leia when they’re alone in the Ewok village just might be the worst. It’s just filled with lines where we in the audience can’t help but shout at the screen, “People don’t talk like that!” Luke, now possessing the knowledge that Leia is his sister, asks her about her mother. First, she remembers her mother as beautiful, kind and sad. (Of course, we know in retrospect that this is impossible because Padme died during childbirth.) But when Luke sadly says he doesn’t remember his mother, her response is, “Luke, tell me. What’s troubling you?” Um… maybe the fact that he doesn’t remember his mother? Isn’t that enough to be sad about? Although it’s possible her latent Force powers told her there was something more. And, like we said, who talks like that? A normal person wanting to express that sentiment might say, “I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”
What comes next is an awkward combination of Carrie Fisher’s odd acting choices and bizarre writing. First of all, when Luke tells her she’s his sister, she says, “Somehow I’ve always known.” Well then why did you kiss him like that on Hoth? Ew! Finally, there’s Fisher’s high-school-understudy-caliber line reading after Luke says he has to face Vader, when she says, “No! Luke, run away. Far away. If he can feel your presence, then LEAVE this place. I wish I could go with you.” It’s the way her chin juts out as she delivers these lines, the overemphasis of “leave,” the unnecessary inclusion of the words “this place,” and the way she’s suddenly decided she and Luke should completely abandon the rebellion they’ve passionately worked on for years.
2. Any love scene between Anakin and Padme
It started with that earlier scene we recounted, when Anakin first flirted with Padme, and it just got worse from there. There are a couple of things wrong with the Anakin/Padme pairing. The first is the chemistry between actors Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman. There just wasn’t much of it. Portman is a good actress and Christensen has been solid in other roles, but they just didn’t fit well together in these parts. Christensen often looks angry when he’s around her, which is befitting the future Darth Vader, but doesn’t seem like it would turn on the senator from Naboo.
Which leads us to the other thing wrong with these scenes: the dialogue. Anakin says that when he’s with her, he’s “in agony.” We understand his conflict, that he’s a Jedi and is not allowed to love, but he speaks of her and his love in such dark terms. “I’m haunted by the kiss that you shouldn’t have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that that kiss will not become a scar.” What does that even mean? We get the sentiment, but it’s an odd mix of metaphors. And in the scene in the grass, they talk politics. Padme speaks of democracy, while Anakin vouches for fascism, a dictatorship. Which should’ve been a huge red flag for Padme, but instead the scene immediately, awkwardly plunges into flirtatious looks and laughter.
1. Um… isn’t that incest?
If you’re a first-time viewer of The Empire Strikes Back, you would most likely watch Leia kiss Luke in the Rebel base on Hoth and think, simply, “Oh, good for them, they seem like a nice couple. ” Let’s set the scene: We’re in the medical center and Han and Leia have just finished a verbal sparring match, essentially over Han’s insistence that Leia can’t stand to see him leave. To punctuate her insistence that she doesn’t care about him “that way, ” she plants one on Luke’s lips, right in front of Han. And Luke puts his hands behind his head and smiles a smugly satisfied smile.
But the thing is, if you’re not a first time viewer and you know that in Return of the Jedi it’s revealed that Luke and Leia are siblings, you can’t help but shudder a bit at that smooch. Especially considering her line from Jedi we quoted earlier: “Somehow I’ve always known.” Granted, it was less a romantic kiss than a spite-against-Han kiss, but still.
Are there any other moments in Star Wars that make you cringe? Let us know in the comments!