The final scene of every movie in the Star Wars saga has to be a memorable one. It has to earn that iconic wipe transition into the vacuum of space for the end credits and the roar of John Williams’ classic Star Wars theme. For the most part, the closing scenes of these escapist adventures into a galaxy far, far away have lived up to that expectation.
Of course, the saga’s track record is far from spotless, so there have been a few underwhelming final scenes that left disappointment on the audience’s faces. So, here is Every Star Wars Closing Scene, Ranked.
10 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
If The Phantom Menace had ended at Qui-Gon’s funeral with Yoda allowing Obi-Wan to train Anakin, it would’ve been the perfect ending. Although the movie had its problems, it did set up Anakin Skywalker’s journey towards becoming Darth Vader in an interesting way. The ending of the first chapter should have kept the focus on that.
Instead, it ends with a parade on Naboo in which Padme gives the Gungans a gift to thank them for their bravery in the final battle. By this point in the movie, viewers were absolutely fed up with the Gungans. They shouldn’t have taken center stage in the final scene.
9 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
The second chapter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy ended with the Clone Wars beginning and the Jedi’s Clone Army marching through Geonosis. But the final scene was Anakin’s secret wedding to Padme on Naboo.
This was an important development in Anakin’s character arc, especially given the added emotion knowing the tragic trajectory in which the character was heading in the trilogy’s closing movie. However, since the movie had taken none of the right steps towards making us care about Anakin and Padme as a couple with banal discussions about the pros and cons of sand, their wedding falls flat.
8 Solo: A Star Wars Story
The best parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story are the callbacks to the earlier movies. For example, we see how Han met Chewie, and we see the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs (plastering over a plot hole with a half-baked explanation of distance versus time).
In the film’s final scene, we see Han besting Lando Calrissian in a game of sabacc by figuring out his cheating technique. He wins the Falcon and we see him take off with Chewie, heading to Tatooine where a crime lord is setting up a job. Like Rogue One, the ending of Solo leads directly into A New Hope.
7 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
George Lucas almost cut the party scene on Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi, because he felt that the audience would find it boring. And while it’s not as exciting as some of the saga’s other closing scenes, it is a good way to end the trilogy. We want to celebrate the Rebels’ victory, so a party makes sense.
Han and Leia finally getting together and Luke looking across at the Force ghosts of his various mentors watching over him with a smile do give that little bit of extra closure to the trilogy’s storylines. They might have felt like loose ends otherwise. And there’s no denying that the scene has become iconic.
6 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi was controversial among Star Wars fans, to put it lightly, but it did end on an interesting note. A slave boy on the resort planet of Canto Bight, who has since been called “Broom Boy,” uses the Force to pick up his broom and then looks up at the stars, just like Luke Skywalker used to do on his uncle’s moisture farm.
After two and a half hours of a bitter, older Luke telling us that the Jedi need to end and the Light Side of the Force is dead and balance in the galaxy is unattainable, it felt right to end with a suggestion that there is hope for a new generation of Jedi after all.
5 Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Although the payoff would be pretty disappointing in The Last Jedi, no Star Wars fan can deny the feeling of giddy nostalgia and excitement they felt in the final moments of The Force Awakens when Rey arrived on Ahch-To, climbed up a mountain, and held out a lightsaber to a mysterious cloaked figure, only for that figure to turn around, remove their hood, and reveal themselves to be an older, more grizzled Luke Skywalker.
Very few Star Wars movies have closed on such an open-ended note, but since this one was directed by serial question-asker J.J. Abrams, he couldn’t resist ending on a cliffhanger. In this case, it works, because the story was resolved – it just leaves us with an intriguing teaser, just like the old serials that inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars in the first place used to.
4 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
If a lot of Disney’s Star Wars movies feel like a nostalgic headrush, then the ending of Rogue One is an injection of black tar nostalgia.
Following the real ending of the movie – Jyn Erso and co retrieving the Death Star plans and sending them to the Rebels before being, tragically and unexpectedly, wiped out by the Empire’s superweapon itself – we see Darth Vader slaughtering a hallway full of Rebel troops before a digitally de-aged Carrie Fisher takes off in Tantive IV and says that the acquisition of the Death Star plans represents “hope.” It was an awesome way to end an awesome movie.
3 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
The closing medal ceremony in A New Hope is an iconic moment. The final scene of the movie leaves the door open for sequels, since it leaves Darth Vader alive and the Empire hasn’t actually lost just because the Death Star has been destroyed, but there is a sense of closure. The Rebels may not have won the war yet, but they did win the battle.
Plus, the lead characters’ story arcs are wrapped up in a satisfactory way: Luke Skywalker, who wanted nothing more than to join the Rebellion and make something of himself in the galaxy, and Han Solo, who started the movie as a cynical pirate who cared only about himself, are now the heroes of the Rebel Alliance.
2 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Like fellow trilogy closer The Return of the King, Revenge of the Sith has a few different endings. We see Anakin Skywalker wake up in the Darth Vader suit and oversee construction of the Death Star with Emperor Palpatine and we see Bail Organa take baby Leia off to become royalty. (There was also a deleted scene in which we’d see Yoda arrive on Dagobah.)
But the true final scene sees Obi-Wan drop off baby Luke with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on Tatooine before exiling himself there. Like all the best Star Wars movies, it ends with a feeling of hope.
1 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
There’s a general rule in blockbuster cinema that movies have to have a happy ending to leave the audience satisfied. However, The Empire Strikes Back has a downer ending that works spectacularly: Luke Skywalker has lost a hand and been defeated by Darth Vader, while Han has been frozen in carbonite and hung on a gangster’s wall.
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Vader has won, and all the Rebels have to cling onto is hope. This is the ending we have to thank for all the bombshell endings that followed, like Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all life in the universe.