While Darth Vader is the poster boy of the Star Wars franchise, Luke Skywalker surely comes a very close second. Mark Hamill’s character was made famous during the original trilogy, where he undergoes a journey of discovery that takes him from a farm boy operating on Tatooine to a Jedi Knight capable of influencing the whole galaxy and defeating the evil Empire.
Luke has also popped up in both sequel movies so far and, despite appearing to die during 2017’s The Last Jedi, is also expected to return for the December blockbuster The Rise of Skywalker. With that in mind we now take a look at his top 10 moments throughout the franchise so far.
10 Wielding His Father’s Lightsaber
Luke is first introduced in 1977’s A New Hope, where it’s established that he’s far more than just your average Tatooine farmer. And when he meets Ben Kenobi he learns that he is actually the son of a Jedi Knight, one who fought alongside the old hermit during the Clone Wars. Upon learning this information he is also given his father’s lightsaber for the very first time.
That weapon has become iconic over the years and its journey starts here. Luke ignites it and its blue hue lights up Kenobi’s tiny shack, giving off vibes that it could easily slice somebody in two. It’s so the first time viewers see Kenobi lying about Luke’s father - not that they knew it at the time.
9 Luke Destroys The Death Star
After the death of his aunt and uncle, Luke Skywalker travels with Ben Kenobi and, along with Han Solo, Chewbacca and droids C3PO and R2D2, embarks on a rescue mission to save Princess Leia Organa from the clutches of both Darth Vader and the villainous Empire. However, he becomes an even greater asset to Leia and the Rebel Alliance than he first thought.
It’s Luke who, using the force, destroys the first Death Star during an epic space dogfight at the end of A New Hope. The space station had wiped out millions of lives on the planet of Alderaan and was used by the Empire as a way of striking fear throughout the galaxy. Young Skywalker blows it up, though, managing to get noticed by Vader himself in the process...
8 Meeting Yoda
Luke Skywalker’s journey nearly ends in The Empire Strikes Back, where he’s left on the verge of death following an attack by a Wampa on Hoth. Ben Kenobi appears to him as a force ghost just as the cold threatens to engulf him, urging him to travel to Dagobah to meet legendary Jedi Master Yoda in order to continue his training.
And this is a pivotal moment in Skywalker’s story. He meets Yoda and suspects him to be nothing more than crazy but is left shocked when the Jedi lifts his X-Wing from Dagobah’s murky waters. Training leaves him exhausted and mentally drained, with his own impatience doing little to help his situation. And another big moment in his life happens while he’s improving under Yoda...
7 Facing Himself
Another iconic Luke Skywalker scene is when he has a vision on Dagobah after Yoda urges him to venture into a dark cave. Here, he engaged who he thinks is Darth Vader in lightsaber combat, slicing his opponent’s head off. Vader’s helmet rolls towards his feet and, as it does, it explodes to reveal Luke’s own face behind the mask.
This shows that there’s a darkness within Luke that could yet mean him sharing the same fate with the Empire kingpin. It also demonstrates to viewers that he’s no angel, that he has a part of him that’s prone to anger, hate and the rest of what’s needed to turn to the dark side. The entire scene is foreshadowing and regarded as one of the most pivotal on the Jedi’s journey.
6 Learning The Truth
After Luke learns that his friends Han Solo and Leia Organa are in severe danger, the Jedi turns his back on both Yoda and Ben Kenobi in order to travel to Cloud City and save them from Darth Vader. Once there, he falls into a trap and confronts the Sith Lord, engaging him in lightsaber combat and attempting to win their battle.
Except that doesn’t happen and, when he loses his hand, Vader sensationally reveals that he’s Luke’s father and that Kenobi, and Yoda, were lying to him the whole time. This twist was the biggest moment in cinematic history at the time and fans had to wait three whole years before the duo’s relationship was confirmed during Return of the Jedi.
5 A Sister
Luke spends much of Return of the Jedi struggling, cutting a dark and broody figure in order to hint that he’ll turn dark at the end of the movie. But Skywalker is more powerful than ever before and eventually comes to the realisation that Leia Organa, the same girl he’d fancied when he first met her in A New Hope, is actually his sister.
The Jedi shares this information with Leia on Endor, seemingly as a contingency plan in case he fall to the dark side or lose his forthcoming battle with Vader. This was another moment that left fans of the franchise stunned and Leia is actually what nearly tips Luke over the edge when he fights Vader later on in the movie.
4 Saving His Father
When Luke realises that a showdown with both Darth Vader and the Emperor are the only way to bring peace to the galaxy, he gives himself up and allows himself to be taken to Palpatine’s throne room on the second Death Star. Once there, Vader tries to turn him to the dark side using the threat of turning Leia instead - and this leads to an epic final confrontation.
Luke does give in to the dark side but is able to prevent himself from killing his father after severing his hand. He defies Palpatine, instead allowing himself to be tortured in the hope that it triggers a change in Vader. And this gamble pays off with the son ultimately redeeming his father, leading to the Emperor’s downfall in the process. Unfortunately, however, he’s powerless to prevent Anakin Skywalker from perishing at the end of the blockbuster.
3 Failing Ben Solo
But while Luke Skywalker persevered with Darth Vader, stopping short of killing his father despite all the evil deeds he had done, it’s a different story when it comes to his nephew. Long before The Force Awakens, the former Tatooine farmer had started his own Jedi training academy. But when he sensed darkness within Ben Solo, unlike when it came to his dad years previously, he tried to kill him.
Whether you like this aspect of the story or not, it certainly ranks as one of Luke’s biggest moments. Had he not contemplated murder, could his nephew have never become Kylo Ren? Skywalker was an angel during the original trilogy but what he did to his nephew is unforgivable.
2 Saying Goodbye
One of the biggest accusations of the Star Wars sequel trilogy is that there hasn’t been enough emotional, hard-hitting moments. The death of Han Solo is one but the other comes in The Last Jedi, where Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill share the screen one last time in order to say goodbye - not that audiences know it at the time.
Luke Skywalker travels to Crait and gently kisses Leia Organa on the head, saying a thousand words via a gesture other than words. It’s well and truly an iconic, picturesque image as the duo embrace before Skywalker walks out of the crave on Crait for one last heroic act...
1 Saving the Resistance
If it wasn’t for Luke Skywalker, we’d be going into The Rise of Skywalker with the Resistance having little to no chance of defeating the First Order. Because, at the end of The Last Jedi, he pays the ultimate price by sacrificing his life in order for the remaining members of the organisation to escape and continue the fight against the enemy another day.
Luke stalls Kylo Ren just as the First Order are looking to get to the Resistance. He humiliates his nephew, appearing as a apparition rather than in person before peacefully passing away on Ach-To. We expect everybody to know about Luke’s huge sacrifice when The Rise of Skywalker comes out later this year.