As you’d expect from a franchise that’s over 40 years old, the Star Wars saga has amassed a veritable treasure trove of deleted scenes since A New Hope was released back in 1977. Fans have long lamented that many of these unused moments — like Luke Skywalker constructing his new lightsaber or the formation of the Rebel Alliance — ended up on the cutting room floor. But at least we got to see this material, unlike the incredible story beats that were scrapped before cameras even rolled.
Whether we’re talking about concepts that were dropped early in pre-production or were fully scripted, the result is the same: knock-out Star Wars scenes that we’ll never get to enjoy. On the plus side, thanks to storyboards and concept art, it’s not hard to picture how these spectacular sequences would have played out — including the 10 amazing abandoned scenes we’ve highlighted on this list.
10 Han Solo’s (Original) Series Exit
It’s no secret that Harrison Ford wanted to bump off his own character, Han Solo, from the moment principal photography wrapped on The Empire Strikes Back. Ford’s wish finally came true in 2015’s The Force Awakens, but the actor almost got his way three decades earlier. As revealed in a Vanity Fair interview with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Ford and Kasdan both insisted that everyone’s favorite scoundrel should bite the bullet during Return of the Jedi’s opening sail barge battle.
Star Wars creator George Lucas nixed the idea — and we’re not sure this was the right call. Sure, it’s nice to see Han and Princess Leia shack up at the end of the movie. However, Kasdan and Ford make a good point that Han’s demise so early on in the film — during his own rescue, no less! — would’ve been a massive shock for audiences, and firmly established that nobody was off-limits going forward.
9 Anakin Skywalker’s Force Ghost Appears Again
Iain McCaig’s name won’t be familiar to more casual Star Wars fans, but hardcore devotees will recognize him as one of the most influential concept artists in the saga’s history. Indeed, McCaig — who worked on The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens — arguably ranks behind only Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston in this regard.
Part of McCaig’s brilliance lies in creating compelling visual studies designed to fuel the screenwriting process — like when he proposed that Anakin Skywalker’s Force Ghost could return in The Force Awakens. It’s not clear if such a scene was ever scripted, but the imagery — which masterfully weaves in aspects of Darth Vader’s dark iconography — is undeniably striking, so it’s a shame McCaig’s visuals never evolved into a fully-fledged scene.
8 Anakin Attacks Obi-Wan With Lava
The lightsaber duel between former brothers-in-arms Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith is a real showstopper filled with swordplay, fisticuffs, acrobatics and more. Incredibly, though, the pre-production team came up with a whole bunch of cool ideas for this epic showdown that were excised long before principal photography commenced.
Our favorite discarded gag? That has to be Anakin telekinetically hurling nearby lava at Obi-Wan, who calls upon his own mystical Force abilities for protection. Based solely on the storyboards whipped up to pitch this scene, we’re confident describing this as a wasted visual opportunity — Obi-Wan erects an invisible “bubble” around himself, which the red-hot slag splatters over — while the inventive display of Force powers would have added even further variety to the proceedings.
7 The Wookiees Take On The Empire
One of the biggest criticisms leveled against Return of the Jedi is the implausibility that a legion of crack stormtroopers could have been defeated by the teddy bear-like Ewoks. Intriguingly, this backlash could have been avoided, if only creator George Lucas had followed through with his initial plans to use the formidable Wookiee species, instead.
The only problem was Lucas wanted the technologically-advanced Empire to be brought down by its primitive antithesis — and the saga’s most prominent Wookiee, Chewbacca, is clearly tech-savvy. Unable to reconcile these two conflicting ideas, Lucas reworked all scenes featuring Wookiees to include the newly created Ewoks, depriving audiences of multiple jaw-dropping battle sequences in the process.
6 Qui-Gon And Obi-Wan Take On An Army
Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi send countless battle droids to the scrap heap over the course of The Phantom Menace’s 113-minute runtime. Unbelievably, their path of destruction was nearly twice as impressive, though: a scene storyboarded, but ultimately cut, called for the Jedi Knights to wipe out a small army of mechanized foes in a breath-taking display of Force-powered prowess.
Although this may well have ranked among the greatest Star Wars action sequences ever, director George Lucas was right to jettison it. Even factoring in Phantom Menace’s “Golden Age of the Jedi” setting, this set piece — where even tanks are no match for our supercharged heroes! — doesn’t jive with the more modest abilities showcased by the mystical warriors in earlier films.
5 Luke’s Mechanical Hand Has A Life Of Its Own
The rollicking skirmish aboard Jabba’s sail barge and its surrounding skiffs in Return of the Jedi is one of the most memorable in Star Wars history. However, as fans who own a copy of Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy can attest, this sequence lost a few awe-inspiring aspects on the road to becoming a live-action reality.
For starters, we were nearly treated to a display of Jedi martial arts, with Luke Skywalker making like Bruce Lee on steroids while briefly disarmed. However, while Force-enhanced kung fu isn’t to be sneezed at, we’re even more obsessed with the macabre imagery of Luke’s mechanical hand being blown off…and crawling along the deck towards the young Jedi’s discarded lightsaber.
4 Padmé’s Pregnancy Pain
Here’s another scene invented by concept artist Iain McCaig, this time portraying the pregnant Padmé Amidala doubled over in agony in Revenge of the Sith. The cause of her pain? The combined raw Force potential of the twins growing inside her — a side-effect not even venerable Jedi Master Yoda is able to negate, although he reaches out a sympathetic hand all the same.
This is a fascinating notion — the idea that carrying Force-sensitive babies could have adverse effects isn’t something that the Star Wars canon has really explored — although it’s hard to imagine how such a scene would fit with the movie’s wider narrative. What’s more, Padmé kept her pregnancy a secret, which precludes Yoda’s presence in proceedings, at the very least.
3 Stormtrooper Laundry Line
Remember that moment in A New Hope where Han Solo charges blindly into a room filled with stormtroopers aboard the Death Star? It’s responsible for one of the biggest laughs in the entire saga — which is probably why The Last Jedi very nearly featured a callback to this unforgettable gag.
As in the inaugural Star Wars episode, the abandoned The Last Jedi scene sees Finn, Rose, DJ and BB-8 blunder upon an entire squad of First Order troopers…or so they think. Before the panicked posse can react, the “troopers” are revealed to be a rack of empty suits, which are promptly cleaned. Some fans might find this all a bit silly, but honestly? We think it could have played well.
2 Padmé Nearly Stabs Anakin
Life is full of hard choices — especially when the man you love turns to the Dark Side and threatens the freedom of the entire galaxy. This dilemma was dramatized vividly in yet another unrealized scene by concept artist Iain McCaig, who sketched out a heart-wrenching tableau of Padmé Amidala poised to stab her power-crazed husband Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.
No two ways about it — director George Lucas should have incorporated this scene into the finished flick. Not only would it have gone a long way towards making Padmé a less passive participant in her final Star Wars outing, it would have brought the character’s internal conflict between duty and love to a devastating resolution, as well.
1 Luke Assumes The Darth Vader Mantle
Don’t get us wrong: we’ve got zero issues with how Return of the Jedi wraps-up. The Rebel Alliance defeats the Empire, Darth Vader is redeemed, Han and Leia get together, and Luke becomes the first of a new generation of Jedi. It’s your classic happy ending and a perfect finale to the original trilogy. But that doesn’t mean we’re not fascinated by the infamous dark alternate ending that Star Wars creator George Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan toyed with,.
Y’know, the total downer scenario where Luke dons his fallen father’s helmet, proclaims himself the new Darth Vader and declares war on the Rebellion? That alternate ending. Sure, it’s less emotionally satisfying than what we got, but it’s a twist no one would have seen coming and sets the stage for a radically different sequel trilogy.