By this point, just about everyone and their mother knows that the Star Wars series has been tinkered with ad nauseam by its creator, resulting in films that look and feel a good deal different than they did in the late 70s and 80s.
To series newcomers (or those who don't watch these films religiously) it may be hard to see what all the fuss is about, but for longtime fans, George Lucas myriad alterations will forever be an unacceptable betrayal to the legacy of these movies and those who love them. Below are the 10 most irritating, confusing, poorly conceived, and egregious changes made to the Original Trilogy.
10 Krayt Dragon Shout
A fairly tame and inconsequential change that might go unnoticed to newer Star Wars fans if it wasn’t for the conspicuous awfulness of the sound design, Lucas’ replacement of the original Kryat Dragon call effect that Obi-Wan Kenobi uses to scare away Tuskan Raiders is just one of the many pointless alterations that leave one scratching their head in confusion.
The original call was haunting and subtle and in no way in need of tinkering, but the sound that replaces it is a cacophonous and drawn out wail that sounds like it was recorded on Garage Band by a production assistant during his lunch break.
9 No More “Yub Nub”
Love them or hate them, the Ewoks have become a symbol of the Original Trilogy as deeply ingrained in popular culture as lightsabers and droids. Even those fanboys who never liked the little buggers, however, must be aching for the return of “Yub Nub”, the silly song that closed out Return of The Jedi, which Lucas saw fit to replace with something far more generic.
Sure, the joyful, nonsensical original track was no masterpiece, but many fans have grown nostalgic for it, especially considering that what has replaced it--a dishwater dull orchestral piece that sounds like a chunk of rejected score for a Discovery Channel special--is utterly stripped of both the character and sense of triumph the original had.
8 Blinking Ewoks
Speaking of Ewoks, one of the changes that doesn’t get a lot of attention (but is extremely irritating) is the addition of a blinking animation for the little forest dwellers of Endor. In the 80s, the costumes for the creatures lacked the ability to move their eyes, a feature that was noticed by a grand total of zero viewers at the time.
Lucas, in his infinite folly, saw fit to rectify this “issue” and include intermittent blinks where there once were none, a change that any viewer familiar with the unmarred theatrical cut can’t help but gripe over. Watching Return of The Jedi ‘s forest scenes is now a chore, as it's impossible for longtime fans not to anticipate every distracting flap of computer-generated lid.
7 Sy Snootles' Makeover
The theatrical cut of Return of The Jedi featured an already lame musical number in the form of “Lapti Nek”, a song written by John Williams and performed by an alien band at Jabba’s Palace. An obvious attempt to muster some of the same iconic party vibes of the Cantina Band in A New Hope, the Lapti Nek number was always a bit of a sore spot, but at least the effects were practical, and the moment was easily forgotten with the introduction of the Rancor beast.
Leave it to Lucas, however, to never leave bad enough alone. Lead singer Sy Snootles and her crew got an instantly-dated visual upgrade as well as an entirely new song, titled…”Jedi Rocks.” The less said about it, the better.
6 Boba Fett’s New Voice
A major reason for Lucas’ meddling with his original films was a desire to make them more closely align with his prequel trilogy, a sensible decision depending upon where you stand in regards to those movies. Out of the myriad changes made, switching out fan favorite Boba Fett’s precious few lines was the final insult for fans of the character who were burned by his demystification in the prequels.
Removing original trilogy actor Jason Wingreen’s vocal performance and transplanting in Temuera Morrison, who played Jango (Fett’s “father”) in the prequels was a defensible way to add cohesion, but it was just another hint that Lucas had no idea why fans were so drawn to the character to begin with.
5 Emperor Palpatine Replaced
If there’s one thing all fans can agree upon, it’s that Ian McDiarmid’s performance as Emperor Palpatine is one of the absolute best across all six original and prequel movies. Though he didn’t play the character until Return of The Jedi, McDiarmid became such an essential part of the Star Wars canon that Lucas could almost be forgiven for going back to The Empire Strikes Back and sticking him in.
When the character initially appeared in Empire, he was portrayed as a shadowy figure (with bulbous eyes) by Elaine Baker and voiced by Clive Revill, and it was clearly a dry run for what he would eventually become in Jedi. The unfortunate thing about altering this scene is that, not only did Lucas excise Baker and Revill’s contributions to the series, but it bungles the work of screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett. Not content to simply change things visually, Lucas rewrote the Emperor’s dialogue, another instance of the director not knowing when to say when.
4 CGI Jabba
When A New Hope was in production, a confrontation between Jabba The Hutt and Han Solo was filmed but cut due to the technical limitations of bringing a massive slug beast to life. When Lucas re-released the film in 1997, he saw the opportunity to re-insert the scene because of the technological advances that had been made.
Possibly a good decision, but the CGI is so woefully dated (even with a second visual update that came in 2004) and the scene robs some of the mystique of a character who was much scarier as a far off threat than a computer-generated blob.
3 Sebastian Shaw Replaced By Hayden Christensen
This one really gets fans steamed. In another attempt to add cohesion and knit his two trilogies together, Lucas removed Sebastian Shaw’s Force ghost from the final moments of Return of The Jedi, supplanting him with Hayden Christensen. Like so many choices on this list, it makes sense why Lucas would want to do this, but his utter ignorance of (or total disregard for) fan opinion was never more apparent than in this choice.
Second only to Jar Jar Binks, Christensen’s brooding, man-baby Anakin Skywalker is likely the most loathed character in all of Star Wars fandom. Not only that, but Christensen’s appearance makes zero narrative sense, as Force spirits appear as they were at the time of death, not as they appeared in decades gone by.
Lucas is famous for his clunky dialogue and utter lack of subtlety, but he reached a new low when he altered the moment Darth Vader sacrifices himself to defeat Emperor Palpatine. No one who saw Return of The Jedi was ever confused or unclear as to why Vader had a change of heart, but Lucas chose to condescend to the audience to an absurd degree by adding an unnecessary (and frankly, poorly delivered) “Nooooooo!” as Vader made the decision to save his son.
It turns Luke’s faith in his father and Vader’s moment of absolution into a joke, rather than the satisfying and cathartic conclusion it should be.
1 Greedo Shoots First
This is it. The absolute worst sin Lucas committed against his own series, which gave rise to “Han Shot First!” as the rallying cry of fans who feel wronged by the creator of the movies they hold so dear.
Not only is it a major betrayal of the character (and lessens the weight of his turn towards the side of good later on) but it looks like absolute garbage, and utterly mars the iconic introduction of Han Solo--likely the most loved character in the series.