Star Wars' visuals have always been iconic. Even on the drawing board, concept art of the far-away galaxy has a distinct look and feel that is almost always adapted onto film with very few changes.
The franchise owes concept artists like Ralph McQuarrie and Doug Chiang for its aesthetic, and it looks the way it does because of collaborative and concise artistry behind-the-scenes. Sometimes, though, concept art goes unused — and Star Wars is better off because of it.
The following list is a collection of concept art from every era of the Star Wars saga that landed on the cutting room floor instead of on film. We'll get into the variety of reasons why, but before that, we should clarify that this is not based on artistic merit or the quality of each piece. Many of these images were painstakingly created, and required tons of talent to do so. We're not here to hate on artists, but instead criticize the work based on how it might have fit into individual films and the Star Wars franchise overall.
Usually concept art clearly defines the look of Star Wars, but every once and a while, it thankfully does not. As gorgeous as the following images are, they cause some disturbances in the force. The galaxy should be glad that it didn't look like this.
Here are are 15 Unused Star Wars Concept Art That Almost Ruined The Movies.
15 Creepy Kylo Ren
Ben Solo's alter ego went through a number of changes during the production of The Force Awakens. In preliminary character descriptions, he was a Jedi hunter, a dark side fanatic, and had an unhealthy obsession with Darth Vader. Long before anybody knew that Kylo Ren would be related to Vader by blood, this image hit the web and gave the world a taste at the franchise's new villain... and it was pretty weird.
While the Kylo Ren we know prays to his grandfather's helmet at an altar, early versions of the character were much darker. This artwork shows that he was part-cyborg at one point, with prosthetics resembling Vader. Even weirder is his hand stroking Vader's helmet.
It's an eerie, uncomfortable image suggesting Ben might have been infatuated with Vader's legacy on a grossly sensual level — clashing wildly with the villain we know today.
14 Prim and Proper Maul
George Lucas wanted a truly terrifying villain for The Phantom Menace. He was determined to find a design that was both visually striking and appropriate for the film's tone. This was one of the early mockups for Darth Maul, and while it depicts elements that would make it into his final design, it just doesn't look all that scary.
Supposedly inspired by clowns and their makeup, this design depicts a blue-skinned Maul with an early version of his face tattoos.
It's a nice start, but he looks more like a rich alien than a Sith Lord.
His collared shirt screams "business man" and his slick, parted hair only adds to that formal fashion sense. That look might work for Grand Admiral Thrawn, but Lucasfilm would take Darth Maul's design in a very different direction. This probably wouldn't have intimidated audiences anyway.
13 The Gorax
Ever wonder why the Ewoks had all those traps set up on Endor? They weren't meant for the Empire - they were meant for the Gorax.
Technically this isn't unused content — the Gorax did make it into Caravan of Courage as an antagonist (which makes it official canon) but it was almost introduced in Return of the Jedi. Depicted above terrorizing Ewoks, the Gorax could have made an appearance in their village during one of the night scenes.
The idea ended up being abandoned, likely for being too excessive or scary.
Considering the Ewok scenes are pretty lighthearted, it could have been jarring for their serene treetop camp to be assaulted by a giant. Perhaps Lucasfilm met their monster quota with the Rancor scene at the beginning of the film. Either way, it's best that this was left out.
12 Kylo's Fresh Cut
After his crushing defeat, the team behind The Last Jedi wanted to alter Kylo Ren's look to reflect his emotional scars. In the final cut, this is suggested with his baggy eyes, greasy hair, and overall "tired" look. This is a huge contrast to The Force Awakens, where Kylo Ren reveals his youthful self with perfect hair under his helmet. It would have been more shocking in The Last Jedi, though, as he almost had a shaved head.
It's unclear why this idea was scrapped. Perhaps it was seen as too drastic, or maybe this authoritative haircut seemed too commanding for such a conflicted character. Either way, the design is a bit distracting.
Maybe Adam Driver just doesn't have the head for it.
With no way to be sure, this might be better off in the art books than on screen.
11 Warlord Saw Gerrera
One of the few characters in the movies to come from the Expanded Universe, Saw Gerrera is a rebel extremist who has been fighting tyranny since before the Empire. Rogue One depicts him as aged, withered, and paranoid, but this concept art suggests something different. Some design elements made it into the final film — particularly the cyborg legs — but his posture and surroundings don't exactly make him seem like a paranoid fugitive.
Instead, he is pictured in an outdoor camp (instead of a cave hideaway) and sits upon a pile of stormtrooper helmets.
The prideful "warlord" look seems like a drastic change.
Outright villainous behavior doesn't fit Saw, who is one of the few morally ambiguous characters the franchise has. He might not have had a prominent role in Rogue One, but this easily could have ruined Saw's character, or make him way less interesting, at the very least.
10 Shield Your Eyes
Good lord. As if Jar Jar wasn't infuriating enough, he almost spent his screen-time completely naked. Did you think he couldn't get any worse? Because clearly, he could have.
The concept art was probably used to finalize Jar Jar's physiology, especially since his species was a brand new addition to Star Wars at the time. Unfortunately, he has become one of, if not the most hated character in the franchise. Fans wish they could remove him from the movies entirely, so risqué Jar Jar artwork isn't exactly comforting sight.
Lucasfilm eventually settled on clothes after a handful of outfit concepts, and the world is better off because of it. Clothes don't exactly make him a better character or anything. They just make him a bit more bearable.
9 Kylo vs Jedi
Star Wars usually cuts away from any scenes of interrogation or torture, which makes this unused concept art from The Force Awakens especially peculiar. Pictured above is a First Order holding cell where a hooded figure (presumably Kylo Ren) tortures a Jedi. He is guarded by stormtroopers and accompanied by an interrogator droid.
It's not especially gruesome, but the screaming Jedi is what puts it over the edge. We did get a version of this in the form of Kylo Ren's force-torture of Poe Dameron, but this art suggests that something a bit more physical was originally envisioned.
This was likely left out for being too dark and potentially violent, which wouldn't work in a movie designed for children and families. Perhaps it could have made the final cut with some skillful editing, but it might not have been worth the risk.
8 Almost, But Not Quite Maul
Here's another preliminary design for Darth Maul. This one is a bit closer to his final look, but it's not quite villainous just yet. The idea of the face tattoos began to stick, as well as a mostly bald head and the use of red and black. Sadly, it doesn't shake the smarmy "business man" look that the other design had.
Between the high collar and the Tony Stark-esque facial hair, he still looks like a relatively normal citizen of the galaxy compared to the intimidating villain that George Lucas had in mind. The seeds have been planted for the design they would eventually adopt, but considering Maul has become one of the most iconic characters in the franchise, it's better that they didn't move forward with this concept.
7 The "Knights" Of Ren
A group of dark side force users, the Knights of Ren are the underlings of Supreme Leader Snoke and their "master" Kylo Ren. They make a brief appearance in Rey's force vision in The Force Awakens, all dressed in armor that look vaguely like Kylo Ren's.
Do the people in this image look like Force users? Do they even look like "knights" of any kind?
These characters look so disparate that the only thing they share is a color scheme and blasters. The last part is especially odd, since Force users rarely use projectile weapons. Of course, there are no rules that say they need to look the same or use lightsabers — they just seem like odd choices for a cult that worships the dark side.
They might as well be a group of generic bounty hunters. They may not get much screen time, but at least the real Knights look... knightly.
6 Dagobah Spider-Beast
Dagobah can be a little spooky, but it could have been a lot worse. This piece by Ralph McQuarrie depicts Luke exploring the planet and stumbling upon a gigantic arachnid monster of some kind. It's a good thing this concept was left out of The Empire Strikes Back, especially for audience members who are afraid of spiders.
Can you imagine being a young, impressionable child who suddenly learns they have arachnophobia in the middle of a Star Wars movie?
This could actually, truly, legitimately scar a young viewer.
For what it's worth, this is a fantastic creature design and it doesn't feel out of place in Star Wars, but it does feel like a jarring design to have in a mostly kid-friendly franchise.
5 Kylo Ren's Rip-off Helmet
The Force Awakens gets a lot of flak for being a rehash of previous Star Wars films, but this design would have taken "rehash" to a whole new level. Sure, Kylo Ren might be obsessed with grandpa Vader, but this is just plain lazy.
Original concepts for Kylo Ren all have similarities to Darth Vader, but this might be the most criminal of the bunch.
It's almost exactly the same as Vader's helmet.
Aside from the large nose/mouthpiece, it's practically a bootleg. Kylo already gets flack for his emo attitude and fashion sense, but this concept art "homage" borders too closely on plagiarism.
His final helmet design emulates Darth Revan instead — a decision that saved Lucasfilm from the outrage of fans already disappointed with The Force Awakens' safe choices.
4 Luke's Sith Haunting
As if The Last Jedi's haters didn't have enough to complain about, they nearly had one more controversial talking point.
This concept art reveals that Luke was almost going to be haunted by a Sith Force Ghost — one that would be seducing heroes to the dark side and pulling all the strings.
It's a great piece of art and an interesting idea, but fan outrage would have spread like wildfire.
Not only does this complicate the concept of Force ghosts and how they come to exist, but it also suggests that the real battle between the dark and the light exists on an entirely different plane of reality. Fans flipped out when Luke created one single illusion. Now Siths can be force ghosts and influence the real world on a whim?
Despite how promising it might sound, Lucasfilm may have dodged a bullet by abandoning this idea.
3 Han Solo's Prequel Cameo
Revenge of the Sith nearly featured a jarring cameo. This ten-year-old Han would have appeared during the battle of Kashyyk alongside Chewbacca and Yoda. Han even had dialogue in early drafts of the script, notifying Yoda of General Grievous' location. On its own, it doesn't sound so bad. However, it came with a big reveal: Chewie was actually raising Han.
He would have grown up on Kashyyk with Chewie, with the two acting more like father and son than partners in crime.
Han was also apparently supposed to be a total slob to contrast with his older, dashing style and behavior. It's not necessarily the art that's so bad here, but the premise of the cameo itself.
The design is totally fine, but we should all be glad that we never got to see it in action, as it could have ruined Han's character.
2 Nightmare Maul
Okay, this may have been a step too far. Maybe a few steps too far — this is straight-up terrifying.
George Lucas, still looking for that viscerally intimidating villain design, told concept artist Iain McCaig to draw his " worst nightmare." The results were harrowing.
Even Lucas thought that this design was too scary for the vision he had in mind.
The red and black color scheme is apparent, but it does feel like an overdose on horror influences. Naturally, this design was unfit for a film designed for children, and later was abandoned.
Fun fact: this concept design came before the other two! Lucas asked McCaig for a do-over, asking for his "second-worst nightmare" instead. This led to the other two designs, which might look like Maul, but are nowhere near as scarring as this could have been.
1 Yes, This Was Almost Yoda
It's like Gandalf and a garden gnome had a horrifying lovechild.
Yoda went through a number of awkward designs, but this one is the weirdest by far. How is it that this look seems so close to the Yoda we know, yet so far removed? It features the big ears and small stature, but between the generic beard, silly Smurf hat, and beady little eyes, this design is extremely off-putting.
It's an early version of the Jedi Master, so perhaps it's not fair to criticize so harshly, but it's very difficult to take seriously. With that said, Yoda's final design was just as risky at the time — but this design doesn't even feel like Star Wars. Fans should be eternally grateful that this odd character design didn't make the final cut.
What Star Wars designs did you hate the most? Any that you liked? Make sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts!