Unconfirmed, but surefire bets
Episode 9 may only have four confirmed characters, but several stars from The Last Jedi will surely join them. Kelly Mary Tran's Rose is perhaps the safest bet to return. The surprising amount of screen time she received in TLJ would be wasted by a one-off, and our boy Finn certainly wouldn't be happy if she were written out of the next adventure.
Anthony Daniels will likely return for another limited role as C-3PO, as should Billie Lourd, who plays Lieutenant Connix. The daughter of Carrie Fisher was given an expanded role in TLJ, and we wouldn't be shocked if history repeated itself in Episode IX.
On the other side of the Force, Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux is on track to return as well. He may have been played for laughs more often than not in TLJ, but he's still one of only two surviving baddies with a name and a recognizable face. He'll be back.
Unconfirmed but possible
Episode IX has more than its fair share of iffy character inclusions on its plate. Luke Skywalker's death stands as the biggest game-changer in TLJ, but he could always return as a Force Ghost. Given Mark Hamill's enthusiasm over the prospect of Luke's return, it would be foolish to rule him out.
Captain Phasma also seemed to meet her end, though there's reason to believe she could have actually survived her showdown with Finn. Time will tell if Gwendoline Christie will return, though it'd be a shame if she didn't.
Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) merely cameoed in TLJ, so her importance to the overarching plot is up for debate. For what it's worth, she is listed as "rumored" on Episode IX's IMDB page. Benicio Del Toro's DJ seems like a slightly better bet to return, if only so Finn and Rose can serve up some revenge. He could always redeem himself, but he was directly responsible for hundreds of Rebel deaths, so...probably not.
Unconfirmed and unlikely
Two Last Jedi stars that almost certainly won't be back are Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia and Andy Serkis' Snoke. Few could have predicted the latter's death, as evidenced by the mountain of since-dismissed fan theories surrounding the character. TLJ made the bold move of doing away with the trilogy's presumed big bad a full movie earlier than anticipated. J.J. Abrams and co. would be foolish to backtrack by bringing the Supreme Leader back from the dead. No matter how badly fans want to know about his backstory, it would be the wrong move.
Meanwhile, Leia miraculously managed to survive being blown out into space, but Fisher's real life passing all but precludes her from appearing in the final film of the trilogy. With recasting and digital recreation seemingly ruled out, the question of how to respectfully complete Leia's story is one of the biggest Episode IX will face. Perhaps J.J. Abrams will take a page out of the Star Trek playbook?
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019