J.J. Abrams has been very persistent in calling the upcoming ninth chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker, the end of the Skywalker Saga, as opposed to the end of the sequel trilogy. Apparently, ending a trilogy that most fans despise in a satisfying way wasn’t enough pressure for him, so he’s calling it the end of the Star Wars movies that the fans actually like, too.
What the upcoming finale should focus on primarily is simply ending the story at hand. So, as Abrams heads into the endgame, here are 5 lessons from Return Of The Jedi and 5 more from Revenge Of The Sith on how to end a trilogy properly.
10 Return of the Jedi - Emotional Closure
Despite the schmaltzy nature of the party on Endor, the final scene of Return of the Jedi gives all of the main characters a healthy dose of emotional closure. Han and Leia finally got together, Luke made amends with his father, Anakin returned as a Force ghost to watch over his son, and on a grander scale, the Rebel Alliance has triumphed over the Galactic Empire and brought peace to the galaxy.
The emotional closure here can be summed up in one shot – Luke looking over at the Force ghosts of his mentor figures: Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin.
9 Revenge of the Sith - As Few Final Scenes As Possible
Like fellow trilogy closer The Return of the King, Revenge of the Sith has a few final scenes. We see Darth Vader overseeing construction of the Death Star, Bail Organa adopting Leia, and Obi-Wan taking Luke to his aunt and uncle on Tatooine. These are the key plot points that needed wrapping up.
George Lucas originally planned a scene in which Yoda exiled himself on Dagobah, but he found that it slowed down the pacing of the ending and distracted from the focus of the story, so he cut it. J.J. Abrams needs to remember that less is more.
8 Return of the Jedi - A Sprawling Third-Act Battle Sequence
The final battle in Return of the Jedi is told across various locations to give every character a chance to shine. Luke is battling Darth Vader in the Emperor’s throne room, Lando and the Rebels are blowing up the new Death Star, and Han, Leia, Chewie, R2-D2, and C-3PO are disabling the shield generator on Endor.
The Rise of Skywalker needs a final battle that gives every character important roles. In The Force Awakens, Finn and Rey’s duel against Kylo Ren made the Resistance’s aerial attack on Starkiller Base seem insignificant. J.J. Abrams needs to avoid making that mistake again.
7 Revenge of the Sith - An All-Time Great Lightsaber Duel Between The Two Leads
Revenge of the Sith ends with Obi-Wan and Anakin’s duel, while Return of the Jedi closes with Luke and Vader clashing blades. However, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s duel is closer to what we can expect in The Rise of Skywalker. Theirs was more emotionally charged than Luke and Vader’s.
The emotion of Luke and Vader’s duel came from the fact that Luke didn’t want to fight Vader, but the battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin showed that they were torn over their love for each other. We need a lightsaber duel as complex as Obi-Wan and Anakin’s between Rey and Kylo Ren.
6 Return of the Jedi - No Loose Ends
In Return of the Jedi, everything that was a mystery in the original trilogy was resolved, like Leia being revealed as Luke’s sister. There are a lot more unresolved mysteries in the sequel trilogy than there were in the original trilogy, courtesy of J.J. Abrams’ Mystery Box.
Additionally, all of the other loose ends were tied up in Return of the Jedi. Darth Vader was redeemed and he got a final moment with Luke, Han and Leia’s “Will they, won't they?” romance wrapped up with the answer that they will – there were no loose ends.
5 Revenge of the Sith - Payoff For All Story Threads
Whether or not you liked any of the story threads in the prequel trilogy, there’s no denying that they were all satisfyingly paid off in Revenge of the Sith. Palpatine’s political career, the rise of the Clone Army, the fall of the Jedi Order, and most importantly, the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker – they all come to a head in Revenge of the Sith.
There are plenty of lingering storylines in the sequel trilogy – Rey’s mysterious parentage, Kylo Ren’s looming redemption, the Jedi hanging in the balance – that need to be paid off in The Rise of Skywalker.
4 Return of the Jedi - End On A Hopeful Note
Return of the Jedi ended its story so well that the sequel trilogy felt entirely unnecessary from the get-go. It concluded the original trilogy on a hopeful note, with the Rebels winning, the galaxy finding peace, Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi, and balance finally being restored to the Force.
Rian Johnson got us started on the path to a hopeful ending with the closing “Broom Boy” shot in The Last Jedi, but as the ending to both the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker needs to end on an even more inspiring note than that.
3 Revenge of the Sith - Give Each Character One Last Memorable Moment
Since the end of a trilogy is (probably) the last time we’re ever going to see any of these characters, the best final parts give them each one last memorable moment. In Revenge of the Sith, we saw Obi-Wan take on General Grievous, Yoda battled Darth Sidious, and R2-D2 used all of his previously unseen gadgets to destroy Battle Droids.
It’s a love letter to how awesome all those characters are, sort of like a swansong. They each get an individual ending, but it’s just as important to give them each a moment for fans to remember them by.
2 Return of the Jedi - Good Triumphing Over Evil
While planning Return of the Jedi, George Lucas considered having a twist ending where Luke Skywalker turned evil. He would take up his father’s mask, put it on, rule the Empire and finish what he started, kind of like Kylo Ren. While it would’ve been a shocking and completely unexpected moment, it ultimately would’ve been disappointing.
Aside from it being disingenuous to Luke’s character, it just wouldn’t have worked. Storytelling is built on the foundation of good triumphing over evil and stories as traditional and black-and-white as Star Wars need those endings.
1 Revenge of the Sith - Complete Every Character's Arc
Any good trilogy ending wraps up the characters’ arcs. Revenge of the Sith concluded with Anakin Skywalker tragically turning to the Dark Side, thus ending Anakin’s arc and beginning Darth Vader’s.
Thanks to J.J. Abrams and his Mystery Box, the character arcs in the Star Wars sequel trilogy haven’t been very clearly defined, with each character headed in a vague direction. Rey is tempted by the Dark Side, Kylo Ren is tempted by the Light Side, Poe Dameron wants the Resistance to succeed in spite of his stick-in-the-mud superiors, and Finn is trying to move on from his Stormtrooper past.