Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker promises to be the darkest chapter of the franchise to date. With Kylo Ren manning the First Order, Rey aiming to complete her Jedi training, and the return of Sith Lord and supreme villain Palpatine, it seems as if the heroes have an almighty mountain to climb when it comes to reigning supreme and bringing peace to the galaxy.
There have been plenty of dark moments over the course of the 10 movies released so far, ranging from acts of shocking violence to brutal bullying. We now rank them chronologically and explain why they’ve made this list.
10 The Phantom Menace: Qui-Gon Dying
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was actually the fourth movie in the franchise, releasing 21 years after Return of the Jedi had brought the original trilogy to an end.
And the scene of Darth Maul murdering Qui-Gon Jinn is easily the darkest moment of a movie that seemed to spend much of its time trying to please child audiences. The death of Liam Neeson’s character is the first time we’ve seen a Jedi Knight die unwillingly, with both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker choosing their fate previously. For that reason, it was shocking to audiences and left them feeling glum afterwards, making Qui-Gon a unique character in the process.
9 Attack Of The Clones: Anakin Murders Tusken Raiders
Attack of the Clones is considerably darker than its predecessor: it had to be, what with Anakin Skywalker edging closer towards his fate as Darth Vader. And the scene that stands out the most is when the Jedi Knight slaughters Tusken Raiders following the death of his mother on Tatooine.
Star Wars fans had never seen a character carrying out cold, calculated, shockingly violent murder. But Anakin does, taking his anger out on the sand people after they had tortured and killed Shmi Skywalker. It was an act that also contributed majorly towards the former Tatooine slave venturing down a dark and dangerous path.
8 Revenge Of The Sith: The Slaughter Of Younglings
If fans thought Anakin Skywalker killing Tusken Raiders in cold blood was bad, George Lucas decided to take things up a notch in Revenge of the Sith where Hayden Christensen’s character storms the Jedi temple and leaves no survivors, murdering younglings along the way.
None of the killing is seen on screen with Lucas instead relying on audiences to use their instincts. But it doesn’t make it any less shocking with the sight of Anakin igniting his lightsaber, just as a young child in need asks for his help, the darkest scene in the franchise’s history. We know he was angry and channelling the dark side but did he really have to wipe out children? It was a cruel decision from the conflicted warrior.
7 Solo: The Enslavement Of Wookies
It’s not a scene that gets much attention in Solo: A Star Wars Story but the sight of Wookies being enslaved is certainly dark because, not only does it show how cruel the species was treated by the outside world, it also demonstrated the barbaric and villainous thinking behind the Empire.
The Empire didn’t care a jot about anybody but themselves and their aim of consolidating power. They rule with an iron first and, in a blockbuster that had a largely positive town, the sight of Wookies being kept in chains was a haunting one. Thankfully, though, Chewbacca was able to grant them freedom by wiping out their captors.
6 Rogue One: Killing The Informant
Rogue One is a dark story, despite its sunny sequences and positive vibes. With the Empire at the peak of its power, and the Rebel Alliance floundering in their mission to end their rule, it’s a tale of a galaxy that can’t catch a break. And with the stakes being so high, drastic action was always required.
We get our first, true sense of how bad things are when Cassian Andor murders a panicky informant in order to prevent him from damaging their chances of escape. Friendly fire is something we’d never seen before in a previous Star Wars movies and the scene leaves audiences wondering what Cassian’s deal is. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that desperate times require desperate measures.
5 A New Hope: Galactic Genocide
Being the first Star Wars movie ever released, A New Hope is one of the lighter watches of the entire franchise. However, despite that, it contains one of the saga’s darkest moments when Grand Moff Tarkin destroys Leia Organa’s home planet of Alderaan using the Death Star.
To wipe out billions of people in a single, cruel action shows the strength of the Empire and exactly what the good guys are up against. Fortunately, the Rebel Alliance are able to avenge the dead by blowing up the first Death Star at the end of the movie, wiping out Tarkin in the process.
4 The Empire Strikes Back: Han Solo In Carbonite
The Empire Strikes Back is a movie where the title tells you exactly what’s going to happen. Having seen their Death Star destroyed in the previous movie, the villains of the franchise respond by dominating the Rebel Alliance throughout the sequel. They best them on Hoth and, towards the end of the movie, capture some big players on Cloud City.
Among them is Han Solo, who is then encased in carbonite and delivered to Jabba the Hutt. Taking him is one thing but also robbing him of the chance to exchange an emotional goodbye with Leia Organa is another thing entirely. It’s more evidence of the depraved lengths the Empire are willing to go to.
3 Return Of The Jedi: Luke Tips Towards Darkness
Having been able to fend off the dark side previously, Luke Skywalker strays dangerously close into turning during the final battle of Return of the Jedi. He’s goaded into attempting to murder Emperor Palpatine and, when he finds himself pitted against his father Darth Vader, he doesn’t hold back.
Audiences were genuinely terrified Luke was about to fall for Palpatine’s plan with the Jedi Knight attacking Vader with a ferocity never seen before, lobbing off the villain’s hand in the process. And that makes it a dark moment within the blockbuster, even if Luke does eventually come to his senses.
2 The Force Awakens: The Son Kills The Father
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first movie of the franchise released by Disney, with the 2015 blockbuster kicking off the sequel trilogy. Within the movie it’s established that Kylo Ren is the villain of the saga and they show just how evil he can be when he murders father Han Solo on Starkiller Base.
Obviously, we’d seen some big deaths before this but the sight of the son killing the father suggests Kylo may even be darker than Darth Vader. What makes it extra dark is that Han Solo had previously been begging his son to return to the light side of the force - meaning his final words were ultimately meaningless.
1 The Last Jedi: Finn’s Suicide Mission
We nearly went with Luke Skywalker nearly killing a young Ben Solo because, let’s face it, an uncle attempting to murder his nephew is a shocking thing to do. But, instead, we’ve opted to choose the moment Finn appears set to end his life during the final showdown against the First Order on Crait.
Suicide is something we’d only seen just an hour previously when Vice Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself by driving a Resistance ship straight through Supreme Leader Snoke’s Star Destroyer. And we were fearful we’d see it again when Finn, one of the main characters of the sequel trilogy, sets off on a mission to eliminate the First Order’s giant cannon. Thankfully, though, Rose comes to his rescue and prevents another emotional death.