Star Wars: 15 Greatest Moments from the Skywalker Saga

Perhaps no other film series has captivated the minds and hearts of our modern culture the way Star Wars has. Since 1977, the creation of George Lucas ushered in a mythology that allowed us to experience a galaxy where the possibilities are endless. In conjunction with Star Wars day, we are celebrating the series with 15 of the greatest moments from the Skywalker saga.

15. Anakin’s Revenge (Attack of the Clones)

As Lucas once said, Star Wars has always been about the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. While the execution of Attack of the Clones left a lot to be desired, its greatest scene is a pivotal moment in the saga. 

With his mother being held captive by Tusken raiders, Anakin attempts a desperate rescue. After a long ordeal, Anakin finally finds his mother only to have her die seconds later. John Williams’ frantic and frenetic score creeps in as Anakin’s demeanor shifts from being in shock to utter rage, moments before he slaughters an entire village of Tusken raiders.

14. Duel of the Fates (The Phantom Menace)

Accompanied by Williams’ now iconic “Duel of the Fates”, the climatic duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul at the end of The Phantom Menace is often hailed as one of the saga’s best action sequences. 

In effort to revamp the lightsaber battles from the original trilogy, the lightsaber battles in the prequels are faster, painstakingly choreographed and more complex. On top of injecting a much-needed tension into the at times, meandering film, the breathtaking sequence did a spectacular job in showcasing the Jedi at their prime. While it certainly did not match the emotional weight of the other lightsaber fights in the saga, the final duel of the first prequel film will always be remembered as one of the franchise’s finest action moments.

13. Rey Catches the Lightsaber (The Force Awakens)

After witnessing the death of Han Solo as well as having just seen Finn, her only friend (alongside BB-8, of course), getting sliced in the back, Rey’s arc in The Force Awakens comes to a culmination. The camera cuts to a victorious Kylo Ren, attempting to pull the iconic Skywalker lightsaber amidst the snow. 

After shimmying for a moment or two, we see the lightsaber flying across several feet of frozen landscape, bypassing the Master of the Knights of Ren and finally landing in Rey’s hand. Also, having kicked off an awesome lightsaber duel in the snow? We’re not complaining.

12. “See you around, kid” (The Last Jedi)

After being cornered on the salt planet of Crait, all hopes for the Resistance are gone. Then, Luke Skywalker came walking out of the cave where the Resistance was hiding and stood in front of the First Order’s fleet of walkers. After initially refusing to train Rey and turning his back on his friends in their hour of need, the Jedi Master makes his glorious comeback during the climax of The Last Jedi.

Much to the surprise of the viewers, it is revealed that the Jedi Master wasn’t physically present during the lightsaber duel with his nephew. Instead, Luke remained on Ahch-To and Force projected a mirage of himself to the salt planet. Unexpected and clever, the scene in question is one of the biggest twists in the sequel trilogy (that worked). 

Despite the issues with killing off the character of Luke Skywalker shortly after, the Jedi Master proved that he’s still the best of the best, as well as giving Kylo a much-needed reality check. Classic Jedi move there.  

11.Death of Han Solo (The Force Awakens)

We would be lying if we say that our hearts did not sink when Han Solo was killed off in The Force Awakens. Arguably the coolest guy in the galaxy, Han is beloved as a smuggler, rebel general and war hero. (Not Jabba though). During the third act of the first instalment in the sequel trilogy, Han tragically dies at the hands of his son, Kylo Ren. 

Even in his final moment, Han still believes that there is good in his son, brushing his hand across Kylo’s face before falling into the chasm. Giving himself to Kylo in a moment of absolute forgiveness is the culmination of the legendary smuggler’s arc throughout the saga. Han’s death concluded his arc throughout the Star Wars films in a terrific fashion. 

Throughout the Star Wars films, we witnessed Han’s incredible evolution from a selfish smuggler who mocks the force to a compassionate rebel war hero that refuses to give up on his son. Farewell Han, you are missed.  

10. “You were my brother, Anakin.” (Revenge of the Sith)

Regardless of the many opinions regarding the Star Wars prequels, there is one universal truth about it that all Star Wars fans can agree on – Ewan McGregor is perfect as Obi-Wan Kenobi. From The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith, McGregor has consistently proven himself to be the highlight throughout the prequel trilogy.

During the climatic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, we see the pair battle on the volcanic planet Mustafar. Unlike the aforementioned duel in The Phantom Menace, the battle between the two in Sith is between two people who were once master and apprentice, who fought alongside each other as comrades during the Clone Wars. 

As the confrontation between the pair comes to a depressing end, we see a limbless Anakin trying to crawl away from the pool of lava while professing his hate towards his former master. With intense grieve, we witness the latter confessing, “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you”. McGregor’s heartbreaking performance instantly elevates the scene, delivering the grief of a Jedi Master confessing the one time he broke the Jedi Code (The Jedi Order of the prequels forbids attachment, after all).

9. Kylo Ren’s Betrayal (The Last Jedi)

To say that The Last Jedi is controversial would be a severe understatement. However, if there is one thing the film excelled at, it’s the development of Kylo Ren as a character. Easily the best character of the sequel trilogy, Kylo Ren’s progression as the film’s main antagonist reaches a high point during the second act of The Last Jedi

After the events of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is a broken person. In a scene reminiscent of the throne room sequence in Return of the Jedi, with little-to-no build up, Snoke dies at the hand of Kylo Ren. The shocking scene isn’t just effective on its own, but ultimately serves as a narrative foil for Kylo Ren, one that illustrates that the heir apparent to Darth Vader is not one to be underestimated. 

8. Death Star Trench Run (A New Hope)

Despite being released four decades ago, the Death Star trench run sequence in the original Star Wars is still widely considered as one of the most breathtaking sci-fi sequences in all of cinema. Incredibly well edited and injected with the perfect amount of tension, the trench run sequence in A New Hope is a textbook example of how a third act should be. 

Whether it’s the intense dialogue exchange between the rebel pilots, the urgency in the rebel base, as well as the chilling presence of Darth Vader, every single moment during the sequence warrants a discussion of its own. In the original Star Wars, Lucas masterfully balances character, action and narrative. Also, you’d be lying if you weren’t cheering when Han Solo knocks Vader out of the chase and yells the now legendary line: “You’re all clear, kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home.”  

7. Father & Son (The Rise of Skywalker)

In the aftermath of the duel between Kylo Ren and Rey on the remains of the second Death Star in The Rise of Skywalker, we see the surprising return of Han Solo, as a memory that lives in the tortured Ben Solo.

“Come home,” Han says, an echo of what he said more than a year ago. “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” In The Force Awakens, this was a ruse — an act meant to manipulate the viewers into believing that the mask of Kylo Ren was falling apart, and maybe he really was. 

However in The Rise of Skywalker, the same lines were used in great effect to showcase Kylo’s hesitance to reject the evil that he helped perpetuate, proving that turning good is as difficult as turning evil. Han tells him he can, and then the most powerful line in the sequel trilogy is the one that goes unspoken. 

“Dad …” Ben says, but couldn’t muster the strength to say the next three words. “… I know,” Han says. Reminded of the love of his family, Ben Solo throws Kylo’s crossguard lightsaber into the depths of Kef Bir’s ocean, signifying the death of the Supreme Leader and the rise of a Skywalker.

6. “I love you.” “I Know.” (The Empire Strikes Back)

The Empire Strikes Back isn’t just a great film about spaceships and daddy issues (more on that later), it also delivered sci-fi’s most celebrated couple—Han Solo & Princess Leia Organa. 

The chemistry between Ford and Fisher electrifies in the second instalment of the saga. The spark between them is instantaneous. Their relationship started in the original Star Wars with excessive denials—even carrying into the first act of the sequel. Over the course of Empire, the relationship between the two develops, with the headstrong princess starting to reciprocate feelings for the Galaxy’s coolest scoundrel. 

However, in an unexpected turn of events, Han, Leia, along with the rest of the crew are captured by Darth Vader. Moments before Han is frozen alive in carbonite by Vader, Leia finally confesses her feelings and says that she loves him, to which he replies the now iconic line “I know”. The relationship between Han and Leia expands and deepens in The Empire Strikes Back as they face adversity together, which makes for a romance that is often celebrated. May the romance be with you.

5. A Night at the Opera (Revenge of the Sith)

For a trilogy that’s notorious for its obsession towards computer-generated effects, it’s surprising that the greatest scene in its entirety revolves around two people sitting in an opera house. 

In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine invites Anakin over to the opera house. Palpatine tells Anakin of the legend of Darth Plagueis, a Sith Lord who was said to be so powerful he could both create life and prevent people from dying. Anakin is very receptive to the myth, as nightmares of Padme’s death have haunted him relentlessly. 

The false promise of the dark side’s power, the portrayal of the Jedi as usurpers instead of peacekeepers, the opera scene in Revenge on the Sith showcased the dark side at its most alluring.

4. Vader’s Redemption (Return of the Jedi)

In Return of the Jedi, Vader’s conflict is on full display. Unwilling to let his son perish at the hands of the Emperor, Vader sacrifices his own life to save his son. Anakin Skywalker died rediscovering the essence of fatherhood, and it was his sacrifice and love that restored the galaxy to peace and order, marking the true return of the Jedi. Not only does the sacrifice and redemption of Darth Vader mark the climax of the original trilogy, it’s also the most important moment in the saga.

In the end, Vader is able to redeem himself through the love and forgiveness from his son. As George Lucas said, “Only through the love of his children and the compassion of his children, who believe in him, though he’s a monster, does he redeem himself.”

3. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” (Return of the Jedi)

During the climactic battle of Return of the Jedi, we see Luke finally beating his greatest enemy – his father. The young Jedi Knight taps into the dark side, ready to administer the killing blow with one final strike. We hear the voice of the Emperor commanding Luke to  “finish him.” And…he stops. He throws away his lightsaber and proclaims: “I am a Jedi, like my father before me”.

Throughout the film, both Obi-Wan and Yoda believed that Vader is at a point of no return and has to be destroyed in order for the galaxy to be restored. Much to their dismay, Luke refuses to believe that his father is beyond saving. With the Emperor’s command mirroring that of his masters, it further affirms Luke to do what he believes is right. By channeling his compassion, by defying the temptations of the Emperor as well as the teachings of his masters, Luke becomes the true Jedi he was destined to be. 

2. “I am your Father.” (The Empire Strikes Back)

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were engaged in a lightsaber duel. Vader has his ominous red blade wielded, and Luke uses his father’s old blue lightsaber. After the two exchange a few more clashes, Luke finally lands a blow to Vader’s upper right arm. It’s all downhill for the Jedi trainee when the Sith Lord decides to stop toying with him. 

After Vader lets out a rare cry of pain, he lashes out a couple of swings, chopping three uprights in half. Bracing for the worst, the young Skywalker takes one more slash, which Vader counters with little effort and slices Luke’s saber hand clean off. Vader stands over the defeated Jedi-in-training, his arm extended, convincing him to join the dark side. After Luke’s refusal, Vader’s cold and intimidating voice drops the reveal of the century, “No… I am your father.”

The revelation that Vader did not betray Luke’s father, but rather was his father, changes the entire course of not only the film, but also the saga. With one line, everything the characters and the audience thought they knew, was suddenly put to question. Unexpected, jaw-dropping and downright brutal, if there’s one scene in the saga that everyone knows, it’s this one. 

1. Binary Sunset (A New Hope)

In A New Hope, we are introduced to a young Luke Skywalker. He’s your typical teenager in a galaxy far, far away. He’s eager, anxious, and desperate to leave home to pick up some power converters. What sets him apart, and his journey to come, is illustrated in a powerful scene in the film – the binary sunset scene.

We see a young man staring into the horizon as the warming glow of the sunset on his alien homeworld, representing the exciting yet bittersweet change that is about to come his way. John Williams’ amazing “Force Theme” swells, instantly breathing emotion and depth into the scene. The special moment signifies that the life of the farm boy as he knows it is coming to an end, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Four decades and more than ten movies later, the binary sunset scene in the original Star Wars remains the greatest moment in the saga. Simple yet resonant, emotional yet powerful, not only is the binary sunset scene often recognised as the most iconic scene in all of Star Wars, but also one of the most memorable moments in cinema history.