- The Star Wars franchise has had shocking moments, such as Darth Vader revealing he is Luke’s father, which redefined the direction of the franchise.
- Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm led to more shocking twists and turns, better integrating stories into the Star Wars canon.
- Surprises in the franchise include the clones turning on the Jedi and the shocking reveal of “Baby Yoda” in The Mandalorian.
The Star Wars franchise has always targeted a family-friendly audience, but even in doing so, it’s still managed to create some massively shocking moments. Some of these have been plot twists, surprise reveals, or general moments that have caught audiences off guard, despite the rich and long history of the franchise. Many twists were shocking initially, but over the course of time, they have been further integrated into the galaxy’s history and overall story.
Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 led to a massive expansion of the Star Wars galaxy, including a whole new generation of television shows, movies, and Star Wars books. This has allowed not only for more shocking twists and turns, but also for better integration of those stories into the greater Star Wars canon. So, while things may have been shocking upon their premiere, Star Wars has been doing the work to better integrate those choices into the larger story of the galaxy – and here are 12 of the biggest ones.
12 Darth Vader Is Luke Skywalker’s Father
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
One of the biggest reveals in cinematic history came in the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, when Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father. It was one of the best-kept secrets of the franchise, so much so that it wasn’t even written in the script. While the line is now iconic, it was the ultimate spoiler when the movie first premiered. Not only was it shocking, but it redefined the direction of the Star Wars franchise.
11 Luke And Leia Are Twins
Return of the Jedi (1983)
It was established from the very beginning of A New Hope that Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa had a special connection, but that connection wasn’t defined until the Return of the Jedi, when Luke realized they were siblings in a conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Force ghost – who explained they had to be separated at birth to keep the two of them safe. The reveal that Luke and Leia were twins was a huge surprise, especially with the knowledge that Darth Vader was their father – and, of course, the infamous kiss they previously shared in The Empire Strikes Back.
10 Sheev Palpatine Becomes The Emperor
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
It was clear before The Phantom Menace that the rise of the dark side and the Sith was coming. Despite this, the reveal that Darth Sidious himself, Sheev Palpatine, was a member of the Senate representing the planet Naboo was shocking. Not only that, but seeing Palpatine’s rise to power over the course of the three Star Wars prequel movies highlighted his intelligence and ability to fool not only the Jedi, but also the audience.
9 The Clones Turn On The Jedi In Order 66
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
It was known from the original trilogy that almost all the Jedi had been wiped out, but it wasn’t until Revenge of the Sith premiered that audiences learned the shocking and heartbreaking truth. The massacre of the Jedi would later be expanded upon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with inhibitor chips being the reason why the loyal clone army turned on their Jedi generals. Even with this information, Order 66 is still one of the most shocking and heartbreaking events in all of Star Wars.
8 Kylo Ren Turns On Supreme Leader Snoke
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
In another case of two characters having an interesting connection, The Last Jedi introduced a Force dyad between Kylo Ren and Rey Skywalker. In the final act of the movie, Kylo Ren shockingly killed his mentor, Supreme Leader Snoke, and he took over the role, asking Rey to join him and rule by his side. The scene highlighted Ren’s need for power, and that he’d do anything to get it. Between his role as the newest Supreme Leader and the power from the Force dyad, Kylo Ren became one of the most intimidating characters in the entire Star Wars franchise.
7 “Baby Yoda” Grogu Is Revealed
The Mandalorian (2019)
When The Mandalorian premiered in 2019 on Disney+, it took the entire world by storm. Much of the reason for this is the surprise reveal of “Baby Yoda” at the end of the very first episode. Though this adorable little green alien has now been identified as Grogu, much of his backstory is still perplexing and unknown. When he was first revealed, many thought he was related in some form to Master Yoda, though that still hasn’t been proven true even after three seasons of The Mandalorian.
6 Boba Fett Survives The Sarlacc Pit
The Mandalorian (2019) & The Book of Boba Fett (2021)
The legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett was presumed dead after falling into the Sarlacc pit at the beginning of Return of the Jedi, but he reappeared in The Mandalorian season 2 as a vital ally to Din Djarin. The Mandalorian spin-off show, The Book of Boba Fett, dove into what happened to Fett after he was swallowed by the Sarlacc and his journey in the years following. While viewers had been hoping for Boba Fett to return for years, it was still very shocking when it happened, and despite The Book of Boba Fett’s mixed reviews, it was still amazing to see Boba Fett back on screen.
5 The Razor Crest Gets Blown Up
The Mandalorian (2019)
One of the first iconic staples of The Mandalorian was Din Djarin’s ship, the Razor Crest. Though the old ship had been put through the wringer early on in The Mandalorian season 2, it was still a home for Din Djarin and Grogu. The Mandalorian season 2, episode 6, however, shocked viewers when Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces appeared on Tython, took Grogu, and unceremoniously blew up the Razor Crest. Knowing how few things Din Djarin had, it was both surprising and heartbreaking to see it all literally go up in flames.
Din Djarin is given a new ship from Peli Motto in The Book of Boba Fett: a Naboo N-1 starfighter, as seen in The Mandalorian season 3.
4 Anakin Reunites With Ahsoka In The World Between Worlds
2023’s Ahsoka did a wonderful job bringing an engaging show to Star Wars fans by not only expanding the lore of the Jedi and the Nightsisters of Dathomir, but also introducing a brand-new galaxy. Despite all of these twists and turns, the most shocking part was Ahsoka Tano reuniting with her master, Anakin Skywalker, in the World Between Worlds. Anakin had one more lesson to teach his former Padawan, which included live-action flashbacks to the Clone Wars, something that surprised and exceeded audiences’ expectations. It was amazing to see Hayden Christensen back as Anakin, and it was made even more special by his amazing performance.
3 The Death Star Destroys Scarif
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Not only did Rogue One: A Star Wars Story entertain audiences, but it also introduced interesting new characters who enriched the Star Wars galaxy. One of the most shocking parts was in the final act, when it became clear that the small “Rogue One” team would not be surviving their mission to retrieve the Death Star plans. In a surprise turn of events, Grand Moff Tarkin ordered the Death Star to be used on the Imperial base, killing everyone on the surface. The final moments of Cassian Andor’s and Jyn Erso’s lives were heartbreaking after the audience had spent the entire movie getting to know and love them, though at least the dive into Cassian’s past in Andor has helped to remedy this pain.
2 Kanan Jarrus Sacrifices Himself
Star Wars Rebels (2014)
Star Wars Rebels did an excellent job of introducing new Jedi for audiences to love, with both Kanan Jarrus and his Padawan, Ezra Bridger. Kanan was far from the perfect master, as he was only a Padawan during Order 66. Despite this, he loved his found family, and he proved he would do anything for them – as evidenced by Kanan’s shocking death in Rebels season 4. To save Ezra, Hera Syndulla, and Sabine Wren, Kanan used the Force to hold back a gas explosion until his family could get out of the blast radius. The Force also granted Kanan his sight back in his final seconds, so he could see his family and his lover one last time.
1 Ahsoka Tano Leaves The Jedi Order
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars ran for seven seasons and introduced fan-favorite characters such as Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. There had been many questions about what Ahsoka’s fate would be in Order 66, but the writers were able to avoid answering those questions when Ahsoka made the shocking decision to leave the Jedi Order in The Clone Wars season 5. Ahsoka had been framed for bombing the Jedi Temple and lost her faith in the Jedi when no one believed her. She chose to leave the Order, but continued to lead a life that emulated what the Jedi should have been. The Clone Wars’ cancelation on Cartoon Network forced audiences to wait seven years to learn Ahsoka’s Order 66 fate, with the final season premiering on Disney+ in 2020.
Star Wars is still rapidly expanding, and almost all titles have had some kind of shocking reveal or twist, though some are easier for audiences to anticipate than others. With a franchise that has run for so long, writers have had to become increasingly more creative about how and when twists and turns should happen. This is how Star Wars has rarely let audiences down in the area of surprises, and they will hopefully continue to provide even more interesting and shocking moments in the future of the franchise.