With the Star Wars sequel trilogy now finished, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my favorite moments – and there are certainly a ton to choose from!
Here’s my list of the top 15 moments from the sequel trilogy – did your favorite make the list?
15. The Falcon flies again
In The Force Awakens, much time at first is spent introducing us to the new characters (more on that in a minute), which means that the first forty minutes are spent without a single glimpse at the original heroes – there are mentions of Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker, but we don’t see them (nor do we see Han Solo or Chewbacca). It’s a familiar world with new characters – but the first iconic ‘character’ we see in the movie? The Millennium Falcon. As Rey, Finn, and BB-8 rush to avoid First Order TIE Fighters, they wind up taking “the garbage one” as a ship, and it winds up being the Falcon. Rey flies the beloved ship while Finn mans the guns, and part of their adventure takes them flying through the remains of a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer. It is truly a thrill to see the Falcon fly again.
14. Old Friends
Luke Skywalker goes through quite a range of emotions in The Last Jedi, and part of that happens when he sneaks onto the Millennium Falcon, standing in the cockpit and taking it all in, reminiscing about memories long gone. Overcome by all of this, he sits down in the Falcon to collect himself – and is reunited with his old friend, R2-D2. The two experienced quite a bit together, as for all we know, it seems they were together for the most part of three decades (around 28 years), with R2 being a key part of Luke’s exploration of the galaxy and his training a new generation of Jedi. But Luke left R2 behind when he went to Ahch-To, so here the two friends are reunited for the first time in around six years. There’s some humor (poking fun at R2’s language), but as Luke refuses to change his mind, R2 plays that iconic message from Princess Leia from A New Hope, asking Obi-Wan Kenobi for help. Luke responds, “that was a cheap move,” but for the fans, it’s a callback done right. It’s not just exciting and heartwarming, but it also drives the plot in an important way.
13. Leia trains as a Jedi
The Rise of Skywalker gives us a big revelation about Leia Organa: she actually did train as a Jedi! As Luke Skywalker talks with Rey on Ahch-To, he leads her to his old hut, where he kept Leia’s lightsaber, gifting it to Rey. We then see a flashback of the last night of Leia’s training, with Luke telling Rey what happened. We see Leia and Luke on Ajan Kloss training with their lightsabers, and we see them resembling their Return of the Jedi selves. One of the very best things that TROS did was leaning fully into Leia as a Jedi: she’s the one training Rey, she reaches out with the Force to save Ben, she trained as a Jedi and had a lightsaber, and she becomes one with the Force, appearing as a Force ghost at the end. After all these years, seeing her finally train as a Jedi was very cool, even if it was via flashback and more indirect means.
12. Peace and Purpose
At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker becomes one with the Force. He has just proven himself as maybe the greatest Jedi who ever lived, saved the Resistance, and met his former apprentice one last time – and all from across the galaxy through the Force. So having completed his task and having restored hope to the galaxy and brought a spark to the Resistance, Luke Skywalker boldly sits up from his perch on Ahch-To, overlooks a twin sunset, and as the Force theme blares, passes into the Force. It’s like poetry in that he dies looking out at a binary sunset, ending his adventure in life the same way that it began in A New Hope. But whereas then it was an expression of longing, here we are told that it was an act of peace and purpose.
11. Rey’s Introduction
This one might surprise some people, being this high, but this is one of my very favorite moments from the sequel trilogy, and it’s Rey’s introduction in The Force Awakens. We of course begin the film on Jakku with Poe Dameron at the Tuanul Village, and then we transition to Finn aboard the Star Destroyer aghast at the massacre that had just taken place. But in a seamless transition – Finn putting his helmet on cutting to Rey’s masked face – we then meet Rey. She’s scavenging in a crashed Star Destroyer from decades earlier, an aftermath of the Battle of Jakku, so we literally find her scavenging in the remnants of the old war just to survive. We see just this small figure in the massive Destroyer, and she soon exits to the sandy terrain of Jakku. All she can manage out of her canteen is a drop of water, and then she begins sledding down a giant hill as John Williams’s absolutely beautiful theme for the character begins. Even the theme itself gives the impression of loneliness, as does the picture of this teenage girl sliding down a giant sand dune in front of a massive Star Destroyer. Without any dialogue, this scene tells us so much about Rey. It is, in my opinion, the very best character introduction in all of Star Wars.
10. Lando Arrives
The Rise of Skywalker finally brought Lando Calrissian back into the fold, and gave him a few really great moments – but none greater than when he arrives to turn the tides at the Battle of Exegol. Just when it seems that Palpatine’s Final Order has won, Poe Dameron hopelessly says that there’s just too many of them – and that’s when we hear Lando over the coms saying, “But there are more of us, Poe. There are more of us.” Poe jerks his X-Wing around to see a massive fleet assembling as a triumphant version of the Star Wars theme plays, and we realize that Lando and Chewbacca had succeeded in rallying the galaxy to the cause of the Resistance and of freedom. That includes the Ghost, Wedge Antilles, Zorri Bliss and Babu Frik, and many more. The ships rush into battle, turning the tide of the Battle of Exegol.
9. There is Another
We have already mentioned what The Rise of Skywalker did for Leia Organa’s character in regards to her strength in the Force, but it was also building off of what had been established in previous Star Wars films. Leia is strong with the Force, and she herself is a Skywalker – and we don’t see any greater display of that than in The Last Jedi. Leia’s Resistance is on the run, and they are stunned to realize that the First Order can actually track them through hyperspace… which basically means they’re screwed. As Kylo Ren flies and causes damage to the Raddus, he hesitates to fire on the bridge as he senses his mother, but his wingmen fire instead. The explosion devastates the bridge, sucking all of those present (including Leia) out into space. This kills Admiral Ackbar and the rest of the Resistance leadership, but Leia floats in space unconscious. While Williams cues up a touching rendition of Leia’s theme, we see her reach out with the Force and pull herself through space back onto the bridge and into the ship, where she is in a coma – but alive! She is awoken later by Luke reaching out to her through the Force, and she goes on to lead the Resistance and train Rey for a while longer. She wasn’t done, and neither was the Force done with her. Seeing Leia use such an awesome display of the Force was a precious moment. There is another Skywalker.
8. The Holdo Maneuver
While General Organa is in a coma, command of the Resistance passes to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a longtime friend of Leia’s. She doesn’t trust Poe Dameron, nor does he trust her, and so his ambition leads to the Resistance being exposed. Holdo’s plan to send unmarked transports to the nearby planet of Crait initially works, but the First Order catches on, firing upon the unarmed transports. Having stayed behind on the Raddus to draw the First Order’s attention, Holdo soon devises a plan of what to do: she fires up the ship’s hyperdrive, maneuvers the Raddus to face the Supremacy, and then jumps into hyperspace right through the massive First Order flagship. Williams’s epic music culminates in this moment, cutting off and leaving us in silence as the Raddus slices through the First Order fleet. Director Rian Johnson makes perfect use of music, the lack thereof, and sound effects to create a visually and emotionally staggering scene.
7. I am all the Jedi
Sheev Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, is the main villain of the Star Wars saga, and he returned in The Rise of Skywalker, reappearing decades after his presumed death aboard the second Death Star. And draining the life force from the bond of the dyad formed by Rey and Ben Solo, Palpatine finally returned to his full power once more. He throws Ben Solo off the ledge, leaving Rey alone. She awakes from her unconsciousness and looks up to the stars, whispering the same thing she had been saying when training earlier in the film: “Be with me.” It is then that Rey hears the voices of the Jedi from the past: Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Luminara Unduli, Aayla Secura, and Adi Gallia. Hearing these voices, Rey gathers the strength to stand, calling Leia’s lightsaber to her hand to face Palpatine once more. He unleashes a barrage of Force lightning against her, saying she can’t stand against him, as he is all the Sith. But Rey calls the Skywalker saber to her hand, joining both sabers to push back Palpatine’s assault, saying, “I am all the Jedi.” Deflecting Palpatine’s Force lightning attack back at him, this destroys Palpatine and the Sith throne. This moment is so cool, hearing all of these Jedi – including some fan favorites from the shows as well! – be with Rey, giving her the strength to face off against the phantom menace, Darth Sidious, defeating him for good (probably).
6. A Dyad in the Force
Shortly before the past Jedi strengthen Rey, Ben Solo returns to the light. As Rey faces her grandfather Palpatine, about to give in to his wishes, Ben Solo arrives at Exegol. John Williams brilliantly changes Kylo Ren’s theme to a heroic one, as the redeemed Jedi races toward Palpatine, intent on saving Rey. He leaps down the chasm and uses his blaster to take out some of the guards, but then the Knights of Ren surround him. It is then that Rey senses his presence, however, and uses their Force connection to pass the Skywalker lightsaber through the Force to Ben Solo. He takes it and fights off the Knights of Ren, while Rey uses Leia’s lightsaber to fight Palpatine’s guards. Eventually the two come together, staring intently in each other’s eyes before turning, with lightsabers ignited, to face Palpatine – together. This scene is everything I wanted in the final film, to see Ben Solo redeemed and teaming up with Rey. The only reason it’s so low is that right after this moment, Palpatine defeats them and throws Solo off a ledge. While I wish they’d have actually been united a bit longer, the moment is undoubtedly a thrilling one nonetheless. It’s thrilling because it’s the long-awaited team-up of these two Jedi, but it’s also thrilling because of how freaking great Adam Driver is: he sells Ben Solo as a completely different character, one whom you can root for, with just one word (“ow”), mastering the mannerisms (his no-look shot and his shrug were both perfectly Han Solo-esque) and showing us the son of Leia and Han, the apprentice of Luke, redeemed.
5. Father and Son
The moment Ben Solo returned to the light happened, ironically, at the same place his grandfather did: the second Death Star. Having sensed his mother’s death and been healed by Rey, Kylo Ren stands looking out at the ocean of Kef Bir when he hears a familiar voice say, “Hey kid.” He turns, and it’s his father, Han Solo. He knows, as do we, that Han is dead – but this exists in Ben’s memory. And as the scene unfolds, Ben re-lives that fateful encounter on Starkiller Base, when he ran his lightsaber through Solo, killing his father. Han expresses his love and support and forgiveness for Ben, and his son expresses the same sentiments as on Starkiller: “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” Han gently reaches out, touches Ben’s cheek, and whispers, “you do.” Getting choked up, Ben can only manage, “Dad -“, to which Han smiles and says, “I know.” At this, Ben Solo turns and throws his lightsaber into the sea, spinning back around with a smile. His father is gone, but Ben has finally returned to the light. This scene is absolutely beautiful, and I love that it gives Ben the chance to re-live his greatest sin, only this time with a different outcome. The emotional exchange between father and son is just so good, even if it’s just a memory.
4. Two Jedi Masters
In The Last Jedi, as Master Luke Skywalker heads off to finally destroy the first Jedi Temple once and for all, he is visited by an old friend: Master Yoda. It is Yoda who winds up destroying the Temple, and he proceeds to both teach Luke one last lesson but also comfort him in the midst of his discouragement. This scene is a beautiful exchange between two of the greatest Jedi who ever lived; it’s emotional, nostalgic, moving, motivating, and features incredible writing and visuals. In this exchange, Yoda gives some of my very favorite lines from all of Star Wars. Like this one: “Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” It’s hard to get better than that. Seeing Luke and Yoda sit by the burning tree, two Jedi talking once more, was so great.
3. The Throne Room
As the plot of The Last Jedi moves along, Rey goes from hoping in the return of Luke Skywalker to hoping in the return of Ben Solo. And so, having failed to bring Luke back (or so she thinks…), Rey is convinced she won’t fail to bring Ben back (or so she thinks…). But as she is brought before Snoke, all hope seems lost. Snoke retrieves from her mind the location of Skywalker, and then orders Kylo Ren to kill her for possessing the heart of a true Jedi. But Ben Solo uses Snoke’s arrogance against him, using the Force to cut his master in half. As the Force theme triumphantly blares, the Skywalker lightsaber flies into Rey’s hand. She and Solo stand back-to-back, fighting off Snoke’s Praetorian Guards as they seek to avenge their master’s death. What follows is a thrilling duel, seeing both Rey and Ben display their skills with a lightsaber. It then is followed up by the emotional exchange between the two of them, which adds to the emotion of the moment as we realize Ben Solo hasn’t quite returned as we thought (and thus Rey has failed again in her mission, leaving herself as the third option yet final hope of the Resistance). This moment is absolutely thrilling, and it’s one of the very best fights in all of Star Wars.
2. It Calls to You
Midway through The Force Awakens, we learn that the Force is calling to Rey. She is called to the Skywalker lightsaber, and then has a Force vision – but runs away from all of it… that is, until Starkiller Base. Han Solo led a strike team onto the base to rescue Rey and deactivate the shields, but Solo lost his life in the process, killed at the hands of his son. As Rey and Finn make their escape into the snowy forest at night, they are confronted by the murderous Kylo Ren. He throws Rey against a tree, knocking her unconscious, while Finn ignites the lightsaber and engages Ren in a brief duel. Finn is soon wounded, however, and the lightsaber flies into the snow. Ren turns to pull the lightsaber to himself using the Force… but it flies right past him and into the outstretched arm of Rey! As the Force theme plays softly yet heroically, Rey ignites the saber and readies to face Kylo Ren, having finally embraced her destiny.
1. The Spark
Without a doubt in my mind, Luke Skywalker’s heroics at the end of The Last Jedi are the best moment of the sequel trilogy – and one of the very best moments in Star Wars, period. This moment was building for nearly two films, as in TFA there’s a search for him, and in TLJ there’s the hope of his return. When all hope appears lost, as the Resistance is forced to retreat into the mine on Crait facing an insurmountable army bent on their utter annihilation, having just failed in their attempt to stop it. But as Leia finally resigns herself to this fate, she senses a familiar presence enter the room: Luke Skywalker. The Jedi Master sits down and has a touching reunion with his sister, and then he marches out to face the entire First Order with a laser sword as the remaining members of the Resistance look on in awe. John Williams delivers a breathtaking heroic march as Luke walks out to face the enemy, buying time for Leia and the Resistance to escape. Eventually Kylo Ren lands and walks out to face Skywalker, and his master apologizes for failing him all the while Ren tries to kill him. But it is then that Ren – and the audience – learns that Luke isn’t actually there; he’s projecting himself through the Force across the galaxy, as he’s still on Ahch-To. It’s a stunning display of the Force that, in my mind, entrenches Luke as the greatest Jedi who ever lived: he halted an entire enemy in their tracks and let the Resistance escape without so much as laying a finger on anyone. He truly used the Force for defense, not for attack. He’s the hero we always dreamed of, in a moment so triumphant and awesome, and a greater Jedi than we could’ve ever imagined.