Star Wars has been an icon of cinema since 1977, reinventing the modern blockbuster. Inspired somewhat by the Flash Gordon serials movie producer George Lucas watched growing up, Star Wars is a franchise that appeals to fans both young and old. And whether you like the movies or not, there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least one of them in your lifetime and know of at least a couple of the greatest Star Wars moments and its best scenes.
But after three trilogies and a handful of spin-off films, the franchise is littered with unforgettable moments. Therefore, I decided to narrow down those moments to 10. As you can imagine, it’s a hard task and it required all the will of the Force to produce. So, get your lightsabers and blasters at the ready – we’re in for a ride through the top 10 Star Wars greatest moments in film.
Oh and NOTE: This is merely the opinion of one writer. By no means am I claiming these are objectively the greatest moments in the movies. You’ll likely have your disagreements (which you can express calmly in the comments at the bottom of this article!).
Anyhow, let’s go…
10. Anakin vs. Obi-Wan Duke it Out in the Best Fight of the Movie (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005)
Episode III is by no means a perfect movie – to put it lightly – but there’s no denying it has some creative set-pieces and epic moments in its two-and-a-half-hour run-time. Among these is the epic duel between Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and his former master and friend Obi-Wan Kenobi, arguably one of the best fight scenes in Star Wars.
The fight lasts about five minutes, interceding with the Yoda-Palpatine encounter, and some might argue it’s too long. But for me, the duel was a visual feast, as the two Jedi crossed swords while lava seared around them. There is undoubtedly a sense of desperation and tragedy oozing throughout this fight as Anakin’s bloodthirsty desire to kill his master shows us just how far he’s fallen since Episode I.
9. Obi-Wan’s Emotional Moment After his Battle with Anakin (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005)
After an epic and desperate fight, Obi-Wan bests the newly-christened Darth Vader in battle. But the real kicker to all this is Obi-Wan’s speech to Anakin at the end. Obi-Wan getting emotional over how Anakin is meant to be the Chosen One and how he loved him is one of the franchise’s most heartbreaking moments. In a movie that is average at best, this is a surprisingly poignant scene.
It’s often said that Ewan McGregor’s performance is one of the best things about the prequels. When you see this scene play out, you can see why. Even despite the prequel trilogy’s oft-clunky dialogue, McGregor produces some of the best scenes in Star Wars. No wonder fans wanted him back for the Obi-Wan series.
8. Rey Defeats the Palpatine Clone in Her Best Moment(Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, 2019)
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is an awkwardly-written fan-pleasing blockbuster. It certainly doesn’t rank among the series’ best entries. However, despite this, it is a visual tour-de-force and provides some memorable moments.
Rey’s defeat of Palpatine is one of them. Now to reiterate: the integration of Palpatine into the sequel trilogy’s storyline is lazy work. It is emblematic of a franchise running out of ideas. However, Rey besting the Dark Lord is a visually impressive and dramatic moment. It shows that when a Jedi is cornered, their will can help them overcome the odds. And whatever you think of Rey’s character, it’s undeniably a bad-ass moment for her.
7. The Fight Scene Between Rey and Kylo (Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, 2019)
Now, the fight between Rey and Kylo in The Force Awakens is a great moment on its own. However, their duel in Rise of Skywalker tops it and then some. The battle takes place as water cascades around the pair, giving it a dramatic intensity that ranks among the best lightsaber fights in the movies. Not only does this fight represent the culmination of Rey and Kylo’s rivalry, but it also marks Kylo’s change in sides. Leia calls out to the young Sith via the Force, which distracts him enough to win the fight for Rey. It also reminds us that Rise of Skywalker is chock-full of great moments – even if the writing that ties them together is lackluster.
6. Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor Die (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 2016)
Star Wars is a fun science fiction adventure series. However, we often take for granted that the majority of the protagonists of each trilogy make it out alive in the end. However, the cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story doesn’t enjoy the same luxury.
Rogue One introduced us to a cast of rag-tag heroes and did the unexpected – they killed them all off at the end. No better image represents this than that of Jyn and Cassian embracing near the end of the movie mere minutes before the planet is blown up. The two’s retrieval of the Death Star Plans greatly benefits the protagonists of the original trilogy – and yet, they won’t be remembered for it. At the very least, Jyn is at peace knowing her father died a good man, completing her arc.
The death of Jyn and Cassian shows us the sacrifices of war in a manner Star Wars hasn’t shown before. Many have criticized the pacing and characters of this movie, but there’s no doubt that Rogue One‘s ending is one of the best scenes in Star Wars moviedom (that’s not even getting to the Darth Vader fan-pleasing scene at the end!)
5. The Iconic Battle of Hoth (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)
Many rank The Empire Strikes Back as the best Star Wars movie ever made. And with its dark storyline, epic revelations, and moments like the Battle of Hoth, you can see why. Hoth is just one example of how Empire went bigger and better in this legendary sequel.
The idea of walking four-legged tanks trampling through snow sounds awkward on paper – but Empire showed that it was incredible in practice. These unique machines – the AT-ATs – show us that the Empire is still at the height of its powers, even three years after their Death Star defeat. And even as the rebels industriously fight back with Snowspeeders and ion cannons, we get the sense they are outmatched. It’s a tense battle that shows us the Empire’s superiority while emphasizing the Rebellion’s vulnerability.
4. Vader Reveals He Is Luke’s Father in this iconic Star Wars scene (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)
Is there a moment more iconic in cinematic history than this? It contains one of the most quotable lines in Star Wars and was a big plot twist at the time. Of course, given the widespread popularity of the line, it’s hardly a twist to anyone nowadays. Yet, it remains one of the best scenes in Star Wars (following up perhaps one of the best fight scenes in Star Wars).
The is a Star Wars greatest moment for a few reasons. First, it shows Luke at his most vulnerable, having his hand severed by Darth Vader and helplessly cornered. Secondly, there’s the aforementioned “Luke, I Am Your Father” line menacingly uttered by the incomparable James Earl Jones. It acts as a huge turning point for the original trilogy’s story and sets up the conflict in Return of the Jedi. It also kicks off the franchise’s obsession with severed limbs.
3. “I am a Jedi, Like My Father Before Me” (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983)
Set one year after Empire, Return of the Jedi shows us a more mature Luke Skywalker. Having learned his lesson following his impatient pursuit of Darth Vader in Empire, Luke has clearly been doing his homework between movies. And in no scene is this better represented than when Luke confronts Palpatine in the third act.
Given the opportunity to kill Vader, Luke realizes he is just doing what Palpatine wants. By striking Vader down, he is no different from Palpatine and his Sith ilk. So, Luke, in an act of defiance, tosses away his lightsaber, uttering the words “You’ve lost, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
It’s a powerful moment for Luke’s character, the culmination of three movies’ worth of development. It shows he’s learned from his trials over this period and finally become a Jedi, which makes the events of the sequel trilogy even more tragic.
2. Yoda Lifts the X-Wing (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)
The Empire Strikes Back introduces us to one of the most iconic characters in moviedom – Master Yoda himself. A Jedi Master of considerable wisdom, Yoda is integral to Luke’s character development in the trilogy. Since Obi-Wan perished in the previous film, he is the only one Luke can turn to, to learn the ways of the Force.
In this scene, Luke taps into the Force and almost lifts his X-Wing from the Swamp. However, due to inexperience, the Jedi-in-training fails, gasping, “I can’t. It’s too big”. However, his failure allows us to see just how powerful Yoda is, even at his old age.
Thus, Yoda, using all his power, manages to lift Luke’s X-Wing out from the swamp and onto dry land. Yoda proved he is a powerful Jedi indeed – and he didn’t need a green lightsaber to do it. It’s one of the most iconic Star Wars moments ever.
1. Luke Blows the Death Star Up (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977)
How could we not put this at number one? A New Hope‘s Death Star Run ranks among Star Wars greatest moments by a mile. Preceded by Han Solo’s last-minute intervention, Luke taps into the Force for the first time to blow up the Empire’s first Death Star. And in doing so, makes cinematic and in-universe galactic history.
It’s the first time Luke puts aside his dependence on technology and turns to his faith in the Force. Guided by the posthumous words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke uses the Force to shoot a proton torpedo into the Death Star’s exhaust port. His heroic action causes the demise of the Death Star – and makes him a legend in the Alliance’s ranks.
What do you think are the greatest moments and best scenes in Star Wars movies? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!