Throughout nine films, the Star Wars saga has depicted heroes on the light side in a struggle against darkness for the fate of the galaxy. While good tends to triumph in the long run, there have been some tragic losses that have changed the trajectory of the battle.
Some of the most iconic characters have fallen in battle, while others have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure victories. And even worse, some have been killed to show a dedication to the Dark Side.
It's hard to quantify how important the losses in the Star Wars galaxy are, but some deaths have been more impactful in the war struggle between light and dark than others. Here are some of the biggest deaths in the Star Wars saga thus far.
OK, this is literally the BIGGEST death in the Star Wars movies, by sheer size of the creature.
Technicalities aside, this is also the moment where fans see Luke Skywalker achieving his potential as a Jedi. Even without his lightsaber, he's able to use his wits and willpower to escape certain doom and save his friends.
While there are many aspects of the Han Solo Rescue Plan that do not make sense, Luke's defeat of the Rancor puts the rebel heroes in a position where they are able to free everyone, destroy Jabba the Hutt, and escape to continue the fight against the Empire.
Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, and the rest of the Rogue One crew managed to sneak onto Scarif and find the plans to the Empire's most devastating weapon. They toppled the first domino that eventually resulted in the Imperial Army's ultimate defeat.
After years of frustration and disillusion with the Jedi Order, Anakin Skywalker was finally broken by his thirst for power and made the ultimate choice in stopping Mace Windu from arresting Chancellor Palpatine.
While Anakin already took a baby step when he killed Count Dooku at Palpatine's request, stopping Windu and allowing the Sith Lord to send him to his doom was when the real choice was made. It is the moment when Anakin surrendered himself completely to the dark side of the Force.
Though Mace Windu was the catalyst for Anakin's turn into Darth Vader, Padmé's death was the point of no return. Though he turned to the dark side, there could have been a chance for Anakin's true love to sway him back from Palpatine's influence.
But when she passed away, so did the hope for the galaxy for decades to come. It would take the growth of her twin children to finally become powerful enough to resist Imperial rule and eventually defeat him. Padmé's death essentially guaranteed the dark side's victory for years to follow.
The only quiet death on this list, Yoda marked the end of an era for the Jedi Order. One of the most powerful Force wielders and the most prominent Jedi Master, Yoda helped guide the Order as they were at their most prosperous, though he was unable to prevent their downfall.
Yoda eventually helped set Luke on the right path to balance the scales between light and dark. He held on long enough to make sure the children of Skywalker were on the right path, and would not waver in the fight against Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Yoda's death was the end of the Jedi Order, and Luke would go on to start something else.
After manipulating his way to ultimate government control, Palpatine enacted his plan to wipe out the Jedi Order and position the Sith as the dominant force in the galaxy. His reign lasted for decades as he managed to keep a stranglehold on a vast swath of planets.
Palpatine's ultimate defeat at the hands of his own apprentice was the result of his own hubris and his greed. When Vader tossed him to his doom, a new era of peace would come — though it wouldn't last. But the Emperor's demise caused a spark of hope throughout the galaxy, igniting a respite of peace. At the very least, it allowed the systems to pull together before an even greater threat arrived.
Luke had already lost his home when Stormtroopers murdered his aunt and uncle, but it was Ben Kenobi's death that made him dedicated to the cause. He put the young Skywalker on the path that would lead to the eventual destruction of the Empire, and knew that even in death he would be powerful with the Force.
Given the nature of how the saga was created, the rivalry between Vader and Kenobi wasn't properly expressed in Kenobi's final duel, but the prequels did provide more context. When Kenobi sees Luke and accepts his fate, it ensures that Luke will commit himself to defeating the Empire.
This is probably the most heartbreaking death on our list, not only because Han Solo is one of the best characters in the saga, but because it came at the hands of his own son. Every death seemed to be a sacrifice or something that caused a change. Even though the Resistance destroyed Starkiller Base, it's like Han's death was almost unnecessary.
But he needed to face his son and attempt to sway him from following the path of the dark side, no matter how futile a gesture it was. The scene was loaded with context, as a repentant father attempted to atone for his mistakes. And though Kylo Ren was conflicted, it was not enough to turn him back.
Vader's death signified the true end of the Empire. Though his final gesture did not make up for all of his crimes throughout the Imperial reign, Vader was the only person in the moment capable of delivering the killing blow to Palpatine.
Anakin Skywalker was previously considered to be the chosen one who would bring balance to the Force, and some fans he eventually did that when he finally turned back to the light side and ended his master's reign. Whether or not that's still true in the era of the sequel trilogy remains to be seen, but he did balance the scales and allow his son to establish a new order.
This one is perhaps the most impactful death just because of the potential it presents for the future of the Star Wars galaxy. At this point, no one knows just what his death means, but the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi does provide a huge clue.
The defeat of the Empire led directly to the rise of the First Order, which managed to wipe out the New Republic and cripple the Resistance in one stroke. The galaxy was still reeling from the rule of the Empire, but Luke's dying act restored the spark of hope that wasn't there. And more than that, it seemed to show that a Skywalker wasn't necessary to balance the scales of the light and dark sides of the Force.