Star Wars: George Lucas' Sequel Trilogy Plans Included Luke Skywalker Death in Episode 8

Even now, years later removed from its release, some fans are upset that Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker died in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There are a number of other things the fandom remains mad about regarding that movie, but a new development has revealed that even franchise Creator George Lucas was planning the exact same thing. Not only was Lucas preparing to kill off his lead character, he was going to do it in the same movie of the trilogy. A semi-viral tweet has made the rounds today reveled an excerpt from Star Wars: Fascinating Facts, a new book by Lucasfilm Story Group member and Star Wars Encyclopedia author Pablo Hidalgo, confirming that very fact.

One page from the book provides one simple note about this without much other context, reading: "Years before The Last Jedi began development, the treatment left behind by George Lucas in 2012 also had Episode VIII be the one wherein Luke Skywalker would die." That's not the only interesting anecdote about Lucas' plans for the sequel trilogy and how they lined up with what Lucasfilm eventually did though. Another excerpt from the book reveals Lucas' plans for Luke overall, tying it back to one of his fellow filmmakers and the story structure that inspired Star Wars as a whole.

"Although Luke Skywalker only barely appears in The Force Awakens, the concept artists had a lot to imagine based on the fragments of the story they were hearing as it developed," the excerpt reads. "Rey was on a mission to seek out Luke Skywalker, who had disappeared. As described by George Lucas, Rey is like Willard going up river seeking out Colonel Kurtz, an allusion to Apocalypse Now. The story had Rey find Luke on a Jedi temple planet, but he is a recluse, withdrawn into a very dark space and needs to be drawn back from despair."

Willard and Colonel Kurtz of course are the characters from the Francis Ford Coppola war epic, Apocalypse Now, which is inspired by the novella Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad. Coppola is life long friend of Lucas' (even casting Harrison Ford as a "Colonel G. Lucas" in AN), but the reference to the film in his plans for Episode 8 even goes a step further. Both the film and text of the story for Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness, is among the classic examples of "The Hero's Journey," the story structure idea popularized by Joseph Campbell, which was Lucas' direct inspiration for the entirety of the original Star Wars movies.

All of that is to say that not only did Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi go down a similar path that Lucas himself was already planning, but that George was planning to bring his entire franchise full circle with its origins once again when he was jotting down ideas for the sequel trilogy.