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12 Ways The 'Star Wars' Movies Were Changed At The Last Minute

Updated February 10, 2021 5.4k votes 997 voters 47.2k views13 items

List RulesVote up the alternate plot points that would've significantly changed that galaxy far, far away.

The rabid fandom of "a galaxy far, far away..." is obsessive over Star Wars in a way that puts other franchises to shame. The most diehard fans hunt down production materials and scour all available media to discover all the Star Wars last minute changes and alternate Star Wars endings you can shake a lightsaber at. Of course, the Star Wars films aren't the only ones to have alterations during production (and even blatant retcons), but there is something so enticing about the various "What ifs...?" of such a beloved continuity.

In light of the leaked Colin Trevorrow script for his version of Episode IX, what other ways could Star Wars films have been different? Does the thought of Han and Leia having a sitdown meal with Darth Vader pique your interest? What about Han sacrificing his life at the end of Return of the Jedi? Let's run through some of the ways this popular space opera could've been very different, and keep your eyes open, nerf herders, as spoilers are sure to follow.

  • 1

    Darth Vader's Rampage In 'Rogue One' Was Not In The Original Script

    One of the most heart-pounding moments of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is near the very end when Darth Vader uses the dark side of the Force in all of its violent glory. Audiences across the globe whooped and hollered at the chance to finally see the frightening might of one of cinema's most infamous villains - but this scene was not originally in the movie at all.

    After the film was released, co-writer Chris Weitz went over some of the changes made between the original script and the theatrical cut. In addition to other story changes, the Vader rampage was added later.

    "The Darth Vader kicking ass I cannot take credit for," Weitz explained. "That was a later invention."

    A big deal?
  • 2

    Luke Was To Appear Early In ‘The Force Awakens,’ But He Kept Upstaging The Other Characters

    Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt was the first writer to take a crack at The Force Awakens before J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over script duties. Arndt originally wanted Luke Skywalker to appear much earlier than he does in the final film.

    During a Q&A after the film's release, Arndt dove into the subject. "It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over," Arndt said. "Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, 'Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.'"

    It does stand to reason that fans of the classic series would freak out seeing Mark Hamill's character decades after last playing him.

    A big deal?
  • 3

    Luke’s Romantic Interest In Leia In 'Empire' Was To Be Much More Explicit

    Film industry veteran Leigh Brackett wrote the original script for The Empire Strikes Back, turning in the initial draft just before succumbing to cancer in 1978. Lucas and company would eventually write a different screenplay before starting production.

    Brackett's version of the Star Wars sequel would have had interesting ramifications for the future of the franchise, particularly regarding the relationship of Luke and Leia. Today, it's fairly common knowledge that Luke and Leia are siblings, the children of Anakin Skywalker, AKA Darth Vader. However, this wasn't decided until Lucas was working on Return of the Jedi. While Empire was in production, the only thing tying Luke and Leia together was friendship - and maybe a little romantic tension.

    In Brackett's screenplay, the romantic tension is ratcheted up, and the pair not only share a passionate kiss, but also debate the merits of beginning a relationship in the middle of an intergalactic conflict. The bones of this scene can be felt in a theatrical trailer for the film that features a deleted scene in which the pair nearly lay on each other.

    Of course, now that Luke and Leia are canonically brother and sister, this all feels very awkward.

    A big deal?
  • Photo: Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox

    Luke Was To Be Visited By The Ghost Of His Father, Who Was Not Darth Vader

    Before Lucas turned Darth Vader into Anakin Skywalker - creating one of the greatest plot twists in cinema history - Luke's father was just a Jedi who perished at the hands of the Empire's greatest warrior. In Brackett's original script for the Star Wars sequel, Luke was actually visited by the Force Ghost of his father.

    In the scene, Anakin tells Luke of his sister - here named Nellith - and asks Luke to take the oath of a Jedi Knight. The scene barely lasts a page and doesn't really play on the fact that Luke is meeting his father for the first time. The oath also makes the Jedi Order appear something more akin to classical ideas of medieval knights as opposed to the monkish direction Lucas would explore in the prequel trilogy. 

    A big deal?