With almost 35 years under its belt, George Lucas‘ Star Wars universe has stretched across movies, TV, books, video games, and comics to tell its many stories — not to mention, to keep one-upping itself so that the series stays relevant. In honor of May the 4th, or Star Wars Day, I’ve picked through these stories and found the most shocking moments: good characters going bad, beloved aliens and humans dying, and more than one identity revealed.
Vader is Luke’s father. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know some variation of this line, so even though now it’s incredibly well-known, I bet that the first time any Star Wars fan heard it, s/he lost their shit. One of my clearest memories from childhood is watching The Empire Strikes Back, hearing “Luke, I am your father!” and looking up at my dad wide-eyed, yelling, “No way!” He was beside himself with delight, I had just had my mind blown.
Luke turns to the dark side. Dark Horse Comics, which owns most of the rights to comics versions of Star Wars stories, featured as one of its first titles Dark Empire, a six-part series in which Emperor Palpatine returns. That is, he clones himself into a younger, more powerful being who somehow convinces Luke to become his apprentice. Luke goes so deep into the dark side that he tries to kidnap his pregnant sister Leia, but she manages to turn him back and together they defeat the reborn Palpatine.
Chewie dies. Despite the many books that came before it, when The New Jedi Order series began in 1999, we knew they were serious — mostly because the first point of business was to kill off perhaps the most beloved Star Wars character. When the Millennium Falcon is trying to leave the planet Sernpidal before it collides with one of its moons, Chewbacca sacrifices his life by making sure that Anakin Solo makes it onto the Falcon. I still remember the visual from the book: Han is forced to pilot off the planet, leaving behind a roaring Chewie before the world is obliterated.