In a franchise that’s populated with so many characters, there’s really no surprise that we’ve seen our fair share of deaths in Star Wars over the years. With 12 movies and a whole bunch of TV shows under its belt, the faraway galaxy is no stranger to killing off beloved characters (Star Wars is a lot like Harry Potter in that sense!).
It would probably take us all day to list every single Star Wars character death (as it would also involve calling upon every graphic novel, book, and video game), but we want to talk about those that left us in a state of inconsolable, emotional agony – so much that we couldn’t help but scream at the TV at the time (or the theater screen, which we don’t recommend)!
Here are eight Star Wars characters whose deaths gave us the feels!
8. Qui-Gon Jinn – Episode I: The Phantom Menace
In the lead-up to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, Star Wars fans couldn’t have been more excited – the idea of a prequel to the beloved original Star Wars trilogy generated a lot of hype. Unfortunately, while it took some time for disappointment to really sink in, George Lucas’ first prequel leaves a lot to be desired.
With that said, there’s a lot to love about the movie, from interesting new characters such as Darth Maul and Jar Jar Binks (just kidding) to impressive action sequences (with the Pod Race and Duel of the Fates being two examples). And among its roster of characters is Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Jedi Master to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Whether it’s because it’s Liam Neeson or the fact that Qui-Gon is something of an unorthodox Jedi (or both), fans instantly warmed to his character – which is why it really hits us in the gut when Qui-Gon is killed by Sith Lord Darth Maul (Ray Parks) at the end of the film. No pun intended.
7. Shmi Skywalker – Episode II: Attack of the Clones
There are many emotional beats throughout the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which makes sense considering it revolves around the inevitable fall of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace and Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) and the entire galaxy.
By the time we get to Attack of the Clones, Anakin, now a Jedi working for the Order, hasn’t seen his mother Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) in 10 years. Deciding to visit her, he’s devastated to learn that, after having been freed from slavery and become part of the Lars family on Tatooine, Shmi was recently taken by Tuskan Raiders.
Anakin finds his mother barely alive and holds her as she dies in his arms. It’s plain to see that this is the beginning of the end for the Jedi, who wastes no time in unleashing his grief on an entire clan of Tuskan Raiders, an act he later admits to Padme (Natalie Portman) through a very emotional outburst.
6. Dutchess Satine Kryze – Star Wars: The Clone Wars
If you aren’t familiar with the character of Dutchess Satine Kryze, you’ve probably at least figured out that she’s related to Bo-Katan Kryze! However, in true Star Wars fashion, they’re estranged due to their opposing political views.
In The Clone Wars, Satine is the leader of Mandalore, which puts her in some pretty vulnerable positions during the show, especially when disgraced Sith Lord Darth Maul seizes the throne and becomes the leader of Mandalorian terrorist cell Death Watch.
In Season 5’s “Lawless”, while forcing Satine’s ‘old flame’ Obi-Wan Kenobi to watch, Maul uses the Darksaber to execute the Dutchess. Her final words to Obi-Wan are, “Remember, my dear Obi-Wan – I’ve loved you always. I always will.” And our final words on this matter? The Clone Wars is not for kids!
5. Ayla Secura – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Ayla Secura might not necessarily be among the most well-known Jedi, having only had brief appearances in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars, but she’s still a character who’s respected by fans. And while she probably has a bit more screen time in the animated show, her death in the movie is very hard to forget.
Like many other Jedi Knights, Twi’lek Ayla Secura has her own unit of clone troopers, and just like many of her peers, she happens to be in their company when Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) executes Order 66, activating the clones’ chip implants and forcing them to kill all Jedi across the galaxy.
Sadly, Secura is one of the countless victims during the Great Purge, and her death can be seen during an emotional montage in Revenge of the Sith. While on the beautiful planet of Felucia, the Jedi is shot repeatedly by her own men – even after she hits the ground!
4. Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
We’re fully aware that we’re cheating a little with this entry by having two characters, but there’s an obvious reason! From the second the synopsis for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was revealed, we knew it wouldn’t end well for the movie’s heroes – and sadly, we were right.
The 2016 Star Wars spinoff movie revolves around a team of rebels who are tasked with stealing the blueprints for the Imperial Death Star, making it a direct prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope. And as we now know, this turns out to be a one-way mission for all the film’s heroes.
After Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) successfully transmit the blueprints from Scarif to the Rebel Alliance, the Empire uses the Death Star to destroy the planet. Watching the two embrace one another as they accept their fate might just be one of the most emotional scenes in the entire franchise.
3. Darth Maul – Star Wars: Rebels
This is no doubt the strangest entry, and for two reasons. First of all, we know that Darth Maul is a Star Wars villain, and secondly, because he’s responsible for the deaths of two other characters on this list – Qui-Gon Jinn and Dutchess Satine Kryze! So why should we feel even slightly sorry for him?
Well, Maul is actually a complex character, and if you’ve seen The Clone Wars and Rebels, you’ll know that his ‘dark side’ isn’t so black and white. Sure, when it comes down to it, he’s a rotten egg, but like Anakin, he was manipulated and groomed by Palpatine from a very young age.
In Rebels Season 3 episode “Twin Suns”, when a confident Maul discovers his arch-nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, he is fatally wounded by the Jedi within seconds of their duel. But it’s not his death that’s surprising – it’s how he dies in a compassionate Obi-Wan’s arms while telling the old Jedi that the “Chosen One” will “avenge them”, referring to Luke Skywalker.
2. Kanan Jarrus – Star Wars: Rebels
There are many emotional moments throughout Rebels, whether it’s Ahsoka Tano’s first encounter with Darth Vader, Ezra Bridger’s dramatic exit via hyperspace, or Maul’s death. But none are anywhere near as tear-jerking as the death of Kana Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who is also known as Caleb Dume (as seen in Star Wars: The Bad Batch).
During Season 4’s “Jedi Night”, in an attempt to save the Ghost Crew from Governor Pryde’s attacks, Kanan uses the Force to hold back an explosion and push the Ghost and its occupants – Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Zeb, Chopper, and Hera Syndulla – to safety. In doing so, he remains behind and is engulfed in the flames.
Considering that Kanan is one of the most likable characters in the show and that he leaves behind a grief-stricken wife (Hera), his death is very hard-hitting. And to make it even worse for us, the show teases Kanan’s possible resurrection in the World Between Worlds, but unfortunately, it just isn’t meant to be!
1. Kuiil – The Mandalorian
There are many great characters in Star Wars’ first live-action show The Mandalorian, including the star himself Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers).
But we think the best character of all is the old Ugnaught Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte). Kuiil became an instant hit with fans, giving off a lot of ‘Yoda vibes’ with his words of wisdom to Din Djarin, reprogramming hunter droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi) into a nurse droid, and ultimately, giving his life to protect Grogu.
His death came as a shock in the penultimate Season 1 episode “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, in which he attempts to outrun two stormtroopers on his speeder with Grogu in his satchel. No one expected the show to kill off Kuiil, and it’s simply heartbreaking to see his lifeless body lying on the ground! The only positive is that the brave Ugnaught died saving the beloved Baby Yoda.
While there is life after death for many Star Wars characters, seeing as the franchise is forever hopping back and forth along its timeline, it still hurts to see these ones, in particular, unfold on the screen. And if you think Chewbacca makes some truly weird noises when he’s grieving, you should hear us whenever we see anyone on this list getting the chop!
Which Star Wars character deaths got you teary-eyed?