Top 10 Darkest Moments in the Star Wars Franchise

Top 10 Darkest Moments in the Star Wars Franchise

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These moments are pure Dark Side. For this list, we'll be looking at “Star Wars” scenes that deal with the darkest subject matter. Our countdown includes “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith”, “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, and more!

Top 10 Darkest Moments in the Star Wars Franchise

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 darkest moments in the “Star Wars” franchise.

For this list, we’ll be looking at “Star Wars” scenes that deal with the darkest subject matter. We will be discussing key plot points, so this is your spoiler alert!

If there’s a grim “Star Wars” moment we missed, don’t let the hate flow through you – tell us about it in the comments!

#10: The Heroes All Die

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)
Gareth Edwards’s “Star Wars” anthology film has several dark moments. There’s the destruction of Jedha … And the terrifying scene in which Darth Vader cuts through Rebel troops ... But the fate of the movie’s heroes arguably strikes the darkest note of all. Led by Jyn Erso, a plucky group of Rebels goes rogue to retrieve the Death Star’s plans from an Imperial base on Scarif - with little hope of making it out alive. And, unlike in a lot of movies with similar setups … they don’t. While they succeed in their mission, they all perish on Scarif. It’s tough to watch, but still, it does add to the feeling that these are “star wars” – not everyone makes it out alive.

#9: Maul & Savage Slaughter a Village

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14; 2020)
“The Clone Wars'' may be animated, but it can still be incredibly dark. Unsurprisingly, one of the most disturbing moments from the series is orchestrated by Darth Maul. After returning from his long exile and madness, the former Sith has joined forces with his brother Savage Opress and is out for revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi for cutting him in half. To get the Jedi’s attention, Maul decides to visit a small village on a remote world. He then records himself murdering the inhabitants, and sends the footage to Obi-Wan. We don’t see it on screen, but the bodies collapsing and the burning village make it crystal clear.

#8: Anakin Burns

“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
Anakin’s duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi takes the franchise to a bleak place. Literally, since Mustafar isn’t exactly hospitable. Admittedly, the last moments of their fight has become something of a meme [SB “It’s over Anakin! I have the high ground!”] But Anakin’s fate is incredibly grim. Obi-Wan cuts Anakin’s legs off when his former apprentice tries to leap over him. The fledgling Darth Vader then falls close to the lava river and slowly gets cooked alive! And rather than helping Anakin or even putting him out of his misery, Obi-Wan takes his lightsaber and leaves his former friend to burn to death!

#7: Kylo Ren’s Patricide

“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015)
Kylo Ren is a villain cut from the same cloth as Vader … the odd tantrum aside. And like Vader, his character becomes more complex when his origins are revealed; once named Ben Solo, he’s the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. This relationship is brought to the forefront when he confronts Han on a bridge at Starkiller Base. Torn between his love for his family and the Dark Side, Kylo makes his choice…and kills his own father! Not only is the death of Han Solo upsetting and shocking, but the fact that it was his own son who killed him makes an already tragic moment even more awful.

#6: The Massacre of the Nightsisters

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14; 2020)
The Nightsisters of Dathomir are Dark Side users who use the Force in ways that are akin to magic. After they betray Count Dooku, the Separatist leader orders General Grievous to wipe them out. The battle itself is fairly dark, since the Nightsisters create an army of the dead to battle the droid army. But it gets much worse. The genocidal massacre of the Nightsisters leaves almost no survivors. The battle droids may be considered a joke most of the time, but they’re instruments of a tragic atrocity here.

#5: Anakin Slaughters the Tusken Raiders

“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002)
Anakin Skywalker’s homecoming to Tatooine is quite traumatic for him – and not just because of all the sand! He discovers that although his mother was freed from slavery, she’s been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. He manages to get to her, only for her to die in his arms. Filled with grief, Anakin goes berserk and begins killing the Tuskens. By his own admission to Padme later, he kills all of them in the camp - even the children! This was a bold choice from George Lucas, to say the least. And makes you seriously question Padme’s choice to stay with Anakin and have his kids.

#4: Owen & Beru’s Deaths

“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)
Growing up, Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle are the only family he knows. They’re caring, and maybe a little overprotective, but on Tatooine that’s probably a good thing. Tragically, when Owen decides to purchase two droids from Jawas, it puts him in the crosshairs of the Empire. After Luke and Obi-Wan discover that Stormtroopers have killed the Jawas, Luke rushes back to find his home burned and Owen and Beru’s charred bones outside it. Most heroes’ journeys begin with the loss of parental figures, but this is an especially brutal way to go about it!

#3: Anakin Kills the Younglings

“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
After falling to the Dark Side and being minted as Darth Vader by Darth Sidious, Anakin Skywalker is charged with leading an attack on the Jedi Temple. We’ll go into more detail on that mission soon, but the big moment here is when Anakin comes across a group of children hiding in the council chamber. These young Jedi in training innocently look to the “heroic” Jedi for guidance, and Anakin ignites his lightsaber. We don’t see it happen, but the implication is clear and Obi-Wan confirms it later – those kids are dead. We know it isn’t Anakin’s first time committing this kind of crime, but it’s no less upsetting.

#2: The Destruction of Alderaan

“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)
After Princess Leia is captured by Imperial forces, she’s brutally interrogated by Darth Vader, with the help of an interrogator droid. Since she still refuses to give up the location of the Rebel base, Grand Moff Tarkin threatens to blow up her home planet Alderaan. Leia pretends to give up the base’s location, but Tarkin destroys Alderaan anyway - killing billions of people, including Leia’s adoptive father and mother. The scale of that kind of death is just horrific! “The Force Awakens” would up the ante by having Starkiller Base wipe out an entire star system. But there’s something darkly iconic and memorable about the first time in the franchise we witness this sort of massive destructive power.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Killing the Informant, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)
Cassian Calms the Man Down – Before Gunning Him Down

Operation: Cinder, Various
A Contingency Plan by the Emperor to Have Worlds Bombarded After His Death

Cad Bane Tortures a Jedi to Death, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14; 2020)
This Bounty Hunter Is Absolutely Brutal!

Breaking Obi-Wan’s Spirit, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14; 2020)
Slavers Keep the Jedi in Line by Killing Other Slaves

Ezra Goes Dark Side, “Star Wars: Rebels” (2014-18)
The Teenage Jedi Forces a Stormtrooper to Kill His Comrades & Himself!

#1: Order 66

In the culmination of his scheme to destroy the Jedi, the soon-to-be Emperor Palpatine orders the Clone Troopers to execute Order 66. This directive sees them betray and murder every Jedi in the Galaxy, including the ones they serve under. Not only is this bleak because it’s the systematic extermination of the Jedi, it’s also appalling because of what was done to the Clone Troopers. As we learn in “Clone Wars,” they’ve been conditioned with chips in their brains to become unwilling instruments in killing their friends and superiors. There isn’t even a word for this level of evil!
Did yall hear for project blackwing?