Countdown to ‘Force Awakens’ Day 16 – The Top 10 ‘Star Wars’ Scenes!

By December 16, 2015
star wars luke and vader

Last week we ran our Top 10 Star Wars Quote, which was no easy feat, but this list may have been even tougher. There are so many fantastic sequences throughout the greatest saga ever told that narrowing them down to just a few was incredibly difficult. The scenes below were chosen based on a combination of how iconic and important they are to the saga as well as the impact they have left on us as film fans. These are some of the most memorable and entertaining scene throughout all of Star Wars.

First up, in no particular order, here’s are five honorable mentions.

will-fans-ever-see-ahsoka-tano-again-ahsoka-leaves-the-jedi-jpeg-260215Honorable Mention: Ahsoka Leaves the Jedi Order (The Clone Wars)

This scene may not be from the films but it is now part of canon and worthy of our list. Ahsoka Tano leaving the Jedi Order at the end of season five was the most powerful and emotional moments of The Clone Wars. After being wrongly accused of bombing the Jedi Temple and of murder by the Jedi Council, she was given the opportunity to rejoin the Order but the damage was already done. The trust in her had been broken and she made the decision to leave as she had to figure things out for herself. That final scene between Ahsoka and Anakin is heartbreaking as he desperately wants her to stay but he understands all at the same time as he has even considered what life would be like outside of the Jedi Order.  This would be last time the two would see and speak to each other as friends, as Master and Padawan.


Honorable Mention: Anakin’s Loss (Attack of the Clones)

I have to admit finding a scene from Attack of the Clones was really tough but this one is definitely deserving of a mention. Anakin returns to Tatooine to save his mother but is ultimately too late as she was captured and tortured by some Sand People. That moment when Shmi dies in Anakin’s arms may be Hayden Christensen’s best acting in the prequels. The look of distraught and despair on his face slowly transforms into anger before he goes into a rage slaughtering every last Tusken Raider in that village. He gives in fully to his anger, tapping into the Dark Side. This was the first moment we saw on screen of Anakin taking that fateful step from good to bad. It’s too bad they didn’t stay with that scene just a tad longer.


Honorable Mention: Yoda Explaining the Force (The Empire Strikes Back)

Yoda’s training of Luke on Dagobah gave us further insight into the Force, further developing what it is and how the Jedi tap into it. Luke is struggling to grasp the concept of the Force. And let’s face it, Obi-Wan gave him the Cliffs Notes version so he hasn’t had much to go on. Yoda gives us a more fully formed explanation of the Force developing a richer mythology for the series to grow from.

“For my ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us…you must feel the Force around you.”

Plus we get to see Yoda using the Force to lift Luke’s X-Wing from the swamp all while accompanied by Yoda’s Theme.


Honorable Mention: The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise (Revenge of the Sith)

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of sitting around and talking the prequels. Like a lot, a lot. So the fact that a scene from the prequels where two characters sit around and talk made our top scenes list is a sign of how engaging the scene is. Anakin is summoned by Chancellor Palpatine to join him in his box at the Galactic Opera House. Palpatine gives him a quick update on General Grevious’ whereabouts before dismissing the rest of his entourage and getting down to the good stuff.  This is when we see Palpatine (Sidious) at his best, his manipulation of Anakin.  He constantly plants seeds of doubt in Anakin’s mind about the Jedi and their intentions leaving him questioning his devotion to the Jedi Order.  Then Palpatine pulls out the big guns by talking about Darth Plagueis, a powerful Sith Lord that reportedly had learned how to manipulate the Force to create life and stop people from dying. This of course is exactly what Anakin wants to hear as he is desperate to save Padme.  Palpatine continues talking about Plagueis and how Plagueis’ apprentice killed him in his sleep all the while looking smug and satisfied letting us all know that he is fact talking about himself (well…everyone but Anakin, who is oblivious).  Ian McDiarmid plays this scene perfectly and all Hayden Christensen has to do is sit there. I still remember watching this scene for the first time in the theater all those years ago and being utterly transfixed with everything that Palpatine had to say.


Honorable Mention: Introduction of Han Solo (A New Hope)

This was a tough one to leave out of the Top 10.  The introduction of Han Solo in Star Wars might just be one of the coolest introductions of a character ever. Really? Han talking parsecs and negotiating transport was cool? No, not that introduction. Sure, we first “met” Han when he was meeting with Luke and Obi-Wan when they were discussing transport to Alderaan, but that’s not our introduction to Han Solo. Our introduction to Han Solo was when he casually blows Greedo away (he shot first!) and then tosses a coin to the barkeep saying, “sorry about the mess”. That right there is who Han Solo is and will always be in my mind.

Now, on to the list!


#10 – Space Battle over Endor (Return of the Jedi)

Now this is a space battle! From the second that Lando orders the fighter’s to pull up, to Admiral Ackbar’s now classic “It’s a trap”!, to the Millennium Falcon blasting out of the exploding Death Star, Return of the Jedi had us on the edge our seats. This was an aerial battle like none we had ever seen in Star Wars. The entire Rebel fleet was taking on an armada of Empire ships and the Death Star all at the same time. Seeing the Falcon, along with X-Wings, Y-Wings and B-Wings weaving in and out of both fleets, dodging TIE Fighters and evading the Star Destroyers makes you feel like you right there with them.


#9 Obi-Wan and Anakin Fight (Revenge of the Sith)

Say what you want about the highly stylized and choreographed lightsaber battles of the prequels, but I still say the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin is badass! Well…most of it anyway. The first half to two-thirds of the fight is fantastic! It’s raw emotion as two highly skilled Jedi Knights go mono a mono in a fight to the death. The fight on the landing platform and in the control room with the John Williams score blasting the background keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Throw in a little force push and you’re set. Granted when the battle makes its way back outside and into the lava it loses itself a little in all the CGI and swinging around. But it comes back around with Obi-Wan’s emotional speech to Anakin about being brothers and that he was the Chosen One to bring balance to the Force.  That little bit near the end of the fight kept it from being higher on the list but it’s still one of the best!


#8 The Sarlaac Pit (Return of the Jedi)

The scene at The Sarlaac Pit is pure Star Wars, plain and simple. As soon as Luke walks out onto that plank and you hear that note you know something is about to go down. Luke’s casual salute to R2 signaling he’s ready shows us that he knows exactly what he’s doing. Then there’s the flip, catching the lightsaber and seeing its green blade for the very first time. Han and Chewie have to save Lando from the reaching tentacle of the Sarlaac. Boba Fett gets into the action (let’s not talk about his unfortunate end). Leia has had enough of Jabba so she chokes him out with her own chain. You go girl! R2 even gets a shot in on Salacious B. Crumb. There’s even a nod to this scene in The Clone Wars with Anakin, Obi-Wan and R2-D2. The whole gang gets involved here as they escape Jabba’s clutches and put an end to that vile gangster once and for all.


#7 TIE Fighter Attack (A New Hope)

The TIE Fighter attack in A New Hope is incredibly exciting. It gets the blood pumping and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  No sooner than the Millennium Falcon escaped the Death Star, Han and Luke must fend off some pesky TIE Fighters. Luke has to put aside his sadness and grief at the loss of Obi-Wan in order to help Han man the Falcon’s weapon systems. Han and Luke take down 4 TIE Fighters in a thrilling fight set to another fantastic piece of John Williams’ score (a common theme you’ll find for many of these). It’s such a fun scene!

binary sunset

#6 Binary Sunset (A New Hope)

This is our shortest scene on the list but it’s a classic scene made even more so by John William’s Force Theme. There are so many great pieces of music to come out of these films but hearing the Force Theme fills you up with wonder, amazement, mystery and hope as you see Luke staring off into the binary sunset. Luke is contemplating his very future not knowing what is waiting before him. Everything about it is perfect.


#5 Luke vs Vader part 2 (Return of the Jedi)

This was it. This was for the fate of the galaxy. Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader vs The Emperor. The showdown between the three of them actually plays out over several scenes but it’s hard to pick out just one specific piece. As Luke looks helplessly out the window at the Rebel fleet engaged in battle against the Empire, the Emperor sits calmly taunting and manipulating Luke into channeling his hatred in order to draw him over to the Dark Side. Luke, ultimately drawing his lightsaber on the Emperor, gives in ever so slightly but is immediately blocked by Darth Vader. The two of them enter into a lightsaber battle that rivals their little duel from Empire. Luke, now a much more skilled fighter and Jedi, gives Vader a lot more to handle this time around.

However, once Luke’s thoughts turn towards his sister Vader picks up on this threatening to pull her over to the Dark Side sending Luke into a near rage. Luke overpowers Vader, cutting off his hand all the while Emperor Palpatine is watching and cackling with delight over what was transpiring. The sight of Vader’s missing hand, brings Luke back as he realizes that he was teetering on the brink of no return. Refusing the Emperor tossing his lightsaber aside declaring, “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.”. Luke had made his decision then and there to never turn to the Dark Side.

The Emperor then displays a power we had never seen before. Force lightning. What?! Luke writhing in agony as is too much for Anakin to bear, so he takes it upon himself to destroy the Emperor and save his son. Luke was right, there was some good left in him. The impending loss of his son was more powerful than what the Dark Side had over him. Anakin’s final act was to save his son, and by destroying the Emperor brought the Force back into balance.

Darth Maul Fight

#4 Duel of the Fates (The Phantom Menace)

The fact that a scene from The Phantom Menace made it so high on our list is a testament to how good this scene actually is. The fight between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon-Jinn is arguably the best lightsaber battle from all six films. Not only did Darth Maul look really cool, the weapon he wielded was unlike anything we had ever seen, a double-bladed lightsaber. From the very first shot of Darth Maul igniting his lightsaber in the trailer we all were eagerly awaiting seeing it in action. The battle amongst the three of them rages on all while our ears are treated to one of the very best scores that John Williams ever created for Star Wars, Duel of the Fates. A magnificent piece of music playing over one of the coolest lightsaber battles pushes this scene all the way up to #4 on our list.


#3 Battle of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back)

Quite possibly my personal favorite scene of the entire saga and #3 on our list is the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. This battle sets the entire tone for the rest of the film. The Empire is back, in full force, with determination to crush the Rebel Alliance once and for all.

Leia is giving the pilots orders, Luke is off to mount a defense while the Rebels try and escape, and Han and Chewie are desperately trying to get the Falcon working so they (along with Leia) can get the heck out of the there. Watching the Snowspeeders take on the Imperial walkers on each viewing is just as thrilling as the first. The Empire wins the battle. Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers enter the Rebel base. There is no victory here for the Rebels. They just barely escaped. If it hadn’t been for incompetent Imperial Admiral they would have been toast.



#2 Battle of Yavin (A New Hope)

One of the most exciting and exhilarating scenes in Star Wars is the Battle of Yavin and the Trench Run on the Death Star in Episode IV. I’ve heard stories of people standing up in the theater and cheering because they were so excited and into the moment.  This scene has thrilling dogfights as the Rebel Alliance is going up against all odds taking on the Empire’s ultimate weapon with everything they have. Their only hope is to hit target that is only 2 meters wide.

The battle kicks into overdrive when Luke enters the trench as he is one of the few pilots left. Any chance of destroying the Death Star before it’s in range of Yavin now lies with him. Talk about pressure. We also see Luke truly tune into the Force for the first time when he takes Obi-Wan’s advice and turning off the targeting computer allowing the Force to guide him. Mind you, while all of this is going on Vader is hot on his tail about to blow him away. Then perhaps my favorite moment of that entire scene, Han Solo shows up in the Millennium Falcon to save the day. Yahoo! Luke hits his mark destroying the Death Star…bye-bye Governor Tarkin.

What an absolute thrill ride!

ESB - luke and vader

#1 Luke vs Vader part 1 (The Empire Strikes Back)

It’s time for the main event! Our #1 scene in all of Star Wars, the entire Luke and Vader confrontation from the end of The Empire Strikes Back! Sure, their confrontation at the end of Jedi is in essence a battle for Luke’s soul, but this is what we were waiting for ever since Vader and Luke appeared on screen. Their lightsaber battle in the darkened carbonite chamber with their Red and Blue lightsabers radiating is what you think of when you think of Star Wars. The two of the spar briefly before Luke is knocked into the carbonite chamber, but before Vader can spring the final piece of the trap Luke Force jumps to safety leaving Vader impressed. “Most impressive”.

Vader is able to slink away after being force off the edge of the platform. How’d he get away so fast? Must have been that Force run that we only saw once in The Phantom Menace. Luke finds Vader and they continue their battle leading them outside on to a catwalk in the middle of a random cavern in the middle of cloud city. Luke gets his hand lopped off with some fancy lightsaber work (somebody should really put a cross guard on those lightsabers). Then we all know what happens next, one of the biggest twists in film history. Darth Vader pulls out the stunner by revealing to Luke that he is in fact Anakin Skywalker, his father. Wait…what? No. That’s not true. That’s impossible! And how does Luke take the news and the offer to join Vader? He takes a swan dive into the bowels of Cloud City. I guess he didn’t take the new very well. This confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader is the best sequence throughout the entire saga.

There you have it! Our Top 10 Scenes from Star Wars. Which favorite scenes of yours did we miss? What are your Top 10? We’d love to know! Drop your Top 10 Star Wars Scenes in the comments. Just two more days until Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Almost there!

Christopher Skalicky
Chris, a film and television junkie, grew up on Star Wars, all things Disney, Stargate SG-1 and a healthy dose of John Wayne. When not thinking about movies he is busy being an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. He will also argue that Surf Ninjas is the greatest movie about surfing ninjas ever made. Tweet him at @Schlick51