Top 10 Iconic Moments In Star Wars

To celebrate the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens becoming the number one grossing film of all time in the UK (only the second to surpass £100m), Dan Grant takes a look at some of the most iconic moments in the franchise’s history…

In honour of Star Wars: The Force Awakens becoming the number one grossing film of all time in both the UK, USCanada markets, here are the ten most iconic moments in Star Wars history. The following top 10 features notable plot points from all seven feature films including, unsurprisingly, some of the franchise’s biggest twists…

The following article features significant plot details from each of the Star Wars films from Episode 1: The Phantom Menace to Episode 7: The Force Awakens

10. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Princess Leia becomes slave Leia and teenage boys everywhere lose their mind

Top 10 Star Wars Characters Of All TimeWhen George Lucas cast Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, he decided that her breasts had to be taped to her body in the first Star Wars. This was because there was no bra to be worn for her costume. Fisher was once quoted as saying, “as we all know there is no underwear in space.” This all changed in 1983 when Princess Leia was captured by Jabba the Hutt and forced to don chains and her sexy slave bikini. It was the first real acknowledgment of sexuality in the films.

9. The Phantom Menace (1999)

Duel of the Fates

Top 10 Iconic Moments in Star Wars HistoryThere are many things to love about Star Wars, but the lightsaber has always been the most iconic. Arguably the best lightsaber duel in Star Wars history is the battle between a young Obi Wan Kenobi, Qui Gon Jin and their nemesis, the Sith Lord, Darth Maul. This featured Maul with a double edged sword and it allowed all three Jedi masters to battle it out with acrobatic beauty. It ends with Obi Wan using more of the dark side than light to defeat Darth Maul after he has put a lightsabre through Qui Gon’s stomach.

8. The Force Awakens (2015)

Kylo Ren kills his father

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsHan Solo approaches Kylo Ren while on a long bridge with no railing. His son takes off the mask that gives him a Darth Vader like aura. What we see is a young man, struggling between the good and the darkness. Han tells him he wants him to come home and Ren tells him that he is being torn apart and he wants to be free of the pain. He hands Han his lightsaber and it looks like redemption will come to this tortured but murderous soul. And then Kylo Ren ignites the saber through his fathers chest and he twists it for good measure. Han Solo then falls into the abyss and suddenly Star Wars fans everywhere cried out in anger and sadness.

7. Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The Birth of Darth Vader

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsAfter Attack of the Clones ended, most knew that Anakin would be close to death in the next episode and that the most iconic villain of all time would be seen once again. And we were not disappointed. Vader is seen donning his black suit and then when the mask is put onto his head, we hear the breathing, the famous John Williams Darth Vader theme and like Frankenstein being born, he breaks the shackles and frees himself. Sure, Lucas took it a tad too far with the silly “NOOOOOO” but that doesn’t take away from a brilliant birth of Darth Vader.

6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Leia: “I love you” / Han: “I know…”

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsDarth Vader has decided to use Han Solo as a test subject to make sure the carbon freezing will not kill Luke Skywalker when he meets him. After being captured, Han is forced into the carbon chamber. In the script what follows was supposed to be a simple and beautiful romantic exchange between two people who obviously loved each other but had never expressed it. But Harrison Ford understood Han Solo a little better than George Lucas did and he was the one who changed the line from “I love you too” to “I know”. It worked brilliantly and the legend of Han Solo grew even more.

5. A New Hope (1977)

The entire Mos Eisley scene, start to finish

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 Films“Mos Eisely spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” This is how Obi Wan describes the cantina. Then as they approach the spaceport, they are greeted by stormtroopers looking for two droids, who just happen to be sitting in the land speeder. Obi Wan tells them these are not the droids you are looking for, you can go about your business…move along. Once inside, we see Han Solo shoot first, we see Obi Wan draw and use his lightsaber for the first time as he cuts off someone’s hand and we learn that the Millenium Falcon did the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. All of these scenarios are now famous Star Wars-isms and all happened in Mos Eisley.

4. The Force Awakens (2015)

Rey overpowers Kylo Ren to get the lightsaber with her mind

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsThis is my personal “Holy WOW!” moment from all of the Star Wars movies. The setting is right after Kylo has killed Han Solo and Chewie has blown a hole in Kylo’s belly with his blaster. Finn and Rey are confronted by a very angry Kylo Ren. He uses the force to throw Rey into a tree, rendering her semi-unconscious and then he toys with Finn before knocking him out with a lightsaber blow to the back. As the lightsaber is laying dormant in the snow, he attempts to use the force to bring it to him. But it doesn’t budge. He concentrates harder, this time it flies towards him and then past him into the outstretched arms of Rey. On a personal level, it’s this scene that brought a lump to my throat. However, from an impartial point of view, it is this scene and the one to follow that left us with more questions than answers.

3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

That is why you fail

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsLuke has just begun his training with Master Yoda. He is learning to control his fear and his anger. But when his X-Wing ship begins to sink further in the swamp, he becomes distraught and loses his concentration. Yoda tells him to bring it out and Luke responds with “I’ll try.” Here Yoda admonishes him with, “NO. Do or do not. There is no try.” Luke begins to get the ship out of the swamp but then it sinks back in and this causes an exhausted Luke to tell Yoda that it’s too big and it’s not possible. Yoda then closes his eyes and not only makes the ship rise out of the swamp, but he lands it gently in front of Luke, just to prove a point. Luke tells Yoda, “I don’t believe it!” Yoda looks at him with piercing disappointed eyes and says, “THAT IS WHY YOU FAIL”.

2. Attack of the Clones (2002)

Yoda and Dooku’s epic lightsaber battle

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsIn the first three Star Wars films, Yoda was a puppet and played by Frank Oz. This presented certain limitations for the character. By the time the prequels were made 16 years after Jedi wrapped, Yoda was now a CGI character. Count Dooku has just defeated both Obi Wan and Anakin in a lightsaber battle. All looks lost and hopeless…until Yoda shows up, cane and all, and limps into the scene to confront Dooku. After Dooku unsuccessfully tries to kill Yoda with debris from the cave, they decide that they will have to settle it with a lightsaber battle. When Yoda first draws his lightsaber, there was a collective gasp that went through the theater the first time I saw Attack of the Clones. We had only ever been told about Yoda’s power with the force but all we had ever been treated to was discussion of his legacy. All of that changed when our little green friend dons a ninja like pose and then bounces off the floors and ceiling while yielding a lightsaber.

1. The Empire Strikes Back

M. Night Shyamlan eat your heart out: The twist that beats all other twists

Star Wars - Iconic Moments - Top 10 FilmsThe Empire Strikes Back was a fantastic movie up until Luke meets Vader in Cloud City. It became one of the best films ever made once this battle begins. In it, Vader finds Luke is full of surprises and the first real epic lighsaber battle takes place. And then we find out that Obi Wan never told Luke what really happened to his father. Luke then tells him that he knows that Vader betrayed and murdered his father. “NO. I AM YOUR FATHER.” Our world was shattered. Young boys cried. Teenagers were left in shambles. How could this be? How could the pure and innocent and inherently good Luke Skywalker have a murdering maniac for a father who commits genocide against an entire planet? And yet it’s true, all of it. This is considered the greatest twist in film history. It was even kept under wraps from the cast. The line in the script was, “Obi Wan killed your father.” And then when James Earl Jones did the dubbing for David Prowse’s voice in post production, the line was then changed to what we know today.

Written & Compiled by Dan Grant

There are probably more than one hundred iconic moments in Star Wars. These are just ten from my point of view, a certain point of view if you will. What do you think? What am I missing? Do you agree, disagree? Either way, it’s fun to speculate and of course, as always, may the force be with you.

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About the Author
Dan Grant is an author and horror film fan from Canada. His first novel Terrified and Defenseless is now available for e-download from Amazon. Follow Dan on Twitter @baumer72.

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  1. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    So much love for the series! Your admiration for Star Wars (not just the big audience favourites like New Hope and Empire but the entire franchise) is palpable, Dan. This was such an enjoyable read.

    I can’t argue with Luke Skywalker’s father being revealed as the most memorable moment of Star Wars, it was such a great twist and delivered after a terrific lightsaber battle (intertwined with Han Solo’s encasement in carbonite).

    As someone who didn’t find much to enjoy in the prequels I subsequently remember less from them but Yoda’s first lightsaber battle is great, as is his duel in the Senate with Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith. But it’s that moment when the lightsaber turns on in Clones that gets the butterflies going. Great stuff.

    If I was add a few iconic moments they’d probably make a top 20 or top 50 – as you say, there are so many but you’ve got the top 10 down perfectly.

    Other iconic/memorable moments for me:

    – A New Hope: the moment Luke delivers the explosive from his X-Wing to destroy the Battlestar along with Han Solo saying “Great shot, kid. That was one in a million” and then Obi Wan says in Luke’s head: “Remember, the Force will be with you… always.”

    – A New Hope: Obi Wan allows himself to be defeated by Vader to become stronger and help Luke on his journey to become a Jedi.

    – Empire Strikes Back: During the Hoth battle when Luke uses his tow cable to bring down one of the AT-ATs

    – Empire Strikes Back: the revelation that the Millennium Falcon is in the belly of a huge creature after landing on an asteroid and its escape.

    – Return of the Jedi: C-3PO’s story to the Ewoks recalling some of the adventures he’s had with Luke in the previous films.

    – Return of the Jedi: the speeder chase through the forest.

  2. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    Thanks Dan. And once again great job with the article. Your subtle touch ups always make my writing seem so much better.

    Is true that I love every single Star Wars film. I think the prequels bring so much to the legacy even though I realized I am kind of alone in this assertion.

    Every one of those scenes that you mentioned would definitely make the list as well. The opening shot of the massive spaceship scrolling across the screen in a new hope would probably make my top 15 as well. I think it was that shot that let audiences know they were in for a real treat and something completely different than what they had seen before.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Yep – the scene when the Star Destroyer becomes the “bigger” ship coming overhead after C-3PO and R2-D2’s ship has passed is great. I didn’t get the chance to see this in theatres but I can imagine it was an incredible moment/surprise.

      I favourite stuff in the prequels is definitely the Yoda lightsaber battles because he’s such a great “hero” within the series and yet we don’t see a huge amount of him outside of a sitting position!

      The other great – perhaps obvious – moment in the prequels is Anakin’s race in The Phantom Menace. That looked great on the big screen.

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    Scott Reply

    Fave funny moment is when Han Solo chases storm troopers down corridor then runs back when there’s loads more in a New Hope

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    Carolyn Reply

    Such wonderful moments. Another of my faves is Luke and Leia escaping the Death Star when they are cut off and Luke has to take her in his arms to jump a section where the bridge has been disabled. Edge of your seat stuff even when you’ve seen the film countless times.

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    Dan Reply

    Dan: yea the pod race is awesome. Theres actually a lot to like in TPM imo.

    Scott: youre right. Fantastic scene!

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    Max Dunphy Reply

    Really good list! Personally I hated the Dooku vs Yoda scene but good stuff

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    Rodney Reply

    I partially agree with the Birth Of Darth Vader. The point at which the helmet lowers onto Annakin’s face, and he takes that first “eeeee pooooo” breath, is mesmerising.

    But the “Noooooooooo” bit? Awful.

    Great list, though.

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    5 Minute Movie Guy Reply

    When Luke looks towards the binary sunset on Tatooine in the original #StarWars as The Force theme plays

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    Darrell S A Reply

    “Never..I’ll never turn to the dark side..you’ve failed, your highness; I am a Jedi, like my father before me”

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    Ally Reply

    “Into the garbage chute flyboy”

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    Ciara McIntyre Reply

    “You’re all clear, kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home.”

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    Wendell Reply

    Great list, but sorely missing the trash compactor scene from A New Hope, and possibly Luke using the force to make the shot that destroys the Death Star. I’d personally get rid of Yoda’s light saber duel, but that’s just me. Others to consider:

    Pod race in Phantom Menace
    Darth Vader’s death in Return of the Jedi
    Millennium Falcon in a “cave” in Empire Strikes Back
    Kylo Ren stopping a laser mid-flight at the beginning of The Force Awakens

  13. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    I did think the Yoda scene in Clones felt like watching a cartoon. It’s a shame, I prefer puppet Yoda but that’s the only one I have an issue with.

    The moment I don’t think anyone has mentioned is the scene when Luke meets Leia for the first time in the Death Star and says something like – “I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you” – and she kind of looks at him like she’s got no chance of escape.

  14. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    So many terrific comments here….and so many iconic moments. There really should be a top 50 iconic Star Wars moments.

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    CineGirl Reply

    I’m in agreement with every one of those mentioned above. Great top 10, Dan.

    If I was to mention another it would be that moment in Jedi when Leia and Luke are talking and he reveals she’s his sister. I’ve always liked that moment.

  16. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    Max Dunphy: I think the lightsaber duel could have been a little better but from my perspective, I recall sitting in the theater and literally gasping and then breaking out into applause…with about 300 others, when he draws his lightsaber. Next to the Rey part in the forest, it’s the single most exhilarating for me.

    Scott: Yes, that scene is perhaps the funniest scene in the OT. Lucas wrote Han beautifully and Ford really brought him to life.

    Carolyn: I agree with you as well on this part. The for us now to remember is a lot of these moments are 30-40 years old and we have seen them perhaps more than 50 times, but when we first saw them, we were left in awe.

    Rodney: Yep, the Nooo part kind of ruins it but hearing the breathing and the music and watching him break the shackles…gave me chills

    5 Minute Movie Guy: I have heard so many utter your exact sentiments. It really is a breathtaking scene.

    Darrel S: The Emperor’s look after he throws his saber down is priceless. He’s so pissed. And then his verbal response, “So be it….(and then like it pains him to say this next word) JEDI.”

    Ally: The garbage chute scene in ANH is classic, and there’s a really nice pay off in TFA using that scene as inspiration.

    Ciara McIntyre: Terrific scene. Han coming back to help out Luke really gets the crowd pumped. I still don’t know how they made the aerial scenes so realistic in ANH, but it really was something to see.

    Wendell: There’s the beauty of the list and Star Wars on a whole. There are a litany of scenes you could include. And I love every one you mention. I too loved Ren stopping the lazer in TFA…incredible stuff.

    Callum: “Kind of short to be a stormtrooper, aren’t you?”

    CineGirl: “The force runs strong in my family. My father has it….I have it…and my sister has it.” Yep, I love that scene too.

  17. Avatar
    Brett Doze Reply

    A moment from “The Force Awakens” that I found very iconic (more than Rey overpowering Kylo, for instance) is when Han and Chewie first appear in the movie. The scene takes place in…you guessed it..THE MILLENIUM FALCON. When I saw the film, many people gasped, cried, and even cheered when this moment occurred. It’s a perfect example of nostalgia hitting home in the hearts of Star Wars fans.

    • Avatar
      Brett Doze Reply

      I forgot to mention Han’s line, “Chewie, we’re home.” I still get chills every time I hear it.

  18. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    Yep, I agree Brett Doze. You’re right, their first appearance certainly gave me a giddy feeling, no doubt. There were a lot of those in TFA. It’s such a terrific way to bring us back to the old trilogy.

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