This Halloween, revisit the Star Wars saga’s most chilling moments.
The galaxy far, far away can be a scary place. From the second Darth Vader stepped onscreen in Star Wars: A New Hope — clad in black with a haunting mechanical breath, but calm, confident, and moving with purpose — it was clear that dangers abound in this cinematic world. The horrors would soon extend to slithery monsters, witches, and everything in between. As Halloween arrives, StarWars.com celebrates the bone-chilling side of the saga with a look at 13 of its scariest scenes.
1. Dance with the Dianoga (Star Wars: A New Hope)
"There's something alive in here." Our heroes’ situation goes from bad to worse as they find themselves in a Death Star trash compactor — and they’re not alone. Luke and audiences soon meet the dianoga, Star Wars’ first monster, as it drags him into murky, garbage-filled water. The young rebel survives, but we learn that in Star Wars, one never knows what lurks beneath.
2. Don’t Look Outside (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
With the Millennium Falcon docked inside a large asteroid, Leia sits quietly in the cockpit. Then she catches something in the corner of her eye as it glides past the window. The princess gets up, leans forward for a closer look. Seemingly out of nowhere, a winged creature jumps onto the glass, suctioning on and letting out a high-pitched squeal. Leia justifiably screams, and we get one of the all-time great jump scares.
3. We Would Be Honored If You Would Join Us (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Leia could totally say “I told you so.” Lando Calrissian, who the princess doesn’t completely trust, invites Han, Leia, and Chewie for “some refreshment,” and leads them to a dining room. Lando opens the door to reveal a seated Darth Vader, who rises to greet them and blocks Solo’s blaster shots with his hands. Boba Fett emerges, and we realize that Lando has betrayed his friends. It’s a shocking moment that builds quickly, and as the door closes hard, cutting the audience off from whatever conversation is to follow, an uneasy feeling sets in.
4. Journey in the Cave (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
In an essential Empire sequence, Luke discovers a cave strong with the dark side on Dagobah. What's in there? "Only what you take with you," Yoda tells him. He brings his weapons (against the wishes of his master) and creeps inside. The mist seems to grow thicker, and the visuals slow down as Luke turns a corner to meet, impossibly, Darth Vader. It plays like a nightmare, but the scene truly haunts from what the young Jedi finds underneath Vader's mask.
Teased earlier in the Jabba’s palace sequence, we finally find out what the Hutt keeps downstairs. The slug-like crime lord sends Luke hurtling through a trap door and into his dungeon, and a large gate rises to unleash the rancor: a gargantuan, roaring creature (that could only come from the mind of Phil Tippett). It gobbles up a Gamorrean Guard like spaghetti and turns its attention to the Jedi, leading to an unforgettable battle and scene. Today, the rancor stands as possibly Star Wars’ most iconic monster.
6. The Turn (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
Palpatine’s plan to destroy the Jedi kicks into high gear with Anakin’s betrayal of Mace Windu, as he slices the Jedi Master’s hand off in order to save the Chancellor. It’s an irreversible act, and a disturbing one — as a viewer, you feel helpless watching a good man turn to evil, and powerless to stop him. As Revenge of the Sith continues, Anakin only falls further, creating horror and tragedy, but it’s this moment that infuses the movie with a sense of dread.
7. The End of Anakin (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
Fully turned to the dark side, Anakin — now Darth Vader — faces Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. It's an epic, operatic sequence as the former friends fight to the death. When it's over, Kenobi leaves his old student beaten and burning on the banks of a lava river, screaming with hatred. Anakin's suffering is difficult to watch, as is the end of his bond with Kenobi; it was an awesome fight, but no one was going to win.
8. Attack of the Brain Worms (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Star Wars goes full B-movie in this gloriously icky Season 2 episode of the beloved animated series. A brain worm parasite hatches near resting clone troopers, slithering its way up the nasal passage of one unlucky soldier. Soon, it's controlling him like a marionette; when the clone boards a ship, more worms hatch, leading to an infestation. It comes down to Ahsoka Tano to figure out how to stop them, and as you can see in the image above, it ain't pretty.
9. Nightsister Spirits Strike (Star Wars Rebels)
Even in death, the Nightsisters wield great power. In "Visions and Voices" from Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, Kanan, Ezra, and Sabine encounter the green-hued spirits of Dathomir's famous witches. They swirl and swarm with wicked glee, eventually possessing Kanan and Sabine. This is peak Nightsisters, creepy and mysterious.
10. Rolling Rathtars (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
This one is more in the fun-scary category — a rollercoaster ride of a scene. With Han and Chewie facing down multiple gangs on their freighter and out of options, Rey accidentally opens the cages to several rathtars: huge creatures that are, basically, rolling balls of teeth and tentacles. They gobble up the baddies, chase our heroes, and we're jumping in our seats the whole time.
11. Vader Unleashed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
We've seen Darth Vader in action, but never like this. The rebels have stolen the plans to the Death Star, and the Emperor's enforcer is determined to get them back. The Sith Lord boards a dark tunnel leading to the rebel blockade runner, and a squad of rebels wait, blasters drawn at the nothingness before them. Vader ignites his lightsaber, turning the corridor red. He stalks forward, unleashing a ferocious attack and slaughtering the soldiers before him with chilling ease. The rebels scream as this unstoppable force keeps coming, and Darth Vader has never been more frightening.
12. Ice Spider Swarm (The Mandalorian)
No, no, no, no, no. Mando, Grogu, and Frog Lady are marooned on a frigid planet, and the ever-curious and hungry Adorable One stumbles upon a nest of some sort. He rips into an egg and munches on what's inside, but then the others start to move with life. Soon, near-countless white ice spiders begin to crawl forward, their spindly legs going clickety-clack in the worst way as they approach our trio. It's terrifying...and then we see the mama ice spider. Mando and company have to run for their lives from a very real threat, resulting in a sequence that could be in a horror movie.
13. The Dead Rise (Ahsoka)
Star Wars meets Night of the Living Dead, and it's ghoulishly great. After Ahsoka, Sabine, and Ezra defeat Thrawn's night troopers, the Grand Admiral's witch allies have a backup plan: Chanting a spell, they raise the troopers from the dead. The armored soldiers' eyes seem to glow green as they lurch forward, groaning and relentless as they attack once more. For those who love weird and scary Star Wars, zombie troopers are a welcome addition to the saga.