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The 8 most disturbing moments in 'Star Wars'
The Force works in unsettling ways.
The Force will be with you, but so will a large amount of disturbing scenes. The movies and shows of the Star Wars franchise work primarily as inspiring and mythical entertainment, but within those stories there are more than a few scenes that are bound to make you uncomfortable.
A character could get an unfortunate body change. A lizard might go up another character’s nose. A hero of the saga might go on a spree of killing children, and hands might get chopped off when you least expect them to. Anything can happen. Star Wars cares not if disturbed you become.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, now streaming on Disney+, could definitely give us some uncomfortable scenes by the time the season is over. Before we get there, here’s our list of the eight most disturbing moments in Star Wars, focusing only on the movies and shows. If we included the books, comics, and games, (especially a handful of moments from the recent Star Wars: The High Republic initiative) this would be a much longer list.
Into the garbage shoot. Punch it.
1. Something Alive in Here (Star Wars: A New Hope)
When Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie escape into a trash compactor in the very first movie, Han remarks about what an “incredible smell” Leia has discovered. Luke discovers something else. He gets wrapped up in the tentacles of the fetid Dianoga, and it is disgusting.
The massive arms of this thing pull Luke under sewage. The fact that he’s gone for a moment isn’t the especially disturbing thing, nor is Luke’s struggle. The part that really stands out as making us uncomfortable is the Dianoga’s little eye, which pops up for a split second before retreating. The heroes don’t see this eye, but we do. It’s a disgusting appendage, it is dripping with bile, and it is practical. It adds a twitchy hair-raising element to the entire scene and puts us on edge.
2. Undercover Jedi (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
In Season 4 of the series, Obi-Wan Kenobi has a four-part arc that finds him faking his death and going undercover. He takes the form of the bounty hunter Rako Hardeen, and he doesn’t just put the guy’s costume on. He gets a full conversion, and it’s absolutely horrible. To start with, he gets completely shaved. Beard, head, everything. The sight of a completely shorn Obi-Wan in animation is bad enough, but then the plastic surgery begins.
He is injected with needles and his entire appearance changes before our eyes. It looks gross, and Obi-Wan is obviously in pain. It’s an uncomfortable process, but Obi-Wan’s entire tenure in this form proceeds to be just as uncomfortable because some of us worry that they won’t be able to reverse the process. It’s an unrealistic fear, he doesn’t look like Rako Hardeen in Revenge of the Sith, but still. Everything from the shaving onward is rough. A typical week for Punching Bag Kenobi.
3. Order 66 (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
You know that the moment is coming, you’ve known it for two and a half prequel movies. It doesn’t soften the blow. Watching (almost) every Jedi that you know get shot down is hard to watch. It should be.
If you’ve watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the sequence is even more loaded. Some of the Jedi (Ki-Adi Mundi) will get no tears. Others you’ve come to love (Plo Koon), and you don’t want to see them go. Adding to everything is the tragedy of the clones themselves, and if you’re up on The Clone Wars' lore of their programming, then this is truly awful all around.
Lest we forget, Anakin’s storming of the Jedi Temple is a part of this purge, and so is his murder of a room full of younglings. We don’t see it, but Anakin extending his lightsaber right after that kid says, “There’s too many of them, what are we going to do?” makes us uncomfortable to say the least.
4. Luke's Vision (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Luke fights a phantom of Darth Vader on Dagobah before he goes up against the man/machine for real. The battle is brief, but it ends with Luke cutting off the Vader apparition’s head in a hail of sparks.
This is disturbing in and of itself, but then the mask of the rolling head explodes and Luke stares down at his own face within. The message is clear to us, at least. Luke could potentially go down the same path. He will face the dark side, and his destiny could be the same as Vader’s. It’s not the dark side revelation that is disturbing, it’s the way Mark Hamill’s face stares back at himself out of the disembodied head. Something about his look, the positioning, and the empty shell of Vader’s helmet is seriously creepy.
5. Boba’s Nose Lizard (The Book of Boba Fett)
We thought the brain worms in Season 2 of The Clone Wars were gross, but The Book of Boba Fett took the “creature goes up your nose” curriculum up a level. Chapter 2 of the series sees Boba in a flashback with a tribe of Tusken Raiders, and apparently his initiation involves a hallucinatory drug journey to find the perfect branch.
Do the Tuskens make Boba Fett do drugs? They don’t force powder or pills on him, no. They take a tiny lizard out of a case and let it jump right into his nose.
Boba proceeds to go on his drug trip of branch location, and the whole thing is much more hallucinatory than we’re used to in Star Wars. As we watch, we swear we can feel the unnatural lizard in our own noses, and that makes us squirm. Relief only comes when he returns with his branch and the lizard leaves him the same way it went in.
It’s one of the weirdest sequences in live-action Star Wars and we love it, but the lizard in the nose gives it a very uncomfortable side effect.
6. Exegol (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
Everything on this secret planet of the Sith Eternal causes discomfort. One of the first things we see within it’s depths is a mangle of aborted Snoke clones in a jar. We’re off to the Fathier races.
Everything having to do with Palpatine’s clone keeping itself alive is a stomach-churner, especially his brittle hands. The huge audience of creepy acolytes that appear here make it so much worse, because who the hell are they? Where did they come from? Why are there so many? What the f*** are they chanting? It sounds Sith-y and we don’t like it. Things seem like they can break out into an alternate version of Eyes Wide Shut at any moment.
The extended lore (gathered from source books) makes it so much worse. The Sith Eternal have stayed on this planet for many years and have added to their numbers with a lot (a lot) of procreation within their own ranks. There’s a lot of dark side sexual escapades going on, with the entire planet proving to be one giant key party.
You’re gonna tell us that there was no inbreeding going on when you have a chanting crowd that large? Please. The thought of this never-ending dark side sexcapade makes us shudder, and not because we’re prudes. Sexegol is one planet that we would not like to visit.
7. Innards of Grievous (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
What exactly is inside of General Grievous? He has some biological components, but they are usually hidden by his metal coverings. They’re hidden until Obi-Wan exposes them towards the end of the ongoing battle on Utapau.
With no weapon in hand, Obi-Wan grabs two pieces of Grievous’s chest plate and pulls them apart. Within, we see a shriveled heart that Grievous may as well have borrowed from the Grinch. There are other little sacks of fluid and a least one sack of nightmare fuel. In a flash, we were no longer curious about the General’s biological side. This is worse than the scene in Season 1 of The Clone Wars where a droid takes Grievous’ face plate off, because that episode cuts to commercial before we see anything. Here, we see it all.
Grievous lets out a high-pitched whine, and that just proves that he doesn’t like the exposure either. The opening lets Obi-Wan get off his blaster shot that kills this coughing jackass, so that’s a plus. Even so, everyone who sees the inside of General Grievous is worse off for it.
8. Off with the hand (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
The entire duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is uncomfortable to watch in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke gets pummeled, and it’s not easy seeing our hero get broken and bloodied for the second time in one movie. He’s severely outmatched, and Darth Vader has rarely been as horrifying as he is in these scenes.
There’s an emotional heft to the duel, too. Every swing, every hit, every bruise is loaded with feeling. Vader is breaking him down mentally as well as physically. The king moment of discomfort in the entire sequence comes when Vader disarms Luke by chopping off his hand. He’s broken him down enough, it’s time to finish things. He probably could have done this at the very start.
On a story level this doesn’t just make us uncomfortable, it makes us recoil in terror. Sure, appendages were lost in both the first movie and in this one, but our heroes weren’t involved. The hand chop effect itself, fully practical, is all-too real. We know it’s an effect, and we know this is a movie. Even so, it is very effective.
This moment alone was so uncomfortable that some of us (not naming names) couldn’t watch this movie when we were kids. When it came on and this scene was shown, a 3-year-old might have freaked the kriff out. Not naming names.
Thankfully for that 3-year-old, the Ewoks of Return of the Jedi were on their way.