It’d be an understatement to call Star Wars one of the most beloved film franchises of all time. It transcends that claim. The franchise is a cultural juggernaut with an influence that permeates into video games, television, and the art of storytelling as a whole. It’s iconic, nothing less. However, amidst so many great moments, quotable lines of dialogue, and memorable characters, there are some moments in the Star Wars franchise that seem to get overlooked for how head-scratchingly messed up they are. Characters behave in ways that defy logic. Others hide a quiet sadism beneath cute exteriors. And, at one point in the franchise, a borderline genocide takes place. That galaxy far, far away is way more twisted than you might realize.
That’s not how carbon freezing works
Han Solo being frozen in carbonite and taken away by Boba Fett makes for one of the greatest cliffhangers of all time in The Empire Strikes Back. Fett taking him off to the mysterious Jabba the Hutt (pre-special editions, y’all), with the audience not knowing if he’d ever escape or what fate Jabba had in mind for him was legitimately shocking. At the very least, we receive confirmation that he survived the freezing process — which was never a sure thing, mind you. Also, to be clear, Han Solo should absolutely be dead.
Pulling a Neil deGrasse Tyson "Um, actually…" on such a clearly fictitious universe might seem like a lame move, but here’s the thing: carbon freezing is something that exists in real life. And when done properly, it’s actually totally plausible that Han would survive the freezing process. The problem? None of the proper measures are taken to protect him. Furthermore, it’s only really supposed to be used on people that are already dead. Speaking of dead, that’s what Han Solo should be after being frozen in carbonite.
Anakin participates in a literal death race
Episode I: The Phantom Menace doesn’t get a lot right, but it’s tough to knock the film’s podracing sequence. It’s a thrilling set piece in which young Anakin Skywalker races against a slew of pro podracers for his freedom from slavery, tapping into his connection to the Force for the first time as he does. The race takes place across a rocky series of canyons and desert that proves lethal quickly, with Anakin’s opponents dying in twists of metal and flame resembling something out of Mad Max: Fury Road. All of this raises the question: why was a 9-year-old allowed to participate in this race to begin with?
Over the course of the entire franchise, Tatooine is presented as something of a lawless land. It’s not totally without governance, but it’s definitely a place where all bets are off. So it makes sense that nothing legally prohibits a child from participating in this hellish death race, but why do any of his friends or family let him? Why do they act like it’s remotely acceptable to put a child in the situation to begin with? And yes, Anakin is a pilot prodigy at a young age, but that doesn’t really make it more acceptable considering the stakes of this race are literal life and death. Plenty of messed-up stuff happens in The Phantom Menace, so maybe this just gets overshadowed. The absolute lunacy of it should have been addressed by at least one other character.
The death of Jabba’s dancer is played for laughs
Considering that it’s populated by bizarre aliens ready-made for a cute toy line, there’s a surprising amount of dramatic gravitas present in the scenes of Return of the Jedi that take place in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. There’s Han and Leia’s reunion, Luke’s morally ambiguous return to his home planet, the air of mystery shrouding C-3PO and R2-D2’s arrival at Jabba’s palace, and Lando’s double-agent angle. However, for a scene with such high stakes, it sure does feature a lot of really silly-looking puppet characters.
We’re talking, of course, about Jabba’s dancer being fed to the Rancor. It’s a horrifying death for one and cements Jabba as a brutal overlord in a big way. Plus, the dancer being a slave really nails in the hopelessness of the whole scenario. The weird thing about this is that what we have here is essentially a group of otherwise funny Muppet-like characters, some of which are even played for laughs in other scenes. Yet, here they are, not only enjoying watching the slave struggle for her life with Jabba, but when Jabba dumps her down the hole, they all run over to check it out.
The only thing missing is Sweetums coming over to bite off the head of the dude who sits on Jabba’s shoulder.
Ewoks eat people
Those Ewoks sure are cute. What with their furry little bodies and cute little noses and their "Yubnubnub"-ing, they make for an adorable addition to the Star Wars universe. They even play a crucial role in the defeat of the Empire! They’re so cute that it doesn’t even matter that they are absolutely into cooking and eating humans.
You forgot about that part, didn’t you? It’s okay, we understand. There’s so much cute comedy-centric stuff going on with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi that it’s easy to overlook the scene in which they have Han Solo prepped to roast over an open fire. There are no inferences to make. They’re absolutely preparing to roast him alive. The mechanism they’re using, which resembles a spit, makes it abundantly clear that they’re preparing to make a rotisserie chicken out of everyone’s favorite scoundrel. And they’re doing this to appease their new golden-glad god, C-3PO. Beneath those furry exteriors lie hearts of pure, twisted evil.
They’re still incredibly cute.
The fallout of the second Death Star exploding over Endor
The original Star Wars trilogy wraps up with the triumphant defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Rebel Alliance. It’s a massively feel-good moment watching these characters we’ve been following for three movies finally stand victorious as the second Death Star explodes. The war is over, and the good guys won. All it cost them was blood, sweat, tears, and the well-being of the planet Endor.
Yeah, that gets glossed over pretty quickly.
That massive explosion taking place adjacent to the far-from-deserted planet? The implications aren’t great as far as what it means for Endor. All of that Death Star wreckage has to go somewhere, and even if some of it flies off into space, a lot of it is bound to come crashing down on the planet, destroying the beautiful lush forests below and the wildlife populating them. And we’re not even dealing with the likely radiation that will coat the planet afterwards, infecting or destroying all life remaining on it. Not such a sweet taste for this victory, hm?
Obi-Wan Kenobi goes into hiding without changing his name
The entirety of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s journey in the prequel trilogy and Clone Wars is colored by where the audience knows they’ll find him in A New Hope, hiding in a cave in Tatooine, partially in a self-imposed exile, partially keeping an eye on young Luke Skywalker. It’s a sad fate for the great Jedi. Kenobi’s mission relies entirely on him remaining incognito on the planet. Nobody can know he’s there. If they do, the Empire can find him. Vader can find him. And if Kenobi is found out, Luke is a goner, as are the hopes of the Rebellion. You’d think with the stakes that high, he’d at least put some effort into picking out a new name.
Seriously, "Old Ben Kenobi"? A first name with almost the exact same sound as his old name? And he didn’t even bother changing his last name! Facebook may not exist in the Star Wars universe but, man, if all it takes is a mention of the last name "Kenobi" for Luke to know exactly who he needs to go track down for R2-D2 (without even getting the first name right), that’s a pretty bad sign. It seems like the kind of information Vader could discover with the ease of asking for directions. Kenobi is one of the greatest Jedi of all time, but he’s lousy at going into hiding.
The sinister implications of the Jedi Mind Trick
The Jedi Mind Trick is so firmly embedded into pop culture that it’s been used as a band name. "These aren’t the droids you’re looking for" is probably one of the most quoted lines in the history of film. It’s a stellar piece of Force folklore and a tremendous power, this idea that Force users can sway the minds of whomever they wish with a bit of training. What never seems to be brought up is the sinister implications this has for anyone who runs afoul of a Sith lord.
The Jedi Mind Trick is only referred to as such because we only ever see Jedi use it. It stands to reason that anyone trained in the ways of the Force is capable of utilizing it, and that includes the Sith. That is, quite frankly, a terrifying idea. Think about what someone like Count Dooku or Darth Maul could do with the power of the Jedi Mind Trick. The possibilities are endless — and awful.
Innocent people died on the Death Star
Maybe you’ve heard this one before, but do you have any idea how many people were on the Death Star at any given time? The crew of the Death Star, from the stormtroopers to the maintenance crew and everyone in between, comes in at 1,179,293, and that’s just the military personnel. There were also as many as 250,000 civilians and independent contractors on board when it exploded. Even if half of them are pure, irredeemable evil, that’s a whole lot of innocent people dead.
Not everyone aligned with the Empire was evil. Some people were apparently just tech crew, folks taking jobs on a space station presumably. It’s easy to forget just how massive the Death Star is, and they all died in an instant when the space station exploded. Amidst their relentless celebrations and medal ceremonies in the wake of this victory, you’d think the Rebel Alliance would at least have a moment of silence for those who they just, well, murdered.
Droids are second-class citizens
Droids are functionally imperative to the world of Star Wars. They do everything from fly ships to translate to clean up messes. Society in a galaxy far, far away would literally grind to a screeching train wreck of a halt without them. So how come they’re treated like absolute dirt?
Sure, it’s less prominent coming from series protagonists like Luke, Anakin, or Obi-Wan, but bit characters dump on droids left and right across the Star Wars films. C-3PO and R2-D2 are kicked out of a bar in the first movie, and it’s due to bar policy being to not serve droids! Admittedly, droids are tools and most of them don’t function outside of their intended purpose, but others, C-3PO and R2-D2 especially, seem to have a full-on artificial intelligence. They have personalities and make independent choices. Considering this, treating them as subhuman seems all the more wrong. That degree of discrimination is horrid in any scenario, but it’s even worse when you consider it’s directed toward beings that are so crucial to the society the humans built with droids’ apparent help.
The Jedi don’t have a problem with slavery
The Jedi in the prequel trilogy are a peacekeeping force of good in the universe. It’s their job to eradicate the Sith and protect the innocent. And, we gotta say, they do a pretty bang-up job, save for the part where they knowingly let slavery prosper in certain parts of the galaxy.
You’d think that’d be more of an Empire move, but nope, the Jedi Council lets slavery fly in the prequel trilogy. To be fair, we get that the whole point of Tatooine and the Outer Rim is that it’s a place has no real governing body, where crime runs rampant. But, still, it’s hard to justify. If there’s a well-known slave trade on a planet, the Jedi should be eager to quash it. Yet, when confronted with child slave Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn not only lets it go, he plays by the rules of the slaveowner! At no point do the Jedi make an effort to stamp it out. It’s a gross instance of non-action, one that we never see truly rectified throughout the franchise and further evidence that the Jedi Council is, well, the worst. And though we don’t see it directly in the sequel trilogy, there’s nothing definitively proving that it no longer exists in the Star Wars universe. Realizing this is a heck of a downer.