Alas, Poor Scrappy: Two Ewoks are sent flying by an explosion. One rolls to his feet and tries to pull his friend (family member?) to his feet, only to realize that the other Ewok won't ever be getting up.
Vader's Heel–Face Turn was originally about Luke finally connecting with Vader, but after the Prequel Trilogy, it can be seen as Vader realizing that every step of the way, Luke had endured nominally similar hardships under more difficult circumstances — without succumbing. It's no longer simply about Vader's love of his son, but the implication that all the excuses Vader had told himself — other people holding him back or betraying him or forcing him to do something — were self-delusions, and that he never had to fall. The subsequent attack on Palpatine is no longer merely a Berserk Button of hurting Anakin's family, it's now Anakin returning from the Despair Event Horizon he's languished in for decades.
Alternatively, he was less saving Anakin Skywalker's son, and more preserving the last thing left of Padme.
Ass Pull: Yoda's mention of "The Other" in Empire was just a means of removing Luke's Plot Armor before sending him off to his duel with Vader. Lucas had a vague idea of what the character was and what they would do but that was for later in the series. Then Empire's production was so stressful that Lucas decided to make Jedi the final film. With only one film to wrap up the story Lucas decided Leia would be The Other because she was the most convenient choice in the cast and because they had already started dropping hints that she was Force-Sensitive.
Boba Fett. In this one, he's defeated fairly easily (by a blind man, no less) and in the Special Edition he does what might be seen as flirting with some strippers, which annoyed some fans (and his original actor) greatly for ruining his mystique.note The Legends series changes this so that the stripper in question is actually a girl he found once, rescued, and dropped off at Jabba's palace... because he thought there might be a bounty on her and he wanted to know exactly where she was in case he could collect. He was only making sure she wasn't mistreated, in case it turned out the bounty was for her to be unharmed.
Han Solo becomes a bit of a load, though this is more so to show how much Luke and Leia have progressed while he was frozen in carbonite. In general, he also isn't too relevant to the plot, more or less tagging along on the final mission strictly because he's in the group. Perhaps to make up for it he takes on shades of The Smart Guy, coming up with plans and ultimately saving the day with a clever ruse.
While still badass, Darth Vader spends most of the movie kowtowing to the Emperor where the previous two movies saw him as stoicly The Heavy in charge. His conversation with Luke on Endor's moon might be the first example since Mustafar of Vader exhibiting real fear. Much of this is leftover from earlier drafts in which it's made more clear that the Emperor put an end to Vader's treacherous ambitions by reminding him who's Boss with the Dark Side.
Base-Breaking Character: The Ewoks were obviously an attempt to introduce "cute" aliens into the film, but many older fans ended up hating them or at least finding them annoying for their ridiculous Rock Beats Laser victory. Their "cuteness" is supposed to be offset by the fact that they have no problem eating sentients (they were going to eat the heroes after all), but that gets lost in the shuffle when people remember them. That being said, the Ewoks still have their fans, and there are some fans who can't stand them but are willing to tolerate Wicket.
Best Known for the Fanservice: This entry in the Star Wars series consists of the slave dancer, Leia in a metal bikini, and... something about some teddy bears.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The band sequence in the special edition, which was really just an extension of the original sequence that was trimmed down to just the part where Jabba threw Oola into the Rancor pen (30 seconds vs about 2 minutes). In the Making Of featurette that preceded the movie, Lucas admitted that he just thought it would be funny to have a random musical number in an otherwise serious movie. He also said he intended to shoot the scene (or something like it) from the beginning, but they never had time until the Special Edition.
The gold bikini. Some find it pointlessly exploitative and think it should be left to the dustbin of history; others love the way Leia turns it around by strangling her exploiter while wearing it.
Hayden Christensen replacing Sebastian Shaw as Anakin's Force ghost. It's one of the most frequently criticized edits in the original trilogy and was seen by some as shilling for Revenge of the Sith. However, some people found that Christensen helped make the moment more emotional for fans of the prequels (including kids) and that Shaw, then 78 years old, actually doesn't make sense as a 45-year-old man, while the much younger Christensen is at least justified because it was explained as Anakin returning to when he was strongest with the Force. The fact that the edit doesn't actually affect anyone's characterization, yet is vocally complained about just as much as edits that do such as Han shooting second, also gets on some fans' nerves.
Palpatine flawlessly engineers the total destruction of the Rebellion, and treats Darth Vader as expendable because he wants to make Luke his next apprentice by goading Luke into murdering his father. When Luke refuses, Palpatine then gleefully blasts him with Force lightning and would have killed him if not for Vader's redemption.
The novelization has its version of Moff Jerjerrod. Portrayed as an arrogant, self-important Sociopathic Soldier who joined the military for the violence, Jerjerrod saw the Rebel Alliance as something smaller and weaker than himself that he could bully with impunity. As commanding officer of the second Death Star, Jerjerrod was an enthusiastic participant in Emperor Palpatine's plan to exterminate the Rebels, viewing it as an exercise in total annihilation; his one regret was that the end of the Rebellion would mean the end of the war he loved. When the Emperor and Darth Vader were slain, Jerjerrod, enraged at the Rebels for fighting back, ordered Death Star II to obliterate Endor, intending to butcher not only the Rebels and the Ewoks, but his own men, and every other sentient lifeform on the moon, out of a desire "to incinerate something green and living, gratuitously, meanly, toward no end but that of wanton destruction. A small act, but deliciously satisfying." A petty, sadistic man with a big gun, Jerjerrod was among the cruelest and most vindictive officers the Imperial Navy had to offer.
Continuity Lockout: Unlike the first two films, which you could pretty much follow on their own, Jedi fully assumes you've already seen the previous two films, so if you're a newcomer, it can be hard to follow some of the film's story, which has several plot points that build directly on events from the previous films.
Critical Dissonance: While still not considered bad by any means, it didn't get as good a reception from critics as the two prior films did. Among fans, however, it's a very common choice for either the best or second best in the series.
Director Displacement: Much like with The Empire Strikes Back, many people think George Lucas directed this film, but it was actually Richard Marquand who directed this. And he sadly died shortly afterwards, so unlike Irvin Kershner he didn't get to provide a commentary to make his contributions clear.
Ear Worm: Both "Lapti Nek" (the song which plays in Jabba's place in the original) and "Jedi Rocks" (in the remastered version.)
Continuing from The Empire Strikes Back, Admiral Piett who manages to be one of the few "normal" Imperial figures to be competent and notable. His death is also especially memorable.
Salacious Crumb counts as well. With many fans finding his shill laugh amusing to listen to.
Fanfic Fuel: Since the story in Shadows of the Empire hasn't been re-canonized yet, then it's up for fan-interpretation about how many Bothans died to bring the rebels the information about Death Star II.
A funny little mistake left in that fans affectionately call, "The Force Kick."
Several of the fights between the Stormtroopers and the Ewoks, who are so small they can't possibly pose a physical threat to full-grown men in armor. In the words of Rifftrax, it looks like the Ewoks gently tap them to death.
Fountain of Memes: The Emperor. The deliciously evil delivery of his hate filled lines makes him extremely quotable.
Admiral Ackbar thanks to his hammy lines like "It's a trap!" and "Our cruisers can't repel firepower of that magnitude!".
His gravelly voice and Sean Connery-esque accent make doing impressions of him just so damn much fun.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: A Legends Universe version. Remember that little bit in the Special Edition, where a mob on Coruscant is toppling a statue of Emperor Palpatine? Well, in the novel Iron Fist, it's revealed that immediately afterward, a massive number of stormtroopers entered that plaza to "restore order"... by opening up on the crowd on full-auto. No, their blasters weren't set for stun, why do you ask?
Han says to Leia after the Death Star's destruction, "I'm sure Luke wasn't on that thing when it blew." In The Force Awakens, Han is killed while the heroes take down the Dark Side's next planet destroying weapon.
As of Rogue One, "Many Bothans died to bring us information" becomes this — where we learn that this wasn't the first time that many lives were lost retrieving information to bring down a Death Star. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Rebels involved in that mission was killed. The fact that this line is said by a shaken Mon Mothma doesn't help. And unlike that Death Star plan retrieval mission, the one with the Bothans was in fact manipulated by the Emperor to lure the Alliance into a trap.
The final shot with all the heroes can be much more heartbreaking to see given The Force Awakens featured the death of Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher passed away in December 2016 after completing filming for The Last Jedi, meaning it will be the last time all of them will be seen together.
After learning that Darth Vader is Luke's (and her) father, Leia suggests that Luke should "run away and disappear". In the next movie, that's exactly what Luke did, thanks to Leia's son.
While Shaw being replaced by Hayden Christensen as Anakin's ghost might be divisive, after watching the entire saga, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars in chronological order, it becomes a very powerful moment. Especially true for younger audiences:
Youtube comment on Victory celebration: Hayden as Anakin at the end isn't a change I agree with... But it's one I understand. After seeing my younger sister watch Star Wars in chronological order, including Clone Wars, the ending had an enormous impact. Hayden's Anakin was her hero and she finally got to see him return to the side of good. The ending was incredible to her and it really made me appreciate it a lot more too. When you look at something through the eyes of a child, it's an incredible thing to see.
Anakin's decision to Face Death with Dignity towards the end becomes more moving when, in Revenge of the Sith, we see that he was lured to the Dark Side with the promise of discovering a way of stopping death entirely.
Luke's lightsaber is modeled after Obi-Wan's, only with a green blade instead of blue. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn, the Jedi Master who instructed Obi-Wan and discovered Anakin, is also shown using a green lightsaber. So, Luke has a lightsaber based upon the two Jedi masters in Anakin's life. And like Luke throughout this film, Qui-Gon frevently believes in Anakin's inner goodness as others are skeptical.
In addition, the prequels also revealed that Yoda used a green blade as well. So this means that Luke's new lightsaber could arguably be modeled both on Obi-Wan's (similar hilt) and Yoda's (same colour). He's paying respect to both of his mentors while stepping out of his father's shadow (since he no longer uses his father's old blade).
Deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith delve into the origins of the rebellion, showing that it was Padme who planted the seeds. This casts a new light on Luke redeeming Vader and the subsequent defeat of the Emperor. Luke's journey began out of a desire to follow in his father's footsteps. It ended with him following in his mother's.
For a guy who pretty much was eaten by the Rancor, Jubnuk the Gammorrean was heavily speculated to have actually survived, which also caused some edit wars on Wookieepedia. The fact that the popup book Jabba's Palace shows Jubnuk being cut out alive and well from the Rancor's carcass does not help matters, either.
This happened a lot with Palpatine, which various Legends stories established him surviving in spirit form and resurrecting himself through cloning projects. Eventually Word of God George Lucas had to state Palpatine truly died on the second Death Star and all accounts of his survival were apocryphal.
In MAD's parody of this film, Lando derides the planned assault on the second Death Star as a "Mickey Mouse Operation," and even depicted Mickey himself as Lando's copilot. Cue October 2012 and the franchise is now in Disney's hands.
Yoda tells Luke that "When 900 years old, you reach, look as good, you will not." Well you see Yoda, a certain Time Lord has something to say about that...
Mark Hamill battles a man in a black cape, with one trying to convince the other to redeem himself, and the other says it's too late for him. Sound familiar?
At one point during Luke and Vader's rematch, Luke decides to jump onto the platform above him, or "the high ground" so to speak. To anyone has ever watched Revenge of the Sith, this moment becomes darkly humorous as Vader opts to throw his lightsaber instead of making the same mistake. It's not hard to imagine Vader thinking "I'm not falling for that again!"
Leia is Luke's sister. Yoda gives the confirmation of the It Was His Sled from The Empire Strikes Back when he tells Luke (and the audience) that Vader is indeed Luke's father as he claimed.
Jabba the Hutt is a giant slug monster. While the character is iconic, all that fame does undermine the initial shock of seeing just what Han was talking about back in A New Hope, at least if you're not watching the Special Edition.
The Death Star blows up and the Empire is fatally weakened.
The Emperor can shoot lightning out of his hands. This came as a surprise at first since we had never seen anything like it in the films, but since then that has become one of the most well known force abilities.
Magnificent Bastard: Palpatine not only managed to corrupt Vader, he almost succeeded with Luke and set up a pretty nifty trap for the Rebels to fall into.
"He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil."
Palpatine became synonymous with evil overlord types. In particular, the black robe and the line "Everything is going as I have foreseen it" is used to mock politicians people find to be cartoonishly corrupt.
"Many Bothans died to bring us this information." Enough that it went memetic again as a mock spoiler to Rogue One, even though the film is about the first Death Star.
The iconic scene with the Force Ghosts of Anakin, Yoda, and Ben is often edited to incorporate a recently deceased fictional character or real person, from the cast of The Walking Dead to Carrie Fisher herself.
Memetic Psychopath: The Ewoks. We already know they'll gladly eat humans. Now ask yourself where all those Imperial helmets they used as drums came from. It's all Played for Laughs, but if Leia hadn't arrived in time, we would've bore witness to Star Wars: The Green Inferno.
Misaimed Fandom: This isn't really the case with viewers as whole, but believe-it-or-not, there is a single instance where this happened to Emperor Palpatine, and by a public figure, no less. The Emperor was actually viewed as something of a personal role model by Real LifeSerial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer because of the sheer power he was able to wield over others via his Force Lightning. Dahmer also admired the Gemini Killer from The Exorcist III movie for similar reasons.
Most Wonderful Sound: The unique snap-hiss sound that Luke's lightsaber makes when ignited. Other lightsabers in the series occasionally make that sound, but Luke's does that always - and it never gets old.
No Yay: Jabba kidnaps Leia, forces her into a bikini, keeps her close to him on a chain, and makes her sleep next to him at night. Later, he forces her to leap on him so he can tell her he'll make her "appreciate" him.
The rancor-keeper (whose name, if you are curious, is Malakili) crying over his dead pet. Roger Ebert pointed that out as "a moment that helps explain the special magic of the Star Wars movies."
Sebastian Shaw's (Anakin Skywalker) unmasking scene lasted only two minutes and seven seconds and included just 24 words of dialogue spoken by Shaw, and he received more fan mail and autograph requests than he had for any role in the rest of his career. He also expressed particular surprise that an action figure was made of him from the film.
Mon Mothma, Leader of the Rebel Alliance who would go on to be featured prominently in the Expanded Universe, has only one short scene briefing the Rebels on the impending attack on the second Death Star. Her actress, Caroline Blakiston, once noted this, saying that she encountered people who were jealous of her for being in Star Wars, despite only appearing for about "twenty-six and half seconds".
Ron the Death Eater: Some viewers take Obi-Wan's Metaphorically True behaviour as proof that he was selfishly manipulating Luke from the start and coldly setting him up to kill his own father. While keeping the truth from Luke was morally dubious, Obi-Wan had a point — even before the prequels revealed Anakin's actions when he fell to the Dark Side — that there was no evidence that any goodness (or even his old self) remained in Vader, and he and the Emperor needed to be taken down by any means necessary. If those means included Vader being killed by his son, so be it. And apart from anything else, saying "Your father turned evil and killed a lot of people" wouldn't really have encouraged Luke to become a Jedi. He may also have been planning to reveal the truth to Luke at some point later on, but was killed before he could do so. It's also more or less stated that Obi-Wan's "certain point of view" was his own; he sees Anakin as dead.
The Max Rebo band in both versions, especially with Sy Snootles. In the original, she was a very static puppet. In the SE, she became a more detailed and mobile (albeit cartoonish) CG model that didn't blend properly. Max himself also looks nothing more than a cheap paper-mâché puppet in all versions.
The same can be said of Joh Yowza, who on top of being cartoony is also perhaps even more blatantly CGI than even Sy Snootles.
A TIE fighter phases through the Millennium Falcon at one point during the climax. Fixed in the special edition.
The Rancor is an impressive looking creature, its integration with the actors... Not so much. This was not even addressed, let alone fixed, until the 2004 re-re-release. And then again for the Blu-Ray release.
The sarlaac was a creature of terrifying simplicity, being essentially a large tentacled mouth who's full form was almost completely buried by the sand. Come the 1997 special edition, it returned with even more tentacles and a blatantly CGI "beak". Most fans felt that the beak took away from the sarlaac's ominous nature and it instead made it look like a gigantic venus flytrap; the undeniable fakeness of the effect hasn't helped matters.
There are times where you can see the eyes of the actors in the Ewok costumes. Unlike most failures, this never got corrected in any re-release.
During a shot with Lando and Han in the rebel ship, the background behind them is a very fake-looking matte painting.
The Rebel and Imperial starships inserted into many of the backdrops throughout the battle above Endor don't move very convincingly. The fact that they are inserts is especially obvious whenever the camera happens to tilt, as they themselves don't move.
In some of the later editions, the greenscreen effects surrounding the Rebel troopers inserted into some of the ground battle shots are unfortunately very hard to miss.
When the Executor slams into the surface of the Death Star and explodes into a fireball, the surface is obviously a large-scale model, not helped by the fact that it is largely untextured, which is especially jarring when you glance the truly impressive surfaces of the Executorand the Death Star itself just a few shots earlier.
The B-wings proved an especially unfortunate instance of this for the filmmakers; Because the garbage matte effects proved too difficult to effectively manage around them, they vanish from the battle almost entirely after just a handful of shots.
Upon closer inspection, the X-wing fighter shot down inside the Death Star is clearly recycled from one of those destroyed during the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope; this would be forgivable if not for the insert appearing translucent against the backdrop.
Take That, Scrappy!: Not in the film itself, but the 2012 guidebook The Essential Guide to Warfare has a section about the Battle of Endor from an Imperial soldier's perspective, and the way he described the Ewoks and their actions during the battle reeked of Nightmare Fuel, almost painting them as being similar to a bunch of Sociopathic Soldiers.
Theiss Titillation Theory: Was there any more to Leia's slave girl costume beneath the panels of cloth hanging from front and back of the waistline? According to Carrie Fisher on the commentary, there wasn't, and at times, the cast and crew standing behind her could see "all the way to Florida", as it were. Oola suffers a wardrobe malfunction as she is being dragged towards Jabba the Hutt, and again as she falls through the trap door. You can still see a short bit of the first malfunction in the current special edition. Older editions have longer scenes.
The musical number "Jedi Rocks", which replaced "Lapti Nek" in the 1997 version (see above) for no discernible reason except that the latter's disco and funk trappings may have made it seem a bit dated; not only do many fans consider it much more obnoxious and trying too hard to be funny, but complain that it's overly distracting in the scene itself. (Joh Yowza even gets up and yells right into the camera at one point.)
Not as widely hated was the change from the "Yub Nub" number at the end of the movie to "Victory Celebration". That said, plenty of older fans who saw the original ending will insist that while the new version isn't bad (and fixed some timing issues with the Ewoks' drumming on the helmets during the scene), it's just another unnecessary change. Meanwhile, fans who saw the Special Edition first don't really mind, since "Yub Nub" wasn't as fitting of a song in their eyes.
The 2004 rerelease changed the ending so that Sebastian Shaw's face was digitally altered to resemble an aged Hayden Christensen and especially that Christensen appears as Anakin Skywalker's Force ghost instead of Shaw. This caused a LOT of hate to be spewed, particularly at Hayden. This has lessened of late, however, with the revelation that George Lucas made this change by himself with stock footage, and Hayden was apparently never told about this change or had any part in it. Some even find that Shaw was too old to portray a 45-year-old man as a Force ghost, while Christensen (in his twenties) was at least justified by Anakin returning to when he was strongest in the Force.
Darth Vader's Big "NO!" that was added in the Blu-Ray release was not only criticised for being a Call-Back to a moment from Revenge of the Sith that had been heavily mocked for several years, but also for making Palpatine look like Captain Oblivious for not immediately realizing that Vader was about to turn on him.
Tough Act to Follow: The film had to come off the heels of The Empire Strikes Back, which is generally considered the best film in the franchise, and thus tends to be derided for not reaching the heights of its predecessor.
Ugly Cute: Anakin's face under the Darth Vader mask is horrendously scarred, but looks like a sad old man otherwise.
Vindicated by History: After the near-universal backlash against Jar-Jar Binks in the Prequel Trilogy, many fans have looked more favorably upon the Ewoks.
Zig-zagged by the movie itself. On its release it was considered a return to form after the decreased focus of action in The Empire Strikes Back. But when Empire's praise eventually grew with time, the opposite happened with Return. It's now generally considered to be the weakest of the original trilogy due to its focus more on spectacle rather than character, and also since it lacks the ability to stand as its own story unlike its two predecessors. However, this has later turned itself around, as it is getting more and more praise as time passes and it's not uncommon to hear people claim it as their favorite of the original trilogy after the prequels came out. Revenge of the Sith has also increased its reputation, as the events of that film adds a greater dramatic weight to it.
Visual Effects of Awesome: Jedi raised the bar higher than any of the previous films effects wise. The Battle of Endor had some of the most ambitious special effects shots ever done. One of the standouts is a brief shot that the filmmakers dubbed "SB 19", where the Falcon flies into the camera just after getting swarmed by hundreds of Tie Interceptors. Despite lasting only three seconds, it is the most ambitious effects shot in the entire original trilogy; the shot included 63 spaceships, countless other elements, and was comprised of 170 pieces of film. Each ship had to be shot on a blue screen stage, with a carefully programmed camera move, and each ship had its own set of mattes to isolate it and insert it into the shot. On top of that the exact timing of the flow of ships had to be calculated, so the proper mattes could be created whenever a ship was obscured by another element, and that brief shot took months to put together—but it was worth it.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The whole thing about the Ewoks is said (supposedly by Lucas himself) to be a deliberate parallel to Vietnam. Because, you know... the Viet Cong were adorable teddy bears of people driven to fight the "evil empire" of America, and...
Malakili the Rancor keeper crying over his dead pet. And the Rancor itself, once you know its backstory and the fact that Rancor are naturally a relatively peaceful species. They are essentially the pit bulls of the Star Wars universe: gentle animals that can, by cruel treatment, be turned into vicious monsters. This one here acts the way it does because Jabba doesn't feed it very much, hence why it eats everything thrown into the pit, it's horribly underfed. And he also made it fight other dangerous creatures as big as it was. In the Legends continuity, the animal keeper was even planning to escape with it because Jabba was planning to pit it against something bigger than it was, but then Luke showed up...