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Tear Jerker / Return of the Jedi

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  • Yoda's death as he struggles to tell Luke as much as he can and finally lets him know there is another Skywalker before Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence. Especially after all the characterization he got in the prequels and after understanding the significance of what he said. In the unseen footage of the scene from an EditDroid demonstration laserdisc posted online, Luke takes Yoda's hand as he dies. It doesn't help that it's accompanied by a Dark Reprise of the Force theme and Yoda's own theme.
    • Despite keeping it a secret from him, Yoda seems to sincerely regret the way Luke found out Vader was his father.
      Yoda: Told you, did he? Unexpected this is. And unfortunate.
      Luke: (angrily) Unfortunate that I know the truth??
      Yoda: No! Unfortunate that you rushed to face him! That incomplete was your training! That...not ready for the burden, were you.
      Luke: (surprised) ...I'm sorry.
  • When Luke is angry that Obi-Wan lied about what happened to his father, Obi-Wan calmly but soberly says that he was telling the truth 'from a certain point of view' — and from his point of view, his good friend Anakin is dead and Darth Vader took the place of the man he murdered.
    • Taken a step further in the novelization: Obi-wan makes it clear he considers what happened to Vader to be his (Obi-wan's) fault, and his Metaphorically True interpretation of the Anakin/Vader dichotomy is simply a means to assuage his own guilt. "I thought I could instruct [Vader] just as well as Yoda; I was wrong. My pride has had disastrous consequences for the galaxy."
  • Vader's words when Luke tries to convince him to join the Rebels and give up the Dark Side. "It is too late for me, son." He truly believes he does not deserve redemption.
    • Shortly before that, he insists that Luke doesn't understand the power of the Dark Side and that he must obey his master. While before Vader had attempted to lure Luke to the Dark Side with the promise of great power, he's now saying for the first time that the Dark Side has shackled him into servitude. The scene as a whole transforms Vader from a fearsome evil overlord into a much more tragic figure with the implication that he is aware of how he's ruined his life but feels he cannot undo it. The backstory revealed in the prequels drives it home deeper as Anakin turned to the Dark Side chasing the promise of power only to end up a slave once more.
  • The rancor's owner sobbing because his pet has just been killed. Even worse in that this rancor was horribly abused in Jabba's care and that they're not normally killing machines and that its owner was actively trying to escape with it.
    • One that caught the filmmakers completely off guard: Malakili, Jabba's rancor keeper, weeping after its death, just like any other pet owner in the situation. Tales from Jabba's Palace reveals that he was planning to escape with his pet for a more peaceful life, but then this Jedi showed up...
      • One could go further than that; to Luke, the rancor was a dangerous creature who needed to be killed; to the rancor keeper, it was a pet. Such differences in attitudes towards the rancor echo those towards real-life pets, such as between someone who was attacked by a dog and the owner of said dog.
      • Actually expanded on in Backlash: Luke watches some Rancors in the wild and remembers Jabba's. He is remorseful that he had to kill it, believing them to be beautiful creatures, but he states that Jabba's rancor had been so mistreated and abused that it couldn't have been helped by anyone. Death was a mercy for its existence of being used as an executioner and gladiator beast. That last part is made even worse by the reveal in a short story that Jabba had the rancor fight dangerous creatures for sport, and he was planning to have it fight a Krayt Dragon which would have destroyed it without effort.
      • Even the 1983 RotJ novelization points out that the rancor is just as much a victim of Jabba's cruelty as the people it eats.
        "Life would be a lonely proposition for him from that day."
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    • Comparing the rancor Jabba had to the ones seen on Dathomir in The Courtship of Princess Leia, you can also see that Jabba's is just a child.
    • The rancor's weak moan before expiring (in contrast to the frightening roars he did before) suggest that despite being a scary giant hungry beast, it's a Non-Malicious Monster who is just desperately hungry 'cause it was being abused and half-starved.
    • After the Continuity Reboot, the New Canon re-established that he was cruelly abused by Jabba and made to fight other creatures and also that he cared deeply for Malakili, Jabba's beastmaster and the man crying over his demise, allowing him to tend his wounds when no one else would and even saving his life once. And the feeling was mutual, with Pateesa, the rancor, being one of the few bright spots in Malakili's life after he was sold into slavery.
  • Even though he didn't deserve it, you'd feel a little bad for the Gamorrean guard who fell into the Rancor pit with Luke. Hearing him squeal in fear while trying to climb out as the audience laughs callously at his luck. He may have gotten the last laugh though in the end, as he was given a far quicker death than his coworkers, who were either killed by the explosion over the Sarlacc pit or eaten by the sarlacc (which slowly digests live prey for over 1000 years).
  • Oola being tossed to the rancor for refusing to let Jabba degrade her even more, especially after seeing how miserable she was as a slave earlier on, can be pretty sobering.
  • No matter how you might feel about the Ewoks, you probably still get affected when one of them is killed, and another who barely avoided the blast tries to wake him up before realizing the truth. Speaking Simlish at its most moving. It's the agonized scream of the dead Ewok that sells it. Think about it from their perspective. They've openly volunteered to fight an enemy that overpowers them in every respect beyond sheer numbers. They're losing, they're being driven back, and then we get to see firsthand the consequences of their decision to fight. It's quite heartrending and sums up the horror of the conflict in one short, simple scene.
  • Luke turns himself over to Vader on Endor, trying to reach the part of Anakin and believing that there is still good in him. Vader finally says in a resigned tone, "It is too late for me son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now." Luke sadly responds, "Then my father is truly dead." But secretly, he still would not give up. And it's seen that Vader is truly shaken by his words...
    • Right before he turns himself in, he tells Leia everything. In the span of only a few minutes, Leia learns that Luke is her brother, Darth Vader is her father, and Luke is going off to confront Vader with the strong possibility that he will not return.
    • Before confessing their blood relationship to Leia, Luke asks her about her real mother. It's rather sad when Leia confirms she does have a few vague recollections whereas Luke has absolutely no memory of Padmé.
      Leia: She was very beautiful. Kind but sad...why are you asking me this?
      Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.
    • Vader's tone when he tells Luke, who's defiantly standing against Palpatine, that it's pointless to resist. Such a line would usually be said in a smug, self-assured way, but Vader sounds utterly defeated: "He beat me, my son. He'll beat you."
    • Early on in their fight, Luke struggles to control his anger, catching himself when he manages to knock his father down a flight of stairs. He shuts off his lightsaber and says softly, "I will not fight you, Father." The sad, quietly emotional way in which Mark Hamill delivers the line is quite moving.
    • The Final Duel, the climax of the entire story. The music when Luke and Vader are fighting is some of the most moving in the series.
    • And there's the moment when Luke throws away his lightsaber and says "I'll never turn to The Dark Side. I am a Jedi, like my father before me," which is also a Moment of Awesome.
    • Anakin Skywalker's redemption, with Luke being tortured with lightning by Palpatine.
      • Vader's overall slumped, almost lifeless, stance when his son is being tortured. It really drives home how much damage Palaptine did to him.
      • Luke rising from his fetal position to witness his father saving him. You can tell not only was he ready to die but saddened realizing that his father will not survive the lightning blasts.
      • Even more when he begs Vader to help him: "Father, please! ...Help me."
      • Can you imagine his expression under that mask? The horror, pride, envy, and agony that Anakin has to be feeling at that second? "My son. My flesh. He's been through so much and it never broke him. Why did it break ME? How can I ever live up to HIS example?" THAT is what makes that scene so powerful. Luke is reminding Anakin Skywalker of what it MEANS to be a Jedi... something he'd forgotten for decades.
    • Anakin's damaged breathing as a result of taking Palpatine's lightning it just sounds... so pitiful and you can clearly tell Anakin is struggling to breathe on his own moments after Palpatine explodes. Luke crawls over to his father and gathers him into his arms, holding him close, neither saying a word in this moment of gratitude, love, and redemption.
    • Luke's final, plaintive cry of "Father!" just before Vader looks up from him to the Emperor, then grabs the Emperor while the Force theme plays.
    • "Just once, let me... look on you... with my own eyes." Especially considering that in his final moments, he accepted death and saying goodbye without anger or regret, coming full circle. This exchange between Luke and Anakin before he dies. Could also be a heartwarming moment
      Anakin: Now... go, my son... Leave me...
      Luke: No... No, you're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I've got to save you!
      Anakin: You already have... Luke... You were right... You were right about me... Tell your sister... you were right...
    • "Father, I won't leave you!" Immediately followed by Vader/Anakin's death and Luke quietly sobbing alone.
    • The look on Luke's face when he takes the mask off and sees his father's real face for the first and last time. You can tell he wasn't sure what to expect and that seeing him for what he really is — a scarred, broken old man — is both relieving and heartbreaking.
    • The novelization ramps all of this all the way PAST 11 and into infinity; even before Anakin dies, Luke weeps over the fact that the last sights and sounds his father will experience is the chaos in the Death Star hanger bay, not to mention over Anakin's appearance. Anakin, for his part, reassures Luke, "Luminous beings are we...not this crude matter." Which, of course, was first told to Luke by Yoda back on Dagobah, in a nice Call-Back moment.
    • The music used during the "Vader's helmet comes off" scene also warrants a mention: It's a brilliant combination of eerie and mysterious, soft and touching, and heartbreaking. Never has the Imperial Death March sounded so unique.
    • Anakin's funeral scene. And when Luke sees the Force ghosts of Anakin, Yoda, and Obi-Wan during the victory celebration scene afterwards, it's also a great heartwarming moment.
      • What stings most about the funeral is Luke is alone because that's how it has to be to allow him to mourn and make it a proper send-off for Anakin Skywalker. The only thing the Rebels would have seen was the body of the reviled Darth Vader being consumed by fire, not the Jedi known as Anakin Skywalker who saved the Galaxy and brought balance to the Force by killing Emperor Palpatine at the cost of his own life.

      • In the empire falling and Anakin redeeming itself. Luke’s devastation can fall beneath the cracks. From the first movie, Luke’s eagerness to know more about Anakin and breaking down after learning the truth about Darth Vader, his sorrow about having to say good-bye so soon after reuniting with the redeemed Anakin-especially in the funeral scene-is tangible.
    • For some reason, the montage of free people partying all over the galaxy while the Awesome Music plays (maybe it's because the saga's over... well, for about 32 years).
    • Plus the fact that, now that we can finally watch The Force Awakens, we know all that happiness and rejoicing is not going to last for too long.
      • It gets worse as of The Rise of Skywalker. Palpatine himself found a way to survive this defeat! Of course, it is possible that he will be in a much weaker form than previously, but still, the fact that he's going to cause even more suffering and death is enough to take away from Anakin's sacrifice and make even the most uplifting moment in the entire saga retroactively more tragic.
      • Of course for Legends fans, they know that though the road may be long, ultimately, the galaxy will be free and the Empire eventually forced to evolve into something more in line with how its more honorable members wish it was all along.
  • When the A-Wing crashes into the command room of the Super Star Destroyer and causes it to pull into the Death Star and explode, everyone in Ackbar's ship cheers in celebration, except for Ackbar who simply slumps in his chair in quiet mourning for the pilot who just sacrificed his life for the cause of freedom. Alternatively, he's slumping in relief after proving that the Executor-class Star Dreadnaughts are not invincible, reflecting on the sheer number of sentient beings who just died simultaneouslynote , or mourning the needless death of Admiral Piett, as, in Legends, Ackbar was the best man at his wedding.
  • With Han Solo's death in The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker's death in The Last Jedi, and Carrie Fisher's death in 2016 followed by Leia's death in The Rise of Skywalker, the final shot of Han, Leia, and Luke in this movie is the last time the Original Trilogy's Power Trio appear together onscreen.
  • Yoda, the venerable and universally respected Grand Master of the Jedi Council, arguably the greatest Jedi who ever lived, dies in a tiny bed in a grimy little hut on a swampy backwater planet with only his last student, a boy he barely knows, to witness his last moments. Yet the scene is strangely fitting and stirringly poignant.