Welcome to Top 10. In this series, I will pick a subject in Star Wars and pick my top 10 rankings within that category. The rankings are heavily weighted towards my favourites, but will also take into account their impact on the story or the overall canon. Today I will be going through my Top 10 sacrifices.
Having been recently going back through The Mandalorian at the same time as watching YouTube reactors work their way through Rebels, The Clone Wars and even in some cases the movies, I began to notice just how often someone would willingly pay the ultimate price and sacrifice themselves in order to help their friends. Needless to say this will not be the happiest of Top 10’s but it’s beautifully poignant and some of these sacrifices really do stick in my memory as top Star Wars moments. Before we go any further, be aware that there will be spoilers, with examples from the books, comics, movies and series.
“Live to fight another day, boys! Live to fight another day.” – Hardcase
Now first of all I want to give some clarity to how I put this list together. In order to be considered, I had to feel that the character was willingly choosing to make the sacrifice in full knowledge of what it meant for them, which is why Vader saving Luke and 99 making a run for more detonators under heavy fire. Then in putting together the ranking, I will consider factors like the importance of the sacrifice (including the scale of who this saved, or how it changed the circumstances), the emotion it caused experiencing it, and also how memorable it was for me.
So without further ado, let’s begin the countdown!
10: Ben Solo
From Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
So I’ll start by saying that I’m not a big fan of a lot of narrative choices in Episode IX and actually this moment was one of them, as I felt that it would have been much more interesting to see the redeemed villain survive to see what happened next for them.
Having turned away from the dark side, Ben Solo made his way to Exegol to help Rey. Their dyad in the Force inadvertently allowed Palpatine to be restored to full power by draining their life force and he threw Ben down a chasm. Ben managed to climb back to the throne room to find that Palpatine had been defeated at the cost of Rey’s life. Ben sacrificed himself, transferring his life energy to her to bring her back to life, at the expense of himself.
While it was a beautiful moment and went a long way to begin redeeming what he had done as Kylo Ren and showing him as the Jedi he should have been, I still feel that the decision was not narratively the right one, while it was painfully obvious what Ben was about to do the moment he went over to Rey’s body, with such a focus on the healing power throughout the movie, and this is why it only just makes it onto the list – I seriously considered the sacrifices of Hevy and Hardcase over this moment.
9: Krysta Agate
From the novel Aftermath: Empire’s End
Next up is one that will not be familiar to many people, but one that has a big impact on the end of the Galactic Civil War. The Battle of Jakku was the climactic battle that saw the Empire finally defeated by the New Republic, but things could have gone very different if not for Commodore Krysta Agate.
A strong tactical mind, Commodore Agate was given command of the Concord, one of the New Republic’s first 3 Starhawks, their new battleship. The Imperials were having success in orbit due to the firepower of their command ship, the Super Star Destroyer Ravager, which was being protected by their ships staying in tight formation. Attempts by the Starhawks to breach the formation resulted in the Concord being exposed to the Ravager‘s firepower. Rather than evacuate the ship with the rest of her crew, Commodore Agate began a frontal assault with all firepower and convinced Admiral Ackbar to order fighters and corvettes to focus fire on the Ravager‘s engines. Crippled by the Ravager‘s firepower, the Concord began to fall into Jakku’s atmosphere and Agate utilised the ship’s powerful tractor beam to pull the Ravager (now unable to escape due to its destroyed engines) down to the planet’s surface along with her. Agate perished in the crash landing, but the destruction of the Ravager turned the Battle of Jakku in favour of the New Republic.
Getting to see the battle from a number of points of view, you really get to understand the importance of this sacrifice, while having Agate as a point of view character really helps to sell her bravery. Unfortunately, this one loses out compared to some other smaller sacrifices due to being in prose only, but if we were to see a visual adaptation of this sacrifice, I could see it fly up the list.
From the comic miniseries Star Wars: Lando
The only sacrifice on the list to not actually involve the one making it dying, Lobot’s sacrifice is nevertheless emotional. In the comic, we see Lobot with his cybernetic attachments, but he is still able to speak normally like any other person. Having joined Lando and some associates on an attempt to steal from a yacht, things went wrong as the yacht was revealed to be Palpatine’s own, while a Sith mask corrupted a number of Lando’s crew. Lobot has been stabbed by a royal guard and is struggling to fight off his implants while he recovers in a bacta tank. Channath Cha arrives under orders from Palpatine that nobody can make it off the ship alive, so sets the ship’s self-destruct, but agrees to help Lando and her old lover Lobot escape with her on her ship. A droid on her ship had regained control and moves her ship away to protect it, but all escape pods on the yacht had already been locked down. With the only other option being to have the 3 be destroyed in the yacht’s explosion, Lobot connects to the yacht’s interface and successfully stops the self-destruct and opens the escape pods, however this act is enough for the implants to take control of him.
Lobot’s sacrifice of his humanity is such a sad story and a final pre-recorded message from Lobot to his friend Lando gives an added poignancy. One of my favourite moments from the comics that I’ve read.
From The Mandalorian Chapter 8: “Redemption”
“I can no longer carry this for you, nor can I watch over The Child.”
The former bounty droid had been repaired by Kuiil and reprogrammed to do whatever the Ugnaught needed, and with the return of Din Djarin, that became being a nurse for The Child. During the attempts of Din Djarin and their group to escape the Imperials, they found themselves on a raft down a lava river, but noted that the remaining Imperial forces were waiting for them at the exit of the tunnel they were travelling through.
With his primary programming now being to protect The Child, he gave The Child over to Din Djarin and walked ahead of the raft to meet the troopers. No longer needing to worry about his primary programming due to Din Djarin having The Child, IG-11 could return to his manufacturer’s programming, which stated that it could not be captured. Before the raft could make it to the exit, IG-11 activated its self-destruct, which took out all the remaining troopers in the explosion, leaving just Moff Gideon in his TIE fighter.
This sacrifice by IG-11 allowed Din Djarin, Cara Dune, Greef Karga and The Child to escape, whereas they would have all been killed or captured otherwise. The sacrifice plays out so well though, as it also helps Din realise that he has come to consider the droid a friend despite having a hatred and distrust of droids from his past, while the swell in the music as IG-11 steps into the lava and makes his way out to the troopers just adds to the emotion. Finally a note must be made of how well Taika Waititi manages to add a degree of humanity while remaining clearly a droid.
6: Roos Tarpals
From The Clone Wars season 4 episode 4 “Shadow Warrior”
“How does it feel to die?”
“Not die… Sacrifice.”
People who have only seen the movies have not seen the best of General Roos Tarpals. Tarpals and a number of Gungans fought General Grievous in an attempt to capture him. Eventually, Tarpals ended up in 1v1 combat with him. As Tarpals tried to move in close, Grievous managed to stab him with the spear of a fallen Gungan, but Tarpals revealed that this was an expected sacrifice and he was able to thrust his own spear up inside Grievous’ armour, helping to shock the General into submission and allowing him to be captured.
Not only did this sacrifice lead to the capture of General Grievous, it also stopped a Separatist plot to turn the Gungans against the Naboo. Unfortunately, the capture of Grievous was soon undone as the Separatists’ capture of Anakin Skywalker led to an exchange of prisoners, which stopped the sacrifice creeping higher on the list.
5: Ima-Gun Di & Captain Keeli’s Outer Rim Garrison
From The Clone Wars season 3 episode 3 “Supply Lines”
“For the Republic! For the Twi’leks!”
General Di and Captain Keeli were leading a garrison of clones helping the Twi’leks on Ryloth during the Separatist invasion. With their support vessels in orbit destroyed and their right flank collapsing, it looked as if the clones and Twi’leks had been abandoned by the Republic, causing Twi’lek Resistance leader Cham Syndulla to lose hope. With only one LAAT remaining, there was insufficient transports to help the Twi’leks and clones escape, so General Di devised a plan to hold off the Separatist forces as long as possible while the Twi’leks escaped over the mountains. The remaining clones used the LAAT and their remaining explosives to block one of the Separatist Army’s routes of advance, leaving the only one through a narrow ravine where the clones had set up a last stand. The clones were heavily outnumbered and took heavy casualties until only Keeli and Di were left fighting back-to-back. Keeli was shot and Master Di was killed by the droids surrounding him as word came through his comlink that 3 Republic ships had broken through the Separatist blockade to provide supplies for the Twi’leks.
Last stands have always been something that I have found myself attracted towards, so it’s no surprise to see this come so high on my list. What The Clone Wars frequently did so well was get me invested in these characters that only featured in one episode. Such was the case with Master Di and Captain Keeli, giving a real impact to their last stand, while the arrival of the supply ships at the very end left that slight tone of hope for the future of the Twi’leks even as the Separatists won the day.
4: Jun Sato
From Rebels season 3 episode 21 “Zero Hour: Part 1”
The commander of Phoenix Squadron’s sacrifice could be considered to have saved the Rebellion from being wiped out before they even entered open war. Grand Admiral Thrawn’s attack on the Rebel forces massing at Atollon was almost foolproof, but for the greed of his subordinate Admiral Konstantine and the sacrifice of Jun Sato and two members of the crew of the Phoenix Nest.
Thrawn’s placement of 2 Interdictor-class Star Destroyers was stopping any Rebel forces from fleeing the system. However seeing his allies being tore apart by the blockade’s fire, Sato ordered the crew of the Phoenix Nest to abandon ship and – along with 2 crew who volunteered to stay behind, they flew towards the centre of the Imperial formation – drawing the greedy Konstantine’s Interdictor out of position – before abruptly changing direction and ramming the Interdictor, destroying both ships.
This sacrifice allowed Ezra Bridger to escape to hyperspace and later return with Mandalorian reinforcements, who helped take down the second Interdictor so that the remaining Rebel forces could escape. Had Sato not made this sacrifice play, then a number of high-level Rebels, including Jan Dodonna (who formulated the plan for the Battle of Yavin) would have been captured by the Empire and the Rebel Alliance would not have had the strength to take the fight to the Empire at Scarif. Furthermore, the music through this scene does a great job of sounding mournful as we lose not only a key officer and ship, but also some hopeful motifs as the Phoenix Nest advances to highlight the bravery of those sacrificing themselves.
3: Amilyn Holdo
From Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The first of 2 great sacrifices to make the list from The Last Jedi is still one of the most memorable moments in all of Star Wars for me.
With the First Order chasing down the fleeing Resistance, Vice Admiral Holdo planned to sacrifice herself by leading the fleet away as the sole person remaining on board the Raddus, while the rest of the Resistance took shuttles (hidden from First Order scanners) to the surface of the nearby planet Crait, where they could hide out in an old Rebel base until the First Order had left the system. The plan was told to the First Order by the crook DJ, which led tot he shuttles coming under fire from the First Order fleet, taking out the majority of them before they could even reach Crait. In an act of desperation, Holdo activated the hyperdrive that Poe Dameron had set during his earlier mutiny, with the pre-calculated jump point now the far side of the First Order fleet. Activating the hyperdrive turned the Raddus back towards the First Order fleet and jumped the ship to lightspeed… directly into the First Order flagship, the Supremacy. Not only was the Raddus destroyed in the collision, but the Supremacy was cut into 2 and many of the Star Destroyers in the vicinity were also destroyed by the debris shot at them.
As well as being visually stunning and something so different to anything else we have seen in Star Wars, this sacrifice allowed the remaining Resistance shuttles to make it to Crait to regroup, while the timing of the collision also saved Finn and Rose from execution and created a diversion in which Rey could escape from Kylo Ren, giving them all the chance to get back to the Resistance.
2: Luke Skywalker
From Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
“See you around, kid.”
The second moment from The Last Jedi to make the list is probably one of the greatest actions ever undertaken by a Jedi, and one of the great reveals within Star Wars.
With the few remaining members of the Resistance seemingly trapped in the remains of an old Rebel base, Luke Skywalker arrived and stepped out to face Kylo Ren and the First Order on his own, distracting them long enough for the Resistance to find a way to escape. Of course, Kylo eventually realised that Luke was not actually there in person, but in fact projecting himself there from Ahch-To – something that required so much power, it resulted in him becoming one with the Force.
Now I didn’t consider Obi-Wan’s sacrifice for the list as he knew that he would be able to return in some form, so I was initially not going to include Luke for the same reason. However, as we were not given any reason to believe that Luke knows the same will happen for him, I felt happy enough to include him on here. The reveal of Luke’s power was incredible and the moment of his passing – complete with a binary sunset – was a beautiful emotional moment.
1: Caleb Dume/Kanan Jarrus
From Rebels season 4 episode 10 “Jedi Night”
If we’re talking beautiful moments when it comes to sacrifices, the death of Caleb Dume takes the biscuit!
Escaping from Imperials after rescuing fellow Spectre and the love of his life (who is carrying his unborn child), Kanan and Hera are being picked up by Ezra and Sabine in a stolen Imperial transport from the top of a fuel cell. Governor Pryce arrives in an AT-AT and has the pilots fire on the fuel pod to take the out. As the pod begins to explode, Kanan runs away from the transport and uses the Force to hold back the flames to give his friends time to escape finally using the Force to push them away as he is about to be overcome by the flames.
When we found out that Kanan was a Jedi in the series premiere, we always knew that things likely wouldn’t end well for him, and there were hints throughout this episode, but I still don’t think any of us could have expected what we were going to see here. While the sacrifice may not have been to save as many people as some others, it was saving the people that made up his chosen family, while holding back the explosion showed just how strong he was. The music just added to the emotion and as if that wasn’t enough, seeing Kanan get his vision back in his final moments to fulfil a promise to Hera from season 2 (“We’ll see each other again, I promise” – the last thing we see him say to her before being blinded) ensured that I will never have a dry eye watching his sacrifice, no matter how many times I watch!
Who makes your Top 10?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…