The Burning of the Jedi Temple
Hit List: As the shroud of Palpatine falls over Coruscant, the burning of the Jedi Temple, formerly the brightest beacon of peace and justice in the galaxy, serves as a dark sign of what looms in the galaxy's future. As Padme stands at the windows of her apartment, sobbing as she watches the building burn... we understand things will never be the same again.
The Death of Shmi Skywalker and Anakin's Slaughter of the Tusken Raider Village
Hit List: As Shmi Skywalker dies in her son's arms, Anakin realizes he was not powerful enough to save his mother. His nightmare has come to pass. As much as we believe Anakin did love Shmi, this moment shatters his mental stability and his Jedi training... forcing him into a rage that leads to the slaughter of many Tusken Raiders - including women and children. So Shmi's death delivers Anakin his first true taste of the Dark Side.
Anakin Decapitates Count Dooku
Hit List: A pivotal moment in his descent to the Dark Side, Anakin's decapitation of Count Dooku is somewhat shrouded by the fact that Dooku's death comes as a "victory" for the Galactic Republic. What makes the moment truly resonate as a "dark" moment is Palpatine's urging of Anakin to perform the deed. This serves as the groundwork for Palpatine in his manipulation of Anakin. After this moment, Palpatine knows he can bend Anakin to his will, tap into his rage and turn him to the Dark Side.
Anakin Flashes His Sith Eyes
Hit List: Anakin arrives on Mustafar and slaughters Nute Gunray and the rest of the Separatist leaders without remorse. As he fills his lust for power and embraces his rage, we see the first glimpse of his physical alteration to the Dark Side manifested in his eyes. He truly has become Darth Vader.
The Tragedy Darth Plageuis the Wise
Hit List: Dark moments come in all shapes and sizes, and Palpatine's use of the The Tragedy of Darth Plageuis the Wise to bend and distort Anakin's emotions is often overlooked. But Palpatine's ability to prey on Anakin's deepest fears is the perfect example of just how insidious the Dark Side can be.
Execute Order 66
Hit List: The death sentence for the Jedi Order. It's chilling to think this one phrase leads to the murder and near extinction of the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.
The Destruction of Alderaan
Hit List: Now this is a dark moment that gets lost in the shuffle. Millions of souls crying out all at once! An entire planet destroyed. The disturbance in the Force is so great, Obi-Wan Kenobi is literally forced off his feet aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Jabba the Hutt's Oggling of Princess Leia
Hit List: As Princess Leia is forced to stand close to Jabba and his vile tongue comes only inches from her face, George Lucas delivers one of the truly nasty moments in the Star Wars saga. It's one of the few moments with a disturbingly sexual overtone, as Jabba's desire to "taste" Princess Leia is made abundantly clear. One word - yuck!
"You Will Be... You Will Be!"
Hit List: Inside his hutt on Dagobah, Yoda's warning to Luke about the future of his Jedi training is truly dark and disturbing. The look on Yoda's face as he utters this line gave some children nightmares for months. The scene is perfectly lit to accent the spooky tone of Yoda's message.
The Death of Mace Windu
Hit List: The death of one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy alone would be a dark moment, but the circumstances of Mace's death make it truly worthy of our top 10. His battle with Palpatine includes the graphic depiction of Palpatine's horrific facial disfigurement, and Anakin's intervention - which directly leads to Mace's death - is essentially Anakin's moment of no return to the Dark Side. The scene is one of the most intense moments in the entire prequel trilogy of films.
8D8 Tortures a GNK Droid
Hit List: Torture is dark. Period. As R2-D2 and C-3PO are indoctrinated into Jabba's workforce on Tatooine, we glimpse 8D8 torturing a GNK power droid with a smelting device that features a hot glowing iron. The GNK screams in agony as the iron touches its feet. Droids don't have feelings, huhn?
Han Solo's Torture on Cloud City
Hit List: Wow... more torture on the list. This time, Han Solo is the victim. I guess the Empire isn't a signatory to the Galactic version of the Geneva Convention. Han Solo's screams are testament to that.
"No... I am your father."
Hit List: One of the most misquoted lines in movie history weighs in at #7 (most people quote the line as "Luke... I am your father.") This moment probably deserves to be ranked even higher, as it truly is one of the darkest moments in the saga, but due to its fame and familiarity... we feel this is about right. However, yeah... learning your father is the living incarnation of evil certainly qualifies this as a bona fide dark moment.
The Slaughter of the Younglings
Hit List: As Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader) ignites his saber and we realizes he is going to kill all the helpless Younglings at the Jedi Temple, Star Wars goes to a place that few films have dared to go. If this moment happened on screen (which we're glad it did not) it would certainly be tops on our list. But even the suggestion of slaughtering innocent children gives us the shivers. The scared look on the face of the Youngling who pleads with Anakin is qualification enough to make our list.
Palpatine's Merciless Use of Force Lightning
Hit List: Okay, now we're into the heavy hitters on our list. The first entry in our top 5 comes compliments of Emperor Palpatine as he sadistically pumps Force Lightning into Luke Skywalker on the floor of his Throne Room on the second Death Star. The look on Palpatine's face is a horrifying representation of evil and hatred, and Luke's cries for mercy only serve to highten the Emperor's enjoyment of the moment.
Anakin Force Chokes Padme
Hit List: Now this is a truly evil moment. Anakin is so consumed by the rage of the Dark Side that he Force Chokes Padme nearly to death. But what makes it even darker is that she's pregnant with his twins! To top it off... the act leads to the complications which cause her death.
Luke Sees Slain Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen
Hit List: What makes this such a dark moment in the saga is that not only does Luke see the smoldering bodies of his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen... but we do as well. Make sure to cover your children's eyes! The stunning and graphic nature of the reveal, along with the realization that the Empire truly is that evil... qualifies this as #3 on our list.
Anakin Is Burned Alive
Hit List: As Anakin lies on the shores of a lava flow on Mustafar, his legs cleaved from his body moments early by Obi-Wan Kenobi, his body and soul burst into flames. As he burns to a crisp in front of our very eyes, he's stripped of all final traces of Anakin Skywalker. Hatred and venemous anger pour from his mouth. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi must turn away.
Luke's Failure in the Cave
Hit List: Luke's failure in the cave on Dagobah represents darkness in so many and such complex ways... nothing else even comes close to touching it for our top spot. The scene is brilliantly filmed to reflect the surreal and dark nature of Luke's trial, and the filmmakers even layered in a serpent at the cave's entrance as a clear symbol. We glimpse the very nature of the Dark Side as we journey inside Luke's mind and the cave, and the darkest moment in the entire saga comes as Luke sees his own visage inside the mask of Darth Vader's decapitated head/helmet. Is this Luke's fate?
If you enjoyed the Top 20 Darkest Star Wars Moments please see Galacticbinder's additional Star Wars Top 10 Lists.