This article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The Rise of Skywalker brought the sequel trilogy to its inevitable end, and with it, the deaths of some beloved characters. But the Mouse could not resist resurrecting its favorite tropes in this final installment, featuring quite a few fake-out and presumed-death disappearances. If you’ve been with the Skywalker Saga since the beginning, you know this is nothing new; both the original trilogy and the prequels featured characters falling dramatically from great heights, only to emerge relatively unscathed.
Yeeting pivotal characters into yawning chasms has become Lucasfilm’s favorite way to fake us out. It’s the equivalent of the little ting in the distance as Team Rocket blasts off yet again. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good comeback! But The Rise of Skywalker added new members to the Abyss Survivors club and I’m done being toyed with. Did your favorite character fall into a crevasse, canyon, shaft, or otherwise seemingly bottomless and conveniently placed void? Not to fret! It’s almost certainly not the last you’ve seen of them!
Let’s review the evidence.
Star Wars characters who survived falls
1) Luke Skywalker (The Empire Strikes Back)
This is the OG. This is what started this whole mess. An entire generation of nerds could recite this shit by heart, but let’s review anyway: after duking it out with Darth Daddy on Cloud City, Luke balances himself precipitously on a catwalk. Darth has sliced his hand off and also informed him he is his father. Luke is not about it, so he decides to follow his hand and his lightsaber into approximately thirty minutes’ worth of falling down maintenance vents.
This falling sequence at least has the decency to show us how Luke survives at the end, plucked off a weathervane by his secret sister (and at this point, love interest) Leia. Enjoy having a semi-logical explanation for this one because it’s never happening again.
2) Sheev Palpatine (Return of the Jedi / The Rise of Skywalker)
First of all, I need you to know this man is named Sheev. Second of all, Sheev has absolutely no business surviving a trip down the Death Star reactor shaft courtesy of Darth Vader. And for a while, he did the sensible thing and stayed dead. But now J.J. Abrams wants me to believe this geriatric marshmallow didn’t get completely flattened by this shaft.
Look at the size of it:
Even in the unlikely event that his soft, wrinkly flesh prison survived the impact, this gig gets atomized like, five minutes later. That is not enough time for whatever clone nonsense the subreddits have come up with. If Sheev really wanted me to buy his comeback tour, he could have taken a two-second break from the Voldemort cosplay and given us a play-by-play. Instead, we now have a sequel trilogy entirely predicated on Sheev having fucked. I hope you’re happy.
3) Obi-Wan, the first time (The Phantom Menace)
Once again, we’re having lightsaber duels that revolve around some conveniently placed chasms. This time, it’s Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn up against Darth Maul, and Kenobi pretty much immediately eats it. He manages to do a decent pull-up and survive. That durasteel does not look like it has decent traction but fine, this is a relatively minor offense in the falling-down-holes canon. It mostly earns its place here because we’re establishing what will come to be a pattern of offense.
4) Darth Maul (The Phantom Menace)
Later in this same duel, after Qui-Gon has had the decency to die in plain sight, we are once again at it with the conspicuous holes. This is our second conspicuous hole this fight alone. Absolutely nobody on Naboo gives a shit about OSHA. I need you to understand the flagrancy of this because what happens next is some absolute bullshit:
NOT ONLY does Darth Maul fall down this shaft, he does it IN TWO PIECES. Obi-Wan takes this dude apart like a Russian doll and then kicks him down the shaft for easy clean-up. AND DEMI-DARTH SURVIVES.
After Maul reappears on Rebels, very much intact, Star Wars wants me to believe “Darth Maul survived his injuries by focusing on his hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi who cut him in half.” I hate this so much. I’m going to throw myself off a cliff, focus really hard on how much I hate this, and see where that gets me.
5) Obi-Wan, AGAIN (Revenge of the Sith)
This is Kenobi’s second death-drop, which is frankly unacceptable independent of a RuPaul’s Drag Race season finale. This go-round Kenobi has the gall to take his Varactyl mount, Boga, down with him into the watery depths of this huge sinkhole. Boga didn’t ask for this.
Obi-Wan emerges fresh as a daisy, like he just took a little dip on a hot summer’s day. Boga does not. Justice for Boga.
6) Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (The Rise of Skywalker)
Oh, Benny boy. After ditching his alt-right alter-ego in a stylish heel-face turn, Ben and his coordinating Uniqlo thermal wear are flung into the Exegol ether by none other than Sheev Palpatine. You would think, given Palps’s own experience, he would be a little more skeptical about the efficacy of being thrown down a pit at this point, but you’d be wrong!
I will concede this is the most plausible of the bunch because, unlike ol’ Sheev, Adam Driver’s upper body strength is well established. If anyone has a chance of crawling back from the abyss, it’s Ben and his rippling pectorals. He’s only alive for about five minutes past this point, anyway, so whatever. Fine. You’re crying, I’m not crying.
7) HONORABLE MENTION: Boba Fett (Return of the Jedi)
Largely acknowledged as one of the lamer deaths in the Star Wars canon, Boba Thee Fett’s light punting into the Sarlacc pit was for many fans just the beginning.
His supposed death by digestion has been highly litigated by those unwilling to let go of the original Mando. For a while, he did enjoy a robust second life in the Expanded Universe canon, putting him squarely in among the falling-fake-out crowd, but now that Legends has been retired, it’s more than likely Boba is still dead on Tattooine. Sarlacc to this man.
A note about Han:
Again and again, Disney thinks they can lie to me about the relative survivability of giant holes, so please, a moment of silence for Han Solo, the only man with the good sense to stay dead after falling into the teeming abyss. He appears briefly again in The Rise of Skywalker, but only as a memory of Ben Solo.