Skip to main content

5 Reasons Luke's Fate in "Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi" (2017) Was Sloppy

Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.

The Last Jedi artwork

The Last Jedi artwork

The Last Jedi Review

If this article's title wasn't warning enough, spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (and prior Star Wars movies) are ahead.

Before saying anything else–I loved Episode 8, even the dumb little porgs, and highly recommend it to both series veterans and casual fans. However, one aspect of the film greatly puzzles me— Luke's unusual death in the climax. To see why it struck the wrong cord, let's examine five disturbing qualities of Master Skywalker's fate! Here they are:

  1. It's predictable.
  2. Rey has no teacher.
  3. Other Jedi had reason to die.
  4. Why bother having this twist anyway?
  5. Rose's message is contradicted.
Necessary, this was not.

Necessary, this was not.

1. It's Predictable

Heck, if a nitwit like me can figure it out, anyone can. Prior to the movie, my girlfriend and I excitedly discussed what we thought might happen, and I mentioned the films' history of killing off the old mentors. I hoped things would take a different turn, but lo and behold, Episode 8 stuck to the same formula we've seen numerous times:

  • Wise old Qui-Gon dies in The Phantom Menace (Episode 1).
  • Wise old Obi-Wan dies in A New Hope (Episode 4).
  • Wise old Yoda dies in Return of the Jedi (Episode 6).
  • Somewhat-wise old Han, while not a Jedi, still served as a mentor of sorts to Rey and Finn, and also met his demise in The Force Awakens (Episode 7).

Upon reaching senior status, no character has lasted more than an episode or so, and sadly, The Last Jedi (TLJ) is no exception.

She'll figure it out.

She'll figure it out.

2. Rey Has No Teacher

Some may argue that Luke chose to die planning to help Rey as a Force spirit. That may be true, but wouldn't he be of more aid alive? Rey is still quite inexperienced with the Force, and proper training alongside a living master dwarfs whatever tidbits Luke can give from beyond the grave.

Consider Obi-Wan, who provided small nuggets of wisdom after perishing, but rather than try to teach Luke elected to prolong his Jedi training for three years so then-living Yoda could step in. Plus, Obi-Wan's skills had waned in old age, limiting his physical help in fighting the Empire; as TLJ showed, Luke still had plenty of power in him, power the Resistance could certainly have used against the First Order.

Pictured: a death that made sense.

Pictured: a death that made sense.

3. Other Jedi Had Reason to Die

Here's a big one. Other Jedi actively avoided death, knowing it restrains their usefulness, and in the rare instances they orchestrate their demise, it was necessary for the survival of others.

  • Qui-Gon died unintentionally because he was outdueled and slain by Darth Maul.
  • Obi-Wan sacrificed himself both because his aging skills were dwindling and because someone needed to stall Vader while the young Rebels escaped the Death Star.
  • Yoda simply died from old age. Had he been a spry 650 instead of 900, maybe he could have physically joined Luke in combating the Emperor.

Point is, these guys (all eventual Force spirits) all died either not intending to, or intending to but with an actual physical purpose. Luke just does it so that Rey can receive the focus in Episode 9, which makes sense from her arc's standpoint, but the way it's presented, not the narrative's.

I'm alive! Wait, nope.

I'm alive! Wait, nope.

4. Why Bother Having This "Twist" Anyway?

Remember Kylo Ren's confrontation with Luke in TLJ's end? After Luke toys with his former student, Kylo seemingly lands a fatal blow with his saber—until we see Luke has been fooling us with an illusion the whole time, and his actual body is safely elsewhere.

At this point in the film, I was ecstatic, thinking they had played with but finally subverted the trope of the mentor expiring. Yet a minute later, Luke actually does die, seemingly just choosing to pass on. Why trick us with the "Luke's actually alive" reveal if he dies so soon after? And isn't this what Kylo wanted anyway: Luke dead? Maybe in a slightly less-gruesome manner, but dead is dead.

Don't sacrifice yourself! Oh, unless you're Luke.

Don't sacrifice yourself! Oh, unless you're Luke.

5. Rose's Message is Contradicted

Sure, Rose's intended recipient of her "don't sacrifice what we love in order to win" message is Finn, not Luke, but the point still applies. Luke knows plenty living who still love him (Leia, Chewbacca, R2, etc.) and who could certainly use a hand (a mechanical one) when dealing with the First Order.

But soon after the audience hears Rose's heartfelt belief, one that seems to identify a theme of the movie (look at Poe's story) of limited allied death, we witness Luke voluntarily die. Oops.

Future of "Star Wars"

As mentioned, I'm aware that Luke is dying is likely just a way to pin the Jedi responsibilities of the next film solely on Rey, but the writers could enact that end in far superior manners than a near-pointless death. Luke could be busy with a personal task, or he could have been captured and needed a rescue. Heck, freeze him in carbonite—I would have preferred almost anything besides what I consider the strangest and most unsatisfying death in Star Wars.

Perhaps Episode 9 will shed light on the matter, but I doubt Luke will do more than the same old—offer words of encouragement (and nothing else) from the other side. Feel free to share your thoughts, and I'll see you at our next Star Wars review!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill


Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 22, 2017:


It's reasonable to think that the longer and farther away the illusion is projected, the more draining it is on the user. Thus, had Luke used the illusion closer or for less duration, it should not have taken such a toll.

Plus, even with what he did, his death still looked like a choice to me--like he was tired, but rather than struggle to stay around longer and help, he chose to fade away.

Like the article discusses, it also gave Kylo what he wanted (dead Luke); Kylo seemed far more worried about him than the Resistance remnants.

Finally, Luke is an exceptionally talented Jedi and skilled pilot--it wouldn't be hard to imagine him stalling in other manners.

In my humble opinion, is all boils down to a convenient way to give Rey more attention.

Kevin Cheng from Hong Kong on December 22, 2017:

@Jeremy Gill

For me it's the whole thing. Luke was basically dead the moment he decided to Force project himself across the galaxy. One detail I've heard nobody talk about is when he gave Leia the dice from Falcon, Leia had a slight change in her look, and Luke made a little nod to her. Leia didn't feel him and she realized where this was going.

I don't see how he could help them retreat and still stick around.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 21, 2017:

@Kevin Chang

You're more discussing Luke's actions prior to his death, not the death itself. I agree that he handled the First Order well, but don't see why he shouldn't stick around to help out further (other than real-world issues like giving Rey the focus, which disengages audiences).

Kevin Cheng from Hong Kong on December 21, 2017:

I think it's appropriate that Luke gets to save the people he loved, humiliate his evil nephew which is a victory, re-ignite the hope in the galaxy, restore his legendary status, not compromise the peaceful Jedi way, and die peacefully, all at the same time.

It's now how I'd picture him go, but it's really as JEDI as freakin' possible when you think about it.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 21, 2017:


Same, as interesting as it would have been to have Rey be related to a main character, giving her an obscure lineage helps expand the universe beyond the scope of the Skywalkers and Solos.

That said, there's a chance that the person who stated her parents were nobodies (I'm avoiding minor spoilers) lied, though I am inclined to believe them.

Alexis on December 21, 2017:

#1 was a gripe that I had about The Force Awakens too. I am glad that Rey's parents were stated to be nobodies, though her secretly being Obi-Wans daughter would've been cool. Predictable, but cool.