Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Ending Poster Luke Leia C3PO R2-D2


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Queue the John William’s soundtrack…this image should resurface the childhood rage one felt when this movie ended!

Empire Strikes Back’s Darker Ending Would’ve Made The Best Star Wars Film Better

Even after 11 live-action movies and an ever-growing list of shows, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back still stands as the pinnacle of the Star Wars franchise. The 1980 sequel perfectly took the groundwork of Star Wars: A New Hope and developed it further, adding some huge twists and turns in the process. Although clearly one of the darker movies in the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back cliffhanger was originally intended to be much sadder.

At the end of the film, the Rebel Alliance flees from the Empire, Luke Skywalker discovers that Darth Vader is his father, and the heroes lose Han Solo to Boba Fett. Despite those setbacks, the movie ends on an upbeat note, as Lando Calrissian sets off with Chewbacca to find Han, while Luke recovers with Leia and the droids aboard a medical ship — with a hopeful John Williams song playing in the background. That wasn’t initially supposed to be the case, as those heartwarming moments were incorporated after principal photography had wrapped. In fact, the original Empire Strikes Back ending was far bleaker.

Updated by Timothy Blake Donohoo on March 6, 2024: Star Wars is still in many ways defined by the original trilogy of movies, with The Empire Strikes Back being the most beloved. For as dark as the final product was, however, the Empire Strikes Back original ending was much harsher, lacking the more hopeful finale. In the years since the movie’s release, fans have increasingly yearned for darker Star Wars material. This has come in a variety of ways, but the question remains concerning how the original end of Empire Strikes Back might have changed the property’s trajectory.

Filmed 4 months after we wrapped principal photography on #ESB, it wasn’t a “re-shoot”, it was an added scene. Concerned about the downbeat ending & thorough defeat of the protagonists, they wanted to add an uplifting moment of hope & rejuvenation to reassure the audience.

— Mark Hamill March 8, 2022

The words of the iconic Luke Skywalker actor suggest that, in the original draft of the film, the Millennium Falcon rescues Luke, avoids the TIE fighters, and escapes the Super Star Destroyer, which would have been the ending. However, the studio was concerned about how the dark conclusion would fare with audiences, especially considering the jubilant ceremony that closes A New Hope. Therefore, the tone was changed for presumably commercial purposes. That said, there’s an argument to be made that the original close would have improved the Empire Strikes Back ending because it sticks closer to the film’s overall tone.

Near mint condition.