15 horrifying incidental things from the original Star Wars trilogy

Odd List Ryan Lambie 24 Jun 2014 - 06:02

Torture, flesh-eating bears, burnt aunts and uncles - just a few of the horrifying incidental moments in the original Star Wars trilogy...

This article contains a spoiler for the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

It's frequently noted that, when the planet Aldaraan was burnt to a crisp by the Death Star's deadly rays in Star Wars, the extermination of millions of people was only briefly mourned before the film moved on. While this is undeniably true, there are all kinds of strange, disturbing and grim things lurking in George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy - you just have to look beneath the breezy surface to find them.

We should note that we aren't being entirely serious about most of these - but one or two entries do sometimes come to us in the dead of night. I mean, what if an asteroid really did come crashing to Earth, unleashing its hellish, energy-sucking parasites on our unsuspecting populace?

As ever, do chime in with your own horrifying incidental moments in the comments section.

1. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's terrible, painful death

As if being a moisture farmer in the middle of nowhere wasn't a miserable enough existence, Luke Skywalker's uncle and aunt die horribly at the hands of the Empire's stormtroopers.

Come to think of it, the young Skywalker is in the midst of the worst few days of his life when we meet him in A New Hope: he returns to his childhood home to see his aunt and uncle reduced to charred skeletons, then, having only known his mentor Obi Wan for a few hours, watches as he's struck down before his very eyes. Considering everything he's been through, Skywalker is still remarkably chipper by the end of it all.

2. The miserable life of the proprietor at the cantina, Mos Eisley

Can you imagine owning the bar at Mos Eisley? Aside from being a hive of scum and villainy, consider what the proprietor would have had to go through the day Skywalker and Obi Wan walked into the place in A New Hope. He would have cleared up a severed arm and - presumably - a bit of blood from the floor at closing time. Then there's Greedo's corpse, still slumped in the corner. And the late Greedo's ship, which would probably have to be towed away as well.

It's quite likely that the Mos Eisley Cantina's one of those family pub-restaurants now, with wipe clean menus and a depressing pit full of plastic balls for the kids. That's something to look out for in Episode VII.

3. Dozens of innocent Jawas are killed in A New Hope

Poor little fellas.

4. Princess Leia was brutally tortured

If Skywalker takes the death of close family members and mentors well, consider poor Princess Leia. In one scene, we see her trapped in a cell as a hovering droid floats into view, a gleaming syringe jutting forth suggestively. This, we're told, is an IT-O Interrogator, a machine specifically designed for torture:

"First, it would inject the prisoner with a mentally disabling chemical that would decrease the pain threshold while also forcing the subject to remain conscious. IT-O would do a read on the body, detecting the most sensitive areas like the genitals, joints, neck and many other less obvious body parts."

In other words, it's a cross between the Spanish inquisition and an iPad.

Stoic to the last, Leia never once mentions what hideousness befell her in that cell on the Death Star.

5. The monster in the trash compactor

The Death Star is a relatively new battle station, yet it already has some sort of lifeform living in its trash compactor. This, we've since learned, is a Dianoga from the planet Vodran, a creature which, according to the Star Wars Wiki, is a scavenger that often lives and feeds on organic waste. But how did it get aboard the Death Star so quickly? There's another, darker question: if they live in drains and sewers, do the residents of the Star Wars universe live in fear of being pulled into their own toilets by a slippery tentacle? We can only shudder at the thought.

6. The unremarked death of thousands

An undisclosed number of cleaners, cooks and engineers were almost certainly killed when the Death Star was destroyed in A New Hope. On the positive side, the Star Wars universe at least had one less creepy, sewer-dwelling Dianoga to worry about.

7. Luke Skywalker had his hand chopped off by his own dad

If Skywalker had a rough time in A New Hope, things would get even worse in The Empire Strikes Back. Imagine finding out that a wheezing monstrosity in a black helmet and cape was your father. And when you flatly refused to join his gang, he tried to kill you. Most of us would probably turn to drink or bicycle theft after an experience like that. Skywalker decides to become a Jedi and bring down the Empire instead. Now that's what we call strength of character.

8. Being R2-D2

Here's a scary existential scenario: imagine being R2-D2. As an astromech droid, you're highly intelligent, and capable of everything from hacking into computers, putting out fires, to projecting holograms of Princess Leia. Yet your makers utterly failed to give you the gift of speech - instead, you can only communicate with the outside world through a series of beeps and warbles. Sure, people like Luke Skywalker are a godsend - he can somehow translate your chirpings into English as fast as you can make them - but then fate pairs you with someone like C-3PO, who can not only talk, but utterly refuses to shut up.

9.  Robots torture each other

In the Star Wars universe, artificial intelligence has become so ubiquitous that it isn’t even commented on. But as we saw in A New Hope, there are robots specifically engineered to torture humans. And worse still, Return Of The Jedi reveals that robots frequently torture each other. The third film may have been criticised for its merchandise-heavy approach, but it also offered up a bleak glimpse of a future where machines have inherited the darker habits of their makers. In Episode VII, expect to see robots doing other unpleasant, human-like things, like twerking and taking selfies. 

10. Space slugs

In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo parked the Millennium Falcon inside an asteroid. Little did he realise that what he thought was the interior of a hunk of rock was actually the inside of an exogorth - a creature capable of growing to an unfathomably large size.

Think about this for a moment. In the Star Wars universe, there are giant worms hiding inside asteroids, just waiting to snap at passing ships. The more we ponder this, the more terrifying we find it.

11. There are bat-type things inside the space slugs

While Han and Leia are inside the exogorth, they encounter a breed of creature called the mynock. These bat-like lifeforms feed on the power from space ships, and they're parasites, living inside space slugs. What kind of nightmarish, messed up eco-system is that? What if one of these asteroids crashed into Earth, killed the massive space slug but let all the bat-type things out in the process? These are the kinds of questions that leave us staring at the ceiling at night.

12. The unremarked deaths of thousands of engineers and builders

The Death Star was still being rebuilt when it exploded again in Return Of The Jedi. Several thousand builders were probably incinerated in the blast. Revolutions are always painful, we suppose.

13. Boba Fett, one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars franchise, is probably still being digested by the Sarlacc

"In his belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years." Poor Boba Fett. (Mind you, the Expanded Universe suggests that Boba Fett escaped from the Sarlacc, which is good news, as are the reports that a Boba Fett-focused movie is in the offing.)

14. The AT-ST is 28 feet off the ground and has no obvious toilet facilities

The design flaws of the AT-ST and its four-legged bigger brother, the AT-AT, have been written about at length elsewhere. But aside from its worrying vulnerability to Ewok attacks, the AT-ST has one flaw that would really worry us if we were serving as an imperial army pilot: how can you possibly go to the loo if you're 28 feet off the ground?

We half wonder whether the Empire lost the Battle of Endor not because of the Rebels' superior fighting skills, but because the pilots in the AT-STs were desperate to go to the toilet. When their war machines were felled by the Ewoks' logs, the pilots probably threw open the AT STs' hatches and sprinted off into the bushes, loo roll in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

15. Ewoks are flesh eaters

The Ewoks are often condemned for being far too cute by half, but consider this for a moment: were it not for C-3PO's quick thinking, the Ewoks would have eaten Luke, Leia, Han and possibly Chewbacca as well. In a chilling final scene in Return Of The Jedi, we see more evidence of the Ewoks' flesh-eating habits: the furry critters are shown using stormtroopers' helmets as drums.

The stormtroopers' corpses, presumably, are piled up in a corner to be consumed later, along with the by-now thoroughly cooked remains of Anakin Skywalker.

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Disqus - noscript

Haha! Oooh the horror :) That was great!

How about the suggestion that droids have their mind wiped periodically in order to remove any consciousness and personality that may develop over time?

Good stuff!! What about the horror of a whole planet being destroyed to demonstrate the power of the Emperors new toy? That would have gone down a treat with the imperial recruitment program.

Does what Lucas added to the (so-called) Special Editions count as horrifying? I certainly thought they were...

Pedant's Point regarding #3: the Jawas were slaughtered by Imperial troops but the attack was made to look like the perpetrators were Sandpeople.

Give credit where its due, Kevin Smith pointed out #12 20 odd years ago

Number 9, thank you. When I first saw Jedi, that was a scene I kept talking about and I couldn't understand why other children just accepted the idea that droids could be tortured like people!

Especially the foot burning. What sort of person would design a droid, and decide to not only include temperature sensors in the feet, but give those sensors a pain threshold. It's as though someone was actually thinking about torture when they designed them!

And if you were a droid designer thinking about how to torture your creation, why would you bother with all that stuff. Why not just produce a device that you can plug into the star wars version of the usb port, that allows you to inflict pain at the press of a button. Forget about all those sensors and hot pokers, pain signals straight into the operating system.

The only explanation is that the droids are designed by very, very sick people who enjoy this stuff! The Star Wars universe is a seriously messed up place to be a droid.

If you think the slug is bad, check out the Colossus Wasp, from the EU. It may be non-canon now, but it's still the stuff of nightmares! a 1km long wasp that can live in space?! That's a whole 12 parsecs of nope.

I'm surprised they've missed out Leia becoming a sex slave type thing to a giant slug. THAT is horrifying.

My thought exactly. There is probably a SW version of Amnesty/Human Right lawyers looking to prosecute the rebellion for mass murder with a SW version of the Guardian reporting on their progress every other day.

What about Jabba's Rancor that was force fed oversized green pigs - gives a whole new take on foie gras...

I always found this a bit disturbing; Luke returns from his destroyed home to find C3P0 happily throwing the bodies of murdered jawas on to a fire. Later C3P0 says "I can't abide those jawas! Disgusting creatures!" That droid has issues!

"This article contains a spoiler for the end of The Empire Strikes Back"


What about the long slow insestuous kiss between Luke and Leia at the start of Empire in front of Han whilst Luke's recovering from his frozen ordeal. Pretty disturbing stuff unless you're Lannister siblings.

True. Why would a slug find a human attractive? They're completely different species. Although, I remember once reading a theory that Jabba started out as human (the same human he was in the deleted scene from A New Hope) and was then punished by the Emperor and turned into the slug creature of Return of the Jedi. It'd explain why he's attracted to human women, although I'm sure it's completely false.

What about the notion of Tattooine pet shops stocking giggly little creatures like Salascious Glitz, and massive hungry creatures like Rancors. Imagine walking one of those, pooper scooper in hand, ready to bag-up digested Gamorian Guard. Gross.

I've never heard that before-although probably false it is intriguing.

"In other words, it's a cross between the Spanish inquisition and an iPad."

When I clicked on this article, I never could have expected the Spanish Inquisition...

What exactly were the Sand People planning to do to Luke? They clearly weren't done with him as they went to the effort of carrying him to the speeder before looting it. Whatever it was they apparently needed him alive...

Having just seen the bluray version of A New Hope, C3PO is actually throwing the Jawa's robes on a fire. The bodies of the Jawa's where already desintergrated.

You can't trust anything you see on the blurays :p

People can be attracted to inanimate objects (Objekophilie) and some people have even married them so a slug fancying a human isn't that unbelievable

Why would you? No one expects the Spanish Inquistion.

Don't underestimate the barkeep in the cantina. If you look being the bar you will the several IG88 heads. In other words, he hunts killer robots and then repurposed their heads for his distillery.

That's badass

"Nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition!"

LMAO at the AT-ST toilet dilemma. I always wondered how the heck people (not Wookies) mounted the AT-ST.

Don't forget the implications for Endor as a whole. A moon-sized space station exploding at such close proximity could not have ended well for all those trees and Ewoks.

Somebody actually wrote a whole article about this, but I can't remember where T_T

"slug fancying a human isn't that unbelievable" and that right there ladies and gentlemen is my WTF of the day!

The real kicker is that they were only stunned.

Liah gets shot and seems relatively ok with it

Mos Eisley should actually be quite up market now. As Luke and the gang brought down The Empire, they would be famous across the galaxy. Tourists would flock from all around to visit the place where it all started. The Moisture farm will probably have one of those blue plaques, and a gift shop.

Leia im mean. Family guys spoof of it was great

Spending the night inside the corpse of your recently deceased tauntaun is pretty grim.

"Jedi Rocks"


It was more than a suggestion in the EU, it was explained that it was a mandatory practice. In fact since Episode 1 R2D2 is the only droid that hasn't been wiped, perks of being the personal droid for multiple Jedi who wanted to retain his personality. R2 is a gold mine of information, he was a part of everything and is probably the only person or droid that knows what really happened.

"An undisclosed number of cleaners, cooks and engineers...".
Not to mention Mr Stevens, Head of Catering.

My biggest problem with the original Star Wars movies is that we're not told why the Empire is evil. Oh sure, Vader was evil and Palpatine was madness personified, but...what had the Empire actually done to make the Rebels form in the first place?

I'm not talking about EU stuff either. Just...the original three movies.

Mate, have you surfed the net even briefly?

"Not the Comfy Chair!"

Erm...building a giant big Death Star is pretty evil. They blew up a planet. I'd say they're right up there with the Nazis for evil.
It's like WW2. I'm sure not every single German soldier was 'evil'. But their leaders were, as was their cause and so the regime as a whole was viewed as the "baddies".

I'm sure one of the expanded universe novels featured the Empire using the irradiated moon (due to the detonation of a planet sized atom bomb nearby) as propaganda against the Rebellion. Also, off topic, but I always understood that Endor was the gas giant planet visible in the sky during some scenes in RotJ, but the battle is called the Battle of Endor. Confusing or maybe I've just misunderstood the whole thing all this time. The latter seems most likely :-/

Use the force Luke. Or you could try running it under hot water to loosen the lid. ;)


How about Luke snogs his sister is Empire????!


For some crazy reason I've read something about this on the Star Wars wiki not long ago. Apparantly there was a Rebel Alliance/New Republic clean up program for the planet. Also, there was a third Death Star being build on the other side of Endor and that was destroyed right after the second Death Star, as seen in the Star Tours attraction. Weird thing is, it is canon apparantly.

Dictatorship, slave labour, systematic discrimination of non-human races, a massive planet destroying battle station, boarding a diplomatic ship and killing about everyone on board, etc.

Oh I know, I'd've just been interested in seeing more of the Rebel Alliance's history. Everything we saw in A New Hope onwards was after the founding of the Rebels. I just wanted to know what the tipping point was.

Be careful what you wish for. Look at the founding of the Empire in the prequels and all that very dull Galactic Senate stuff.


So, would the reverse be true? Are you saying you could fancy Jabba's Hutt companion in Ep 1 (Sardula the Hutt?)? Lol, just make sure you're on a low salt diet when you hook up...

It's obviously not the case now though, as Jabba is in Ep1. But apparently it was considered (key word there "apparently" as I don't put much stock in it either. File under urban legend).

I liked the Robot Chicken take on the Death Star blowing up so close to Endor. It just rains down firey bits of exploded Death Star killing Ewoks at random. Funny.

In Jedi, Leah does get shot, and if you look closely, as Han is trying to get her out of harm's way he cops a good old feel of her left boob.

Funnily enough, do you know who first came up with the idea of the European Union? It was Adolf Hitler in 1940 as a fall back in case the warfare failed. If they couldn't rule by force, they'd rule by economics. It's good to see the lessons of history learned so well that we're not doomed to repeat past horrors...

Erm... randomly destroying a fully occupied planet full of peaceful civilians just to check your big gun works doesn't count as evil? It'd be like Russia randomly nuking France just to see if their missiles still worked. (OK, bad example, people may applaud them for it, lol).

come on, innocent jawas? and it was Luke, not C-3PO that saved the group from being eaten by Ewoks, and some species do eat flesh, it would not be canibalism unless they ate Chewie :)

How about Jabba casually feeding his Twi'lek slave girl to the Rancor when she spurned his sexual advances.

you old smoothie lol

Love this list. What about the very existence of an Imperial Officer? Constantly living in fear of any old excuse Vader would have for killing by the Force. And if you've ever read the comic series Star Wars Tales, you will learn the incredibly detailed and messed-up life cycle of a Sarlacc. The Star Wars Universe ecosystem is indeed very messed up.

Han Solo was also tortured on the Cloud City and don't forget the torture of Leia was overseen by her Dad!

That's what Rebels will be about.

To a slug, I girl would be an object in quite the literal sense. She would be something worth having just for bling value and for showing off.

In broad strokes, the Empire was a military dictatorship (hunta) that displaced a republic. At the very least, you have a bunch of ex-senators that are still holding a grudge. Mon Mothma is an obvious example of this.

Beyond that, there was also probably rampant corruption and abuse of the citizenry that comes with a military dictatorship.

Cooked Jawas, obliterated farmers (a cliche from real life), and an entire planet destroyed make things pretty obvious.

What about the fact that Vader (Anakin) gets to repent and become a Jedi again, despite that fact he has killed and ordered the death of millions of innocents, including children. Another is Leia's really meh reaction to her adopted planet being blown up, it doesn't really effect her in the slightest, despite the death of millions.

Many Bothans died too...

If it's Chewie, they clearly cooked it too long... ;)

One other interesting point to item 3 (Dead Jawas and the destruction of their crawler). I quote Obi " these blast points are too accurate for Sand people, only imperial Storm Troopers are so precise.' In what multi-verse are they that precise with their shots? Throughout all of the movies they coudn't shoot you if you held the gun directly against your head to steady them. Seriously, they had more chance of hitting each other with their shots. And yes I know, the blasters weren't renowned for their accuracy due to kick back (I've really got to get off the internet) and they might have used something else, but given the rest of the films and battles..........Nuff said.

6. The unremarked death of thousands of cleaners, cooks and engineers and 12. The unremarked deaths of thousands of engineers and builders leads onto
The unremarked death of thousands of other political prisoners and heroes of the rebellion. Luke and Han only rescued Leia not other rebellion or political prisoners in the prison block.

And if Greedo was popular bad guy , they probably sell his merchandise in there, like they do in the restaurant where Tony Soprano died.

Luke's hand being chopped off is incidental? Seems pretty major to me!

"CARDINAL FANG, turn the... oh god... turn the rack!!

...And Geoff Vader.

"Why, with the power of the Death Star do we not have a tray that is dry?"

I love how she's the one comforting Luke after the guy he's known for a few hours dies, when she's just witnessed the genocide of her entire people.

What about the fact that the heroes own slaves? Droids are clearly sentient but are treated as property.

Nah, the Hutts are their own species, and seem to specialise in crime. They basically run the entire planet of Tattooine, where the empire's reach isn't so strong.

Yes yes, that is evil. But it happened *after* the formation of the Rebel Alliance. I want to know more about what happened before. And then somebody pointed out that what happened before was the prequels and...yeah.

One of the best original trilogy articles i have ever read, bravo sir.

you Win the Internet today

Maybe in one of the new films they could star a scene with "What have the Empire ever done for us."

The problem is with Boba Fett is that he looked cool. He was essentially useless in the og trilogy. The fan fiction and extended myth made him awesome. But go back and watch the films. What a loser.

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