15 horrifying incidental things from the original Star Wars trilogy

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.

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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:

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“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.

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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.)

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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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