This article contains major Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spoilers.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brings not only the Sequel Trilogy to an end but nine movies’ worth of storytelling. As you can imagine, there are TONS of easter eggs, references, and callbacks to past Star Wars movies and the Expanded Universe (both Legends and Disney canon) woven into the tapestry of this latest installment.
As I’ve done with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I’ve picked apart and dissected the film for all of its nerdy bits. Of course, you’re welcome to call out easter eggs and references in the movie that I might have missed. Just hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below.
I won’t be going so in-depth with the more basic callbacks, such as the Resistance’s similarities to the Rebel Alliance or the First Order’s to the Empire, as I’ve already written at length about those things and more in the easter egg guides for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Without further ado, here’s what I’ve found so far:
Rey and the Jedi
– Rey’s training at the beginning of the movie is very reminiscent of Luke’s in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. We see her meditating while lifting rocks with the Force as well as facing off against a probe droid that gets the best of her at first.
– Her outfit in the movie is reminiscent of the one she wore in The Force Awakens, but in a stark white, with a hood, which might be a callback to how Luke’s outfit in Return of the Jedi was so different from the rest of his wardrope in the Original Trilogy. The new looks seem to signify growth.
– Much of Rey’s backstory has remained a secret…until now. The Rise of Skywalker reveals that Rey is, in fact, Palpatine’s granddaughter. She’s the daughter of Palpatine’s son, a failed clone of the Emperor who opposed the Emperor and fled with Rey and her mother to hide on Jakku. They later leave her behind to protect her while they are eventually killed by a villainous Jedi hunter.
– There are a few new Force abilities introduced through Rey. First is the ability to heal other living creatures through the Force. This isn’t necessarily a new concept in Star Wars lore, but it’s the first time we’ve seen this power in the movie. In Legends continuity, some Jedi, like Padawan Barriss Offee, were known for their healing abilities.
– We also see Rey use the Force to stop a ship in mid-air. It’s an incredible feat that we’ve not seen on the screen before, although the video game The Force Unleashed famously allowed you to pull a Star Destroyer to the ground using the Force.
– “Be with me” is more than a mantra Rey uses while meditating. It’s a call to the thousands of generations of Jedi that came before her. By the end of the movie, she’s able to use this call to channel the energy of Jedi spirits to defeat the Emperor.
– Several Jedi voices speak to Rey in the climactic scene of the movie, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Yoda, Anakin Skywalker, Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Ahsoka Tano, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, and Adi Gallia! Yes, they got Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Jennifer Hale, Ashley Eckstein, Olivia D’Abo, Taylor Gray, Angelique Perrin, and…HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN to reprise their roles for the brief, Jedi-filled cameo. Alec Guinness’ voice is also used in the scene.
– Rey’s arc in the movie is not unlike Luke’s in Return of the Jedi. After discovering the truth about her lineage, Rey is forced to come before the Emperor to fulfill her destiny. The villains offers his granddaughter to join the Sith, but Rey refuses, so he decides to kill her instead. When her doom is all but imminent, it’s only through a last-minute save from Ben that she survives.
– It’s clear by the end of the movie that Rey and Ben have a deep connection through the Force. This is actually called a Force dyad. We explained what a Force dyad is here.
– On the Death Star, Rey comes face to face with a specter of what could be if she were to fall to the dark side. This vision of Dark Rey is reminiscent of Luke’s own trip through the Force cave on Dagobah. Read more about Dark Rey here.
– It’s revealed in the final scene of the movie that Rey has constructed her very own lightsaber, signifying that she’s completed her training and become a full-fledged Jedi. Notably, Rey chooses a yellow blade for her saber. It’s not the first time this color lightsaber has been seen in Star Wars history. The Jedi Temple Guards in The Clone Wars are armed with yellow-bladed lightsaber pikes.
Leia and The Resistance
– At last, we get to see Leia as a Jedi Master. Since Leia first revealed the extent of her Force powers in The Last Jedi, fans have been wondering if Leia had learned the ways of the Jedi before the start of the Sequel Trilogy. This is indeed the case, and she passes on everything she’s learned to Rey.
– For those wondering how it’s possible that Carrie Fisher is in The Rise of Skywalker after she passed away in 2016, it’s through the magic of film editing. Director J.J. Abrams and the rest of the production team took unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens and spliced into The Rise of Skywalker. Pieces of the story and the acting in those particular scenes solidified around that footage.
– Abrams respectfully includes Fisher in the movie without CGI-ing her or using another actress in her place, except, understandably, for a flashback scene that depicts Luke and Leia training together. This isn’t the first time Leia has been CGI’d. Her face was first computer generated in the final scene of Rogue One.
– Not only do we learn that Leia is in fact a trained Jedi Master but that she also had her own lightsaber — which looks remarkably like Luke’s own saber from The Rise of Skywalker. Leia’s blade in the movie is green.
– Fun fact: Leia also became a Jedi in the Legends timeline, and she was described as having used different colored blades throughout her life, including blue, green, and a red one. When asked by Stephen Colbert in an interview what color lightsaber she would have liked to use, Fisher responded purple.
– At one point, Poe references the Battle of Crait and how nobody came to help the Resistance fight the First Order. He’s describing events from The Last Jedi, of course.
– Billy Dee Williams’ smooth-talking Lando Calrissian makes his Sequel Trilogy debut in this movie. Once known best as a con man, he’s now celebrated as a legendary general of the Rebellion. He rejoins the Resistance to help Leia and the Resistance at their most desperate hour, and is the one responsible for uniting the rest of the galaxy against the Final Order.
– It’s Lando who delivers the Skywalker saga’s most oft-repeated line, “I have a bad feeling about this,” as the First Order arrives on Pasaana.
– While Joonas Suotamo has been playing Chewbacca for quite some time now, this is the first main Star Wars movie not to feature Peter Mayhew in any capacity. (He consulted in The Last Jedi.) Mayhew passed away earlier this year.
– Zorii Bliss is played by Keri Russell, who is herself a callback to one of Abrams’ earliest works. Russell was the star of Abrams’ TV series Felicity.
– Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, returns once more as Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix, a loyal soldier in the Resistance. Lourd gets to pay tribute to her mother in the final act of the movie, donning an outfit just like the one Fisher wore during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Both the camo uniform and the hairstyle are recreated perfectly for Lourd. We wrote more about Lourd’s role in the movie here.
– Denis Lawson return as Wedge Antilles for a brief cameo in the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Exegol. He’s one the ship’s gunners.
– Nien Nunb, the Sullustan who piloted the Falcon with Landon in the Battle of Endor, returns here as a member of Poe’s fighter squadron. He also appeared in The Force Awakens.
– Dominic Monaghan appears in the movie as a Resistance fighter named Beaumont Kin. The character first appeared in issue #27 of the Star Wars Adventures comic. Monaghan previously starred on another Abrams show, Lost.
– At one point, Kin suggests that the Resistance is “going to need some real Holdo maneuvers” to win the Battle of Exegol. This is a reference to Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), the Vice Admiral who bravely sacrificed herself to destroy the First Order command ship and buy the Resistance some time to escape Snoke and his forces in The Last Jedi.
– Greg Grunberg, another frequent Abrams collaborator, makes his return as Temmin “Snap” Wexley. It’s too bad Wexley, who was first introduced as a capricious teen in the novel Aftermath, meets his fate during the Battle of Exegol.
– Admiral Ackbar died in The Last Jedi, but another Mon Calamari general has taken his place. It’s none other than Aftab Ackbar, the admirals son! Aftab was first recruited by the Resistance in the comic miniseries Allegiance.
– The Resistance might be weak but it’s stacked with all kinds of fighters for the final battle against the Final Order. X-wings are standing by as well as other classics like Y-wings, A-wings, and B-wings!
Kylo Ren and the First Order
– Kylo dons his helmet one last time in this movie after the Emperor calls upon him to finish what Darth Vader could not. Finishing what Vader started was Kylo’s mission statement in The Force Awakens, and here we see that he’s still trying to live up to his grandfather.
– Speaking of helmets, Kylo still keeps the charred remains of Vader’s helmet on a mantle in his quarters. Once again, we see him asking it for guidance, and it’s unclear if Vader answers him, although a tease from the Emperor, who reveals he’s been all the voices inside Kylo’s head, seems to indicate that the Supreme Leader thinks he’s been hearing his grandfather all along.
– On the subject of Vader, he does make a very, very brief cameo in this movie in the form of James Earl Jones’ voice. Andy Serkis also voices Snoke briefly.
– The Supreme Leader flies a new TIE fighter in The Rise of Skywalker. It’s the TIE/wi modified interceptor, nicknamed the “TIE whisper.” Rey blows it up twice in the movie.
– We finally learn who former Supreme Leader Snoke really was early on in the movie. Spoiler: he’s not Darth Plagueis. Not only is he not a character we’ve met in the past, he’s not really anyone at all. We explained Snoke’s origin here.
– General Hux is revealed to be the spy working against the First Order. It’s a surprising turn of events considering the villain’s almost comical knack for being evil. That said, he isn’t the first Imperial turncoat depicted on screen. In Rebels, Agent Kallus, an effective Rebel hunter, eventually switched sides, sharing Imperial secrets at a crucial time for the freedom fighters. He later defected from the Empire completely.
– Allegiant General Pryde’s name is almost too on the nose, as he prides in having served the Emperor during the Galactic Civil War. That allegiance gets him nowhere, of course, since he’s later blown out of the bridge of his Star Destroyer during the Battle of Exegol.
– Since there’s already a Death Star in this movie, Abrams had to figure out another way to blow up a planet, so he put giant cannons on all the Star Destroyers, effectively turning the entire First Order fleet into a parade of Death Stars. Oy.
– Musician Ed Sheeran cameos as a stormtrooper, probably as one of the bozos Rey uses the Jedi Mind Trick on.
The Emperor, the Sith, and the Empire
– The Rise of Skywalker novelization explains how the Emperor survived his fall in Return of the Jedi. As he was fulling, Palpatine was able to harness his dark side powers to transfer his consciousness to a clone body created by the Sith cultists on Exegol. Unfortunately, the clone body wasn’t ready for the transfer and it began to decay and could not move on its own. That’s why the Emperor looks undead for much of the movie.
– This isn’t the first time a Sith has survived certain death. In fact, Palpatine’s own apprentice, Darth Maul, got sliced in half and sent tumbling to his doom and STILL lived to tell the tale. In comparison, the Emperor’s fall wasn’t that bad…
– This isn’t the first time the Emperor has made his return in Star Wars history. The Legends canon famously brought back the Emperor in the three-arc comic book series by Tom Veitch, Cam Kennedy, and Jim Baikie called Dark Empire. The series featured a much more elaborate explanation for how the Emperor could be back in the flesh after his demist at the Battle of Endor. You see, the Emperor cloned himself and was able to transfer his spirit into a new, younger body. In fact, he had a whole lab full of clone bodies to choose from. Nothing so weird-sciency happens in The Rise of Skywalker.
– A final showdown with the Emperor in the Sequel Trilogy had long been in the works, even before George Lucas sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney. Several interviews indicate that Lucas had planned to bring back the Emperor for Episode IX back when he still thought he’d make the Sequel Trilogy himself.
– The look of Palpatine’s Sith throne dates back to concept art drawn by Ralph McQuarrie for the Original Trilogy. Look for yourself. I’m glad they finally found a way to use this concept because this throne is awesome.
– The Sith temple on Exegol isn’t the only place of its kind. The Star Wars universe has visited plenty of Sith temples in the past, both in the Legends timeline and in Disney canon. For another example of such a location, go watch the Rebels episode “Twilight of the Apprentice,” which is set on the planet Malachor, home of another Sith temple. It’s one of the best episodes of the series!
– The Emperor’s Imperial fleet is back with a vengeance. It looks like he’s been building it up for a long time, too. That’s quite a few Imperial-class Star Destroyers…
– The Death Star II plays a key role in the plot of the movie. Rey searches the Emperor’s throne room, where Luke faced Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, for the wayfinder device.
– Abrams and the rest of Lucasfilm creative team has been trying to bring back the Death Star since development of The Force Awakens, and they finally got to do it. Read more about how The Force Awakens influenced The Rise of Skywalker here.
– The Sith dagger Rey uses to track down the location of the wayfinder device is reminiscent of another famous dagger from Star Wars lore. Read more about the Dagger of Mortis here.
– The wayfinder device itself resembles a Sith holocron, a device containing secret Sith information and teachings. No one calls it a holocron in the movie, which means they either don’t know that’s what it is, or this device doesn’t function the same way.
– The red-armored stormtroopers who make up the Final Orders infantry units are called Sith Troopers. They’re not the first of their kind in the Star Wars universe. Sith Troopers have been around since the Legends canons. They were the old Sith Empire’s ground units, but they didn’t wear bright red armor like in The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, they were clad in steel.
– Boolio, the alien informant who helps Poe and Finn at the start of the film, is an Ovissian.
– In this house, we stan Babu Frick, the sketchy droidsmith who hacks into Threepio to unlock the Sith code inside his head. Babu is a member of the tiny Anzellan species.
– Here’s a very fun fact about Babu: he’s voiced by Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies! Mind blown, right?
– Porgs make their return during the Ahch-To scenes. Fortunately for them, Chewie isn’t with Rey this time around.
– The mounts Jannah, Poe, and the Resistance use to attack a Star Destroyer are called Orbaks.
– Ewok fans will be happy to know that The Rise of Skywalker features the return of the little furry critters in a very brief cameo, as the galaxy celebrates the defeat of the Emperor and his Final Order.
– Another alien of note is Klaud, the slug-like alien who works for the Resistance. The movie doesn’t reveal the exact name of his species, but I bet they’re all just as nice as cuddly Klaud.
– A new alien, known as a Caphex, can also be spotted in the movie.
– The first planet we see in the movie is none other than Mustafar, according to The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. Kylo Ren visits this planet to find the wayfinder device in the ruins of Fortress Vader. You might be wondering why there are irontrees on a lava planet like Mustafar. That forest was planted by the Alazmec, “cult colonists” who “voyage to Mustafar in pilgrimage seeking to tap into the powers that supposedly fueled [Vader].”
– The Emperor took a hell of a vacation between Return of the Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, but he wasn’t lounging on a paradise planet. Instead, he was hiding out on the ancient planet of the Sith, Exegol. We learn in the movie that this mysterious planet is located in the Unknown Regions, an uncharted area of the galaxy that’s very difficult to traverse. It makes perfect sense that the Sith would live far from where the Republic and the Jedi could reach them.
It’s certainly cool to see a Sith planet on the big screen, but this is not the first location of its kind in Star Wars history. In fact, The Clone Wars animated series visited another Sith planet in the episode “Sacrifice.” Yoda goes to Valley of the Dark Lords, a giant crypt located on the planet Moraband, the final resting place of Darth Bane, the Sith Lord who created the Rule of Two (a master and an apprentice, no more, no less). Interestingly enough, Moraband was actually known as Korriban in Legends continuity. The reason for renaming the planet is unclear.
– While it never seems to be named in the actual movie, Wookieepedia has the goods on where exactly the Resistance is based. This lush, jungle planet is called Ajan Kloss.
– The first desert planet featured in the movie is Pasaana, which is the home of the squid-like and festive Aki-Aki people.
– Kijimi, the snow planet where the heroes meet smuggler Zorii Bliss, is home to the Thieves’ Quarter, the place where one can find all kinds of shady businesses — like spice running.
– Unsurprisingly, Rey’s search for the ruins of the Death Star leads her back to the Endor system, but not to the Ewok-inhabitied moon you’d expected. Instead, the heroes explore the ocean moon of Kef Bir.
– When Rey discovers the truth about her parents, she decides to run away from the fight and her destiny. Her new plan is to exile herself on Ahch-To as Luke did before her. This is the planet where Rey spent most of her time in The Last Jedi.
– During the celebration scene at the end of the movie, we catch glimpses of a few other places from the Star Wars universe, including Bespin, the moon of Endor, and Jakku.
– The movie ends where the saga started, Tatooine, the desert homeworld of the Skywalker family. The planet first appeared in A New Hope and hasn’t stopped showing up in other movies and TV series since.
– D-O is the standout new droid of Episode IX. Its droid designation is unclear, although it looks closest in size to the mouse droids featured in other corners of the saga. It’s remarkable that, for a droid his size, he can still speak Basic.
– This little droid looks a like Luxo Jr., Pixar’s lamp-like mascot.
– At one point, C-3PO calls R2-D2’s memory banks unreliable. This seems to be a joke, since it always seems that Artoo is able to remember more about his past than Threepio can.
– Threepio’s memory is wiped in the movie. This isn’t the first time this has happened. He was also scheduled to have his memory wiped in Revenge of the Sith, which explains why he didn’t remember any of his adventures before serving Captain Antilles of Alderaan.
– Artoo finally gets to fly in the back of an X-wing again! This time, he helps Poe Dameron during the Battle of Exegol.
Behind the Scenes
– George Lucas’ outline for the Sequel Trilogy featured one pretty far-out idea to explore the microbiotic world of the Whills, the higher beings responsible for the Force. Here’s how else this movie and its predecessors might have been different had Lucas finished what he started.
– The Rise of Skywalker features one of the best John Williams scores of the entire saga. Not only does it feature familiar themes from the rest of the Sequel Trilogy but also a few callbacks to legendary themes from the Original Trilogy. During the movie you’ll here “Princess Leia’s Theme,” “The Force Theme,” “The Emperor,” and “The Imperial March,” of course.
– Speaking of Williams, he makes a cameo on Kijimi as a bartender named Oma Tres, which is an anagram of “maestro.”
– As they did for The Force Awakens, Abrams and Broadway musical star Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote a song together for The Rise of Skywalker. Miranda also cameos in the movie in an undisclosed role (likely a stormtrooper).