41. The Great Jedi Purge
Film: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The Moment: Chancellor Palpatine has revealed himself as a Sith Lord to Anakin Skywalker, who has assisted in killing members of the Jedi Council and assumed the role as Palpatine’s apprentice: Darth Vader. Palpatine issues Order 66, which ushers in the cleansing of the remaining Jedi throughout the galaxy at the hands of the clone troopers they’ve been assigned to lead.
Why It’s Memorable: We all knew this moment was going to come at some point in the prequel films but we just didn’t know when or how it would all go down. It was actually a really depressing moment, as it’s about as dark as Star Wars ever really got. There were darker moments ahead — unbeknownst to the audience at the time — but this was the most horrific thing George Lucas had ever shot without it being offensive to fans.
It wasn’t a total cheese-fest like it could have been, as just about every Jedi we had ever seen even for a fleeting moment on screen was given a death scene. It really hammered home the gravity of the situation and just how heavy this was. It was a rare spot-on landing by Lucas in his prequel trilogy.
Next: 40. The Executioner Meets Its End