10. Darth Vader Tosses Emperor Palpatine Down A Shaft
Film: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
The Moment: Emperor Palpatine has Luke pinned with force lightning, and is killing him without remorse. Vader, watching his son be electrocuted while crying out for his father, contemplates everything he represents and decides that he no longer wants to be a slave to the dark side. He picks the Emperor up over his head and throws him down a shaft to his death.
Why It’s Memorable: This is the cathartic moment that five previous films had been building to. Anakin Skywalker comes roaring back to life to reclaim his soul after selling it to the dark side so many years before. It’s something that we knew might happen but it was still shocking to see it all go down.
With the prequels now in existence, we have so much more context to consider in this moment for Vader. Even without thinking of Padme, Qui-Gon, Anakin’s mother and everything in the prequels, we still have so much context to chew on from the two films before Return of the Jedi. It’s the end of Vader’s character arc and it’s the return of Anakin in glorious fashion. His redemption is as Shakespearian as his fall from grace and it’s beautiful to watch.
Next: 9. Luke Gets His Hand Chopped Off