40. Tusken Raiders
When Did They Die: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Who Were They: A clan of native Tatooinians who kidnapped and killed Anakin Skywalker’s mother, Shmi
How Did They Die: Slaughtered by an enraged Anakin Skywalker
Barbaric, primitive, fanatical. All words that can be used to describe Tatooine’s native species, the Tusken Raiders. We say those things based on relatively limited information. They tried to kill Luke in A New Hope, yes, and they don’t like podracers, but really how are we to know that they aren’t just territorial? Perhaps they simply don’t know any better.
The death of Shmi Skywalker, though, casts the Sandpeople in a different light, or at least it does for the tribe that kidnapped, tortured and ultimately killed her. There’s no sympathy left by the time Anakin Skywalker emerges from the tent and slaughters the lot of them.
For all the criticism Lucas gets for lacking subtlety and nuance, this situation is surprisingly effective. Yes, we know that what Anakin does is evil, but who among us can say they would not be motivated to do the same if we were to find a loved one in Shmi’s condition?
The Tusken Raiders massacre is therefore something of a fable. It’s possible to find yourself feeling some sympathy for the devil after all.
Next: 39. Zam Wesell