Luke Skywalker turned to the Dark Side in George Lucas’ original Return of the Jedi pitch

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Think back to the end of Return of the Jedi. You’ll remember the destruction of the second Death Star and Luke Skywalker reuniting with his father as celebrations embark across the galaxy.

Now, push all of that aside, because the original ending George Lucas and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan had in mind was extremely different. First, it is important to remember that the film’s original title was not Return of the Jedi, but Revenge of the Jedi, with both the name and red-colored poster hinting at something sinister.

Capping off that evil element, Kasdan and Lucas conceived of a much darker ending to the film. According to a transcript of a conversation between the two, upon Vader removing his helmet and dying, Luke Skywalker put on the mask himself and said the line: “Now I am Vader.”

The original idea saw Luke then proceeding to reveal his ultimate plan of destroying the rebel fleet and taking over the galaxy himself. That ending was, of course, scrapped in favor of the final outcome with Lucas doubling down on his belief that Star Wars is for kids, and a conclusion like that certainly would not have satisfied them.

How would Luke Skywalker as Vader have changed the Star Wars franchise?

At the same time, this dark idea opens a very interesting path to think about what this type of ending could have meant for Star Wars. For one, when combined with the original idea of Han Solo dying early in the film, Luke’s fall to the Dark Side would have left very few heroes in the galaxy.

Instead, it would have ended the original trilogy on a very somber note, yet setting up intriguing possibilities for future stories. Princess Leia standing against her own brother in hopes of protecting peace and the Republic: Could that have been the plot of a sequel trilogy?

Perhaps, and it is something I would have definitely liked to see. In some senses, that is what the sequel trilogy’s story became with Luke turning away from the Jedi for a good portion of it. But, it would have felt extraordinarily out-of-character for someone as kind-hearted as Luke to suddenly turn villainous in Return of the Jedi.

So George Lucas and company made the right decision. It makes you realize, though, just how different the Star Wars universe could have been.

Related Story. Luke Skywalker’s original name in Star Wars might surprise you. light