Most Iconic Scenes From The Original Star Wars Trilogy


  • Iconic Star Wars scenes like the Rancor Attack and Luke becoming a Jedi are memorable because they showcase character growth and high stakes encounters.
  • Scenes like the AT-AT Assault on Hoth and Yoda raising the X-Wing highlight the power of the Empire’s forces and the strength of the Force.
  • Moments like the Death Star Trench Run and the “No, I Am Your Father” reveal are some of the most recognizable and pivotal moments in the original trilogy.

When Star Wars came out in 1977, it was an instant cultural hit. Over the course of the four decades since then, multiple generations have been raised on the Star Wars franchise. In fact, the series is so well known that even some of its parodies are beloved childhood classics now.


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Because of its wild popularity, some scenes from the original trilogy have become recognizable even to casual movie-goers and people who have never seen them. Though there are countless great moments throughout Star Wars, some scenes featured in the series are a great deal more iconic than others.

10 The Rancor Attack

Luke’s Newfound Strength Is Revealed

Star Wars Rancor

  • Takes place in Return of the Jedi

With its drooling mouth, sharp teeth, and claws, the Rancor is a formidable and unforgettable monster. Viewers share in Luke’s horror as it stands fully upright to reveal its gargantuan size. Knowing that Luke is unarmed and watching the rancor eat Jabba’s guard raises the stakes for the encounter.

Luke shows the audience just how much he has grown by staying calm and finding a clever way to dispatch the beast, despite not having access to his lightsaber. It is clear that this iteration of Luke is no longer the impulsive farm boy from Tatooine and is instead a Jedi in his own right.

9 The AT-AT Assault On Hoth

Intimidating And Deadly Lumbering Machines Approach The Rebels

screenshot of the battle of hoth as seen in The Empire Strikes back

  • Takes place in The Empire Strikes Back

AT-ATs (All-Terrain Armored Transports) are the most intimidating land vehicles in the Empire’s arsenal. Standing over 70 feet tall with armor thick enough to prevent damage from blasters, they are terrifying and pose a deadly threat to anyone who happens to be on the Empire’s bad side.

As the rebels man the trenches and cannons in front of Echo Base, one soldier scans the horizon with his macrobinoculars. In the distance, he sees the giant walkers lumbering towards him and scans up and down, revealing the machine’s frightening scale. The walkers’ appearance and the clever way that rebel pilots had to fight them make the AT-ATs and the scene they debut in unforgettable.

8 Luke Skywalker Becomes A Jedi

One Of The Most Iconic Climaxes In The Series

Luke Return Of The Jedi Star Wars Sequels Underused Concepts Characters

  • Takes place in Return of the Jedi

Luke Skywalker’s declaration of “I am a Jedi, like my father before me” is the emotional climax of the entire trilogy. After willingly going to the second Death Star with Darth Vader, thinking he would die there as the rebels destroyed the space station, Luke remained steadfast in his pacifism until Darth Vader threatened to go after his sister Leia.


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Vader briefly goads Luke into fighting him by threatening his sister, but Luke regains his composure and throws away his lightsaber. In the face of one of the most powerful Sith Lords of all time, he stands unarmed and wholly committed to the ways of the Light Side of the Force, making for one of the most memorable moments to come from the franchise.

7 Yoda Raises The X-Wing With The Force

Yoda Demonstrates The True Power Of The Force

Yoda with his hand raised and eyes closed as he lifts Luke's X-Wing out of the swamp

  • Takes place in The Empire Strikes Back

Luke only had a few hours of Jedi training with Obi-Wan onboard the Millennium Falcon. After several years on the run from the Empire, Obi-Wan appeared to Luke as a Force Ghost and instructed him to find Yoda in order to complete his training, which did not go the way that Luke expected.

Yoda, wanting to show Luke the power of the Force, challenges Luke to lift his X-Wing out of the swamp. Luke feels like the X-Wing is too heavy to lift, but Yoda insists that the Force is stronger than Luke believes. The Jedi Master closes his eyes and lifts his hand, and in mere moments, the X-Wing begins to rise up from beneath the water. It is the first great demonstration of how strong the Force can truly be with the right amount of training, patience, and dedication.

6 The Mos Eisley Cantina

A Brief Look Into The Inner Workings Of The Galaxy

Star Wars cantina band episode IV A New Hope Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes

  • Takes place in A New Hope

The Star Wars universe really seems to come alive when Luke and Obi-Wan walk into Mos Eisley’s cantina. Until that point, nearly all the characters on screen had been humans. This scene, however, shows dozens of different alien species talking, laughing, and drinking together.

Beyond showcasing a myriad of alien species, the cantina is full of memorable moments, like Han’s confrontation with Greedo, Obi-Wan cutting off a patron’s arm with his lightsaber, and the catchy band’s performance. The cantina shows off how much life there really is in this far-away galaxy.

5 “Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi”

Leia’s Iconic Quote Calls Luke To Adventure

R2-D2 displays Leia's message in a hologram in front of Luke Skywalker and C-3P0

  • Takes place in A New Hope

Luke’s call to action comes in the form of a secret message that Leia records during the opening scene of A New Hope. While cleaning up C-3PO and R2-D2, the droids tell Luke that they have been involved in battles from the Clone Wars to the Rebellion.

Suddenly, R2 displays a hologram with part of Leia’s message: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” R2 won’t play any more of the message for Luke since it was recorded for Obi-Wan, but that snippet is enough to pique Luke’s interest and eventually lead him to rescue her from the Death Star. Leia’s message is one of the most quoted lines from the movie as well.

4 The Carbonite Freezing Chamber

A Major Turning Point For The Main Characters

Han, Lando, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO stand in the carbon freezing chamber

  • Takes place in The Empire Strikes Back

Cloud City’s carbonite freezing chamber was a key part of Darth Vader’s plan to kidnap Luke and bring him to the Emperor to be turned to the Dark Side. Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO were the bait, and the trap was set, but there was no way to know if a human would survive the freezing process at this specific facility.

Thankfully, Han survives, so Darth Vader’s plan is now to prepare for the climactic duel with Luke. Beyond setting this fight up, this scene also features one of Han and Leia’s most famous exchanges. Just before Han is frozen, Leia says, “I love you” to him for the first time. His infamous response — “I know” — has stuck with Star Wars fans ever since.

3 The Death Star Trench Run

The Most Memorable Space Battle In Star Wars

The view out of Darth Vader's TIE Fighter cockpit as he chases 2 X-wings down the Death Star trench

  • Takes place in A New Hope

The Death Star is perhaps the most recognizable fictional space station in cinema. It is the size of a moon and features a superlaser that is powerful enough to destroy an entire planet. It is the biggest threat that the Empire has ever produced.


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The only way to destroy it is to send a squadron of fighters to fly through the trench around its equator and launch a torpedo into a small exhaust port. X-Wings and TIE fighters dogfight their way across the Death Star’s surface, and almost all the rebel pilots are killed along the way. In the pivotal moment just before the Death Star fires, Obi-Wan reaches out to Luke from beyond the grave. Luke listens and uses the Force for the first time, saving the entire galaxy in the process.

2 The Binary Sunset

Imagery And Music That Defined The Franchise

Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on the Lars Homestead in Star Wars

  • Takes place in A New Hope

Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru raised Luke from infancy on their moisture farm. Luke spent his entire childhood dreaming about leaving Tatooine behind and exploring the galaxy while watching his friends manage to leave one by one.

After being told that he would have to wait yet another season to leave Tatooine, he climbs up to the surface to have a few minutes alone and wistfully stares out at the planet’s two setting suns. The music swells into a glorious crescendo as the “Binary Sunset” theme plays, and the combination of emotions, visual appeal, and music make this scene one of the most recognizable and iconic moments of the original movie.

1 “No, I Am Your Father”

The Original Trilogy’s Most Recognizable Reveal

Darth Vader vs Luke in Star Wars Empire Strikes Back

  • Takes place in The Empire Strikes Back

The duel between Luke and Darth Vader on Bespin is one of the most intense and brutal duels in all of Star Wars. The audience knows that Vader is holding back so that Luke can be captured alive, while Luke is doing everything he can just to survive with the short training he’s had. The tension reaches a peak when Darth Vader cuts off Luke’s hand. He is cornered, wounded, unarmed, and desperate.

Darth Vader reaches out his hand and tells Luke to join him by revealing that he is, in fact, Luke’s father. Today, the reveal is so well-known that few people are surprised by it when they watch The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. However, when filming The Empire Strikes Back, the secret was so closely guarded that none of the actors knew the true line in advance; the original script presented the line as “Obi-Wan killed your father.” It is a monumental turning point for both characters and ultimately paves the way for Darth Vader’s redemption in Return of the Jedi.


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