The 15 Best and Most Shocking Star Wars Moments of 2018

Solo, Rebels, Darth Vader, and The Mandalorian all rank on our list of Star Wars moments.
Image: All Images (Lucasfilm)
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All told, 2018 was a great year to be a Star Wars fan, with a new movie, a new TV show, big surprises, huge news, and answers to old questions. There’s been a lot going on in the galaxy, far, far away. Here are our favorite moments of the year—barring a last-minute trailer and title reveal for Episode IX.


The logo for Episode iX.
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1. Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill returning for Episode IX

This was three scoops of awesome. The passing of Carrie Fisher in late 2016 made her role in The Last Jedi so bittersweet, and the question of how her character would be handed in Episode IX was such a sad one. But this year we found out the character would return thanks to old footage, and that Mark Hamill’s deceased (onscreen) character, Luke Skywalker, would come back somehow. And finally, after oh so many years, we’d finally see Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian back in a live-action Star Wars movie. We haven’t even seen the fruits of this news yet, but damned it it wasn’t all a Star Wars fan could ask for.

2. The Clone Wars is coming back

The Star Wars movies are known for their big surprises, but no surprise was bigger this year than the San Diego Comic-Con announcement that The Clone Wars would be returning for one more season on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. Finally, fans will get to see the conclusion of the Clone story before Anakin and Obi-Wan go into Revenge of the Sith. Simply put, it was news no one was expecting, and we’re so happy about it.

3. The ending of Star Wars Rebels

Another big Star Wars surprise this year was the end of Star Wars Rebels. While it was beautiful and powerful, it still found a way to answer very few of our big questions about what its characters were doing during the original trilogy. What we got was Ezra and Thrawn disappearing, a jump through the time period of Episodes IV, V, and VI, and the shocking reappearance of Ahsoka Tano who, along with Sabine Wren, will go off and find Ezra. It was shocking, it was thought-provoking, and we loved it. But we’re still curious about when the rest of that story will be told.

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Our first, and only so far, image of The Mandalorian.

4. The Mandalorian is announced

For years, fans have wondered if we’d ever get a live-action Star Wars TV series. In 2018, we found out the answer is “Yes.” The Mandalorian will be the first live-action Star Wars TV series, with a crew that’s unbelievable, and a cast that is pretty awesome. This announcement was years in the making, and to finally have it happen was incredibly exciting.

5. Darth Maul returns

Darth Maul has come back a couple of times, mainly in The Clone Wars and Rebels, but never in live-action. So, when the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story revealed he was the leader of Crimson Dawn, jaws hit the floor. It was so good to see the former Sith apprentice back on the big screen, even if we’ll probably never get to see him and Han cross paths.

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Diego Luna is Cassian Andor.

6. Cassian Andor’s TV show is announced

This was such a good year for Star Wars that not only did we get news of one Star Wars live-action TV show coming, we got two. Diego Luna will reprise his role from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in yet another Disney+ series that takes place during the birth of the Rebellion, as Cassian wheels and deals in the world of intergalactic espionage. It’s expected to start filming in 2019.

7. Star Wars Resistance launches

The only thing better than the early 2018 news that a new Star Wars animated series was coming out about ace flyers post-Return of the Jedi, with Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie making appearances, was it actually coming out. To be fair, Resistance has been a bit of a mixed bag in its first half season, but it has introduced some killer characters and intriguing storylines. Plus, it has some great action, and will only get more interesting once it starts to dovetail with the movies.

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A crop of the cover of Last Shot.

8. Kylo calls Lando “Unca Wanwo”

Daniel José Older’s novel Last Shot is filled with fascinating insight into the minds of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, but how can you forget the fact that young Ben Solo called Lando “Unca Wanwo?” It’s so cute! And it’s also so DARK, considering the direction young Ben ends up taking later in life. But that’s Star Wars, isn’t it? Always something dark to balance with the light.

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Ezra Bridger entered a weird place on Star Wars Rebels.

9. Star Wars tries time travel. Kinda.

Before ending Star Wars Rebels, executive producer Dave Filoni went kind of nutty, introducing a magical place in the Star Wars universe where all the timelines intersect. You heard voices from the movies, other shows. Dead characters, others who haven’t even been born yet. And then, Ezra Bridger reaches through a portal, back in time, and changes the past. Is it time travel? For Ahsoka Tano, it was. And though this place was probably destroyed, the fact it exists in the Star Wars universe opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities.

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A crop of the cover of Thrawn: Alliances.

10. Thrawn: Alliances ties the prequel and original eras together

The follow-up to Timothy Zahn’s excellent re-introduction of the legendary Grand Admiral Thrawn promised to pair the artful tactician with the equally legendary Darth Vader. But the novel ended up doing so much more than that. Alliances deftly wove two stories together: Thrawn pairing with Vader on a mission for their shared master, along with a Clone Wars-era tale of how he first encountered the galaxy far, far away by teaming up with a young Anakin Skywalker. Zahn’s brilliant banter between both iterations of Thrawn and Anakin are a delight to read, and watching him bridge gaps between the Star Wars of the prequels and the Star Wars of the original trilogy was one of the highlights of the year.

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An image from Darth Vader #18.

11. Vader and Tarkin go toe-to-toe

Darth Vader #18 told one of the best Star Wars stories of the year, with Grand Moff Tarkin and a band of killers hunting Darth Vader himself. Without giving anything away, let’s just say it reveals fascinating things about why both characters as so ruthless and important to the Empire. And luckily, you don’t need to have read the first 17 issues of Darth Vader to enjoy this one, as it’s a self-contained story.

12. A New Hope, Arrested Development-style

As Star Wars fans, we’re blessed each week with an upbeat online news show called The Star Wars Show—created at Lucasfilm, right next door to the people calling the shots. It’s always fun, but never has it been better than before the release of Solo, when producer Scott Bromley rewrote A New Hope as an Arrested Development episode for Ron Howard to narrate. It was, and is, incredible.

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Darth Helmet returned on The Goldbergs.
Photo: ABC

13. Rick Moranis comes back as Dark Helmet

It was a tiny moment, but a significant one. Adam Goldberg, creator of ABC’s The Goldbergs, somehow got notoriously reclusive actor Rick Moranis to reprise his role as Darth Helmet from Spaceballs in an episode of the show. Now, it was just Moranis’ voice (he wasn’t on set), but seeing Darth Helmet back made us yearn for Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money. Watch his return here.

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A panel from Darth Vader #23.

14. Darth Vader dives deeper into the Dark Side

The idea that the Dark Side could bring people back from the dead is what seduced Anakin Skywalker in the first place. In Darth Vader #23, we actually get to see this happening—in a roundabout, weird, unexplained way. It meant so much more to the saga than just a great, comic book story. It opened terrifying new doors.

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Above Kessel in Solo.

15. The Kessel Run

We knew it was coming. So, this moment ranks lower since it wasn’t all that surprising. But Star Wars fans saw one (actually many) moments they’d only imagined in the past thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story. The Kessel Run was the highlight, though: an edge-of-your-seat action scene where we finally got to see Han Solo become the Han Solo we know and love—with Chewie, Lando, and a few new friends (and/or frenemies) by his side.

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Additional reporting by James Whitbrook


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About the author

Germain Lussier

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo