Luke Skywalker Must Die

Bet that got your attention, didn’t it?

You’re probably thinking it’s one of those titles that are attention-grabbing but completely misleading about what’s really being said, or maybe just a controversial statement for controversy’s sake.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but I’m deadly serious.

As a Star Wars fan since 1977, I would never say something like “Luke Skywalker must die” lightly. I certainly wouldn’t say it just to be controversial, although if a controversial idea gets people to think then it’s often worth discussing.

No, I’d only say it if I really meant it – and I do. I think killing Luke Skywalker in an Expanded Universe novel, and doing it in the near future – both in the real world and in-universe – is the perfect opportunity to revive the stagnating EU storyline, rebuild enthusiasm in the EU fanbase, and bring in a whole bunch of new fans to the EU in the process.

To save the EU novels, Luke Skywalker must die. I hope you’ll hear me out on my reasons why.

Reason #1: He’s Dead, Jim

First things first, let’s get it out there: as far as the official Star Wars canon is concerned, Luke Skywalker has been dead since 2006.

That was the year the Legacy comic series began, featuring a Force Ghost version of Luke Skywalker as a much-resented mentor figure, and sometimes comedic foil, to his descendant Cade Skywalker. True, the official sources have studiously avoided ever technically confirming that it’s Luke’s Force spirit (as opposed to, say, a hallucination or vision), but the meaning of the text speaks for itself. Not to mention the simple math: Legacy takes place more than 130 years after Return of the Jedi, and even in Star Wars it’s implausible that Luke would live to be over 150 years old. It’s hardly shocking that George Lucas would sign off, in principle, on the concept that Luke isn’t immortal.

I’ve never heard that [Luke]’s untouchable, now that the movies are over.

~Troy Denning in a ForceCast interview, May 15, 2008

Actually writing Luke’s death in a story, though, that takes things to the next level. I would completely understand if Lucas was waiting for the “right time” to pull the trigger on allowing it – the perfect combination of the specific storyline for the death itself, the contribution it makes to the broader stories of the Star Wars saga, and considerations of present and future marketing and sales revenue.

I’ve never been surprised, for example, by the report in the Round Robin Interview with the lead story team for the New Jedi Order series that Lucas vetoed the proposal for killing Luke in the first book of that series. At the time, the modern EU novel included only about 20 books telling tales in the 15 in-universe years after Return of the Jedi, published over a span of seven real-world years. It’s easy to see why Lucas would have believed that the story of Luke’s life was far from over at that point, and so there was not enough story benefit to be gained by killing him compared to what would be given up.

The EU is in a very different position now. By the time Fate of the Jedi concludes, there will be about 65 books with stories spanning 40 in-universe years since the Battle of Endor, published over twenty real-world years. In-universe, Luke has outlived his father by over a decade, and is just about the same age as Obi-Wan Kenobi was in A New Hope.

Reason #2: This Isn’t the Luke You’re Looking For

Nobody would expect that Luke Skywalker in his mid-sixties would be the same person as the young, naïve, reckless, idealistic young man we first saw on the big screen in 1977. But I think most of us would have expected a grandfatherly aged Luke to be a calmer, wiser Jedi Master version of himself. Luke as Yoda, basically.

In the EU novels by the time of Fate of the Jedi, however, that’s not the Luke Skywalker we’ve been given. Other than the fact that his cover images seem timeless, he’s almost unrecognizable compared to the Luke of the movies. Most importantly, he’s been stripped of the very compassion that defined him as a hero in all three Original Trilogy films. Despite the claims of a few fans with their own agendas, he hasn’t gone dark – but he is more calculating and ruthless, more pragmatic and at times even political, than his younger self ever would have been. The other day, long-time Luke fan ChildOfWinds at TFN said it well this way:

I think a big part of why I’ve been so unhappy with Luke’s portrayals is that he no longer seems to have the same hopeful, optimistic spirit that he had before. He isn’t as quick to be the “Great Redeemer” and try to find the good in everyone anymore. And those are things that I don’t think should have changed. Luke is often written now with a sort of “coldness” that I don’t like, and Luke’s been written as too “darkish” or “greyish” for my liking. That vengeance killing was the worst thing of all. So I disagree with your assertion that Luke hasn’t changed. He has, but not in the way I would have liked to see him change.

I can’t imagine that taking his character to this point was a conscious decision by the Powers That Be; as I’ve explained in an earlier blog, a lack of editorial control in the story design has led to several examples of piecemeal progressions to endpoints that never would have been deliberately selected.

The harm in this, of course, is that the Luke Skywalker of the current EU novels is not a Luke that fans want to read. A Luke so divergent from the Luke of the films isn’t going to bring in movie fans to read the novels – and it’s certainly not going to get them to stick around if they do pick one up. Worse, this Luke isn’t even what EU fans wanted, either, and they’re the primary customers for the EU books. Some fans have been decrying Luke’s characterization for over a decade, and while I don’t agree with their perspective about Luke of the New Jedi Order, the way Luke’s been written over the course of Dark Nest, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi has caused me to come around. The Luke we’re getting now is too far removed from Lucas’ vision for that character – and I don’t really know many fans who like him.

Unfortunately, at this point I think his character is already broken beyond repair. His personality, and his perception in the minds of the readers, are too deeply damaged by his fault for how events have transpired. Luke sent many of the Young Jedi Knights on the mission that killed Anakin Solo and inflicted devastating psychological injury to the survivors, including the Solo twins. Luke failed to recognize the signs of Jacen’s fall to the dark side until it was too late, leading to a great deal of pain for his family and the galaxy. Luke sent Jaina on a kill-mission to take out her own twin brother because Luke was too afraid of future visions that showed what a fight with Darth Caedus might do to his soul, and then he kneecapped her chance at personal happiness afterward by immediately appointing her lover, Jagged Fel, to the position of Head of State of the Empire. Even just looking at this, think of how much suffering Han and Leia have endured because of Luke’s decisions. It’s hard to believe they can look her brother in the eye, much less interact with them like old pals with no hard feelings the way they do in the books.

Reason #3: Archetype of an Obstacle

From the beginning, Star Wars has told stories shaped by the framework of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” As has been well documented, the first movie on one level, and the entire Original Trilogy on another, took Luke through a classic Hero’s Journey from farmboy to galactic champion.

Now, though, Luke’s presence in the stories is hampering the creation of new Hero’s Journey storylines for other characters. Anakin Solo died young. Jacen, like his grandfather, fell to the dark side. Jaina’s characterization has, to put it charitably, been in the doldrums for the last twenty books. And Luke’s son Ben is just as stuck as they are – how can he ever have a Hero’s Journey of his own in his father’s shadow? He can’t, of course, but Luke Skywalker is still always coming to the rescue. That’s why J.K. Rowling knew that Harry Potter needed to be an orphan, and why Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (and then Obi-Wan, too) had to die in Episode IV. If the novels had let Luke retire as Yoda did, taking a back seat to heroic adventures and dispensing wise advice from time to time, the situation would be different. But that’s not the Luke we have, so there’s no reason to think we’ll get him now.

The disappointing thing is, the Powers That Be knew about this problem and let it happen anyway. In the NJO Round Robin Interview, James Luceno said:

Luke, Han, Lando, Leia—had, in a very real way, already completed their journeys.

Yet the next books in the flagship storyline were the Dark Nest trilogy, which once again put Luke, Leia, and Han in the starring roles and the next generation in the secondary cast. The same pattern held in Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi. After the bold storytelling proposals considered for the NJO, the editors and authors seemingly became remarkably risk-averse, to the point that they ended up abandoning one of the biggest advantages the post-NJO landscape had to offer: the development of a strong next-generation cast of characters.

The Powers That Be are holding back the stories by focusing on Luke when the future of the Jedi is the next generation characters. They need to get back to the boldness in story design that they had during the NJO. But they’re not doing that, I suspect, because they’re caught in their own blindered mindset that it’s the Big Three that sells Star Wars. As I explained in Reenergizing the EU Novels, that’s simply not true – especially for the Expanded Universe. I happened to rewatch some of my favorite moments from the movie Armageddon on television recently, and it reinforced for me why killing Luke would help so much to advance the stories and characters of the EU. When Stamper dies, we witness the suffering of one family against the backdrop of billions of lives saved, with his daughter and friends left heartbroken while the world rejoices. The same would happen if Luke made an epic heroic sacrifice for the galaxy – and then Ben and the others would be free to grow into heroes worthy of his legacy.

If Luke were out of the picture, though, then new characters could have their own mythic adventures and become featured heroes in their own rights. And besides, who wants to watch their favorite hero die an old man who can’t change his own diaper?

Finally, Luke’s death actually could bring his characterization full circle and allow him to commit the ultimate act of heroism that his tale so far has denied him. The one thing Luke’s character arc has been missing is the ultimate selfless sacrifice. His mother went to Mustafar, knowing full well she might die, but believing her love was the only chance anyone had for bringing Anakin Skywalker back from the dark side. Obi-Wan Kenobi gave up his life on the Death Star so that Luke could escape and grow to become the hero the galaxy needed him to be. After forty years of heroism, Luke still lacks that same deep selflessness. For much of A New Hope he was a brat and he fought the Empire only after a profound personal loss; in The Empire Strikes Back he turned his back on his Jedi training because he could not bear to fail to save his friends; and in Return of the Jedi he risked the complete failure of the Rebellion because he could not bear to fail to try to redeem his father. This motivation by his own pain and his own ego has carried through to many of Luke’s choices in the EU, from sending children on the Myrkr mission rather than risk going himself, to declaring himself Grand Master of the Jedi Order in Dark Nest, to refusing to face Darth Caedus in Legacy of the Force out of fear for his own desire for revenge. He needs to let go of the arrogance of the gods and his own view of his self-importance and realize that no one, not even the great Luke Skywalker, is indispensable. To truly finish his own hero’s arc, he needs to make the ultimate selfless sacrifice.

Reason #4: Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

This reason is basically self-explanatory: the death of Luke Skywalker would be a huge news event, crossing the boundary from geek and pop culture news into mainstream media coverage. And what better publicity for your book is there than that?

All the major news outlets carried stories about the deaths of Superman and Captain America in the comics, even though everybody knows that deaths in comics don’t stick. But Luke’s death would be “real,” and that could make it even bigger news. It’s hard to think of an equivalent instance of a cultural icon on that scale actually being killed off. Even an entire summer of national speculation over “who shot J.R.?” ended Ewing having survived the bullet after all.

Can’t you just imagine the publicity? The author would be interviewed about the challenge – and burden – of writing such a significant event. George Lucas might speak out about why he approved the storyline. And I bet many people would love to hear from Mark Hamill about his perspective, as well. That would be quite a trio some morning on The TODAY Show.

The media blitz might be even bigger, and even more effective, if Lucasfilm took a page from its own playbook and revealed the purpose of the book in advance. Everyone knew the Prequel Trilogy would tell the story of the fall of Darth Vader and the rise of the Empire, but the movies still made billions of dollars. The Clone Wars have effectively used spoilers and teasers too, such as the early theatrical screenings of the Savage Opress episodes a month before they aired on television and the hints and glimpses revealed in Star Wars Insider. Spoilers don’t ruin excitement – they often generate it. So instead of springing the death of Luke upon the world without warning, announcing it in advance could bring a huge boon. Instead of reacting to the What, everyone will be speculating about the How – and wanting to read the book for themselves to find out.

Spoiled or shocker, the death of Luke Skywalker would be a huge media event. And that publicity could generate book sales at a level that leaves typical EU sales targets in the dust.

Reason #5: A New Hope for the Expanded Universe

But the death of Luke shouldn’t be just a one-off gigantic selling of a single Star Wars book. Instead – if it’s done right – it provides all the potential to reinvigorate the flagship EU storyline in a way nothing else could.

True, many of the sales of Luke’s death book might be to people who only ever buy that one Star Wars novel. There’s nothing wrong with that; the novelization of The Force Unleashed was a #1 New York Times bestseller by drawing in many gamer who don’t ordinarily buy EU books. Likewise, some of the sales of the book would go to people who hadn’t read the EU before but, after reading Luke’s final adventure, decide they want to read more books starring the movie characters. That’s okay, too, because there will be a huge backlist of the existing post-ROTJ novels waiting for them to read.

Where the death of Luke could really make a difference to the EU itself, though, is its impact on the stories going forward. Because if the book portrays the other characters well, then it opens up the opportunity that many of the people who pick up the book just to read about Luke Skywalker’s death will actually find themselves interested enough in the rest of the cast to want to keep reading their future adventures. There’s no reason that someone who was captivated by the stories of Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen couldn’t also, if given the right story and the right portrayals, become invested in Ben Skywalker or Jaina Solo. All three types of fans that the EU needs to be trying much harder to reach – disappointed fans, lapsed fans, and potential fans – could find their interest in the EU sparked by this single book.

What creates the most opportunity for this, of course, is the very fact that the book marks Luke’s passing from the stage. Now, after over a decade of false starts, the next generation characters can finally begin to shine in stories of their own instead of being held back by Luke’s ever-present looming shadow. Loyal customers of the EU books have tired of waiting for the torch to be passed, and some stopped buying when they gave up on waiting. Delivering on the potential for next generation stories has far more promise for generating sales than keeping Luke in the spotlight when he’s old enough to be drawing Social Security. Yes, some fans will be angry that Luke is dead, and some current EU customers may stop buying. But the reality of the market is that most of the people who might be alienated by the decision to kill Luke weren’t, and were never going to be, loyal EU books customers anyway.

But of course, all of this comes back around to my caveat – if it’s done right. To reinvigorate the EU, the books have to be telling the kinds of stories, and writing the kinds of characters, that fans will want to read more about. Without firm and clear editorial control of the direction of the storylines and characterizations, the potential will be completely squandered. Most importantly, Lucas Books would need editors and authors committed to the endeavor: not just to killing Luke, but to showcasing and developing the next generation of heroes into the starring cast of the EU novels. The current team, unfortunately, has proven to be trapped in the mindset of writing what’s interesting to them instead of remembering that their job is to write what’s going to motivate fans to remain or become their customers. Passing the torch in-universe may require a change of leadership in the real world, too, but often that is the price of progress. The opportunity for true success is waiting to be seized, though, and I am confident Lucasfilm has the ability to take advantage of it.

Luke Skywalker Must Die

In the end, there is much to be gained by killing Luke Skywalker and very little to be gained by sparing him. I realize, of course, that the entrenched perspectives at Lucasfilm may not see things my way. If they’re not willing to actually write the death of Luke, though, I hope that they will at least seriously consider achieving the same goal – reinvigorating the EU books – by similar means: writing Luke as a compassionate, wise Yoda figure instead of the colder, grimmer man he has become, and finally shifting him into retirement from active heroic adventures so that the next generation at last can take their turns through the Hero’s Journey and become the galactic champions the movie characters once were. It’s a second-best solution, but even that would be far better than the stagnating EU novels we have today.

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Special thanks to Lex for his help with the planning and writing of this blog post.

51 comments to Luke Skywalker Must Die

  • Joanne

    Good post and many good points. My big problem is I don’t trust the current team to handle it. Shapiro and all the rest are just as broken as the characters they keep shoving down the pipeline IMO and readers (and the EU) aren’t going to get what they need with those folks in control.

  • Star Wars Fan

    You want to stuff Luke Skywalker into a refrigerator?

    In less inflammatory language – as you said, this isn’t comics. They can’t reverse a death. Part of what allows comics fans to hang on, I think, is the knowledge that ‘This, too, shall [potentially] pass’ – if some crazy thing happens (say, Spiderman’s marriage gets booted out of existence), there’s always hope that a writer-messiah shall come back and bring back all that was good before the Dark Lord Quesada brought misery and torment upon our fair land. (Alternatively, and more realistically, the editors might course-correct after the fandom goes rabid.) If it turns out Luke Skywalker’s death is a BIG mistake – TPTB are screwed.

    “I can’t imagine that taking his character to this point was a conscious decision by the Powers That Be;”
    I can. Not the editors, specifically, but Certain Authors like to write things Darker and Edgier. I’ll note that Traviss probably thought the vengeance-killing was a good thing (Values Dissonance, as TV Tropes says), and she kept harping about how Luke was a big ol’ farmboy at heart, and that Allston hasn’t tried to write Luke terribly grim-and-gritty. Now, Golden has written Luke as cold, but we know who her Yoda is, in her own words…

    What about taking Jacen Solo, hero of the Yuuzhan Vong war, to be a raving mad Sith who was, in the end, despised even by his own toddler-aged daughter and killed by his twin sister? THAT was a decision by The Powers That Be.
    (I will note that my very first NJO book, after a long hiatus from the EU, was Traitor. I am not amused with that book basically having been thrown in the trash, used as bantha-litter, and declared to just be Sith tripe.)

    “Unfortunately, at this point I think his character is already broken beyond repair.”
    If broken-characterization is a reason for death now, then I think a strike with atomics on Coruscant during a main-cast reunion party at the end of FOTJ is the only way out. :|

    “Reason #3: Archetype of an Obstacle”
    Regarding the ‘Sacrifice would be a wonderful plot device’ reasoning -

    Jaina Solo’s characterization is broken beyond repair. (http://s14.invisionfree.com/LominAleCantina/ar/t1171.htm) Therefore, let’s kill her off, to end her suffering, and maybe score more SotJ points in the process. That way, Jagged Fel will be so heartbroken by her death that he’ll receive the courage to ascend to Emperor, and marry a Force-sensitive in a sad, desperate attempt to replace her and found the Imperial Knights in her memory. Great! It’s brilliant!

    I somehow suspect you might disagree. (And to The Powers That Be, if you’re reading – PLEASE don’t take that suggestion seriously! PLEASE!)

    Death is NOT the answer. They’ll throw away THE big man in the EU, and for what? For a temporary ratings boost that will go away if the EU doesn’t step up.

    As you pointed out, NJO already provided an opportunity for the younger cast to step up – was nigh-designed for it, in fact. They blew it. Your reasoning assumes that, with Luke gone, they would magically develop competence and write the younger cast well. In reality, they’d likely react to the outcry after Luke’s death by falling back on the movie cast again, and the books will become The Geriatric Adventures of Han and Leia (with Wedge thrown in for Allston books).

    “The same would happen if Luke made an epic heroic sacrifice for the galaxy – and then Ben and the others would be free to grow into heroes worthy of his legacy.”
    They would be free, yes. But the authors have to prove themselves capable of taking that opportunity. The editorial direction has to prove itself capable.

    “Yes, some fans will be angry that Luke is dead, and some current EU customers may stop buying. But the reality of the market is that most of the people who might be alienated by the decision to kill Luke weren’t, and were never going to be, loyal EU books customers anyway.”
    How do you know?

    I apologize, but this seems an awful lot like dismissing the opposition out-of-hand. You could say that about ANY EU character – including, as I picked earlier, Jaina. Would you keep buying if they killed Jaina? Are you a loyal EU-book customer?

    Consider that Luke is THE hero of Star Wars, whatever Lucas says nowadays about Anakin, and that his fanbase is likely much wider than Jaina’s – or Jag’s.

    You can’t just say that people who would walk out aren’t Real Fans. It’s an incredibly cheap way of dismissing the opposition. The “No True Scotsman” fallacy, anyone?

    “But of course, all of this comes back around to my caveat – if it’s done right.”
    If we had a team that was doing things right, we wouldn’t need to worry about killing off a major character for sweeps week. That’s the problem. And they’re not listening very well – I mean, surely the people who are complaining now weren’t, and were never going to be, loyal EU customers anyway.

    Who will be the hero after Luke’s gone, anyway? There’s not many people left. First, I hear, it was Anakin – oops, he’s dead. Then, it was clearly Jacen at the front – whoops, he’s a Sith, then dead. There’s Jaina – if her romantic subplot ever clears up, and if her characterization is salvageable. There’s Ben – whatever his characterization is this book. There’s Allana – oh, heaven help us.

    “In the end, there is much to be gained by killing Luke Skywalker and very little to be gained by sparing him. ”
    Unclear – there would be a sales spike, but beyond that, it all depends on whether TPTB can retain consumer interest in the EU. If so, they may be remembered as geniuses – if not, they’ll be remembered as the idiots who offed Luke Skywalker for an attention-grabbing ploy.

    On the “sparing” side, Luke’s death would have far-reaching consequences, and NOT just in-universe. It might signal to some that the EU authors truly don’t care about the universe, because they’re willing to off Luke-bloody-Skywalker. It might tell others than Del Rey is utterly incapable of finding a source of drama outside of murdering beloved characters. It might indicate to quite a few that TPTB, like viciously abusive parents, will, rather than acknowledging their own failings and striving to correct them, beat to death any ‘children’ who don’t quite measure up because of THEIR neglect.

    Besides, he’s survived an extragalactic invasion, countless other villains, a Sith Lord or three, and, after this, Cthulhu-with-breasts – what is he going to die of? Choking on a glass of blue milk?

    “If they’re not willing to actually write the death of Luke, though, I hope that they will at least seriously consider achieving the same goal – reinvigorating the EU books – by similar means: writing Luke as a compassionate, wise Yoda figure instead of the colder, grimmer man he has become, and finally shifting him into retirement from active heroic adventures so that the next generation at last can take their turns through the Hero’s Journey and become the galactic champions the movie characters once were. It’s a second-best solution, but even that would be far better than the stagnating EU novels we have today.”
    I’d say this is the best solution, actually.

    Going back to the start of the post -
    “First things first, let’s get it out there: as far as the official Star Wars canon is concerned, Luke Skywalker has been dead since 2006.”
    All things die. Even stars burn out.

    Yes, we always knew he was going to die. I don’t see why it matters that his Force-Ghost has shown up 100 years later, unless people were seriously expecting him to fuse with a Sarlacc after overdosing on glitterstim and become the God-Emperor of Tatooine.

    I’m sorry this response is inflammatory, but I feel rather strongly about this. Given the current team, this is a great way to ram the Expanded Universe into a brick wall. Death is NOT the answer – better stories are. The mindset of “Death makes the grass grow!” is exactly what’s stranded us in this situation in the first place, from NJO on – or earlier, if you ask Anakin Solo fans.

    To quote the films, “I have a bad feeling about this.” *cue Giant Space Worm*

    P.S.
    How would you like Jaina or Leia’s death as a way of grabbing EU fans’ attention?
    P.S. II
    As written by Christie Golden?

    • Lex

      If it turns out Luke Skywalker’s death is a BIG mistake – TPTB are screwed.

      Relying on Luke to be the big hero of the EU for the last forty books has left them screwed. The best way to dig out of that hole is to take away the crutch.

      (I will note that my very first NJO book, after a long hiatus from the EU, was Traitor. I am not amused with that book basically having been thrown in the trash, used as bantha-litter, and declared to just be Sith tripe.)

      I understand that a lot of fans feel that way, but personally I think that Jacen’s fall is exactly what his journey in Traitor was ultimately going to lead to. The moment Jacen accepted that his role in the galaxy was to be The Gardener, his fall to the dark side was a done deal. More importantly, Vergere in Traitor is a brilliant example of how actions speak louder than words for any teacher, mentor, or parent. Vergere’s words said one thing, but everything about Vergere’s actions (in Traitor, as well as before and after it in the NJO) comes down to her ends justifying her means. No true Jedi Master would ever be complicit in even half of what Vergere does herself, facilitates happening, or fails to act to prevent. It’s no surprise that the real lesson Jacen learned from Vergere was that he should follow her example – which in DN and LOTF was exactly what he did.

      Jaina Solo’s characterization is broken beyond repair.

      That’s not what the Jump the Shark post says, though. Yes, Jaina’s characterization has been irreversibly damaged – but that’s not the same thing as saying it’s unsalvageable. (At least Anakin Solo’s fans get to remember him as a true, unspoiled hero. Jacen and Jaina fans will always have to live with the damage the authors did to them.)

      Luke’s character has been mangled a lot worse than Jaina’s. More importantly, the broken characterization isn’t the only reason we’re arguing that killing him would be a good story move. All five reasons work together in tandem, and Luke’s the only character who fits all five.

      They would be free, yes. But the authors have to prove themselves capable of taking that opportunity. The editorial direction has to prove itself capable.

      Tricia’s series of blog posts have been directed at pointing out several significant ways the Powers That Be have been mishandling the EU novels recently. The fact that they haven’t taken advantage of all the opportunities provided by killing Luke is just another example of how they’re off course. But yes, everything she’s been proposing that they do differently requires that they do it well – she’s certainly not suggesting that badly written romantic and relationship storylines will solve anything, either, for example.

      How do you know?

      Because Luke has been the featured hero for the last sixty books, and sales are in the toilet. If Luke fans were driving sales, Star Wars wouldn’t be getting its butt kicked by original franchises with no sign of Luke Skywalker anywhere in sight (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Song of Ice and Fire, etc etc). The myth that Luke drives successful EU sales is a big part of what got the Powers That Be into this mess.

      Consider that Luke is THE hero of Star Wars

      From a certain point of view. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of Star Wars profits that prove Luke isn’t necessary for Star Wars products to succeed.

      You can’t just say that people who would walk out aren’t Real Fans. It’s an incredibly cheap way of dismissing the opposition.

      You’re misunderstanding what we said. This isn’t a competition; there’s no “opposition” to dismiss. What we’re talking about is just the economics of a business decision, no more, no less. Every book they sell, every plot arc they design, is going to appeal to some fans more than others. Personally, I had no interest in Death Troopers or Red Harvest, but that by itself doesn’t mean Lucas Books make a mistake publishing them; on the other hand, if they could have made ten times as much money selling as Star Wars romance novel than a Star Wars horror novel, then they probably did make a mistake. It’s no different than Lucas using Master Piell in TCW even though it created a continuity contradiction because he decided he’d make more money doing that than he’d lose by doing it, even though the decision upset some fans. There are people who grew up on the Original Trilogy who hate the Prequels so much they don’t have anything to do with Star Wars any more. But George Lucas will take his billions of dollars of Prequels profits and live without those customers. That’s business.

      The whole point of these blog posts has been that the Powers That Be have been making some pretty poor business decisions recently. By ignoring romance and relationship storylines, they’ve alienated a lot of female fans. By designing a seriously flawed story for FotJ, they’ve lost customers. By killing Mara and Jacen, they’ve lost customers. So yes, by killing Luke they would lose some customers, too. But if the storytelling gains are big enough, and the gains in other customers are big enough (short term and long term), then the Powers That Be ought to make the trade.

      I’m sorry this response is inflammatory, but I feel rather strongly about this.

      That’s fine; no hard feelings. But we feel equally strongly about our perspective too – and not just this blog post.

      Given the current team, this is a great way to ram the Expanded Universe into a brick wall.

      They’ve already done that. Only radical changes are going to make a difference in course-correcting.

      P.S. How would you like Jaina or Leia’s death as a way of grabbing EU fans’ attention?

      Just to grab attention? No. But that’s not what we’re saying about Luke, either. All five reasons combine to explain our suggestion, not just one in isolation.

      Killing Leia doesn’t do anything to advance the storylines of the next generation over the long term. (Which probably just goes to show that they’ve been criminally under-utilizing Leia recently, but that’s a whole different problem.) Killing Jaina certainly doesn’t, since she’s part of the next generation. Neither of their characterizations has been harmed as much as Luke’s. And neither would have the publicity profile beyond the existing Star Wars EU fandom that Luke does to generate a huge short-terms sales burst. It’s not comparable.

  • Dominic

    A really well written piece and I have to say for the most part I agree with you. Luke should and must die, we know it’s going to happen. As much as it pains me to write that Luke Skywalker must die (it really brakes my heart and a part of me really doesn’t want to see it happen), I know he has to, not just because of the Legacy comics, but because George Lucas has made it clear throughout the years that no one in the Star Wars galaxy can retain their physical being forever. After his death Luke wouldn’t necessarily be out of the novels for good, he could pop in as a force ghost (like he does in Legacy) and provide that Yoda-like wisdom you were talking about. But the problem is: what author will have the guts to write the novel let alone the scene? It must have taken some courage for the team behind Legacy to say Luke was dead, but to actually write it? That’s a whole different story. If I was writing that novel, I would want to have several meting with George before even trying to write that scene. I might even try get George to write that scene or see if Del Rey could actually get him to write the novel. All in all I agree with you that Luke’s death would really shake the EU and give us those much needed new stories focusing more on newer characters, but to be fair at CV it was announced at the Del Rey panel that we should not expect the deaths of any of the main 3 (Luke, Han, Leia) until George decides how he wants it done. Me personally I’ve always pictured a Yoda style death for Luke, not in battle but at piece and surrounded by those who care about him.

  • Treena

    I have never thought that Luke of the movies was portrayed in the EU novels – apart from “Splinter.” Heir to the Empire left me cold as have all the EU novels I have tried to read, including those set near the times of the movies.

    Still the thought of him dying in canon fills me with grief. : (

  • Nic

    STAR WARS is about heroes. Luke is our hero.

    To kill him would cause a sensation, for sure, but it would also destroy the heart of STAR WARS. It’s always been about hope and Luke, Leia and Han were the embodiment of that.

    Sure, the EU doesn’t necessarily follow this but killing Luke would be a step too far.

    (Also, if you read articles about TPTB that killed Captain Kirk, they all regret it these days!)

  • Joanne

    My big problem is I don’t trust the current team to handle it. Shapiro and all the rest are just as broken as the characters they keep shoving down the pipeline IMO and readers (and the EU) aren’t going to get what they need with those folks in control.

    This is a fair enough point and that’s why I couched my opinion. It still has to be done well or it won’t work.

    Star Wars Fan

    You want to stuff Luke Skywalker into a refrigerator?

    No, I want Luke to die a hero, like Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, Padme, Chewie, and Anakin Solo.

    I can. Not the editors, specifically, but Certain Authors like to write things Darker and Edgier. I’ll note that Traviss probably thought the vengeance-killing was a good thing (Values Dissonance, as TV Tropes says), and she kept harping about how Luke was a big ol’ farmboy at heart, and that Allston hasn’t tried to write Luke terribly grim-and-gritty. Now, Golden has written Luke as cold, but we know who her Yoda is, in her own words…

    But it’s not about certain authors; it’s about who Luke Skywalker is supposed to be. I think if TPTB went into a room and talked with Lucas about where he saw Luke going later in life, it wouldn’t be this way.

    “Unfortunately, at this point I think his character is already broken beyond repair.”
    If broken-characterization is a reason for death now, then I think a strike with atomics on Coruscant during a main-cast reunion party at the end of FOTJ is the only way out.

    For me, I think Luke has been characterized in the last five years specifically to a point that he’s too grey, too morally compromised that it’s impossible to reverse it. He has reached the point of no return such as Vader. He can be brought back, but what do you do with him then? It’s why they killed Jacen (possibly redeemed) and they killed Vader.

    Luke’s moment of self-realization is also his moment of ultimate sacrifice, once again returning him to the ultimate hero status. This is all dependent on my theories on Luke being an archetypal everyman’s hero (the non-philosopher) as opposed to the archetypal wizard (philosopher) hero, which is what Obi-Wan is to Star Wars. Each type of hero has a different level of moral ambiguity that they can tread into, and the everyman archetype has a far shallower pool than the wizard. This is actually a whole blog post I will be discussing in the near future, so more on this later.

    Jaina Solo’s characterization is broken beyond repair. Therefore, let’s kill her off, to end her suffering, and maybe score more SotJ points in the process.

    I don’t think this is comparable at all. Even though she started a hero’s journey in the NJO, Jaina hasn’t completed one; she’s simply been a character used to fit plot points so far. So Jaina’s character is actually in a completely different situation. If Luke continues down the path he’s been on in the EU, they actually risk eroding his hero value with some fans. Actually, they have eroded his value, as indicated by places like the Save Our Skywalker thread (now in its third iteration) where true Luke aficionados are bemoaning his characterization.

    Jaina is a characterization mess, but her Charlie Foxtrot of a life is actually quite simple to rectify. Unlike Luke’s characterization, which is a question of his moral compass going off whack, for Jaina it’s a matter of ridiculous personal life decisions. Her moral compass as a character is actually quite intact. So what they do is invoke what I call the cold-turkey smoker’s cure. One day they write her character acknowledging her character flaws (I’m a smoker and I don’t want to be anymore) and then she never looks back.

    Death is NOT the answer. They’ll throw away THE big man in the EU, and for what? For a temporary ratings boost that will go away if the EU doesn’t step up.

    Sorry, but I think you missed the point. All the reasons given work in concert, not for just a ratings boost but to jump start the EU. The Powers That Be are caught in the mindset that Luke needs to save the day; it’s shortsighted and stifling creativity.

    Your reasoning assumes that, with Luke gone, they would magically develop competence and write the younger cast well.

    My reasoning suggests the farthest from this. I suggest you take a breath from the emotional connection to Luke’s character and reread what I said. The fix isn’t magical; it will require hard thinking, hard work, hard planning, and George Lucas insight.

    You can’t just say that people who would walk out aren’t Real Fans.

    You are in fact putting words in my mouth that aren’t there. That’s not what I said.

    If we had a team that was doing things right, we wouldn’t need to worry about killing off a major character for sweeps week. That’s the problem. And they’re not listening very well – I mean, surely the people who are complaining now weren’t, and were never going to be, loyal EU customers anyway.

    Not necessarily. Luke has to die at some point. I think if we had a team in place that was doing things right this would have happened already.

    Who will be the hero after Luke’s gone, anyway?

    This is the same blindered mindset that has gotten the EU in trouble. Ask a kid who just watches The Clone Wars. His/her hero is Anakin Skywalker or Ahsoka or Obi-Wan, maybe even Captain Rex. Some movie fans think Star Wars is Han and Leia. For some the hero of Star Wars are the obscure characters like Kerra Holt, others still think their hero is Mara Jade, Wedge Antilles, Anakin Solo.

    In writing my own stories I’ve learned that you cannot create a universe where the death of one character will make their universe implode. What then are they fighting for? The GFFA is not just Luke Skywalker.

    How would you like Jaina or Leia’s death as a way of grabbing EU fans’ attention?
    P.S. II
    As written by Christie Golden?

    I’m not sure how that question is relevant. I’m proposing a great hero’s death written with the utmost of care. If either death would better Star Wars then I might be hurt, but I’m going to take the line I’ve expected from Luke Skywalker: whatever works for the greater good of the universe. So long as Jaina’s or Leia’s death has meaning and works toward completing their hero arc I’m not opposed to it.

    I’ve actually written Jaina’s death and Jag’s death, so I’m not above it. As a Jaina fan I’d prefer she goes out swinging, but then I’ve had enough experience with the elderly to not wish life without memory, the ability to walk or eat, on anyone, even fictional characters I love.

    Dominic

    But the problem is: what author will have the guts to write the novel let alone the scene?

    Well, there have been a few authors who’ve offered. Don’t forget the NJO was pitched with Luke dying in the opening book.

    If I was writing that novel, I would want to have several meting with George before even trying to write that scene. I might even try get George to write that scene or see if Del Rey could actually get him to write the novel. All in all I agree with you that Luke’s death would really shake the EU and give us those much needed new stories focusing more on newer characters, but to be fair at CV it was announced at the Del Rey panel that we should not expect the deaths of any of the main 3 (Luke, Han, Leia) until George decides how he wants it done.

    I agree one-hundred percent. I can’t be done without Lucas. That’s why I suggested he’d be on the Today show interviews and whatever discussions come out. My dream team would be Stover and Lucas in a room planning this out, with Stover executing it. Revenge of the Sith’s novelization proves they can be a successful pairing.

    Treena

    I have never thought that Luke of the movies was portrayed in the EU novels – apart from “Splinter.” Heir to the Empire left me cold as have all the EU novels I have tried to read, including those set near the times of the movies.

    And there’s the rub for Luke in the EU. Many fans echo your sentiments that the EU Luke isn’t quite the movie Luke.

    Still the thought of him dying in canon fills me with grief. : (

    I understand.

    Nic

    STAR WARS is about heroes. Luke is our hero.

    I’m going to return to what I said to Star Wars Fan above. Luke is some people’s hero. He’s your hero but he’s not everyone’s hero. My nephews don’t even know who Luke is in the scheme of Star Wars.

  • I wanted to say a few things, first of which is that I just found your place and I think it’s really interesting! :)

    But goodness, to find it on this post?! Kill Luke? I’m absolutely horrified! And this is coming from a sixteen year old who just became of a fan of the first three films this year! And LUKE IS ONE OF MY HEROES. Let that be known.

    I must say, though, that I have not read a EU book and I don’t intend too. It’s not really ‘Star Wars’. I’ll except whatever George Lucas does with his creation but I’m not going to be reading extended versions because they’re not written by him. That’s why characters like Mara Jade and the deaths of other characters like Chewie just don’t really exist to me. George Lucas didn’t make her up and he didn’t dictate that Chewie died doing such and such. To me, Mara Jade doesn’t exit and Chewie is alive and breathing. Thank the Lord for that!

    Anyway, I just wanted to state my opinion. :)

    ~Jamie Joyce

  • Mary

    We have already witnessed the deaths of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu and quite a number of other Jedi Masters and Knights as well as non-Jedi, major players like Chewbacca, Mara Jade, and Jacen Solo. Yoda passed into the Force in 1980 and yet thirty years later he remains one of the most enduring characters in the franchise. He continues to permeate the Star Wars universe like no other. Star Wars did not die with him–with any of them. It got bigger.

    Death of a major character serves many basic storytelling purposes. It gives the character’s existence some meaning; an exclamation point at the end of their life statement. It engages and resonates with the readers, eliciting strong emotional responses (as this blog proves) and even more than that, it transforms the plot to move the remaining characters forward. Whether we like it or not, Luke’s death would stimulate fans to wonder what’s going to happen next. If Luke Skywalker died, how will the galaxy cope without him? Will he return to guide Ben or some other Jedi to lead the Order through the Force? The horror of his death would inevitably lessen and curiosity would become a very compelling replacement for a great many fans.

    Death cannot be avoided. To keep all of the A-list characters alive would be unrealistic and, as has already been pointed out, relegating them to lesser, even embarrassing roles, is a disservice to both the characters and Star Wars in general. Yes, I know this is space opera, fantasy, fiction; the authors and editors have the right to choose to make Star Wars a perfect universe where everyone lives happily ever after but it has never been written that way. That galaxy far, far away has always been real and flawed, just like our own. Furthermore, can you name a franchise in which such a eutopia – where no major character dies, ever – exists? I’ll wager you can’t, because publishers know that such a story would be very difficult, if not impossible, to relate to over the long-term. Every story – and character – has an ending. Individual fans will never have all of their personal wishes granted.

    In addition, without the threat of death (e.g., if we knew that every main character would live forever) there would be no risk, excitement, or suspense. We would be left with books full of tedium and predictability.

    I suspect that the idea of Luke Skywalker dying sparks so much revulsion because his is the character most closely akin to ourselves: the ordinary kid who rose far above his day-to-day life to achieve what, for most of us, would be unreachable dreams. If Luke dies, our youthful dreams might die with him. There is a great deal of underlying fear for ourselves in such an emotionally-charged situation. Luke’s death would bring us face-to-face with our own mortality perhaps more than the demise of any other Star Wars character. Sometimes that can be a good thing. It can be a wake-up call: live life to the fullest because some day it will be over. That is unavoidable.

    I would still be terribly sad to see Luke die despite the fact that I, too, believe his character has strayed far from the venerable Jedi leader we had high hopes for as he rebuilt the Order. Luke is our original hero – but there are new generations with skills and gifts who deserve their own opportunities to rise to that title. As long as the Force exists, Luke will exist, whether he is in corporeal form or not. As we have already seen in the Legacy comics, the spirit of Luke Skywalker is powerful. He reaches beyond the veil of the Force a very long time past the end of his life. Of course he does. How could he not? He’s Luke Skywalker.

  • These tags are rather ambiguous, so much apologies if I screw this up.

    Well, there have been a few authors who’ve offered. Don’t forget the NJO was pitched with Luke dying in the opening book.

    Well, yes, but note that Salvatore never returned to the post-Chewbacca world after the death threats he received.

    I like this post- it’s very well thought out, and hits a lot of points that a lot of people are thinking, centered around a point that maybe many of us haven’t thought about enough. Personally, I’ve always envisioned Luke as some sort of Gandalf/Yoda/what have you mix- he functions as a Deux Ex Machina of Badassery and needs to retire other than that.

    • I wonder though how many death threats Lucas has had lofted his way? How many beloved characters has he killed so far…

      There is no accounting for fans who will take ridiculous extremes such as making death threats over a story. That’s a form of bullying and terrorism that no fan should condone. Death is part of the cycle within Star Wars myth, and we sort of have to embrace that to be fans.

      You’re right that Luke is becoming a method by which each peril is defeated, and in doing so the books have actually had him act in ways that don’t seem to some very “Luke Skywalker”-y. What he should be doing is exercising the wisdom to intercede only when necessary and act as guide for a new generation of characters entering their own heroes’ journeys.

  • Rouge77

    Keeping Ben boy down is good enough to keep Luke alive and around. Ben would be basically the only beneficiary of Luke’s death.

    The hopes about Jaina are unrealistic, it would be more “Future Mrs Jagged Fel” Imperial romance hell for her even if Luke would go down. Anakin’s death didn’t change her role in NJO, Jacen’s death might have increased her page count, but did it improve her portrayal, did it increase her role and her importance to plots. No, it didn’t. So why would Luke’s death?

    And there are no other characters that seem likely to be given new room anytime soon thanks to Luke’s death. It would all rain into Ben’s granary. And I would rather see it empty.

    • What you’re really talking about is squandered potential.

      Ben hasn’t been given a very strong arc. He has no friends his age, no generation that he is learning to bond with. He’s been friends with adult men in the GAG and now a Sith girl, and he’s tromping around the galaxy alone with his dad at the very age he should be learning how to interact with people and within a broader social structure.

      Anakin’s death didn’t change Jaina’s role, but it did change her. Jacen’s death only increased her page count in a couple of books, and then it’s dramatically fallen off. But portrayal of her character is a completely different notion than the notion of potential for her character. I think fear of the Future Mrs Fel resides in authors who don’t have very good imaginations when it comes to stories dealing with strong female characters. Marriage or a committed relationship doesn’t tie two people to each other so they are inseparable; that’s not how it works in real life. We have American soldiers fighting in two different theaters of war who remain married and love one another.

      And the lack of other good characters to elevate after Luke’s death falls squarely on the shoulders of the current EU story design. As Lord Iurus said, Luke should be their Yoda, developing them into individuals who can carry stories. Characters like Ben, Jaina, Tahiri, Jag, Tenel Ka, Kyp, Syal, Myri, Jysella, Valin, Lowbacca, Zekk, and Raynar, just to name a few, have a wealth of untapped potential just sitting there waiting to be brought to the surface. Each one of them could have a hero arc, some simultaneously, others individually. There’s just been a lack of imagination.

      The TPTB are like kids who want to play with their favorite toys until they chip them up and damage them so bad they become worthless.

  • Rouge77

    I would speculate that Ben doesn’t have friends – beyond the brief friendship with the Corellian boy in LotF, who got imprisoned by Jacen’s goons – because the authors want to keep him just in the company of adults. To be the leading young male star, not just one – but promising (and a Skywalker) – young Jedi among many. It’s easier to be above you peers in the eyes of readers if you don’t interact with them much, but instead with experienced adults.

    Ben’s the star. The other surviving younger Jedi beyond Jaina are at best supporting minor characters. There’s no indication of any author being interested of developing them in the way a character like Jaden Korr has been by Paul Kemp. And Korr must be close to fifty in his duology, so he’s hardly a threat to Ben.

    When it comes to friends overall, Jaina doesn’t exactly have much in the way of active friendships anymore. Even friendships with surviving characters seem to have faded away to at most brief scenes together now and then. I think it’s just part of Jaina being put in the fringe of the novels, in a niche, and overall in an increasing amount to the shadow of Jagged Fel.

    He’s the one with the set future, “destiny”, he’s the one who has an Imperial flagship named after him in Legacy. Jaina, like rest of the surviving Solos, lacks a legacy, a direction to his character beyond being made into a wife of Jagged Fel and the mother of his children. She could be easily more. Yet, she’s a non-entity in the future which her subplot with Jagged Fel is supposed to create in a great extent. That has to have an effect in FotJ.

    A Jedi Master with an apprentice storyline would be easy enough step forward for her, a subplot about her having an inner fight to overcome because she killed Jacen could be another. But we won’t be getting those. All those possible paths seem to be deliberately closed off. Instead, she seems to be set to be trapped between Jagged Fel’s throne and the cribs of Jagged Fel’s children.

    She should dominate that relationship, being the grand-daughter of Anakin Skywalker and the daughter of Leia and Han, yet the character created as a romantic interest for her in NJO has taken over that relationship thanks to Legacy and the refusal of the authors to use the storyline possibilities for her character.

  • Rouge77

    I seem to have made Jaina a “he” in one sentence in the text above. Sorry about that…

  • [...] on ForceCast By Fangirl, on May 24th, 2011 After last Monday’s blog, Luke Skywalker Must Die, triggered an extended discussion during and after last week’s ForceCast, the show’s [...]

  • Mike

    I have been saying this for years. Actually I would bet dollars to donuts that the final book of the current series ends with his death. I am no fan of FOTJ. Really, the only 2 worth a damn in the series so far have been Outcast and Vortex. Simply put, the best books in the EU of the past decade have been ones that either only peripherally include the main characters, don’t include them at all, or take place years before they were born.

    My only quibbler is your insistence for “strong editorial control” by Lucas over these stories. Full disclosure: I remebber watching Star Wars in the theaters 5 times in the summer of 1977 (at 6 yo). I waited with baited breath for each installment and the excitement I felt when Ep1 came out was only matched my the disappointment I felt after I watched it. He redeemed himself by EP3, not by his atrocious casting, shoddy dialogue (“Yippee), minor bad story decisions ( midochlorians) and major ones (Darth Maul’s early demise, numerous others). The Clone Wars has had some really good moments, but overall it has been slightly disappointing.

    These books work best with a basic outline or an idea, then let the author go nuts. Make sure stuff stays universe-consistent and isn’t repetitive, but I don’t want GLs idea of what I want. To me, the best Star Wars since the original trilogy is the EU. They should get Luceno, Traviss, Kemp, Karpyshan, Michael Reaves and Steve Perry in a room, with Timothy Zahn as the boss, and get those monkeys a typing. A trilogy by those guysthat offed Luke would be epic.

  • JennB

    Just love that you set up some great points here. I’m not a NJO fan, but I can see where you are coming from with this post. It’s very well written, well thought out and really made me think about what has happened to Luke.

    Thanks again!

  • Glenn

    I generally agree with most of your arguments, but disagree that the best solution is Luke’s death. Many of your arguments parallel my arguments for why Ahsoka Tano must die and the sooner the better. It’s just that we don’t know what her fate will be. And this is coming from someone who LIKES Ahsoka. Simply, Luke/Ahsoka’s continued existence is an obstacle to Lucas Books/Lucasfilm telling the stories that I want to read/watch. You want to see more stories focused on Jaina, Ben, etc.; whereas I want more Mace Windu, Shaak Ti, Plo Koon, Aayla Secura, etc.

    But it ignores the reason why it’s a problem. There are so many characters that it’s impossible to do them all justice. What’s really needed is just to change the focus.

    For The Clone Wars, this could be done by focusing more on the Separatists where different sections would be facing different Jedi. Or they could just choose to tell more stories without using Anakin, Ahsoka, or Obi-Wan. In the novels, tell smaller stories. Maybe you’d have a hardcover that tells the next Luke, Ben, Han, Leia, & Allana story. Then, you’d have several paperbacks that tell a Jaina or Tenel Ka or Tahiri story where she might go to Luke for advice, but he’d otherwise not be in the book.

    While I’m sure you’ve gone into the problems of these 9-book arcs, one key problem is that the main story isn’t big enough for nine books. So they end up throwing in all these minor subplots just to give some minor characters something to do without thinking about their characterization or what they might want them to do in the future.

    Nonetheless, since they’ve obliterated the direction they seemed headed in after NJO, it would be useful to plan for Luke’s death, maybe 15 years down the timeline, and generally figure out where they want other characters to be at that point. Then, as they plan out future stories, they have something to build towards, instead of trying to make it all up as they go.

  • Cory

    I have often wondered if the point of the current story arc is to set up what we see in Legacy. Jag is consolidating his power. Political winds are changing within the G.A. We know that Luke will eventually die. If the appearance of his force spirit is any indication it may be soon. Perhaps the point of Ben accompanying his father on this journey is to groom him into taking the spotlight. Just a theory. I’ve come to grips with the fact that Luke will eventually die. What bothers me is how eager you are to see it. Take a look at the last forty years (in universe) and think about where the galaxy would be if there were no Luke Skywalker. Are you sure there isn’t supposed to be a “Darth” in front of your name?

    • I have often wondered if the point of the current story arc is to set up what we see in Legacy. Jag is consolidating his power. Political winds are changing within the G.A.

      Quite possible. Then again the FotJ team promised in one of their first panels to tack against the wind.

      Perhaps the point of Ben accompanying his father on this journey is to groom him into taking the spotlight. Just a theory.

      I’d agree. As a fan I just have a hard time buying that they’ve given Ben enough relationships to tie his personal struggle to the fate of the universe. Heroes fight for people, and their dad. Right now his journey is tied up with two people. I’m not saying they can’t make it work but a lot of fans are struggling with the process.

      What bothers me is how eager you are to see it. Take a look at the last forty years (in universe) and think about where the galaxy would be if there were no Luke Skywalker.

      The Jedi Order once put all their faith in the Chosen One. It’s a dangerous path to pin the hopes of the galaxy on one man; he’s human after all.

      Are you sure there isn’t supposed to be a “Darth” in front of your name?

      Part of writing is experiencing the epic failures, and even deaths of your favorite characters. So, no I’m not afraid to embrace Luke’s mortality. After Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Yoda, me thinks George Lucas has a little Darth in him too.

  • Hi. My friend sent me this article. (It’s very well written btw).
    I do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT agree. Luke CANNOT die. I can see how you may think it would get new fans, but wouldn’t it also LOSE a TON of Original Trilogy fans?!? Or crazy fangirls (like me) who love Luke to pieces and would hate to see him die like his awesome wife Mara Jade Skywalker?!? And if they can kill Luke, the savior of the galaxy, Grand Master of the New Jedi Order, X-Wing Pilot, first of the new Jedi, the last to train with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda, the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, brother, father, and friend, what’s to say they won’t kill Han Solo next?!? Or even worse, Leia Organa Solo?!?!?!?!!!? i love Jaina Solo, but I despise that they killed Anakin Solo so fast.
    You say that Jaina and others could tell their own stories, yet I think so many stories in the Star Wars EU have been cut short. Namely MARA JADE SKYWALKER. (And Anakin Solo). If Luke died, in my opinion, Star Wars in general would die as well. From my experience, people who haven’t watched Star Wars, or are mild fans know three things. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and that Darth Vader breathes heavy and is Luke’s father. If they KILL Luke, then a bunch of little boys (and girls) will be very upset. Including me.
    Luke Skywalker is an ICON. He’s like….the original. You can’t kill the original. He was the hero of the Original Trilogy, with Han and Leia. Han, Leia and Luke can’t die. Star Wars is known for killing their characters. The least they can do is not kill the Original Trilogy characters.
    I understand that Luke’s been technically dead because the whole Cade Skywalker thing, but I think that situation could really just keep the mystery and suspense, leaving it where you don’t find out how Luke dies, because it really ruins the magic of Star Wars for a lot of fans. I’ve recently come to love Luke a lot more, thanks to Fanfiction and the Original Trilogy, and now that I’ve discovered his wife Mara Jade, I’ve fallen in love with their relationship. It pained me to find out that Mara dies, and then I read how Mara dies…..and I cried. For Luke.
    I got to ‘meet’ Luke Skywalker at Star Wars Weekends in Disney World this year and fell in love with him all the more. If Luke dies, I think it would honestly change the way I view the EU, and possibly Star Wars in general. I’m tired of them killing so many of the major characters……I think that for once they need happy stories. There’s been too much war, too much tragedy, and I don’t want to see it happen with Luke, or Leia or Han for that matter. Sorry for going on and on, but I had to explain my feelings on this. Luke is too awesome to kill. ;)

    As my friend Leia said, “Guess I know what side of the argument you’re on.”
    Thanks.
    May the Force be with you,
    Pink Five

  • [...] Here’s the original blog post: Luke Skywalker Must Die [...]

  • [...] and unique and return visitors, since I launched FANgirl Blog.  That’s in part due to the Luke Skywalker Must Die post, which generated a lot of discussion. And that was the point. The broader base of EU fans was [...]

  • [...] home from Star Wars Weekends I realized that I was getting a lot of hits (not having to do with Luke Skywalker Must Die) from somewhere. After a little investigative work, I found multiple links to the blog in the [...]

  • [...] of Coruscant in flames. Could it be the last stand of the great Luke Skywalker? Could my blog Luke Skywalker Must Die, and my guest appearance on the ForceCast, really have been that prescient? Some fans on Facebook [...]

  • [...] is going to be happy with the conclusion, but I knew that going into the development of the Luke Skywalker Must Die blog. I’m a writer at heart. First I told stories in my head. Later I realized other fans write [...]

  • [...] and I hope the Powers That Be do more market research such as listening to the discussion about the Luke Skywalker Must Die blog and reaching into communities such as the TFN Fanfiction Resource so they can understand what [...]

  • [...] Follow-up to Luke Skywalker Must Die By Fangirl, on June 23rd, 2011 In May, my blog post Luke Skywalker Must Die generated a lot of discussion within the fandom, and even caught the attention of the guys on the [...]

  • Jonathan

    I agree, Luke will have to die in the EU. The question is when and who writes it? Out of the current authors it would pretty much have to be Timothy Zahn. I have little confidence that anyone else could do it justice.

  • [...] especially after a blogger claimed that Luke Skywalker, who many consider the face of Star Wars, must die in a Star Wars EU novel. This prompted some very heated discussion amongst many people on podcasts [...]

  • [...] May 16, a Star Wars EU fan named Tricia wrote an article entitled “Luke Skywalker Must Die” which summarized five reasons why she believed that the EU would benefit from killing off the [...]

  • Adrian

    Similar to a younger fan that commented before that doesn’t follow the Expanded Universe, I tend to pick and choose. I could be wrong but I do believe Lucas has stated before that he has his universe and the authors have theirs. And while I could criticize his prequel stories plenty, I will say that I’ll follow his direct ideas more than the ideas of these authors, who cannot get on the same page with one another and who are allowed to write in his universe. Unless it’s his, it seems like all he does is say yes or no in passing and then doesn’t really care what they do with the EU because he knows that it’s different from his universe. That said, he’s not above criticism either.

    Personally, I think a reboot is necessary at this point. I know it would anger many fans who have invested their time and money into the Expanded Universe, but I think that it’s now the best time. Start over, learn from the mistakes they’ve made here, and try to create something that is better organized, more characteristic, and consistent. I know people tend to not like the “reboot” word, but many seem to like the new Bond, Batman, and Star Trek films just fine.

    Do I think Luke should be killed? I don’t know. Would it bother me? Not really. As you’ve mentioned, it would be fine if it were done right. Hell, the DC Universe’s reboot is coming next month and I personally am more interested than insulted. But with all the wrong the authors have done thus far, I can’t say I’d really trust them to do it right, even with Lucas involved. While he’s the guy that ultimately decides these things, his ideas for the prequels weren’t exactly considered “right” by many fans.

    You write great articles and it was an interesting to read, but I don’t know if I agree with it or not. Either way, have a good one.

    • Adrian, thanks for the kind words about the articles. “Reboot” makes me cringe, but I understand why some people would want that. I still think Star Trek hasn’t proven itself yet as a successful comprehensive reboot (although I did love it). On the other hand, the newer Batman movies are far more enjoyable (even in their grittiness). Anyway, you’re spot on about them needing to create something “better organized, more characteristic, and consistent.”

  • Shawn

    I don’t think the Luke character is broken beyond repair or anything, but he is getting old (all of us change with age) and since no one lives forever obviously Luke Skywalker will die. The only question is when and how. Does he die of natural causes fading into the force as Yoda did? Does he go out in a blaze of glory like Anakin Solo and Chewbacca or is it more subdued sacrifice like Obi-Wan Kenobi? Maybe something different entirely; imagine how much more menacing a Star Wars villain that could kill Luke would be – maybe that could be the impetus that really launches Ben’s Jedi career.

    If he were to die of natural causes it would give the EU much more time with him and offers the prospect of gradual evolution to the younger characters: Jaina, Ben, Vestara, Tahiri, Tenal Ka, and Allana. However, we would also probably be given scenes of a 96 year old Luke participating in light saber duels, etc. Therefore, I agree with your assertion that he needs to die sooner rather than later because the temptation to use him as a warrior instead of a teacher would be too great.

    That said I prefer subdued sacrifice or actually being defeated by a truly magnificent villain. Subdued sacrifice we could see him joining the force (as Obi-Wan did) to spur Ben into his own. If it were a villain it would have to be a villain better than any yet created in EU. I’m thinking a Voldemort like prodigy coming up through the Jedi ranks (to bad Jacen’s dead) and going Sith killing Luke and sending the other Jedi into hiding perhaps. They could get a ton of mileage out of such a character building him or her up, turning to the dark side, and then being defeated by Ben and company in the climax.

    Regardless of how Luke is sent into the force to rejoin Mara some work has to be done on the other characters to groom them (as is mentioned above) and probably some new characters need to get created. I don’t think the eldritch abomination is going to kill him in this series so after FOTJ is done I would hope they would discontinue the huge story arcs of recent years for a time in favor of smaller sets featuring the youngsters more prominently.

    During NJO Jacen and Jaina both pretty much got their own books. Ben is probably a strong enough character for that now (or will be at the end of FOTJ) and Jaina needs another. Then when the other characters have been built up sufficiently start a massive set containing Luke’s departure.

    Of course that then begs the question; do Leia and Han go with him?

  • Hi, Shawn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can’t believe this post still gets feedback, but I love seeing how others react or feel.

    As to your question, I think Han and Leia get to enjoy their old age, for a lot of storytelling reasons. Han’s got the odds, (and just because Harrison wanted him to die in the movies Han should live to be an old man.) Leia seems to be the invincible one. There has to be someone other than Ben who really mourns and understands Luke’s sacrifice (because that’s the only way I see him going down.) Ben will still need someone who knows who his father was and to provide stability for his growth as a Jedi. Someone needs to dote on the grandkids, and Ben’s kids. I could go on…

  • John

    I think you’re overstating the “erosion of Luke’s values”. He makes hard decisions because age has taught him numerous lessons. He isn’t that ignorant farmboy anymore.

  • Zach

    I believe it was Yoda who tried to convince Luke to sacrifice his friends for the greater good. The wisest decisions, especially those dealing with such a grand scale as in the Star Wars Universe, are made without emotional attachment, hence the Jedi tenets in the first place.

    Certainly Luke has to die eventually, but I disagree it needs to be any time soon. His age is not relevant to the argument, considering a devoted active warrior one with a supernatural power like the Force should have no problem staying spry. In another decade or two I could see him taking on a teaching role such as Yoda did, which will allow him to guide more characters into prominent roles. The main problem facing the Star Wars EU is escalation. To read about the same galactic civil wars over and over again would get pretty damn boring, so the ante had to be upped. The result is an ‘ultimate ancient being of the dark side’, Abeloth. The Sith Tribe may as well not even be in the story considering their complete lack of threat to date. The two options for defeating Abeloth are a single more powerful person or the collaboration of many less powerful persons, the former being the simpler story to write and Luke being the obvious choice. To go the latter method would require a lot more planning, writing, editing and time, resulting in even longer gaps between books and less sales. And if the prequels have proven anything it’s that the Star Wars franchise is willing to forgo planning, writing and editing in favor of profit. Timothy Zahn was a lucky son of a bitch to have first crack at truly expanding the universe, he had barely anything else but the original movies to consider.

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  • Scotty

    Great post. Back in the halcyon days of Zahn, Allston, and Storylines-That-Actually-Respected-Their-Readers, I spent every free dollar on the EU. I counted down the days until new releases, checked TFN religiously, and theorized about characters’ motivations and upcoming plot twists.

    Then came the NJO. THEN came Dark Nest. THEN came LoTF…. and you know what? I decided that watching authors systematically destroying what I had loved with insipid, lazy writing was not a privilege I cared to indulge in. Short of Traviss’s books and a brief bloom of Allston, Star Wars had become dead to me.

    Writing takes passion, time, and — above all — dedication to internal story structure and characterization. As a journalist, I spend a good chunk of my life writing, and doing the laborious legwork needed BEFORE the first word hits the page. With the exception of Karen Traviss’s work (which abandoned the tiring Star Wars trope so mangled by recent works, to my mind for the better), none of these authors seem to respect their readership enough to invest that requisite effort into their own work. For shame.

    Now, if only we could have a trilogy written by writers who actually RESPECT their profession… I’d even give Luke’s death a thumbs-up if it would be written by Stover, sandwiched between some vintage Zahn and perhaps some Traviss. Or – you know what? Give the man the whole trilogy himself.

    I’ll even take out my wallet again.

  • rae

    Luke must not die, he’s so good and true
    he stands for hope, and goodness :)
    hes so cute, it would make a crazy get wrenching twist though… no i dont want him to die!

  • [...] Sneak Peek art preview post vaulted right to the number one all-time most-hits blog, passing Luke Skywalker Must Die after just a couple weeks. I had a chance to preview the book early, and I really liked it. Look [...]

  • Sean

    Great post. I don’t think killing Luke is the answer. The problem with Luke is, he’s been skating towards the dark side for quite awhile. What I would love to see, is a book about the fight for his soul. I would love to see all the people around him voice some of the same criticism to him in-world that we see here. Jaina should be angry beyond belief at him for sending her to kill her own brother instead of doing it himself. Who does that?! and so many of his other decisions too. Luke has been given a pass. He needs to have those around him check his ass and set him straight.

    Now THAT would be an interesting read. Will Luke come back to himself? Or will he find himself fighting the very order he recreated? As an aside, George Lucas needs to look at these irritating, parasitic sycophants surrounding him, enabling his every poor decision about his empire, which includes not just the books, but any future films, the live-action series that’s been talked about, and the video games as well, and fire all their sorry asses and start with new blood. This franchise suffers from old thinking and, frankly, bad writing in many cases. Invigorating this franchise is east if bold moves are made, if not, then you may as well kill all the old crew because it won’t matter. Mr. Lucas needs to shake this whole thing up. It isn’t working.

    I hope he does.

  • [...] protagonists – Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé – are dead. Heading into the Sequel Trilogy, the fate of Luke, Leia, and Han is very much in [...]

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  • Andrew

    Found this linked at TVtropes, and was impressed. However, if anything you don’t go far enough. Luke Skywalker must die. Leia Organa must die. Han Solo must die. At the very least they need to be put to pasture and only trotted out rarely and carefully.

    I read EU books for almost a decade. At one point I’d probably read well over 75% of the books out there and eagerly awaited each new release. Nowdays I haven’t touched a Star Wars novel in over a year, and haven’t even caught up on the latest developments on the Wook. I loved both the NJO and the LOTF series, but by the third book of FOTJ I was done. The Jedi order was still helpless without Luke’s guidance. Han and Leia still flew around saving the day in the Falcon exactly like they did 20 years ago. The Republic/GA/whatever they’re calling it still picked up the idiot ball and ran with it.

    Don’t get me wrong; I love Luke, Han, and Leia, but they’ve become crutches for the EU. Their presence is crowding out both the other jedi and their own children. They’ve played mentor to two generations of new heroes, but instead of the old generation making way for and being surpassed by the new, the kids were either killed off or shoved aside because the authors are either unwilling or unable to kill or sideline the movie cast. There’s a reason that the old mentor typically dies; there’s little room for that sort of character to grow. As a result, the latest EU books are simply stagnant.

    I can understand the reluctance to kill them off. The fandom in general is greatly attached to them. But still, train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose you must.

  • [...] Here’s the original blog post: Luke Skywalker Must Die [...]

  • [...] Only one character comes to mind that really reached for the heroic high-bar of Luke Skywalker, and that is Ahsoka – who was created by George Lucas and Dave Filoni, then gone too soon with the sale to Disney. A truly well-designed hero is incredibly hard to create, which may be why so many storytellers don’t even try. It’s safe to play with the same old characters, but they don’t and can’t all hold up like Obi-Wan. The danger of playing with the favorites it that they can easily become weathered and worn beyond recognition so even the fans are begging to have them put out of their misery. [...]

  • [...] as Episode VII’s saber-wielding Qui-Gon. (Don’t get nervous now. I’m not saying Luke Skywalker Must Die in Episode VII.) On my list of favorite things from the movies you will find the Duel of the [...]

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