Return of the Jedi is a 1983 science fiction film. It it the third film to be released in the Star Wars saga, and the sixth in terms of chronology. In the epic conclusion to the saga, Luke Skywalker and friends travel to Tatooine to rescue their friend Han Solo from the vile Jabba the Hutt. The Empire prepares to crush the Rebellion with a more powerful Death Star, while the Rebel fleet mounts a massive attack on the space station. Luke Skywalker confronts his father, Darth Vader, in a final climactic duel before the evil Emperor.

A sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released on December 18, 2015.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

The opening crawl reveals that the Galactic Empire has been working on the construction of a new armored space station which is to be even more powerful than the first Death Star. Returning from Coruscant, Darth Vader arrives on the station, where he terrorizes the station commander into doubling his efforts. Vader reveals that the Emperor himself will be visiting the station, in order to oversee the station's final construction stages. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker and his friends return to Tatooine in an attempt to rescue Han Solo from the gangster Jabba the Hutt. R2-D2 and C-3PO arrive at Jabba's palace with a holographic message from Luke that unsuccessfully pleads for Jabba to release Han Solo, who is held prisoner in carbonite. In the middle of the night, Princess Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter named Boussh, removes her disguise and frees Solo from the carbonite, only to be discovered and captured by Jabba. Jabba has Han thrown into the dungeons, where he meets up with Chewbacca, who was also imprisoned earlier, while Jabba makes Leia his slave girl. The next morning Luke arrives to make one final plea to Jabba to release Solo. Luke is dropped into the pit of the rancor monster, where he outsmarts and kills it by crushing it under a huge door. As punishment, Jabba sends Luke and his friends to the Great Pit of Carkoon to be slowly consumed by the Sarlacc. While on the journey to the Sarlacc, Luke talks to Han of how he lived in the desert before leaving with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, on board the Sail Barge, Jabba pulls Leia to him, who is now dressed in a metal bikini as a sign of her enslavement, and says that soon she would learn to appreciate him, then forces her to drink from his cup. When they arrive at the Sarlacc Pit, with the help of R2-D2, Luke retrieves his new lightsaber, and a large battle erupts, in which Jabba the Hutt is killed by Leia, and Boba Fett is knocked into the Sarlacc pit. Luke and crew escape just before Jabba's sail barge explodes.

Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training, but Yoda is ill and says no further training is required. Before dying, Yoda tells Luke that all that remains to be done is to confront Darth Vader, whom Yoda confirms is indeed Luke's father. Yoda also informs Luke that after his passing, Luke will be the last of the Jedi. Later, the spirit form of Obi-Wan Kenobi appears, and confirms that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a former Jedi who turned to the dark side. It is also revealed that Princess Leia is Luke's twin sister, hidden from Anakin and separated at birth to protect them both from the Emperor. At the rendezvous point, near the planet Sullust, the Rebel Alliance discusses the plan to attack the new Death Star. The rebels have decoded and analyzed the Death Star plans, and have devised a strategy for an attack. As part of the attack, Luke and his companions must infiltrate the defenses surrounding the shield generator on the moon of Endor and deactivate the shield that protects the Death Star. On Endor, Luke and his companions are discovered by scout troopers, but they manage to escape following a speeder bike chase through the forest. They later encounter a tribe of Ewoks, indigenous forest creatures of Endor. Taking advantage of the Ewoks' deification of C-3PO (whose protocol abilities also allow him to communicate with them) the Rebels forge an alliance with the forest creatures, who agree to join the fight against the Empire. Later, Luke decides that the time has come for him to face Darth Vader. He confesses to Leia the truth about her and Vader, and that he has to try to save the man who was once his father. He surrenders peacefully to Vader, and unsuccessfully tries to convince his father to abandon the dark side. The Sith Lord, for the first time in the original trilogy, seems to regret his own fall from grace. They go to the Death Star and meet the Emperor, who reveals that the Rebel Alliance is falling into a trap that he had prepared. This leads to the climactic end of the film with three plot lines running simultaneously: Luke facing Darth Vader in the second Death Star's throne room in the presence of the Emperor, a ground battle on the Endor moon between Imperial forces and the Rebels and their Ewok allies, and a huge space battle between the Rebel and Imperial fleets above the moon.

Later on the forest moon, the Rebels enter the shield generator control facility, only to be taken prisoner by waiting Imperial forces. Solo and company are led out of the bunker, but the Ewoks then spring a surprise attack (possibly at C3P0's behest). A battle begins with the Rebels and Ewoks against the Empire. The Rebel fleet emerges from hyperspace for the battle over Endor, only to discover that the shield of the Death Star is still functioning. An intense battle takes place as the Imperial fleet engages in a holding action to prevent the Rebels from retreating into space, while the Rebel fleet battles to give the surface party more time to complete their mission of deactivating the Death Star's shield. During the battle, the Death Star is revealed to be operational; its superlaser is fired at the Rebel fleet and obliterates two Rebel star cruisers. Meanwhile, on the forest moon of Endor, Chewie and two Ewoks take over control of an Imperial walker, and use it to turn the ground battle in the favor of the Rebels. Also in the midst of battle, Leia is wounded by a blaster shot, followed by a role reversal of the famous exchange at the The Empire Strikes Back carbonite scene, with Han telling Leia "I love you" and Leia replying "I know" before she blasts a couple of stormtroopers who were about to capture them.

On the Death Star, Palpatine tempts Luke to give in to his anger. A ferocious duel erupts between Luke and his father. In the midst of combat, Vader reads Luke's feelings and learns that Luke has a twin sister. When Vader brings up the idea of turning Leia to the dark side instead of Luke, Luke gives in to his anger and gains the upper hand in the battle, cutting off Vader's robotic arm in a rage. However, despite the Emperor's goading, Luke refuses to kill his father, realizing that he is traveling down his father's path towards the dark side. He declares himself a Jedi. Seeing that Luke cannot be swayed, the Emperor uses Force lightning against him to deliver the final blow. Deeply affected by the sight of his son dying, Anakin Skywalker repents and turns on the Emperor by throwing him down a reactor shaft. The Emperor's Force lightning causes fatal injuries to Anakin, damaging his breathing system. Knowing that there is no hope for his own survival, Anakin asks Luke to take his mask off. Luke removes the helmet, revealing the pale and scarred face of his father. Anakin, looking onto his son for the first and last time, says Luke was right about him, and asks Luke to tell his sister so. With those final words, Anakin dies.

Once the strike team finally destroys the shield generator, the Rebel fleet seizes the opportunity to launch a final assault on the Death Star. Lando Calrissian leads Wedge Antilles and his fighter group into the bowels of the Death Star and they fire at the main reactor, causing its collapse. Luke, with the body and armor of Anakin, escapes the Death Star in an Imperial shuttle. Moments later, Wedge in his X-Wing and Lando in the Falcon emerge from the Death Star as well, just as the Death Star explodes. Back on Endor, Leia reassures Han Solo of her love and explains that Luke is actually her brother, thereby resolving the awkwardness of their romance. That evening, Luke cremates the remains of his father in a funeral pyre on Endor, according to the Jedi custom. The entire galaxy celebrates the death of the Emperor and the major Rebel victory against the Empire. It is a major turning point in the Galactic Civil War, which will ultimately lead to the fall of the Empire and the formation of the New Republic. Back on Endor, Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, and the rest of the rebellion, along with the Ewoks, celebrate the victory as well. Amidst the celebration on the forest moon, Luke catches sight of the spirit figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker, who are staring proudly back at him, as balance has finally been restored to the Force, in accordance with the prophecy of the Chosen One detailed in the prequels.

All spoilers have been stated and have ended here.


  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. A Jedi Knight in his own belief, Luke has, in the year since his encounter with Vader at Cloud City, been searching for his lost friend, Han Solo.
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader at Bespin, Han Solo is freed by Princess Leia, only to be sentenced to death by his "owner", Jabba the Hutt.
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. A former princess from Alderaan, Leia has been aiding Luke in his search for Han.
  • David Prowse and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader. Lord Vader has been relentlessly continuing his search for Skywalker, but he is set off course when the Emperor sends him to Endor, to oversee the construction of the new Death Star, and to be prepared the voice.
  • Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine, ruler of the Galactic Empire, has been pleased by the success of the Imperial offensive, and the plight of the Rebel Alliance. He now plans to destroy the Alliance with the new Death Star and turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2. R2-D2 is Luke Skywalker's astromech droid.
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. Chewbacca is Han Solo's Wookiee co-pilot.
  • Kenneth Colley as Admiral Piett. Piett, being one of the few officers under Vader's command to survive his wrath, commands the Imperial Fleet at Endor, from H.I.M.S. Executor but meets his end when his ship is destroyed.
  • Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi. Struck down by Vader four years ago, Kenobi continues to offer guidance to Luke as a Jedi Spirit.
  • Frank Oz as Yoda. After 800 years of training Jedi, Yoda finally prepares to resign, and become one with the Force.
  • Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles. Wedge is now the leader of Rogue Squadron, and he prepares to aid General Calrissian in the fighter attack on the Death Star.
  • Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is the repressed "goodness" in Darth Vader. Sebastian Shaw was replaced by Hayden Christensen in the 2004 DVD release of the film (although Shaw remains in the film as the unmasked Vader).
  • Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett. Fett, after capturing and delivering Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, stays on at the crime lord's palace, purely out of interest.


Filming began on January 11, 1982 and ended on May 20, 1982. The film's director was the late Richard Marquand, who died in 1997 of a heart ailment. Some reports have suggested that George Lucas was so heavily involved in the shooting of Return of the Jedi that he could be considered a second or a co-director. It is likely that he directed much of the second unit work personally as the shooting threatened to go over schedule and this is a function Lucas had willingly performed on previous occasions when he had only officially been producing a film. (i.e. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, More American Graffiti). Lucas himself has only ever gone as far as admitting (in the documentary Empire of Dreams) that he had often to be on the set due to Marquand's relative inexperience with special effects. Comments by The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner on that film's DVD audio commentary track suggests that Lucas had a much larger role on the production of Return of the Jedi than is often thought.

Commentators have noted the differences between Richard Marquand's direction style and Lucas' direction style and say that they're greatly dissimilar; arguing that Marquand was a much more orthodox director than Lucas, less interested in using light and creating space. For comparison purposes, one could consider Jabba's palace in this film and the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Jabba's throne room was a bigger set, but appears smaller onscreen because of the way it was shot. Marquand's other work, such as Eye of the Needle is, like much of Return of the Jedi more concerned with traditional midshot/dialogue/reaction shot sequences and rarely ventures into the very wide angles one associates with Lucas. Marquand also uses a more straightforward 'moving camera' style, whereas Lucas alternates between large, classical and abstract tableau compositions (often involving vertical lines) and a cinema verite approach to film, using hand-held cameras during action sequences.

The screenplay was written by Lawrence Kasdan and Lucas (with uncredited contributions by David Webb Peoples and Marquand), based on Lucas' story. Howard Kazanjian served as producer. The film was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi. However, a few weeks before the film's premiere, George Lucas changed the title, stating revenge could not be used because Jedi do not seek revenge. Some speculate that George Lucas had planned to call the film Return of the Jedi all along, and only used "Revenge" as a means to throw off merchandise counterfeiters. However, the original teaser trailer for the film still carried this moniker. It has also been claimed that the original title of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was originally The Vengeance of Khan, and that the title was changed because of its similarity to Revenge of the Jedi. 20th Century Fox is said to have had to throw out a large chunk of PR material (posters, fliers and the likes) due to Lucas changing his mind last minute. The prequels would denote such an action as being against the strict Jedi code. This rationale is hinted at in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, where Anakin Skywalker seeks revenge against the Tusken Raiders for the death of his mother, beginning his path to the dark side of the Force. The 2005 prequel trilogy film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith would later allude to the dismissed title of Return of the Jedi.

The working title of the project was Blue Harvest and dubbed "Horror Beyond Imagination" to engender no interest whatsoever in the film. This would disguise what the production crew was really filming from fans and the prying eyes of the press. George Lucas had severed all his remaining ties to the Hollywood system out of a feeling of persecution after the success of The Empire Strikes Back and had become a truly independent filmmaker. According to producer Howard Kazanjian in the documentary Empire of Dreams, the fact that Lucasfilm is a non-union company made acquiring shooting locations more difficult and more expensive, even though A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back were mammoth hits.

This is the first film to bear the THX label.

The first two Star Wars movies were adapted for National Public Radio in the early 1980s, but it was not until 1996 that a radio version of Return of the Jedi was heard. George Lucas included the scene in which Yoda confirms that Darth Vader is Luke's father because, after a discussion with a children's psychologist, he didn't want younger moviegoers to dismiss Vader's claim as a lie. Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett) is the only actor to play the same Imperial officer in two Star Wars films. Originally, George Lucas did not plan for Piett to make a return. However, a large amount of fan mail convinced him otherwise; while they were filming the Tatooine scenes, he wrote a few lines of dialogue for Piett. This is the only film in the original trilogy in which Denis Lawson's name is spelled correctly in the ending credits. In the other films, his name is misspelled "Dennis". A legend among fans holds that Lando and the Millennium Falcon were originally scripted to perish in the Death Star explosion. However, Lando was always intended to escape the Death Star, as has been evidenced in past scripts for the movie. The legend had been fueled by the fact that before the Death Star attack, Han tells Leia that he has a feeling he isn't going to see his ship again. The word "Ewok" is never mentioned in the film. It is only mentioned in the end credits. The 1997 CD-ROM Star Wars: Behind the Magic confirms that the sequence showing the cremation of Vader's body/armour was directed by Lucas himself. This film, though rated "PG," contains brief nudity in the first part of the film, when Jabba's Twi'lek slave attempts to escape by pulling on the chain. She jerks upward, and her right breast flies up from the costume. (It should also be noted that the rating PG-13 did not exist until 1984). In the original script, when Obi-Wan Kenobi explains what happened to both Luke and Leia after their birth, the character we now know as Padmé was said to have survived and became a handmaiden to Bail Organa's wife, secretly raising Leia as her own child. She later died three or four years after the birth. However, this part was reportedly deleted to shorten the scene because Lucas did not think it was necessary for the plot at the time. George Lucas reportedly took over direction with Irvin Kershner's former assistant toward the end of production, reportedly because the actors weren't responding well to director Richard Marquand. The working relationship between George Lucas and Marquand was said to be bad, and that the main camera operator left the project because he felt Lucas was mistreating Marquand. In his audio commentary for the 1999 film, however, Lucas, insists that he and Marquand had a good working relationship and went so far as to praise Marquand for being a very nice guy who was good with actors. Harrison Ford suggested that Han Solo sacrifice his life to save his friends in order to give the film more emotional weight, but George Lucas disagreed with him. David Lynch, with a Best Director nomination for the 1980 film The Elephant Man was approached by Lucas to helm Return of the Jedi, but he declined and went on to direct Dune. George Lucas originally intended for his friend Steven Spielberg to direct the film. In the celebration scene on Coruscant, a person can be heard yelling "The son of the suns!" This is a reference to a line from the Journal of the Whills that was originally planned to precede the original Star Wars film. The line originally read "And in a time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as 'The Son of the Suns.'" Although George Lucas originally intended Boba Fett to die in ROTJ upon falling into the Sarlaac, he has recently stated that he doesn't have a problem with Fett surviving, as the EU has shown. Robotic mime & music duo Tik and Tok played J'Quille the Whiphid and Saeltmarae (Yakface). In the final scene, when the ships are flying over Coruscant, a statue in the distance falls over. The statue is assumed to be Palpatine.


Return of the Jedi was released on May 25, 1983. With a massive worldwide marketing campaign, Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan created the iconic and distinctive images for the movie posters and other advertising. (In the film's release poster, Luke Skywalker is depicted holding a blue lightsaber - a lightsaber colour that does not appear in the film. His new lightsaber is green - although it is blue in one trailer, suggesting the decision to make it green was taken late in production. In fact, the decision was made to make Luke's blade contrast with the blue sky of Tatooine and make it more visible during the skirmish at Carkoon.) Some of the early merchandise for the film bore the title "Revenge of the Jedi." At the time of its release, the film was advertised by simply its subtitle, despite its episode distinction. This was evident on release posters and merchandise. The film became commonly known by its subtitle, and is still often referred to by this in the present day. The film was re-released to theaters in 1985, and in 1997 for the Special Edition.

Special Edition

Along with the other two films of his original Trilogy, George Lucas issued a Special Edition of Return of the Jedi in 1997, making a number of changes and additions, which included the replacement of music from a scene at Jabba's palace as well as the closing scene. However, compared to the amount of changes in Hope and Empire, this has the least amount of changes because, as Lucas says in the audio commentary, the film is more emotionally driven than the others.

20th Century Fox / Lucasfilm Ltd

Return of the Jedi Variant Logos as 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd


The novelization of Return of the Jedi was written by James Kahn. It contains many scenes that were deleted from the final cut, but certain assertions have been superseded by the prequel trilogy. For example, Kahn writes that Owen Lars is the brother of Obi-Wan Kenobi while in Episode II he is shown to be the stepbrother of Anakin Skywalker. Also, here the Force ghost of Obi-Wan reveals that he was able to hide Luke and Leia from Anakin because he did not know that his wife was pregnant when he "left", presumably when he became Vader. In Episode III, Anakin does know about Padmé's pregnancy, but one may infer that Vader will believe the baby (not twins) to be dead, along with his wife. Also in the novelization is that, Obi-Wan took Padmé and baby Leia to Alderaan after the birth of the twins. Han Solo makes reference to Luke Skywalker's initial impression of the Millennium Falcon, calling it "the fastest hunk of junk in the fleet." However, in the film, Solo refers to it simply as "the fastest ship in the fleet."

Another facet of the story which was made more clear in the novel was the confusion which overtook the Imperial forces upon the death of Palpatine, who ceased to be the guiding will animating the Empire. It also further supports the events depicted in all post-Return of the Jedi fiction.

Radio drama

A radio children adaptation of the film was written by Brian Daley and was produced for and broadcast on National Public Radio in 1996.

DVD release

Anakin Skyawalker, how he appeared in both, the 1982, 1997, 1999 versions

Return of the Jedi was released on DVD on September 21, 2004. It was bundled with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, along with a bonus disc in a boxed set. It was digitally restored and remastered, with more changes made by George Lucas, detailed in List of changes in Star Wars re-releases. The bonus disc included, according to the official site, "all-new bonus features, including the most comprehensive feature-length documentary ever produced on the Star Wars saga, and never-before-seen footage from the making of all three films." The DVD also featured English subtitles, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround sound, and commentaries by George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. For the bonus disk, there were documentaries including Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy and several featurettes including The Legendary Creatures of Star Wars, The Birth of the Lightsaber, The Legacy of Star Wars. Also included were teasers, trailers, TV spots, still galleries, and several video game demos.

With the release of Revenge of the Sith, which depicts how and why Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side of the Force, George Lucas once again altered Return of the Jedi to strengthen the relationship between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. In Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is played by Hayden Christensen. However, in the original and Special Edition version of Return of the Jedi, renowned British theatre actor David Prowse played both the dying Anakin Skywalker and his ghost. In the DVD release, Anakin's ghost has become a young man, played by Hayden Christensen. In addition to this, several comical alien band members have been inserted into Jabba's throne room. Changes such as these have drawn considerable fan criticism directed at George Lucas, and incited more vehement cases of the reactionary criticism known as Lucas bashing, although several of the newer generation's fans are in favor of the change.

The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set that did not feature the bonus disc.

2006 Limited Edition

All three films in the original Star Wars Trilogy have since been released, individually, on DVD, each compiled with its theatrical release cut as well as the 1997 DVD special edition. These versions were only available from September 12, 2006 to December 31, 2006. Although the 1997 version in these set all feature an audio commentary, no other special features were included to commemorate the original cuts. As well as this over complaints arouse about the quality of the DVD transfer, speculating that they were simply copied from Laserdisc versions of the trilogy and not the original masters.

Critical reception

The film received critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes rates it 82% "Certified Fresh". The site's consensus reads "Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy."]