This post contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker retcons The Last Jedi’s ending and Luke Skywalker’s heroic sacrifice. Whether intentional or not, a number of Rise of Skywalker plot points feel like calculated rebukes to some of The Last Jedi’s most divisive creative choices. Instead of Rey being the abandoned child of two nameless drunks, she’s the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine and the latest descendant in an all-powerful bloodline. After Rose Tico went on the mission to Canto Bight with Finn and was set up as the fourth member of the main group, she was curiously relegated into the background. It’s no secret Luke’s portrayal in The Last Jedi was extremely controversial, and The Rise of Skywalker backtracks on a number of key aspects.

Considering Luke’s Last Jedi character arc, it isn’t surprising he has a much different attitude during his interaction with Rey in The Rise of Skywalker. But there are other Luke-related elements that don’t add up. For instance, it doesn’t make sense that Luke’s X-wing (which was confirmed to be destroyed) is fully functional, and his holding on to Leia’s lightsaber is odd as well. But one of the more eyebrow-raising Luke retcons comes much earlier in The Rise of Skywalker, undermining the greater meaning behind his final stand on Crait.

What Luke’s Last Jedi Sacrifice REALLY Meant

Most know by now that at the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Force projects himself across the universe (an effort that kills him) so he can confront Kylo Ren on Crait, distracting his nephew so Leia and the other Resistance members can escape. That’s the obvious, immediate effect of Luke’s actions, but his sacrifice is supposed to have a much greater meaning than simply saving the small band of rebels left standing. As shown in The Last Jedi’s epilogue (featuring the infamous Broom Boy), word of what Skywalker did spread quickly throughout the galaxy. Children were excitedly telling each other the story of a legend who faced down the First Order, reenacting the epic events with handmade toys.

The implication here is that Luke had reignited a spark of hope in the fight against tyranny, inspiring others to pick up arms and join the cause. Before his noble sacrifice, none of the Resistance’s allies would respond to Leia’s distress signal from Crait so they could provide aid. After Luke died, people were looking up to the stars feeling rejuvenated, knowing that going up against the First Order wasn’t a lost cause. Those the faction had oppressed would now be willing to stand up and push back, ideally turning the tide in war. Remember, the Resistance is very small (Leia was a political pariah for wanting to fight) and didn’t have much support. After suffering heavy losses in The Last Jedi, they needed all the reinforcements they could get, and Luke’s last stand seemed like a natural jumping off point for others to join and help the Resistance rebuild their forces for The Rise of Skywalker. But, that didn’t happen.

How The Rise of Skywalker Retcons Luke’s Sacrifice

When Poe Dameron reconnects with Zorii Bliss on Kijimi in The Rise of Skywalker, they discuss the hardships the Resistance is facing during the conflict. Poe notes that during Crait, the Resistance put out a call for aid (the one featured in The Last Jedi), but nobody came. In his talk with Zorii, Poe notes that people are scared to fight the First Order, so his scrappy band of rebels remains as small as ever, trying to do the best they can with the resources available to them. This explains why Poe is so upset with Rey opting to conduct Jedi training, as opposed to being on the front lines in battle. The Resistance needs all hands on deck - especially such a capable and powerful fighter like Rey. That the Resistance is so severely undermanned makes a compelling juxtaposition to the Final Order’s massive Sith fleet with a plethora of Star Destroyers, establishing the direness of the heroes’ situation. But, an argument can be made that it doesn’t line up with The Last Jedi’s ending.

Nobody is saying the Resistance should have had an Imperial-sized army at their disposal by the time The Rise of Skywalker picks up. That would have been an unrealistic expectation. However, it’s very odd that in the one-year time jump between Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, the Resistance failed this poorly at recruiting. The general feeling is that the Resistance is more or less the same group who survived Last Jedi, with a new character or two (like Klaud) peppered in. This goes against the larger meaning of what Luke’s sacrifice represented. Instead of Skywalker’s death being the pendulum swing that united the citizens of the galaxy against evil, The Rise of Skywalker posits it was Lando Calrissian’s (unseen) efforts that rallied people to the Resistance’s cause. Superficially, it was fun to see the Millennium Falcon lead a makeshift navy of reinforcements to save the day at the last minute, but it raises the question why Luke’s actions didn’t have a similar impact. Again, the Resistance shouldn’t have equalled the First Order in manpower, but they could have had a larger force at the beginning of the film.


This isn’t to say Luke’s death was ultimately for nothing (although, the maddening X-wing retcon surely paints it that way). He was able to save Leia and the others, so they could live to fight another day. But the filmmakers behind The Rise of Skywalker seemingly missed the big picture, neglecting the greater ramifications of Skywalker’s sacrifice. The Last Jedi portrays the return of the Jedi as this mythical, awe-inspiring development that told people the First Order could be defeated. Obviously, Broom Boy didn’t need to be a main character in The Rise of Skywalker, but for the film to just push aside the larger significance of Luke’s death is frustrating. It wasn’t just the final stage in Luke’s arc. It wasn’t just so Leia could survive. It was Luke embracing his status as the legend the galaxy needed, inspiring countless others around the universe.

More: Rise of Skywalker’s Ending Explained