Almost every person that has grown up with the original Star Wars trilogy has fond memories of it. In fact, the movies are still just as popular today as they ever were, and they’ve spawned a whole host of prequels and sequels. The debate rages on when it comes to which trilogy is the best, but most people who were around to see the original one will readily agree that it is the best one, hands down. However, what you might not know is that the original ending to Return of the Jedi, the third installment of the original trilogy, was initially very different.
The differences were incredible and they both involved major characters. When it was all said and done, there were two major themes that were changed from the original script, one that would have easily changed the way that people felt about the entire Star Wars trilogy.
The first involved Luke deciding that the Rebellion just wasn’t worth fighting for. As such, the original script called for him to leave the Rebellion so he could go off and do his own thing. The other major difference involved Han Solo. If you remember watching the movie, you undoubtedly remember the part near the end where Han Solo and Princess Leia are on the forest moon of Endor, trying to find a way to help with the destruction of the Death Star. They have some challenges, to say the least, but they are eventually victorious in their quest. However, it wasn’t written that way to start with.
In the original script, Han Solo is killed as he and Princess Leia battle with the Empire. This was largely written into the script because Harrison Ford, who played Solo, didn’t really care for the character. Initially, he wanted his character to be killed off so badly that he had told producers he would only return for the third movie if Solo died. Therefore, they ended up writing the script in this manner. With that being said, things didn’t stay that way for long.
Somehow, the script changed, Solo survived and Luke, despite all his internal conflicts, continued to fight on for the Rebellion. This is a story that die-hard Star Wars fans might already be familiar with. However, there is one thing that they might not know, as it’s not as widely circulated. The reason Han Solo survived wasn’t necessarily because George Lucas or Harrison Ford had a last-minute change of heart. The script was changed because Lucas was concerned that fewer toys would be sold if Han Solo was killed and there were questions about Luke’s allegiance to the Rebellion. He thought toy sales would plummet, especially with regard to Ford’s character, as he didn’t think anyone would be interested in purchasing a Han Solo action figure is the character died in the movie.
One thing’s for certain, this would have changed the entire trilogy, and not necessarily for the better. Obviously, every person has their own opinion, but many Star Wars fans are eternally grateful that the script for Return of the Jedi was changed, regardless of the reason why it happened.