Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker - 50 Easter Eggs, References You Might Have Missed
Star Wars references from Episode IX
The final film in Star Wars' nine-episode story known as the Skywalker Saga is finally here. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker wraps up the 42-year story, taking a whole lot of looks back on the films of the past. It brings back a host of old characters and tying up more than a few major plot points and mysteries. The film is full of references to past movies as well--not just with returning characters, but with moments, lines, and images repeated that conjure up eight movies' worth of memories. The references are so densely packed, in fact, that it's very possible to miss them all.
We've run down a full list of every callback and Easter egg we caught in the Skywalker Saga's conclusion. From stormtroopers hunting droids on Tatooine to unused material from Return of the Jedi, here's every Star Wars tidbit that shows up in The Rise of Skywalker.
Note: This gallery is full of spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker--if you want to remain unsullied, turn back now!
1. The Sith Temple
Though the legendary Sith planet of Exegol is new to The Rise of Skywalker, the giant spooky structure found there isn't. We've seen Sith temples like this before, specifically in Star Wars Rebels on the planet Malachor. We also know from the most recent Star Wars video games that Emperor Palpatine was big on seeking out Jedi and Sith artifacts during the height of the Empire, so it tracks he might have discovered this cool Sith place over the years that would be useful to him later.
2. Palpatine Explains His Dark Side Powers
When Palpatine gives some quick explanation to Kylo Ren about how he's not dead yet, he repeats a line he once used to seduce Anakin Skywalker to his side. After telling the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise, Palpatine hinted that he commanded the ability to defeat death. "The Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some would consider to be unnatural," Palpatine tells Anakin--as well as Ren. Anakin's fear of Padme's death is what brought him to Palpatine's side in Revenge of the Sith.
3. Return Of Snoke
Fans have been wondering and speculating about the origins of First Order Supreme Leader Snoke since he was introduced, somewhat vaguely, in The Force Awakens. Back then, some guessed that Snoke might be a Palpatine clone. Turns out that's not far off the mark, since we see a bunch of Snoke clones in tubes on Exegol. Apparently, Palpatine was manipulating or puppeteering Snoke(s) to drive the First Order from the shadows and regain his power.
4. Tracking Through Lightspeed
A big plot point in The Last Jedi was the First Order's ability to track the Resistance fleet even after that fleet jumped to hyperspace. We didn't get much information on how "active tracking" worked, except that it was supposed to be difficult or impossible. The First Order apparently has spread the tech out quite a bit, because we see TIE fighters track the Millennium Falcon through multiple jumps to lightspeed.
5. Rey's Jedi Training
When we catch up with Rey, we find her working on her Jedi training near the new Resistance base. Like Luke, she's fighting flying, orb-like remote droids that can shoot at her, while trying to maximize her connection to the Force by wearing a helmet with an opaque blast shield. It's almost exactly the same setup that Obi-Wan put Luke through on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope, except on a larger scale.
6. Leia The Master
Later in The Rise of Skywalker, it's established that Leia Organa isn't just Force-sensitive thanks to her Skywalker lineage--she actually trained with her brother Luke toward becoming a full Jedi, or nearly one. With Luke gone and no other Jedi around, it falls to Leia to train Rey. The apprentice even refers to the general as Master Leia.
7. Remembering Luke Vs. Vader
During her training, Rey has a vision that calls back a bunch of things from past movies, including the loss of her parents when she was small, Kylo Ren's visit to the Sith temple on Exegol, and Luke's confrontations with Darth Vader in the original trilogy. Listen closely and you can hear some of Luke's dialogue from The Empire Strikes Back, when Vader revealed to Luke who his real father was. It's pretty apropos given what Rey will learn about her own family history later in the movie.
8. The Sacred Jedi Texts
Though Luke thought Yoda destroyed the sacred Jedi texts, it turns out, Rey snagged them before she left Ahch-To in The Last Jedi. The texts also include Luke's personal notes, which Rey uses in The Rise of Skywalker to try to track down the Sith dagger that will lead the Resistance to Exegol.
9. The 42-Year Festival
On Pasaana, Rey, Poe, and Finn find themselves hanging out at a big party the local people are throwing. As Threepio informs them, the festival only happens every 42 years. That sounds like an innocuous number, but it's actually a reference to the release of A New Hope way back in 1977. The party marks the beginning, and the end, of the Skywalker saga.
10. The Return Of Lando Calrissian
Hey, remember Lando? The former Rebel general is back, although we're not sure what he's been up to since the end of the war with the Empire more than 30 years ago. We do find out that when Luke went his mission to Pasaana to try to find Exegol years earlier, Lando was one of the people who accompanied him. And it's on Pasaana where Rey and her pals discover Lando.
11. "Chewie, Old Buddy"
During the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, Lando vouches for Han, telling others in the Rebel fleet to trust that Han and his ground assault team will succeed in knocking out the shield protecting the Death Star II. Afterward, he mutters to himself, "Han, old buddy, don't let me down." Lando echoes that sentiment when he sees Chewie for the first time in The Rise of Skywalker, calling Chewie "old buddy" as well.
12. A Bad Feeling About This
Lando reads off the classic Star Wars line just as the First Order shows up to chase down Rey and her pals.
13. Space John Williams
Longtime series composer John Williams doesn't just make music for The Rise of Skywalker--he actually shows up in this movie in a brief cameo on Kijimi, as a bartender. His character name, Oma Tres, is also an homage--it's an anagram of "maestro."
14. Using The Force On A Ship
Force power creep is definitely a thing in Star Wars movies, with each new film concerning Jedi making them more and more powerful. In The Rise of Skywalker, we see Rey stop a ship in flight with the power of the Force, and then battle with Kylo Ren as he tries to break it free. We've seen Jedi lift sedentary ships before--Yoda did it in The Empire Strikes Back and Luke does it in Rise of Skywalker. But what Rey and Kylo do in this movie is more akin to the classic scene from the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, in which protagonist Starkiller rips a Star Destroyer out of flight and crashes it with nothing but the strength of the Force.
15. Force Lightning
The Rise of Skywalker spends a lot of time teasing what's going on with Rey. The biggest moment is when she and Kylo Ren battle with the Force over the cruiser they believe contains the captured Chewbacca. As the two grapple for the ship, Force lightning bursts from Rey's fingertips, destroying the transport. It's a power we've only seen Palpatine wield, and for the first time suggests the massive amount of dark Force capability Rey actually has within her.
16. Stormtroopers On The Prowl
The First Order is out in force during the middle portion of The Rise of Skywalker, apparently trying to subdue planets in the wake of their massive victory against the Resistance. On Kijimi, we see First Order patrols doing house-to-house searches against the local population. Listen closely, and you'll catch a line of dialogue from one of the troopers from A New Hope, one delivered after some troopers knock on the door where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding out: "Door's locked--move on to the next one."
17. "Never Tell Me The Odds"
C-3PO loves to tell other characters the odds of plans failing and everyone meeting certain doom. After delivering the bad news a few times in The Rise of Skywalker, calling back his jokey lines in The Empire Strikes Back, Rey puts the odds question to Threepio in regards to whether there's another way to get the information they need from the Sith dagger, apart from wiping his memory.
18. The Emperor's Throne Room
Revisiting the wreckage of the Death Star, located on another of the moons of Endor (not the forest moon from Return of the Jedi) is a poignant image in and of itself. But when Rey gets into the hulking space station, she visits a key location: the Emperor's throne room. It was here that Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker had their duel, and where the Emperor tried and failed to turn Luke to the Dark Side one last time.
19. The Sith Throne
Palpatine gets his own version of the Iron Throne in The Rise of Skywalker, hanging out in front of a big rocky chair that he intends to take as soon as he can transfer his spirit into a better body. Though he had a more modest throne in Return of the Jedi, this Throne of the Sith is actually an unused concept from that movie, as CBR reported.
20. Ghost Dad
After their duel on the (other) Endor moon and Rey takes off in Kylo Ren's ship, the former Ben Solo finds himself visiting with the ghost of his father, Han Solo. Kylo mentions that what he's actually interacting with is just a memory (as opposed to a Jedi Force ghost), but the distinction doesn't seem to matter much. This is Han as we last saw him in The Force Awakens, repeating his final interaction with his son, and giving Kylo Ren a chance to be redeemed as Ben Solo.
21. Han And Ben Relive The Past
As Ben talks with Han and relives their last moments together, he utters a line from The Force Awakens: "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it." In that movie, Kylo's line preceded him murdering his father and seemingly solidifying himself as a warrior of the Dark Side. In The Rise of Skywalker, Ben uses the same line as a chance to cast off his Kylo Ren persona and embrace who he was.
22. "I Know"
Han also gets to reiterate a classic line. In the last moments of their interaction, Ben says, "Dad," as if beginning to say something in the vein of "I'm sorry," or probably more aptly, "I love you." Han cuts him off to repeat one of the most famous lines in Star Wars: "I know." It's the answer Han gave Leia in The Empire Strikes Back when she admitted she loved him, and one Leia echoed in Return of the Jedi when Han admitted the same to her.
23. Luke Joins The Force Ghosts
Star Wars has a long history with Jedi returning from the great beyond as Force ghosts, in order to further mentor their Jedi apprentices even after they're gone. Luke got good advice from both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda after they'd died, and he takes the opportunity in The Rise of Skywalker to help Rey along the path, as well.
24. Jedi Knight Leia Organa
As mentioned above, it turns out that Luke trained Leia in the ways of the Jedi at some point during the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Leia might have abandoned that path--ostensibly to save Ben Solo, but that didn't really work out--but she clearly was pretty far along. That echoes a lot of stories from the old Expanded Universe of Star Wars, from before Disney acquired Lucasfilm. In the old comics and novels, Leia became a Jedi in her own right as well, but with some very different outcomes.
25. Luke Raises His X-Wing
After giving Rey her pep talk, Luke provides her with everything she needs to get back into the fight--the info on where to get the Sith wayfinder, a new lightsaber, and even a ship. That would be his old X-Wing, which he apparently parked underwater when he arrived on Ahch-To, as seen in The Last Jedi. As he lifts it from the depths, you'll hear a musical cue from The Empire Strikes Back--it's the same music that played when Yoda lifted Luke's X-Wing from the swamp of Dagobah.
The Rise of Skywalker has its own slate of cute new additions to the Star Wars universe that will definitely make their way onto new merchandise. But when Rey returns to Ahch-To toward the end of the film, it gives the movie an opportunity to slip in something cute from the last movie, too. The Porgs are back, but only just long enough to remind you that you love them.
27. The Holdo Maneuver
After Kylo Ren makes his deal with Palpatine, he gets a whole fleet of Star Destroyers capable of annihilating planets that he means to use to subjugate the galaxy. The Resistance finally makes its way to Exegol to destroy that fleet, when a new character played by Dominic Monaghan suggests destroying the ships with the use of "the Holdo maneuver." That's a reference to The Last Jedi, where Vice Admiral Holdo jumped to lightspeed while in the path of the First Order's command ship, sheering it in half. It's not so much a maneuver as a suicidal ramming, but it probably would get the job done against some of those Destroyers.
28. Palpatine's Catch-Phrase
Lots of characters reiterate iconic lines throughout The Rise of Skywalker to recall big moments in the original Star Wars trilogy. Palpatine's interactions with Rey feel a lot like his interactions with both Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith and Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. When Rey finally seems to acquiesce to his desire to turn her to the dark side and use her body to be reborn, he runs out the lengthy "Good" that is a staple of both those previous moments.
29. Snap Wexley
There are a few minor characters who have appeared throughout the new Star Wars trilogy, even though they haven't had a ton of screen time. Pilot Snap Wexley is one, and if you're familiar with the novels taking place between the new movies and the original trilogy, you know that Wexley is a big deal in the Resistance. Unfortunately, he meets an untimely end during the final battle of The Rise of Skywalker, solidifying for Poe Dameron that this might not be a fight the Resistance can win.
30. Wedge Antilles
Just as things look their darkest, though, Lando Calrissian makes his appearance with a massive fleet of people willing to fight the Final Order. Among them is Wedge Antilles, the legendary Rebel pilot, back in the cockpit. Though Wedge also appeared in supplementary novels that took place after Return of the Jedi, this is the first time we've seen him on screen in the new trilogy.
31. Lando Pilots The Falcon
Lando's return in the final battle of The Rise of Skywalker also allowed him to fly the Millennium Falcon yet again, the ship he has a ton of history with. The Falcon originally belonged to Lando, as we saw in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but he lost it gambling with Han Solo. Lando eventually got to pilot the ship again in the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, where he and the ship were instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star II and the fall of the Empire. Lando gets up to a few more heroics with the Falcon in this movie, for old time's sake.
32. Jedi Of The Past
As Rey is trying to stop Palpatine once and for all, she's empowered by the ghosts of all the Jedi who came before her. We hear the voices of a bunch of different characters from across the Star Wars canon, including Obi-Wan Kenobi (both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness), Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, Kanan Jarrus from Star Wars Rebels, and Ahsoka Tano, Aayla Secura, and Luminara Unduli from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
33. The Return Of Red 5
Rey takes Luke Skywalker's classic X-Wing with her to Exegol, and in the waning moments of the battle against the Final Order, she escapes in the ship as well. The rest of the Resistance detects her ship and its legendary callsign: Red 5, Luke's designation during the Battle of Yavin. Given the conclusion of the film, it's fitting for Rey to inherit Luke's radio designator as well as the Jedi Order he tried to save.
34. Chewie Finally Gets Recognition
There's a running joke with fans of Star Wars that goes all the way back to A New Hope. After rescuing Leia from the first Death Star, she honors Han and Luke with medals during a flashy ceremony. C-3PO and R2-D2 are also present, as is Chewbacca--but unlike the humans, Chewie doesn't get a medal, even though he was just as essential to the rescue as anybody else. The Rise of Skywalker finally corrects that oversight, with Maz Kanata taking a second to present Chewie with the medal his bravery has earned him throughout the series.
Though Rey, Finn, and Poe visit a moon of Endor when searching for the Sith Wayfinder, they don't visit the moon of Endor--the forest moon from Return of the Jedi. Instead, they drop by a separate moon. But you couldn't mention Endor or show the Death Star II's wreckage without calling to mind the loveable but deadly teddy bear people who helped defeat the Empire: the Ewoks. A quick passing shot after the Final Order's defeat reminds us that, yes, Ewoks are the best.
36. Revisiting Bespin, Endor, and Jakku
In the aftermath of the battle with the Final Order, we see the Imperial fleet destroyed from a number of different viewpoints. It's a quick tour of notable planets from the series, including Bespin from The Empire Strikes Back, the forest moon of Endor from Return of the Jedi, and Jakku from The Force Awakens. These scenes also mirror a similar victory tour that appeared at the end of the Special Edition version of Return of the Jedi, which showed locations such as Tatooine and Naboo as well.
37. Don't Forget Nien Nunb
Lando's co-pilot from the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi has shown up in the past as a pilot for the Resistance. He's again seen fighting the Final Order at the end of The Rise of Skywalker as well, because it wouldn't be a rebellion's last stand without Nien Nunb.
38. Tatooine And The Lars Farm
In the final moments of the movie, Rey returns to where it all began: Tatooine. She revisits Luke's boyhood home, the moisture farm of Owen and Beru Lars, and where Anakin's mother Shmi Skywalker also once lived. And finally, since she can't bury Luke and Leia, her mentors, she commits their lightsabers to the desert sands instead, under the twin suns that once set behind Luke before he started on the path to become a Jedi.
39. More Force Ghosts
Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda all got to show back up at the end of the story and wish everyone well after their deaths back in Return of the Jedi. Here, the Skywalker twins get a chance to give Rey one last sendoff on Tatooine.
40. A New Skywalker
We get payoff for the title of the movie with its last line. Rey, who never knew her family, adopts one, while simultaneously casting off the lineage she was born to in favor of one she chooses.
41. The Sith Holocron
Though it's referred to as a "Wayfinder" throughout the movie, the tiny pyramid device Rey and Kylo Ren use to find Exegol is actually a Sith holocron. These semi-mystical devices were used by both the Sith and the Jedi to store information, and have appeared in a lot of non-film material, including Star Wars Rebels.
42. "Never Underestimate A Droid"
Unfortunately, the death of Carrie Fisher between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker means that, in order to complete Leia's arc, the filmmakers had to make use of footage from the previous two movies. Leia's line, "Never underestimate a droid," gets a callback from Rey during an action scene--but it was actually a bit of dialogue from The Force Awakens, and appears in a deleted scene on the home video release.
43. Force Healing
It hasn't shown up in the films before, but the concept of using the Force to heal has been used a few times in Star Wars fiction. It's something that characters have used in the cartoon series, and of course, healing yourself with the Force is often a Jedi power in Star Wars video games. Right before Rey mended wounds with the Force, though, Baby Yoda exercised the same gift on The Mandalorian.
44. The Sith Language
Yes, the Sith have a language. In fact, in some ancillary material, there was a whole race known as Sith (or Sith Purebloods), separate (but related to) the Dark Jedi order. Both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader could speak the language, which appears in both The Clone Wars and the Lords of the Sith comics.
45. Palpatine's Spirit Transfer
We know from Revenge of the Sith that Palpatine is at least aware of some pretty gnarly Force powers that allow him to cheat death. The promise of those powers is how Palpatine seduced Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. Using those powers to transfer his spirit into Rey's body tracks with what was set up in the Prequels. It's also a plot point from the "Dark Empire" comics arc from the Expanded Universe, in which Palpatine transferred his spirit into clones in order to extend his life.
46. D-0's Voice
Several original trilogy characters reprise their roles in The Rise of Skywalker, and there are a few cameos along the way as well. One that's not super obvious is that of director JJ Abrams, who provides the voice of the cone-headed droid D-0.
47. "This Is Madness!"
One of C-3PO's earliest lines in the Star Wars trilogy is to remark on the Empire attacking Princess Leia's diplomatic transport, intoning, "This is madness!" He says the same thing in The Rise of Skywalker after having his memory wiped. He also remarks on his first laser battle, though we know he's been a part of countless battles over the years.
48. Shades Of The Knights Of The Old Republic
A secret Sith emperor, a hidden superfleet, a former good guy fallen to the Dark Side and taking over the galaxy--if it all sounds familiar, there's a reason. While The Rise of Skywalker borrows some ideas from old Extended Universe stories like Dark Empire, it also has a few that come from other sources: video games. The idea that the Sith have an instant, hidden, and super-powered fleet is a major plot point of The Knights of the Old Republic, for instance. And one Dark Jedi using the Dark Side to stop a worse, scarier Sith Emperor is part of what's going on in both KOTOR and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
49. "I Care"
As far as callback dialogue goes, this one's a bit obscure, but it definitely feels purposeful given the many parallels The Rise of Skywalker draws between Rey and Luke. Upon meeting Zorii Bliss, Rey winds up beating up the mercenary after she threatens to blast Poe and the rest of Rey's crew. That move endears Rey to Zorii, who says from the ground, "Not that you care, but I like you." Rey answers, "I care," calling back Luke's line in A New Hope. In that movie, Luke is responding to Leia criticizing Han on their way to Yavin-4, when the smuggler says he's planning to take his reward money and bail on the Rebellion during its most desperate hour.
50. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Cameo
If you're eagle-eyed at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, you might catch sight of a familiar face in the background of shots featuring the Resistance fighters returning from the Battle of Exegol. Among them: Lin-Manuel Miranda. The creator of Hamilton only gives a quick cameo appearance and it's extremely easy to miss, but he confirmed it on Twitter for those of us who were sure we'd spotted him. Miranda did contribute to the movie, though, even though he has no lines: He wrote a song for the movie, as Entertainment Weekly reported.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company