The ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Death Watch

We run the numbers to see which Star Wars: The Last Jedi characters are more likely to survive the film than others.
By  · Published on December 12th, 2017

We run the numbers to see which Star Wars: The Last Jedi characters are more likely to survive the film than others.

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi set to hit theaters this weekend, let’s quickly run through our pre-release checklist. Have you muted all the relevant keywords and hashtags on your Twitter feed? Have you asked a loved one to pre-screen all text messages to make sure a friend or family member doesn’t ambush you with a spoiler? Do you have headphones ready to blot out every movie theater conversation in case people are seeing The Last Jedi for a second or even third time? And, most importantly, have you put together your office death pool for the big name characters returning from Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Given how stuffed to the rafters The Force Awakens seemed at times, odds are good that The Last Jedi will be trimming the cast a little bit with a few tragic and untimely deaths. And thankfully, after weeks of writing code and researching Star Wars actuarial tables, I have finally developed the perfect algorithm for deciding which The Force Awakens characters will live and which ones will die. Yes, this 100% factual and not-at-all made up algorithm will help you wrap your head around the movie you’re about to see, so get reading, my young Padawan, and let’s see if we can’t put some numbers to some names.

Han Solo – Odds of Death: 100%

I’m disappointed I even had to lead off with this one. To hell with your Han-Solo-is-still-alive fan theory.

General Hux – Odds of Death: 99.72%

Look, I love Domhnall Gleeson as much as the next guy, but his work in The Force Awakens amounts to little more than a glorified cameo. Besides, with the exception of Kenneth Colley’s Admiral Piett — who commanded Darth Vader’s flagship in both Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — there isn’t exactly a proud tradition of British Imperial officers surviving across multiple movies. If General Hux survives The Last Jedi, then good god, I’ve really fallen behind the Star Wars times, haven’t I?

Luke Skywalker – Odds of Death: 89.19%

In hindsight, it was a perfect idea: make Harrison Ford the legacy star of The Force Awakens, Mark Hamill the legacy star of The Last Jedi, and Carrie Fisher the legacy star of Star Wars: Episode IX. Each of the core characters from the original trilogy would’ve had an opportunity to shine in their own featured film; this was all-but-confirmed by Kathleen Kennedy earlier this summer when she admitted that Episode IX “would have been” Fisher’s movie. And if we can reverse-engineer anything from this quote, it’s that Luke Skywalker’s chances of surviving The Last Jedi are looking pretty dismal. I mean, come on: does anyone out there really and truly think that Disney would pass on the opportunity to give us a Jedi Ghost Skywalker for the final film? I’d buy that action figure. You would too.

Maz Kanata – Odds of Death: 67.81%

What stands out the most on subsequent rewatches of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is how many storylines are consciously kicked down the road for future reveals. Lupita Nyong’o’s Kanata is one such source of mystery. How did she come across Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber? What part will she play in the development of Rey’s skill as a Jedi? Will her role in The Force Awakens basically be to explain some of the stuff that doesn’t make any sense without proper historical context? Expect at least one flashback and a tragic – though noble – death for her character after a thousand years of history-keeping.

Poe Dameron – Odds of Death: 50.00%

Even odds, as befitting one of the film’s more interesting characters. One of the fun elements of The Force Awakens was the democracy of talent; instead of consolidating all of the skills — pilot, engineer, soldier, spy — into two main characters, The Force Awakens spread these talents out across a handful of the cast. That makes Dameron, fittingly, the wildcard of the bunch. On the one hand, Oscar Isaac is a bonafide movie star, and it’s still a little strange to see a talent of his ilk playing a secondary character in a Star Wars movie. On the other hand, he’s also a bonafide fan favorite and an important source of experience to offset the youth of Boyega and Ridley. I would wager that Dameron survives The Last Jedi, if only to give audiences a friendly face in the cockpit of an X-Wing. After all, you can’t exactly have Rey battling Kylo Ren with a lightsaber and dogfighting in outer space, right?

Captain Phasma – Odds of Death: 50.00%

Same odds here for Captain Phasma, too. While Gwendoline Christie’s character may have been criminally underserved in the first move, much like Dameron, a movie about intergalactic war needs soldiers, and not every soldier should be tragically killed off during a big battle scene. Hell, even the U.S.S. Enterprise had a few non-regular characters who survived between seasons; if the Resistance and the First Order are going to throw down in earnest in the new film, we’ll need some familiar ‘faces’ to pull the whole thing off. Put me down for a three-movie arc for Captain Phasma as well.

Finn – Odds of Death: 23.82%

One of the subtle delights of the marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the misdirection of the first teaser trailer. From John Boyega’s initial reveal to the lightsaber battle, The Force Awakens — not to mention Boyega himself — did everything they could to point to Finn’s importance to the franchise before admitting that the essential character was Rey all along. That puts Finn in something of an interesting situation going forward. While the character has already been grievously wounded once in the film, he’s also a guilt-ridden time bomb of self-loathing, and those kind of characters typically end up sacrificing themselves sooner rather than later. I’m less confident about Finn’s survival than any of the film’s Big Three.

Rey – Odds of Death: 8.33%

Let’s be honest here: Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t going to kill Rey. Daisy Ridley’s character is too important to the storyline — not to mention the positioning of Star Wars within pop culture — for Kathleen Kennedy and company to murder her in the second movie of the trilogy. So why the non-zero outcome? Star Wars has long been fascinated with the concept of clones and memory reprogramming; while Rey will undoubtedly survive the events of The Last Jedi, it is entirely possible that another version of Rey — past or parallel — will be sacrificed in the film to prove how special this Rey truly is. That makes the above number something of a cheat, sure, but if I were a betting man, I’d put all my money on The Last Jedi borrowing a Dark Empire or Knights of the Old Republic plot point to fulfill its purposes.

Kylo Ren – Odds of Death: 3.76%

While Rey may be the emotional core of the new Star Wars trilogy, it’s Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren that delivers some of the first film’s most grounded moments. No bit of character development in The Force Awakens can match the sight of Adam Driver punching his wounds to stay angry and focused in the fight; it’s little touches like this that help Driver’s character transcend the familiarity of another Darth Vader and make him the perfectly cowardly villain for his times. While it’s always possible that The Last Jedi could unexpectedly kill him off, the more likely scenario is that Ren conspires to kill off Supreme Leader Snoke and take on the role of Master for himself. Another Star Wars certainty? Dark Jedi will always, always kill off their masters once they see a shot worth taking. These films should boil down to Finn and Rey.

Chewbacca – Odds of Death: 0.00%

Surprise! With Harrison Ford’s exit from the franchise, Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing, and the future of Luke Skywalker somewhat hazy (try again later), who better than Chewbacca to serve as the connective tissue between all three trilogies? Plus, unlike the rest of the Star Wars characters, Chewbacca is immune to the vagaries of age. Peter Mayhew has already had to scale back his involvement in the movies due to his declining health; as a result, they’ve already recast the character for the standalone Han Solo movie, with 31-year-old Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo stepping into Mayhew’s shoes. Important enough to please fans but non-essential enough to avoid criticisms of ‘more of the same,’ Chewbacca will undoubtedly stick around long enough to actually receive his victory medallion at the conclusion of Episode IX. It’s about damn time.

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Matthew Monagle is an Austin-based film and culture critic. His work has appeared in a true hodgepodge of regional and national film publications. He is also the editor and co-founder of Certified Forgotten, an independent horror publication. Follow him on Twitter at @labsplice. (He/Him)