The Star Wars franchise is one of the most beloved film series ever devised. The first trilogy was released starting in 1977 and ending in 1983. It wasn't until 1999 that George Lucas returned to tell Darth Vader's origin in the prequel trilogy. The Clone Wars cartoon kept the series alive until it returned to the big screen once again in 2015 with The Force Awakens. Aside from being beloved, it's also one of the most divisive series among fans as well. Some die-hards love everything Star Wars, while others only care about certain eras. Along the way, the story has evolved and changed, often in surprising ways. Some of these changes have been embraced, while others became the source of instant ridicule.
The point is, there are a lot of films that tell a massive space epic. It might surprise some fans, but the story wasn't set in stone from day one. Massive changes were made along the way. Of course, being movies, there are plenty of cut scenes. Being Star Wars, much of this deleted footage would have massively changed the course of the overall story. It's interesting to look at what could have been. Some of these changes would have improved the final product, while others were rightfully cut. Regardless, these deleted scenes would have had massive implications had they been included in the theatrical versions.
15 YOUNG HAN
While Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) fleshed out the smuggler's history, Han Solo was originally meant to have a very different origin. In early drafts of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), Han was set to appear as a child, living on the wookiee homeworld, Kashyyyk.
It was only ever going to be a brief cameo, with Han reportedly only speaking one or two lines of dialogue. Clearly, this would have completely changed Han's story in Solo, which showed him meeting Chewie for the first time while in his early 20s. The cameo was cut early on, however, and no scenes were ever filmed with the young Han.
14 HUMAN JABBA
One of the most infamous scenes cut from the original Star Wars (1977) was the original appearance of Jabba the Hutt. The gangster with a grudge against Han, Jabba initially appeared as a heavy set man in the original film. He appeared in the hanger bay at Mos Eisley, camping out near the Millenium Falcon to "remind" Han about the debt he owed.
Jabba eventually debuted in Return of the Jedi (1983) as a giant slug monster and became one of the series' most memorable characters. The original scene was eventually restored in the Special Edition release of the original film, although the human Jabba was replaced with a CGI slug.
13 YODA COMMUNICATES WITH QUI GON
The original Star Wars trilogy made it clear that when a Jedi perishes, their body disappears. So, it was a little strange when Qui Gon Jinn's body didn't do that when he was struck down by Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace (1999). It was later revealed that becoming a force ghost wasn't a skill the Jedi had at the time.
It was later revealed that Gui Gon was the one who learned to become one with the force, and he trained Yoda and Obi Wan to do so. Originally, Qui Gon (or just his voice) would have appeared in Revenge of the Sith (2005) to explain this, as opposed to Yoda suddenly revealing this information out of nowhere.
12 LUKE AT TOSCHE STATION
In A New Hope (1977), Luke's best friend, Biggs, appears during the finale to fly alongside Luke during the Death Star assault, only to get shot down during the trench run. This was a bit strange, considering that Biggs doesn't appear, or is even mentioned, at any point earlier in the movie.
Originally, there was a long sequence early in the movie where Luke would visit Tosche station while still on Tatooine. There, he met with Biggs, who was on leave from the Imperial Academy, and planning on joining the rebellion instead. This scene was removed simply to speed up the pacing earlier in the film, and to have Luke meet C3PO and R2D2 as quick as possible.
11 MOFF JERJERROD FOLLOWS ORDERS
While Grand Moff Tarkin was a major presence in the original Death Star, Moff Jerjerrod seemed to be barely present in the second. Once Darth Vader and the Emperor arrive, is he even in charge anymore? He basically appears during the opening scenes of Return of the Jedi (1983) to complain about not having enough time and men to finish construction and then disappears.
Originally, he had more scenes. One would've involved him being ordered to destroy Endor when the shield generator goes down. Interestingly, Jerjerrod struggles with this order, as there are still many imperial soldiers still on the moon. Apparently, even Moffs have hearts, even if it's not very often.
10 C3PO'S DARK SIDE
The wampa might be one of the scariest monsters in the original trilogy. Appearing in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the giant beast attacks Luke while he's out on patrol on Hoth. It drags him back to its lair before Luke uses his force powers to escape. The way the scene is shot, the wampa is barely shown, making it all the more haunting.
Originally, there was going to be an entire room full of the beasts at the rebel base. Apparently, the rebels were keeping them there after constant attacks. During the imperial invasion, C3PO would walk by the door, take off the warning sign, and lure a bunch of stormtroopers to a painful death.
9 LUKE'S NEW LIGHTSABER
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke loses his father's lightsaber (along with his hand) during a fight with Darth Vader. Then, at the start of Return of the Jedi (1983), he has a new one with a fancy green blade. At one point, Vader makes a comment about Luke constructing his own lightsaber, but originally, audiences would were meant to see more.
A scene was shot showing Luke assembling the saber in a cave on Tatooine before sending to R2 and 3PO to Jabba's. While a nice scene, it ruins the reveal later when R2 pops the saber out during the sail barge escape.
8 GENERAL CRIX MADINE
This is probably the weirdest entry on this list. During the rebel attack on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi (1983), the fleet is led by Admiral Ackbar. During the briefing, however, a general in the rebel forces named Crix Madine made a brief appearance. The actor shot several more scenes where he commanded a ship during the final battle, but they were all cut from the final film.
Allegedly, the studio wasn't sure that audiences would like Admiral Ackbar, a fish-like alien. So, alternate takes of a human general were filmed, just in case. Fortunately for Ackbar, audiences liked him and he remained to lead the rebels to victory.
7 HAN FIGURES OUT FINN'S SECRET
The Force Awakens (2015) introduced Finn, a First Order stormtrooper who defected to the Resistance army. He teams up with Rey, steals the Millenium Falcon and connects with Han and Chewie when they come to collect their old ship. During this time, Finn hides his stormtrooper past from his new allies, for obvious reasons. Later in the film, however, Han reveals that he's aware of Finn's secret, but it's never shown how he figured it out.
A scene was cut that explained this, revealing that Han noticed Finn's boots. This would've actually made Han look more impressive. It would show that he noticed a specific detail, as opposed to just acting off intuition.
6 VADER CHOKES JERJERROD
Moff Jerjerrod had a really rough time on the Death Star. First, Vader and the Emperor move up the completion deadline, giving him an impossible task. Then, Vader threatens him, before revealing that the Emperor was going to stop by and oversee the completion of the project, which clearly stressed the man out.
A scene was cut that showed Jerjerrod getting the worst treatment of all. A deleted segment showed Jerjerrod attempting to prevent Vader from visiting with the Emperor, based on orders from the sith master himself. Vader briefly chokes Jerjerrod, because that's what he does. This probably would've made audiences feel too sympathetic for a man in charge of a planet-destroying space station, so it's good that it was cut.
5 CHEWBACCA FINALLY LIVES UP TO HAN'S PROMISE
The Star Wars franchise has a thing about hands and arms being removed from people's bodies. Also, in the very first film, Han promised that wookies respond to losing by pulling people's arms out of their sockets. So, it always seemed weird that in all of the movies, Chewbacca never actually does this.
The Force Awakens (2015) almost delivered on this promise. A scene showing Chewie protecting Rey from a man named Unkar Plutt ended with Chewie de-arming the alien. The problem was that seeing Chewie actually do it is much more horrifying than just hearing Han talk about it. It's better to leave this image to the viewer's imagination.
4 THE LOST TWENTY
Attack of the Clones (2002) introduced Count Dooku, a former Jedi Knight who had renounced the order and resurfaced as a Sith working under Darth Sidious. While the movie does a decent job of telling the character's story while still keeping it mysterious, there was a deleted scene that not only would have expanded Dooku's past, but also the lore of the Jedi.
While searching through the Jedi archives, Obi Wan would've learned of Dooku and the "Lost Twenty." These were 20 Jedi knights who had defected from the order. These 20 were counted from all of the Jedi's history, showing just how rarely a Jedi leaves the order.
3 HAN CAN'T BE TRAINED
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) showed Han signing up for the Imperial Academy, and then jumped immediately to him serving as a field grunt and defecting. In an early cut, there was a scene in between these two moments that showed why Han wasn't a pilot for the Imperials.
In the deleted footage, Han actually flew for the Empire, but disobeyed a direct order during a mission. This caused an accident of some sort, and Han was put before a tribunal and bumped down to infantry. The scene was notable for including Tag and Bink, two fan favorite characters from the expanded universe. The scene was cut, so that's where they'll remain.
2 LUKE'S HAND RETURNS
One question that nobody ever asked was "what happened to Luke's hand after Vader cut it off?" That's because it happened on Cloud City, so everyone just assumed that's where it ended up. Well, The Force Awakens (2015) initially attempted to provide a different answer.
In early versions of the film, the opening shots were going to be of Luke's hand floating through space, still clutching the lightsaber and falling through the atmosphere of Jakku. It would've burned up, leaving just the lightsaber. A mysterious hand would then pick up the saber. This definitely would have started the film up on a much stranger tone than the actual opening scenes.
In A New Hope (1977), Leia tells Grand Moff Tarkin that the rebel base is located on the planet Dantooine after he threatens to blow up her home planet of Alderaan. Later in the film, it's revealed that the rebels had a base there, but it was abandoned. While it was assumed that Leia knew it was abandoned, it's never confirmed.
Rogue One (2016) was going to answer this question by showing the base on Dantooine. In fact, there was going to be a scene showing the base being evacuated. This would have made it clear that Leia knew it was safe to give the Imperials this information.