Respected Star Wars Author Timothy Zahn Opposes Killing Off Major Characters

Han Solo Star Wars The Force Awakens

The new Star Wars trilogy has been met with a variety of different opinions so far, but one man who knows a thing or two about Star Wars has strong opinions about one trend we've seen in the new films. Each episode has given us the death (or at least the apparent death) of a major character. Timothy Zahn is the man who launched the Star Wars expanded universe with his Heir to the Empire trilogy and the author who is back writing Star Wars novels today says he doesn't think Star Wars films should kill major characters because the precedent has already been set not to do so, and that Star Wars movies should send the audience home happy. According to Zahn...

My philosophy before the sequels came out was that Star Wars was not the kind of thing where you killed off major characters. My logic on that one being if that was, we kill off major characters, either Wedge or Lando would not have survived the second Death Star [in Return of the Jedi]. It always seemed to me, this is the type where the heroes get into danger and you have to, they have to figure out a way out of it that you'll be happy at the end.

It's been said before that originally, it was conceived that either Lando or Wedge, or possibly both, were not supposed to survive their attack on the Death Star. However, at some point, the story was changed to give the trilogy a happier ending. It's certainly true that generally speaking, Star Wars movies have happy endings, although it's hard to say everybody went home happy from The Empire Strikes Back or Revenge of the Sith. Both of those films had fairly downer endings.

The current Star Wars trilogy, however, has had no fear when it comes to killing off characters. Han Solo died at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and from all outward appearances, Luke Skywalker also perished at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

So how would Timothy Zahn have approached a new trilogy? He tells SyFy Wire he would have solved the problem of what to do with the original trilogy characters by simply not putting them in these movies.

My vision always for the sequels would be, you would pick up with the children of our main characters. [The original cast] would be the elder statesman type and not necessarily die on camera. They'd be off doing beekeeping like Sherlock Holmes allegedly did. You don't have to kill off a character to get them offstage.

Sherlock Holmes is a pretty good example. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once tried to kill off his famous character, only to be met by fan backlash which resulted in the author bringing Holmes back to life. Rian Johnson can probably relate.

While Timothy Zahn's idea would certainly have the benefit of keeping the original trilogy characters alive, the downside of it is that we wouldn't have seen them in the movies, which likely would have also upset some fans. With so many people being Star Wars fans, it's going to be impossible to meet the expectations of all of them. However, I'd guess that Star Wars Episode IX is very interested in doing whatever it can to send everybody home happy.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.