Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gives Carrie Fisher the send-off she deserves

Commentary: General Leia proves pivotal at the end of the Skywalker Saga in more ways than one. Spoilers ahead.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
3 min read

Thanks to director J.J. Abrams, Carrie Fisher is a key part of the Star Wars saga all the way to the end.


Princess Leia Organa/General Leia was always crucial to leading the Rebellion against both the Empire and the First Order in the Star Wars saga. Without her courage, intelligence and perseverance, Darth Vader, the Emperor and Kylo Ren would have ended up ruling the galaxy. 

In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Leia -- played by the late, great Carrie Fisher through previous footage cut from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi -- is once again pivotal in stopping the First Order from taking over. And she gets the perfect ending to her story in the final film of the new trilogy.   

Fisher's posthumous appearance is both sentimental and key to the storyline. Every scene with Leia in The Rise of Skywalker is a reminder of her strength and desire to right the wrongs created by the dark side.

Director J.J. Abrams made it clear he wanted to respectfully keep Fisher in the new film and didn't feel the Skywalker Saga could end just by saying Leia had died. "We don't know how to do it without her, and so having her be part of the movie in a way that I think she'd be proud of is very meaningful," Abrams said


The Rise of Skywalker opens with Leia training Rey -- much like Yoda trained Luke Skywalker -- to use the Force while wielding a lightsaber, running a dangerous obstacle course and learning to meditate while levitating. 

Leia gives Rey not just Luke's lightsaber but Leia's own lightsaber, which she used when training in secret with her brother. In the movie, fans get a short clip of a younger Luke and Leia training with lightsabers on what could be the Ewok planet of Endor. 

The new movie also reminds fans how much Leia is truly the driving force leading the Resistance in battle plans against the First Order. Not only is she a tactical mastermind, but she inspires those around her to stay focused and believe in the cause. 

Thanks to her self sacrifice, Leia gives Rey extra motivation when she needs it most in battle. Leia also reaches out via Force telepathy to contact her son Kylo Ren and help him on his own path of redemption.

At the end of the movie, Leia sacrifices herself and dies by using her own Force powers keep Kylo alive long enough to help Rey beat the evil Emperor Palpatine. 


General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) share a special moment in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

When Leia dies and becomes one with the Force, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. For me, seeing her die on screen felt like a gut punch. I look up to Leia as a strong woman who never gives up, even when faced with huge obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds. She will always be my favorite feminist.

When Rey, Finn and Poe are told Leia died, they are visibly overcome by grief and dumbfounded by the news. But the more heartbreaking responses come from Leia's friends since 1977's A New Hope. R2-D2 rocks back and forth beeping in a way that makes you realize droids can weep. When Chewbacca hears the news of Leia's passing, he falls to his knees and lets loose one of the saddest Wookiee roars I've ever heard. 

Watch this: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (2019)

While I'm still sniffling from seeing Leia die on screen, her self-sacrifice to save both Rey and Kylo Ren just shows how powerful and important she has always been ever since I first set eyes on her in A New Hope. Leia will be with me, always. 

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Originally published Dec. 18.