By George Bate
From Maul to Boba to Palpatine, Star Wars has a long standing tradition of death not being taken too seriously. But Shaak Ti really takes the cake with dying not once, not twice, not 3 times, not even 4 times, but a whopping 5 times in Star Wars lore. In this article, we’re going to take a look at each and every one of Shaak Ti’s deaths – how she died, in what project did it occur, the history surrounding it, behind the scenes info, and more.
After an extremely brief appearance in Attack of the Clones, Shaak Ti was due to play a much more significant role in Revenge of the Sith. The beginning of Episode III originally featured a much longer Battle of Coruscant that spanned nearly a full hour. In addition to more obstacles faced by Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine, this opening act of Revenge of the Sith also portrayed one of 5 deaths of Shaak Ti.
Anakin and Obi-Wan are traveling along the halls of the Invisible Hand when they come across a despondent Shaak Ti on her knees in front of General Grievous. It is implied that Shaak Ti was captured at the same time Palpatine was on Coruscant and, as such, is being kept prisoner by Grievous like the Chancellor himself. After apologizing to Anakin and Obi-Wan for failing to protect Palpatine, Grievous brutally stabs Shaak Ti from behind – killing her immediately.
This marks the earliest version of Shaak’s death as it appeared in George Lucas’ first drafts of the Revenge of the Sith script. Lucas originally planned for Shaak to die at the hands of General Grievous and then have Tsui Choi, a Jedi from the Expanded Universe, take her seat on the Jedi Council. The inclusion of Shaak’s death in this manner actually leaked before the May 2005 release of the film across different fan sites and The Revenge of the Sith action figure of Shaak Ti even included a hole in her chest to reflect this version of her death.
But, as we all know, Shaak Ti’s death was absent from Revenge of the Sith, which leads into…
In the editing process of Revenge of the Sith, the Battle of Coruscant was radically cut down, which included the removal of Shaak Ti’s death at the hands of Grievous. At this time, Tartakovsky and colleagues were developing the final season of their Cartoon Network series.
As a means to explain Shaak Ti’s absence in Revenge of the Sith, the microseries shows the Jedi die again, also at the hands of Grievous.
Star Wars Insider 87 stated that Shaak Ti’s deaths at this point, including one in Revenge of the Sith we haven’t got to yet, weren’t canon – meaning she lives past Episode III. This led to her appearance in the acclaimed video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, sporting a really cool new look.
At this point, Shaak Ti had survived Order 66 and was in exile on the planet Felucia, where she trained a new Padawan and Force-sensitive natives.Her peace didn’t last long, however, as Darth Vader sent his apprentice – Galen Starkiller – to kill Shaak. Shaak and Starkiller engaged in an epic duel, but, eventually, Shaak was defeated by Starkiller.
Weirdly enough, Death #4 is an alternate take on Shaak Ti’s death in The Force Unleashed. In the mobile version of the game, Shaak is killed when Felucian carnivorous plants are made to eat her by Starkiller.
But, so far, all of these deaths are Legends or EU content. So, how does Shaak Ti die in canon?
The fifth and final death of Shaak Ti is perhaps the most poignant and heartbreaking. George Lucas filmed not one, but two death scenes for the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith.
The first death, the one aboard the Invisible Hand that I already mentioned, was written, filmed, and eventually scrapped in favor of a second death sequence occurring in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
As Palpatine instigates Order 66 and Anakin (as the newly anointed Darth Vader) raids the Temple, Shaak Ti is mediating in peace. Vader approaches Shaak Ti, who is unaware that Anakin has turned to the dark side. Before she becomes wary that something is wrong, Vader stabs and kills her with his lightsaber.
This scene is included as a deleted scene on the Revenge of the Sith Blu-ray and on Disney+. It’s also shown in the LEGO Star Wars: The Video game adaptation of the film and in Yoda’s vision sequence in The Clone Wars.
With so many potential deaths, the 2016 reference book Star Wars: Galactic Atlas eventually confirmed that Death #5, her death in the Jedi Temple, was canon, rendering the others to be Legends or EU content. This is a good decision ultimately as The Force Unleashed and Clone Wars microseries are Legends content and her death aboard the Invisible Hand feels a little out of place amidst the important plot points occurring during Revenge of the Sith’s first act.
All in all though, there you have it – 5 deaths of Shaak Ti. This truly feels like something unique to Star Wars that other franchises simply don’t have – a franchise with some obscure character with barely any screentime being featured and explored so extensively in other projects, culminating in 5 unique takes on her death.
Images courtsey of Disney+ and Lucasfilm