Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker kept most of its significant twists under wraps until the film's premiere. But one storyline could not be hidden from public view: Leia's. Actress Carrie Fisher died in 2016 after principal photography was done for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but long before The Rise of Skywalker started filming. Even though fans were told she would be added using leftover footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone knew it was setting her up to die on-screen. At least Leia's death in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker didn't disappoint.
Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker follow.
When Star Wars: The Last Jedi left Leia's fate as is on-screen, having her live to be part of the last film, everyone knew they couldn't just say "Leia died off-screen" and leave it at that. The series had set it up so each new Star Wars film featured the death of one of the main three characters from the original. Han dies in Episode VII and Luke follows in Episode VIII. Lucasfilm felt it was wrong to rob fans of Leia's death on screen because Carrie Fisher, who had always lived a life that didn't care if it was convenient for other people, had extended that into her passing.
But Leia's death was more than just her being struck down with a lightsaber or Force Ghosting away as Han and Luke had done. No, she sacrificed herself. She took every ounce of strength she had left and used it to distract Kylo Ren during his climactic sword fight with Rey. Rey used the distraction to gain the upper hand and kill Kylo.
She then healed his body. Kylo was dead, but Ben Solo lived. Leia gave her life for that.
But if that wasn't enough to break your heart, the film wasn't done. The entire Resistance gathered around Leia's bedside to pay their respects. As they held this impromptu funeral, the Millenium Falcon returned, with Poe rushing by people trying to stop him, demanding to see the General.
"She's gone," he was told.
Poe faltered. But Chewie stopped dead upon hearing the news that the final of his three human companions for all these years had passed. He let out a howl for the ages and fell to his knees, inconsolable. If that didn't break your heart, nothing would.
General Leia passed on. Her body faded along with her son's after Ben Solo gave his life to heal Rey (in return for the gift of redemption she'd given him). But as Luke said, no one's ever really gone. In the movie's final moments, she and Luke stood before Rey, a pair of Force Ghosts, her spiritual parents, who will always be with her. And that's why Rey is now Rey Skywalker.