'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' surprises with a big moment at the movie’s very end — here's what it means

Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" gave viewers a few surprises with Rey, Snoke, and the return of an iconic character. But it was the film's end which delivered one of its most unexpected shocks.
This is your last chance to head back before spoilers. 

After fighting Kylo Ren on Crait, we return to Luke Skywalker meditating on the island of Ahch-To. If you hadn't guessed it at this point, Skywalker never left Ahch-To, even during his battle with Kylo Ren. 
He channeled his powers of the Force to appear on Crait in hologram form to face his nephew and reunite with his sister, Leia, one last time.
We then see Luke look out longingly at the horizon. It's a perfect mirror to the longing gaze he once gave on Tatooine in "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope." Now, it's not one of longing, but one of peace. 

But, it's what happened next that caught fans by surprise.
As the camera pulls away from Luke, he disappears on screen leaving his Jedi robes behind to carry in the wind. 
The moment may have made your jaw drop and left you wondering what happened. The explanation here is pretty simple, and you may have already guessed it.
Is Luke dead?
Yes. He's now a Force ghost. 
What does that mean?

You know how Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda will pop up as an embodiment of their Force-sensitive selves? Yeah, Luke's one of them.
He is now truly one with the Force. 
But, why? Luke looked like he had so much more to offer.

Did he, though?
When we meet Skywalker in "The Last Jedi," he's a changed man, haunted by his actions toward his nephew, Ben Solo. As revealed in flashbacks, there was a moment in his past where Luke was so concerned by the darkness brewing in young Ben that he considered killing him for a fleeting moment. 
Though he instantly changed his mind, it was too late. Ben, a young, scared teen, saw what his uncle was planning to do and it drove him to the dark side of the Force. Can you blame him? 

Luke has spent the remaining years of his life heavily regretting that decision. He even cut himself off from the Force for a time so Leia or no one could find him. After some facetime with Rey and acknowledging his shortcomings with Kylo face to face, Luke was finally at a place where he could let go and carry onward.
Or, as Leia and Rey discern at the film's end, Luke is at peace.
If you recall, Yoda passes on in a similar fashion, too, in "Empire Strikes Back" after training Luke.
A big hint this was coming

Luke's death may not have hit you as a huge surprise if you were paying close attention in "The Last Jedi."Skywalker hinted at it slightly earlier in the movie.
While his hologram was masterfully fighting Kylo Ren on Crait, he tells his nephew, "Strike me down in anger and I'll always be with you."
His line echoed what Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi said to Darth Vader in "A New Hope" during their final battle.
"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine," Kenobi says to Vader before he disappeared into an empty robe as he was struck with a lightsaber and became a Force Ghost himself.

What does this mean for Luke moving forward?
Will Luke Skywalker be in "Star Wars: Episode IX"? Up until his death, we were sure we would see him again, but now it's not so clear. "The Last Jedi" ends on an ambiguous note about where the franchise can go in the future. 
Mark Hamill teased a return for "Episode IX" back in August 2016. Hamill said he was getting rid of his "The Last Jedi" beard — at least until the next trilogy movie.

Haven't seen my chin since May '15, so #FarewellFacialFur & #ByeByeBeard (at least til #EpisodeIX) @popculturequest pic.twitter.com/gaScz1okk6 — @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) August 30, 2016

Still, we wouldn't be surprised if the next film has a bit of a time jump. But we'll have to wait a while to know for sure. 
You can follow along with our "Star Wars" coverage here. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 1,500 happily married people say the key to lasting relationships isn’t communication — it’s respect

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