Despite previous reports to the contrary, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed on Friday that the late Carrie Fisher will not appear in Star Wars: Episode IX. That's disheartening enough for fans on its own, but it also begs an upsetting question: Does General Leia die in The Last Jedi?
As of now, it's hard to tell. Last Jedi reportedly wrapped filming last July — before Fisher's death — and it's currently unclear if producers went back to rework any of the material. We know that Fisher had finished shooting her scenes for the movie prior to her passing late last year, and though we don't know where her character's story left off, it does give the team behind the franchise some narrative to work with.
From a plot perspective, it would hard to sidestep Fisher's absence without some sort of dramatic twist. As a leader for the Resistance, Leia was a crucial player in the group’s struggle against the First Order, and director Colin Trevorrow previously told Entertainment Tonight he was eyeing an even bigger role for Leia in Episode IX. After Fisher's death, the Star Wars team had to majorly restructure their plan for the film, and as Kennedy revealed during an interview with ABC News, they "started over in January."
The Last Jedi will mark Fisher's last appearance as Leia, so writers will have to find some way to tie up loose ends. Unfortunately, in Hollywood, that often means killing the character, though they could continue Leia's story off-screen.
It's doubtful that a franchise as big as Star Wars will let out spoilers any time soon, so we may have to wait as long as 2019's Episode IX to find out Leia's fate. For now, it's comforting, at least, that Fisher's legacy will go untouched. No one else could ever fill her shoes.