Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There are a few things that fans know to expect from a new Star Wars movie: dozens of quotable lines; intense lightsaber battles; flirty glances shared between characters both old and new. One thing fans don't expect to see? The biggest hero of the franchise disappearing into thin air, after using the Force to project his mind and body elsewhere. Yeah, what happens to Luke at the end of The Last Jedi is pretty mind-blowing, and that's what makes it so damn cool to see.
In past Star Wars movies, other Jedi have been shown to disappear upon death, like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It doesn't happen for every Jedi, just some, and Luke is clearly one of them. Those who disappear can come back as Force Ghosts later on, and are able to interact with living people but not physically touch them. And it's totally possible that this will be the case for Luke.
While his death is obviously sad, fans shouldn't be too upset; as Rey and Leia both later note, the beloved Jedi seemed at peace when he vanished, having achieved total balance and having used his energy to fight for the greater good. Luke has reached the greatest goal a Jedi can hope to accomplish, and now, having done so, he can rest.
It took a lot to get Luke to that point. Leading into the finale of The Last Jedi, he is living like a total hermit, hiding out on an island with only native creatures and old Jedi texts for company. His isolation is interrupted by Rey, who, after much prodding (and, later, some help from Yoda), lures Luke out to train her to use the Force and help the Resistance defeat the First Order. Rey and Luke come into conflict, though, when Luke fears that Rey's powers are too intense, and she leaves him to go after Kylo Ren. Luke eventually goes to join her — or at least, that's what it seems like he does.
Soon after, Luke appears inside the cave where many rebels, including his sister Leia, are hiding out, trapped by the First Order. Everyone is surprised to see him, but none are happier than Leia, who has a sweet moment with her long-lost brother where he kisses her on the forehead. After saying goodbyes, Luke then heads out to face Kylo Ren, giving the rebels a chance to escape and find safety. Standing across from each other, lightsabers in hand, Luke and Kylo taunt and fight each other, until Luke finally lets Kylo stab him with his lightsaber.
But instead of dying, Luke is totally fine — and both Kylo and the audiences are left shocked at how that's possible. Due to his use of the Force, Luke is actually not with Kylo at all, but instead back home on his island, peacefully meditating and using his Jedi force to transport his body and mind into the situation with Kylo. It's an insanely cool trick, and if you found yourself loudly gasping when you realized what Luke has done, you most definitely were not alone. The hero projecting himself using the Force is nothing short of incredible.
But while one might assume that the death of the franchise's most notable hero would be nothing but upsetting, what happens to Luke is actually incredibly uplifting. Seeing Luke's cloak drop to the ground after he disappears shows that he's achieved that Jedi goal, and while his loved ones are sad that he's gone, they're happy — and fans should be, too — to know that he died in such a powerful, important way.
And of course, there's always the possibility that Luke isn't totally gone. Sure, he may have died, but, as said, Force Ghosts are a thing in the Star Wars universe, and it's possible that Luke will make an appearance in that way during the next Star Wars movie in 2019. Keep your fingers crossed that that's the case, because it's impossible to imagine a Star Wars movie without Luke involved in some shape or form.