I'm just going to put this whole thing in spoilers.

What I'm wondering is why, after the Death Star had fired and the explosion was nearing his hideout, Saw decided to stick around and just watch as his death approached. It seemed like aside from the main characters, there were other characters who made it out in various ships, so I assume Saw had a ship of his own he could escape in.

I know Saw is a somewhat complex character, and I feel like a lot of the nuance of him didn't get explored in the film, but I was wondering if there was maybe something I missed, or something from other sources that would explain his behavior in this scene.

  • Good question. To explore this question, one may want to look at The Clone Wars TV series, the Catalyst Rogue One Novel, and the official novelisation of Rogue One. I believe that is all the references to Saw Guerrera in Canon material. (Come to think of it, he may have had a minor mention in Bloodline) – DBPriGuy Dec 19 '16 at 15:15
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    Only having seen the TV show and the most recent movie, my speculation is that he chose to die because he was suffering/on death's door already. During and since his time as an insurgent in the Clone Wars, Saw has seen many horrors and the deaths of many friends including his sister. He has also been severely injured between the Clone Wars and Rogue one, and seems to rely on a life support suit that leaves him in pain at all times – DBPriGuy Dec 19 '16 at 15:18
  • @DBPriGuy I guess that explanation makes sense, but man that's depressing. – DaaaahWhoosh Dec 19 '16 at 15:23
  • Yeah, he's kinda a sad character. I feel that explanation is somewhat speculative, so I'm not putting it as an answer until I can find more evidence to support it. – DBPriGuy Dec 19 '16 at 15:32
  • Not to mention that Saw may blame himself for Steela's death, the rocket he fired to down a separatist gunship ultimately winding up killing her. – DBPriGuy Dec 19 '16 at 15:38

Various reasons

  • Due to his injuries, he was incapable of fleeing under his own power, and he didn’t want to face the shame of having to be dragged out by his people.

    He turned away from the window, stumbled, and saw his console spark with one last surge of power. He thought of his soldiers in the catacombs, considered what order to give. But they were surely evacuating already. His lieutenants knew the next rendezvous, and they knew their duty.

    Well enough to also know he would only slow them down?

    He envisioned dragging his failing body, trapped in its unwieldy armor, down the collapsing corridors of the monastery with the support of a warrior under each arm. It was a humiliation. It was a fantasy.

    It’s time, Saw. Past time.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • That it was “a fantasy” also suggests that he might not have been able to get out even if he had ordered his soldiers to help him, probably because he would have slowed them down too much.

  • Generally speaking, he’s resigned and wants to die. He’s been living in constant agony for so long, that death might in some sense be a relief.

  • He thinks there are more important things than his own survival:

    Saw’s bellow seemed to shatter stone behind them and dwarf even the roar of the cataclysm: “Save the Rebellion!” he cried. “Save the dream!”

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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    Specific to the living in constant agony part, he references that in the film. When talking to Jan, he says something to the effect of "Come to kill what little remains of me?" It comes across very bitter and "I wish I didn't have to keep going", so it was probably a relief that he couldn't escape the blast even if he tried. Also relevant, when he unsnapped the breathing hose I (subjectively) got a sense of "at last I'm free of this" – Robert Wertz Dec 19 '16 at 17:53

In the original script (as reflected in the film's junior novelisation) it would appear that the ship was much farther away, requiring a run of several minutes through the maze of the catacombs. A man in Saw's condition, hobbled and incapable of fast movement, would have been a massive liability to Jyn's escape, something that he clearly recognised.

Obviously, in the film itself his decision is less explicable given that they practically land the ship on his doorstep.

Jyn stood up but hesitated. She took Saw’s arm as if she planned to haul the man along with them. He shook her off, though, and Cassian could see why. He was slow, beaten, sick. No longer the legendary warrior—the terror of the Empire—he’d once been. He wasn’t able to run any longer, but he wanted to make sure Jyn did.
“Save yourself. Please!”
“Come on,” Cassian said as he took her by the hand. She resisted him, not willing to abandon the old man who Cassian knew had once treated her like his daughter.
“Go!” Saw shouted, insisting even harder. This was his final wish, and he wanted nothing more than for her to grant it.
Cassian could see she wanted to argue with Saw, but the entire place was about to come down around their ears. It wasn’t like they could throw a grown man in armor over their shoulders and still escape. “There’s no time!”


Jyn didn’t know the layout of Saw’s hideout well enough to decide which way to run. Fortunately, Cassian seemed to have a better sense of things.

She chased him through the place’s empty corridors. Everyone else—all the other prisoners and even the rest of Saw’s rebels—seemed to have left already. They’d been able to see what was about to happen to Jedha, and they hadn’t been worried about leaving a father figure to die.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – A Junior Novel

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