Entertainment

Without Carrie Fisher, where does Star Wars go next?

Carrie Fisher's death has left some uncomfortable questions on where the Star Wars universe goes without Leia, the series' princess, general and original heroine.

Fisher had completed her work on Star Wars Episode VIII, slated for December 2017

Carrie Fisher poses with a person dressed as a stormtrooper upon arrival at the European premiere of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens in London. (Jonathan Short/Invision/The Associated Press)

Fans were grief-stricken at the news that actor and author Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, after suffering a heart attack Friday on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

Mixed with the grief, however, came new questions about the future of her most famous character, Princess Leia, in the continuing Star Wars universe.

Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford reunited as Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in 2015's Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Since the events of 1983's Return of the Jedi, Leia had effectively shed the title of Princess, becoming better known as General Leia Organa.

While for the most part they appeared to pass the torch to the new trio of heroes Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, they nonetheless played pivotal roles in The Force Awakens plot (spoilers ahead).

Fisher also appears briefly in Rogue One, albeit as a digital render made to look like Leia's younger self just before the events of the first Star Wars film, A New Hope.

'Larger role' for Leia in Episode VIII

Fisher had already completed her work on Episode VIII, which is scheduled to hit theatres in December 2017 — nearly a full year after her death.

Deadline reports that Leia's character was to play "a larger role" in the next film, but Disney and Lucasfilms have kept a tight lockdown on plot details.

She was also expected to appear in the following Episode IX, but filming isn't slated to begin until 2018.

The fallout from The Force Awakens brings with it the eerie possibility that we might see the late Fisher-as-Leia mourning the death of Han Solo. Ford's character was murdered in The Force Awakens by their son Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver.

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford at Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel during the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2015. ( Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Fans and critics have speculated that Leia could play a pivotal role in Ren's ongoing story arc, including a potential redemption further down the line.

Depending on what Fisher and director Rian Johnson had filmed for Episode VIII, that thread may have to be cut short or significantly changed.

Film studios have found themselves in uncomfortable creative conundrums following the deaths of their headliners, sometimes before their last works are released.

Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker died in a car crash in 2013, before he completed his scenes for Furious 7. His brothers Cody and Caleb were used as stand-ins to film the remaining scenes.

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      Other posthumous credits

      Fisher's posthumous credits won't be limited to the Star Wars franchise.

      Entertainment Weekly reports she had completed voice work for two episodes of Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, as the recurring supporting character Angela.

      She's also set to appear in the upcoming fashion-fantasy film Wonderwell starring Rita Ora.

      And she will also appear as herself, with her mother Debbie Reynolds, in the upcoming HBO documentary Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.