A motif was composed by John Williams representing tension. First used in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, the tension leitmotif is played as Wedge Antilles escapes the second Death Star and rejoins the Alliance Fleet moments before the Death Star explodes.
Starting with the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, the motif is employed throughout the sequel trilogy, with the 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi featuring multiple dozens of instances of the motif being played as an ostinato. In the same film, the motif is developed into the desperation motif, which in turn forms a significant part of the "Anthem of Evil" featured in the 2019 film The Rise of Skywalker. The film features a looser version of the tension motif in the track "They Will Come," played immediately before the "March of the Resistance."
The score of the 2002 prequel trilogy film Attack of the Clones features the tension motif used in The Force Awakens, although the music is ultimately cut from the prequel film. However, a similar motif is played in the final cut of Attack of the Clones, representing the Grand Army of the Republic and as part of the track "The Arena."
Unused music from the score of Revenge of the Sith features a rendition of the leitmotif, which is played in a deleted scene of Anakin Skywalker arriving at the Senate office building to save Darth Sidious. Unused battle music from The Force Awakens also feature the motif.
The motif is repeated at increasing volume at the end of "The Phantom Apprentice," an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars's seventh season, scored by Kevin Kiner and released in 2020. The music accompanies Ahsoka Tano's contemplation of Maul's warnings that the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order is doomed due to the machinations of Darth Sidious.
The tension motif is also played in multiple other films scored by John Williams, including The Lost World: Jurassic Park—released in 1997, where the motif follows Peter Ludlow's demise—all installments of the Harry Potter film series that were scored by Williams, Minority Report, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Adventures of Tintin, and The Post.