Luke Skywalker: Jedi Knight. Farmboy. The real hero of Star Wars. Fans’ hearts everywhere went all a-flutter when he finally made his actual triumphant return in the most recent trailer for The Last Jedi. Now, of course we all know and love him for his heroics in the original Star Wars trilogy, but what about his adventures outside the movies? What crazy stuff does a Jedi Knight get up to when there’s not a galaxy-spanning evil Empire to stand up and rebel against? Whether it’s fighting Empire offshoots, bizarre aliens, and the Sith, to starting a family, founding a New Jedi Order, and of course, fighting his evil clone, even his brief appearance in The Force Awakens has some secrets to give up.
This list is going to be an attempt at a deep dive into Luke Skywalker and all the nutty things he did in between and after the movies, and between the proverbial pages. It’ll look at the pre-Disney Expanded Universe, called Legends, the post-Disney Expanded Universe, and stuff that didn’t quite make it into the movies themselves. We’ll even take a quick peek at the earliest origins of the character, and how he evolved into the lovable, if occasionally whiny, farmboy-turned-Jedi we know and love.
15. FELL TO THE DARK SIDE
Before Disney purchased Star Wars from George Lucas and started making their own sequels, and even before George started making the prequels, there was a whole universe of novels and comics detailing what happened after Return of the Jedi. In one of those comics, Dark Empire, Emperor Palpatine returns from the dead in a clone body.
To try and stop him, Luke joins him with the notion of bringing him down from the inside. This unfortunately backfires, and Palpatine’s corrupting influence causes him to fall to the dark side and betray the budding New Republic. Fortunately for the galaxy, Leia attempts a rescue mission, and although it fails, her presence allows Luke to shake off the Emperor’s influence and eventually defeat him once and for all.
14. A VISION OF ANAKIN
The Star Wars Tales comics were questionably canon even before the Disney buyout, but there are a few interesting stories about Luke to be found. In Star Wars Tales #15, a young Luke gets lost in a Tatooine sandstorm after running away from his uncle, who had refused to tell him about his father. He first sees a vision of very Darth Vader-looking silhouette, only for a young Anakin Skywalker to walk out.
Although Anakin only identifies himself as Annie, the boys find they have much in common, including not knowing much about their fathers. They wander through the sandstorm, and eventually attract the attention of a massive dragon. Anakin vanishes, and Luke kills the dragon. It’s possible and even likely all this was a dream, but Uncle Owen realizes after hearing the story that there’s something special about Luke.
13. FOUGHT DARTH VADER (BEFORE THE MOVIES)
This plot is a commonality between pre- and post-Disney Star Wars. In Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the very first piece of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Luke and Leia are attempting to find a powerful Force crystal called the Kaiburr Crystal. Unfortunately for them, so is Darth Vader. They fight over it, but Luke, empowered by the crystal and guided by the spirit of Obi-wan, manages to defeat him. Interestingly, the Kaiburr Crystal would later be repurposed as kyber crystals, the central element of a lightsaber.
After the Disney buyout, the confrontation between Luke and Vader before The Empire Strikes Back remained, but it goes a little (a lot) differently. In Marvel’s Star Wars comic, Luke gets the harebrained idea to go fight Vader for killing his father. Vader doesn’t recognize him (he realizes later, though), and kicks his butt pretty hard.
12. BUILT HIS LIGHTSABER IN OBI-WAN’S HOUSE
After losing his lightsaber in his duel with Vader on Bespin, Luke needed a new one (and Lucas needed a different color lightsaber to show up better in the Sarlacc pit sequence in Return of the Jedi). In both pre- and post-Disney, Luke returns to Tatooine and Obi-Wan’s home there to find a journal with instructions and materials to create his own lightsaber.
In Legends, he creates a synthetic crystal, much like those used in Sith lightsabers, while in post-Disney, he uses a natural kyber crystal. This green lightsaber would go on to be his main sidearm for the decades that followed, although disappointingly it didn’t make an appearance in The Force Awakens in a grand rescue attempt, perhaps accompanied by “I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you.”
11. MARRIED AN IMPERIAL ASSASSIN (WHO WANTED TO KILL HIM)
In the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War, the Rebellion became the New Republic, but not without some strong objections from some Imperial remnants. In one of these objections, a Force sensitive former Imperial assassin who had served Palpatine directly named Mara Jade attempted to kill Luke on a final order from the Emperor, but found herself unable to do so due to a growing fondness for him.
Luke suggested a way that allowed Mara to spend more time with him and the New Republic through her current, less evil employer and gave Mara his father’s recovered lightsaber, saying it was an important part of her path to becoming a Jedi. She eventually became a Jedi in Luke’s new order, and the two fell in love and got married in Star Wars: Union.
10. HAD A CHILD
In Luke’s New Jedi Order, romantic relationships were not only allowed, but encouraged. This included having children, since building up a population of Force sensitives is a lot easier when you can just birth new ones. Among these children were Han and Leia’s three kids, twins Jacen and Jaina, and their younger brother Anakin, Chewbacca’s nephew Lowbacca, and Luke and Mara Jade’s own child, Ben.
Ben would grow to be a powerful Jedi in his own right, even following in his father’s footsteps and romancing a dark side girl on a solo adventure. Unfortunately, Ben was erased before he could grow into a full adult along with the rest of the Legends canon, but his name lives on in Kylo Ren’s real name, Ben Solo.
9. HAD A CLONE
When Grand Admiral Thrawn (who made the jump to Disney Wars in Rebels) attacked the young New Republic after the fall of the Empire, he was aided by a cloned Old Republic Jedi Master named Joruus C’baoth. The series of novels where this was detailed came out before the prequels, so cloning technology was a little less concrete. Joruus had been a real jerk in his first life, and the cloning process made him even worse and he fell to the dark side.
He had a clone of Luke made from his severed hand, called him Luuke, and tried to use him to get Luke to fall to the dark side. Luuke nearly defeated Luke, but Mara Jade intervened and killed the clone before it could kill Luke. Luke clones would never be heard from again until an April Fool’s story written by Luuke in a universe where Mara accidentally killed the original Luke.
8. HE WAS ORIGINALLY NAMED ANNIKIN STARKILLER
Star Wars went through a whole lot of drafts and iterations before it made it to the screen, and in the very first draft, called The Star Wars, the protagonist was named Annikin Starkiller, and Luke Skywalker was his old man mentor. Also, Han Solo was a green alien. It was a ride. So, while technically there was a character named Luke Skywalker in the original draft, he was more like an early version of Obi-Wan Kenobi rather than the farmboy we came to love.
They still go to rescue Princess Leia, and Luke still leads a squadron of fighters to destroy the cleverly-named proto-Death Star, the Space Fortress, but Luke/Obi-Wan survives and Annikin and Leia fall in love. Eventually, names would be shuffled around and the original Luke character would be given a new name, while Annikin would become Luke.
7. SHARES A VOICE WITH DOZENS OF ANIMATED CHARACTERS
This entry is a more out-of-universe fun fact about Luke, but after the end of the Star Wars trilogy, Luke’s actor Mark Hamill went on to be a prolific voice actor. Most famously, he portrayed the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and the rest of the DCAU, as well as the Arkham Asylum series of video games. However, he’s also appeared in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Kids Next Door and Justice League Action (as characters other than the Joker).
Most importantly, he had a brief non-Luke cameo in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as the spirit of ancient Sith Lord Darth Bane, appearing before Yoda as he sought the secrets of becoming a Force ghost before the fall of the Republic. This is also, quite notably, where Yoda canonically first heard the prophecy he would later pass on to Luke himself that “There is another Skywalker.”
6. HE WAS ALWAYS A BAD TEACHER
In The Last Jedi trailer, we see and hear Luke expressing a whole lot of anxiety over his failure to keep Ben Solo/Kylo Ren from the dark side, and maybe even some hints of Rey’s own fall. Even before the Disney sequels, though, Luke had lost several students to the dark side in the Expanded Universe.
Starting with Kyp Durron falling hard and getting his hands on an Imperial superweapon that could wipe on entire solar systems, to Kueller, Brakiss and Zekk all falling together, with Zekk earning the title of “Darkest Knight” (the ’90s were A TIME for Star Wars). His niece Jaina nearly fell during an extragalactic invasion, but was saved before it was too late. His greatest failure, however, was his nephew, Jacen Solo, who fell hard enough to consider himself a Sith Lord, styling himself Darth Caedus, and attempting to become a new Emperor. Kylo’s fall is mirrored in all of them, Jacen most strongly
5. HIS SEXUALITY IS UP FOR GRABS WITH DISNEY
While Luke’s sexuality is pretty set in stone for the Legends canon, what with his marriage and having a child with a woman, in the new canon, it’s a little less clear. We essentially only have the movies and a few comics, where we never really get an indication of just what Luke likes to lick. Even Mark Hamill was vague when asked, saying “His sexuality is never addressed in the films. Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself.”
With The Last Jedi coming up, it’s possible and even likely we’ll get a bit more insight into what Luke got up to in the intervening 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, so hopefully this question and more will be answered. Maybe that fan theory about Rey being Luke’s daughter will be true.
4. TEAMED UP WITH A SITH LORD TO FIGHT LADY CTHULU
In the waning days of the Legends canon, Luke Skywalker and the Galactic Alliance were faced with an unknown eldritch threat called Abeloth. Together with his son, Luke set out into the wild spaces of the galaxy to track down and find a way to kill Abeloth. Out there, he found a Lost Tribe of the Sith, along with another, more secretive Sith Order that had been in hiding since the fall of the Empire.
While the Lost Tribe was corrupted by Abeloth and eventually wiped out, the other Sith’s leader, Darth Krayt, allied with Luke to slay the being. Although they both walked away from the confrontation, Krayt and his order would go on to outlive Luke and harry his descendant Cade in the Star Wars Legacy comics.
3. LUKE IS HIDING AT THE FIRST JEDI TEMPLE IN TFA
The central plot of The Force Awakens revolves around finding Luke, a narrative decision by the creative team to let Rey have her own story without being overshadowed. All we know is that Luke is hiding in an ancient Jedi temple, and the First Order is attempting to find him by just checking every single one.
Fortunately for Rey, she has access to R2-D2’s map that will lead her to him on the planet of Ahch-To. There, Luke is hiding at the very first Jedi temple ever, in shame for his failure with Ben Solo, and possibly to find a solution to the growing power of Snoke. All of this is likely going to be a pretty important plot point for The Last Jedi, along with that big ol’ tree.
2. THE TFA SCRIPT TELLS US A LOT ABOUT LUKE
While Luke has a very minor role in The Force Awakens, serving more as a MacGuffin than an actual character, the leaked script reveals to us some character notes that tell us a whole lot more about what’s going on in Luke’s head when he and Rey finally meet, along with a few other plot tidbits. We know now, with The Last Jedi‘s second trailer, that Rey’s initial vision of Luke is in front of a burning temple, but that was first revealed in the TFA script.
But most interesting is the character direction: “A kindness in his eyes, but there’s something tortured, too. He doesn’t need to ask her who she is, or what she is doing here. His look says it all,” revealing that not only does Luke know who Rey is and why she’s is there, but also the fear and trepidation he will later express in The Last Jedi.
1. LUKE IS YOUNGER THAN YOU THINK
Let’s face it, although the beard is a great look on him, Luke looks pretty haggard in The Force Awakens. But apparently that’s what losing all your students and nearly getting killed then living on a tiny rock in the middle of an ocean will do to you.
While Mark Hamill is 64, Luke himself is more than a decade younger at 53, since he’s 19 in A New Hope and The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi. However, there’s a bit of lee-way here, as Pablo Hidalgo, head of the Lucasfilm Story Group, revealed that time flows different on Dagobah, meaning he could’ve been there for what felt like several years instead of the brief implied time we saw in Empire.
Do you know any interesting Luke facts? Let us know in the comments!
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