As one of the most prominent components of the Star Wars Universe, the Skywalker family is at the heart of every major conflict in the galaxy. The drama of one family lineage permeates every corner of space from Tatooine in the Outer Rim to Coruscant in the very center. It began with the mysterious origins surrounding Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy from Tatooine who becomes a powerful Jedi, and continued with his children, who would follow in his footsteps albeit along very different paths.
The Skywalker family, exceptionally strong with the Force, have a tendency to struggle with their allegiances to the Light or Dark Side. This conflict results in a variety of difficult choices, chief among them the decision to conceal certain truths from each other and their loved ones. Many are glaringly obvious, like the choice to hide the Skywalker twins from Anakin, so that he wouldn’t be able to turn them to the Dark Side. Some are more subtle, like choosing to keep the identity of Darth Vader a secret long after his death, so that his children and grandchildren wouldn’t bear the burden of his horrible actions simply by sharing his name. These 15 dark Skywalker family secrets have shaped the events of the galaxy.
15 LUKE WAS ONCE TURNED TO THE DARK SIDE
What would have happened if Rebel Alliance golden boy Luke Skywalker ditched all the freedom fighting to pledge unswerving loyalty to the Emperor? The comic Dark Empire explores this concept, where Luke determines that the only way to defeat the Emperor is to feign subservience and strike from within the ranks of the Empire, serving Palpatine in much the same way as his father.
The surreptitious pull of the Dark Side proves too strong for young Skywalker, however, and he actually becomes corrupted by the very forces he swore to fight against. Only Leia, his twin and a Force user just beginning to tap into her powers can come to his aid and make him see the merit of the Light Side and the Rebellion.
14 LEIA ALMOST MARRIED SOMEONE OTHER THAN HAN SOLO
Right after the events of Return of the Jedi, when Han Solo has long since recovered from being a Solo-sicle in carbonite and very much hot for Princess Leia, she is betrothed to Prince Isolder of Hapes, an affluent planet promising amazing resources to the fledgling New Republic as it rebuilds.
Isolder is tall, handsome, and incredibly wealthy, which causes Han to be incredibly jealous. He descends into Coruscant and bets all his credits in a high stakes sabacc game. It pays off, and his winnings include the deed to the remote jungle planet Dathomir. He decides it would be the perfect wedding gift for Leia, and more than prove his worth. Nevermind the wild rancor herds, local witches, and hostile terrain. When she turns it down, he kidnaps her and drags her there, forcing Isolder and Luke to go after them.
13 LUKE ALMOST BECAME THE NEXT DARTH VADER AFTER ROTJ
In the Dark Empire comic, a storyline involving Luke’s turn to the Dark Side was explored, but ultimately Leia could bring him back from the brink of corruption. At the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, Lucas toyed with the idea of Luke picking up Vader’s helmet and putting it on, deciding to go down the same path his father did (though it’s unclear if the Emperor would be alive in this scenario), and mirroring his confrontational vision with Vader in the cave on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.
Ultimately, he decided it would be too dark an ending to his trilogy, but in The Last Jedi, audiences do see Kylo Ren, aka Leia’s son Ben Solo, destroy Supreme Leader Snoke and decide to take his place bending the galaxy to his will, albeit sans a mask.
12 VADER’S ARMOR IS MADE FROM MYSTICAL SITH ALLOYS
As physically imposing as Vader’s armor is, it’s as much magic as it is mechanical. Created with ancient Sith alloys as Dark Side priests chanted ancient Sith incantations, it was supposed to increase the Force Powers of the owner, allowing them to draw upon the Dark Side from it. Sith alchemy was a sacred and revered tradition, and ancient Sith warriors adorned themselves in heavy armor that was imbued with it to give them improved strength.
Since Anakin Skywalker’s body was badly damaged and scarred followed his lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan, the suit restored his body’s vitality as much as the mechanical components assisted with making him able to walk and breathe properly. As powerful a Sith Lord as Vader was, he was never able to function without the support of his armor, except for short periods of time in his pressurized meditation chambers.
11 LUKE ALMOST JOINED THE IMPERIAL ACADEMY
Though Luke was no fan of the Empire, he’d do almost anything to get off the backwater planet of Tatooine. Every year he broached the subject of leaving with his Uncle Owen, and every year Uncle Owen gave him the same response; he needed him to help bring in the harvest. What harvest might that be? Being moisture farmers, that harvest was water. Condensation is about the only thing that “grows” on Tatooine and makes for a stable living if you’re not a junk trader or a gambler.
The only way Luke would further his way in the galaxy was via the Imperial Academy, which was the amalgamation of a military and trade school. There, he could become a fighter pilot, engineer, or spacecraft technician. Of course, it would all have been in service to the Empire, and his life would have taken a very different course.
10 VADER’S LIGHTSABER BLEEDS
One of the final components to completing a Jedi’s training is the construction of their own lightsaber. Most Jedi have to find a “Force Crystal”, or Kyber Crystal, and use it to power and focus the energy beam emitted from the handle. The quest for a Kyber Crystal is part of a Jedi’s final test, since it often takes them to the far reaches of the galaxy. Jedi lightsaber beams come in a variety of colors, though predominantly blue and green, which evoke serenity and strength. A red blade is strictly associated with the Sith and the Dark Side.
According to Marvel’s comic series Darth Vader, Vader’s crystal is not inherently red. As part of a Sith Right of Passage, Vader focuses his anger and hatred on the crystal (which is a living entity) and causes it pain, effectively making it “bleed” and turn his blade a blood-red color.
9 THEY HAVE BETRAYED THE JEDI CODE TO HAVE CHILDREN
To become a Jedi is to swear off attachment. A Jedi Knight cannot be tied to people or possessions, as that inhibits their ability to commune with the Force. It may cloud their judgment, and make them less susceptible to the lessons of the Jedi doctrine. When Anakin Skywalker becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s apprentice, he is taken from his mother and life on Tatooine, but is reintroduced to his childhood crush Padme.
They form a romantic attachment, get married, and eventually have children. They have to keep all of this a secret, or Anakin would be expelled from the Jedi Order. Decades later, Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker would eschew the ways of the Jedi Order as well and have a son, Ben. In this way he encourages his Jedi pupils to do the same, thus increasing the amount of Force sensitives that will help fill the Jedi ranks.
8 LUKE MARRIED THE ASSASSIN SENT TO KILL HIM
In Star Wars Legends, several books chronicle Luke Skywalker’s many entanglements with the assassin Mara Jade. A covert operative for the Emperor, her last directive was to kill Luke Skywalker, put in place in case Vader failed to turned him to the Dark Side. When the Emperor was killed in Return of the Jedi, she nevertheless was compelled to carry out her mission. She fought Luke on several occasions but was never able to eradicate him, and occasionally they had to join forces against common enemies.
As sometimes happens, friction and blind hatred turned to begrudging respect and even love, and after many years involved in a tumultuous, will-they-won’t-they relationship, she finally consented to being Luke’s wife (presumably after he defeated her in combat), becoming Mrs. Luke Skywalker and bearing him a son, Ben.
7 DARTH VADER’S TRUE IDENTITY
The fact that Darth Vader’s real name was Anakin Skywalker, former Jedi Knight, wasn’t common knowledge. According to the average galactic citizen, Anakin perished on Mustafar following his lightsaber battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi. No one knew who was behind the black mask of the scourge Palpatine used to purge the galaxy of the remaining Jedi Knights and bring all its systems under Imperial control. In the standalone novel Tarkin, it is said that the Grand Moff was aware of Anakin’s identity, the young Jedi having rescued him on Palpatine’s orders from a Separatist prison during the Clone Wars.
Though Luke and Leia came to know of Vader’s identity as their father, that was kept a secret too until decades after his death. During a session of the Galactic Senate, Senator Leia Organa’s secret was outed by a spy for a group that wanted independence from the Senate’s regulations.
6 LUKE WAS CLONED WITH DNA FROM HIS SEVERED HAND
At the conclusion of their epic battle on Cloud City, Luke lost a hand but gained the high ground, choosing to deprive Vader of what he wanted most; his son’s coercion to the Dark Side. The hand, however, fell into the possession of one crazed Jedi Master Joruus C’baoth who used its DNA to make a direct clone of Luke Skywalker (imaginatively named “Luuke Skywalker”).
Originally, Luke’s hand and lightsaber were recovered by Darth Vader himself, and placed in a storage facility on the planet Wayland. C’baoth was able to mind control an Imperial officer into granting him access to this storehouse and use a Spaarti cloning facility to make a direct copy of Luke in every way, right down to his Force abilities. The two Lukes ended up squaring off against one another when Luke refused to become C’baoth’s apprentice and join the Dark Side.
5 LUKE AND LEIA ARE THE OFFSPRING OF DARTH VADER
Of course the most obvious secret of the Skywalker family is that Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa are the legitimate children of Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader. The truth was concealed from them so that they could live out their lives without any knowledge of their father, once a great Jedi Knight who betrayed the Jedi Order and fell to the Dark Side. By separating them at birth and sending them to opposite ends of the galaxy, Vader had no idea of their existence, believing that his wife had died in childbirth.
Luke and Leia became a grave liability to Vader’s Master, Emperor Palpatine, once he was made aware of their existence. He gave Lord Vader one directive; they would be turned to the Dark Side like their father, or die.
4 LUKE FIRST MET OBI-WAN WHEN HE WAS 13 YEARS OLD
A New Hope would have you believe that Luke’s first encounter with the space hermit Obi-Wan was when he went chasing after R2-D2 and got attacked by Sand People. He mentioned he’d heard of “Old Ben” who lives out beyond the Dune Sea, but didn’t suggest that they’d met face to face.
In fact, they had met before, when Luke was 13. Luke’s early life on Tatooine is chronicled as part of a 10-month long Korean webtoon published before the events of Episode IV (that is considered canon), including a dangerous run in with a Krayt Dragon. If it wasn’t for Obi-Wan’s intervention, Luke may have been killed, thus severally altering the fate of the galaxy. Obi-Wan continued to fulfill his promise to Master Yoda that he would protect and watch over Anakin’s son from afar.
3 THE EMPEROR SOUGHT TO ELIMINATE VADER
According to Sith tradition, there are only ever two Sith present in the galaxy -- a master, and an apprentice. The Sith philosophy was instituted by Darth Bane, who saw that it was internal fighting and conflict that led to the destruction of the Sith way of life long before the Clone Wars. The war against the Jedi Order and the Sith a thousand years before the reign of Emperor Palpatine meant that the Sith had to labor in secret to overthrow the power of the Light Side once again.
Emperor Palpatine chose Anakin Skywalker as his apprentice who, at the height of his powers, was a fearsome Dark Side user. But once, as Darth Vader, he discovered his son was alive, Palpatine doubted his loyalty and began to train other apprentices in secret, dispatching them to kill Vader and take his place. Vader never forgot the betrayal.
2 VADER’S SUIT CAUSED HIM PHYSICAL PAIN
Vader’s suit was a combination of ancient Sith Lord armor and life support, enabling him to move relatively unencumbered and strike an intimidating presence. As much as it was essential to his health and his objective to enforce the Emperor’s will, it was not without its drawbacks.
In its construction, the Emperor ensured that it was especially painful to wear, with small needles pricking what remained of Vader’s skin periodically to take “vital health readings”, as well as “feed” him intravenously with nutrients. The main purpose of the discomfort was to make him eternally agitated, thus able to draw upon the Dark Side more easily. One of his gauntlets was also patterned after an ancient Sith amulet, and was virtually indestructible (the one Luke removed at Cloud City, and inspiration for the novel The Glove of Darth Vader, said to bestow upon its possessor great Sith powers).
1 LUKE MET ANAKIN SKYWALKER
According to the Star Wars Tales, before the events of Episode IV, Luke ran away from his aunt and uncle’s moisture farm and into the Jundland Wastes. While out amongst the dunes, he gets caught in a sandstorm, and is approached by a hulking figure that looks suspiciously like Darth Vader. When the shadow comes into focus, it belongs to a young boy named “Annie” (Anakin Skywalker’s childhood name), who helps Luke get out of the sandstorm and into a cave.
They have several conversations about why they both want to leave Tatooine, their love of flying, and their ability to fix anything. Where they differ is their opinion about choice, and whether or not people should be made to see a certain perspective or develop their own. As the storm clears, Luke is found by his uncle, who declares the entire encounter was a dream.