WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
You can be forgiven if you're struggling to recall just exactly who the Knights of Ren are. The brief introduction of the mysterious order in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- first when mentioned by Supreme Leader Snoke and then in a vision seen by Ren when she touches Luke Skywalker's lightsaber -- held the promise that the group of Dark Side users would play a prominent role in the new trilogy. Although we were only given those two tidbits of information, it was understood the Knights of Ren were were worthy of our fear.
Of course, the internet buzzed with fan theories about these warriors, with some accepting they were Snoke’s red-clad Praetorian Guard. However, that theory is proved in Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be false. While Rey’s vision showed six members of the Knights of Ren, there are eight warriors in the Praetorian Guard, all of whom Rey and Kylo Ren slaughtered without hesitation.
So The Last Jedi did nothing to shed light on the Knights of Ren. As the group isn't explicitly mentioned in the film, writer/director Rian Johnson doesn't offer any insight into its origins, whereabouts or the nature of its power, right? Well, to a degree.
According to Luke Skywalker, when he failed Ben Solo by attempting to kill his nephew before the darkness within him could manifest, the future Kylo Ren overpowered his then-teacher before burning the school to the ground and slaughtering some of his fellow pupils. However, some of the students chose to join their classmate. Luke reveals that Kylo Ren escaped with “a handful” of students. While that seems to be a plausible origin story for the Knights of Ren, it does little to quench our thirst for information about its current location.
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Although we can likely assume that the Jedi pupils Kylo Ren escaped with completed their training with Supreme Leader Snoke to become the Knights of Ren, we still have no explanation for why they don't make an appearance in The Last Jedi; they're not even mentioned. It's odd that an elite group of warriors wouldn't be viewed as a useful weapon in the fight against the Resistance, but apparently Snoke and Kylo Ren see the Knights that way. That means that somewhere in the universe, there is a group of six highly skilled fighters whom we can only assume fall on the spectrum somewhere between "Force-sensitive" and "skilled Force users."
A short answer to the question “Whatever happened to the Knights of Ren?” is ... frankly, we aren’t sure. Although The Last Jedi hints at the origins of the Knights of Ren, the group's absence from the film is difficult to read. Where have these Knights been over the course of the past two films?
Hopefully J.J. Abrams will answer that and other questions in Episode IX, which arrives in theaters in December 2019. Now that Kylo Ren has declared himself the Supreme Leader of the First Order, he’ll certainly need his own guards, seeing as he and Rey dispatched Snoke’s. Who better to fill the position than the group of warriors with whom he shares a name?
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. The film is in theaters worldwide.