Luke Skywalker. A name etched into the minds of most of the western world (consciously or subconsciously) since 1977. For many people, myself included, he’s the ultimate hero, going on a journey from an admittedly slightly bratty young man to a fully-fledged Jedi Master. In this, he essentially embodies the dreams of every Star Wars fan.
Raised on Tatooine, where Star Wars spends the lion’s share of its time, by his mysteriously grumpy uncle, Luke turns from a farming boy into a pilot and then a Jedi. He’s portrayed by Mark Hammill, who’s undoubtedly one of the most universally loved people today.
Whether you grew up with the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie or came into the fandom, later on, everyone loves Luke. I hope this article does him some justice.
Bottom Line Up Front
Although we see his and Leia’s births at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Luke was first introduced to the scene in A New Hope as a somewhat whiny child with some severe mindfulness issues – always dreaming and exploring, never focusing on where he was going – something Yoda famously scolded him for.
This one, a long time I have watched. All his life has he looked away. To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.
And yet, the dreamy, perhaps sometimes slightly frustrating boy became a man in dramatic fashion. He learned to be a Jedi from Ben Kenobi, rescued the princess (who turned out to be his sister), joined the Rebel Alliance, blew up the Death Star, fought the Imperials, met the Jedi Grand Master, walked into a trap, had his hand cut off, and finally found out he was Darth Vader’s son. That’s all it took(!)
The Luke Skywalker of Return of the Jedi is a very different man from the character in Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. He’s cool, calm, and collected if a little rash. In fact, he is the very opposite of who he was before. As a mature Jedi Master, he’s now learned his lesson. The man defeats the Sith, rescuing his friends and the entire galaxy from the Empire’s tyranny.
He goes on to teach a new generation of Jedi, before being betrayed by his manipulated nephew Ben Solo. Although he hides in exile, Rey eventually persuades him to return. He issues a Force projection of himself to fight for the Resistance, saving their lives and allowing them to escape.
The enormous strain on Luke’s tired body causes him to pass away, becoming one with the Force. Here, he joins Leia and watches on proudly as Rey puts her heritage aside and leads the way in forming a new era for the Skywalkers and the Jedi.
Luke Skywalker Bio
Luke and Leia were twins, children of the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and Republic Senator of Naboo Padme Amidala. After Anakin had premonitions of Padme’s death in childbirth, he fell to the Dark Side in a naive, manipulated, and misguided attempt to save her life. Anakin Skywalker was consumed by Darth Vader.
Just before her death, Padme delivered Luke, the eldest by a few moments, and Leia. As the children of Vader, they had to be immediately hidden for the galaxy’s future. They would certainly be targets for the Emperor and his new apprentice. The Sith Lord only knew he had one child until the last few minutes of his life, so splitting them up and keeping them hidden was paramount.
Luke was taken to his step-family on Tatooine. His uncle, Owen, was the son of Anakin’s mother’s husband later in life, and his wife Beru took the infant in.
The Moisture Farm
Luke grew up on his uncle’s moisture farm, with several friends living nearby. He was always hoping to join the Imperial Academy and become a pilot. He was constantly unsettled and looking to the stars, dreaming, but was needed by his uncle on the farm.
Everything would continue in what Luke felt was a blasé day-to-day routine until, quite by chance (or perhaps the will of the Force), he came across two droids that would change his life.
R2-D2, C-3PO, and Old Ben Kenobi
Jawa traders would regularly come by the moisture farm, lining up droids they’d scavenged and repaired that Owen might find useful. On this occasion, the farm needed a protocol droid “fluent in over six million… (yes, yes, we know)” and an astromech. C-3PO and R2-D2 entered Luke’s life.
As he dusted them down, Luke accidentally uncovered part of a secret message from Princess Leia Organa to an Obi-Wan Kenobi hidden in R2’s memory banks. R2 then tricked him into removing the restraining bolt so he could resume control over his circuitry, hiding the message entirely. The plucky astromech then escaped, heading off to find Obi-Wan at nightfall.
At dawn, a frustrated Luke took the ever-hapless C-3PO to search for the droid. They reached the Jundland Wastes when they were attacked by Sand People, and Luke was left for dead. He was saved by a mysterious figure appearing through the rocks – Ben Kenobi, who had introduced himself to Luke some years earlier as an old friend of his father’s.
After revealing that his real name was, in fact, Obi-Wan, Ben took him back to his hut. Here, R2 played the message in full, where Leia begged the former Jedi to help her and the Rebels in their fight against the Empire – a war they were losing badly. He was her “only hope”. Skywalker also learned about his father, a Jedi Knight whom Obi-Wan explained was betrayed and murdered by one of his former pupils, Darth Vader.
Obi-Wan wanted Luke’s help, feeling “too old for this”. The boy, however, having been swamped by his uncle’s way of thinking for his whole life, wanted to return home. Halfway home, they came across the Jawa Sandcrawler that sold the droids to the farm. It had been completely destroyed, and Luke realized with horror that the Imperials could probably trace R2 and C-3PO back to the farm.
He rushed off… but it was too late. Owen and Beru had been brutally murdered and burned. With nothing left on Tatooine, Luke opted to travel with Obi-Wan, wanting to learn to be a Jedi like his father.
Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon
Keeping a low profile (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”), the party of four entered Mos Espa. In a cantina, they found Han Solo – who had just killed Greedo – and Chewbacca, his lifelong friend and first mate.
Kenobi engaged Han and Chewie to fly them to Alderaan for an exorbitant price – something they could afford to pay once they reached the prosperous, peaceful world. After escaping Tatooine, they jumped to hyperspace and flew to the planet. However, on their arrival, there was only an asteroid field.
While teaching Luke how to use a lightsaber and the Force during the journey, Obi-Wan felt the deaths of millions. It would later dawn on him with horror that the Death Star had instantly destroyed the entire planet. Despite Han’s mockery, Luke continued to put his trust in Kenobi, the Force, and the image he held of his father.
The Death Star
The party, looking out from the Falcon, saw what appeared to be a small moon. As they approached it, the image became clearer: it was a colossal battle station: the Death Star. Caught in a tractor beam, the ship was pulled into a hangar.
They stowed away in the smuggling compartments while stormtroopers checked for anyone on board before assaulting the following scanning team. Taking their uniforms and helmets, Han, Chewbacca, and Luke snuck into the Death Star, searching for Leia. Obi-Wan, meanwhile, went to disable the tractor beam.
Luke accompanied Han and Chewie to the detention level, where they fought a series of Imperials and found Leia. Cornered by stormtrooper reinforcements, the party was forced to escape through the garbage crusher, almost meeting a grizzly end before being saved by R2-D2 and C-3PO.
With Leia’s help, they escaped back to the Millennium Falcon, meeting the droids along the way. Just before boarding the ship, Luke turned and saw Obi-Wan dueling a Dark Lord of the Sith: Darth Vader. Seeing that his fight with Vader had distracted him long enough to save Luke, Kenobi smiled and lowered his saber, allowing his opponent to cut him down. The old, tired Jedi became one with the Force.
Luke was distraught, but the old man’s sacrifice allowed him and his new friends to escape.
They traveled to Yavin IV, a small moon where there was a Rebel base. The Death Star entered orbit on the other side of the planet and would be in range before long.
R2-D2 held within him the Death Star plans. The Rebel analysts explored it in incredible detail, finding only one weakness – a tiny exhaust port that led directly to the main reactor. Luke joined the main assault force in one last-ditch attempt to fire a proton torpedo down the vent. If they failed, the moon would be destroyed, along with all the hope in the galaxy.
The best Rebel pilots were being blown out of space and missing the tiny target. Encouraged by Obi-Wan through the Force, Luke switched off his targeting computer. Instead, he relied on instinct alone, trusting in the Force.
It was a hit. The Death Star blew up, and Luke – along with his friends – had saved the galaxy.
Empire Strikes Back
While defending the Rebel base on Hoth, the Force spirit of Obi-Wan appeared to Luke and told him to travel to Dagobah to find a wise Jedi by the name of Yoda. While the rest of the fleet escaped, he followed Kenobi’s advice and headed to the swamp planet with R2 in his X-Wing.
Unable to land properly, Luke crashed his ship, which sank into the mire. He met a small, green creature who he would eventually discover was Master Yoda, the wisest and oldest of all the Jedi.
Yoda began to teach Luke how to use the Force properly. He deepened the young man’s connection. However, Luke’s new connection to the Force was manipulated by Vader and the Emperor, and they goaded him into a trap. Despite warnings and pleas from Yoda and the ghost of Ben, he ignored them and headed straight to Bespin to rescue his friends.
Of course, as expected, it was a trap. Vader was waiting for him. Han was frozen in carbonite and delivered to Jabba the Hutt, although Lando freed Leia and Chewbacca. After defeating him in a duel, Vader lopped off Luke’s hand at the wrist, with that lightsaber falling into oblivion. Hanging over a precipice, the Sith Lord told Luke that famous line:
No. I am your father.
Finding this almost impossible to believe, Luke screamed back and allowed himself to fall. He was saved by his friends in the Falcon and taken to the Rebel fleet to heal.
Over the next year, Luke came to accept his position as the son of Darth Vader. He constructed a new green lightsaber and developed a far stronger connection to the Force.
Eventually, he headed to Jabba’s Palace after other attempts to free Han failed. Captured, was transported to the Sarlacc, where he quickly tore through the crime lord’s ranks, rescuing Leia from his clutches and speeding off into the distance, leaving the smoking sail barge and dead Hutt far behind.
As they departed Tatooine, Luke took his X-Wing back to Dagobah, intending to fulfill his promise to Obi-Wan and Yoda and complete his training. To his surprise, Yoda was dying, having reached around 900 years of age. At this death, Yoda informed him that he would be the last Jedi but that the Force ran strong in the Skywalker family.
Luke. There is… another… Skywalker…
After Yoda passed away and became one with the Force, Luke talked with the Force ghost of Obi-Wan, who spoke to him of the necessity of killing Vader. He also learned that Leia was his twin sister and how they were both hidden to protect them from the Emperor.
On Endor, Luke was part of the team approaching the Death Star II’s shield generator. However, just before the assault, while hiding out with the Ewoks, Luke knew he had to leave to face Vader. Before his departure, he told Leia of their relationship, leaving the sabotage effort in her and Han’s competent hands.
Luke then faced his father, Vader, after voluntarily giving himself up to the Imperials. Here, he begged his father to return to the Light Side, imploring Anakin Skywalker to overthrow the Dark Lord within. However, Darth Vader felt it was pointless to resist the Emperor’s overwhelming power and the temptation of the Dark Side.
Onboard the Death Star, Sidious pitted father and son against each other. Luke gave in to his emotions for a moment, channeling his fury to overwhelm Vader. However, as he looked at his severed mechanical hand, it reminded him of his own injury. His mind calmed as he had mercy and compassion on his father, and, standing, he threw his saber aside and turned to look at the Emperor.
Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
He was then overwhelmed by Palpatine’s torturous Force lightning. Through the electrical crackles torturously ending his life, he appealed to Anakin. After a moment’s pause, Darth Vader was destroyed – not by Luke and not by the Emperor – but by Anakin Skywalker within. He lifted Sidious and threw him down the Death Star’s shaft, ending his life.
However, the lightning shortcircuited Anakin’s suit, causing the death of the elder Skywalker. Just before becoming one with the Force, he asked to see Luke with his own eyes and thanked him for saving him and being right about him.
Tell your sister you were right.
Luke burned Anakin’s body in the traditional manner before joining in the celebrations on Endor. He watched lovingly as his three mentors – Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin – watched over him as Force spirits.
Rebuilding the Order
From here, he immediately began rebuilding the Jedi Order by training Leia in the ways of the Force. Like all Skywalkers, she was naturally gifted. However, about a year into his teachings, Leia had a premonition. If she continued down the Jedi path, it would lead to the death of her son, Ben. As such, she handed Luke her lightsaber and left.
Luke continued to develop relationships with other Jedi (such as Ahsoka Tano and Grogu) over the next couple of decades, being very careful about who he accepted into his young Order.
Luke trained several Jedi, but the most powerful by far was Ben Solo, Leia’s son. Ben, however, was manipulated by Snoke, a proxy of Darth Sidious’s surviving spirit, and turned to the Dark Side. Luke, seeking to know how far his nephew and apprentice had fallen, used the Force to see into his mind. In it, he found only darkness and saw a vision of the deaths the boy would cause.
Instinctively, he drew his lightsaber to counter the threat. However, he immediately stood himself down. He would never harm a young child. Ben, though, had awoken, and seeing Luke standing nearby with a lightsaber activated his own, attacking his uncle. He then knocked him out and destroyed the rest of the Order, killing most of its members.
Feeling incredible shame at Ben’s fall, Luke, unable to face Leia, took himself into exile and hid on Ahch To, the site of the first Jedi Temple. Here he disconnected himself from the Force and hid for around 10 years before he was found by Rey, an ambitious scavenger hoping to pull him back to the fight.
Luke refused, instead opting for his philosophy of allowing the past to die. He offered Rey moments of wisdom and training but rejected any further involvement. As she departed in a last-ditch attempt to turn Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) back to the light, he watched. Rey failed, and Kylo took charge of the First Order, leading the assault to crush what remained of the Resistance.
Luke finally took action. As Leia, Finn, Poe, and the rest of the survivors hid in an old Rebel base on Crait, he Force projected an image of himself across the galaxy. The quiet image of Luke gently approached Leia, reassuring her of his presence, before walking outside to face the might of the First Order.
Knowing of Luke’s power, Ren ordered every available gun to shoot at him. Luke’s projection of himself shrugged the firepower off like it was nothing, forcing Kylo to come down and face him. The two dueled, although they never actually crossed lightsabers. After enough time had passed to allow Leia and her troops to escape, Luke gave up the pretense. He revealed that it was only a projection and disappeared with the words,
See you around, kid.
The power required to carry out this act, thereby saving his sister and the Resistance, caused Luke, still on Ahch To, to collapse and become one with the Force. He died to save the others, in actions truly worthy of a Jedi Master.
After his death, he (and later Leia) would continue to guide Rey as Force ghosts, having preserved their consciousnesses after death.
Luke Skywalker Key Moments
- Revenge of the Sith – born to Padme Amidala and immediately hidden with his step-uncle and aunt on Tatooine.
- A New Hope – aged 17, Luke departs Tatooine with Obi-Wan, Han, Chewbacca, and the droids and ends up on the Death Star rescuing Leia.
- A New Hope – as a Rebel pilot, Luke uses the Force to blow up the Death Star.
- Empire Strikes Back – on Dagobah, Luke begins formal training as a Jedi. However, his connections to the Force mean he feels his friends are in trouble, and he leaves his training prematurely to try to save them.
- Empire Strikes Back – having tricked him into coming to Bespin, Darth Vader easily defeats the inexperienced boy, chopping his hand off and declaring, “I am your father.” Luke chooses to fall rather than accept this, where he’s rescued by the Falcon.
- Return of the Jedi – Luke is much calmer and more mature. After Leia fails to save Han from Jabba the Hutt, Luke infiltrates the Palace. He kills the daimyo‘s rancor before being taken to the Great Pit of Carkoon. Here, they escape, blowing up Jabba’s sail barge after Leia strangles the Hutt to death.
- Return of the Jedi – Luke returns to Dagobah, where Yoda dies after telling him he must face and defeat his father. Yoda also tells him of another Skywalker, whom Obi-Wan confirms is Leia.
- Return of the Jedi – after joining the Rebels on Endor, Luke gives himself up to the Imperials. He tries to persuade his father to return to the light, to no avail. Vader takes him to the Emperor, who tells him he will either kneel or die with his friends. Luke defeats Vader in combat but controls himself, refusing to submit to the Dark Side. As Palpatine electrocutes him, Vader steps in and throws the Sith Lord down the Death Star shaft, redeeming himself as the Jedi Anakin Skywalker.
- Return of the Jedi – Luke watches as his father, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all smile over him as Force ghosts, proud that he accomplished what even they could not.
- The Mandalorian/The Book of Boba Fett – Luke builds a Jedi Academy and travels the galaxy searching for Force-sensitive individuals to train.
- The Rise of Skywalker – a flashback shows what really happened to Ben Solo, as Luke stood guard over the terrible premonition he’d seen of Kylo Ren and Snoke. After attacking him, Ben destroys the Jedi once more. Luke, devastated, isolates himself from the Force and flees into exile on Ahch To.
- The Last Jedi – as an outcast, Luke remains cut off from the Force, despite Rey’s pleas. The shame he feels at having let down his nephew, in his view, is too much. When Rey leaves Ahch To to rejoin the Resistance, Luke decides to stay where he is.
- The Last Jedi – with the Resistance, including Leia, cornered on Crait, Luke projects an image of himself across the galaxy. This image calms Leia and her troops, bringing them a sense of purpose and peace. He then heads on out to face the First Order, enticing Kylo Ren to come and meet him one-on-one. He maintains the projection long enough to delay his old apprentice long enough for the Resistance to escape.
- The Last Jedi – the power required to project himself across the galaxy for so long exhausts the old Jedi. He becomes one with the Force gazing at Ahch To’s sunset.
Luke Skywalker – conclusion
In my opinion, Luke is the ultimate good guy – in the most genuine sense of the word. Across episodes 4, 5, and 6, we see him become a man. He turns from an impulsive child into a controlled, calm Jedi Master. In saving Anakin, he accomplishes what Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Vader himself believed was impossible.
He’s undoubtedly one of the most powerful Jedi ever – and yet he’s not a superhero. His flaws aren’t non-existent, in the same way as Anakin’s, Obi-Wan’s, and Yoda’s trickled through.
Luke’s weakness wasn’t pride, arrogance, or other temptations. He felt such love for everyone that the pain his actions inadvertently led to was too much for him, and he chose to separate himself from those he loved to protect them. Perhaps he should have stayed to fight with Leia and Han, but his intentions were honorable. With his final act, he saved the Resistance, and so its achievements can effectively be attributed to him.
That’s what I see in his story. It teaches us about the goodness within everyone – we have to look for it. We also all have to overcome our own demons, just as Luke did time and time again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What age was Luke Skywalker when he died?
Answer: Luke was born in Revenge of the Sith, in the year 19 BBY – just as the Clone Wars ended, the Republic fell, and the Galactic Empire was formed. He died in 34 ABY after defending the fragmented remains of the Resistance from Kylo Ren and the First Order. This would make him about 53 years of age.
Questiom: Why did Luke keep the surname Skywalker?
Answer: I’ll admit, this is a funny one… Anakin’s surname is Skywalker, but Leia takes on the name of her adopted family (Organa). Luke’s aunt and uncle have the surname Lars, yet he’s still known as Skywalker.
This clearly shouldn’t be something his uncle and aunt wanted since they were very against the Jedi and their position in the fall of the Republic. As such, it may have been Obi-Wan that told him he was a Skywalker.
It doesn’t seem to be the most effective way of keeping someone hidden, that’s for sure.
Perhaps the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series will offer some answers!
Question: Does Luke Skywalker use the Dark Side?
Answer: Luke repeatedly slips into the Dark Side throughout Return of the Jedi for short moments. This is expanded on in the novels, but, for example:
• He Force chokes the Gamorrean guards.
• He only offers Jabba two alternatives – give him what he wants or be destroyed.
• He attempts to assassinate Jabba with a nearby guard’s blaster before falling into the rancor pit.
• “It’s the last mistake you’ll ever make” are his final words to Jabba – a smile plastered across his face.
• He gives in to his rage to defeat Vader.
Luke, then, is always tempted to use the Dark Side. This is why he’s so desperate to avoid the fight with his father. In the end, though, he overcomes it with his mercy and compassion, thereby defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader in one go.