Genealogy’s Dark Side: The Star Wars Family Tree

Genealogy’s Dark Side: The Star Wars Family Tree

The Skywalker family tree doesn't end with "Luke, I am your father." Learn about Star Wars' galactic genealogy.
The Star Wars family tree doesn't end with "Luke, I am your father."
American actor Mark Hamill and British David Prowse on the set of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi directed by Welsh Richard Marquand. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images.)

Star Wars has always been a family story. Spoiler alert if you’ve somehow been living under a rock since 1980: Darth Vader (a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker) is Luke’s father. But the Skywalker family tree has deeper roots than this classic plot twist. Let’s take a look at the Star Wars family tree to see what mysteries it holds.

A long time ago, in a foster home far, far away…

For those who skipped the more-recent films, let’s quickly recap how Anakin/Darth Vader came to father Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa. A young Anakin falls in love with and secretly marries Padmé Amidala, the queen (and later senator) of Naboo. Haunted by visions of Padmé’s death, Anakin turns to the Dark Side in an attempt to prevent her demise. Instead, he becomes Darth Vader and, in a rage, Force-chokes his pregnant wife, nearly killing her. Fortunately, Padmé survives long enough to have the babies, twins Luke and Leia. Believing Padmé and their children to be dead, Vader continues to rise through the ranks of the new Empire.

So if Luke and Leia are both Skywalkers, why do they have different last names? Obi-Wan and Yoda secure foster homes for the young twins, fearing the Empire would find them. They send Luke to Tattooine to be raised by his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. (More on these two later.) Leia, meanwhile, is sent to Alderaan, where she’s raised by Prince Bail Organa (one of Padmé’s colleagues) and his wife.

All four foster parents meet grisly ends early in the original Star Wars (later retitled Episode IV: A New Hope). Stormtroopers kill Aunt Buru and Uncle Owen offscreen while looking for R2-D2, and the Organas perish alongside Alderaan’s billions of residents when the Empire destroys the planet using the Death Star.

The Star Wars family tree has continued to grow in the forty years since the first film's release forty years ago.
The Star Wars films have revealed four generations of the Skywalker family, from slave Shmi Skywalker to baddy Ben Solo (a.k.a. Kylo Ren). This family tree, made on Ancestry.com, shows how they all relate to each other.

“Anakin, I am your father”

So we know the identity of Luke and Leia’s father, but who is Anakin’s? The prequel trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) all dive into Anakin Skywalker’s younger years—including his parentage. We meet Anakin’s mother, Shmi Skywalker, in The Phantom Menace, and she and Anakin live as slaves on the desert planet of Tattooine. When asked about Anakin’s father, Shmi claims that Anakin was a virgin birth. Emperor Palpatine later states that his master, the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Plagueis, discovered how to create life using the Force. Many fans regard this as confirmation that Plagueis conceived Anakin in Shmi using the Force.

One more point on this branch of the Skywalker family tree: After Anakin leaves his mother to become a Jedi in The Phantom Menace, Shmi marries a widower named Cliegg Lars. Cliegg’s son from a previous relationship, Owen Lars, is Luke’s “Uncle Owen” from the original Star Wars film. This makes Owen, Luke’s step-uncle.

Star Wars: The Next Gene-Rey-tion

The Star Wars films fast-forward thirty years beginning with The Force Awakens. These new films center around scrounger Rey, Stormtrooper-turned-good-guy Finn and moody, lightsaber-swinging Kylo Ren. We discover Kylo Ren (birth name: Ben Solo) is actually the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, but we don’t yet know about any possible familial connections between other new characters. Fans continue to speculate about Rey’s heritage, with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker frequently coming up as the potential father/grandfather. The upcoming The Last Jedi may shed light on the question.

Alternate timelines

The Star Wars franchise used to be unique in that its creators allowed fans to add their own stories to the saga. In the Expanded Universe (EU), writers could receive a green light from Lucasfilm and have their works become part of the official Star Wars canon. Authors and fans went hog-wild, speculating the adventures of various Star Wars characters before, between, during and after the films. Most interestingly, fans also developed their own Star Wars genealogies that explain what happened to each of the main characters after Return of the Jedi.

In the EU, Leia and Han married and had three children: twins Jaina and Jacen, and a son named Anakin. All three became Jedi, but Jacen (like his grandfather) fell to the Dark Side and became Darth Caedus. Luke, meanwhile, married a woman named Mara Jade, an assassin who previously served Emperor Palpatine. The couple had one son, a Jedi named Ben Skywalker, whose ancestors would go own to have Jedi adventures in their own times.

Don’t get too excited about these new Skywalker descendants, however. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars in 2012, it stripped the EU of its “canonical” status. Instead, these stories are now called Star Wars Legends, and more akin to fan fiction. You can explore more factions of the former EU on “Wookieepedia,” a Star Wars version of Wikipedia.

Hungry for more pop-culture genealogy? Read more about the Skywalker family tree, and follow along as we discover the genealogies of Harry Potter, Thor and others in our collection of famous family trees.

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