The best Star Wars: The Last Jedi theories analysed

While we might not know anything for definite about the plot of Star Wars: The Last Jedi - other than, spoiler, Rey meets Luke and trains to be a Jedi - there is a heck of a lot of material to muse upon. There are tons of fan theories left over from The Force Awakens. There are multiple (possible) cryptic hints from Episode 8's trailers. There are even ideas based on echoes from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, now no longer canonical, of course, but still rife for the plundering of ideas. So why not join us for a great big session of theorising? Whatever ends up being right or wrong, the imaginary Star Wars movies we get out of this are going to be great.  

The gray Jedi concept will be central to the movie

That line in the first trailer for The Last Jedi, when Luke says that the Jedi need to end. Does that mean that Skywalker has gone Sith in his time away? They do say that you get more right-wing as you get older, but that would be a pretty big swerve. And ye gods, it’d be a slap in the face for Palpatine, having his corruption plan finally come to fruition 30 years after his own death. But I don’t think it’s a simple as an old, saddened Jedi being pushed to the Dark Side by loss and betrayal.

Rather, it seems far more likely that what we’re actually getting in The Last Jedi is something that Star Wars has long espoused but never actually delivered: balance in the Force.

Because here’s the thing. The Jedi in particular have talked about balancing the Force pretty much forever, but all of their attempts to do so take a single form. The aspired destruction of the Sith and the Dark Side. There is no balance there at all, and to believe that there is is – fittingly – an entirely one-sided perception of the whole thing. The Jedi have always been terrible for that. You know the reason that there are now traditionally only two active Sith at a time in Star Wars, always working from the shadows? It’s because the Jedi pretty much eradicated them when they existed more openly. Not defending the Sith here, but the point is that the Jedi are no less dogmatic.

So the theory is that Luke is finally doing what his father was prophesied – but failed – to do, and bring real balance. No hardcore Light Side or Dark Side. No unswerving, binary opposition. Just a Force-using philosophy that embraces both sides in a healthier, balanced fashion. Grey Jedi, basically. Heck, Snoke hints at similar themes to Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, discussing how real power comes from an acceptance of both sides.

GR+ verdict: Gray Jedi vs. Gray Sith, with good vs. evil playing out in a far more nuanced fashion? I’m all for this. It would add a really cool, mature spin to Star Wars’ traditional mythology, and finally make sense of the most hidden-in-plain-sight flaw to the entire story. 

Rey is a clone of Luke 

(Image credit: Disney)

Okay, this one is quiiiiiite out there, but let’s give it a run through. Rey, in some way, clearly has a connection to the Skywalker saga. It maybe that she’s a blood relation to one of the original trilogy characters, it may be that she’s part of Snoke’s long-game, master plan. But whatever’s going on, she’s tied in to bigger events in a significant way. So this theory posits... what if The Last Jedi is going to subvert the traditional Star Wars trope of surprise familial connections and tie Rey into the bigger story via more artificial – but no less Star Wars-y – means.

What if Rey’s Force sensitivity, and her strange, Force-powered connection to both the Skywalker clan and Obi-Wan, comes from the fact that she is a clone of Luke, manufactured for some nefarious purpose from his DNA, and then left on Jakku to await her calling? 

Where would that DNA come from? Luke’s severed hand, of course, as sliced off by his dad in The Empire Strikes Back. That altercation being the same incident which resulted in the loss of Luke’s (originally Anakin’s) first lightsaber. The very same lightsaber that has been since found, and which Rey picks up in The Force Awakens. Could someone have found both weapon and finger-tree together, and used the two to set events in motion way down the line? Currently, only the cast and crew of The Last Jedi know. That’s the whole point of this article. We’re kind of guessing.

GR+ verdict: A long-shot, but not at all impossible. And it would make for a nice dodge of the obvious, family-based theories most people are set on. Anything that takes Star Wars away from familiar territory, and opens up the potential for entirely unexplored storylines, is only going to be entirely welcome. 

Rey is Obi-Wan's granddaughter

Look, let’s get real here. There’s no way that old Ben Kenobi just sat in a cave on Tatooine for 20 years after dropping Luke off with Owen and Beru. Is he a wild-eyed hobo when the young Skywalker catches up with him? Is he a man of questionable body odour, with a large circle of (dead) animal friends? No. Obi-Wan is doing fine. Better than ever, in fact. He’s well-kempt, civilised, and actually wiser, more insightful, and exemplifying more zen-like decorum than he ever did in his younger days. In every way, it makes sense that he’s had a life of his own, alongside his duties in watching over Luke. 

As part of that life, there’s no reason he can’t have had a family. With the formal Jedi order collapsed, and Obi-Wan himself having seen the trouble the Jedi’s strict dogma over romantic relationships can cause, it’s entirely possible that his own opinions on the matter have relaxed. Could Rey be the product of his fuller life? Undoubtedly. Jedi lineage would make a great deal of sense, given her powerful Force sensitivity. And considering the revelations of The Empire Strikes Back, such a discovery would give her a strong thematic parallel with Luke’s journey. 

On the subject of Luke, yes, he could be her father, but that’s a little too on-the-nose, especially given Rey’s own abandonment on a desert planet. Skipping a generation would also give Rey a strong parallel with Kylo Ren, making them both the grandchildren of the saga’s most powerful elder Jedi. 

GR+ verdict: Very, very plausible. Even more so, when you take into account that both young and old Obi-Wan’s voices can be heard during Rey’s Force hallucination after she picks up Luke’s lightsaber for the first time. 

Snoke is Darth Plagueis 

This is a biggie. Given his enigmatic presentation in The Force Awakens, it’s a pretty safe bet that the true nature and intent of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke is being held back as a significant reveal. But who is he? Well the big money is currently on Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s previous and long thought-dead Sith Lord. There are a few good reasons for this. 

First up, Plagueis feels too big a deal to not be further explored. Referenced in Revenge of the Sith as a dark side-user so strong he could create life and cheat death, he’s more powerful and unique of abilities than anyone we’ve ever seen before. It’s also possible that he’s entirely responsible for the existence of the whole Skywalker line. It’s implied in The Phantom Menace that Anakin is the product of an immaculate, Force-powered conception, and that sounds like something Palgueis would plausibly be capable of. A long-term gambit, perhaps? If so, it would make total sense that he’d return later to continue to screw with the Skywalker line, via Kylo Ren and the destruction of Luke’s new Jedi Order. 

Okay, he’s supposed to be dead, murdered by Palpatine after the erstwhile Emperor had learned everything he could, but Plagueis’ powers could theoretically have made light work of a matter as small as that. Plus, Snoke is very old and seems to know a lot about galactic history and the nature of the Force, so it would make a great deal of sense if he'd quietly watched the rise and fall of the Empire while convalescing somewhere safe and self-preserving.  

There are some counterpoints, though. A collection of leaked minifigs have given us our first close look at Supreme Leader Snoke, and it's raised some interesting questions. Firstly, he's wearing classic, Light-side Jedi robes, rather than Sith. Could this relate to why Luke wants the Jedi to end? We've moved past simple good and evil - Snoke could represent the Star Wars equivalent of Lawful Evil - a member of the Jedi Order who's doing everything for the wrong reasons. 

Another interesting fact is that his figure clearly has eyebrows. Yeah, you read that right. Why does that matter? Because Darth Plagueis has a smooth, hairless forehead. I know it sounds weird, but trust me. Eyebrows, people. They're important. 

GR+ verdict: I like this one. It’s a nice piece of cross-trilogy continuity that doesn’t pander too hard to the prequels, but which runs interesting threads through many different areas of Star Wars lore. Though given that he was Plagueis’ apprentice, don’t count out Palpatine as an outside Snoke bet either. Admittedly, I like that idea much less. 

Rey is Snoke's descendant 

An alternate spin on Rey’s lineage is that she’s actually the descendent of Snoke. If Snoke is Darth Plagueis, and Plapatine’s stories of Plagueis in Revenge of the Sith are to be believed, then he has the power to create life using the Force, it’s no great stretch to imagine that he did the same for Rey as well as (possibly) Anakin. 

The reason? Insurance, perhaps. His initial plan of creating an uber-Sith in Anakin ultimately failed (admittedly after a long period of success), and he’s clearly aware that Kylo Ren’s awareness of his own family ties makes him a risk. There is, however, an interesting exchange in The Force Awakens in which Snoke references the appeal of power acquired through embracing both the dark side and the light, which possibly explains his eagerness to nurture a conflicted soul like young Ben Solo. If that’s his gambit, then it would make sense to allow Rey some time in the outside world to develop a sense of goodness.

And his abandonment of her on Jakku? As well as being a great superficial parallel to what Obi-Wan did with Luke and Leia, it’s entirely possible that he did so for similar but opposite reasons: To ‘protect’ her from Luke’s influence until it was time to begin her training. And while we’re talking parallels – hey, Star Wars is all about them – this would make Rey a great mirror image of Kylo Ren, both having switched sides from their families’ alignments, he turning dark from light, and she becoming a hero spawned from evil. 

GR+ verdict: Also a great and well-considered origin for Rey, though its likelihood of being true will very much depend on Snoke’s identity. 

Luke has veered close to the dark side 

Bit of a Jedi chicken and Force-powered egg situation, this one. Did Luke lose his morale after Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side, or did Kylo Ren turn to the Dark Side after Luke’s fortitude weakened? Some fans reckon that Skywalker’s inability to stop his student’s Sith seduction could have been the result of a wavering of his own, and his self-imposed exile not the result of existential fallout, but a safety measure to quarantine himself at the Jedi temple until he was sure of his own resolve. 

Does this set the scene for mutual learning between master and student, with Rey helping Luke regain his confidence and sense of self as they train together in Star Wars 8? It would be a very nice subversion of Star Wars’ traditional trainer/apprentice hierarchy. 

GR+ verdict: This one doesn’t sound too likely. Does anyone really want to see Luke Skywalker go bad? And besides, if the combined persuasion of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine couldn’t turn him…

Luke’s students are alive (and are probably the Knights of Ren) 

Do we know that Luke’s young Jedi Order are dead? Do we really? We’ve been told that Kylo Ren ‘turned on’ them in the name of Snoke’s grand plan, and it’s generally assumed that they’re deceased as a result, but have we seen actual bodies? No, we have not. And hey, even if it were explicitly stated that Kylo slaughtered the lot of them, there’s a big Star Wars precedent for falsely stating that a character has been murdered by another character, when in fact it was just a Dark Side switch. Darth Vader. It was kind of a big deal. 

In fact, taking that further, there’s a strong argument for the idea that, just like Anakin was not killed by Vader, but rather became him, Luke’s students might not actually be mortal victims of Kylo Ren, but rather his Dark Side brethren. How about if he didn’t murder them, but turned them, making them the Knights of Ren we see in Rey’s Force hallucination? Because logically, Luke and Rey can’t be the only potential light-siders around. 

Why would Snoke be so scared of Luke’s return otherwise? What’s the big threat? That Luke will come back to the New Republic and take down the Knights just as soon as he’s had a decade to train up a new academy? But if Luke’s apprentices are still alive, with potential for ‘reactivation’ as Jedi, then Skywalker’s return could easily represent a killswitch for Snoke’s larger plan. And if that reactivation were to instantly deprive the First Order of its primary, Force-using hit-squad? Big problem. Big problem indeed. 

The GR+ verdict: Love it, love it, love it. Being so vaguely explained and enigmatically presented, the Knights of Ren have to be a big reveal later in the trilogy. And this would be a killer twist, being plausible, but with deep dramatic impact and repercussions, and entirely in-keeping with Star Wars’ existing themes and sensibilities. 

Kylo Ren is playing the long game

My other favourite theory, after the 'Rey is Obi-Wan's granddaughter' one, is that Kylo Ren is actually a good guy, playing the long game with the ultimate goal of defeating Snoke. The idea here is that Kylo Ren knows how powerful Snoke is, and he's pretending to be evil to get close to him. How on Earth/Coruscant can I justify that? Read on.

Watch that scene with Han Solo again, and imagine that the only way Han can help his wayward son is by sacrificing himself, perpetuating the myth that Kylo Ren is actually evil. There's a moment when they lean in close, the camera pulls back, and you can't actually hear what they say - could Han die in the knowledge that his son isn't actually evil? It could lead to an amazing finale which echoes Darth Vader's turn at the end of Return of the Jedi. Maybe Kylo Ren does idolise Vader, but specifically because he was able to turn from the Dark Side and defeat the Emperor...

The GR+ verdict: Unlikely. It's a fascinating idea, and the lore absolutely backs it up, but it's probably a twist too far. That said, Adam Diver certainly has the acting chops to convince us that he's bad when he's actually good (or vice versa). 

Luke's necklace holds an amazing secret

Finally, a bit of non-familial speculation: is reporting that Luke’s necklace might be hiding something that put him directly in the sights of the Vader-obsessed Kylo Ren. The rumour states that it could contain the kyber crystal used to power his father’s lightsaber. It’s an awesome idea, and one that links to the theory that Luke is trying to balance the Light and Dark sides of the Force - something we've discussed on page one. It’s also similar to what we’ve seen in Star Wars: Rogue One: Jyn’s mother also wears a necklace with a kyber crystal.

The GR+ verdict: It's not exactly a world-altering revelation, so this seems highly likely. The fact it echoes a throwaway thing for Rogue One makes it even more plausible. 

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.