There are a few big mysteries in The Force Awakens. We’ve discussed one already (the identity of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke) so now it’s time to discuss an even more pressing question: Who are Rey’s parents? The internet has some ideas—lots of ideas, each crazier than the last. Here are two dozen possibilities for Rey’s father, mother, ancestor, or even her creator that someone, somewhere, earnestly believes.
Spoilers for The Force Awakens, obviously.
1) Luke Skywalker
Luke! Obviously! The Star Wars movies have always been about the Skywalkers, so why would Rey—the star of the new trilogy—be some random girl? Fans of this extremely prevalent theory point out Rey’s giant, nascent Force powers, the strange looks Han and Leia give her when she’s introduced, and Luke’s tears upon her arrival. Opponents of the theory point out the same evidence, explaining that this solution is so obvious it can’t possibly be true. To be fair to the Luke-ists, Rey’s parentage was at least partially conceived by J.J. Abrams, who also chose Benedict Cumberbatch to play the most obvious character possible in Star Trek Into Darkness, and also seemingly thought he’d tricked the world. On the other hand, if Luke was willing to abandon his five-year-old daughter on a desert planet for any reason, the sequel trilogy has a much, much bigger problem.
2) Han and Leia
A lot of people really, really want Rey and Kylo Ren, née Ben Solo, to be related. They want the fight for the galaxy to come down to brother vs. sister. They need it. So their solution is that Han and Leia had another kid after Ben, and when Ben went crazy, they hid little Rey on Jakku to keep her safe—again, a planet full of criminals, scavengers, and limited food resources. This has the same problem as Luke, in that Leia and Han would have to be either severely terrible people or total idiots to abandon their child. Bonus point for Han, though, who apparently spent the last decade or so searching for his ship, the Millennium Falcon, but not his daughter.
3) Just Leia
A variation of the Han and Leia theory is that after Ben went crazy and her marriage with Han exploded like so many Death Stars, Leia comforted herself in the arms of a man, who is [insert Any Male Star Wars Character Except Luke here]. She had a baby, the baby was Rey, and Rey still got dropped off on Jakku because… Leia is the galaxy’s worst mother, apparently. Anyway, removing Han from the equation doesn’t make it any less horrible.
4) Obi-Wan Kenobi
This theory says that at some point, while he was fussing at Anakin about falling in love with Padmé because it was “against the Jedi Code” or some nonsense, he was busy impregnating at least one woman to carry on the Kenobi line (I’m not sure even Obi-Wan Kenobi is enough of a jerk to be that hypocritical). This naturally resulted in Rey, although no one can explain why Luke, Han, and Leia seem to know about this mysterious granddaughter, but didn’t care enough to, you know, look for her. Really, the best “evidence” for this theory is that Rey, like Obi-Wan, speaks with a British accent.
5) Random Jedi Luke Was Training
We know Luke was trying to rebuild the Jedi order, and we know it went very badly, thanks to Kylo and his Knights of Ren. He and his goth pals killed all the Jedi, which could have included two students that had fallen in love five years prior, had a kid, and that kid was then five years old when the tragedy happened. Alas, while the Luke-as-dad theory is too obvious, this is too dull—why would Abrams hide her parentage if it was just going to be two characters we’d never met or even heard of at all?
6) The Force
Does Star Wars need yet another virgin birth? Well, according to this theory it does, which suggests that the Force basically impregnated some poor lady like it knocked up Anakin’s mom Shmi, in order to bring some Balance to itself. Given how much the new movies supposedly want to hew away from the prequels, this seems an unlikely choice for Lucasfilm to make. Plus, if it were true, it would mean the Force was creating virgin births on a terrifyingly regular basis. At a certain point the Force becomes less of a miracle and more of a serial rapist.
7) Reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker
A less sexual-assault-y version of the Force theory says that Rey is in fact the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker, reborn to help bring some balance to yadda yadda. If the Force was involved, it still means the Force is basically sticking babies in women without their consent; if it was just regular reincarnation, then it still doesn’t answer who her parents were. Most importantly, reincarnation is a pretty weird, major change to bring to the Star Wars mythology—which already holds that Jedi get to be part of the Force after they die. Is the Force just a waiting room for ghosts to hang out in? That’s dumb.
8) The Emperor
The Emperor is the culprit in many, many theories: sometimes he’s an actual grandfather or great-grandfather to Rey, all his evil Sith-y powers inherited by her; sometimes she’s a clone of the Emperor, presumably created by a variety of loyal Imperial mad scientists for years following Return of the Jedi.
9) Kylo Ren
Does someone believe that Kylo Ren, a.k.a. Ben Solo, is Rey’s father instead of just her cousin? You bet your bantha boots. While it makes a nice parallel with the Luke/Vader relationship of the original trilogy, it’s super, super creepy, as Lucasfilm has gone on the record stating that Rey is 19, and Kylo Ren is about 30. That would have Ben getting busy with somebody when he was merely 11—not utterly impossible, but utterly wrong—and something I am 100 percent confident Lucasfilm and Disney will avoid having to explain on–screen in their new Star Wars universe.
10) Supreme Leader Snoke
We’re at the point where crazy people are basically just naming whatever age-appropriate Star Wars characters they can think of. That includes the mysterious, giant leader of the First Order, who sired her, grew her in a vat, basically all the same options as the Emperor. Even if the real Snoke is human-sized (and man I hope he isn’t), that still doesn’t explain how Rey got to Jakku and why no one seems to be looking for her. Even if Snoke had no love for his child, he would have had her for a reason, probably as a weapon. He wouldn’t have had her dropped off on some random planet, and if she was somehow stolen, he (and Ren) would probably have been looking for her—or at least they’d be a lot more excited at the appearance of this mysterious, Force-powerful girl that shows up out of nowhere.
11) Captain Phasma
Yes, this theory exists. Captain Phasma, the silver Stormtrooper who won our hearts and then failed to do much during the movie itself. This conspiracy-ish theory is mainly based on this question: why include Phasma at all if she wasn’t Rey’s mom? The answer, of course, is because films get rewritten and edited and sometimes not every idea makes it fully on-screen. If you believe this theory, please try imagining a scenario in which Rey tells Captain Phasma she’s her daughter, and Phasma cares even a little bit.
12) Qui-Gon Jinn
Like basically all the other Jedi, some people believe that Qui-Gon Jinn of The Phantom Menace is the Jedi who decided to have sex, impregnate some poor woman, and then abandon them totally. What makes this theory so delightfully insane is that some people also believe that the woman Qui-Gon knocked up is Shmi, Anakin’s poor, enslaved mother, making her a Skywalker by another path. So by this theory, Qui-Gon had sex with Anakin’s mom—probably on the night they stayed over at his house, just before the pod race—and then still couldn’t be bothered to free her from her enslavement.
13) Boba Fett
Wait a minute… this makes perfect sense! Boba Fett was on Tattooine… Jakku is like Tattooine… Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc… Boba Fett is awesome, so he probably sleeps around a lot! Look, at some point someone has basically believed Boba Fett was somehow responsible for everything that ever happened in the Star Wars universe. To be fair, George Lucas was also one of those people, hence the prequels. If nothing else, there’s no reason a child of Boba Fett would have Rey’s affinity for the Force.
14) Wedge Antilles
This is a male Star Wars character from the original trilogy. Until the new canon clearly states he’s suffering from male infertility, he will be considered a candidate, despite the fact that 1) Wedge has no Force powers, 2) mass audiences would not give the tiniest shit who Wedge is if they even remember he exists, which they don’t and 3) original Wedge actor Denis Lawson has stated he has zero desire to be in another Star Wars movie.
15) Count Dooku
Having spurned the Jedi order, Count Dooku could have been a major player in the Separatists swinging scene, eventually giving rise to Rey as a great-granddaughter. But there’s still the prequel issue and the fact that if Rey turns out to be related to a person who had his ass handed to him by a muppet on methamphetamines, it’s going to be vastly disappointing.
16) Mara Jade
So when all those rumors were flying about Luke being Rey’s dad, didn’t you wonder who the mother might be? Some people did, and of course their first choice is Mara Jade, arguably the biggest character from the previous Star Wars Expanded Universe, former assassin for the Emperor turned Jedi Master and Luke’s wife. To be perfectly honest, if Rey is Luke’s daughter, I wouldn’t put it past Abrams and the Lucasfilm crew to have given Luke a wife who was killed prior to TFA, almost certainly by the Knights of Ren. And given how they’ve been cherry-picking little bits of the Expanded Universe for the new SW canon, that wife could be named Mara Jade. But even if that happens, it will effectively be a new Mara Jade for mass audiences, not the hilariously badass, lightsaber-wielding Boba Fett x1000 that the original character was.
17) Darth Plagueis
If you don’t remember, this is the Sith Lord who trained Palpatine to take over the galaxy. He was only mentioned a couple of times in the prequels, but his experiments into life-after-death and avoiding death have led people to believe that he’s the one who nudged the Force into creating Anakin, and perhaps he did it again. Unfortunately, most details that support this theory come out of his biography, which was relegated to the old Expanded Universe even though it came out in 2012, many years after the in-canon Clone Wars cartoon had premiered. If Plagueis was the culprit, chances are Lucasfilm wouldn’t have gone out of their way to excise the book from the canon.
18) Shmi Skywalker and Cliegg Lars
Man, do people want Rey to be a Skywalker. They’re so desperate for this to be true that some of them are entertaining the idea that when Shmi remarried that hot piece of ass known as Cliegg Lars on Tatooine, the two had another kid who, uh, everybody forgot to mention when Anakin came by the homestead in Attack of the Clones. I know Shmi had just been captured by Tusken Raiders, and Anakin was in a bit of a mood when he brought her dead body back for burial, but he wasn’t officially evil then. The Lars would have had to be enormous assholes to hide Anakin’s stepbrother or sister from him, even regardless of the fact this is a hilariously awful candidate.
19) Clone of Anakin
“I have saved my father. He is finally at peace within the Force. I think I’ll fuck around with his DNA,” Luke Skywalker did not say following the events of Return of the Jedi.
20) Shara Bey
Shara Bey, star of the Shattered Empire comic, is a talented Rebel pilot and the mother of The Force Awakens star Poe Dameron. This isn’t enough for some people, though, so they’ve decided the comic-only character is also Rey’s mom, making her and Poe siblings, a relationship which would add absolutely nothing to either character. Also, please don’t tell them that Shara Bey died six years after the battle of Endor, while Rey was born around 12-13 years afterward; these people have enough to worry about.
21) Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree
Lost Stars is a new Star Wars book for young adults, but it’s still pretty compelling—about two childhood friends who grow up together, join the Imperial Academy, fall in love, but then one defects to join the Rebels while the other stays within the Empire hoping to use its power for order and good. The book doesn’t say how the two actually end up, but obviously there’s a lot of power to the idea of a Rebel and an Imperial officer falling in love and having a kid who might save the galaxy. However, neither Thane nor Ciena have any kind of Force powers, and I am 100 percent positive that Lucasfilm will not depend on mass audiences reading a YA tie-in book to understand who Rey’s parents are.
22) Ezra Bridger
Male, penis, etc. Ezra, assuming he lives past the events of the Star Wars Rebels cartoon he’s part of, would be about 30 when Rey was born, so that matches up. He’s even got himself some Force powers. But the same problems apply: There’s no good reason for Ezra to abandon his child on a crappy planet like Jakku that we know of, and furthermore, I also doubt that Lucasfilm will rely on mass audiences watching a Disney XD cartoon to understand who Rey’s parents are, no matter how much they tie the show to the new canon.
23) Dr. Aphra
This is a Star Wars comic character with a womb, so, sure, why not. Why would she possibly be such a major character in Marvel’s new Star Wars comics if she wasn’t going to play a major role in the movies?! Because although there’s one official Star Wars universe, the movies will always take precedence. The first issue of the Star Wars comic had crazy sales at nearly a million copies sold (most of the non-#1 issues, and well as the Darth Vader comic that Aphra mainly appears in, usually sell well less than 200,000). You know how many The Force Awakens tickets have been sold so far? Over 100 million. Now, a lot of those are repeat business, so a conservative estimate of the number people who saw TFA would be 50 million. Now compare that to the 200,000 who might have seen Aphra in a Vader comic. Now repeat to yourself: Rey’s parents will not be characters who exist solely in tie-in material.
24) My Crazy Theory
Having spent the last several days mired in Rey madness, I would like the opportunity to posit my own crazy theory: That Rey doesn’t have parents, and that in fact she’s the result of an experiment—an evil experiment, perhaps by scientists who continued their work after the Emperor’s death, perhaps Snoke and/or the Knights of Ren, perhaps the Sith. Whoever was behind it, they wanted to create an ultimate Force-user, so they created a child from the greatest Force-user they had access to:
Luke. Specifically, Luke’s hand.
Think about it in the way that Star Wars science works—namely, it usually works in the way we think it should work, not how it really does. The Emperor’s body was absolutely annihilated when the Death Star blew up; Luke burned Vader’s body (and even if Vader’s mask remains I don’t see an Imperial CSI team scouring the ashes for Vader’s DNA). That leaves Luke as the only viable subject, and given that someone found Luke’s lightsaber from his climatic battle on Cloud City, it’s not unreasonable his severed hand would end up in the same place (and this also matches some of the weird rumors that dogged TFA before its release about Luke’s lightsaber, with hand still attached(!), playing an important role in the movie). These evil scientists—maybe sent by the Emperor himself, directly after ESB—grabbed both the lightsaber and the hand, and got to work. It took them years before they created a viable living subject using Luke’s hand, namely a young girl named Rey.
This would make Rey a Skywalker, but avoids 1) Luke having to have sex with some character we’ve never met and don’t care about and 2) also avoids the crazy virgin birth thing that Anakin did. During their continued fight against the Empire/First Order, it’s possible Luke and the others happened upon this lab and found and rescued 5-year-old Rey, at which point Luke would have tried to train her alongside Ben Solo. When Snoke heard about Rey through his secret apprentice, he orders Kylo and the Knights of Ren to either destroy the girl or bring her to him to turn to the Dark Side, in true Star Wars-style.
Ben, at 19 years old, is cruel enough to kill his fellow students as they try to protect Rey, but not quite far gone enough to murder a 5-year-old girl in cold blood, even if she is some kind of mega-weapon. However, Kylo also doesn’t want her as competition, or her exceeding him. His decision? To drop her off on some remote planet that no one would ever think to look for her,in the hands of some brute like Unkar Plutt, presumably never to be seen or heard from again. To me, this is the only way Rey’s abandonment works; it has to be by someone cruel, who that wants her out of the picture, but doesn’t want her necessarily dead.
So Luke, Han, and Leia don’t even know if the girl’s alive or dead, or if she is, whether she’s part of the First Order, or what. It’s effectively impossible to search for her. All Luke can do is put out part of a map in hopes that the Force will somehow guide it to her when she’s ready… and thus eventually guide her to him.
I fully admit my theory is as crazy as anyone else’s, although I’d like to think it fits the few facts we have… even if I’ve had to make up a lot of stuff to connect them. At any rate, it’s a hell of a lot more reasonable than Qui-Gon Jinn and Captain Phasma, dammit.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.