Raised by his aunt and uncle on a Tatooine moisture farm, Luke Skywalker never knew his mother or father. He knew nothing of the Force or Jedi, but longed for a more exciting life. Soon he would have it. With his Uncle Owen’s purchase of new droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, a chain of events was put in place that would change Luke – and the galaxy – forever. Artoo, a plucky astromech droid, wandered off in his first night on the farm, telling C-3PO he had to deliver a message to someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Luke went looking for the lost droid, he was attacked by Tusken Raiders and knocked unconscious. Before he could be taken captive, friendly hermit Ben Kenobi appeared and frightened off the Sand People. Ben revealed that he was indeed Obi-Wan Kenobi, and had something that belonged to Luke’s father: a lightsaber, the weapon of a Jedi. Obi-Wan said that he and Luke’s father were both Jedi Knights, strong with the Force, and good friends. Luke knew none of this, and asked how his father died. The old Jedi said that his former student, Darth Vader, turned to the dark side and killed him.
Obi-Wan and Luke soon discovered that Artoo was indeed carrying a message after all. It was a holorecording of Princess Leia, stating that she had hidden stolen plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, in the memory banks of Artoo; she asked that Kenobi deliver the plans to her father on Alderaan. Obi-Wan implored Luke to come with him, but the farmboy refused. However, he and Obi-Wan found that the Jawas who sold his uncle Artoo and Threepio had been slaughtered by stormtroopers – and they may have traced them back home. Luke raced to the moisture farm, only to find the charred remains of his guardians. Stoic, he decided to leave Tatooine, vowing to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like his father.
Along with hired pilot Han Solo and his co-pilot and friend Chewbacca, Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids headed for Alderaan aboard the Millennium Falcon. But when they arrived, the planet wasn’t there – only rubble, as it had been destroyed by the Empire’s Death Star. The Falcon was soon caught in the tractor beam of the giant space station, but it proved fortuitous; Princess Leia was being held there. Luke and Han, in stormtrooper disguises, staged a rescue while Obi-Wan disengaged the tractor beam. The Jedi Master, however, encountered his old student, Darth Vader, and was killed in battle. Luke saw it happen shortly before escaping in the Falcon, and was deeply affected by the loss of his mentor.
The small band of heroes regrouped with the Rebel Alliance on Yavin 4. With the Death Star plans successfully delivered, Luke joined the mission to destroy the battle station, piloting an X-wing under the call sign Red Five. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels suffered heavy losses, and Darth Vader entered the fray in his TIE Advanced. One of the last remaining pilots, Luke flew through the Death Star trench at blinding speed with the goal of shooting a volley of proton torpedoes into a small exhaust port. Vader closed in, ready to destroy Luke’s starship – noting that “the Force is strong with this one” – but a surprise blast from Han and the Millennium Falcon sent Vader’s fighter tumbling into space, clearing Luke for the shot. Calling on the Force with guidance from Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice, the Jedi-to-be delivered a precise shot, and the Death Star was destroyed.
Though the Rebel Alliance had struck a major blow against the Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, the war was far from over. The Alliance built a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth, with Luke now a commander. While out on patrol, Luke spotted what he thought was a meteor impact on the surface – in reality, it was an Imperial probe droid. Before he could inspect it, however, Luke was viciously attacked by a towering wampa. Though Luke escaped the ice creature’s cave, severing the monster’s arm with his lightsaber, the young Jedi nearly died from the frigid surface temperatures. It was also at this time that he was visited by the spectre of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructed him to go to the Dagobah system. There, he would learn the ways of the Force from Yoda, a Jedi Master. Han eventually found Luke, keeping him warm inside a tauntaun’s belly until help could arrive. Luke recovered from his injuries and lead the Rebel defense against the Empire’s ground forces, including massive AT-AT walkers, giving the Alliance time to evacuate the planet.
Luke headed to Dagobah as instructed and found Yoda. He was not what Luke expected – small, alien, and green, with a unique backwards way of speaking. Luke trained hard, failing often but learning much from his wise Master. During an exercise, the young Jedi saw a vision of his friends in pain; Luke cut his training short – against Yoda’s wishes – to help them. He left for Cloud City where Darth Vader awaited, hoping to capture Luke and bring him to the Emperor. They dueled, but Luke was outmatched and overpowered. Luke was battered and bloodied in the fight, losing a hand, and the Sith Lord revealed a frightening truth: that he was in fact Luke’s father. Vader wanted his son to join him on the dark side, and together they could overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy. Luke was shattered and in disbelief. He refused to turn, managing to escape with his life.
With Han frozen in carbonite and held in Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine, Luke led a mission to rescue his old friend. Now a powerful Jedi Knight, Luke tried to bargain for Han’s life but the crime lord refused. Through a trap door, he dispatched the Jedi into an underground dungeon and unleashed his massive rancor creature. But to the shock of Jabba and his henchmen, Luke was able to destroy the beast. Incensed, the gangster sentenced Luke and his friends to die in the Sarlacc, but again, the Jedi was underestimated. Luke decimated Jabba’s men, and the group of heroes completed their rescue.
With Han safe, Luke returned to Dagobah to complete his training. Yoda, however, was dying. In his final moments, the old Master told Luke that he required no more lessons, but he had to confront Darth Vader – who was his true father – once more. Yoda also told him of another Skywalker, who Obi-Wan would confirm was Leia, his twin sister.
Meanwhile, the Empire was constructing a new Death Star – with the Emperor personally overseeing its completion. Utilizing stolen schematics, the Rebel Alliance formulated a plan to destroy this new superweapon. Luke joined his friends for the mission on Endor, but departed when he sensed Vader’s presence. Luke believed there was still good in his father, that the Emperor had not driven it from him fully. He tried to convert Vader to the light side, but the Dark Lord claimed it was too late. Instead, he brought Luke before the Emperor on the Death Star. The evil Sith Master looked to turn Luke to the dark side, and goaded him into a duel with his father. When Vader suggested that Leia could be turned to evil, Luke embraced his rage and pummeled his father relentlessly – giving the Emperor exactly what he wanted. But before he delivered the killing blow, Luke paused, remembering his teachings. Calming himself, Luke threw away his weapon. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” he said. The Emperor, confounded by Luke’s actions, unleashed Force lightning upon the young Jedi. Vader rose and threw the Emperor down a deep shaft, his true self reawakened by his son’s love. Luke had one final moment with his father, and escaped the space station before it was destroyed. The once reckless farmboy’s journey was complete: he was a mature Jedi, freedom was restored to the galaxy, and his compassion had saved his father.
After the Battle of Endor, Luke traveled the galaxy with R2-D2, seeking long-forgotten Jedi lore as he pondered how to resurrect the Jedi order. But his efforts ended with one of his apprentices leaving his plans in ruin. After this tragedy Luke vanished, and no one knew where he had chosen to spend his self-imposed exile.
The scavenger Rey tracked Luke down on Ahch-To, and pleaded with him to return and help the Resistance. Rey also needed his help to understand her burgeoning Force powers. Luke refused, telling her it was time for the Jedi to end. When Rey resisted refused to leave, Luke reluctantly agreed to teach her enough that she would understand why he had made his decision.
Rey insisted that the galaxy needed the legend of Luke Skywalker, a plea that seemed to fall on deaf ears. She left Ahch-To, but Luke had opened himself to the Force – and a last lesson from his old master, Yoda. Luke projected himself through the Force to confront Kylo Ren on Crait, giving the Resistance a chance to escape the First Order. He passed into the Force, but his legend would continue to inspire the galaxy.