TheoryLoop: Who are Rey's parents in Star Wars?

Welcome to TheoryLoop, a Looper series focused on exploring popular fan theories about your favorite TV shows and movies. From Game of Thrones to the next Star Wars movie and beyond, join me every week as I breakdown and explain fan theories for you and give my opinions on how likely they are to be true.

This week, we're going to take a look at one of the biggest mysteries in the galaxy: who are Rey's parents in the new Star Wars trilogy? Fan speculation about the character's backstory almost as soon as Daisy Ridley was announced for the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Could she be Luke's daughter? What about Han and Leia? Obi-wan? Snoke? Let's take a look at who may have parented this fierce and Force-sensitive young lady, and then you can be the judge. But fair warning—below the cut, this article contains spoilers for The Force Awakens as well as all the other Star Wars movies, Rebels, Expanded Universe/Legends canon, and pretty much anything with the words "Star Wars" slapped on it. You've been warned!

Luke Skywalker & ???

Evidence: Rey displays many Skywalker traits—she's full of raw talent with the Force, even though she's untrained. This may indicate she was trained as a child for a time but has had her memories tampered with. Daisy Ridley physically resembles a young Mark Hamill and she strongly resembles Natalie Portman (Padme Amidala, her potential grandmother). Her origin story is similar to that of Luke and Anakin: desert planet, questionable parentage, leaves her home due to circumstances out of her control, targeted by the Dark Side because of her potential. The lightsaber Anakin built and used, and was later used by Luke, has now called to her as well. The musical "theme" used for Luke throughout the movies harmonizes perfectly with Rey's theme from The Force Awakens. Rey believes Luke is just a "myth," which is dramatic irony at its best. R2-D2 wakes from hibernation mode when Rey arrives at the Resistance base. Luke appears emotional when he sees Rey at the end of the film, which makes more sense if Rey isn't a stranger to him.

Verdict: It seems pretty obvious that this is the right answer, and the movie hinted heavily towards it. Here's some more food for thought. When Maz Kanata asks Han "Who's the girl?," the camera immediately cuts away, so we don't hear what Han tells her. But when we next see Maz, she is hurrying down the stairs to find Luke's lightsaber. However, Rey is already there ahead of her—and has a vision of the destruction of Luke's temple and being left on Jakku when she touches his lightsaber. Kylo yells "What girl?" when he's told about the failure to recover BB-8 on Jakku. In the novelization, he says to Rey, "It is you," when she pulls Luke's lightsaber from the snow. It's obvious that Kylo knows who she is, and that he was most likely the person who left her on Jakku and tampered with her mind. Finally, the Star Wars movies are stories about the Skywalker family. No less an authority than Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has said as much. "The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga," she explained. "The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story." 'Nuff said.

Han Solo & Leia Organa

Evidence: Let's say Han and Leia had a daughter after Ben (Kylo) was born. After Ben was turned to the Dark Side, they abandoned her on Jakku for her own safety—or perhaps Kylo dumped her there. The old guy we saw with Poe Dameron at the start of The Force Awakens could have been an Obi-Wan type "watcher" character, while Unkar Plutt was a "guardian," like Uncle Owen was for Luke. And let's say the Millennium Falcon was never stolen by Plutt; instead, it was carefully transferred to him via the Irving Boys so that Plutt could take Rey and use the ship should they ever need it to escape the First Order. Rey has the "Solo" traits of being a natural fighter, independent, good engineer, and excellent pilot. Rey inherits the Falcon and Chewie—why? When Maz asks Han who she is, the camera cuts away and we never hear his answer. She has an instant connection with Ben after he captures her. Leia gives her a hug after Rey returns from Starkiller Base.

Verdict: I really like this one and kind of want it to be true. Brother squaring off against sister is much more powerful storytelling than cousin against cousin. But even though I think it's the most likely option after Luke himself, this theory still has some holes. Would Han/Leia really abandon a child like that, then never check on her? Especially with the lengths Han goes to in an attempt to save Ben, why would they have abandoned their daughter? The only way I think this works is if they thought she was dead, and Kylo dumped her on Jakku. In the novelization of TFA, Unkar Plutt is pissed when Rey steals the Falcon, and actually follows her to Maz Kanata's hideout to get it back. He attacks her—before Chewie rips off one of his arms, that is. Unkar Plutt is nothing like Uncle Owen. Those "Solo" traits are also "Skywalker" traits: Anakin, Luke, and Leia are all fiercely independent, good fighters, and Force-sensitive. Anakin was an excellent engineer, and both Anakin and Luke are great pilots. Even though Leia doesn't meet her until the end of the movie, don't you think that either Chewie or Han would have recognized Rey before that, or at least put two and two together?

She's Palpatine's granddaughter

Evidence: Palpatine may have gotten his freak on, which might have resulted in an illegitimate child. That child had a child of their own—Rey—who Luke took to train at his academy, and then when Kylo went off the deep end, Luke took Rey and dropped her off on Jakku. Later, Rey immediately picked up the tricks of mind control and telepathy—skills Palpatine definitely had. Luke's expression at the end of The Force Awakens shows he knows Palpatine's granddaughter survived, and he's scared to teach her. Rey's first move with a lightsaber is a forward thrust/stab, which is the first lightsaber move we see Palpatine perform in Revenge of the Sith. Rey and Palpatine are the only two Force-users we see use this move on-screen. They both have English accents. Rey is on the "Dark" side of the poster for TFA.

Verdict: Um, what? There's really no evidence to support this, and the whole thing is based on speculation that Palpy had a kid. If he had, I think that would be a potential successor as Emperor after his death, but no descendant is ever mentioned. Palpatine never had an explicit love interest, and the only potential lovers I can think of from the Expanded Universe—Ysanne Isard and Roganda Ismaren—both died, and neither had young children that could have been Palpatine's. Also, if Luke saved Rey from Kylo, why dump her on Jakku, and not just return her to her parents, if he knew where to find them? Why would the Skywalker lightsaber call to a descendant of Palpatine? Accents aren't inherited, and other people in The Force Awakens had an English accent (like the Imperial soldier who tells Kylo that BB-8 escaped on Jakku, and Unkar Plutt himself). Other characters on the "Dark" side of the poster included Maz Kanata, Poe Dameron, and BB-8. They must all be evil, too. This theory makes no sense to me, but there are a few videos on YouTube that go into more detail if you want to check them out.

Obi-Wan Kenobi & Satine's granddaughter

Evidence: During the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan was romantically linked with Duchess Satine Kryze, leader of the planet Mandalore. The pair confessed their love for each other on several occasions, and theoretically Satine could have had a baby and hid it for its safety during the wars. She later died in Obi-Wan's arms. The only way this theory works out is if the baby grew up and had a child of its own: Rey. Obi-Wan and Rey both have English accents. Obi-Wan's voice is heard calling to Rey in her Force vision.

Verdict: Far-fetched. Satine was much too busy trying to navigate the dangerous undercurrents on her homeworld and within the Senate to have a child, and while Obi-Wan told her he'd leave the Jedi Order if she asked, Satine never did. So we have to assume that Obi-Wan remained faithful to his Jedi vows, and didn't have a child with her. And why (as an audience) should we care about the granddaughter of Obi-Wan and some woman most casual fans haven't heard of? There are too many new characters to be introduced to audiences for this to pan out.

Random person

Evidence: I haven't really seen any evidence to back this one up, just lots of people on the /r/StarWars subreddit who really want it to be true, and say Luke couldn't have kids because he was a Jedi. They want a powerful Force user to be introduced who isn't a Skywalker.

Verdict: Makes no sense at all. The whole mystery of who Rey's parents are is a major thread introduced in The Force Awakens, and it would be a huge letdown for the answer to end up being a pair of random strangers. We've already got a potential powerful Force user with no Skywalker connection in Finn; why do we need another? As for Luke, he's not bound by the Order and could have kids if he wanted to. In the new canon, Luke had a romantic spark with Nakari Kelen during the Galactic Civil War, but she was killed before either could act on those feelings. And even though EU/Legends is no longer canon, we can't forget about Mara Jade. She could potentially be reintroduced.

Created by the Force/Snoke

Evidence: Anakin Skywalker was created by the Force, possibly by Darth Plagueis—who we've been told had the ability to manipulate midi-chlorians to create life. While Palpatine said he killed Plagueis to complete his own transition to Darth Sidious, some people think Plagueis lives on as Supreme Leader Snoke. He could have created Rey using his Force-manipulation abilities, making a potential apprentice for the future. He had her dumped on Jakku to test her survival and keep her a secret from Kylo Ren, his newly turned disciple—which is why Snoke seemed so interested in Rey when Kylo told him about her, and ordered Kylo to bring her to him.

Verdict: Bullhockey. Anakin was the Chosen One, prophesied to bring balance to the Force, which he did (just not in the way most Jedi expected). I'm not at all convinced that he was created by Plagueis in the first place. Then there's the whole assumption that Plagueis=Snoke. Rian Johnson had only this to say when asked about the fan theories regarding Snoke:

If Snoke created Rey, he'd want to be carefully training her from a young age, just like any Padawan. He'd want her raised in and steeped in the Dark Side, not left to her own devices. He found an apprentice in Ben Solo, but a very imperfect one who internally fights his desire to be a Sith. There's a literally zero percent chance that Snoke would just leave his creation on Jakku to develop her own moral compass and/or possibly die from the heat, dehydration, starvation, or in a fight with another scavenger.

"Luke, I am your father… or your grandmother."

Evidence: Of all the theories we've discussed, these two take the cake for sheer craziness. This blogger believes that Rey is actually a time-traveling Shmi Skywalker. They think since Rian Johnson made a time-travel movie (2012's Looper), he'll make another one with Episode VIII. If you believe this theory, Starkiller Base was killing stars and creating black holes for Shmi to slip into and through time. Shmi and Rey do look similar, so if that theory isn't wild enough for you, how about this? A poster on 9gag thinks Rey is the reincarnated spirit of Anakin Skywalker. Their theory is based on factoids like "Vader hated sand planets," and "Vader's ghost doesn't answer Kylo because there's no longer a ghost to answer him."

Verdict: No way are either of these feasible. Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo has said we can't assume time dilation exists in the Star Wars canon, so time-traveling Shmi is out. Don't you think Obi-Wan would have noticed if Shmi was this super Force-sensitive woman? Personally, if Rian Johnson introduces time travel in Episode VIII, I may walk out of the theater. Similarly, reincarnation doesn't exist in the canon, although there are a few instances of possession by a Force ghost—all from the Expanded Universe, which are no longer canon. I don't know what these theorists are smoking, but I sure hope they'll share.

Final thoughts

The most likely candidate for Rey's father is Luke, with an as-yet unknown mother. Everything in The Force Awakens points towards that conclusion, and while diehard Star Wars fans might feel it's too obvious, their opinion may not be shared by the casual fans who make up a large portion of the viewing audience. The only other likely scenario (in my opinion) is that she's the daughter of Han and Leia, but I think that opens up a lot of plot holes via the interactions of Rey and Han, and requires us to ignore some pretty obvious things. All the other theories I discussed are way too far-fetched or would require a ton of supporting characters/backstory to be introduced in the next movie, which I don't think fits Rian Johnson's style. There are even crazier theories that I didn't even delve into here, just for sake of my sanity: Rey is Anakin's sister (or daughter) who was frozen in carbonite for 60 years, Rey is a clone of Luke from his missing hand, Rey is Phasma's daughter, she's the granddaughter of Padme's older sister…the list goes on and on. For what it's worth, even if Luke is her father, that still leaves quite a mystery regarding the identity of her mother, and where she is now.

So what do you think? Is Rey a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi, a Palpatine, or none of the above? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!