Theories about Supreme Leader Snoke's true identity

After The Force Awakens premiered in 2015, many Star Wars fans were immediately curious about Supreme Leader Snoke, the newly-introduced character at the head of the First Order. Who was this mysterious and potent Force user, and how did he rise to power? Where did he come from, and what dark secrets lie in his past? Most importantly, how did he manage to take the broken remnants of the Empire and forge them into the well-oiled war machine of the First Order in just a few short decades?

Theories about Snoke's true identity and background began popping up immediately across the internet. Speculation ran wild as fans eagerly awaited the release of 2017's The Last Jedi—no doubt hoping that their personal pet theories would be validated in the next installment of the Star Wars saga. However, Snoke is sure to be a continuing subject of debate in the future, as fans wait to see if the character's identity will be revealed in Episode IX or some other source of Star Wars canon. Let's take a look at some of the more prominent Snoke theories that might reveal his true identity—and a few that definitely (probably) don't. Spoilers ahead!

Darth Plagueis

The idea that Snoke is actually the legendary Darth Plagueis has long been a front-running fan theory. Although he's never been seen on-screen, Plagueis was briefly mentioned in Revenge of the Sith by Palpatine, when he describes his former Sith master to Anakin. Plagueis was supposedly an extremely powerful Sith Lord who was able to manipulate the Force to create life and cheat death. Although Palpatine allegedly killed Plagueis in his sleep, some fans posited that he may have survived somehow because of this mastery.

The theory was further supported by the fact that Snoke's theme from The Force Awakens closely resembles Plagueis' theme from Sith. Additionally, some Star Wars Legends material (which may or may not apply to the current saga) suggests Plagueis was a Munn—an alien species with physical characteristics similar to Snoke's. However, there has been nothing concrete linking these two characters. Additionally, both actor Andy Serkis (who plays Snoke) and Lucasfilm Story Group head Pablo Hidalgo have debunked the theory. Even still, Hidalgo later deleted his Tweet—so this theory may still have some legs in the future…

A hologram

According to the novelization of The Force Awakens, Snoke kept a "mobile base" and met with his followers via a 25-foot-tall holographic projection of himself instead of in person, which we saw in the movie as well. Some Star Wars fans hit upon the idea that Snoke's twisted visage may actually be just a hologram—perhaps from an artificially-intelligent program stored within an ancient Sith holocron, or maybe as a projected image designed to hide the Supreme Leader's true identity. However, The Last Jedi has managed to fully debunk this theory, as Snoke is seen on-screen both alive and in the flesh for the first time in that movie—proving that he was not merely some computer-generated mask for someone else to hide behind.

Luke Skywalker

After The Force Awakens was released, a few fans suggested the wild theory that Snoke is actually Luke Skywalker in disguise. Piggybacking on the previous hologram theory, they suggest that Luke gave into the Dark side and joined Kylo in the destruction of the Jedi Temple. What's more, the theory argues that Luke has been living on the isolated Ahch-To as a way to hide the fact that he is actually Supreme Leader Snoke—working with Kylo and leading the First Order at a distance through the use of fake holographic projections. Proponents of this theory point to similar viewpoints between Snoke and Luke, particularly on the balance of the Force.

Although this theory should been easily debunked by The Force Awakens novelization—which makes it clear that Snoke deeply fears Skywalker—theorists persisted in their views, claiming that was nothing but clever misdirection on Luke/Snoke's part. Thankfully, The Last Jedi finally put this theory to rest. Not only are both characters seen in person in two completely different parts of the galaxy, but after Luke makes peace with his past, he actively works to stop Kylo from destroying the last remaining spark of the Resistance.

Emperor Palpatine

Although Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious seemingly met his end in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader threw him down a bottomless shaft, some fans have theorized that Snoke may actually be the once-great leader of the Empire. In the Star Wars Legends canon, Palpatine was able to come back from the dead on more than one occasion—causing all sorts of problems for the heroes along the way. Did Darth Sidious learn the secret to defying death itself from Darth Plagueis? Palpatine certainly seems to imply as much in Revenge of the Sith. "He taught his apprentice everything he knew," Palpatine brags. "Is it possible to learn this power?" Anakin asks. "Not from a Jedi," the future Emperor replies.

A few facts stand in the way of this prominent theory. The Emperor had a personal philosophy centered only on the Dark side of the Force, while Snoke seems to understand and value the Light as well. Although they both have warped facial features, Snoke doesn't otherwise resemble Palpatine. Snoke is extremely tall with bright blue eyes. The Emperor was small in stature, and while his natural eye color was also blue, they turned yellow after years working exclusively with the Dark side of the Force. Additionally, it would be a decidedly odd choice to bring on Andy Serkis to perform as Snoke instead of original actor Ian McDiarmid. Let's call this theory plausible…but only just.

Darth Vader

Proving that Star Wars fans can come up with elaborate theories about anything, some actually believed that Snoke was none other than Darth Vader himself—miraculously back from the dead to bring the Skywalker saga full-circle. There wasn't really a whole lot of evidence to support this theory to begin with. The whole basis for the "Snoke is Vader" idea hinged on the fact that the pair have similar physical characteristics. The redeemed Vader has blue eyes and major scars on the top of his head and his left cheek—much like Snoke.

There's just one small problem: audiences literally saw Vader die, his body burned on a pyre, and Anakin's return as a Force ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi. Again, for the people in the back: we saw his ghost.

However, fan theorists seldom like to let facts get in the way of fantasy, and the theory has persisted. Thankfully, it should finally be shut down now that The Last Jedi is out. Snoke is much taller than Vader, breathes without any need for mechanical aids, and has all of his original limbs—until Kylo slices him in two with Anakin's lightsaber, at least.

Another Sith

Although the theories that Snoke is either Darth Plagueis or Darth Sidious are among the most popular, some other fans have suggested that the First Order's Supreme Leader is another Sith Lord entirely. The Sith Order long followed the "Rule of Two," which states that a Sith Lord should only train one apprentice at a time. However, it was also a rule that was frequently broken. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) trained multiple apprentices while still serving his own master, Darth Sidious. Could Snoke possibly be a trainee of Plagueis–or even maybe an ancient Sith Lord himself? Yes…but it's not very likely.

In short, Snoke doesn't embrace the philosophies associated with the Sith order. During the climax of The Last Jedi, Snoke decides to keep the conflicted Kylo as his apprentice and orders him to kill Rey. "Weakness properly manipulated can be a sharp tool," Snoke claims. A true Sith Lord would've immediately discarded the flawed and weak Kylo in favor of turning the clearly stronger Rey to the Dark side. Also, as we pointed out earlier, Snoke speaks on more than one occasion about the value of both Light and Dark—something a dedicated Sith would never do. 

Ezra Bridger

Another popular Snoke theory claims that the Supreme Leader is actually Ezra Bridger, a Jedi Padawan featured on the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels. Fans of this theory point to a few physical similarities between the characters, as well as some of Ezra's plotlines during his time on Rebels. Bridger obviously has an attraction to the Dark side, and many fans feel he represents a more balanced example of a Force user—a potential "Grey Jedi." The Supreme Leader expresses some views that align with this idea as well. "Darkness rises, and light to meet it," Snoke says in The Last Jedi. Additionally, both characters show a particular affinity for mental uses of the Force—including telekinesis, telepathy, and using the Force to manipulate others' emotions.

A couple of things stand in the way of this theory, however. Bridger was born on Empire Day, making him just two days older than Luke and Leia. According to some recent Star Wars novels, Snoke witnessed the rise and fall of the Empire—and he may even have been pulling strings during the original trilogy. This would make him much older than Bridger. Finally, Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni denied any connection between Bridger and Snoke in a October 2017 interview. While The Last Jedi didn't expressly disprove this theory, it's looking extremely unlikely.

An entirely new character

The most popular and realistic theory surrounding Snoke is that he's an entirely new character who had never been mentioned or seen on-screen before The Force Awakens. In fact, this is exactly what Andy Serkis told interviewers back in 2015. "He's a new character in this universe," the actor said. The Supreme Leader apparently "has a huge agenda" and has "suffered a lot of damage" in the past. Serkis later told Entertainment Weekly that the nine-foot-tall Snoke is a humanoid alien—which likely rules out most of the secret identities we've discussed here.

Snoke's physical appearance was only finalized after Serkis began filming his part in The Force Awakens. Before that, the producers had considered making Snoke a woman. His injuries were apparently caused by a horrific experience at the hands of the Galactic Republic. "His hatred of the Resistance is fueled by what's happened to him personally," Serkis explained. "His deformity is very much based on injuries from the First World War, from the trenches." What's more, age has deformed him even further. "He's riddled with this osteoporosis so his body's twisted, like a corkscrew," Serkis added. While it's great getting some of this backstory from Serkis, none of that information was even touched upon in The Last Jedi. So, where does that leave us?

It doesn't really matter

Ultimately, Snoke's true identity does not matter. Of course, many fans are clamoring for more information about the enigmatic figure—especially after he was so unexpectedly killed off by Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. However, those who paid close attention to the newest Star Wars installment likely caught on to director Rian Johnson's underlying messages. "Similar to with Rey's parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And, you know, a story is not a Wikipedia page," Johnson told Entertainment Weekly.

In other words, we may not ever learn Snoke's life story, because Johnson and company doesn't think we need to learn it. Even a person who comes from nothing and nowhere can rise to become a spark of hope—or of hatred. Snoke may have actually been Grand Moff Tarkin, or Darth MacGuffin, or some just random Force-sensitive guy from the Outer Rim—but none of that matters now. He represented the past, and what matters is the future. You really want to know who Snoke is? He's dead, that's who he is.