- "With the blood of a scoundrel and a princess in his veins, his defiance will shake the stars."
- ―Landonis Balthazar Calrissian
Ben Solo was a human male Jedi who returned to the light side of the Force after renouncing the ways of the dark side. His alter ego, Kylo Ren, was the master of the Knights of Ren and Supreme Leader of the First Order. A product of Jedi and Sith teachings, Ren embodied the conflict between the dark side and the light, making the young Force warrior dangerously unstable. Yet it was through discord that he derived power, and he learned to channel his anger into strength. Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, Ren sought to destroy the last remnants of the Jedi Order and conquer the galaxy.
The heir to the Skywalker bloodline, Solo possessed raw strength in the Force and had the potential for limitless power. He was born at the end of the Galactic Civil War in 5 ABY, when the Galactic Empire surrendered to the New Republic. His parents, General Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, were considered great heroes of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. During the New Republic Era, Solo became part of a new generation of Jedi apprentices trained by his uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. However, Solo was seduced by the dark side through the machinations of the phantom Sith Lord Darth Sidious and his creation, Supreme Leader Snoke. He destroyed his master's training temple and killed his fellow students, and due to these actions he gained the moniker "Jedi Killer" along with his new identity as Kylo Ren.
Determined to sever all ties to his past, Ren killed his father, assassinated his dark master, and conquered vast regions of the galaxy as the new Supreme Leader. It was not a complete victory for him, however, as Rey, a Jedi apprentice whom he was growing close to, rejected his offer to rule beside him. Though they were sworn enemies, Ren and Rey shared a unique bond with each other, making them part of a dyad in the Force. In the last days of the war between the First Order and the Resistance, Darth Sidious offered Ren command of a powerful fleet, the Final Order, in return for killing Rey, his granddaughter, and ending the Jedi forever. Despite Ren's aspiration to rule the galaxy as the new Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith, he was gradually pulled back to the light by his connection with Rey and the love of his parents. Reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo, the redeemed Jedi sacrificed himself for Rey at the Battle of Exegol in 35 ABY. Before vanishing into the Force as the last Skywalker, Solo shared a kiss with Rey, acknowledging the bond between them for the first time.
Pre-birth and earliest years
A voice from the future
- "Let the past die."
- ―Kylo Ren, as heard by Darth Vader
Kylo Ren was the subject of Force visions before he was even born. Shortly after the Battle of Fortress Vader, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, the Sith persona of the famed Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, heard the voice of Ren saying that it was time to "Let the past die" as he slaughtered illusions of Jedi while exploring the portal constructed by Darth Momin in Fortress Vader on Mustafar. In 0 BBY, Ren's voice was also heard by the Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger, who visited the World Between Worlds—a mystical plane that existed between time and space.
The birth of Ben Solo
- "I am in command of my own body, thank you very much."
"Tell that to the little bandit."
"I think you mean the little angel."
- ―Leia Organa and Han Solo
Ben Solo was born in 5 ABY in Hanna City, Chandrila on the day that the Galactic Concordance was signed between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire, formally ending the Galactic Civil War, one year and four days after the Battle of Endor, in which his parents, Princess Leia Organa and General Han Solo, led the Alliance to Restore the Republic in a decisive victory over the Empire. Their victory resulted in the deaths of the Emperor, Darth Sidious, and Organa's biological father, Anakin Skywalker, who ceased to be Darth Vader when he was redeemed after decades of bringing despair to the galaxy.
While he was still in his mother's womb, Organa could feel him through the Force. She likened him to a living band of light that occasionally dimmed and was sometimes thrust through with a vein of darkness. His parents coined their own nicknames for him; to his father, he was known as "little bandit" whereas his mother took to calling him her "little angel." Following his birth, there were contradictory rumors that Solo's birth took three days. Another tale claimed that it was a fast and painless birth. There were also rumors that Solo was born with a "shock of black hair" and a full set of teeth. His black hair was still wet with birth as Organa cradled him in her arms, holding her newborn son for the first time.
Ben Solo's name was chosen by his father. The inspiration for his first name was that of the late Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, a legendary Jedi who went by the name of Ben Kenobi while in exile on Tatooine after the fall of the Jedi Order at the end of the Clone Wars and who sacrificed his life while rescuing Solo's mother from the Death Star battle station in 0 BBY. Solo's surname, that of his father, was originally coined by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin in 13 BBY on Corellia for Han when he enlisted for the Carida Academy to become a pilot.
As an infant, Solo had difficulty falling asleep. His father would hold him close in an effort to help Solo sleep. He also introduced his son to a children's holoshow cartoon called Moray and Faz. Though Han lacked the same Force bond that Organa had with her son, he comforted himself with the fact that he had a fatherly bond with Solo. Solo was prone to crying as an infant, especially during the early months of his life, but always settled whenever he sensed the presence of his mother, his father, or Chewbacca. Organa was with her son when he took his first steps and said his first word. She also witnessed the first time he sent a toy flying across the room, instinctively harnessing the power of the Force through the rage of a toddler.
One night, two years after the fall of the Empire, Chancellor Mon Mothma contacted the Solo house in an attempt to speak with Organa. The household droid, T-2LC, informed Han and activated a holo-projection of the chancellor. In doing so, the droid awoke both father and son, much to the former's annoyance as it had been the first time Solo had slept in days, or so it seemed to Han. The disturbance caused Solo to wake up crying, to which his father responded sympathetically by holding his son close to his chest. After a few moments, Solo drifted back to sleep, his chin resting on his father's shoulder.
As a child, Solo enjoyed playing with the gold dice that belonged to his father and would often follow him around. The people who were closest to his father developed an affinity for his son, such as Han's First Mate, Chewbacca, who cuddled Solo when he was toddler. Solo delighted in kicking Chewbacca's legs and pulling on his fur, to which Chewbacca responded by holding Solo close. Solo affectionately referred to the Wookiee as "Uncle Chewie," who mentored him as he learned how to fly a speeder and fire a blaster. During target practice, Chewbacca and Solo fired stun shots at a haphazard dummy made of rocks. Solo also showed great affection toward Lando Calrissian, who he referred to as "unca Wanwo."
In his youth, Solo's parents had active lives in their respective professions. Han, a smuggler before joining the Rebellion, was unable to stay in one place for long.[source?] Solo, who aspired to become a pilot like his father since childhood, inherited amazing piloting skills from him. Organa, meanwhile, became a respected senator in the New Republic, the government that arose after the Battle of Endor and that had served the Empire a final defeat during the Battle of Jakku around the time of Solo's birth. Organa and Han's natures clashed, and their busy lives left Solo with feelings of abandonment.[source?]
Apprentice of Luke Skywalker
- "For many years, there was balance and then I saw Ben. My nephew with that mighty Skywalker blood. In my hubris, I thought I could train him; I could pass on my strengths. Han was Han about it, but… Leia trusted me with her son. I took him and a dozen students, and began a training temple."
- ―Luke Skywalker
Ben Solo proved to be Force-sensitive by virtue of his lineage as a scion of the Skywalker bloodline, taking after his mother, as well as his uncle and grandfather. Growing up, Solo was unaware of his true lineage—that he was the grandson of Darth Vader. Only his parents and Organa's twin brother, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, knew the truth of Anakin Skywalker's past. Organa decided to keep the truth about Vader from Solo but planned to tell him when he was older, though by the age of twenty-three he still did not know his grandfather's real identity. Nonetheless, she still hoped to tell her son the truth, and that her brother could explain that, in the end, Vader had returned to the light side as Anakin Skywalker.
As the Force awakened in young Solo, his parents grew to believe that he needed guidance despite their efforts to build a normal life for him. In 15 ABY, Solo began his Jedi training as part of Skywalker's initiative to restore the Jedi Order. Organa recognized similarities between her son and her father; therefore, she counted on her brother to prevent Solo from following his grandfather down the path of the dark side. Through Skywalker's training, Solo developed a strong sense of devotion to the ways of the Jedi. He kept a calligraphy set filled with Jedi insights in his quarters during his time with Skywalker. As master and apprentice, they traveled across the galaxy accumulating artifacts and learning more about the Jedi Order's ancient history in the hope of fully restoring it.
Sowing doubts and darkness
- "I have been every voice, you have ever heard, inside your head."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
Like his sister, Skywalker tried to shield Solo from the secrets of their family. However, his efforts to protect his nephew inadvertently left Solo feeling isolated, especially after he began teaching additional students. It was during this period in Solo's life that he came into contact with Snoke, an enigmatic Force user who was strong with the dark side.
Snoke, having cultivated a friendship with the young Jedi, intended to supplant Skywalker by becoming Solo's mentor. Recognizing the strength that Solo possessed due to his bloodline, the Supreme Leader worked to sow seeds of doubt about Skywalker and the Jedi in Solo's mind, believing that the Jedi would ultimately fall if Solo turned to the dark side. It was through Solo that he also targeted Skywalker in a calculated effort to break him by destroying the Jedi Order, which he indirectly convinced Skywalker to restore.
Solo heard a voice throughout his young life, and long believed it to be Snoke's. Solo did not tell his uncle or his parents about the voice. In childhood, the voice terrified him, yet also comforted and guided him; it provided warnings of danger and told him secrets, but also told him that he could not survive without the voice because he was weak as it used his insecurities and fears against him. When he turned to the dark side as Kylo Ren, the voice claimed that his family would never take him back. Near the end of his life, Solo would recognize that this voice and others in his mind were in actuality Darth Sidious, who tormented Solo as he had tormented Solo's grandfather.
Exploration and discovery
- "I'm glad you came along, Ben."
"Yes, Master Skywalker. So am I."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo
During the early years of Solo's apprenticeship, Lor San Tekka, a traveler noted for his expertise on the Jedi Order, informed Skywalker about the discovery of an ancient Jedi outpost on the planet Elphrona. Embarking on a mission to investigate San Tekka's findings, Skywalker brought his apprentice with him, knowing that, like himself, Solo was interested in discovering Jedi artifacts. Along the way, Solo was contacted by Snoke without Skywalker's knowledge. Snoke, having sensed anxiety in Solo, inquired after the boy's state of mind. They conversed telepathically while Skywalker and San Tekka talked about the outpost, noting that it may have dated as far back as the High Republic Era, when the Jedi greatly expanded their activity throughout the galaxy.
Solo digressed about the length of their journey, traveling to the edge between the known galaxy and unexplored space. He believed that his Master would only collect what they found but never use any of it, to which Snoke stated that the Jedi had a history of hoarding knowledge, believing themselves to be masters of the Force. As Solo's unrest grew, he became melancholic at having nothing to do on this mission except to follow Skywalker's lead. Though he expressed admiration for his uncle as a teacher, Solo confided in Snoke his belief that Skywalker was holding him back in his evolution as a Jedi. Snoke told Solo that his Master only saw him as a child, but, in time, he would become aware of his apprentice's true potential.
Their private conversation was interrupted by Skywalker and San Tekka; as they drew closer to Elphrona, Skywalker talked about how they not only had a chance to gain new insights into the ancient Jedi, but also how the mission could give Solo an opportunity to indulge his fascination with ancient weapons, knowing that his pupil was particularly interested in them. Solo smiled when his Master expressed how pleased he was to have his apprentice by his side, and told Skywalker that he felt the same.
The outpost that they discovered was well preserved and the entrance intact. Both master and apprentice were impressed by it, though Skywalker warned that they should exercise caution while exploring the outpost, recounting a similar situation that nearly ended with his death in years past. The outpost was a repository of holocrons and other artifacts that Skywalker likened to a treasure trove. Solo had been inspecting a lightsaber rifle up close when he and his Master grew cold upon sensing the power of the dark side.
A group of marauders, dressed in black, had entered the outpost after the two Jedi and their explorer companion. A warrior calling himself "Ren" spoke on the group's behalf, declaring that the outpost and its contents were claimed by the Knights of Ren. Rejecting the Knights' claim, Skywalker drew his green-bladed lightsaber and introduced himself as the last Jedi, and therefore, the heir to all that belonged to the Order. Solo also activated his weapon, a blue-bladed lightsaber, but remained out of the ensuing fight, as Skywalker instructed him to protect San Tekka.
Ren conceded the battle after his Knights were defeated by Skywalker. During the confrontation, however, he sensed that the dark side was strong with Solo. He invited Solo to seek out the Knights in the future, offering to teach the young apprentice about aspects of the Force contrary to Jedi teachings.
New generation of Jedi
- "We were… learning. We all studied together. I was first, but they came not long after. Voe, Hennix and Tai."
- ―Ben Solo, on the other Jedi apprentices
Aside from his mother, whose Jedi training was cut short, Solo was the first student in Skywalker's initiative to rebuild the Jedi Order. It was not long before the Order expanded to include more than Skywalker and Solo, as the former took it upon himself to train multiple apprentices at the same time. In addition to several new recruits, Hennix, Tai and Voe were apprenticed to Skywalker, and as such, they became acquainted with his first and strongest pupil. As children, they would sit on the temple grounds learning about the Force through Skywalker's lectures, while, at the same time, honing their skills by levitating rocks.
Solo's natural affinity with the Force did not go unnoticed by his peers, particularly Voe, who struggled to hone her skills despite training just as hard as Skywalker's nephew. While training on the temple grounds, Voe watched as Solo levitated a large rock with ease, and wondered why he was far stronger than her. According to Skywalker, however, strength had nothing to do with how the Force worked. He likened using the Force to opening a door, explaining that the Force flowed more easily through those who were open to its energy. Notwithstanding Skywalker's view on the Force, Solo surpassed his peers in every aspect of their training, including lightsaber combat and meditation. At one point, he defeated Voe in a sparring match. As their training progressed, Solo suspected that Voe resented him for his power.
His relationships with the other students were different. Hennix could make Solo laugh, and Tai tried to help him cope with the pressures of being a Skywalker. Solo assured his fellow Jedi student that he held nothing back, but through the Force Tai perceived a side to Solo that he hid from the others, including himself. Solo listened, but said nothing while Tai expressed his belief that everyone should be themselves.
Fall to the dark side
A fateful night
- "I never… I didn't want this."
"And you did not choose it, Ben. The Jedi did. Skywalker."
- ―Ben Solo and Snoke
Twenty-four years after the Battle of Endor, the truth about Solo's mother Organa's parentage was revealed by her political enemies, in the Galactic Senate. Organa had yet to tell her son about Darth Vader, and she worried about how he would react after finding out about it in such a public way.
Snoke saw Solo as a focal point between the light side and the dark side—an ideal embodiment of a Force warrior—and wanted to take him as an apprentice of his own. Though his origins were a mystery even to his own subordinates, Snoke was created by the phantom Emperor Darth Sidious and designed by the Sith Eternal cultists to mold Solo into an heir worthy of inheriting the legacy of the Sith.
Skywalker eventually became aware of the darkness growing in his nephew as he observed glimpses during Solo's training. He went to his nephew's bedroom one evening to confront him, and found him asleep. Standing over his sleeping student, Skywalker reached out and sensed that Solo had already turned through Snoke's influence, and saw the death and destruction Solo would someday bring to everything Skywalker loved. The immediacy and severity of the threat caused the Jedi Master to instinctively draw his lightsaber, intending for a brief moment to kill his apprentice to prevent his vision from coming to pass, but the impulse vanished in an instant. Skywalker was immediately filled with shame and saw Solo had awakened to see his uncle standing over him with his lightsaber raised. Solo, unaware of the brevity of Skywalker's instinct, witnessed it long enough to fear for his life and realized what his uncle had seen in his mind. He panicked and drew his own lightsaber to strike his uncle first, but Skywalker quickly blocked his nephew's killing blow. In an act of desperation, Solo used the Force to collapse the entire hut on his master.
Solo emerged from the ruins believing he had killed Skywalker, and he raged in anger and confusion over why his uncle had attacked him. The night sky was clear as Solo shouted questions and pointed his ignited lightsaber at the Jedi temple. His eyes changed to constricted pupils and irises clouded with red. He noticed matching red storm clouds had appeared above the temple just before lightning erupted from the clouds and set the buildings ablaze. The fire that Solo started when he lashed out destroyed most of the students along with the temple, which collapsed  and burned to the ground. The lightning strike caused an explosion that knocked back Solo and scattered debris and the bodies of dead students. When Solo attempted to run inside the burning temple, he was thrown back by another explosion. He surveyed the death and destruction around him and said that he never wanted this. However, a voice inside of Solo's head told him that the fault lay not with himself, but rather with Skywalker and the Jedi.
A dark path
- "The Knights of Ren could be your first step on that path. They always seek powerful people to join their ranks. But be warned…the price of admission is steep."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
Returning from an off-world mission, the Jedi students Hennix, Tai and Voe confronted Solo and questioned his involvement in the temple's demise. Solo dejectedly informed them about Skywalker's actions and responded angrily when he assumed Voe was questioning his power in comparison to their master's. Solo told them the temple was a lie that was now over. As Solo turned to leave, the apprentices brandished their lightsabers at him, causing Solo to fight back with his Force powers, injuring Hennix. Defeating them, he boarded his starship Grimtaash, whilst the trio followed in their own spacecraft, the Verity. Though Solo had the opportunity to kill them, he only incapacitated their ship before making his escape, and eventually arrived at a space station where Solo met with Snoke.
Having rejected his future as a Jedi, Solo expressed interest in learning what he could from the Knights of Ren. Snoke not only supported Solo's new path, but also encouraged the fallen Jedi to take the opportunity of forging his own identity absent of Skywalker's influence. Solo had long felt the pressure of living up to the legends he was named after, and therefore wished to be rid of his given name as well as his father's surname. Even before he departed to search for the Knights of Ren, Solo began entertaining the idea of using a name he coined as a child. Snoke approved, believing that the new name represented Solo's true nature and would become known to the entire galaxy one day. Returning to the place where he last saw the Knights, Solo made contact with Ren by using the latter's helmet as a direct line of communication, and was told to seek them out on Varnak in the Mid Rim. By then, the other Jedi students had caught up to Solo, intending to prevent him from going any further down the path of the dark side.
Confrontation on Elphrona
- "I went back there to see if I could find a path to you and the other Knights, but I was followed somehow. By three Jedi. Students of Luke Skywalker. […] And the temple's gone. Burned. I destroyed it. That's why the other students came after me. To kill me."
- ―Ben Solo, to Ren
The battle moved outside of the outpost as Solo tried to leave while defending himself from the other students. Voe and Hennix pressed the attack in unison, forcing Solo to parry two lightsabers while Tai used their distraction to look into the fallen Jedi's mind through the Force. Sensing Tai's mental probe, Solo telekinetically pushed Tai against a wall before leaping high into the air, his temper rising at the students who pursued him in spite of his warnings back at the temple. He implored them to let him go, but Voe continued to give chase. She accused him of betraying the Jedi and their master, but it was her accusation of murder that pushed Solo past the limit of his patience. He used the Force to push her over a cliff, surrendering to the urge to kill the woman who called him a murderer, but it was a fleeting emotion that passed as Voe started to fall.
Solo was taken aback by his own actions and seized Voe in midair with the Force, attempting to save her. However, Hennix saw the exchange and believed that he had just witnessed Solo in the act of killing a fellow Jedi. Before this, he attempted to reason with both Solo and Voe, calling their battle irrational and even "stupid." In his misunderstanding, however, Hennix called Solo a monster and threw his lightsaber at Solo, not realizing that the latter was struggling to keep Voe from falling to her death. The attack caught Solo by surprise, causing him to drop Voe as he instinctively deflected Hennix's blade before refocusing his attention on saving Voe. Though she ultimately survived due to the efforts of Solo and Tai, Hennix was cut down by his own blade, Solo having inadvertently caused it to ricochet in the direction of its wielder. When Voe and Tai asked what happened to Hennix, Solo told them it didn't matter. Before Voe and Tai could recover, Solo seized them both with the Force and threw them back into the outpost. With that he used his powers to collapse the entrance, trapping his remaining pursuers inside.
Trials of Knighthood
- "But Snoke vouched for you, and you're strong in the shadow, and that's not nothing. Let's spend some time, see if you like us, see if we like you. Maybe you'll find that good death after all."
- ―Ren, to Ben Solo
With the Jedi subdued, Solo completed his journey to Varnak, where he found Ren and the other Knights lounging in a cantina. Knowing that Snoke had sent Solo to them, Ren informed the young Jedi that he would have to offer them a sacrifice before he could join their ranks. As with Snoke, Ren was doubtful that Skywalker died by Solo's hand, although Solo confirmed that at this point he was responsible for the destruction of the temple and deaths of other Jedi. Ren, however, needed to know if the Jedi that Solo killed held any significance to him, so he asked Solo to recount the details of his confrontation with Tai, Hennix and Voe. As Solo began telling his story, his thoughts drifted to years past when he was younger—a child surrounded by other young students whom Skywalker had taken under his wing.
Solo recounted his experiences with the three Jedi who followed him to Elphrona, beginning with Voe. He remembered how she treated everything between them as a competition, throughout their time together as Skywalker's apprentices. For Solo, however, nothing with Voe was a contest as he outperformed her in every aspect of their training, despite all of Voe's attempts to reach the level of Solo's skill. Through Solo's recollection of her, Ren deduced that Voe was focused on his strength, whereas Hennix concentrated more on solving the mysteries of the Force as though it were a puzzle. Solo remembered Hennix for his humor and intelligence, but was more cryptic about Tai. Though Solo would not speak of him in detail to Ren, he remembered the way Tai encouraged him to be himself despite the pressure of being who he was—the scion of a legendary family.
Having learned enough about the other students of Skywalker, Ren directed Solo to return to the more recent past regarding his confrontation with the trio that pursued him in the wake of the temple's destruction. Solo took responsibility for Hennix's death, telling Ren that he killed his fellow Jedi. Ren, however, remained skeptical as were the other Knights. Solo protested, believing he met their qualifications, and although Ren agreed that Hennix was technically a death caused by Solo, he knew that the young fallen Jedi was conflicted about it. Nevertheless, Ren allowed Solo to accompany the Knights, at least for the time being, given that he was strong with the dark side as well as the fact that Snoke had already vouched for him. Ren also suspected that, in the course of Solo's journey with the Knights, the former Jedi would eventually make a sacrifice that was worthy of the Knights of Ren.
As far as Ren was concerned, Solo's appearance as a Jedi made him unsuitable to be seen in the company of the Knights. As such, Solo was made to set aside his tattered Jedi robes for a set of black clothes. Once dressed in his new attire, Solo was told by Ren that they would now depart from Vanrak and find something to burn.
By then, Tai and Voe had managed to create an opening in the destroyed entrance of the Jedi outpost. Tai, having seen glimpses in Solo's mind, knew that his former peer was seeking to join the Knights, believing his truth path was with the dark side warriors. His faith in Solo began to erode upon discovering the dead body of Hennix, whose lightsaber was claimed by Voe as a replacement for her weapon, which was destroyed during her battle with Solo.
The fall of Ben Solo
- "Now you will be who you are. Who you were always meant to be."
- ―Darth Sidious, on Ben Solo's fall to darkness
Journeying to the Minemoon of Mimban in the Mid Rim, the Knights of Ren, along with Ben Solo, found themselves amidst Mimbanese miners. Trailed by the Jedi Tai and Voe, Solo confronted the former as the latter repelled the Knights' attack on the Mimbanese. Tai attempted once again to bring Solo back into the light, but before Solo could respond, Ren used the Force to snap Tai's neck. Ren taunted Solo, claiming that Snoke was wrong about him and that he could never survive against someone who actually wanted him dead. They engaged in a lightsaber duel, and as Solo fell towards the dark side, a storm of lightning accompanied him. Those connected to him across the galaxy were able to feel the disturbance in the Force, including Solo's mother, Organa; Snoke; Darth Sidious; and his dyad counterpart, Rey.
After successfully killing Ren and taking control of his knights, Ben returned to face Voe, snatched Voe's weapon, and killed her by igniting Ren's lightsaber through her chest.
Solo then returned to the Night Buzzard and retreated to a workbench within to modify his lightsaber. Deeply frustrated with his family's expectations of himself, Solo used the kyber crystal from his saber to bleed his hatred for the legacy of his family into it, renouncing his origins to the distant Darth Sidious and Snoke's approval. His eyes briefly turning yellow and red, the crystal cracked in its master's grip with a surge of fiery energy. Afterward, he had to modify his weapon to contain the power of the broken crystal, which produced a red blade with an unstable and fiery appearance. After bleeding his kyber crystal and modifying his weapon, the newly-turned dark side warrior brandished his crossguard lightsaber and took on the name Kylo Ren.
The rise of Kylo Ren
- "And when you called yourself by that new name, you saw your truth. It represents what you want to do on a deep level. The part of yourself you want to cut away. The part you want to kill. Perhaps someday you will do it. The galaxy will hear that name and see you."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
Kylo Ren sacrificed everything in his pursuit of power through the dark side, choosing to isolate himself from the people he loved as Ben Solo. In addition to becoming a champion of the First Order, the Empire's successor that Snoke ruled as Supreme Leader, Ren gained the title master of the Knights of Ren, having inherited his predecessor's command with Snoke's blessing. Through his new master's training, Solo became nothing more than a distant memory in the life of Ren. He was the Supreme Leader's most gifted apprentice as well as the embodiment of a new generation of dark side warriors that emerged to fill the void left by the fall of the Sith, which became extinct with the deaths of Sidious and Vader as the last Sith Master and Sith apprentice under the Rule of Two. Unbeknownst to Ren, Skywalker survived but was also forever changed upon witnessing the destruction of the Jedi Order by his nephew.
Ren's actions sent shock waves through his family. With his Jedi temple destroyed, Skywalker vanished into exile. Those closest to him believed that he went in search of the first Jedi Temple, which he eventually discovered on the planet Ahch-To. Organa and Solo separated, with Solo returning to smuggling with Chewbacca. Organa returned to a life of war, forming a band of soldiers known as the Resistance when the New Republic Senate refused to take the emerging threat of the First Order seriously. Though Solo believed there was too much of Darth Vader in Ben and that they lost their son forever, Organa never gave up hope that there was still good in him.
By decree of the Supreme Leader, Ren's true name could never be spoken. Ren sought to put his past behind him, become immune to the temptations of the light, and claim his birthright by ruling the weaker beings of the galaxy. He typically wore a combat helmet, patterned after the battle gear of the Knights of Ren, in order to conceal his identity and give him a more intimidating presence. This helmet also contained a vocal modifier, which lowered the pitch of Ren's voice considerably. Ren's actions at Skywalker's temple earned him the nickname "Jedi Killer," a name whispered amongst the First Order ranks who knew Ren had prevented the return of the Jedi Order. No longer a Jedi but neither a Sith, Ren strove to harness the pain of his emotional conflict in order to fuel his extraordinary powers and destroy the last traces of the Jedi tradition.
Ren's desire to put the light side behind him was a key part of how he viewed his heritage. He came to idolize Darth Vader and kept his grandfather's burned helmet as a shrine to the legacy of the Dark Lord of the Sith, hoping to destroy the last Jedi as Vader had once intended and stamp put the last remnants of the light side of the Force. Though Skywalker had redeemed Vader during the Battle of Endor—allowing his father, Anakin to fulfill the ancient prophecy of the Chosen One—Ren and Snoke both believed that Darth Vader was Anakin's true self and that his redemption had simply been a single yet fatal error in an otherwise important life. Ren regarded Darth Vader as his real grandfather whom he wished to emulate. At one point Ren believed that he had made contact with the spirit of his grandfather, as he once beseeched Vader's helmet to "show [him] again, the power of the darkness."
Ren became an influential member of the First Order's power structure by virtue of his position as Supreme Leader Snoke's apprentice and enforcer, mirroring his grandfather's status in Sidious' Empire. Though he had direct access to the Supreme Leader and could command military officers, he existed outside of the official military command structure. This led to some tension with the First Order's upper ranks, who contended with him despite being wary that his agenda trumped military objectives. This arrangement deliberately mirrored the Galactic Empire's relationship with Darth Vader, who existed outside of the formal military hierarchy but could nonetheless command the Imperial Military in his own objectives. This tension was particularly palpable with General Armitage Hux, the commander of Starkiller Base, the First Order superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems. Ren, who was part of an unofficial Starkiller Base command triumvirate with Hux and Captain Phasma of the First Order military, had little regard for Hux as a warrior; Hux's military experience was mostly theoretical and based on simulated but nonetheless respected battlefield scenarios. Hux, likewise, was a man of science and had little understanding of Ren's mystical ways. Both vied for the attention of the Supreme Leader.
Over time Ren's reputation came to rival that of Hux and Phasma, both of whom were noted among the First Order ranks for their power and influence. Nevertheless, soldiers such as Captain Cardinal held Ren in high regard, believing he would be the one to lead the First Order to victory. However, although he was highly regarded by some figures of the First Order command, others were less impressed with the young Knight of Ren. Agent Terex, an officer of the First Order's security branch, was disdainfully dismissive of Ren's attempt to emulate Darth Vader, whom he had met and considered a truly terrifying figure.
Dark side training
Apprentice of Snoke
- "Use your fear. Let it crystallize into anger. Turn that anger into power."
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
Sometime later, Snoke took Ren to a rocky world in the Rarlech system. As the two stood at the edge of a cliff, Snoke turned to Ren and asked if he was afraid. Ren replied by saying he wasn't. Snoke, using the Force, pushed Ren off the cliff and held him in the air. He proceeded to say that he knew Ren was afraid, as he should have been because he had no control. Instead, Ren was obfuscated and powerless. Snoke continued by saying that feeling that was good. Powerless men turned to anger and could lash out blindly with rage. But powerful ones can harness their anger and use it strike. Either they strike or fall. Snoke then released Ren, letting him fall. He told Ren to use the fear in him, turn it into anger, and make that anger become power. Following the guidance of Snoke, Ren was able to use the Force to survive the fall. He then asked Snoke if he would have rescued him if he wasn't able to save himself. Snoke answered by saying that Ren's former master, Luke Skywalker would have, but in doing so would hinder Ren's progress. Snoke wanted Ren to find his true power and potential if the latter wished to rule the galaxy alongside him.
After leaving the rocky world, the duo arrived on Dagobah. As they prepared to depart from the shuttle, Ren was about to bring his helmet when Snoke ordered him to leave it behind. Ren tried to tell Snoke that he wanted to bring it, but the incensed Supreme Leader slapped him in the face, drawing blood, and once again ordered Ren to leave it, telling him that he couldn't pretend to be Vader where they were going.
The Cave of Evil
- "I feel cold, death, and more."
"The cave is power. And darkness. And you will enter."
"What's in there?"
"Only what you've been too weak to bury. Or you can run away, if you'd like."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Following the incident on board their shuttle, Snoke and Ren proceeded towards the Cave of Evil on Dagobah. Ren commented that he could still sense his uncle from his time on Dagobah training with Yoda. Snoke nodded and told Ren that one of the most formidable Jedi began his training here. Ren then asked Snoke why he spoke of Skywalker with respect. Snoke said that Skywalker had earned his respect and fear. Ren told Snoke that Skywalker was weak. Snoke replied that Skywalker was not weak, merely misguided. If Snoke had had Skywalker by his side, the galaxy would have belonged to him a lot earlier. They then went to the cave, from which Ren could sense a coldness radiating, along with death and other things. Snoke explained that was where all the fears Ren had been too weak to bury resided. He could go in or run away. But Ren's mind was already made up. He ventured in.
Once inside, Ren had a vision of his uncle Luke, saying that he didn't want to fight Ren. Ren told him that he did not care and activated his lightsaber. Snoke sensed the decision Ren had made and told him that it was good and that Skywalker would have murdered him in his sleep because he feared Ren and how formidable he'd become. As the two dueled, Snoke advised Ren to use his hatred, rise above what was holding him back, and strike against the light within him. Ren did so and impaled the vision of Luke. Thinking he was finished, Ren told Snoke that he was done. But Snoke told him that the vision had just started.
Ren then caught sight of his parents, begging him to quit his actions. He tried to kill the light within him by saying that Ben wasn't his name, but Leia insisted it was and that he was loved. Outside the cave, Snoke could sense the conflict within Ren, but then he sensed Ren ignite his lightsaber. He told Ren to kill the connection and snuff it out. But, in the cave, Ren hadn't killed his parents; instead, he used his lightsaber to slice a tree. This action proved that though he hated his uncle, he loved his mother and father, and it foreshadowed what he would do to Snoke, who couldn't sense that he had not killed the vision of his parents. Ren then destroyed the Cave of Evil, surprising Snoke, who told Ren that the cave had stood for thousands of years and that he had planned to bring other apprentices there. Ren answered by telling Snoke that the past was the past and that Snoke would no longer need any more apprentices.
Colonization of the Unknown Regions
- "They also said that someone called Kylo Ren was leading the First Order army. Does that name mean anything to you?"
"You could say that. General Organa will want to hear about this immediately."
- ―Kazuda Xiono and Ello Asty
As one of the commanders of the First Order's military, Ren was heavily involved in its campaign to colonize the Unknown Regions, where the former Imperials had been rebuilding their strength since the Battle of Jakku. Aided by mysterious alien navigators known as the Attendants, the First Order had been able to navigate beyond the frontier of the known galaxy, allowing them to survive and rebuild their power. Several threats lurked in the Unknown Regions, hermetic kingdoms who were confronted by the growing new power. On Supreme Leader Snoke's instruction, the new military undertook a major offensive against several of these kingdoms to seize their worlds and resources to fuel their rise.
At some point, Ren led an army to the world of Tehar, where they subjugated the local population by massacring a village. However, the siblings Kel and Eila survived the destruction of their village and fled Tehar after stowing away on a cargo ship. Since the children bore the knowledge of its aggressive actions against the people on Tehar, the First Order placed a large bounty of twenty thousand credits on their heads, telling informants that Kel and Eila were members of a high-ranking First Order family from outside its military hierarchy.
Kel and Eila eventually made their way to Castilon and sought refuge on a supertanker fuel depot known as the Colossus. After meeting the Resistance spy Kazuda Xiono, Eila told him about Ren's involvement in the raid on her village. Though she knew little about the warrior dressed in black, apart from his name and affiliation with the army that invaded Tehar, Ren's lightsaber reminded Eila of the legends about the Jedi who carried the same weapons. Xiono, who was also unaware of Ren's identity, passed this information to the Resistance while reporting to Ello Asty.
The search for Skywalker
Hunting the last Jedi
- "If Skywalker returns, the new Jedi will rise."
Both Ren and the Supreme Leader understood that if Skywalker and the Jedi were to ever return, they would be a grave threat to the future of the First Order. The people who were closest to Skywalker believed he had gone in search of the first Jedi temple, the location of which had been lost. A partial map was recovered from the archives of the Galactic Empire, but it was missing a key piece of the puzzle. The First Order soon discovered that the missing map fragment was in the possession of Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force.
Mission to Pillio
- "Tell me where Lor San Tekka took the map."
"…Bayora. He took it to Bayora."
- ―Kylo Ren and Del Meeko
The hunt for Skywalker caused Ren to undertake a journey the planet Pillio. Although San Tekka was not found on the world, the First Order's allies captured and detained Del Meeko, a veteran of the Galactic Civil War who served the Empire and New Republic, in turn, as a member of Inferno Squad. Upon his arrival, the dark warrior was greeted by Protectorate Gleb of Jinata Security. Dismissive of the formalities, he instructed the Aqualish officer to lead him to Meeko. He found the former soldier wounded and alone on the bridge of the Raider II-class corvette Corvus.
Ignoring the prisoner's sarcasm, Ren used the Force to probe through Meeko's mind, determined to learn where San Tekka took the map. For all of Meeko's efforts to resist the probe, invading his mind was a relatively simple task for Ren, who saw memories ranging across the former commando's life—from his service on Scarif as a coastal defender stormtrooper to his participation in the Battle of Endor and the skirmish on Vardos. He also learned that Meeko encountered Skywalker on Pillio and subsequently discovered his faith in the Force. Ultimately, Meeko was unable to resist Ren's powers and revealed that San Tekka took the map with him to Bayora.
Having gained the information he sought, Ren turned the prisoner over to First Order officer Gideon Hask, one of Meeko's former teammates in the Inferno Squad prior the Empire's fall, who executed Meeko shortly thereafter.
- "General Hux… I know where we must go… and I know this is the key. We are so close."
- ―Kylo Ren
Later, Ren, Hux and two First Order admirals gathered in a conference room aboard the Finalizer over the planet GUHL-JO387O. They were discussing travel to a planet in the Western Reaches. While in the conference, the creature that the stormtrooper, FN-2187, was chasing turned off the lights, interrupting the conference. Ren, his temper under control, felt something nearby: something from the planet that should not be on board. He activated his lightsaber to illuminate the room and looked around, but whatever it was had now gone.
After the conference, Ren transmitted orders to Phasma via private frequency. But he had to make sure she got them, so he walked over to the captain's quarters and called her from outside. Only Phasma's helmet appeared through the opened doors. Pleased by her punctuality, Ren relayed what he sensed to Phasma, for he planned to have a discreet search throughout the Finalizer. He ordered her to take a squad of trainees to investigate the planet for any Resistance activity. Anything Phasma may find, she must deliver to Ren. Then the dark warrior left.
Marooned with Hux
- "How did we…? Did you…did you save me?"
"Not intentionally. I saved myself. You were just nearby. Communications are out."
"Which means I have no choice but to talk to you instead of literally anyone else."
- ―Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren
At one point before the attack on Tuanul, an Xi-class light shuttle carrying Kylo Ren and General Hux crash-landed on a distant world. Their shuttle was consequently destroyed and the pilot died in the crash, although Ren survived the incident by protecting himself with the Force. By saving himself, however, he inadvertently saved Hux's life as well. The destruction of their vessel along with its communications system left them marooned and unable to contact the First Order. Realizing that a saboteur was responsible for their predicament, the two rivals began bickering over which of them was at fault. Ren chided Hux as he believed the general was targeted by a conspirator in his own army, to which Hux responded by mocking Ren for his temper and efforts emulate Darth Vader. Ren drew his lightsaber at the mention of his parents and contemplated ridding himself of Hux once and for all, aware that it would be some time before the First Order located their position. However, Hux reminded him of the one person who would learn the truth: Ren's master, Supreme Leader Snoke. Although he did not understand why Hux was important to Snoke's plans, Ren conceded the point that there would be a penalty for killing the Supreme Leader's favored general, and therefore deactivated his lightsaber, sparing Hux.
Following their argument, Ren and Hux were attacked by a norwood, a large creature native to the planet that they were stranded on. Drawing his lightsaber once more, Ren took a defensive stance and told Hux to stay behind him, only to see that the general had already fled in the opposite direction of the beast. Though abandoned by Hux, Ren stood his ground and managed to incapacitate the norwood by using the Force to smack its head against a tree. Believing himself victorious, Ren called Hux a coward and told him to come out from wherever he was hiding, but a second norwood ambushed him and ultimately rendered the dark warrior unconscious, at which point the Alderaanian exile Bylsma emerged and prevented the norwoods from killing Ren.
Hux, who had been hiding in the trees and watching as the event occurred, cautiously approached Bylsma from his hiding place. Recognizing the old man's uniform, Hux came to the conclusion that Bylsma was an Alderaanian palace guard. Bylsma confirmed as much and revealed that he had fled into exile after the destruction of Alderaan. He stranded himself on a distant planet and severed his connections to the larger galaxy, fearing that his new home would suffer Alderaan's fate if he attempted to use his ship's communications, but as a result, Bylsma had no knowledge of the events that unfolded after the disaster. Hux used Bylsma's ignorance of recent galactic history in order to gain his trust. In addition, he used Ren's heritage to his advantage, informing Bylsma that the man whom the norwoods attacked was, in fact, a fellow son of Alderaan. More to the point, he was the son of Leia Organa, the princess of Alderaan. Bylsma, who had known both the princess and her adoptive father, saw the physical resemblance between Ren and his mother and wondered if Ren was anything like the princess he once served. Hux assured him that Ren was indeed like his mother, even if he would have denied it.
Bylsma built a stretcher and carried Ren to his home, where Hux convinced the retired soldier to give him access to the ship's communications so that they could be rescued. After regaining consciousness, Ren played along with Hux's deception until a shuttle arrived to retrieve them. The shuttle ramp lowered revealing Captain Phasma and a squad of stormtroopers, leading to the norwoods' immediate death by blaster fire. Ren boarded the shuttle in silence alongside Hux, who told the captain to spare the old man's life but to disable his communications array, leaving Bylsma truly stranded and alone. They reported directly to Snoke via hologram after their return to Starkiller Base; although Ren offered to punish the culprit responsible for sabotaging the shuttle, Hux insisted on handling the matter personally, given that the conspiracy was directed at him. Snoke approved the general's request, causing Ren to question the Supreme Leader's faith in Hux. Ren, who could sense Hux's ambition to kill and replace Snoke, and therefore, deemed him untrustworthy, was certain that his master knew it as well. Snoke dismissed Ren's concerns, however, and explained why Hux—a vicious and unforgiving man, consumed by ambition and driven by spite, molded as such through years of abuse—was ultimately a useful asset.
Walking in Darth Vader's shadow
Confronting old enemies of Vader
- "But still, we are walking in Darth Vader's shadow. This is the field where he fought. There is glory here."
"Glory? Nah. There's none of that buried out there. There are only wasted lives…"
- ―Kylo Ren and Ruthford
The First Order deployed an army, under the command of Kylo Ren, to the Benathy homeworld in Wild Space, intending to put an end to their expansionist campaign. Ren, who was aware that his grandfather once fought against the Benathy decades earlier during the reign of the Galactic Empire, saw his mission as an opportunity to succeed where Darth Vader failed—by forcing the Benathy to submit to the First Order. Captain Ruthford, a veteran Imperial stormtrooper who joined the First Order, accompanied Ren as his military advisor. Having served with Ren's grandfather against the Benathy, Ruthford opined that Vader managed to subdue the aliens but at the cost of thousands on both sides, resulting in a pyrrhic victory. But where Ruthford was disillusioned by his past experience with the Benathy, believing their conflict with the Empire was pointless and a waste of lives, Ren saw only glory as he walked across the field of battle where Vader once stood, the shadow of his grandfather's legacy looming over him.
Despite the army behind him, the First Order's troops were ordered to stand by while Ren conducted negotiations with the Benathy's ruler, King Kristoff, attempting to secure their capitulation without bloodshed. Desiring to expand the Benathy's domain, Kristoff not only conquered four nearby planets but also had them purged of all life, leading Ren to demand that the Benathy cease their expansion immediately. Compared to Ren, the late Vader commanded the king's respect, but only to a degree because while Vader killed Kristoff's predecessor he failed to defeat their Zillo Beast, which the Benathy worshiped as a god. Nevertheless, Ren continued his efforts to resolve their situation through diplomacy and even attempted to dominate the king's will by way of the Force. The mind trick failed, however. Kristoff openly mocked Ren's negotiating skills, causing Ruthford to caution him against provoking the dark warrior. At that point, Ren stabbed the king through the head with his lightsaber, concluding negotiations in favor of open battle.
Leading by example like his grandfather before him, Ren fought alongside his stormtroopers as they engaged the Benathy and personally killed numerous enemy combatants until their deity arrived. Despite Ruthford's skepticism, Ren was undaunted and ordered his men to keep fighting. After their initial efforts to kill the beast failed, he improvised a plan to kill the creature to the dismay of Ruthford, who could no longer restrain himself from expressing his disapproval of Ren's desire to match Vader's achievements. In his view, there was no competition between Ren and Vader because the latter was long since dead.
Despite the captain's lack of faith in him, Ren commanded a shuttle to bring him to the jaws of the Zillo Beast, diving head-first into its mouth. Convinced that Ren was dead, Ruthford was in the middle of recommending the option of retreat to a nearby admiral when the Zillo Beast suddenly collapsed and died. Ren had killed the creature from within, where it was vulnerable, and managed to cut his way out, emerging from its corpse covered in the blood of the Benathy's deity. Declaring that their god was now dead, the dark warrior commanded the Benathy to submit to the First Order, and they did by kneeling in submission to him. In the end, he not only gained the allegiance of the Benathy, but also Captain Ruthford's respect.
Raid on Jakku
- "The map to Skywalker. We know you've found it, and now you're going to give it to the First Order."
"The First Order rose from the dark side. You did not."
"I'll show you the dark side."
"You may try, but you cannot deny the truth that is your family."
"You're so right."
- ―Kylo Ren and Lor San Tekka
Eventually, the First Order learned that San Tekka was on Jakku. Ren, who knew San Tekka from childhood as the explorer was once an old ally of Organa and Skywalker, brought the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer in his search for the map. The First Order's military attacked the village of Tuanul, where San Tekka lived. Once the First Order stormtroopers, under the command of Phasma, rounded up the denizens of the village, Ren arrived on the battlefield and confronted San Tekka, lamenting how old the former explorer had become, to which San Tekka replied that Ren's fall to the dark side was far worse. Ren demanded that San Tekka give the map to the First Order, but San Tekka refused to submit to the will of the dark side and reminded the one-time Jedi that Ren could not deny the truth of his heritage, at which point Ren struck him down with his lightsaber while sarcastically agreeing with him.
Moments later, he was shot at from afar by Commander Poe Dameron, a starfighter pilot in the Resistance who was sent to Jakku by General Organa to find the map before the First Order. Ren used the Force to freeze the blaster bolt midair, and Dameron was soon brought before him. The dark warrior realized that Tekka gave the map to Dameron and ordered that the troopers bring the pilot onto Ren's command shuttle, before giving the order to kill the rest of the villagers. One stormtrooper, FN-2187, hesitated and ultimately chose not to fire on the civilians, an act that Ren noticed as he could sense his fear before boarding his shuttle.
- "The droid… stole a freighter?"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Dopheld Mitaka
Dameron was brought aboard the Finalizer for interrogation, where he was placed into an interrogation chair. The device, used by Ren to extract information from his prisoners, was based on similar devices once used by the Inquisitors of the Galactic Empire. First Order interrogators were unable to break Dameron, but they did learn that he was the best pilot in the Resistance, a feat that Ren noted once he began interrogating the pilot personally. Though the dark knight was impressed that Dameron had not yet been broken, Ren began to use the Force to mentally extract the information from Dameron's mind. The pilot, who resisted the Force attack, finally was forced to reveal that he had hidden the map inside his BB unit, BB-8, who was likely still on Jakku. Ren informed General Hux of the new development and left the recovery of the droid in the hands of the military.
Shortly after leaving Dameron under the guard of several stormtroopers, Ren arrived on the Finalizer's bridge upon hearing that the Resistance pilot escaped aboard a TIE fighter. Hux confirmed this with the additional information of Dameron having had help from someone within the First Order's ranks. Ren realized that it could only have been FN-2187, after remembering how the conflicted soldier had hesitated in Tuanul, and he said as much to Hux. The TIE fighter was eventually shot down after a brief skirmish, and it crash-landed on Jakku.
The First Order recognized that Dameron and the deserter designated FN-2187 were looking for the droid, so Hux ordered a squadron to be sent to Jakku to recover it first. Hux soon spoke to the Supreme Leader, who ordered them to capture the droid if they could, but destroy it if they must. Ren questioned the capability of Hux's soldiers and training methods, wondering aloud whether the Supreme Leader would be better off using an army of clones as the Galactic Republic and the early Empire had once done. Hux told him that they were more than capable, and warned Ren not to let his personal mission to find Skywalker interfere with the Supreme Leader's orders.
Later that day, a nervous Lieutenant Dopheld Mitaka informed Ren that the astromech droid escaped aboard a YT-1300 light freighter. At first, Ren found it unlikely for a single droid to be capable of stealing a ship but allowed Mitaka to continue. Further intelligence suggested the probability of FN-2187, who had now branded himself with the name Finn, abetting the droid's evacuation from Jakku. Enraged that the traitor had robbed him of the means to find Skywalker, Ren ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the computer terminal in front of him. The dark warrior calmed down, asking if there was "anything else." Mitaka replied that the defector and the droid had help from a girl. Ren used the Force to drag Mitaka towards him, grabbed him by the neck, and demanded to know who the girl was.
Return of the past
The pull to the light
- "The droid we seek is aboard the Millennium Falcon. In the hands of your father, Han Solo."
"He means nothing to me."
"Even you, Master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test."
"By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced."
"We shall see. We shall see."
- ―Kylo Ren and Snoke
With the droid gone, the Finalizer made its way to Starkiller Base. Once there, Ren and Hux spoke to Supreme Leader Snoke, who communicated to his subordinates via an enlarged hologram. Snoke remained concerned that Skywalker's return would be a threat to the First Order, so Hux proposed that they finally use the weapon as intended and destroy the New Republic one and for all. Without the Republic, Hux knew that the Resistance would be vulnerable and could be stopped before they found Skywalker. The Supreme Leader gave the general his permission and Hux left to oversee preparations, while Ren remained behind.
Both Snoke and Ren could sense that the Force was awakening from dormancy once again, and the Supreme Leader told his apprentice that the droid was in the hands of Han Solo; the old smuggler had the astromech aboard his ship, the Millennium Falcon. Ren claimed Solo meant nothing to him and that he would not be "seduced" by the light as his grandfather once was, not while he had Snoke's training. Even so, the Supreme Leader warned that this would be Ren's greatest test.
Though Ren believed he would not be seduced, he nonetheless felt the pull of the light side. In his personal quarters aboard the Finalizer, Ren spoke to the helmet of Darth Vader, searching for guidance and hoping that the legacy of the Dark Lord could remind him of the power of the dark side. He swore that if Vader could somehow show him that dark power, then Ren would finish what the Sith started and destroy the last of the Jedi.
Capture of Rey
- "You still want to kill me."
"That's what happens when you're being hunted by a creature in a mask."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
The First Order soon learned that Solo, the girl, the defector, and the droid had landed on Takodana and were in the castle of the ancient pirate Maz Kanata, who Solo hoped would help deliver the droid to the Resistance. Before the First Order departed, General Hux unleashed the Starkiller weapon against the Republic. After giving a speech to his forces about the end of a regime that he believed could not contain galactic chaos, Hux ordered that the weapon be fired. Ren watched from the bridge of the Finalizer as the weapon's phantom energy left the surface of Starkiller Base and made their way to the Republic's capital of Hosnian Prime, where they destroyed the entire Hosnian system.
With the Republic severely damaged, Ren led his forces to Takodana, where the stormtroopers attacked Kanata's castle. Solo, Finn, and the droid were briefly captured by the First Order before Dameron and the Resistance Starfighter Corps arrived to recover the droid, while the girl and the astromech tried to escape through the forest. The two split up, as the girl led stormtroopers away from the droid. Ren soon arrived on the battlefield and found the girl in the woods. She fired at him with her blaster, but he followed her and deflected the shots with his lightsaber. Finally, Ren froze her in place with a telekinetic attack.
He peered into the girl's mind, learning of her life as a scavenger in the junkyards of Jakku. Going further, he saw that Rey had seen the map. The First Order would not need the droid, he believed, and so he placed the girl in an unconscious state with the Force and carried her to his command shuttle. He ordered the First Order to retreat, as they had what they came for, and their forces left Takodana. The droid ultimately made it out of the forests and into the hands of the Resistance.
Ren brought the girl to Starkiller Base, restraining her in an interrogation chair. When she awoke, she asked where her friends were, and Ren told her he had no idea. He sensed she still wanted to kill him, and she said it was because she was being hunted by a creature in a mask. The dark warrior removed his mask to show his young face and asked about the droid, but the girl only gave him BB-8's technical specifications. Ren told her that he knew about the map and that the First Order had recovered the rest of it from the archives of the Empire.
Knowing the girl was resilient, Ren warned her that he could take whatever he wanted from her mind. He touched her face and began probing her mind with the Force. Ren felt an innate connection to the scavenger, although at the time he was unaware that they formed a prophesied dyad in the Force. At first, he got a hold of her name: Rey. Next, he could feel loneliness and fear within her, followed by the sight of an ocean and an island. Then he sensed Han Solo. Ren could tell that Rey looked at the smuggler as a father figure, but he said that Solo would have only disappointed her. Finally, Rey began to be more strongly resistant to his mental attacks. She soon turned the mental probing around on him, using the Force within herself to see that Ren himself was afraid—afraid that he would never be as strong as Darth Vader was.
Snoke's new strategy
- "Supreme Leader, I can get the map from the girl. I just need your guidance."
"If what you say about this girl is true, bring her to me."
- ―Kylo Ren and Snoke
Stunned by the reversal, Ren left Rey behind in the interrogation chamber and spoke to the Supreme Leader, who reacted with incredulity that a mere scavenger resisted him. Ren told Snoke that Rey was strong with the Force, stronger than she even knew. The Supreme Leader asked what happened to the droid, and General Hux, who had just entered the chamber, told Snoke that Ren believed he only needed Rey and allowed the droid to escape. Concerned that the Resistance might have the full map to Skywalker, Snoke ordered Hux to unleash the Starkiller weapon against the Resistance base on the planet D'Qar. Ren swore that he could still find the map in Rey's mind as long as he had his master's guidance, so the Supreme Leader ordered Rey to be brought to him.
On his way to Rey's holding cell, Ren learned that the girl had somehow broken out. The guard who had been ordered to watch her could not fathom how he ended up in his quarters. When asked by a First Order officer if "stronger methods" were needed, Ren declined; any further simple questioning might enable the guard to remember something important. In the meantime, Rey must be found.
When Ren returned to the cell, he needed to see if Rey had truly used her emerging Force abilities to escape. Inspection revealed the interrogation bench was deserted, every one of its restraints left open as if to mock Ren. Enraged, he ignited his lightsaber and destroyed the room, causing two passing stormtroopers to quickly back away.
Han Solo's last stand
- "I'm being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. And I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?"
- ―Kylo Ren and Han Solo
Ren commanded the First Order troops to be on alert for Rey as she began making her way through the base, as he knew that the longer she was able to tap into her powers while escaping, the more dangerous she would become. A trooper reported sensor readings in Hangar 718, which meant Rey could be there. But investigations turned up nothing. Nonetheless, Ren wanted every hangar on lockdown to prevent Rey from commandeering a ship. Right in the middle of that order, he was interrupted by a familiar presence: Han Solo. His father was on Starkiller Base.
Ren ordered for a search of the Millennium Falcon, for the ship had shortly been sighted at the edge of a cliff. By the time he arrived on the scene, everything checked clear and not a single hidden trap could be found. He boarded the Falcon and sat on the pilot's seat, looking for anything that may lead him to Solo's whereabouts. Just then, he spotted Resistance X-wings flying past and assaulting the thermal oscillator, hoping to destroy it and set off a chain reaction that would cause the planet to implode before the weapon could destroy D'Qar. Ren rushed to the oscillator, commanding his troops to find the intruders. He knew Solo had to be nearby, as well as the fact that he did not come alone.
As Ren advanced on the walkway, he stopped upon hearing the voice of his father, calling out to him from behind, using his birth name. He turned about face and said he had been waiting for this eventuality. Solo told him to remove the mask so he could see the face of his son once more. Ren removed the mask but told Solo that he had destroyed Ben, who Ren thought was weak and foolish, much like his father before him. Solo refused to acknowledge Ren's pessimistic stance on the matter, retorting that his son was very much alive and Snoke was simply using Ren for his power, and that once Snoke had exhausted Ren's usefulness, he would be disposed of. Ren, while neither denying nor confirming what Solo said about Snoke to be true, stated that it was too late for him. Solo pleaded with Ren to come home to his true family, claiming that he and Organa desperately missed the presence of their son. Ren, conflicted by the pull towards the light, broke down in tears and told his father that he was being torn apart by the constant struggle between the dark and the light inside him and wanted to be free of the pain that he was feeling. He knew what he had to do to put a permanent end to his inner turmoil, although Ren was uncertain whether or not he could perform the necessary act to do so. Asking for his father's assistance in ceasing the struggle, Solo agreed, not knowing that it was the light that Ren felt conflicted by.
Ren, who was being watched from afar by Chewbacca, Rey, and Finn, took out his lightsaber and Solo grabbed hold of it. As the Starkiller finished draining the star it orbited to power the weapon, and the light on the planet died out, Ren ignited his lightsaber and impaled his father through the torso. A mortally wounded Han Solo touched his son's face one last time before falling to his death in the bowels of the oscillator.
The act of killing his father had an unsettling effect on Ren. Rather than make him stronger in the dark side, as he had thought, it had weakened his spirit. He was rendered unbalanced. The shock had been so profound, he did not register Chewbacca's roar of anguish nor Rey's scream of horror.
Enraged by the loss of his best friend, Chewbacca fired a powerful shot from his Wookiee bowcaster and hit Ren in the left side, seriously injuring the dark knight. Quickly, Ren used the Force to reduce the effects of the wound, lest it may result in his premature death. Chewbacca killed several other stormtroopers in the area as Rey and Finn, who were high above in the oscillator, began firing into the area as well. The Wookiee then ignited charges that he and Solo set throughout the oscillator, causing a massive explosion that breached the oscillator and gave Dameron and the remaining Resistance pilots an opportunity to destroy it. As Ren composed himself from his injury, he made eye contact with Finn and Rey. Anger swelling within him, he was resolved to find them before they could escape.
Duel in the forest
- "We're not done yet."
"You're a monster!"
"It's just us now. Han Solo can't save you."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
Ren followed Rey and Finn into the forests outside of the oscillator, as they made their way back to the nearby Millennium Falcon. He confronted them, lightsaber drawn, and said that they still had unfinished business from which Han Solo could not save them. Outraged by Ren's patricidal actions, Rey denounced the dark warrior as a monster and tried to attack him with her blaster, but he used the Force to throw her into a tree and knock her unconscious. Now it was just Ren and the traitor who had earned his ire.
Finn ignited the Skywalker lightsaber that had been given to him for safekeeping by Maz Kanata—a lightsaber that once belonged to Luke Skywalker, and to Anakin before him. Ren demanded that Finn give him the lightsaber, claiming it belonged to him, but instead the former stormtrooper engaged him in a lightsaber duel. It was a short but brutal contest, in which Ren kept striking his bowcaster injury in order to fuel his anger and power. In the end, Finn, who nonetheless landed one blow on Ren's right shoulder, was no match for Ren's power. Ren overwhelmed and disarmed his opponent, ending the fight with a punch and a lightsaber blow across Finn's back that left the one-time stormtrooper comatose.
With the duel seemingly over, Ren turned his attention towards his grandfather's lightsaber and attempted to use the Force to draw it into his hand. Instead, it flew past him and landed in the hands of Rey, who used the Force to call it to her—as it was her destiny to wield the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker. Rey ignited the weapon and engaged Ren in a tense duel. At first, Ren had the upper hand, remaining on the offensive as he pressed his attack against the retreating scavenger. Their blades became locked, and Ren told the emerging Force-sensitive that she needed a teacher. It was he, Ren said, who could show her the ways of the Force. At that moment, Rey realized she could call upon the powers of the Force and began using that to her advantage. She turned the tide of the fight and pushed her own offensive against the dark warrior, who she was finally able to disarm. In doing so, she slashed her blade across his face, knocking him down and disfiguring him in the process.
Before they could engage any further, the surface of the planet began to break apart—the Resistance was victorious, and the destruction of the oscillator triggered the Starkiller's implosion. Ren and Rey were separated by a deep chasm, so Rey left the dark warrior behind, recovered Finn, and fled the planet with Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon.
As the planet continued to collapse, Snoke ordered General Hux to find Ren and bring the young knight before the Supreme Leader so the young warrior's training could be completed. Hux and several troopers tracked Ren's signal and took him aboard a shuttle, leaving before the planet exploded. Immediately following Starkiller Base's destruction, Ren received treatment for the long scars on his body, though it was too late to erase them completely.
Let the past die
A child in a mask
- "Yes. There it is. You have too much of your father's heart in you, young Solo."
"I killed Han Solo. When the moment came I didn't hesitate."
"And look at you. The deed split your spirit to the bone."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Following the Resistance's evacuation of the base on D'Qar, Ren was summoned to Supreme Leader Snoke's throne room, located in the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy. The blows inflicted on him, by Rey and Chewbacca, though stitched up some by microsutures, were still as fresh as ever, causing him some discomfort, though he tried to hide this. Kneeling before his master, he listened as Snoke loudly recalled the raw, untamed power that Ren possessed, abilities which had originally brought him to the dark sider's attention. Knowing the potential of the powerful Skywalker bloodline, the Supreme Leader revealed his belief that Ren could fulfill his grandfather's dark legacy.
But in light of his apprentice's most recent setback, Snoke retracted his faith in Ren's power. He chastised the dark warrior, calling him weak and sentimental, just like his late father. The struggle within Ren as he prepared to strike down Han Solo had been sensed by Snoke from afar. It was the trauma from this action that caused him to be outmatched by an untrained scavenger, who had never before wielded a lightsaber. Snoke had never seen such a pathetic display.
Fury building within him, Ren rose to attack his master, but Snoke quickly suppressed the attack with a surge of lightning, throwing the apprentice back. As long as Luke Skywalker lived, Snoke seethed—as long as the Jedi remained—so did hope across the galaxy. Ren would never be able to destroy it because he was a mere child hiding in a mask—nothing like the feared Darth Vader, who would have been ashamed of his grandson. Leaving the throne room, Ren erupted in a rage of self-pity and smashed his helmet against the surrounding metal. He then ordered his ship to be readied, resuming his quest to eradicate the Resistance.
Chasing the Resistance
- "Follow my lead."
- ―Kylo Ren, to his wingmen
As Hux had anticipated through new tracking technology, the First Order armada emerged from hyperspace to find the Resistance fleet unprepared and defenseless. The warship Supremacy led the charge, its powerful turbolasers showering the fleet with unyielding blasts. To complement the barrage, the Supremacy scrambled its short-distance fighters, with Ren spearheading the assault in his personal TIE silencer. Covered by three wingmen, until the third pilot was quickly destroyed, the dark apprentice intercepted the Resistance's MC85 Star Cruiser Raddus, capital ship of the fleet. Before the rebel pilots could launch a counterattack, he destroyed the Raddus hangar, leaving them unable to resist the fighter wing.
With the Resistance flagship crippled, Ren turned his fighter to face the bridge of the craft, readying his rockets. At this moment he sensed his mother's presence aboard the Raddus (with his mother likewise sensing him too) and Ren, hesitating, held his thumb over the trigger in a moment of intense doubt. After a moment, he surrendered to his second thoughts and abandoned the trigger control. His wingmen, however, had no such qualms—ever loyal to the First Order, they launched their rockets in Ren's place upon the bridge.
Ren watched the detonation with astonishment. He reached out again, but could not feel Organa anywhere. He believed that if he had had enough time, if he had not been taken by surprise, he would have protected his mother with the Force. Now, however, he had to conclude that she had died, along with all those present on the Raddus' bridge.
Following this last offensive, Hux ordered the fighters back to the Supremacy, as the Resistance fleet had pulled out of the Supremacy's protective radius in the intervening time. Ren, with his wingmen being blown up around him, had no other recourse but to comply.
A growing connection
- "I'd never felt so alone."
"You're not alone."
"Neither are you. It isn't too late."
- ―Rey and Kylo Ren
As the First Order pursued the Resistance fleet, Ren was being treated for the injury he had taken to his face, a medical droid removing the microsutures that had been attached to it, when he sensed a disturbance. Before he knew it, a vision of Rey appeared before him. Taken aback, Ren could only watch as Rey reached for her blaster and shot him. However, no shot injured him. The still-shocked Ren pursued Rey when she ran away and found her soon after and tried to use the mind trick to force Rey to bring Luke to him, only to realize that they weren't actually in the same location and that Rey had not projected her appearance to him as the effort would kill her. He even discovered that Rey had found Luke Skywalker and was now studying under him, although he could not discern where as he was unable to see Rey's surroundings. Whereas the aspiring Jedi regarded their connection as an inconvenience, Ren was intrigued by his bond with the former scavenger and sought to better understand it.
The bond between Ren and Rey was unprecedented in its strength and raw power. It also had an effect on Ren's churning emotions, and as it grew stronger in the Force, Rey started gaining new insights into Ren, who, to Rey's surprise, no longer tried to hide his feelings of pain and misery from her. It was because of the bond and her new understanding of Ren's pain that Rey came to suspect that their destinies were intertwined. Ren eventually revealed his recollection of the night he forsook Skywalker's teachings—how he awoke to the sound of a lightsaber, held by his uncle who intended to murder Ben Solo in his sleep—shaking Rey's faith in her Jedi Master. Although Rey called him a liar, she sensed no deception from Ren. He genuinely believed that his former mentor had betrayed him and intended to kill him while he was defenseless.
After failing to discover the fate of her parents, Rey sought out Ren through their bond because he understood what it was like to feel alone and lost. They comforted each other, insisting that neither was alone and in that moment they touched hands. Rey then beheld a vision of the future, leading her to believe that Ren was fated to renounce the dark side and return to the light, like his grandfather before him.
As a result of what she saw, Rey became convinced that her adversary could be turned from the dark side of the Force. She left Skywalker on his sanctuary and traveled to the Supremacy to see Ren, her actions guided by the belief that Ben Solo could be redeemed with her help. By touching hands, however, Ren experienced a vision of his own and thereby discerned the truth of Rey's father and mother: they were no one, merely a pair of junk traders who sold their daughter for drinking money before ultimately dying and being buried in a pauper's grave in the Jakku desert. This discovery convinced Ren that Rey would turn to the dark side and stand with him as they moved to confront his master together.
- "My worthy apprentice, son of darkness, heir apparent to Lord Vader. Where there was conflict, I now sense resolve; where there was weakness, strength. Complete your training and fulfill your destiny."
- ―Snoke's final words to Kylo Ren
Ren's emotions were fully open to Rey, who could feel that his conflict had grown worse since he killed his father. Clinging to the good she sensed within Ren, she reached out to the former Ben Solo and revealed her conviction in the vision she had when they touched hands through the Force. Solo was not fated to continue bowing before Snoke. Redemption was his destiny; of that Rey was certain. Ren, however, revealed that he also beheld a vision that convinced him it would be Rey who turned, because he now knew the truth behind Rey's parentage. Just before they entered the throne room where the Supreme Leader awaited their arrival, Rey sensed that much of Ren's churning emotions were about her.
Snoke, who proclaimed that his faith in Ren had been restored, began appraising Rey, who remained defiant in spite of her inability to resist the dark master's Force powers. Although Rey remained certain that Ren would turn, her mental defenses began to crumble when Snoke revealed that he had been responsible for the intermittent connections she experienced with the Supreme Leader's apprentice, a revelation which came as a shock to Ren as well. It had all been a plot to draw Rey, the means to find Luke Skywalker, right into Snoke's hands. Nevertheless, Ren remained silent as Rey screamed, trying in vain to stop Snoke from invading her mind.
Upon discovering Skywalker's location, Snoke planned to wipe him out from above as soon as the more immediate enemy had been dealt with. Rey summoned Skywalker's lightsaber to her hand, only for Snoke to redirect the hilt onto her head; Ren, eyes shut, merely tilted his head to the right to avoid being struck by the flying object. The Supreme Leader revealed through his oculus the Resistance being picked off one by one as they tried to flee aboard transports for safety. All that Ren's mother had fought for would be destroyed by the Supremacy's guns. In response, an enraged Rey pulled Ren's lightsaber into her hands and charged at Snoke, who effortlessly overpowered her. Ren watched the lightsaber fall out of Rey's grip and shut off, sliding on the floor back to its owner's feet.
Snoke, who had grown weary of his oft-conflicted apprentice, exulted at the newfound resolve that he suddenly felt emanating from Ren. Having promised to kill Rey with the cruelest stroke, he immobilized Rey and gave Ren the chance to execute the girl who defeated him on Starkiller Base. Ren retrieved his lightsaber, stood up and stepped towards Rey. He knew what must be done and, as Rey predicted, he did indeed turn against his master. Knowing that Snoke could sense his every intent, he turned his lightsaber to Rey while simultaneously his uncle's weapon rotated to face in Snoke's direction. Snoke, who became distracted by the desire to appreciate Rey's impending doom with the Force rather than the approximation afforded by mundane senses, believed that Ren was about to kill his true enemy—a status he wrongly attributed to Rey.
With a hidden gesture from Ren's free hand, the blue energy blade of Skywalker's lightsaber sprang forth, spearing Snoke through his waist. Almost instantly, Snoke's control on Rey was lost. The blade, which was still under Ren's control, carved through Snoke, cutting him in half before returning to Rey's grasp. After a moment of locking eyes with each other, Ren and Rey stood back-to-back to receive the retaliation of the fallen Supreme Leader's Elite Praetorian Guards, who charged towards the Force-sensitive duo from all sides with the intent of avenging his death. Although the two were eventually separated and forced to contend with multiple guards on their own, they both held their own and continued to strike down one Praetorian after another. Ren, who felt both excitement and a hunger for battle, personally killed half the Guards on his own but was disarmed by his fifth opponent, causing Rey to throw the Skywalker lightsaber to him. He swiftly thumbed it on and off, letting the blade pierce through the last Praetorian's head.
Convictions and rejections
- "It's time to let old things die. Snoke, Skywalker. The Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels… Let it all die. Rey, I want you to join me. We can rule together and bring a new order to the galaxy."
- ―Kylo Ren
Rey, who stared at Ren through eyes filled with joy, beseeched him to help her save the Resistance fleet. To her disbelief and horror, Ren proposed that he and Rey join together and "let old things die," including the Resistance, and bring a new order to the galaxy. Neither fear nor anger influenced his decision; he had chosen to continue down the dark path with a deep resolve. Rey begged Ren to not give into the dark side, but the latter stood behind his convictions. To his frustration, he could see that Rey was still clinging to that futile hope of hers. He urged her to "let go," to admit the truth about her parents—a truth she had always known but hidden away for years. Rey struggled to control her emotions as she admitted that she knew this, that her parents were simply "nobody," but the revelation that she came from nothing threatened to overwhelm her. At that moment, Ren called Rey "nothing", and said she was not that to him. Ren, who saw Rey as an ally in destroying the past he hated, wanted the former scavenger to join him permanently. Motioning her to take his hand, he pleaded with her to stay with him so that they could rule the galaxy together.
As on Starkiller Base, however, Rey used the Force to summon the Skywalker lightsaber to her grasp. Ren, his entreaty rejected, raised his own hand to harness the Force around the lightsaber, causing it to stop midflight. Neither Ren or Rey relented as both continued to call upon the Jedi weapon with equal determination. In the midst of their standoff, the lightsaber's kyber crystal wailed through the Force, seeking resonance and harmony where there was nothing but dissonance. The crystal ultimately sheared apart, unleashing a wave of energy that tore the lightsaber in half before consuming the throne room in a flash of brilliant, blinding light. In addition to rendering both Force users unconscious, the shock wave of Force energy coincided with the sacrifice of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who crashed the Raddus into the Supremacy at lightspeed, splitting the First Order flagship in half before it could destroy all of the Resistance transports.
The reign of Kylo Ren
Long live the Supreme Leader
- "Our Supreme Leader is dead! We have no ruler—"
"The Supreme Leader is dead."
"Long live the Supreme Leader."
- ―Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren
Ren regained consciousness shortly after Hux reached the throne room. Having killed the Supreme Leader and his guards, Ren falsely accused Rey of murder, claiming that she was the one responsible for Snoke's death. Hux, who had contemplated shooting the fallen knight before he awoke, informed Ren that the girl escaped from the Supremacy using Snoke's private shuttle.
Realizing that Rey had awoken before him, Ren pondered why she had spared his life, knowing he was at her mercy while in an unconscious state. It then occurred to Ren that Rey could, in fact, care about him. Regardless, he dismissed it as a sign of sentimental weakness that would eventually lead to Rey's destruction.
Knowing that Rey would travel to Crait in an effort to save the Resistance, Ren ordered Hux to send their forces to the planet where they would end the war and his mother's movement for good. Hux scoffed at the notion of taking orders from his longtime rival and reminded Ren that the army answered to their general. In addition, he pointed out that, without a Supreme Leader, the First Order was cast into a state of disarray. Before he could go on, the General's protests were suddenly silenced by Ren, who applied the Force choke technique on Hux. Overtaken by fear, Hux grudgingly pledged his allegiance to Ren, whom he hailed as Snoke's successor. Even so, Ren remained distrustful of Hux and chose to keep the General close by as a safeguard against treachery.
Battle of Crait
- "General Hux, advance. No quarter. No prisoners."
- ―Kylo Ren
As far as the new Supreme Leader was concerned, the Battle of Crait would prove to be the final battle in the war between the First Order and the Resistance. He would give no quarter to his enemies, nor take a single prisoner. Looming overhead in his command shuttle, Ren oversaw the deployment of AT-ATs, AT-M6s, and AT-STs to the salt-covered surface of Crait, gathered from what remained of the Supremacy. It would be a relatively straightforward operation, with Ren's forces marching on an abandoned rebel base which the Resistance had appropriated for its defense.
When the First Order discovered a massive shield door impeding their advance into the enclosure, Ren further deployed a superlaser siege cannon—a device likened to a battering ram that was equipped with miniaturized Death Star technology—to his advantage. In response, the Resistance launched a number of old ski speeders, an ultimately futile attempt to stop the cannon. While the Resistance attempted to halt the First Order's progress, Chewbacca and Rey joined the fray in the Millennium Falcon, and Ren furiously sent every TIE fighter present to destroy his father's old ship.
Showdown with Luke Skywalker
- "I'll destroy her, and you, and all of it."
"No. Strike me down in anger and I'll always be with you. Just like your father."
- ―Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker
Shortly after the First Order breached the base, Luke Skywalker appeared and Ren, in a futile attempt to eliminate his uncle, ordered all of his forces to fire at him. After Skywalker shrugged off the attack virtually unharmed, Ren ordered his command shuttle to be set down. Hux tried to advise him against what he considered a waste of time, but Ren thrashed the General against the wall with the Force, knocking him unconscious. The nearby pilot needed no further prodding and complied with the command.
The time had come for Ren to face Skywalker personally. He slowly advanced until he was but a few meters from the old Jedi. He tauntingly asked if Skywalker had come to be his salvation. Skywalker answered half-heartedly in the negative. Then lightsabers were drawn. Skywalker made no effort to harm his nephew and only moved to avoid Ren's attacks. He apologized for failing in his duty as Ben Solo's mentor, but Ren took it with sarcasm and declared that the war had ended with the death of the Resistance. In addition, he stated that Skywalker would die as well, marking the end of the Jedi Order itself. He was wrong on all counts, according to Skywalker: the war had just begun, the Rebellion was reborn, and he would not die as the last of the Jedi.
Ren felt that Skywalker was talking about Rey, the old man's supposed "Chosen One." He vowed that he would see her annihilated, along with Skywalker and "all of it." In response, Skywalker turned off his lightsaber. He warned his nephew against striking him down in anger; otherwise, Skywalker would always be with Ren, just like Han Solo. It was thus that he opened himself up for the final blow.
Ren charged at Skywalker once more until he slashed through him with no effect. Confused, he pointed his lightsaber in the Jedi Master's direction and moved forward until the blade harmlessly passed through his uncle again, revealing that Skywalker was not actually present for the battle; he had been projecting himself through the Force from Ahch-To. With one final chiding goodbye, the image vanished.
At that moment, Ren realized what had his uncle had done: by distracting him, the old Jedi had bought time for the remaining members of the Resistance to escape. Hux had been right all along. Angered by the deception, Ren, Hux and their forces scoured the now-empty base, but finding only a projection of his father's golden hanging dice, all Ren could do was kneel in defeat as they vanished from his hand. As the Resistance evacuated, Ren saw Rey once more as she boarded the Millennium Falcon; no words were said as she closed the door on him, although Ren sensed that Rey felt neither hatred nor compassion for him. Both knew that this struggle between them was far from concluded. Ren had become the Supreme Leader, all but destroyed his mother's Resistance and struck down his uncle on the battlefield of Crait, but it did not feel like a victory to Ren.
After Crait, Rey and Organa discussed Ren and his actions. Rey wanted to understand him and how Ren had turned to the dark side, but Organa told Rey that she would need to ask Ren to know. Rey told the general that Ren wanted her to join him and that, while she thought she could help him, all he had wanted was for her to be like him. Organa could see that Rey cared about her son and also that he had disappointed her, so she informed the young Jedi that Ren had made his decisions, adding that the only person who could save him was himself, but Organa was unsure if that was what her son wanted. Rey understood this, but she had held onto hope, although Organa believed that hope was a good trait.
Campaign of terror
- "We can and will chase every rumor, every scrap, every vapor trail across the galaxy! We will mobilize every bounty hunter and informant and turn over every rock to find all of them…and wipe every one of them out of existence!"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Armitage Hux
In the aftermath of the Battle of Crait, word of the duel between Ren and Skywalker had spread across the galaxy, despite the First Order's efforts to suppress the rumors. Immersed in the dark side of the Force, Ren instituted a zero-tolerance policy against "subversive" worlds, directing his forces to hunt and destroy all dissidents who opposed his reign as the new Supreme Leader.
Although General Hux survived the regime change within the First Order, the new Supreme Leader was distrustful and refused to lower his guard around someone as devious as Hux. Ren ensured that his one-time rival would have little independent authority without supervision, giving assignments to Allegiant General Enric Pryde or even to the Knights of Ren before entrusting Hux with anything of importance. The years that Hux spent jockeying for power against Ren ultimately worked against the general, his authority being superseded not only by Ren, but Pryde as well. At some point during the war, Ren sought an update on the Order's stock of refueling stations, leading to a short notice meeting aboard the Titan that Hux attended. Prior to the meeting, Hux mentioned Ren seeking an update to Stormtrooper Commander Pyre. Ren also kept Hux close by to countermand the general's orders when necessary; on one occasion, Hux dismissed a reported sighting of the Resistance operative Finn, believing it was a waste of the First Order's resources to follow up on every rumor regarding the Resistance. This led Ren to openly chastise Hux on the bridge of the Finalizer, ensuring the general understood that they would use every available asset to find and destroy the Resistance.
The Supreme Leader made good on his vow to punish any world that showed anything less than absolute loyalty. Making his way to the neutral planet of Fondor, Ren placed it under military occupation after learning that the Resistance had passed through its system. Although an official of Fondor swore that his government held no allegiance to the insurgents, having refused to assist them in any capacity, the mere contact with the enemies of the First Order provided Ren with his justification for seizing control of the Fondor Shipyards. Convinced the Old Empire had been too lenient, Ren adopted a zero-tolerance policy in regard to the Resistance, and as such, he personally decapitated the official. Ultimately, Fondor was made an example to the rest of the galaxy, warning them to stay away from the Resistance on pain of death. Such measures were intended by Ren to prevent the Resistance from replacing their lost resources.
Actions at Batuu and galactic conquest
- "The First Order is on the verge of bringing unprecedented peace to the galaxy. An era of harmony once unimaginable amid the corruption and chaos of the New Republic. As we hunt down the Resistance, our troops have taken operational control of Black Spire Outpost."
- ―A stormtrooper sergeant, 709th Legion
The Supreme Leader launched a manhunt for the surviving members of the Resistance, deploying First Order forces to various locations across the galaxy. Ren personally oversaw the search for Resistance fugitives at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, having traveled to the remote installation via a TIE/es assault shuttle—along with the 709th Legion, elite stormtroopers chosen by Ren himself—after receiving word that Rey had apparently been sighted on Batuu. Upon his arrival at Docking Bay 9, Ren was greeted by a First Order officer whom he deemed incompetent, and consequently strangled the officer by way of the Force. At one point during his time on Batuu, Ren confronted Resistance spy Vi Moradi, but she refused to give secrets to the Supreme Leader. Before Ren could strike Moradi down, Rey arrived, and the two Force-sensitives began a lightsaber duel. However, Ren was ultimately forced to leave when a stormtrooper informed him of an incident aboard their destroyer. 
Ren was in command of the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer that captured a Resistance Intersystem Transport Ship. However, Poe Dameron managed to escape before returning with a sizeable fleet that caught the First Order off guard. Ren, who commanded the First Order forces alongside General Hux, realized that the Resistance was using a hijacked First Order Fleet Transport and eventually engaged in a pursuit. Despite his efforts, the Resistance operatives escaped from the Star Destroyer using one of its escape pods to return to the ruins of Batuu.
The First Order was confident that, under the new Supreme Leader, the galaxy was on the verge of achieving unprecedented harmony. A sergeant in the 709th Legion regarded his leader's regime as the harbinger of peace, establishing a new era in place of the fallen New Republic, which the sergeant viewed as a turbulent period of chaos and corruption. As the war continued, more and more worlds capitulated to Ren. Decades of peace led to complacency, and the demilitarized galaxy was not prepared for the unified, mechanized war machine of the First Order's fleet and army. Rebuilding his command in the wake of the Supremacy's destruction, Ren brought Allegiant General Pryde to the fore after discovering the reserve forces under his command. He also transferred his command to Pryde's Star Destroyer Steadfast, bringing Hux with him after their old flagship, the Finalizer, sustained significant damage from the run-in with Resistance forces over Batuu.
As Supreme Leader, Ren formed a regime that was different from the one overseen by his predecessor. He sought to foster cooperation among the top First Order military leaders, and as such Ren formed the Supreme Council, a cabinet consisting of members of High Command, such as Allegiant General Pryde, General Hux, Admiral Frantis Griss, and generals Amret Engell, Bellava Parnadee, and Domaric Quinn. They were all proud men and women who were unaccustomed to Ren's leadership, having risen through the ranks in a time when most high-ranking officers knew little of the First Order's goals and capabilities. Despite Ren's motivation for creating the Council, their meetings aboard the Steadfast became marred by sniping and turf wars.
The Colossus cell
- "I will not suffer the existence of any Resistance cell. No matter how small."
"We understand, Supreme Leader."
- ―Kylo Ren and Tierny
In retaliation against the Aeosians who supported the Resistance, a fleet of Resurgent-class Star Destroyers invaded their homeworld of Aeos Prime and devastated it. After completing the orbital bombardment, First Order Security Bureau Agent Tierny and Stormtrooper Commander Pyre reported their actions to General Hux but found Supreme Leader Kylo Ren waiting on the other side of the holoprojector.
Ren was aware of Pyre and Tierny's failure to defeat the Colossus resistance and declared that he would not tolerate the existence of any Resistance cell. Reaching out through the Force, Ren influenced the two to stand and point their blasters at each other. He then severed the transmission, leaving his subordinates with an ominous warning about the price for failure.
Though they managed to locate the Colossus station in the Barabesh system, the ensuing battle did not turn in the First Order's favor. Betrayed by the TIE fighter pilot DT-533, the First Order failed to prevent the Resistance operatives Kazuda Xiono and Jarek Yeager from warning their allies of the impending attack. Rather than retreat, however, the citizenry of the Colossus held their ground against the forces of the First Order. While the Ace Squadron intensified their attack run on the main Star Destroyer, Tierny received a transmission from Supreme Leader Ren. She beseeched him to send reinforcements, but Ren rejected her request and declared that the First Order had no tolerance for the weak. With that, Ren telekinetically choked the First Order agent with the Force, unleashing his final punishment on Tierny.
Investigation on Vendaxa
- "If they are indeed hiding on Vendaxa, then we will pin them down, smother them with numbers, and the Resistan—"
- ―Armitage Hux
During the hunt for the Resistance, General Hux announced to a squad of stormtroopers that the First Order had received word of the rebels operating in secret on the planet Vendaxa. Supreme Leader Ren interrupted the general and dismissed the stormtroopers, intending to investigate the planet alone. However, Hux insisted on accompanying the Supreme Leader. They began their investigation upon arriving on Vendaxa, only to start bickering over their loyalties and sacrifices for the First Order. During their argument, an acklay approached the pair, causing Hux to run for his life while Ren stood his ground. Ren was unafraid and fought against the creature, but Hux took the opportunity to shoot at the Acklay with his SE-44C blaster pistol, causing it to run away. Ren and Hux ultimately returned to the First Order after confirming that there were no Resistance operatives on Vendaxa.
The phantom Emperor
- "He's gone mad. Flames of rebellion burn across the galaxy and Ren chases a ghost."
"No. Someone was behind that transmission. And Leader Ren will answer to no one."
- ―Armitage Hux and Enric Pryde
Within a year of Kylo Ren's ascension to supreme power, a mysterious transmission broadcasting the voice of Darth Sidious—the long-dead Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith—reached the far corners of the galaxy. Though Ren doubted that Sidious had returned, he was certain that others believed the message, and he was determined to uncover the truth first to prevent any threats to his rule. As a result, he diverted his attention and the First Order's resources away from the Resistance to focus entirely on investigating the message. The broadcast bolstered the rumors that the Emperor lived but was in hiding, leading many within the First Order to believe that they should follow Sidious instead of Ren. While Pryde supported Ren's decision to investigate the mysterious message, Hux became convinced that the Supreme Leader had devolved into insanity for committing the First Order's resources towards what Hux considered as a hunt for a ghost while they faced rebellions across the galaxy.
In spite of the First Order's ongoing war against the Resistance and other dissidents, Ren's priorities changed after he learned that his late Master had not been the omnipotent ruler as he previously thought. Though he had doubts about the transmission's authenticity, Ren was determined to find the source of the message and discover the truth himself. To accomplish this, Ren sought a Sith wayfinder and underook a journey to Mustafar, a volcanic world once ruled by his grandfather, Darth Vader. Accompanied by Pryde, Hux and a stormtrooper escort, the Supreme Leader arrived in the Corvax Fen, a region near the castle grounds of Fortress Vader. His aim was to take possession of Vader's wayfinder, one of two wayfinders made by the Sith. The Alazmec of Winsit, a group of colonists devoted to protecting the fen, obstructed his path to the crumbling ruins of Vader's castle. Pryde and Hux watched from a safe distance as Ren killed the cultists while outpacing his stormtrooper escort.
At a small brackish lake, Ren encountered a spider-like being that identified itself as the Eye of Webbish Bog. Ren came close to killing the creature when it addressed him by his Skywalker heritage. Killing the cultists had not been a challenge for Ren; nevertheless the Eye deemed him worthy of claiming the wayfinder in accordance with Vader's wishes. The Eye assured Ren that the artifact would guide him to the hidden Sith world of Exegol, through the Unknown Regions, but also warned him that his path would end with the discovery of his true self. After taking possession of the wayfinder, Ren returned to the Steadfast and proceeded into the Unknown Regions on his own.
Heir to the New Empire
- "Kill the girl. End the Jedi. And become what your grandfather Vader could not. You will rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
Ren used the onboard navigation computer of his modified TIE whisper to assimilate the data within Vader's wayfinder, which provided him with coordinates to navigate the anomalies of the Unknown Regions. After passing through the Red Honeycomb Zone, he arrived directly at Exegol. There, he found an ancient Sith Citadel.
Ren descended into the depths of the citadel with the intention of destroying the dark presence within and claiming its power for himself, which he believed was his birthright as the grandson of a Sith Lord. When a voice spoke telepathically to him, Ren instantly recognized it as both Darth Sidious and the voice he had heard in his mind thoughout his childhood. Ren's suspicions of the Emperor's influence over his life were further confirmed to him when Sidious morphed his voice into that of Snoke and Vader as he told Ren he'd been every voice Ren had heard inside his mind. Sidious approved of Ren's actions, including killing Snoke; his followers had created Snoke to mold Ren into an heir of the Sith, and Ren had acted as a true Sith by killing his master. While searching for the Emperor, Ren saw a glass tank containing multiple versions of Snoke's body, a sign to Ren that Snoke was originally from Exegol. Ren had been unaware that Sidious was his true Master in the ways of the dark side, whereas Snoke served as the Dark Lord's proxy.
Ren found Sidious' physical form supported by a device that Ren recognized from his studies of the Clone Wars as an Ommin harness. The body within was a clone of the late Emperor and served as a host for his spirit, with the harness sustaining the cloned body as the dark side attached to the Emperor's soul caused rapid decay. Despite the frailty of the body, Ren could feel the undiminished strength of the dark side within.
Sidious revealed to Ren the final stage of his long-gestating plan for vengeance: the Sith Eternal fleet. In a vision, he showed Ren tens of thousands of Xyston-class Star Destroyers, modeled after Imperial Star Destroyers, but outfitted with axial superlaser cannons that were capable of destroying entire planets. Once deployed, it would be the largest armada the galaxy had ever known. This confirmed the rumors that Ren had heard about Exegol, particularly the Sith Eternal cultists who secretly resided there and continued to worship the Sith despite the demise of the last Sith Lords. They were true believers in the dark side of the Force who had devoted their entire lives to creating a fleet that would annihilate the rebellion, and it was their intention that Ren should inherit the Sith legacy by leading their forces against the galaxy.
Ren's desire to control both the fleet and the army of Sith troopers delayed his plan for killing Sidious, who urged him to succeed where Vader failed by ruling the galaxy as the new Emperor. His only stipulation before ceding control of the fleet, otherwise known as the Final Order, was to prevent Rey from becoming a true Jedi by killing her. If she lived, Ren would die and the First Order would fall. Moreover, Sidious revealed her true heritage as his granddaughter. Ren realized he had incorrectly dismissed Rey's parents as a poor, frightened couple "living on the edge of desperation," when in truth they chose to live anonymously in order to protect their daughter from her grandfather.
Despite Sidious' ultimatum, Ren did not want to kill Rey; the full truth of her origins had renewed Ren's interest in turning her to the dark side to reign over the galaxy with him,  as he had tried without success during their last encounter, believing they would be invincible together. After returning to his quarters on the Steadfast, Ren meditated using his grandfather's mask and sought Rey through their connection in the Force. At the time, she was running an obstacle course outside the Resistance's new base on Ajan Kloss. Their minds connected and began to flood with memories of past events. Rey struggled against the dark side within herself, but she eventually lashed out after losing control.
Reforging the mask
- Kylo Ren: "I sense unease about my appearance, General Hux."
- Armitage Hux: "About the mask? No, sir. Well done."
- Bellava Parnadee: "I like it."
- ―Kylo Ren, Armitage Hux, and Bellava Parnadee[src]
Following his return from Exegol, Ren summoned his followers, the Knights to Ren, in order to utilize their tracking skills to locate Rey. As before, when he claimed the mantle of leadership, the Knights accepted Ren as their master without question, affirming that the results of his trial still stood. Recalling his Knights also motivated Ren to reforge his mask as a symbol of his place among their ranks. The work of rebuilding what Ren destroyed fell to Albrekh, a Sith alchemist trained in classic metallurgy, capable of smithing feats that were unfamiliar to the modern galaxy. He was also the first Symeong that Ren had ever encountered.
Ren gave the shards of his mask—all painstakingly scavenged from the wreckage of the Supremacy—to Albrekh, who used Sarrassian iron to fuse the pieces back together. Applying the iron into the cracks of the reformed helmet created a red adhesive stronger than steel. When the Symeong's work was finished, the mask was restored to its original shape, albeit with red fractures that Ren likened to crimson lightning. It was more than symbolic of his status as a Knight; in Ren's mind, it reflected his own personal growth and evolution. He reaffirmed his affiliation with the Knights, but this time on his own terms. The reforged mask's crimson fractures also marked Ren's reign as the new Supreme Leader and his intent to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and become the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Ren learned that a spy had been captured on the Sinta Glacier Colony by the time he returned to the Steadfast. Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on espionage and treason, Ren had the prisoner, the Ovissian miner Boolio, hauled before him to face summary execution by decapitation. After carrying out the deed himself, Ren joined the members of the Supreme Council in the High Command chamber where he slammed the spy's severed head on the conference table. While he acknowledged that there was another spy, one within their ranks, Ren was unconcerned with discovering their identity, feeling confident that the First Order would become a true Empire once it had assimilated the military assets he discovered on Exegol.
Ren listened as the Council discussed their new strategy. Parnadee and Engell proposed increasing their recruitment quotas by conscripting more children into the military. Quinn was skeptical of their alliance with the Sith Eternal, disdaining the cultists and their beliefs. Pryde, however, supported integration between the two forces, arguing that the Star Destroyer fleet would increase the First Order's range in power by ten-thousand fold, replacing the losses they suffered with the destruction of Starkiller Base, which he held Hux responsible for. Unlike the other officers, the Allegiant General did not fear Ren, who had considered liquidating Pryde but ultimately found him too competent to replace.
Ren moved to silence Quinn when the general began inquiring about the specific terms of his agreement with Sidious, not wanting the Council to learn of the Emperor's interest in Rey. Using his anger and impatience to fuel his connection to the dark side, he threw Quinn up to the ceiling, causing his body to fracture upon impact. The Council watched silently as their colleague remained suspended above them, slowly choking to death while Ren informed the remaining members of his intention to personally oversee the hunt for Rey with the support of his Knights. Meanwhile, the Council was instructed to maintain order in the galaxy by suppressing any world that defied them.
Though the Council was concerned by the Supreme Leader's total devotion to the dark side of the Force, preferring to rely on orthodox tactics and strategies for the conquest of the galaxy, his return from the Unknown Regions with the promise of new warships bolstered their confidence in Ren's leadership, notwithstanding the presence of a spy supplying information to their enemies in the Resistance.
Hunting Rey on Pasaana
- "I offered you my hand once. You wanted to take it. Why didn't you?"
"You could have killed me. Why didn't you?"
"You can't hide, Rey. Not from me."
- ―Kylo Ren and Rey
Allegiant General Pryde reported to Ren that the First Order had been unsuccessful in their search for the scavenger, and Hux offered to personally lead the kill squads against her. Ren ordered Pryde to target ships in the same class as the Millennium Falcon, and informed Hux that the search for Rey was too important to risk error; as such, the Knights of Ren would lead the mission instead.
In his private quarters on the Steadfast, Ren used his bond with Rey to initiate a connection. Unbeknownst to Ren, she was in the Forbidden Valley of Pasaana during the Festival of the Ancestors, seeking the way to Exegol. It was their most powerful connection yet, showing them each other as if physically present in each other's locations without any other sounds or beings there. He told her that the Emperor desired her death, but that he had no intention of serving another master and followed his own plan instead. Ren asked her why she had rejected his offer on the Supremacy, knowing that she wanted to accept it. Rey avoided the question and asked why he had not taken the opportunity to kill her when he had the chance. He responded that she could not hide from him.
Ren's thoughts betrayed that he was still affected by killing his father, and when Rey threw into his mind the image of him killing Han, he confronted her with her own memory of counting the days since her parents left her. Ren claimed that his mother and Rey's friends did not recognize the dark side in her as he did. He said that he did not want to have to kill her, but he would find her and turn her to the dark side. Before their connection ended, he ripped the husk necklace from her neck which physically transported it from Rey's location to Ren's hand.
Ren informed Pryde that he had found Rey through the Force, and intelligence officer Tishra Kandia returned with her analysis of the necklace; it was made in the Middian system, specifically the Forbidden Valley. Ren ordered Pryde to immediately deploy a division of local troops and to prepare his ship for departure. While Ren was unaware of the purpose of Rey's presence on Pasaana, he had hope that he would soon find her.
Shortly after Ren's arrival on Pasaana, the Millennium Falcon was found by the Knights of Ren and their stormtrooper escorts. The Supreme Leader ordered them to confiscate and scan the ship before finally destroying it. Meanwhile, Rey sensed Ren's presence in the Force as his ship drew closer to her location. As Ren prepared to confront her, he realized that killing his father had not eliminated his pull to the light because Rey remained as his light. Until Ren killed her or the light inside her, he could not fully claim the darkness.
Ren increased the speed of his TIE whisper, flying it directly towards Rey with the intention of killing her. Rey used her training under Organa and the Force augmenting her abilities to flip backwards over his ship, cutting the support pylon of his left wing with her lightsaber. Ren attempted to compensate, but lost control of the starfighter as it tumbled and ripped apart.
Despite the violent crash, Ren emerged from the burning wreckage unharmed. By then, Rey was straining with the Force to stop a First Order transport from leaving the planet, believing that Chewbacca had been taken aboard as a prisoner of the First Order. Ren reached out towards the vessel using his own powers trying to pull the transport out of Rey's grip. He wanted to provoke her anger to gauge her true potential and determine the truth of her connection to the Emperor. A tug of war ensued over the shuttle, causing Rey to give into her feelings and unwittingly channel the power of the dark side until Force lightning emanated from her fingertips. The transport to exploded to Rey's horror and Ren's astonishment. He watched from a distance as a derelict freighter took off, leaving Pasaana with Rey and her companions aboard it. To Ren, this was confirmation that she was close to turning to the dark side and joining him in seizing the Sith throne and fleet.
Confronting Rey with the truth
- "My mother was the daughter of Vader. Your father was the son of the Emperor. What Palpatine doesn't know is that we're a dyad in the Force, Rey. Two that are one."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
When Ren returned to the Steadfast, Pryde and Hux presented him with the First Order's newest prisoner, Chewbacca; he had been on a second transport, not the one that Rey destroyed. Ren taunted Chewbacca before interrogating his mind with the Force to discover the purpose of Rey's visit to Pasaana. Ren sifted through Chewbacca's memories of both Han and Ben Solo, including "Uncle Chewie" teaching young Ben to shoot a blaster and fly a speeder. Though Ren discovered the information he sought, he struggled to center his thoughts after the interrogation was complete. He ordered his officers to have Chewbacca's belongings brought to his quarters.
Pryde and Griss informed Ren that his Knights had tracked Rey to a settlement on the occupied world of Kijimi. Ren rejected Hux's proposal to destroy the city as Ren wanted Rey captured alive. The local First Order garrison unsuccessfully searched for Rey's team. Unknown to Ren, the arrival of the Steadfast at Kijimi allowed Rey to sense Ren's conflicted mind and realize that Chewbacca was still alive. Her team infiltrated the Steadfast to rescue him. Ren arrived in Kijimi City afterward, and overcome by frustration, he used his lightsaber to destroy several inanimate objects before ordering a lockdown on the city.
After Rey entered Ren's quarters, she touched the Blade of Ochi of Bestoon which triggered memories of her parents. Her vision changed into a Force connection with Ren. They were in each other's minds and spaces, and were physically together, yet still separate at the same time. Ren told Rey that he had gained knowledge about her past and disputed her accusation that he was a liar. While she believed him, she knew that he used the truth for his dishonest intentions. Ignoring that she repeatedly told him to stop and that she did not want this, he forced her to remember what she had suppressed and listen to what he had learned; her father and mother chose to be "no one" in order to keep their daughter safe as Palpatine's assassin Ochi hunted her family. Rey saw a vision of Ochi killing her parents.
During this confrontation, they engaged in a lightsaber duel and caused damage to each other's surroundings. Red berries from Kijimi spilled across the floor of Ren's quarters on the Steadfast, and their blades slashed through the obsidian pedestal supporting Vader's mask. The mask was transported to Ren, which revealed Rey's location to him before the connection ended. He ordered his troops to lock down the Star Destroyer to prevent Rey's escape so he could reveal her origins to her in person.
Ren returned to the Steadfast and found Rey when he landed his TIE whisper in the hangar. Stormtroopers aimed their rifles at her, but did not attempt to intervene. As they circled each other, Rey asked Ren why the Emperor had killed her family. Ren revealed that Sidious was her paternal grandfather; she had inherited Sidious' power, just as Ren was the heir to the Skywalker bloodline as Vader's grandson. Ren had also discovered that he and Rey were a dyad, two who were one in the Force, and he had concealed this from the Emperor. Together, he believed, they had the power to destroy Sidious and seize his throne.
Rey considered leaping into the abyss despite how far the planet was beneath them. Ren removed his helmet as a show of trust and vulnerability, but also showing he accepted himself as Kylo Ren and no longer consider himself Ben Solo. Ren felt her teetering between acceptance and defiance as she acknowledged to herself that they were capable of powerful feats together, but she sensed Finn as a beacon of light through the dark. She again rejected Ren's offer as she jumped aboard the Millennium Falcon, which had been retrieved by her team with the help of a spy.
Ren knew from the analysis of Ochi's dagger that Rey would next travel to Kef Bir, an ocean moon located in the Endor system. While en route to the system, Sidious contacted Ren through the Force. His cloned body had further deteriorated, yet Ren was impressed by Sidious' ability to commune with another being across light-years. Sidious threatened to turn his fleet against Ren if he did not kill Rey. While mentally shielding his true intentions, Ren assured Sidious that he knew where Rey had gone and declared that he would not allow her to become a Jedi. Around this time, Pryde personally executed Hux as the spy who had aided the Resistance, then he informed Ren.
The last duel
- "You were right. I did want to take your hand. Ben's hand."
- ―Rey, to Kylo Ren
Ren confronted Rey within the wreckage of the Emperor's Throne Room in the ruins of the second Death Star. After Rey found the Emperor's wayfinder, she retreated from the dark side vision of her mirror-self and dropped the wayfinder. To her horror, Ren picked it up. His appearance there felt like both her worst nightmare and destiny. As she demanded the wayfinder, Ren claimed she had proven she was not a Jedi, and like him, could never return to Leia Organa. He urged her to surrender to the dark side, and declared that she would never find her way to Exegol without his help. He crushed the wayfinder in his hand.
Rey immediately attacked Ren, drawing on her anger to amplify her power as she sought to kill him. He initially evaded her lightsaber before defending himself with his own. They dueled through the Death Star wreckage and outside onto a bridge-like hunk of metal while the ocean raged around them. During the fight, Finn approached them and Rey instinctively pushed him away with the Force to protect him. She leapt to another section of the ruins to avoid the massive waves and Ren followed her across to continue the fight. As they fought, Ren communicated with Rey through telepathy, insisting that he knew her despite her words to the contrary. Ren's guard remained unbroken despite how her anger flooded her with additional Force energy. He was physically stronger, and though she was a little faster, she was tiring and slowing due to lack of sleep and not recovering from healing the vexis on Pasaana. Ren, however, withstood a colossal wave and continued to advance.
Ren's anger and hatred fueled his attacks as he drove the exhausted Rey back and knocked her off her feet, which caused her to lose her grip on her lightsaber. As he raised his lightsaber above her, she believed she was about to die.
Then Ren stopped; from across the galaxy, he sensed his mother use her remaining reserves of strength to send him her love, forgiveness, and hope as she called him to the light. He dropped his lightsaber as he felt her death. Exulting at the prospect of victory, Rey caught his lightsaber and moved to kill him by running his abdomen through with his own blade.
Ren collapsed to the ground in physical and emotional agony as Rey sensed Organa's death through the Force. Sharing Ren's grief for Organa and no longer wishing to see him die, Rey reached out to the wound that would have meant his certain death. She transferred much of her life force to his body to repair his wound, even mending the scar that she had inflicted on his face in their first duel. Ren was astonished by her actions and her demonstration of a power that he had not known existed. Before leaving him on Kef Bir, Rey admitted that he had been correct about her wanting to take his hand, but not Kylo Ren's; she had wanted to take Ben Solo's hand.
The return of Ben Solo
The death of Kylo Ren
- "I miss you, son."
"Your son is dead."
"No. Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive."
- ―Ben Solo and his memory of Han Solo
The actions of his mother and Rey threw Ren's mind into turmoil as he sought to understand their reasons. He stood on the wreckage of the battle station while thinking of the voices in his mind and how they convinced him that his family never loved him. He also thought of his old Master, Supreme Leader Snoke, who conditioned Ren to believe what the voices said to him. However, as a result of his mother's effort to reach him at the cost of her life, Ren found himself questioning everything he had been led to believe about the dark side, his family, and himself. In addition, he tried to understand Rey's reason for healing him.
His deep contemplation gave way to the memory of his late father, Han Solo, who manifested before Ren as a vision. Though the voices in his mind convinced Ren that it was too late for repentance, the vision of Han told him that he missed his son and it was not too late to fight for his mother's legacy. Ren was overcome by the emotions drawn out of him by his father's memory, and though he still questioned his resolve, uncertain if he was strong enough to do what he believed needed to be done, his father reassured him that he was strong. Ren ultimately made his choice by throwing his lightsaber into the sea. In that moment, he ceased to be Kylo Ren and became Ben Solo once again.
Battle of Exegol
- "As once I fell, so falls the last Skywalker."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Ben Solo
Stranded on Kef Bir, Solo climbed through the ruins of the Death Star in search of a hangar bay. He eventually found and repaired an old scout-class TIE fighter. After leaving the ocean moon, Solo followed Rey's transmitted tracking markers towards Exegol, but the scout's navicomputers malfunctioned and threw its pilot off course. Solo, however, used all of his concentration to correct his course, thereby preventing his starfighter from becoming lost in unknown space.
The Battle of Exegol was under way by the time of Solo's arrival. The Final Order was in the process of launching its warships when the Resistance attacked Exegol, attempting to stop the fleet's deployment. Solo landed his TIE scout next to Rey's starfighter, an old Rebellion T-65B X-wing starfighter that had once belonged to Luke Skywalker. Sensing Rey's presence emanating from the Sith Citadel, he sprinted for the monolith and descended to the lower levels to find her. Armed only with a blaster and his own conviction, Solo charged through the cavernous cathedral beneath the citadel, shooting his way through the Sith cultists and elite guards who obstructed his path. As he drew closer to the throne room, the Knights of Ren appeared before him. Their hatred emanated like waves through the Force, and Solo realized that they had traveled to Exegol to fight for Sidious, their true master.
The six Force-sensitive warriors initially held the upper hand, as their numbers, weapons and training worked to their advantage against their former leader. Solo sustained blunt force trauma to his abdomen and the back of his skull, being hit several times by his opponents' melee weapons. The Knights refrained from killing him outright, as they were confident in their ability to defeat a single opponent who appeared defenseless before them. They circled for another attack, but to their surprise, Solo revealed a blue-bladed lightsaber in his palm. It was the lightsaber that once belonged to his grandfather and uncle, in turn, and had been carried by Rey until she passed it to Solo through their bond as a dyad. He instantly recognized it as his lightsaber, as it had become an extension of his own self.
Thinking of what his father would say in this moment, Solo simply shrugged his shoulders at the Knights, knowing now that the odds were in his favor. Armed with the blade of the Chosen One himself, Solo immediately pressed the attack with all the focus of a Jedi, killing Cardo and Kuruk with a single swing of the saber to their masked faces. Simultaneously, Rey ignited her spare weapon, Leia Organa's lightsaber, as several of the Emperor's guards surrounded her. As before on Pasaana and Kijimi, Solo and Rey were separate and together at the same time, with Rey battling the crimson-robed guards and Solo confronting his former comrades. This time, however, they were drawing on each other for strength, becoming even more powerful as one instead of two. Though he destroyed the Knights of Ren, Solo did so without feelings of hatred or anger towards them, electing to give them the quick deaths that they had denied to those they had killed.
Arriving in the throne room, Solo used the Force to incapacitate the last guardsman and approached Rey. They turned towards the Emperor, standing side-by-side with their lightsabers raised, to which Sidious exclaimed that they would die together. Despite their combined strength, the two Force users were overpowered by Sidious' attack through the Force. As a side effect, however, part of their life force transferred to the Emperor and began healing his cloned body. Sidious was astonished, realizing that his granddaughter and Vader's grandson were a dyad in the Force, and therefore, possessed a power equivalent to life itself.
Neither Solo nor Rey were able to prevent the Emperor from draining them of more Force energy. They became weaker as Sidious completely restored the vessel that carried his spirit. Their near lifeless bodies lay on the floor while the Emperor reveled in his restoration. Remembering his own death at Vader's hand, Sidious scornfully told Solo that he would fall as the last Skywalker and hurled him into a chasm.
Redemption and sacrifice
- ―Rey, to Ben Solo
Solo survived due to his body being caught on a jagged outcropping. Despite breaking his ribs and twisting his ankle in the fall, he began climbing his way out of the chasm through perseverance. At the same time, Rey succeeded in destroying her grandfather with the help of the spirits of the Jedi, although the monumental effort left her dead. She reached out with the Force, trying to find Solo through their bond as her remaining life force faded from her body.
After returning to the surface, Solo took Rey's body in his arms and, realizing that she was dead, began to despair. However, he sensed a spark of her essence and realized that the Force had not yet claimed her. Recalling the way she used the Force to heal him on Kef Bir, Solo applied the same technique on Rey, willing her to return to life. He took the life energy that she had given to him and returned it to its original source along with all that remained of his own essence. In the process he found "reservoirs of power" that he did not know he possessed, yet devoted all of it in his efforts to revive Rey.
Solo ultimately succeeded in bringing Rey back to life, though the effort would cost him his own life. During his final moments, Solo was surprised to see that Rey was glad to be with him. He believed that he did not deserve acknowledgement or gratitude from her, but to his astonishment Rey kissed him, acknowledging their bond as a dyad for the first time. His final awareness was of Rey holding his hand as the Force beckoned him, reaching for Solo in welcome. Rey felt despair as she watched Solo's body vanish, becoming one with the Force, until he called out to her from beyond death, promising that he would always be with her.
- "I will always be with you."
"No one's ever really gone."
- ―Ben Solo's final words and Rey's response
Without Kylo Ren, Enric Pryde, or the reinforcements promised by the Sith Eternal, the First Order faced a galaxy-wide uprising in the aftermath of the Battle of Exegol. The Resurgent-class Star Destroyers that occupied Endor, Bespin, and Jakku were destroyed, while more local rebellions broke out on Corellia, Coruscant, Lothal, Naboo, and Thyferra.
Rey grieved for Ben Solo, whose death caused her to feel as though she had lost her other half in the Force. While she did not mourn Ren, Rey would have welcomed the chance to know Solo. Though Chewbacca's fury over Han Solo's murder by Ren led him to shoot his closest friend's son, he still retained joyful memories of their time together when Solo was a child. Lando Calrissian, another surrogate uncle to Solo, discovered a holodisk in Chewbacca's cabin in the Millennium Falcon, revealing images of the Wookiee with a young Ben Solo. Calrissian could not bear to look at them for they reminded him of his own daughter, who, like Solo, had been conditioned by the First Order to destroy everything their parents fought for.
Whereas Ren sought to become a new Vader, Solo emulated Anakin Skywalker by knowingly sacrificing his own life for the love of another, which facilitated his redemption in the light and allowed him to pass into the Force. In the aftermath of Solo's death, Rey visited Tatooine to bury the Skywalker lightsabers in the childhood home of her first master, Luke Skywalker. Her thoughts drifted to Solo while gazing at the planet's twin suns. Rey believed that, without Solo's intervention on Exegol, she would not have defeated her grandfather. Before leaving Tatooine, she took the name of Ben Solo's family, renaming herself "Rey Skywalker."
Personality and traits
The Skywalker heir
- "I feel it again. The pull to the light."
- ―Kylo Ren
Ben Solo was a human male who stood at 1.89 meters and weighed 89 kilograms. He had black hair, brown eyes, and light skin. He also bore a close resemblance to his parents, bearing the "long face and posture" of his father as well as the "warm eyes" of his mother. In addition, Solo had his father's sarcastic sense of humor, which sometimes emerged in serious or violent situations. Though Kylo Ren would have denied it, even General Armitage Hux saw the similarities between Leia Organa and her estranged son.
As a child, Ben's eyes appeared ancient to his father. Possessing an inquisitive mind, Solo endeavored to gain greater knowledge of the Force and the Jedi ways during his apprenticeship under Skywalker. Solo was particularly interested in ancient Jedi weapons; on one occasion, he marveled at a lightsaber rifle. He practiced the art of fancy handwriting or "calligraphy," an art that had fallen into disuse as almost no one wrote by hand during the era of the New Republic. He recorded his handwritten insights into the Jedi on parchment scrolls which he kept next to his calligraphy set. His interests included dark aspects of the Force not taught by Skywalker. After Solo became Kylo Ren, he studied both Jedi and arcane dark side lore, using these contradictory teachings for greater power.
When Skywalker's attention was divided by teaching multiple students, Solo turned to the dark voice he knew as Snoke. Solo struggled with the expectations of his family legacy; he was descended from some of the most powerful Jedi and Sith in galactic history. Supreme Leader Snoke considered Ren a focal point between the dark side and the light, a balance that made him a target of Snoke so Ren's powers could be used to further the ambitions of the First Order. His fall to the dark side suppressed the boy who had once been named Ben Solo.[source?]
Solo burned and destroyed the Jedi temple while furious that his uncle had apparently tried to kill him. He was immediately horrified and tried in vain to help his fellow students. He surveyed the fiery ruins and the bodies scattered around him in a state of shock, expressing how he never wanted this outcome. He warned his peers who survived the temple's destruction that he did not want to fight them, and fled to join Snoke and the Knights of Ren. His turn to the dark side was marked by killing the Knights' leader and murdering Voe, a fellow Padawan.
When Solo turned away from the Jedi path, he no longer felt obliged to hold back his power. He embraced his conviction that he was more powerful than any of Skywalker's other apprentices, individually or collectively, and even Skywalker himself. As far as he was concerned, the notion that the others were his equal was a lie. Solo hated his full name; he felt as though everyone wanted him to be like his namesake he had never met, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, and that inheriting his father's invented surname represented how everything was a lie. Snoke told Solo to become his true self by adopting a new name, and encouraged him to take the name that Solo had invented as a child.
In childhood, Ben Solo had unintentionally destroyed objects with the Force when angry. As Kylo Ren, he was known for expressing himself with his lightsaber, and did so often enough that nearby stormtroopers avoided the area he was currently destroying. He also used the Force to strangle, telekinetically throw, or kill subordinates who challenged him. He reveled in the fury of battle and killing his enemies. In addition to his temperament, Ren was known for his lack of patience.
While Ren was not born into the First Order, he was convinced that they were on the right side of history. Ren fought alongside his stormtroopers on the front lines of the battlefield. Although he would ignore the counsel of his advisors, favoring brute force over negotiation, he earned fear and respect through his ferocity as a warrior. Having honed his fighting skills on the battlefield, Ren had little respect for his rival, General Hux, as a warrior. He regarded the general with disdain and saw Hux as neither brave nor trustworthy.
Ren embodied conflict, having learned the arts of the Force through Jedi and Sith teachings. He sought to bury his past as Ben Solo, yet channeled painful experiences and emotions from his youth to further his own power. He hoped to become immune to the light and avoid Darth Vader's sentimentality so he could succeed where Vader had failed. Ren's attempt to break his connection with the past and surrender entirely to the dark side by killing his father not only failed, but also marked him physically. His imbalance after the murder led to his defeat by Rey and a scar on his face as a reminder of his failure. Snoke, having observed that Ren remained at war with himself, derided Han's murder as an act of petulance instead of strength. Ren accepted the idea that he was a monster with cold reservation and believed the dark side was in his nature. His failed attempts to contact his grandfather through the Force led him to believe that hope, which he equated to a false prophet, only led to severe disappointment. Ren did not believe in the existence of an afterlife until his mother and Rey saved him from certain death, causing him to reconsider his outlook on life and death.
Ren's desperation to prove himself as a worthy apprentice was ultimately replaced by the desire to free himself from his Master, having spent much of his life as a student of Skywalker and Snoke in turn. He soon grew resentful of his status as Snoke's apprentice, believing he would always be kept subservient as long as his Master was alive. Ren felt liberated by Snoke's death because it granted him the power and independence he had long coveted. He had no intention of ever serving another master and was, therfore, fiercely protective of his new rank. Like Vader before him, Ren believed it was his destiny to rule over the weaker beings of the galaxy. He dreamed of conquering the galaxy with Rey at his side.
He was also distrustful of others; having isolated himself from his family and friends, the only people in Ren's life were subordinates and a master that he hated. Gaining the title of Supreme Leader only made Ren more suspicious of the individuals around him, particularly Hux, but also Pyde and Darth Sidious.
After the duel with Rey on Kef Bir, Ren questioned his beliefs and regretted the choices he made. His parents' love for him and Rey's compassion brought him back to the light, destroying the persona of Kylo Ren. Although he still carried feelings of guilt and self-doubt within him, he later recognized them as remnants of Snoke's conditioning that led Solo to become Kylo Ren. He had forgiven his father, having reconciled with Han in spirit, and hoped that one day he could forgive himself.
Solo's personality and his former persona as Ren were different in several ways, as observed by both himself and Rey. Unlike Ren, Solo neither derived pleasure from killing nor reveled in the fury of battle. He was relieved that the weapon he used to kill his father would never kill again after he discarded it. He confronted his enemies with a Jedi's focus instead of enjoyment or anger. Unlike Ren, who had shown mercy to no one, Solo avoided prolonging his opponent's suffering by giving them the mercy of a quick death.
Though he no longer counted himself among the ranks of the Knights of Ren, he still regarded them as his brothers-in-arms until their reunion on Exegol. Sensing their hatred for him, Solo knew that they would no longer obey his orders as their true allegiance belonged to Darth Sidious. He felt betrayed, but resolved to fight them out of determination to help Rey.
Mirroring Darth Vader's death as Anakin Skywalker, Solo sacrificed his life out of love and died following this redemptive act. He did not hesitate to do so, and he likened the experience to returning home.
Son of heroes
- "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it."
- ―Ben Solo and his memory of Han Solo
Ben meant everything to his parents, Han Solo and Leia Organa, and he was happy in his childhood. He grew to believe that his parents thought he was disturbed, having overheard their conversations about him and his lack of control over his innate Force abilities. His parents' busy professional lives and their decision to send him to be trained by his uncle left him feeling abandoned. He did not realize at the time that his fears about his family were influenced by Darth Sidious.
Despite his feelings of neglect and abandonment, Ren did not hate his parents. During his trial on Dagobah, he could not bring himself to attack the vision of his parents, even as Snoke urged him to kill the source of his conflict. Although he was adamant that Han Solo meant nothing to him, Ren struggled with uncertainty when his father confronted him. His decision to kill Han was motivated by his desperation to escape his past by freeing himself from his attachments. However, his connection to the dark side did not grow stronger after committing patricide. Instead, the act of killing his own father caused Ren to feel weaker, affecting his very spirit and leaving him feeling more lost than ever. When faced with the chance to kill his mother, Ren was surprised to sense her concern for him, having anticipated anger at the death of her husband. In the end, Ren could not bring himself to fire on her.
As Leia Organa died, she reached out through the Force to send her hope and love to her son, calling him back to the light. Listening to the voice of his father and seeing pride and joy in Han's eyes ultimately caused the last vestiges of the persona of Kylo Ren to fade from the mind of Ben Solo.
Nephew of a legend
- "At least he could have let me fly the ship. Would give me something to do. He's a great teacher, very strong. I've learned so much from him… But he never seems to want me to use any of it."
- ―Ben Solo, on his apprenticeship under Luke Skywalker
Ben Solo regarded his uncle and mentor, Luke Skywalker, with great esteem. Though he had misgivings about Skywalker's teaching methods, Solo saw his uncle as an amazing teacher and a legendary Jedi Master. He recognized his master's strength and knowledge with the Force, and learned much under Skywalker's tutelage. Despite the boredom that Solo tried to cope with on some of their missions together, he shared his uncle's enthusiasm for discovering ancient Jedi relics. In private, he lamented how Skywalker hoarded such treasures by storing them away in his temple, never to be used.
Seeing his uncle standing over him with an ignited lightsaber had a profound impact on Solo's psyche. For Solo, it was an unspeakable betrayal that confirmed every worst fear he had about his family. Overcome with anger and confusion, he believed his uncle would have murdered him in his sleep. The experience also left him disillusioned with the Jedi way, which Solo now viewed as a lie that his life had been wasted on.
In contrast to the enduring sentiment that he harbored for his mother and father, Kylo Ren never forgave Skywalker for what he believed was an intention to kill him in his sleep. Snoke tasked Ren with destroying any remnants of the Jedi, including his own uncle, whose attempt to restore the Jedi Order was thwarted when Ren betrayed him and the other Jedi students. Ren struck down a vision of Skywalker on Dagobah without hesitation or regret. When confronted by his uncle on Crait, Ren's hatred intensified to the point that his single-minded determination to destroy Skywalker caused him to overlook inconsistencies in his old master's appearance.
Serving a dark master
- "When I found you, I saw what all masters live to see. Raw, untamed power…and beyond that, something truly special. The potential of your bloodline. A new Vader…"
- ―Snoke, to Kylo Ren
Ben Solo was drawn towards the dark side by Snoke beginning in his childhood. Through telepathic contact, Snoke acted as a confidant while sowing doubt. After destroying the Jedi temple, Solo sought out Snoke, whom he regarded as the only friend he had left. Snoke, in turn, used the situation to further discredit Skywalker in Solo's eyes, convincing the boy that his youth had been wasted learning the ways of the Jedi. Encouraged by Snoke, Solo sought the Knights of Ren, and became their leader when he killed their master and turned to the dark side.
Snoke promised Ren a future in which he was "heir to the Force" with no Jedi to oppose him. Ren's inner conflict grew as his Master encouraged him to use the heritage of both the light and the dark, honing Ren into a weapon of the First Order and the archetype of a new kind of dark side user that filled the void left behind when the Sith were destroyed during the Battle of Endor.
After his defeat at Starkiller Base, Ren was furious and resentful when his Master derided him as a failed apprentice and "a child in a mask." Snoke regarded Ren's imbalance after killing his father as proof that Ren was too weak and sentimental to be worthy of his grandfather's legacy. Ren's pain caused him to explore the connection he and Rey shared and question his loyalty to Snoke. In addition, his father's warning that the Supreme Leader was only using him for his power echoed in his mind. Ren was plotting his future through uncertain times and, with dark side-fueled ambition, prioritized his survival and ultimate ascension.
At first, Ren continued to think of Snoke as his esteemed mentor for guiding him on the path to the power of the dark side. However, the revelation of Darth Sidious' revival alarmed Ren as it fueled his suspicion that the Master he respected had been subservient to a greater power. Learning the truth about Snoke's origins shattered the respect that Ren held for the former Supreme Leader, but it also reinforced Ren's belief that he had made the right decision to seize power from his predecessor. Whereas Ren once regarded Snoke as the wise leader of the First Order, he now saw his old Master as nothing more than an expendable "vat-grown organism."
Heir of Darth Vader
- "Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way. Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started."
- ―Kylo Ren
Ren saw himself as carrying on the tradition embodied by his grandfather and personal hero, Darth Vader, although his understanding of Anakin Skywalker's history was twisted by Snoke. To Ren and Snoke, it was not poor strategy or arrogance that brought about the fall of the Galactic Empire: it was Vader's sentimentality for his son, Luke Skywalker, a foolish error in judgment and a momentary lapse in an otherwise great life. Ren believed that if Vader had not succumbed to the light, the Empire would have prevailed.
Ren idolized his grandfather—the darkness that was Vader, not the light of Skywalker. He would have given anything to meet Vader in person, but rejected the memory of Skywalker and believed that version of his grandfather to be nothing more than a coward and a traitor, not his true grandfather. Although Ren admired Vader, he remained torn by his conflict and was afraid of never attaining the strength his grandfather possessed. He kept a shrine to Vader in his personal chambers aboard the Finalizer, with the charred remains of the Sith Lord's helmet that had been recovered from his funeral pyre on Endor, as both a monument to the dark side's powers and its weakness. Ren's efforts to make contact with Vader were motivated by his desire to feel his grandfather was proud of him. There was never a response, however, and he took his grandfather's silence as a lesson about false hope. As a result, Ren came to believe that there was nothing after death.
He chose to leave his grandfather's mask aboard the Finalizer before transferring to Snole's flagship, the Supremacy, unable to face the charred helmet until he recovered from his loss against Rey. He still treated Vader's mask with reverence after his ascension as Supreme Leader, placing the Sith relic atop a pedestal made of Mustafarian obsidian. During the final months of the war, the helmet was carefully preserved in a climate-controlled reliquary aboard the Steadfast.
Ren went to great lengths to ensure the preservation of this artifact by storing it in a custom collector's case built by First Order technicians. As with Ren's quarters, the case was made for the purpose of preserving Vader's helmet, possessing temperature control systems. It also shielded its contents from radiation and sensor scans, its obviribdum outer shell designed to be impervious to blaster fire at considerable expense. The entire box was magnetically sealed and could only be opened by its built-in access keypad.
Ultimately, the charred helm continued to serve as an instrument in Ren's meditations, despite his failed attempts to commune with the spirit of his ancestor who once wore it. It also served a symbolic purpose, representing the power embodied by Ren's grandfather, yet also "weakness and dependancy" as Vader could not live outside of the mask.
A rival for power
- "Someone in your army tried to kill you. Clearly, you've managed to inspire a lot of loyalty, Hux."
"Oh, please. I thought you could read minds, Ren. You honestly believe people hate me more than they hate you? With your petulant tantrums and your…"
"And my what?"
- ―Kylo Ren and Armitage Hux
Despite Kylo Ren's status as the champion of the First Order, his rise within the organization attracted the hostility of General Armitage Hux. A rivalry developed between the two as they both sought the approval of Supreme Leader Snoke. Whereas Hux resented the mystical aspects of the First Order embodied by his rival, Ren considered the general untrustworthy and cowardly. Ren, who prided himself on his fighting skills, was unimpressed by Hux as a soldier. His low opinion of Hux was such that he could not fathom why the Supreme Leader favored a general who wanted to usurp his throne.
As someone who was used to flattery throughout his life, Ren was unaccustomed to directness, and when Hux confronted Ren about his insecurities about his heritage, the dark warrior came close to killing his adversary. Only the threat of Snoke's reprisal for killing his favorite officer prevented Ren from ending Hux's life. Shortly afterward, however, Ren made an effort to protect Hux when the two were attacked by a norwood, and was surprised to find that Hux had fled in the opposite direction, leaving Ren to fight the creature on his own. This incident reinforced Ren's views of Hux as a coward.
The rivalry between Ren and Hux grew only stronger after Starkiller Base's destruction, with Ren increasingly irritated by Hux, who enjoyed knowing that his rival needed to be rescued after his defeat at the hands of a scavenger. Hux's confidence increased as Ren fell out of favor with Snoke, to the extent that he began patronizing Ren during the attack on the Resistance fleet. Ren swore to make the general pay for speaking to him like a child.
Their rivalry ended when Ren usurped his master's throne, killing Snoke to become the new Supreme Leader. Ren did not hesitate to put Hux in his place by way of the dark side, and threatened to asphyxiate the general until he recognized Ren's claim. The new Supreme Leader decided on keeping Hux alive but close by; having never trusted the man whose ambitions were well known to Ren, he was certain that Hux would betray him at the earliest opportunity.
Ren would remain suspicious of Hux throughout his reign. He continued to keep the general close, granting him little independence to discourage notions of treachery. He also took steps to diminish Hux's influence, such as favoring Allegiant General Enric Pryde with greater authority. Although Ren saw his actions towards Hux as petty, he still enjoyed exerting power at the expense of his former rival. During the last days of their conflict with the Resistance, Ren all but ignored Hux despite forcing him to remain part of his entourage which included Pryde.
For all of the actions that Ren took to neutralize Hux as a threat to his power, he never suspected that Hux was the informant who leaked classified information about the discovery on Exegol to the Resistance. When considering the possible identity of the spy in their ranks, Ren immediately dismissed Hux as a suspect. While his loyalty to Ren had always been in doubt, Ren never questioned Hux's allegiance to the First Order, and as such, he did not believe the general would do anything that could undermine the First Order's ability to win the war.
A dyad in the Force
- "You come from nothing. You're nothing. But not to me. Join me. Please."
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
Ren was puzzled by the strange connection he felt with Rey during their first encounter. He was also astonished by her ability to read his mind while he probed hers, which allowed her to sense Ren's thoughts as well as his inner conflict and doubts. To Ren's surprise, Rey evoked feelings of compassion within him, according to Snoke, who decried his apprentice's sentimentality as a form of weakness. Ren denied his Master's accusations, unable to comprehend how he could feel anything except hatred for an enemy of the First Order. Nevertheless, he offered to make Rey his apprentice after gauging her raw strength in the Force. Even though she defeated him, Ren had sensed that their destinies were somehow intertwined. He plotted his own path to regain the power and status he lost to her blade. Rey's fate was inextricably tied to his own, and he was unable to deny their Force-bond. Henceforth, Ren's churning emotions were as much about Rey as they were himself.
His emotional state became even more intense as their Force-bond grew stronger; to Rey's surprise, Ren no longer bothered trying to hide his pain and misery from her. Despite lowering his mental barriers, Ren was still guarded with his feelings as Rey attempted to learn more about his fall to the dark side and specifically his actions in regard to Han Solo. While her inquisitive nature amused Ren, he would raise his guard by using deflection and derision to avoid Rey's questions about his conflict and his father. Ren treated Rey as though they were master and student, keeping her at bay and off balance by his questions. His facade, however, broke when Rey called him by the name he had been born with. In that moment, he looked lost.
Ren understood Rey's feelings of solitude and abandonment; having experienced such emotions as well, he was all too familiar with the psychological effect they had on a person in the long term. He allowed Rey to confide in him and insisted that she was not alone. When Snoke ordered his apprentice to complete his training by killing Rey, Ren knew what he had to do. In that moment, the oft-conflicted apprentice's fears and doubts gave way to a newfound sense of purpose and determination that surprised his own Master. He did not hesitate to kill the one he considered his true enemy, who turned out to be Snoke instead of Rey.
Ren wanted Rey to join him, as he had when they first dueled on Starkiller Base, by forming a co-regency between themselves as rulers of the galaxy. Rey sensed that there was no threat in Ren's intentions toward her; he wanted Rey to overcome her past, and as such he told Rey that her parents were no one, believing that revelation would make her embrace the dark side as he did. Ren wanted Rey to be like him, yet his brutal honesty gave way to a softer approach when he beseeched her to join him, telling Rey that while she was no one, she was still important to him.
Rey's refusal to join Ren left the dark warrior feeling betrayed. He wondered why Rey had not taken the opportunity to kill him while he was unconscious, and for a moment he contemplated the possibility that Rey actually cared for him. He pushed such thoughts aside, however, convinced that Rey's feelings made her foolish and sentimental, and would be the death of her. Ren vowed to destroy Rey along with everyone else who opposed him, but upon seeing her again through their bond, he was left with a feeling of emptiness despite his recent accomplishments, which included his ascension as the new Supreme Leader.
Despite his complete submission to the dark side of the Force, Ren's conflict remained and he was still tempted by the light side. He had thought that his father's death would bring an end to the agony within, only to realize, in time, that Han Solo represented his past, whereas Rey personified what he felt as the pull to the light. Though he was bidden to kill the scavenger by the clone of Darth Sidious, Ren feigned compliance. The discovery of her full origins reignited his desire to turn her to the dark side, yet he was also conflicted over whether it was worth the risk, now that he knew his struggle against the light was directly tied to Rey. His uncertainty was compounded by feelings of anger and resentment over her rejection of his first offer, which confounded Ren.
Ren sensed the terror that Rey felt whenever he was near her, and found it intoxicating, though her determination to resist him infuriated the Supreme Leader. The thought that she had dared to reject him fueled his rage, causing Ren to lose himself to his anger and hatred, forgetting for a moment about his plans to overthrow the Emperor and take control of the Star Destroyer fleet. Blinded by overwhelming rage and desperate to end his pain, he succumbed to the temptation of killing her. When the attempt failed, Ren chided himself for allowing Rey to use his anger against him, though he was even more stunned by the realization that he was relieved he had not killed her.
Snoke had trained Ren to channel the dark side by acting on his impulses, but now the impulse to kill Rey could not be reconciled with his deepest desire, for the thing he wanted most was Rey herself. He found the effort of tempting Rey difficult, yet worthwhile, and with each encounter between them, he felt increasingly closer to achieving his goal with her. Ren also came to understand that his plans for her required planning and patience, but he was well aware of his impatience and temper. As a result, he found inspiration in Rey's grandfather Sidious, wanting to be able to embrace a plan so long suffering and painstakingly careful, and being able to do it without feeling tempted by the light. Ren knew that he did not have the Emperor's patience, but in his desire to convert Rey, he was willing to learn it.
Ren, whose mercurial nature inspired fear amongst his subordinates, maintained his composure around Rey. Her presence had a calming effect on him, although Rey found his calm irritating as she struggled to control her anger and frustration toward him. Following their confrontation on the Steadfast, Ren found himself enjoying the experience of seeing Rey in person again, taking little notice of the dead and the injured around him. For Ren, any loss was a small price to pay to be with Rey. He delighted in provoking her rage; he wanted her to know that they were a dyad in the Force; and he enjoyed seeing the look on her face, which he regarded as beautiful, when he finally told her.
After discarding the persona of Ren, Solo developed a new sense of purpose, which was to protect Rey. The need that he felt to stand at her side determined his actions for the remainder of his life, including his decision to die for her. Solo's return to the light also had an effect on his connection to Rey, changing the way the bond felt between them. Unlike with Ren, when the two halves of the dyad fought on opposite sides of the Force, the connection with Solo felt right to Rey. The differences between the personalities of Solo and Ren, as well as the way they fought as one on the side of the light, convinced Rey that this was how the bond between them was always meant to be. By standing together against Sidious, Solo and Rey achieved their true potential as a dyad in the Force, making their combined strength an equivalent to the power of life.
Powers and abilities
- "He really was the prize student."
- ―Voe, on Ben Solo's overall ability as a Jedi
Ren, who pulled from the teachings of the light and the dark to hone his power, possessed superb skills in lightsaber combat. As Ben Solo, out of the many apprentices his uncle trained, he was the most talented and skilled with a lightsaber. The destruction of Skywalker's new generation of Jedi earned him the nickname of "Jedi Killer" amongst the First Order ranks, and his abilities with a lightsaber were what ultimately prevented the art of lightsaber combat from returning to prominence as he eliminated the remnants of the Jedi. In combat Ren typically utilized his lightsaber in the standard grip form, but he was also proficient in the unorthodox reverse grip.
With his proficiency in the art of lightsaber combat, Ren could fight outnumbered and prevail against multiple adversaries. Back when he was still Ben Solo, he fought off three of his fellow students on Elphrona. He fought alongside Rey against the Elite Praetorian Guard until they were separated, forcing Ren to fight four guardsmen on his own. He killed two Praetorians with his crossguard lightsaber and, using a dead guard's vibro-voulge as an improvised weapon in conjunction with his saber, demonstrated his ability in the art of Jar'Kai while defeating a third guard. Though he was outmaneuvered by the fourth and final Praetorian, Ren survived by stabbing the guardsman through the face with Rey's lightsaber. After reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo, although he was briefly outmatched by the Knights of Ren as he was outnumbered by his former subordinates, once armed with his grandfather's lightsaber, Solo reminded them why he had been their master and swiftly bested all six Knights on his own.
Ren's loss to Rey—a girl unfamiliar with the lightsaber—was an isolated case according to his master Snoke, who believed his apprentice lost because he was unbalanced by the murder of his father. Ren, however, held that he would have defeated Rey if not for the physical wound that he sustained from Chewbacca's bowcaster, preventing him from fighting at full strength. Despite her victory, Rey knew that Ren was strong with the dark side, and would only grow more powerful with time. Luke Skywalker even regarded his nephew Ren as a strong adversary who was far more powerful than Rey. During the battle against the Praetorian Guards, neither emotional conflict nor physical injuries hindered Ren's fighting ability. Rey observed Ren during the battle, and compared him to a caged beast as he unleashed his fury, engaging several elite guardsmen who were felled by the dark warrior despite holding a numerical advantage.
Ren was highly accomplished in both an acrobatic and offensive form of lightsaber combat as well as the art of defense. As such, he was adept at evading close-quarter attacks while unarmed, sidestepping Rey's blade several times before activating his own lightsaber. He was also skilled in hand-to-hand combat, seamlessly incorporating martial arts strikes into his lightsaber sequence, which he utilized against Finn and the Praetorian Guards. Even in his injured state, he deflected all but one of Finn's attacks that injured him in the shoulder, and returned with his own fierce blows that overwhelmed Finn before disarming and severely injuring the stormtrooper. He maintained a fierce offense on Rey before she tapped into the Force to overwhelm him and managed to parry some of her blows afterward despite ultimately losing the duel.
While Rey had improved her skills in lightsaber combat with a year's worth of training, she failed to break through Ren's guard in both of their later engagements. Ren found her attacks easy to dodge and block, even as her powers grew with her anger. During their final duel, it became clear to Rey that Ren was physically stronger than her. His ability to dodge and parry all of her attacks angered Rey, who grew increasingly frustrated by her failure to outfight Ren. After defending himself for a time, Ren seized the offensive with a series of swift and powerful strikes. The combination of his strength and skill ultimately overwhelmed Rey, causing Rey to lose her footing and to fall down to her knees completely exposed and defenseless. Then, however, Ren became distracted by his mother, whose death he sensed from afar, and dropped his lightsaber. Rey was only able to end their confrontation because she capitalized on his distraction to grab his weapon and impale him with it.
- "I've seen this raw strength only once before in Ben Solo. It didn't scare me enough then. It does now."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The heir to the Skywalker bloodline, Ben Solo was gifted with extraordinary strength in the Force, though it was raw and untamed, a fact which did not go unnoticed by either Luke Skywalker or Snoke. Skywalker recognized that his young nephew possessed Force powers that were already immense, and accepted Solo as his student. Snoke was intrigued by Solo's potential for limitless power, and conspired to bring that power into his service at the expense of the resurgent Jedi Order. After surviving his confrontation with Skywalker, Solo believed that he had killed his Master, a feat which caused his confidence to grow and led him to seek Snoke's guidance.
After he became Kylo Ren, he wanted to be as powerful as Darth Vader, but was afraid he would not be as strong as the Sith Lord once was. Though not yet at the heights of his grandfather's or his uncle's power, Ren's raw strength still gave him powerful abilities with the Force and in combat.
The dark side that flowed through Ren made him a nearly unstoppable force, manifested in the potent focused rage that he drew from his inner conflict, and he was exceptionally skilled in telekinetic attacks and defenses even before adopting the persona of Kylo Ren. When defending himself from Skywalker the night his Master came close to murdering him, Ben Solo was able to telekinetically collapse an entire hut on Skywalker without harming himself while they simultaneously clashed blades. Solo was capable of using his mind to control both objects and other people; in the wake of burning the temple, he used his telekinetic abilities to attack three Jedi apprentices, hurling numerous pieces of fiery debris in their direction. After he was tracked to Elphrona by the same students who confronted him at the temple, Solo telekinetically lifted both Tai and Voe, tossing them into the abandoned Jedi outpost. Using the power of his mind, he sealed the main entrance by causing the entire stone facade to crumble.
Whether as Solo or Ren, his ability to effectively use the Force was dependent on his concentration and state of mind. Though he could still use his telekinetic powers under mental duress, he nonetheless experienced greater difficulty controlling the Force when his focus was interrupted. During the duel on Elphrona, Solo managed to catch Voe in the air after pushing her over a cliff. Unlike before, he struggled to maintain his hold on her through the Force. Hennix's interference broke Solo's concentration completely, causing him to lose his grip on Voe. On Starkiller Base, Ren found himself struggling to summon his grandfather's lightsaber to his hand, having sustained physical and emotional wounds in the wake of killing his own father.
Ren used his telekinetic skills to Force push Rey, sending her flying against a tree. He also pulled Dopheld Mitaka by the neck to his hand, as well as to hold him up with one hand while still pulling them with the Force. Ren was proficient in the use of Force Stasis, enough to use such telekinetic halts in combat, which allowed him to freeze the motion of a target, immobilize and restrain people, hold a blaster bolt midair for over a minute, and block a lightsaber blade with the Force. He was also able to manipulate the movements of living beings, which allowed him to force Rey to point her blaster at the ground as he simultaneously froze her in place. By the time he arrived on Batuu, Ren's proficiency in telekinesis allowed him to crush a person's larynx—an ability used by his grandfather before him—as he demonstrated on a subordinate at the Black Spire Outpost.
By the time he ascended to the rank of Supreme Leader, Ren's telekinetic abilities allowed him to influence the actions of others across the galaxy. He demonstrated the range of his Force powers by controlling Agent Tierney and Commander Pyre while speaking to them through a hologram, forcing them to stand and aim their weapons at each other. When Tierny failed him again, Ren sent the agent another transmission and began choking her by way of the Force.
Ren was also powerful in using the Force to strengthen his body, becoming sufficiently durable and resilient to having survived a long ranged blast from Chewbacca's bowcaster while only briefly doubling over in pain despite the severe injury even though the weapon could instantly kill armored stormtroopers on impact. His natural ability with the Force allowed him to contain the blast and minimize the damage it caused, thereby preventing the resultant wound from being fatal. He could also cut ahead of Rey and Finn in this state, demonstrating remarkable speed.[source?] He even utilized his wound to further hone his power in the dark side by punching himself directly on the wound, hard enough to spurt out blood.[source?] Additionally, Ren was capable of exerting enough strength to crush the Emperor's wayfinder with his bare hands and was able to leap across great distances to an even greater extent than Rey and Voe.
Ren excelled in interrogation, as he could telepathically invade the minds of his prisoners and psychologically torture them into revealing withheld information. His abilities also allowed him to render opponents unconscious without harming them, as he did to Rey on Takodana, causing her to fall asleep with a wave of his hand so he could capture her without resistance. Although Snoke was capable of probing his apprentice's mind, Ren was able to deceive his Master into believing that he intended to kill Rey when his actual target was Snoke himself. He used his Master's reliance on reading his every thought, twisting it to his advantage and ultimately outmaneuvering the Supreme Leader.
Snoke considered Ren and Rey equals in the Force after realizing that their bond was uniquely powerful, making them a dyad in the Force. After Snoke's demise, both sides of the dyad exerted equal control over the Skywalker lightsaber, which caused the weapon to break into two separate pieces. However, Ren ultimately proved stronger with the Force during their tug-of-war over a transport on Pasaana, in spite of all of Rey's exertion to stop the vessel from being pulled away from her.
- "He took out our main engines. One shot. If he was even the tiniest bit off, we'd be hot vapor right now."
- ―Voe, on Ben Solo's piloting skills
Ben Solo's inherent Force ability came from his mother, whereas he gained his amazing reflexes and piloting skills from his father Han Solo. He was an excellent pilot—both as Ben Solo and Kylo Ren—hailing from a bloodline of expert pilots that included not only his father, but also his grandfather Anakin Skywalker.
After he destroyed Skywalker's temple, Solo fled from the scene in his starship, the Grimtaash. Pursued by his fellow Jedi students, Solo made an attack run on their vessel, the Verity. Knowing that Solo's father and uncle were both accomplished pilots in their own right, Tai was convinced that Voe's attempt at evasive action would fail. Indeed, they did not succeed in evading Solo. With one shot, he rendered the Verity's main engine inoperable. Taking note of Solo's accuracy, Voe mentioned that the slightest imprecision would have destroyed the Verity, yet Solo had only disabled the ship instead of destroying it outright.
Kylo Ren exercised little restraint against his enemies until faced with the decision on whether to fire on his mother. Utilizing his personal fighter, Ren led the First Order's initial attack on the Resistance fleet. He was able to evade the Raddus' defenses and destroy the vessel's starfighter hangar, owing to his own talents as a pilot. Ren was never satisfied with the speed and responsiveness of his craft and pushed the First Order engineers to outdo their best efforts. He modified his TIE whisper's astrogational systems to accept Darth Vader's wayfinder as a signal source, and the ancient device sent out binary signals that the ship's hyperdrive interpreted as jump coordinates.
- "He was dressed in black, carried a "laser sword" like in the old Jedi stories."
- ―Eila, on Kylo Ren
As was the tradition of the Jedi Order, Ben Solo constructed his lightsaber at some point between 15 ABY and 25 ABY while being trained as a Jedi Padawan under his uncle, and Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker. His innate strength in the Force and natural talent meant he excelled over his peers in skill with the lightsaber.
Kylo Ren repurposed the kyber crystal and lightsaber hilt formerly used as Ben Solo to create his new Sith lightsaber. First, he used the dark side to bleed the crystal; it cracked in its master's grip with a surge of fiery energy. Its hue was thus changed to red-yellow. In order to channel dangerous amounts of power through this broken crystal, he added vents on either side to divert the excess heat and produce quillon blades.
The crude design was an ancient one, dating back thousands of years to a battle between the Jedi and Sith on the planet Malachor. Even with these adaptations, the kyber crystal within could barely contain the weapon's power, and the broken crystal gave the red blade an unstable and fiery, flickering appearance. While its crude appearance suggested construction by an inexperienced hand, Ren preferred his lightsaber's volatile nature and chose to not repair it. Its partially exposed inner workings allowed for easy modifications and upkeep.
As a Jedi Padawan, Ben Solo possessed a starship named the Grimtaash.
At the time of the Battle of Crait, Kylo Ren flew his personal TIE silencer, a TIE/vn space superiority fighter. When he sought the location of Exegol, he used his customized TIE whisper, a TIE/wi modified interceptor.
- "Vader wore his mask because he couldn't breathe without it. But you…you just dress-up to hide the faces of your rebel scum parents—"
- ―Armitage Hux, to Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren often kept his face covered with his mask which was modeled on the battle gear of the Knights of Ren. His mask projected and amplified his voice in a deeper way. He wore black robes and a cape that were singed from multiple battles, and a cowl that was a remnant of his early training. The combination of these elements made Ren an intimidating presence, particularly on the battlefield where he exuded confidence in his powers and his purpose.
However, Ren had deeply rooted insecurities that he attempted to conceal by wearing his mask and acting like Vader. Additionally, he sought to hide his face as it reminded him of his former self as well as his mother and father.
After usurping the title of Supreme Leader, Ren had his helmet reforged by a Sith alchemist. He considered it a mark of his role in the Knights of Ren, and a symbol of his own identity being broken and rebuilt.
Behind the scenes
Creation and development
- "I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there's never been a character quite like the one that Adam [Driver] plays. I think you're going to see something that's brand new to the saga… He's full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we're very out there and demonstrative, everybody's roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are."
- ―The Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, on Kylo Ren
On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, and announced that they would be making the long-awaited Star Wars sequel trilogy, beginning with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015. In the months prior, as Lucasfilm co-chair (and eventual president) Kathleen Kennedy began the work to produce the new slate of films, it became clear to the creative team that the story could not just rely on characters from the previous films but would have to introduce new characters to carry the franchise forward.
Since George Lucas' earliest versions of the film's story, a son of Han Solo and Leia Organa struggling with the dark side of the Force was always in the mix. In some of these versions, the son's name was "Skyler" and he was corrupted to the dark side by Darth Talon, a character originally created for the Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Legacy comic book series set over a century after the films. Talon's role was then morphed into that of the "Jedi Killer," the initial name of the character who evolved into Kylo Ren, which was used throughout the film's pre-production before the director and co-writer J.J. Abrams and his team settled on a name for the character. The character's design went through a number of iterations before the final design was approved on March 11, 2014. One design made him look similar to Darth Vader. According to concept artist Christian Alzmann, the idea behind the similarity was that Darth Vader, as a Lord of the Sith, was not a "one-off" look. Instead, "he has a specific title and a specific look that goes with that title. Even though the mask was helping him breathe, there was still a certain look to it." Concept artist Glyn Dillon, who designed the final look of the character, said that the design of the Jedi Killer was like "trying to land a helicopter on a penny. We couldn't be too Vader-ish, but we couldn't reference something else too heavily, either."
Additional design concepts showed the Jedi Killer as someone who ate matter from stars. He would be in a meditation chamber, where energies from a sun could come into the room and he would consume whatever power was within it. Another piece of art showed him with a more robotic look, holding the mask of Darth Vader; at one point, the mask of Darth Vader was a central element to the film, before becoming part of the shrine that Kylo Ren had in the final story. One rejected piece of concept art showed the Jedi Killer with a red and black mask with a circular pattern in the center. This design later inspired the appearance of the Guavian security soldiers, the cybernetically enhanced security soldiers of the Guavian Death Gang.
Other designs the crew worked on included a fortress for the Jedi Killer. Concept artist Doug Chiang took "iconic shapes that we know from Star Wars" but put "different material on them—in this case turning them into concrete instead of that slick painted metal." The crew also considered giving the Jedi Killer his own droid, such as a torture droid or something else that looked ominous. The idea of the Jedi Killer having an interrogation droid ultimately made it into the film, with Kylo Ren using interrogation droids and other torture techniques to break his prisoners.
The final design was meant to be memorable, much like Darth Vader's mask—upon which Ren's look was intentionally based. Costumer designer Michael Kaplan said that Abrams wanted the look to be memorable for kids, and that Abrams loved the final design when it was presented. In developing the character, original screenwriter Michael Arndt, whose screenwriting duties were taken over by Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan when Arndt departed the project, said the character's backstory came about because the writers needed a rationale for the heroes of the original trilogy to have separated after the events of the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Abrams wanted Episode VII, which came to be named The Force Awakens, to tap into parental fears of a child gone wrong through Kylo Ren. He also wanted the film to tell the story of someone who was still becoming a villain, saying that the only reason Ren had "any hope of being a worthy successor" to the iconic Darth Vader was because he kills Han Solo. "There's nothing I could think of that is more hideous than patricide," Abrams said, "especially when it comes to Han Solo." At Rian Johnson's request, the position of the character's facial scar was moved slightly for The Last Jedi.
Ren's parentage was initially to have been revealed earlier in The Force Awakens, when Ren speaks to Darth Vader's helmet. Ren calling Vader his grandfather would have been the reveal, and the scene was written to take place shortly after Finn and Dameron escaped from the Finalizer. Ren would have blamed himself for not having done anything about Finn's change of heart regarding the First Order, and he would have sought the counsel of his grandfather for guidance. Eventually, the film's editors, Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon, felt that the revelation came too early and it was a waste of a good moment. Instead of its original placement, they moved the scene later in the film to foreshadow Han Solo's death. The moment when Ren first removes and places his mask on a table of ashes was originally filmed for the scene when he spoke to Vader's helmet; it was reshot with his mask on, but they wanted to keep that shot and moved it to his interrogation of Rey. Abrams described the table's contents as ashes of the enemies that Ren killed. This fact was later mentioned in the twenty-first of Star Wars Helmet Collection.
Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, stated that he felt the most interesting option for Kylo Ren would be to take out the character's shaky foundation at the start of the film. Johnson stated that, by the end of The Last Jedi, Ren is no longer a Darth Vader copy, and he is now his own complex villain taking control. He also felt it was good setup for the ninth film in the Skywalker saga, which was eventually titled Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.
Kylo Ren shares some similarities with Jacen Solo, the son of Leia Organa Solo and Han Solo in the now non-canonical Star Wars Legends storyline. Jacen, the twin brother of Jaina Solo Fel, was a Jedi Knight who ultimately turned to the dark side of the Force and became the Sith Lord Darth Caedus under the guidance of the Sith Lady Lumiya. It was Jacen's hope to lead the Galactic Alliance, once the New Republic, in bringing order to the galaxy after the horrors of the Yuuzhan Vong War. He killed his aunt Mara Jade Skywalker, and committed atrocities across the galaxy before he was finally killed by his sister at the end of the Second Galactic Civil War. Ren also has an incredibly similar name to that of Kybo Ren, a space pirate from the Legends animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Additionally, Kylo Ren's helmet resembles the mask of Revan, a Dark Lord of the Sith who first appeared in the 2003 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Casting and portrayal
- "When they think of their actions as morally justified, it makes them dangerous and unpredictable. There's no level they won't go to to accomplish what they're after. I never thought of the character as an evil person."
- ―Adam Driver on Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren was portrayed by Adam Driver in The Force Awakens, a role he reprised in the 2017 sequel Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. Abrams originally saw other actors for the role, including Eddie Redmayne, who had been cast in other films by casting director Nina Gold, but all of them lost out to Driver. Driver didn't need to audition for the role, however, and instead had a meet and greet with Abrams where the director wanted to get a look at the actor. Just as Abrams had to consider whether to cast Driver, the actor had to decide whether he wanted to take the part. Abrams described Driver has having a "wonderful ferocity that was perfect for this character."
Driver does not see Ren as a villain, a stance he took in order to get into the head of the character and portray him as well as possible. Rather, Driver sees him as a religious fanatic who sees his actions as morally justified. This makes Ren more dangerous and unpredictable for the actor, as there is no level that Ren will not go to in order to accomplish his objectives. Getting into Ren's head was one part of Driver's method-acting approach. On set, Driver often stayed in character, keeping his helmet on to do so. Co-star John Boyega, who plays Finn, recalled that acting with Driver was intense because Driver wanted to forget he was in Star Wars and take the role as seriously as any other role he had ever played. The process of getting into Ren's costume provided an extra motivation for the actor; Driver said that by the time he was in the costume and ready to shoot, the "cumbersome and difficult" process left him feeling "so pissed by the time we were ready to start shooting that I felt totally ready."
In previous roles, Driver did not watch his performance because he preferred to not see himself on screen. He comes from a theater background, where actors never saw their own performances, and always hated noticing mistakes that he could not correct. He made an exception for The Force Awakens, however, and watched the film in a private screening with just his co-stars Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher, who played Rey and Leia Organa respectively. He felt comfortable sitting through the film and watching it with them because of how much time and effort he and his co-stars put into the film.
In addition to being portrayed by Driver in the films, Ren had two voice actors in Star Wars: Battlefront II, one for while he wore the mask, and the other for when he had the mask removed. The former was voiced by Matthew Wood, who previously voiced General Grievous in various Star Wars media, while the latter was voiced by Roger Craig Smith.
For the film's soundtrack, composer John Williams wrote a theme for Kylo Ren that first appears in the track "Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village." It is reprised throughout the film, including in "Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle." In composing the theme, Williams approached it as an extension of Darth Vader and "The Imperial March," without it being too similar. He wanted the theme to convey Ren's great and evil power and strength, as well as the threat he posed. These elements came together to create a theme that could be instantly accessible to the audience.
- "Hi. I'm Matt. I'm a radar technician."
- ―Kylo Ren as "Matt" in Saturday Night Live's "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base" sketch
Kylo Ren was well received by critics upon the release of The Force Awakens. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called him "gorgeously cruel, spiteful, and capricious," remarking positively on his "petulant temper tantrums" that set him apart from Darth Vader. Terri Schwartz of IGN praised Driver's performance and said that it "adds great depth to a character who could have come off as one-dimensional." Comparing him favorably to Darth Vader, Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast said that Ren was a "living battleground between darkness and light," which made "him a far more resonant and familiar portrayal of that struggle than we've ever seen in Star Wars," making him an interesting villain. While Kyle Buchanan of Vulture.com said he was underwhelmed by Ren's true appearance under the mask, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said that, despite the "bald-faced attempt" to draw similarities to Darth Vader, "Driver, masked and unmasked, gives [Ren] hypnotic and haunting contours." Leon also praised the fact that beneath the intimidating mask of Kylo Ren was nothing more than "a normal, vulnerable young man" with a mind "clouded by fear, hate, and anger." Driver was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Force Awakens.
In popular culture
On January 17, 2016, Driver hosted the popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and filmed a sketch called "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base." Parodying the show Undercover Boss, Kylo Ren disguises himself as a radar technician named Matt and mingles with the crew of Starkiller Base—including a stormtrooper played by future Star Wars Resistance voice actor Bobby Moynihan—to learn more about what it is like to work on the base. Throughout the sketch, in which he becomes friends with a Lieutenant Colonel named Zack (Taran Killam), whose son he killed months earlier, Ren displays his fiery temper on numerous occasions, particularly when crew members criticized Ren without knowing who they were speaking to. In the end, Ren says that he feels he understands the crew of Starkiller Base better and that he is ready to show everyone a brand new Kylo Ren—as Zack's lifeless body sits in the background.
In the skit, "Matt" comments to a group of stormtroopers that a friend told him that he saw Kylo Ren in the shower and that Ren "had an eight-pack" and was "shredded." These lines proved a source of retroactive amusement when The Last Jedi featured a scene in which Ren appears to Rey shirtless and sporting a heavily muscled chest. However, director Rian Johnson stated that the scene was not merely gratuitous, but was intended to establish that through their Force-bond, Rey could actually see his body and not simply hear his voice or see just his face and eyes.
Kylo Ren was confirmed to appear at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in one of several promotional trading cards for the ride that were handed out during the December 16, 2017 "Galactic Nights" event. The card in question, called "RESISTANCE RECRUITS FACE KYLO REN'S INTERROGATION," showed a Resistance soldier being lifted telekinetically by the Knight of Ren.
- Star Wars Roll Out – "Ben Solo and the Bug Hunters – Chapter 1"
- Star Wars Roll Out – "Ben Solo and the Bug Hunters – Chapter 2"
- Star Wars Roll Out – "Ben Solo and the Bug Hunters – Chapter 3"
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Jedi Training - Trials of the Temple
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Poe to the Rescue"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience"
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "Scouting for Leia/A Mission with Maz"
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "Rolling with BB-8/Resistance on the Run"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
- The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu
Notes and references
- Kylo Ren on Wikipedia