- "Forgive me, I feel it again. The pull to the light. Supreme Leader senses it. 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, to the helmet of Darth Vader
Ben Solo was a human male Force-sensitive who fell to the dark side of the Force as Kylo Ren—the "Jedi Killer," master of the Knights of Ren, and eventual Supreme Leader of the First Order—but returned to the light side shortly before his death. 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, as was his maternal uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. The heir to the Skywalker bloodline, Ben Solo possessed raw strength in the Force and had the potential for limitless power. His grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, had become the Sith Lord Darth Vader through the machinations of Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith. The phantom Sidious similarly targeted Solo and used his creation, Supreme Leader Snoke, to groom Solo from an early age to doubt his family and eventually turn to the dark side.
In 15 ABY, during the New Republic Era, Solo joined a new generation of Jedi apprentices trained by his uncle. Sidious's son had a daughter, Rey, who was born to her mother in the same year. Unknown to any at the time, Solo and Rey were counterparts as a dyad in the Force.
In 28 ABY, a confrontation initiated by Skywalker resulted in Solo turning against the Jedi and falling to the dark side. Solo destroyed his master's training temple, killing his fellow students, then fled to join Snoke. He killed and replaced the leader of the Knights of Ren under a new persona, Kylo Ren. As a product of Jedi and Sith teachings, Ren embodied the conflict between the dark side and the light but was dangerously unstable. Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, Ren sought to destroy the last remnants of the Jedi Order and conquer the galaxy. Determined to sever all ties to his past, Ren killed his father and assassinated his master. The Jedi apprentice Rey had briefly grown close to Ren through their unique Force-bond and believed she could turn him back to the light, but she rejected his offer to rule with him. Rey joined the Resistance led by Leia Organa and continued her Jedi training, while Ren conquered vast regions of the galaxy as the new Supreme Leader.
During the last days of the First Order-Resistance War in 35 ABY, Darth Sidious offered the Final Order fleet to Ren in return for killing his sworn enemy, Rey. Ren attempted to betray Sidious, but Rey again rejected his offer. Despite Ren's aspiration to rule the galaxy as the new Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith, he was pulled back to the light during a duel with Rey when his mother communicated with him as she died, reminding him of his family's love and forgiveness. Rey turned back from her own brush with the dark side to save his life by healing the wound she had given him. Reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo, the redeemed Jedi joined Rey on Exegol to save her from Sidious and defeat him once and for all, though the effort took Rey's life. When Solo sacrificed himself to revive Rey, he died and became one with the Force, joining his mother, uncle, and grandfather.
Pre-natal history and earliest years
A voice from the future
- "Let the past die."
- ―Kylo Ren, as heard by Darth Vader
Kylo Ren, the future dark side persona of Ben Solo, was the subject of Force visions prior to his birth. Shortly after the Battle of Fortress Vader, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, the Sith persona of the famed Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, explored the dark side portal constructed by Darth Momin in Fortress Vader; within the portal, the spirit of Vader slaughtered illusions of Jedi as he heard the voice of Ren saying that it was time to "let the past die."
Ren's voice was also heard by the Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger; in 0 BBY, Bridger traveled to the World Between Worlds, a mystical plane that existed between time and space where he heard the voice of Ren saying that he would "finish what his grandfather started."
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
In 4 ABY, Princess Leia Organa and General Han Solo were among those who led the Alliance to Restore the Republic in a decisive victory over the Galactic Empire at the Battle of Endor. Their victory resulted in the deaths of the Emperor, Darth Sidious, and Organa's biological father, Anakin Skywalker; Skywalker ceased to be Darth Vader when he saved his son, Luke Skywalker, and redeemed himself after decades of subjugating the galaxy.
Soon after the battle, Organa and Solo married and conceived their son, Ben Solo. During her pregnancy, the Force-sensitive Organa could sense her son through the Force, and felt both the light side and the dark within him. Ben was born in 5 ABY, one year and four days after the Battle of Endor, in Hanna City, Chandrila. His birth was on the same day that the Galactic Civil War was formally ended with the signing of the Galactic Concordance between the Empire and the New Republic, the government that arose after the Battle of Endor. Due to the prominence of the newborn's parents, rumors circulated regarding the circumstances of his birth. Solo was Force-sensitive and possessed prodigious strength by virtue of his Skywalker lineage, a trait that he shared with his mother, uncle, and grandfather.
Ben Solo's name was chosen by his father. In 13 BBY, the surname Solo was coined for Han on Corellia by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin, who required a full name when Han enlisted for the Carida Academy to become a pilot. The inspiration for the child's first name was "Ben Kenobi," the alias of the late and legendary Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi; Kenobi used that name while in exile on Tatooine after the fall of the Jedi Order at the end of the Clone Wars, and he sacrificed his life while rescuing Organa from the first Death Star battle station in 0 BBY.
As the son of an adopted Alderaanian princess, Ben Solo would have inherited the title of Prince of Alderaan if that planet and the House of Organa that ruled it had not been destroyed by the Empire before he was born. Upon his birth, he was considered a member of the Elder Houses and entitled through hereditary succession to ceremonial titles, such as the Supreme Governor of Birren.
- "I know where you come from. Before you called yourself Kylo Ren."
- ―Lor San Tekka
Ben Solo was prone to crying as an infant, particularly in the first months of his life, and had difficulty falling asleep. He would settle to sleep when he was held by his father or upon sensing the presence of his parents or their friend, Han's Wookiee First Mate Chewbacca. Organa was with Solo for multiple milestones: when he took his first steps, when he said his first word, and when he first instinctively harnessed the power of the Force to telekinetically throw a toy across the room in anger. As a toddler, Solo continued to demonstrate his ability to use the Force without either anger or training to bring objects to himself.
Though Han lacked the Force bond that Organa had with their son, he had a fatherly bond with Ben. One night, when Ben was two years old, Chancellor Mon Mothma contacted the Solo house in an attempt to speak with Organa while Han and Ben were asleep following multiple nights of insomnia. The household protocol droid, T-2LC, awakened the father and son by activating a holo-projection of the chancellor; Han then soothed Ben's crying until they both slept.
At that time, the Solo family utilized the class-3 culinary septic droid BX-778 to help them with the household chores. While supervising Ben at T-2LC's direction, a virus within BX-778 activated and caused the droid to consider cutting Ben's throat in order to stop the toddler's temper tantrum. The droid's programming was restored as a result of Han destroying the Phylanx Redux Transmitter, erasing the command to kill organics that BX-778 had been infected with. The child was not consciously aware that his life had been endangered and he may not have remembered it later; however, the incident may have been retained subconsciously as a near-death experience.
Solo grew close to his parents' friends in his childhood; in particular, he showed great affection toward Lando Calrissian, whom he referred to as "Unca Wanwo" and who told him stories of Han's days as a smuggler. Chewbacca, whom Solo referred to as "Uncle Chewie," mentored him as he learned how to fly a speeder and fire a blaster, and he sometimes provided childcare when the boy's parents were occupied with their respective careers.
In his youth, Solo's parents had active lives in their respective professions. Restless with settling in one place for long, Han began mentoring young pilots; he hoped to someday help Ben learn how to repair the hyperdrive of the Millennium Falcon and acquire a starship of his own. He also hoped that Ben would someday choose the same simple path of adventurer rather than the path of a Jedi like his uncle and grandfather. Ben enjoyed playing with the gold dice that belonged to his father and would often follow him around. The boy aspired to become a pilot like his father and inherited piloting skills from both his father and his maternal grandfather. Meanwhile, Organa was a respected senator of the New Republic, and as she worked to repair the galaxy and prepare for the future conflict she sensed, she became occupied with routine senatorial duties.
His parents' increasing reliance upon a droid caretaker and their busy lives contributed to Solo developing a sense of loneliness. Although he was told his parents were away doing important work, a benefit his mother hoped he would realize and appreciate in time, the child had difficulty accepting and believing it.
Sowing doubts and darkness
- "I have been every voice, you have ever heard, inside your head."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
Growing up, Solo was unaware of his Sith heritage as the grandson of Darth Vader. Only his parents and uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, knew the truth of Anakin Skywalker's past. Organa decided to delay telling Solo the truth about Vader until he was older and her brother could explain how had returned to the light side as Anakin Skywalker. However, Solo perceived that his family was keeping something from him.
Solo's doubts about his family were encouraged by voices that communicated with him telepathically throughout his young life, one of which he knew as Snoke. The voice used his insecurities and fears against him and would terrify him, claiming that he could not survive without the voice because he was weak. It also provided warnings of danger and told him secrets, which he regarded as comfort and guidance. Solo did not tell anyone about the voice.
In truth, Darth Sidious was the apex of the dark influence. Invested in the powerful bloodline of his last apprentice, Sidious intended to convert Solo to the dark side as he did with the child's grandfather. He therefore used Snoke as a proxy to hold sway over Solo. In addition, Sidious infiltrated Solo's mind through the Force, influencing his thoughts and actions in order to turn him against his family and the light side.
- "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
Despite being happy in his youth, Solo had rough upbringing; As the Force awakened in young Solo, his parents recognized that he needed guidance despite their efforts to build a normal life for him. In childhood, Ben Solo had unintentionally destroyed objects with the Force when angry, and eventually Solo developed feelings of abandonment from his parents because of their busy lives. He also was led 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.
Beginning from his early childhood, Solo was drawn toward the dark side of the Force by Snoke. Snoke would utilize Solo's feelings of abandonment, desperate need for a teacher, and fascination with his family legacy to seduce him. Having known of Snoke's interest in her son's potential for power, Organa sought to protect Solo from the mysterious dark side adept. However, she did not inform her husband about Snoke's designs on their son, believing that, as a non-Force-sensitive, Han would not understand Organa's responsibility to shield Ben.
Beyond Snoke's influence, Organa recognized similarities between her son and her father; therefore, she counted on her brother to train Solo and prevent him from following his grandfather down the path of the dark side. It was because of Solo's heritage of Anakin Skywalker's grandson, Snoke saw a focal point within the boy, believing he had the right balance of both light and the dark, and desired to claim him as his own apprentice.
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
In 15 ABY, prior to his tenth birthday, Solo decided he would begin his Jedi training and joined Skywalker's initiative to restore the Jedi Order. It was apparent to Skywalker that his nephew was inherently powerful with the Force despite his lack of training in the Jedi arts. Solo learned the ways of the Jedi, in its many forms, under the tutelage of Skywalker who impressed on his pupil the importance of practicing discipline and control. Solo gave his best efforts to gain his Master's approval, although at times their familial bond caused him to address Skywalker as uncle instead of Master. Skywalker had committed his life to reestablishing the Jedi Order's teachings, which had virtually nothing to do with family ties; therefore, he taught Solo that detachment and distance were necessary to gaining the pure focus that every Jedi aspired to achieve.
Solo and Skywalker traveled across the galaxy to search for lost lore of the Force, accumulating artifacts and learning more about the Jedi Order's ancient history in the hope of fully restoring it. Through his training, Solo developed a strong sense of devotion to the ways of the Jedi; he endeavored to gain greater knowledge of the Force and ways of the Jedi Order, desired to prove himself worthy of inheriting the mantle of a Jedi Knight, and learned a great deal of the teachings about the light side of the Force.
As the grandson of the Chosen One and nephew of the last Jedi, Solo felt immense pressure to live up to the Skywalker family legacy, a burden that weighed heavily upon him and ultimately fueled his insecurities. Under Skywalker, Solo learned much, leading the young Jedi to acknowledge and idolize his uncle for the knowledge of the Force and power he possessed, considering him a legend. However, Solo had misgivings about Skywalker's teaching methods, feeling as though despite all of what he learned, he was never able to utilize it, and he privately disagreed with his mentor's decision to store and lock away the Jedi knowledge they uncovered within the new Jedi temple.
As a Padawan, Solo constructed his own blue-bladed lightsaber and became skilled with its use, ultimately proving to be the most gifted student with a lightsaber Skywalker would ever train. Solo would also keep a calligraphy set, within he would record and fill with his own Jedi insights, in his quarters during his time with Skywalker.
Solo was taught by Skywalker to also exercise a level of restraint when he grew more powerful within the Force, a way his uncle attempted to manage his progress in Jedi training. Skywalker placed his hope for the future of the Jedi in Solo, convinced for a time he would not die the last of the Jedi Knights. At one point, Solo believed in his own destiny as a Jedi, with Skywalker encouraging his belief and resolve. Solo and Skywalker traveled the galaxy extensively, gathering lost Jedi knowledge, including ancient Jedi texts filled with arcane writings and holocrons filled with teachings from forgotten bygone eras of the Force.
Exploration and discovery
- "I'm glad you came along, Ben."
"Yes, Master Skywalker. So am I."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo
In 19 ABY, Solo accompanied his uncle to uncover knowledge of the Jedi Order. 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 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
Following the confrontation on Elphrona, Solo remained with his uncle for nearly another decade. Aside from his mother, whose Jedi training was cut short, Solo was the first student in Skywalker's initiative to rebuild the Jedi Order on Ossus, where the Jedi Temple of Luke Skywalker was built to serve as an academy for the new generation of Jedi. Skywalker, like his sister, had tried to shield Solo from the secrets of their family. His efforts to protect his nephew inadvertently left Solo feeling isolated, especially after Skywalker took it upon himself to train multiple apprentices at the same time. Over the course of their travels, Skywalker gathered disciples, young lost souls adrift with no way to harness their force-sensitive powers as a result of the Jedi purge, who went on to become his first students besides Solo.
In addition to several new recruits, Hennix, Tai, and Voe were apprenticed to Skywalker; as such, they became acquainted with his first and strongest pupil. As younglings, they would sit on the temple grounds and learn about the Force through Skywalker's lectures while simultaneously honing their skills by levitating rocks. Together they were all trained in lightsaber combat, meditation, and telekinesis.
Amongst all these students, in terms of Force powers and lightsaber skill, Solo was the most gifted; 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.
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. In Voe, despite being friends, Solo found a rival to push himself against during their training, Voe trying to surpass and beat her fellow Jedi at nearly everything within their training. At one point, he defeated Voe in a sparring match. As their training progressed, Solo suspected that Voe resented him for his power.
Though he befriended the other Padawans while training with them under Skywalker's watch, Solo also suspected that they viewed him as a symbol of preferential treatment, benefitting from his Skywalker bloodline instead of earning his place in the restored Jedi Order. This belief led Solo to feel like an outcast rather than part of a new generation of Jedi.
A teacher in the making
- "He's going to make a fine Jedi one day, Luke. And the responsibilities of the temple while his Master is away will do him a world of good."
- ―Lor San Tekka, to Luke Skywalker, referring to Ben Solo
Solo was one of Skywalker's senior pupils by the time he became a teenager; as such, he was entrusted with some of his Master's responsibilities, such as the supervision of training sessions in which the younger students practiced with training lightsabers. In 21 ABY, Lor San Tekka visited the temple on Ossus to speak with Skywalker. Solo went to Skywalker's hut to inform him of San Tekka's arrival, inadvertently interrupting Skywalker's meditation. Embarrassed at his intrusion, Solo accidentally referred to Skywalker as uncle instead of Master. Having been lectured by Skywalker on the need to exercise discipline and control, Solo composed himself and addressed Skywalker by his formal title as he informed him about their visitor. After Skywalker welcomed his old friend to the temple, San Tekka addressed Solo directly to inquire on the progress of his training. Solo's efforts at formality amused his Master, who assured San Tekka that Solo was a better student than he could have hoped for.
Skywalker told Solo to return to his studies while he and San Tekka spoke in private. Returning to the temple grounds, Solo replaced the Twi'lek Enyo as an instructor for a class of younglings who were exercising with training lightsabers. He ended the training session after his Master signaled him to return to his hut. San Tekka had invited Skywalker to travel with him to an archeological site on Yoturba, and also noted that Solo could benefit from his Master's absence by taking on more responsibilities at the temple.
Fall to the dark side
- "Senator Casterfo's accusation is true. My father was Darth Vader."
- ―Leia Organa
When the Skywalker family's secret lineage was revealed in 28 ABY, Solo was twenty-three years old and still in the care of his uncle as he traversed the path toward becoming a Jedi Knight. Elsewhere in the galaxy, the truth about the parentage of Solo's mother was revealed by Organa's political enemies in the New Republic 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. To honor his sister's wishes, Luke Skywalker had likewise avoided to provide Solo an honest account of Vader's redemption. Just as Organa expected, upon becoming aware of the truth across the HoloNet, Solo was shocked; the revelation felt like a betrayal for him and crushed the image he had of Anakin Skywalker by realizing that his parents and uncle never shared the truth with him despite knowing it for decades, leaving him to discover the Skywalker family's most carefully guarded secret along with the rest of the galaxy. Solo also believed that his family, by concealing his ancestry from him, justified the dark impulses that he suppressed throughout his young life. Organa sent a tearful and desperate message to her son soon after the news broke, but it was too late to prevent Solo's disillusionment with his family.
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.
Snoke utilized the anger Solo felt at this revelation to cap off his decade long manipulations, promising Solo with his guidance and the latter's power, he would become a figure that would even surpass his grandfather, Darth Vader. Solo felt like he no longer had to compete with his family or the Jedi who came before him anymore, but instead surpass them and live up to the power of his ancestor, feeding into Snoke's doctrine to turn the young man into a weapon of the dark side.
A fateful night
- "He would bring destruction, pain, death, and the end of everything I love because of what he will become. And for the briefest moment of pure instinct, I thought I could stop it. It passed like a fleeting shadow. And I was left with shame and with consequence. And the last thing I saw were the eyes of a frightened boy whose master had failed him."
- ―Luke Skywalker, about Ben Solo
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. As his eyes changed to constricted pupils and irises clouded with red, Solo briefly surrendered to the dark side and summoned a storm that could destroy the temple. He then noticed the red storm clouds he had summoned appear above the temple, which rained lightning upon the temple 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, horrified, 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 Amaxine 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. Solo simultaneously parried Voe and Hennix's lightsabers, and Tai attempted a mental probe with the Force before Solo telekinetically threw him against a wall. Leaping high into the air, Solo told the other students to let him go. Voe refused to end their pursuit and followed him up a steep rock face, saying he had to face justice for betraying the Jedi, especially their master, and becoming a murderer. Solo reacted with fury and used the Force to throw her over the cliff. As Hennix witnessed the attempted murder, he scaled the rocks without seeing that Solo had halted Voe's descent and struggled to keep her suspended. Hennix, believing he was avenging Voe, called Solo a monster and threw his lightsaber. Reacting instinctively, Solo dropped Voe and deflected Hennix's blade back towards its owner before refocusing his attention on Voe. She was saved when Tai slowed her fall before she landed on him, but Hennix was unable to defend himself when his own lightsaber struck and killed him.
Voe identified Hennix's scream and told Tai they had to stop Solo. After descending the cliff, Solo told the pair to get inside the outpost. Tai asked what had happened to Hennix, but Solo told them it did not matter. Before Voe and Tai could recover, Solo seized them both with the Force. He used the Force to throw them into the outpost and collapsed the entrance to trap them 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
- "Using Snoke as my proxy, I reached into the boy's mind, influencing his choices. I turned him against the new Jedi Order that was rising in my absence. I severed his bonds to his family and broke his ties to the light. Once reborn as Kylo Ren, he was mine to control."
- ―Darth Sidious
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, Solo 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, a design after the weapon of an ancient Sith Lord, Darth Atrius. 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
- "Now you will be who you are. Who you were always meant to be."
- ―Darth Sidious, 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 out 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, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 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 BB-8 were briefly captured by the First Order before Dameron and the Resistance Starfighter Corps arrived to recover the droid. When Rey and the astromech tried to escape through the forest, they split up as she led the stormtroopers away from the droid. Ren soon arrived on the battlefield and found her 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.
Using the Force to enter Rey's mind, Ren saw that she had seen the map he sought. Believing the First Order would not need the droid since he could view Rey's memories, he used the Force to render her unconscious and captured her. He ordered the First Order to retreat and their forces left Takodana. The droid ultimately made it out of the forests and into the hands of the Resistance.
Ren brought Rey to Starkiller Base via his command shuttle and restrained 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. He 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.
Ren warned Rey that he could take whatever he wanted from her before probing her mind with the Force while she resisted his mental attack. At the time, Ren was unaware that he and Rey formed a prophesized dyad in the Force, but he sensed they had an innate connection. In her mind, he discovered her name, felt her loneliness and fear, and saw an ocean and an island that she had dreamed about during her life as a scavenger in the junkyards. When 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. Rey grew more resistant to his mental attack and turned it against him, using the same ability to see that Ren was afraid 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 even stronger with the Force than she realized. 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. Despite Ren's role in his death, Han died refusing to believe that his son was lost to the dark side forever.
The act of patricide had an unsettling effect on Ren, as did Solo's gesture of compassion which tormented Ren far more than killing his own father. Rather than make him stronger in the dark side, as he had thought, it had weakened his spirit. He became unbalanced, and was more miserable and weak than before. 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 forest 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.
Phasma briefly bore witness to Ren and Rey's duel but did not provide aid to the dark side warrior, as she was busy searching for the officer she had framed for the fall of Starkiller Base, Sol Rivas. With Rey having rejected an amorphous, dark voice in her mind that demanded she kill Ren, the young woman and Ren were separated for long enough that, 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 dark side 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. Motioning her to take his hand, he pleaded with her to stay with him so that they could rule the galaxy together.
However, Rey used the Force to summon the Skywalker lightsaber to her grasp, just as she had when fighting Ren on Starkiller Base. 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
The New 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 the remnants of the Resistance. In response, Skywalker deactivated 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. Ren also kept his involvement in Snoke's death a secret, so that no one would doubt his claim to the leadership of the First Order.
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.
Consolidation of power
- "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. The galaxy, which had largely demilitarized during the decades of peace, was unprepared to face the threat of the First Order, and many worlds capitulated to Ren's rule. 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 First Order's military might cowed many worlds into submission, although some remained defiant despite the threat of annihilation. Ren, who now saw himself as ruler of the galaxy, toured the worlds that the First Order conquered in the name of their new Supreme Leader. One of the worlds that he visited was under military occupation; the officer who greeted him expressed how honored they were by his presence while another prepared his speech to the local population, which included metaphors and allusions of cultural relevance to the world that they occupied. As he stood on a balcony overlooking the crowd, he crushed the datapad containing his speech, which was followed by the stormtroopers saluting with their left arms extended into the air with a closed fist. The civilians responded by kneeling before him with downcast eyes as the First Order soldiers shouted "all hail the Supreme Leader!"
Ren visited another world that the First Order subjugated on his behalf. This time, however, he was ambushed by a group of insurgents hiding within the crowd. Ren ordered his stormtroopers to stand their ground and fought beside them. During the battle, he targeted the woman who led the insurgents, determined to make her an example to others who defied his authority as the Supreme Leader. He ceased his attack, however, wishing to know her motives for defying him in spite of the consequences. The woman declared that her people would rather die fighting for freedom than submit to Ren's fascist rule. Ren's response was that he would make her people suffer for her actions, but the woman asserted that their sacrifice would not be in vain if it inspired further resistance against the First Order. Ren dismissed her as a fool, and said that she would regret her choice. As a result, her world was set aflame as Ren returned to the Star Destroyer in orbit.
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 Sith 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 vat 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.
Though Sidious acknowledged Ren as a worthy apprentice who possessed the raw power of the Skywalker bloodline, he harbored doubts about Ren's commitment to the dark side due to his inner conflict. Sensing the last vestiges of the light within Ren, Sidious intended the task of killing Rey to serve as Ren's final test to prove his worth by ending the Jedi and leading the galaxy as its new master.
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
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 Sith 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 they preferred conquering the galaxy through orthodox tactics and strategies rather than relying on Ren's total devotion to the dark side of the Force, their confidence in his leadership had increased with his promise of new warships.
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 Sidious' 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.
Rey sensed Ren's presence upon his return to the Steadfast and decided to confront him while her friends escaped from the warship, not wanting them to risk their lives against the dark side warrior. A contingent of stormtroopers also arrived as Ren disembarked from his TIE whisper and cornered Rey at the hangar entrance. When Rey asked Ren why Sidious had tried to kill her when she was a child, the Supreme Leader revealed that Rey had inherited her powers from her paternal grandfather, the Emperor. In addition to the revelation of Rey's secret connection to the Palpatine bloodline, Ren disclosed his discovery of their shared nature as a dyad, making them one presence in the Force. The true extent of their connection was a secret that Ren kept from Sidious, whose death he plotted in order to claim the Throne of the Sith with Rey.
As a sign of trust Ren removed his mask, allowing Rey to see his face along with the scar that she had given him in their first battle. Ren, who was convinced that he had eradicated the last trace of his former persona, also wanted Rey to realize that he was fully committed to the ways of the dark side. Ren's invitation to join him reminded Rey of the offer that he made to her in Snoke's throne room. While their victory over Snoke compelled Rey to acknowledge the potential of their combined power, she remained committed to the Resistance's cause. Following a moment of indecision, Rey chose to reject Ren once more when the Millennium Falcon arrived at the hangar entrance. The starship's engines forced the stormtroopers back, though Ren braced himself with the Force, watching Rey as she boarded his late father's ship.
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.
Despite the escape of the Millennium Falcon's crew, the incident aboard the Steadfast revealed Hux's efforts to undermine Ren. Hux failed to convince Pryde that the Resistance used coersion to enlist his aid; consequently, the general was executed for committing espionage against the First Order. Pryde then instructed his subordinates to inform the Supreme Leader that they had found the Resistace's spy.
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 and making whole again his burned flesh and damaged organs, clearing his mind as well. 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."
"You're just a memory."
"Your memory. "
- ―Han Solo (memory) and Ben 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 TIE scout. 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 fleet was in the process of launching its warships when the Resistance attacked Exegol, attempting to stop the fleet's deployment across the galaxy. 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 pulsated 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 chests. 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. In retaliation for his own death at Vader's hand, Sidious scornfully proclaimed to Solo that he would fall as the last Skywalker, hurling the young Jedi into a nearby 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. He died peacefully, having felt no hesitation about sacrificing his life for Rey.
- "I will always be with you."
"No one's ever really gone."
- ―Ben Solo's final words and Rey's response
Death reunited Ben Solo with his mother, Organa, who did not pass into the Force until she was joined by her son. Their corporeal forms vanished simultaneously, allowing mother and son to rest in peace together, becoming one with the Cosmic Force.
Rey felt despair as she watched Solo's body disappear until he called out to her from beyond death, promising that he would always be with her. She took comfort in hearing his voice as it reassured her that no one who died was truly gone.
- "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
Following the deaths of Kylo Ren, Enric Pryde, and Darth Sidious, a popular uprising against the First Order commenced as a consequence of the Sith fleet's destruction on Exegol. The First Order subsequently lost its control over the empire that it fought to create through conquest during Ren's reign as Supreme Leader, losing worlds such as Corellia, Coruscant, Lothal, Naboo, and Thyferra. Other revolts against the First Order occurred on Endor, Bespin, and Jakku, where Resurgent-class Star Destroyers sustained significant damage as a result of the uprisings, causing the warships to fall out of orbit. News of the uprisings reached the generals Poe Dameron and Finn by the time the Resistance returned to Ajan Kloss to celebrate their victory against the Emperor and his followers. Rey, having been revived through Ben Solo's sacrifice, had also returned to the Resistance's secret base where she embraced her friends.
Despite Kylo Ren's efforts to live up to the memory of Darth Vader, in the end Ben Solo emulated Anakin Skywalker by sacrificing his life "for the love of another." He achieved redemption with his final act, returning to the light side and passing into the Force as a Jedi. Rey mourned the death of Ben Solo while rejecting his dark-side persona as Kylo Ren. The amount of death and destruction caused by Ren rivaled the legacy of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Nevertheless, Rey chose to remember him as Ben Solo rather than Kylo Ren. Following the Emperor's destruction, Rey acknowledged Solo as the reason for her success in resisting the dark side's temptations in addition to other influences such as her friends and the legacy of the Jedi Order. While she took comfort in the knowledge that Solo remained with her in spirit, she expressed a sense of loss and disappointment about his passing into the Force, having lost the opportunity to know Ben Solo as the person he was before he became Kylo Ren.
The other individuals who remembered Solo were his father's friends, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, both of whom Solo had considered his "uncles" during his childhood. Ren had become the focus of Chewbacca's fury for the killing of Han Solo; however, the Wookiee retained joyful memories of his relationship with the Solo family, which included the time he spent helping to raise Ben. Among Chewbacca's possessions was a hologram disc that contained a picture of the Wookiee holding Ben Solo as an infant. The disc was hidden in a secret compartment beside Chewbacca's bunk on the Millennium Falcon; Calrissian discovered the disc prior to the Battle of Exegol and could not bear to look at an image of Han's son, his own child having been abducted by the First Order.
In the aftermath of Solo's death, Rey visited Tatooine where she buried the Skywalker lightsabers in the childhood home of her first master, Luke Skywalker. Her mind dwelt on Solo as she looked over the horizon at the planet's twin suns, reflecting on how he helped her to defeat Darth Sidious. The Skywalker bloodline ended with Ben Solo, but its legacy was preserved by Rey, who chose "Skywalker" as her surname to honor the family that accepted her in spite of her secret heritage as a Palpatine.
Personality and traits
The Skywalker heir
- "Alas, you're no Vader. You're just a child in a mask."
Ben Solo was a human male who stood at 1.89 meters and weighed 89 kilograms. He had dark brown hair, light skin, and brown eyes that appeared ancient to his father when Solo was a child. There was a strong family resemblance between Solo and his parents; he had his father's long face and posture, and his mother's warm eyes. He also mirrored his parents in personality, whether as Kylo Ren or Ben Solo. He was very much like his mother, as observed by General Armitage Hux, who believed that Ren would have denied the comparison. He also had his father's sarcastic sense of humor, which sometimes emerged in serious or violent situations. However, Solo was also similar to his grandfather, to the dismay of his parents who saw "too much of Vader" within their son.
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.
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. Despite Ren's willingness to extinguish the light within himself by any means necessary, his 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 and psychologically. Murdering his father imbalanced his mind and led to his defeat by Rey, who marked his face with a scar that became 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 caused 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, therefore, 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.
If Ren had chosen his own title, it would have been "Master of the Dark Side" or "Commander of the Knights of Ren" rather than "Supreme Leader;" however, he considered the title right and just for himself as the head of the First Order. Embracing an authoritarian style of leadership, he believed that all people and their worlds must bend to his will. He was determined to show the First Order's true power to the galaxy and expected it to be met with gratitude. Ren enjoyed the simplicity of fascism. Wielding absolute power reminded him of his grandfather, and like Vader, Ren was a leader who expected total obedience from his followers.
Ren had little tolerance for those who defied him to his face, especially after he became the Supreme Leader. Defiance against the First Order, which he considered the greatest regime in the galaxy, perplexed him. Ren did not understand why a person would reject a life of security under his rule, risking one's life just to show their contempt for the First Order. However, he was interested in understanding the views of those who opposed him, though he considered them "radicals" for doing so. Regardless of their reasons, he still intended to punish an entire world and its population if they resisted his authority. Ultimately, Ren believed that resistance was futile, and that it was his right to lead the galaxy as the Supreme Leader of the First Order.
Ren 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 Pryde 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. Having reconciled with his father in spirit, Solo hoped that one day he would come to 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
- "It's too late. She's gone."
"Your mother's gone. But what she stood for, what she fought for, that's not gone."
- ―Ben Solo and Han Solo (memory)
Ben Solo 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.
As a Skywalker and a Jedi-in-training, Solo felt as though he was being judged against his legendary uncle and, by extension, the Jedi Masters who trained him. While such comparisons motivated Solo to excel at his Jedi training, they also contributed to his insecurities. His ambition was to become more powerful and accomplished than the generations of Jedi who preceded him, including the "old guard" of Jedi Masters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda whose legacies influenced the Skywalker family for two generations. Having never known the Jedi who died before his birth, Solo likened his competition with deceased Jedi Masters to playing a game of sabaac with "ghosts." Though jealous of his predecessors, Solo grew to respect the skills of the most legendary Jedi who were revered by his uncle. In contrast to his views of the old Jedi, Solo did not consider his fellow students as rivals.
Seeing his uncle standing over him with an ignited lightsaber had a profound impact on Solo's psyche. Solo saw this as a betrayal that confirmed his worst fears 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, and he overlooked inconsistencies in Skywalker's illusionary appearance while the Resistance fled.
Serving a dark master
- "I have never had a student with such promise. Before you."
- ―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
Like his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, Ben Solo felt the need to prove himself because of the great power that he was born with. As Kylo Ren he saw himself carrying on the tradition embodied by Darth Vader, the dark side version of his grandfather and Ren's personal hero. However, Ren's understanding of Skywalker's history was twisted by Snoke. Ren, like Snoke, attributed the Galactic Empire's downfall not to ineffective strategy but to Vader's sentimentality for his son, Luke Skywalker. Ren considered it a foolish error in judgment and a momentary lapse in an otherwise great life. He 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 Snoke'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 dependency" 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.
Even as Ren held Hux in great contempt, he did share at least one commonality with the general: they preferred to keep their appearances and individual quarters simple.
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.
A lifetime of conflict and loneliness caused Ren to find solace in his connection with Rey, and he developed an "insatiable" fascination with her. 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
Out of the many apprentices his uncle trained, Ben Solo was the most talented and skilled with a lightsaber, although he was never able to surpass his uncle's skill in lightsaber combat. Kylo Ren, Solo's dark side persona, was a ruthless and efficient combatant on the battlefield, as well as master swordsman by the time of his apprenticeship to Snoke. Ren, who pulled from the teachings of the light and the dark to hone his power, possessed superb skills in lightsaber combat. 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 to her knees, completely exposed and defenseless. However, Ren was beckoned by his mother through the Force, sensed her death from afar, and dropped his lightsaber, leading Rey to capitalize on his distraction by usurping Ren's weapon and impaling 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 Luke Skywalker, Snoke, or Darth Sidious. 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. Armitage Hux described Ren as a "one-man Starkiller;" by wielding the power of the dark side, Ren inspired fear across the galaxy not unlike the superweapon that destroyed Hosnian Prime. Sidious credited himself with shaping Ren into a worthy apprentice, one that was just as powerful with the dark side of the Force as a true Sith.
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. He was able to create an explosion through the Force, causing the annihilation of the entire Cave of Evil, of which he managed to survive, unharmed.
He was also able to alter the weather by creating a lightning storm, what he did during the destruction of Luke's Jedi temple. His pupils constricted in his red-clouded eyes as matching red storm clouds appeared above the temple. Becoming aware of the clouds, he questioned their appearance just before they erupted with lightning. The storm he had created set fire to the dwellings and razed the temple, killing most of his fellow students.
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. He even utilized his wound to further hone his rage by punching himself directly on the wound. 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.
Ben Solo/Kylo Ren's lightsaber
- "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.
The Skywalker lightsaber
- "That lightsaber. It belongs to me."
- ―Kylo Ren
The Skywalker lightsaber was a Jedi weapon constructed by Ben Solo's grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, in the early days of the Clone Wars. An admirer of Darth Vader, Kylo Ren despised the lightsaber that once belonged to Vader's former self, a Jedi Knight, as well as Ren's uncle, Luke Skywalker. Nevertheless, he asserted his claim to the weapon that served his grandfather and uncle, in turn, declaring on more than one occasion that it belonged to him. Ultimately, however, Ren sought to destroy the Skywalker lightsaber that represented the family heritage he rejected.
His desire for its destruction ended when Ren renounced the dark side of the Force, becoming Ben Solo once more. During the Battle of Exegol, the blade passed from Rey to Solo by way of their bond as a Force dyad, restoring the Skywalker lightsaber to the possession of a Skywalker. Solo claimed his family's lightsaber as his own, knowing that it belonged to him the moment he felt it in his hand. He relished the feel of the lightsaber as it became an extension of his own being, although he experienced neither anger nor pleasure while using it in battle. He wielded it only with the discipline of a trained Jedi.
- "Prepare my ship."
- ―Kylo Ren
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.
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 Lucasfilm Ltd. sound editor Matthew Wood, who previously voiced General Grievous in various Star Wars media, while the latter was voiced by Roger Craig Smith. Wood continued the voice role in the 2020 animated movie The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special.
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.
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.
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 shares a similar name to that of Legends character Kybo Ren, a space pirate from the Legends animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO.
- "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.
- 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
- Minecraft Star Wars
- Fortnite X Star Wars
- Disney Magic Kingdoms
- The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu
- The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
- LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
- LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation
Notes and references