- "He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible… He just walked away from everything."
- ―Han Solo
The destruction of Luke Skywalker's Jedi temple occurred during the reign of the New Republic. Before the temple fell, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker sensed the dark side building within his nephew Ben Solo and feared for the boy's future. One night, Skywalker looked into a sleeping Solo's mind and saw that the dark side had already corrupted him. Skywalker instinctively ignited his lightsaber before quickly realizing his error, but it was too late: Solo awakened and, believing his uncle was about to murder him, collapsed his room, and trapped Skywalker under debris. Solo raged outside the temple with his lightsaber pointed at it, and his eyes clouded with red before red storm clouds appeared in the clear sky. The storm erupted with lightning and razed the temple, killing all of the students who were there.
Solo fled the destruction and joined the First Order under the tutelage of Supreme Leader Snoke, who had been seducing the boy from afar, and became Kylo Ren. Skywalker, distraught over his failure, abandoned his hope of rebuilding the Jedi Order and went into exile on Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi Order. It was not until 34 ABY that he was rediscovered by Rey, a powerful Force prodigy who tried to convince Skywalker to help the Resistance in the war against the First Order. Skywalker was reluctant but chose to briefly rejoin the conflict and confront his nephew, sacrificing himself in the process.
- "The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned."
- ―Yoda, to Luke Skywalker
After the end of the Galactic Civil War, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker was the last Jedi left in the galaxy. With help from the likes of Lieutenant Shara Bey of the Rebel Alliance and the explorer Lor San Tekka, Skywalker sought out ancient relics and texts of the Jedi Order to better understand their history and teachings. Following the end of the Galactic Empire and the destruction of the Sith Lords, Skywalker had come to have great hope for the future of the Jedi, coming to believe that if a single Jedi could help bring back balance to the Force, then a restored Jedi Order perhaps could maintain that achieved peace and prevent the dark side of the Force from ever regaining its hold on the galaxy.
As the war was coming to a close, Senator Leia Organa of the New Republic and General Han Solo welcomed a son, whom they named Ben Solo. Even before he was born, Organa sensed the capacity for both light and darkness within her son. After many years she sensed the influence of Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the shadowy First Order that had arisen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire. Hoping to curb Snoke's dark side influence, Organa wanted Skywalker, her brother, to train Solo as a Jedi.
Skywalker took his nephew and a handful of other disciples, gathered over his many years of traveling the galaxy, and established a Jedi temple, from where he hoped to rebuild the Jedi Order. This fulfilled a promise to Skywalker's own Jedi Master, Yoda, who on his deathbed told Skywalker to pass on what he had learned. And so he did, training Solo and the others in the ways of the Jedi. Throughout Solo's training, Skywalker also sensed the growing darkness within his nephew, but he believed that he could contain it and keep Solo on the path of the light. Skywalker did not recognize the depths of Solo's darkness until it was too late.
The temple fallsEdit
A terrible misunderstandingEdit
- "I saw darkness. I'd sensed it building in him. I'd seen it in moments during his training. But then I looked inside, and it was beyond what I ever imagined. Snoke had already turned his heart. He would bring destruction, and pain, and death, and the end of everything I love because of what he would 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, to Rey
Solo's darkness continued growing, and Skywalker came to fear what it might mean. He went to his nephew's room to confront him and, while Solo slept, used the Force to look into Solo's mind. What Skywalker saw terrified him: Snoke's dark machinations had succeeded, his nephew's heart had turned, and Solo would wield a crackling red lightsaber as he brought death and destruction to everything Skywalker loved. In the briefest moment of pure instinct, Skywalker ignited his lightsaber to kill Solo and prevent what he had seen, but he was quickly overcome by shame for thinking of killing his nephew. But it was already too late: Solo awakened, saw his uncle standing over him with an ignited blade, knew what Skywalker had seen in his mind, and thought Skywalker was about to murder him. Solo ignited his own lightsaber to kill Skywalker first, and as they locked blades, Solo used the Force to bring the roof of his room collapsing down upon them.
Enemy in the ranksEdit
With Skywalker trapped under the rubble and believed dead, Solo left the ruins of his room and raged in anger and confusion over why his uncle had attacked him. The temple had a clear night sky above it when Solo pointed his ignited lightsaber at the temple and screamed for answers. His pupils constricted as his eyes clouded with red, and matching red storm clouds appeared above the temple. When he saw them, the clouds erupted with lightning that exploded the temple and set it ablaze.
The fire set by Solo caused the collapse of the temple and burned it to the ground. Solo was knocked off his feet by the initial explosion and rose to see the scattered bodies of dead students, who were killed when Solo destroyed the temple. When he attempted to run into the burning temple, he was again knocked down by another explosion. He watched the burning temple and said he hadn't wanted this. A familiar disembodied voice that often communicated with Solo told him that he had not chosen this; Skywalker had. Skywalker and Solo had betrayed each other that night. Skywalker had instinctively reacted to his nephew's darkness with a momentary thought of killing him, and Solo had responded to Skywalker's confrontation by lashing out and setting the temple ablaze, destroying it and most of the other Jedi students with it.
Discovering the destructionEdit
Jedi students Hennix, Tai, and Voe initially survived the temple's destruction because they were away for an off-world mission. They returned to discover the temple had collapsed in flames, all their fellow students besides Solo were dead, and they couldn't sense any other presence except for Solo, who was watching the temple burn. Solo told them that Master Skywalker had tried to murder him in his sleep and now was dead. When Voe expressed skepticism, Solo replied that he was stronger in the Force than the other three Jedi combined and stronger than Skywalker. Tai was unable to defuse the situation, and Hennix and Voe drew their lightsabers to stop Solo from leaving. The three Jedi failed to take down Solo and he used the Force to shower them with debris which wounded Hennix. While Tai and Voe attended to Hennix, Solo fled aboard his personal ship Grimtaash. The other Jedi pursued Solo in their starship Verity but Solo fired a precise shot that disabled their ship's main engines. The three decided to pursue Solo for answers to the destruction. Hennix was bewildered, Tai didn't believe Solo could have betrayed or killed anyone, and Voe wanted to bring Solo to justice for the murders of Master Skywalker and the other Jedi.
Luke Skywalker's despairEdit
When Skywalker regained consciousness, it was too late; the temple was in ruins, the corpses of his students littered the grounds, and others were missing. Skywalker, overcome with despair and shame with only his faithful astromech droid R2-D2 by his side, watched as his Jedi temple and the future of the Jedi Order collapsed into flames. Skywalker mistakenly believed that Solo had slaughtered students who would not turn to the dark side as Solo had, and taken with him those who agreed to join him.
Ben Solo's journey to the dark sideEdit
After leaving the temple destruction behind, Solo traveled to a space station to meet Snoke, who embraced him. Snoke doubted Skywalker was dead and asked Solo what he planned to do next now that he was no longer under Skywalker's influence. Solo decided to seek out the Knights of Ren, a shadowy group of dark siders led by the enigmatic "Ren" who subscribed to an ideology based on his lightsaber, the Ren. Tai, Voe, and Hennix tracked Solo to Elphrona where he had first met and been invited to learn from the Knights as a child. In their duel, Solo attempted to kill Voe and inadvertently killed Hennix. Solo left Tai and Voe behind to meet the Knights of Ren.
Solo told the Knights of Ren how he wanted to join them, said he had destroyed Skywalker's temple, and described Hennix's death. They were unimpressed with the story, but Ren said Solo was strong in the "shadow" and Snoke had vouched for him. Solo still failed to impress on the Minemoon of Mimban, but when Ren killed Tai, Solo gave in to the dark side of the Force. His turn was sensed by Snoke, Leia, Rey, and Darth Sidious as he dueled and killed Ren, then used the Ren lightsaber to kill Voe. With her murder and Solo's turn, none of Skywalker's students survived Solo's destruction of his Jedi Order. The Knights then accepted Solo as the new Master of the Knights of Ren, the former Jedi bled his kyber crystal, and he took on the name Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren joined the First Order under the tutelage of Supreme Leader Snoke. His actions at the Jedi temple earned him the moniker of "Jedi Killer" amongst the First Order's ranks, though it was many years until the wider galaxy learned about what happened to the Jedi temple. Solo had wiped out the fledgling Jedi Order, but Snoke believed that Skywalker also had to be destroyed, lest the spark of the Jedi remain alive in the galaxy.
Fall and return of the JediEdit
- "The rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi."
- ―Luke Skywalker, to Kylo Ren
For his part, a shameful Skywalker blamed himself instead of Snoke for Solo's fall to the dark side, though his failures were partially engineered by the secretly resurrected Darth Sidious. He felt that he had failed to restore the Jedi Order, to protect his own students, and to save his own blood and flesh from his family's dark legacy. He believed the missing students had left with Solo and joined him in turning to the dark side, unaware that all except Solo were dead. Skywalker went into exile on Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi Order and the home of the first Jedi Temple, where he intended to one day die, feeling that it was his fault. It was his intention to bring an end to the Jedi religion, which he believed had only a legacy of hubris and destruction in the galaxy—in his mind, it was the Jedi that allowed Darth Sidious to create the Galactic Empire and seduce his father, Anakin Skywalker, to the dark side. There were many rumors and stories about where Skywalker had fled to, but those closest to him believed that he went looking for the first Jedi temple.
The First Order and the Resistance, led by General Organa, both searched for Skywalker and sought out San Tekka, who had part of a map to Ahch-To. The map was pieced together by the Resistance and given to Rey, a powerful Force prodigy, who used it to find Skywalker on Ahch-To. She tried for some time to convince Skywalker that the return of the Jedi was critical if the Resistance was to prevail in its war against the First Order, but he was too guilt-stricken. It was not until the spectral intervention of Yoda that Skywalker was shaken from his guilt and put his faith in Rey as the future of the Jedi. During the Battle of Crait, he projected his appearance into the conflict to confront Kylo, allowing the Resistance to escape from certain destruction. The effort he expended proved fatal and Skywalker passed away into the Force on Ahch-To, but, through his actions, the legend of Skywalker and the hope of the Jedi and the Resistance spread across the galaxy.
Behind the scenesEdit
- "Ultimately, the one who lies is Luke, in the very first flashback, where he omits the fact that he had a lightsaber in his hand. Kylo is basically telling the truth about his perception of that moment."
- ―Rian Johnson
Origin and developmentEdit
The destruction of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Temple was referenced in the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Although the event took place in the film's backstory, its aftermath was briefly seen in Rey's vision. The event's development was featured in the 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, during Luke Skywalker's and Kylo Ren's flashback sequences. The destruction itself was first depicted in The Rise of Kylo Ren 1.
Though included in the finished version of the film, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson made a late decision to include the three flashbacks which showed the destruction of Skywalker's Jedi temple, as they were not present in the film's script before shooting began. Taking inspiration from the 1950 film Rashōmon, Johnson decided to divide the sequence in three parts from different points of view, instead of just doing a long flashback as he wanted something harder to influence Rey's journey in the story.
Prior to crafting The Rise of Kylo Ren, Lucasfilm developed a framework through a conversation with J.J. Abrams. Writer Charles Soule and artist Will Sliney used this framework to develop the story of Solo's turn to the dark side. Soule and Sliney knew the destruction of the Jedi temple was a fixed point in the timeline prior to Ren's introduction on Jakku in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Soule chose to omit dialogue in some panels to put the focus on Sliney's art and Solo's internal struggle.
- "Did he tell you what happened? The night I destroyed his temple, did he tell you why?"
- ―Kylo Ren
Ben Solo has been consistently identified as the character responsible for destroying the students of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order or both the Jedi Order and the Jedi temple. No other characters claimed responsibility or received blame for the destruction in-universe, and out-of-universe sources identified him as the primary character responsible for the destruction. Several sources specify that Solo burned the temple. In the first depiction of the event, the fire was sparked with a lightning strike from red storm clouds.
Prior to Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, sources did not mention that any of Skywalker's students survived, and Princess Leia: Royal Rebel stated Leia's son killed all of the apprentices before taking the name Kylo Ren. Skywalker said in The Last Jedi that a handful of students left with Ren after he slaughtered the rest, and this was reflected in subsequently released sources. The Secrets of the Jedi added that the slaughtered students had refused to follow Ren to the dark side. The Rise of Kylo Ren instead showed that Skywalker was mistaken, as three students who weren't present for the destruction pursued Solo in the aftermath, and all died by the end; none turned to the dark side with him.
Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded stated that the Knights of Ren were involved in the temple's destruction, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary said Ren "led its destruction," implying that at least one other individual worked with him to destroy it. These were the only sources in- or out-of-universe that mentioned anyone besides Ren having a role in the destruction. However, The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 didn't explicitly feature the Knights of Ren during the destruction or show that any other individual was involved before Solo fled from Tai, Hennix, and Voe.
Two sources stated that Ren's lightsaber skills prevented the Jedi Order's return and he annihilated Skywalker's students with his "talent in combat." The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 depicted Solo wielding his lightsaber as he raged at the temple, but he did not use it in combat.
Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group was asked about a perceived contradiction regarding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary stating Solo set fire to and destroyed Skywalker's temple and some fans' beliefs that The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 said Solo did not do so. In a response "liked by" writer Charles Soule, Martin said this was a "misinterpretation", the comic did not say that, and the comic and book said essentially the same thing without contradicting each other. Martin compared a panel showing Solo's reaction after the temple's destruction to Anakin Skywalker's reaction after the death of Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith.
Responding to a question about Rey Skywalker's awakening to the Force, Martin shared his personal opinion that it occurred in response to the balance of the Force shifting due to "Ben's destruction of the temple and Jedi." Another person, who had found the comic ambiguous and wondered about Palpatine, asked Martin if Solo destroyed the temple. Martin replied that "the movie" said he did it; if the comic was indeed ambiguous, Martin's tweets would not change that. When a third user stated that the "comics [made] it clear" Solo did not destroy the temple, Martin disagreed that the story did that; he responded to the user's theory about Snoke or Palpatine as "one way to read it."
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Mentioned only)