- "Did he tell you what happened? The night I destroyed his temple, did he tell you why?"
- ―Kylo Ren, to Rey
The destruction of the Jedi Temple by Ben Solo occurred in 28 ABY during the reign of the New Republic. The Jedi Temple of Luke Skywalker had been established by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to train Solo, who was his sister's son, and other Padawans in a new generation of Jedi. Solo's mother, Leia Organa, had hoped that her brother could train her Force-sensitive son in the ways of the Force and help him resist the dark presence she could feel attempting to influence him. Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order had been seducing Solo from afar since the boy's childhood as an unknowing tool of revenge for Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Solo had kept secret both his contact with Snoke and his fascination with the dark side, but Skywalker glimpsed enough to grow concerned and decided to confront his nephew. One night, Skywalker entered Solo's room and looked into the sleeping Solo's mind. Seeing and fearing the strength of the darkness there, Skywalker instinctively ignited his lightsaber before quickly realizing his error, but it was too late: Solo awakened and believed his uncle was about to murder him. Solo lashed out with the Force to telekinetically collapse his hut and trapped Skywalker under the debris. Standing outside the temple full of fear and anger, Solo gave in to the dark side's power and created a lightning storm that razed the structure, killing all of the students who were present. Solo fled and was pursued by the three surviving Padawans—Tai, Voe, and Hennix—who all died attempting to bring Solo to justice. He completed his turn to the dark side and became Kylo Ren, master of the Knights of Ren, and joined the First Order under the tutelage of Snoke.
Skywalker abandoned his hope of rebuilding the Jedi Order and went into exile on Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi Order, until 34 ABY when the Force prodigy Rey sought his aid in the war against the First Order. When Skywalker joined the conflict, he distracted his nephew with a confrontation to allow Organa and her Resistance movement to escape, but the effort ended his life.
Restoring the Jedi Order
- "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. His Jedi Master, Yoda, had died after securing his promise to pass on what he had learned. His twin sister, Senator Leia Organa of the New Republic, was his initial student until a vision led her to choose another path. With help from allies such as 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. Skywalker had great hope for the future of the Jedi, believing that if a single Jedi could help bring back balance to the Force, then a restored Jedi Order could maintain that peace and prevent the dark side of the Force from regaining its hold on the galaxy.
In 5 ABY, Organa and her husband, General Han Solo, welcomed their son and named him Ben Solo. Organa sensed the capacity for both light and darkness within Ben. After several years, she could feel the influence of Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the shadowy First Order that had arisen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire. In truth, the secretly resurrected Darth Sidious was manipulating and engineering Luke Skywalker's eventual failures; the Dark Lord of the Sith had created Snoke as a tool for his revenge. Sidious's Sith apprentice had been Organa and Skywalker's father, Anakin Skywalker, who had ultimately rejected his dark side persona as Darth Vader by killing Sidious, saving his son's life at the cost of his own. Hoping to protect Ben Solo from Snoke, Organa asked her brother to train the boy as a Jedi. Solo welcomed the training with his uncle, but he was unaware that his family was concealing the truth about his grandfather.
With his nephew and a handful of other disciples, Skywalker established a Jedi temple to train his students in the ways of the Jedi. Throughout Solo's training, Skywalker sensed the growing darkness within his nephew, but he believed that he could contain it and keep Solo on the path of the light. Unbeknownst to Skywalker, mysterious voices were grooming Solo towards the dark side. He hated the pressure of living up to his namesake, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, along with his family's legacy, and he grew fascinated by the dark side as Snoke spoke into his mind. As his own power increased, Solo believed that Skywalker sensed and feared it, and the boy grew into a man who resented his uncle despite respecting the Jedi Master's power.
A terrible misunderstanding
- "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
One night, in 28 ABY, Skywalker went to Solo's hut to confront his nephew's growing darkness. Skywalker found Solo asleep and used the Force to look into Solo's mind; he saw even greater darkness than he had feared, and that Snoke's machinations had already turned his nephew's heart. In a vision, he saw that Solo would wield a crackling red lightsaber as he brought death and destruction to everything Skywalker loved. Reacting to what he saw, Skywalker instinctively ignited his lightsaber with the momentary thought of preventing the future by killing Solo, and the thought passed quickly into shame. However, Solo awakened to his uncle standing over him with an ignited blade; knowing what Skywalker had seen in his mind, he believed his uncle had come into his room to murder him in his sleep. Solo ignited his own lightsaber and attempted to kill Skywalker first. As they locked blades, Solo used the Force to bring the roof of his room collapsing down upon Skywalker.
Night of fire
- "Why? Why? Why did you do it?"
- ―Ben Solo, regarding Luke Skywalker
To Solo, his uncle had betrayed him and proved his worst fears about his family were true; Skywalker had reacted to his nephew's darkness with a momentary thought of killing him. With Skywalker trapped under the rubble and believed dead, Solo exited the ruins of his room and faced Skywalker's temple. The sky was cloudless as he began raging in confusion over why his uncle had seemingly attacked him. He pointed his ignited lightsaber towards the temple and screamed for answers. As he lashed out against Skywalker and his uncle's temple, he was led by his fear and anger. He surrendered to the power of the dark side and created a storm; his pupils constricted in his red-clouded eyes, then red storm clouds formed above the temple. He questioned their sudden appearance just before the clouds erupted with lightning. The storm he had created set fire to the dwellings and razed the temple, killing most of his fellow students.
The temple's initial explosion knocked Solo off his feet and he rose to see the scattered bodies of dead students. Although he protested and attempted to run into the burning temple, he was again knocked down by another explosion. He watched the temple burn and said he had not wanted it. The disembodied voice that often communicated with Solo claimed that Skywalker and the Jedi had chosen it, not Solo himself.
Discovering the destruction
- "Ben, please. The story you're telling us... it can't possibly be true. There must be more to what happened. The temple, Master Luke, the other students... just talk to us. It can't be as bad as what you're saying."
"I already told you what happened here. This place was a lie. Now it's over. I'm leaving. You all should too."
- ―Tai and Ben Solo
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 could not 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. He called the temple a lie that was now over. Tai was unable to defuse the situation, and Hennix and Voe drew their lightsabers to stop Solo from leaving. As the three Jedi failed to take down Solo, he used the Force to strike them with debris, and stopped after he impaled Hennix. While Tai and Voe attended to Hennix's wound, Solo fled aboard his personal starship 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 continue tracking Solo to get answers about the destruction. Hennix was bewildered, Tai did not 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.
Awakening in the ruins
- "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, about Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo
After Solo and his pursuers had departed from the site, Skywalker regained consciousness to see the temple burning and most of his students' corpses littered the grounds. His intention of intervening in Solo's growing darkness had instead resulted in Solo destroying his temple, killing his students, and turning to the dark side. With some of his students missing from the ruins, Skywalker mistakenly believed that Solo had slaughtered those who would not turn to the dark side as Solo had, and that the missing students had agreed to join Solo. 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.
Ben Solo's journey to the dark side
- "Wait... aren't you one of Skywalker's students? At that temple he built?"
"Not anymore. And the temple's gone. Burned. I destroyed it. That's why the other students came after me. To kill me."
- ―"Ren" and Ben Solo
After the destruction of the temple and deaths of the other students, Solo felt he was misunderstood and being pushed away. He fled 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. Afterward, Tai asked what had happened to Hennix, but Solo said it did not matter. He collapsed the outpost's entrance to stop Voe and Tai from following him, then he left to meet the Knights of Ren.
Solo told the Knights of Ren that he wanted to join them. In describing the events leading to Hennix's death, he said he had burned and destroyed Skywalker's temple. Although they were unimpressed with the story, Ren said Solo was strong in the "shadow" and Snoke had vouched for him.
Solo still failed to impress on the Minemoon of Mimban, where Voe and Tai caught up to him again. Tai entreated Solo to change his dark path, but before Solo could make a decision, Ren killed Tai. Solo gave in to the dark side of the Force to duel Ren; his fall was sensed by Snoke, Darth Sidious, his mother, and Rey. Lightning from above surrounded Solo and struck Ren as Solo impaled him with Tai's lightsaber, killing Ren and throwing back the Knights and Voe. Solo then killed Voe with the Ren lightsaber. The Knights accepted Solo as the new Master of the Knights of Ren. With Voe's murder and Solo's turn, the destruction of Skywalker's Jedi Order seemed complete. On the Night Buzzard, the ship used by the Knights of Ren, the former Jedi bled his kyber crystal and took on the name Kylo Ren.
Rising within the First Order
- "Forgive me. I feel it again. The pull to the light. The Supreme Leader senses it. Show me again the power of the darkness, and I'll let nothing stand in our way. Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started."
- ―Kylo Ren, to the remnants of Darth Vader's helmet
Kylo Ren joined the First Order under the tutelage of Supreme Leader Snoke. Ren's betrayal and destruction of Skywalker's Jedi students earned him the moniker of "Jedi Killer" amongst the First Order's ranks, although it was many years until the wider galaxy learned about what happened to the temple. Solo had wiped out the fledgling Jedi Order, leaving only Skywalker, but Snoke believed that Skywalker also had to be destroyed to prevent the rise of new Jedi.
Ren idolized Darth Vader, the dark side incarnation of his grandfather. He felt tormented by the continued lure of the light that could lead him away from his grandfather's legacy. In 34 ABY, Han Solo came to Starkiller Base and asked his son to come home, but Ren murdered his father in an attempt to end his inner conflict. Soon afterward, he killed Snoke and usurped the position of Supreme Leader of the First Order.
- "Leia could see the darkness taking hold of her son and entrusted me with helping Ben find balance. Yet as the darkness continued to grow in the boy, I wasn't strong enough to keep it from taking hold. My mistakes pushed Ben further from the light—and he dragged the galaxy into the darkness with him."
- ―Luke Skywalker, The Secrets of the Jedi
Skywalker felt that he had failed to restore the Jedi Order and protect his students, especially his own nephew, from the dark legacy of their family, and imagining what his other students had experienced was too painful for him. He blamed himself instead of Snoke for Solo's fall to the dark side, along with the resulting breakdown of his sister's family, and believed himself ultimately responsible for Kylo Ren turning the galaxy towards darkness. The Jedi Master 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. He intended to end 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.
Rebirth of the rebellion
- "That pathetic dream was shattered when Skywalker's prize pupil—his nephew, Ben Solo—turned against the Order's teachings and cut down his fellow students. Skywalker wallowed in self-pity, fleeing into seclusion and abandoning the ways of the Force. [...] How fitting, then, that Skywalker would ultimately give his own life in battle against the child whose soul he failed to save—Ben Solo, the boy who had become Kylo Ren."
- ―Darth Sidious, The Secrets of the Sith
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. Meanwhile, the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey strengthened.
When Skywalker first told Rey about Solo's fall, he omitted key details. Ren asked if Skywalker had told her why he had destroyed his uncle's temple, then provided his own point of view; Rey subsequently confronted Skywalker to learn the truth. When she left the planet, she believed she could turn Ren back to the light, and he thought she would embrace the dark side. The spectral intervention of Yoda shook Skywalker from his guilt and he put his faith in Rey as the future of the Jedi. During the Battle of Crait, he projected his appearance into the conflict to distract Ren with a personal confrontation, allowing the Resistance to escape from certain destruction. The effort Skywalker expended proved fatal and he passed away into the Force on Ahch-To; however, his actions helped the legend of Skywalker and the hope of the Jedi and the Resistance to spread across the galaxy.
During that time, Darth Sidious had continued his secret machinations on the Sith planet Exegol. At some point, he recorded The Secrets of the Sith, a book that compiled his knowledge of the Sith and his own history. He described using Snoke as his proxy to turn Ben Solo against his family, the Jedi Order, and the light. According to Sidious, despite Solo cutting down the other Jedi students and contributing to Skywalker's sacrifice, the destruction of the Jedi would not be complete until he killed Rey. Solo ultimately returned to the light, and he helped Rey defeat Sidious before he joined the Force by giving his life to restore hers.
Behind the scenes
Origin and development
- "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
The destruction of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Temple was first referenced in the 2015 sequel trilogy 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 and its aftermath were featured in the 2017 sequel trilogy 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 prelude and aftermath of the event, 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 The Force Awakens. Soule chose to omit dialogue in some panels to put the focus on Sliney's art and Solo's internal struggle.
Prior to the first depiction of the event in The Rise of Kylo Ren 1, Ben Solo was 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. Some of those sources also specified that Solo burned the temple; the aftermath of the temple in flames appeared in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, along with related adaptations of the films. Released on December 18, 2019, The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 depicted a lightning strike from red storm clouds sparking the fire. The 2021 book Skywalker: A Family at War by Kristin Baver, a biography of the Skywalker family, does not describe the actual moment of destruction, instead presenting the prelude and the aftermath without directly identifying Solo as the cause. The book introduces an alternative narrative in-universe that meteorological reports afterward gave support to an interpretation of events attributing the fire to a "freak dry-lightning storm." Other materials published after The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 state that Solo was responsible for the destruction without mentioning the storm itself, while the Star Wars Encyclopedia booklet "Kylo Ren and Other Dark Side Followers" specifies that Solo created a thunderstorm that set fire to the temple and caused most of the students' deaths, as depicted in The Rise of Kylo Ren 1.
Prior to Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, sources did not mention that any of Skywalker's students survived the destruction. Princess Leia: Royal Rebel stated Leia's son "killed all the apprentices" before taking the name Kylo Ren. Skywalker said in The Last Jedi that a "handful of [his] students" left with Ren after he "slaughtered the rest." The Secrets of the Jedi added that Ren had "slaughtered any students who refused to follow him to the dark side." The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 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. The "Dark Side Servants" feature in Star Wars Helmet Collection 51 also said that he led the Knights of Ren to do so, and included a screenshot from Rey's vision in The Force Awakens of Ren and his Knights in the rain. However, The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 did not 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. Despite this, The Secrets of the Sith likewise stated that Ben Solo "cut down his fellow students."
Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group has responded several times to questions on Twitter about this event. According to Martin, statements in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary that Ben Solo set fire to and destroyed Skywalker's temple did not contradict The Rise of Kylo Ren 1 as some readers believed. Martin noted that the series had not yet concluded at the time, but he did not know where people's misinterpretation of the comic came from. He compared Solo's reaction afterward to Anakin Skywalker's reaction after the death of Mace Windu in the 2005 prequel trilogy film, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
Martin's personal take is that Rey's awakening to the Force occurred in response to "Ben's destruction of the temple and Jedi." He said if there was any ambiguity about the event, he could not change that through a tweet, but that "the movie" said Solo destroyed the temple. Martin disagreed with a claim that the "comics [made] it clear that Ben did not destroy the temple," and responded to the user's theory about Snoke or Palpatine as "one way to read it." Regarding whether someone else destroyed the temple or Solo unconsciously did so in his rage, Martin replied, "The latter is more my read on it."
Martin has said that he would "really rather not completely explain things like this" and suggested asking the writer. When Soule was asked if there was "any chance" he would answer a question about the lightning strike shown in The Rise of Kylo Ren, he provided a literal response that there was a chance.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (In flashback(s))
Notes and references