- "You can't stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting."
- ―Shmi Skywalker, to her son Anakin Skywalker
Shmi Skywalker Lars, as the oldest known Skywalker ancestor, was the Human mother of the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, as well as step-mother to Owen Lars and the paternal grandmother of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa Solo. This made her the great-grandmother of Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo, the latter who was named for her son, as well as Ben Skywalker. This also made her the great-great-grandmother of Allana Solo. She was also an ancestor of Nat Skywalker, Kol Skywalker, Cade Skywalker, and Ania Solo.
Born on an unknown world, Shmi was sold into slavery at an early age. In 41 BBY, she gave birth to a son she named Anakin, who also served as a slave. She cared for her son greatly, and was willing to do anything to help him. After Anakin left to become a Jedi in 32 BBY, she was sold to Cliegg Lars, who freed her and married her. Just before the Clone Wars, Shmi died in her son's arms after being brutally tortured by a band of Tusken Raiders.
- "The Republic doesn't exist out here. We must survive on our own."
- ―Shmi, to Padmé Amidala
Shmi had a difficult childhood, taken from one system to another by several masters while serving as a house servant. Upon reaching adulthood, she was dropped from house servant status and forced into cleaning work. While some of these masters were cruel, others were kind—notably Pi-Lippa, who taught Shmi valuable technical skills.Though Pi-Lippa had planned to free Shmi, she'd died before she could, and Shmi instead became the property of one of Pi-Lippa's relatives, who did not want to free her.
Around this time Shmi discovered that she was pregnant and gave birth to a son she named Anakin. Shmi would say that her son was conceived without a father, but she could not explain how it happened. Nevertheless, she gladly accepted his birth and raised him. Three years later, Shmi and her son came into the ownership of the Hutt crime lord Gardulla the Elder on Tatooine. Gardulla was a cruel master and had little regard for the safety of Shmi and her son, as evident when she allowed young Skywalker to participate in the Boonta Eve Classic, believing Anakin to be incapable of winning.
A few months after her arrival to Mos Espa Gardulla lost ownership of the two in a bet, Shmi and Anakin became the property of the junk dealer Watto. However, like Gardulla, Watto was often found to be quite harsh, seldom showing his softer side to the two. Under Watto's care, they were afforded simple luxuries and were allowed to have very few personal possessions. When not performing tasks given to her by Watto, Shmi spent most of her time worrying about her adventurous son. Whether it was to recover parts for Watto or going out of his way to help someone in need, Anakin often managed to get himself into trouble. Shmi did little to discourage his tendency, though she began to fear that she was going to lose him someday. The two were very close, and despite not having enough money, Anakin showered Shmi with simple gifts to show his affection. At other times, he built inventions to sell or use to lighten her workload. One such invention was a protocol droid Anakin had found and managed to scrape together using old parts he gathered from Watto's junkyard.
Shmi became aware of Anakin's gifts and hid as much as she could from Watto, though she could not hide Anakin's natural piloting abilities. After discovering this almost by accident, Watto let the boy continue his piloting, believing he could gain potential profit from the venture. Anakin proved to be an excellent pilot despite the fact that he had never been able to finish a race. To her relief, Anakin managed to come out unharmed, save for a few bruises, though she hated watching him drive in what she referred to as "those awful races". Though she never said so, Anakin thought that his mother believed that simply by being there she could keep him from coming to harm. She secretly wished for Anakin to have a better life as his gifts made her realize that he wasn't meant to be a slave.
A mother's sacrifice
- "Son, my place is here. My future is here. It is time for you to let go…to let go of me. I cannot go with you."
- ―Shmi, to Anakin
One day after returning to the hovel that she and her son shared, Shmi met the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and his companions from Naboo: Padmé Amidala, Jar Jar Binks and their astromech droid R2-D2. Shmi offered the group her hospitality and place to stay during a raging sandstorm that enveloped Mos Espa. Like Anakin, Shmi initially believed that these strangers arrived on Tatooine to free slaves. This proved not to be the case when they recounted to Anakin their plight of how they ended up being stranded on Tatooine on a diplomatic mission to Coruscant. Anakin offered to help his newfound friends repair their ship, forming a plan that included Qui-Gon sponsoring him in the upcoming Boonta Eve Classic. Shmi, however, disagreed. It was only when Anakin recalled her words on helping others that Shmi allowed Anakin to help the strangers, claiming that he was meant to help them.
As she watched Anakin build his podracer, Shmi revealed to Qui-Gon Anakin's miraculous birth. When Qui-Gon remarked that his presence in the Force was unusually strong, Shmi hopefully asked if he was able to help Anakin. Instead of getting the answer she had hoped for, the Jedi Master replied that he had not intended on freeing slaves.
The next day, Shmi accompanied the group to the Boonta Eve Classic, where she tensely watched the race from afar. Unbeknownst to her, before the start of the race, Qui-Gon made a bet with Watto for the freedom of Shmi and Anakin. Watto, however, wouldn't have it, claiming that no podracer was worth two slaves. Because of his interest in the boy, Qui-Gon opted to free Anakin, using his powers to tamper with the chance cube Watto had brought out to decide which of the two would be freed. To her surprise and theirs, Anakin won the race, and likewise, his freedom. Shmi joined Anakin in the crowd of admirers, and the two shared a brief mother-and-son moment with Shmi telling Anakin how proud she was of him.
After securing Anakin's earnings from the race, Qui-Gon informed Shmi of Anakin's freedom and of his intention to train the boy as a Jedi. He was, however, unable to secure her freedom. It was then that Shmi had to make the most difficult decision in her life: letting go of her son. Comforted by Qui-Gon, she watched as Anakin prepared himself to leave, the latter stopping a few times to express his doubts about leaving home. She advised him to let go, claiming that her place and future was on Tatooine. This prompted Anakin to leave with the Jedi Master, but not before promising that he would return and free her.
- "It is you I feel closest to ... The Magister's peoples made me their servant, and you were a slave. I did what they told me to do. You did what your owner told you to do. So like me! I tried to be like others, but I am not like them. My mind is made up of so many parts, spread out over so much of my world. And your mind is so different from the others. I have no real parents, and your parents—"
- ―Sekot, the intelligent essence of the planet Zonama Sekot, likens 12-year-old Anakin Skywalker's prodigious mind, his experience as a slave and his unique parentage to its own.
While her son trained with the Jedi, Shmi remained in the service of Watto. Watto had since then toned down his gruff demeanor, treating Shmi with more respect than he previously had, and on occasion, foraging for the both of them during hard times.
In 30 BBY, Shmi came across the Devaronian Villie while Watto wiled him into buying faulty pit droids to compensate for the debt owned to him by the Toydarian. Villie fell for Watto's ruse and took possession of the droids. As ordered by her master, Shmi gathered the droids and brought them to Villie's ship, Inferno, choosing not to inform the Devaronian of Watto's deceit.
Eventually, Watto's business began to decline due to his excessive betting on podraces, further discrediting his reputation as a successful junk dealer. His losses were so bad that he was forced to sell Shmi to Cliegg Lars, a moisture farmer who had fallen in love with her. Watto made several excuses and created a number of delays in the transaction, torn between the loss of his only slave and his hope that she would be happy with Lars. With her help, Cliegg and his son Owen tricked Watto into selling Shmi in exchange for a Tobal lens. Watto later admitted to deactivating her slave transmitter shortly after Anakin's departure for a fear that Shmi would wander aimlessly off in her sorrow and blow herself up. When Cliegg asked for her hand in marriage, Shmi agreed. She found that she had fallen in love with Cliegg, as well as Owen, and wanted to be a part of their lives.
In attendance where Owen, Cliegg and Owen's friends, and Anakin's friends Kitster Chanchani Banai, W. Wald, and Amee. Watto surprised them all by showing up uninvited. He then offered Cliegg a discount on used parts and told Shmi times grew hard on the moisture farm and Wald wasn't doing such a good job as his assistant.
They lived a quiet existence on the Lars Homestead as moisture farmers, forming a strong bond of a loving family.
Shmi often told her new family how much she missed her son Anakin, telling them stories of his misadventures. Despite finding a place amongst the Lars family, Shmi still longed to see her son. Every night, she held a vigil for Anakin, hoping that he would return from the stars.
During her years with the Lars family, she kept a journal where she recorded events almost every day. This journal would eventually come into the possession of her granddaughter Leia Organa Solo many years later. From reading the diary, Leia gained a faint sense of what her father was like before becoming Darth Vader and learned to forgive him.
Reunited with Anakin and death
- "I'm so proud of you, Ani… so proud… I missed you so much… now I am complete…"
- ―Shmi Skywalker
Just a month before the onset of the Clone Wars, Tusken Raiders began attacking outlying moisture farms. One morning, Shmi went out to pick vaporator mushrooms from the moisture vaporators, but was captured by a group of Tuskens on her way home. Cliegg assembled a search team in an attempt to locate her, but ended up losing 26 out of the 30 that were sent out and his right leg. After a month, he decided to give up the search, believing Shmi to be dead. In actuality, Shmi was still, just barely, alive—severely beaten and dehydrated, holding on to her memories of Anakin in an effort to stay alive. Shmi's resilience fascinated the Tusken Raiders, prompting them to try other methods of torturing; however, it only strengthened her resolve to live long enough to see her son. During her captivity, Shmi often reached out to Anakin, hoping that he would come and rescue her.
Through their strong bond with one another, Anakin was overcome with nightmares of his mother, in which he had sensed her pain and suffering. Unable to bear them any longer, Anakin traveled to Tatooine to find her, bringing Padmé Amidala and R2-D2 with him. Upon their arrival in Mos Espa, they were told by Watto that he had sold Shmi to Cliegg Lars, who had freed and married her. At the Lars homestead, he encountered his old droid, C-3PO, and the Lars family. A heartbroken Cliegg recounted to Anakin Shmi's capture and the settlers' attempt to rescue her. He tried to convince Skywalker that it was impossible for Shmi to have survived, but Anakin wouldn't have it. In his disbelief, Anakin set out to find her, leaving Padmé in the care of the Lars. Using his senses, Anakin managed to locate her inside a Tusken Raider encampment, bound to a rack at the side of a tent, and bearing scars from weeks of beatings. After Anakin untied her from her bindings, the two engaged in a short conversation with Anakin comforting her in a vain effort to keep her alive. With her final breaths, Shmi managed to whisper her love for him before quietly dying in his arms.
Anakin allowed the shock of her death to catalyze an explosion of his long-nursed anger and selfishness, and thus, the beginning of his path to the dark side of the Force. He flew into a rage, killing every Tusken Raider in the encampment—even, as he confessed to Padmé later, "not just the men.. but the women.. and the children too." After the massacre, he returned to the tent to wrap her body, and took her back to the Lars homestead, where a small funeral was held. In front of her grave, Anakin voiced his regret that he could not save her, and promised not to let anything of the sort happen again.
- "I wasn't strong enough to save you, Mom. I wasn't strong enough. But I promise I won't fail again. I miss you...so much."
- ―Anakin Skywalker, as he kneels before the tomb of his mother
In the decades following Shmi's death, she was remembered for starting the Skywalker family. Her old friend Sorna came to the Lars homestead every year to place flowers on her grave. Anakin saw his mother again in a Force vision around 21 BBY on Mortis. The vision was induced by the Son, one of the powerful Force-wielders controlling the planet, through which the current of the Force flowed. Anakin's vision of Shmi told him that he was not at fault for letting her die but that he had drawn the burden of guilt around himself. When Anakin revealed to Shmi that he was married to Amidala, whom Shmi had met in 32 BBY, Shmi told him that Anakin's wife did not represent his true destiny. His vision of Shmi then disappeared, but not before briefly taking the form of the Son.
In 19 BBY, Anakin's wife Padmé gave birth to Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa and died soon afterward, having lost the will to live, as a result of Anakin Skywalker, the man she loved, turning to the dark side of the Force. The twins were separated by the Jedi: Leia was adopted by the childless couple Bail Prestor Organa and his wife; Luke was adopted by Owen and Beru Lars.
In 8 ABY, Leia discovered a journal of Shmi's at the old Lars Homestead, now in the possession of the Darklighter family. By watching the journal, Leia learned about the Skywalker family before the Clone Wars and discovered how Shmi had died. Leia also learned compassion and forgiveness for her father.
A year after her journal was discovered, Leia gave birth to Han Solo's children, Jaina Solo and Jacen Solo. During the Emperor's return, Leia gave birth to her's and Han's third child, Anakin Solo, who would die during the Mission to Myrkr. In 27 ABY, Mara Jade Skywalker gave birth to her and Luke Skywalker's child, Ben Skywalker. Ten years later, Tenel Ka gave birth to Jacen Solo's child, Allana, making Allana Shmi's great-great-grandchild.
By the time of the Second Imperial Civil War, over a hundred years after the death of Shmi Skywalker, her legacy and the name of her family lived on through her last known descendants: Kol Skywalker, Nat Skywalker and his nephew, Cade Skywalker.
Personality and traits
- "I... I love—"
- ―Shmi's last words
Shmi was kind, peaceful, compassionate and polite, despite her years of slavery. She was selfless, willing to sacrifice anything for her son. She loved and cared for Anakin more than anything, and desperately wanted him to have a better life, knowing that there was something special about him. It was because of her love and sense that he had a special destiny that she allowed him to go to Coruscant to become a Jedi, knowing she would likely never see him again. She was befuddled by his birth however, as it seemed Anakin had "no father". She cared for Cliegg Lars, her husband, following Anakin's departure and his son, Owen Lars, despite the fact that he was not her true son. Years later, her husband additionally described her as loving, "the best partner a man could ask for".
Even though Watto had mistreated Shmi and her son for years, she still was able to see the good in him, and after Anakin left, comforted him. Watto in turn became a kinder master, giving Shmi small gifts. Shmi still treated him well, again showing her kind nature and willingness to forgive.
She earned a small income cleaning computer memory devices. Like her son, Shmi could fix almost anything. One of Shmi's former masters was Pi-Lippa, who taught Shmi various technical skills. These abilities increased Shmi's value as a slave, but unfortunate circumstances led her to becoming the property of Watto. She was always on the lookout for discarded tools in Mos Espa, and her dwelling was filled with mechanical and electronic devices like Anakin's. She did the best she could to raise her son, encouraging Anakin's interest in technology, and hoped their skills would one day liberate them from slavery.
Behind the scenes
The character was portrayed by Swedish actress Pernilla August in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. That Anakin Skywalker's mother would be named Shmi and that August would portray her were announced in 1998. The original trilogy was rereleased in theaters and VHS to commemorate the twenty year anniversary of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope the year before and Star Wars Trivial Pursuit was released to coincide with this. The limited edition game contained a sequestered pack of questions that served as a preview of the first new trilogy installment, two of which divulged those bits of information. One of the first drafts for her name was Shmi Warka.
In The Phantom Menace game adaptation, Shmi Skywalker is voiced by Carolyn Seymour. In the game, Qui-Gon Jinn, controlled by the player, can kill Shmi during the level Encounter in the Desert with no reason. However, as this strongly contradicts the existing storyline, it is non-canon.
- Dear Anakin (Mentioned only)
- "Nobody's Perfect"—Star Wars Tales 20 (Indirect mention only)
- Perfect Evil (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope (Vision to Luke Skywalker)
- Star Wars -Phantasmagoria- (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Jar Jar's Journey Adventure Book