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Luke Skywalker is one of the greatest characters in the history of pop culture.

Throughout the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke was the character we saw ourselves in. He lived a boring life and dreamed of something more. We can all relate to that. Who wouldn’t want to be swept away from the ordinary, embarking on a galactic adventure wielding a lightsaber?

He faced many physical and emotional challenges, evolving into a complex hero.

After his journey to becoming a Jedi Knight concluded in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, an entire Expanded Universe developed around him to continue his story. He led a new generation of Jedi in their fight against evil, triumphing over one foe after another.

The Luke we met in Star Wars: The Force Awakens took an unexpected path, exiling himself to a remote island. Now Star Wars: The Last Jedi is gearing up to show us what caused Luke Skywalker to run away after everything went wrong.

The Farm Boy

Luke was born at the end of the Clone Wars to Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. After Anakin became Darth Vader and Padmé died in labor, Obi-Wan Kenobi brought Luke to live with the boy’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on Tatooine.

Luke dreamed of a life more exciting than that of a farm boy. Like his father before him, he was a gifted pilot. Adventure was in his blood. But Owen was a protective man and didn’t want Luke to make Anakin’s mistakes. So he kept Obi-Wan at a distance as much as possible. Owen thought Obi-Wan was dangerous; if Obi-Wan couldn’t protect Anakin, how could he protect Luke?

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becoming a jedi

finding the force

the return of the jedi

lost and found again

Luke left everything behind and went in search of the forgotten world of Ahch-To, home of the first Jedi temple. He found it and lived on an island, alone and cut off from the rest of the galaxy. He lived in fear of his past. The brave Jedi Master was reduced to someone who thought the galaxy was better off without him.

Everything we know about The Last Jedi suggests that Luke thought this was the right way to deal with his problems. In the movie’s teaser trailer, he says, “I only know one truth: it’s time for the Jedi to end.”

But why?

The history of the galaxy that Luke learned is filled with wars between the Jedi and the dark side. It was an endless cycle of destruction and renewal. Is it fair to say the Jedi were part of the problem? Luke certainly seems to think so; he hides himself away on a remote island so the galaxy could sort out its issues without the Jedi.

Luke knows “one” truth, but maybe believing that is just easier than dealing with the hard truth that life doesn’t always go the way it’s planned.

a new hope

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Luke may have disappeared, but he left behind a legacy for a galaxy that thinks of him pretty much the way we thought of him. There are stories about a great Jedi who helped bring down the Empire. Even Rey, growing up on a backwater planet like Jakku, heard tales of his adventures. In that way, she’s like the audience that wasn’t around to see the original movies in theaters. She’s heard the stories about Luke her whole life, but she wasn’t there when they happened. She knows only the myth.

Rey will be just as surprised as we are to have found a scared hermit instead of a Jedi Master.

Luke’s journey from proud Jedi Knight to “it’s time for the Jedi to end” is one of the most pivotal narrative arcs in Star Wars. He’s nothing if not a character who defies expectations. But as versatile as Luke might be, it seems obvious now that he could never save the galaxy on his own. He needs new heroes to help him remember how to hope again.

Enter Rey.

Rey is on a journey of her own making. Just like Luke before her, Rey wants to know everything about her past. In The Last Jedi, that journey will intersect with Luke’s and she may be the key to liberate him from his self-imposed exile.

Rey is nothing if not optimistic, and Star Wars is an ever-hopeful franchise that shows us new heroes going on even greater journeys than the Jedi who came before them. Return of the Jeditold us that Luke was the truest Jedi who had ever lived, but maybe his destiny is to help Rey become an even greater Jedi.

We can only hope that Luke isn’t the last Jedi after all.