Nobody likes tarnishing our heroes, but in this case, it needs to be done. Few screen figures stoke the imagination the way Star Wars' Luke Skywalker does. After all, he is absolutely everything we all want to be. To start off, he kicks major butt. Whether piloting an X-Wing Fighter, firing a blaster at Stormtroopers, or wielding his lightsaber like a sensei, his Zen-like power represents an ideal warrior. But why stop there? Luke’s also a Jedi Master. He doesn’t only know martial arts, sharpshooting skills and futuristic fencing – he uses magic.
The genius of George Lucas’ leading Star Wars character was in weaving warlock, samurai, and sci-fi champion all into one. And most importantly, he’s a good guy. One of the best ever, in fact; someone we can all look up to.
Sadly, however, our image of him as infallible mystical savior isn’t exactly accurate. In fact, Luke Skywalker has a lot of major flaws. Sure, you can say he saved the galaxy from the evil Empire. But he also gets a pass for a lot of shady things he’s done – stuff we all know about, but conveniently ignore or forget. Ready to tear down your favorite mythology?
Here are 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Luke Skywalker.
15 He’s Not Really a Righteous Pacifist
This should be pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at all. The veneer of righteousness around Luke starts right away in A New Hope. He hates the Empire and wants to fight it off.
Ready to lay it all on the line in the name of truth, justice, and galactic peace, the whole order of the Jedi is like an amalgam of priests, police, and politicians. This might seem like an ideal, but there’s an awful lot of bloodshed involved.
While Luke might eventually lay down his arms when battling Darth Vader in the epic Return of the Jedi finale, he’s also helped to blow up not one, but two Death Stars, with the blood of hundreds of thousands if not millions on his hands. Hell, he even smiles as he gets a medal for it!
Yes, we all know war is hell, but if Skywalker really was on some kind of higher spiritual plane, he wouldn’t be into celebrating all the death he’s caused, would he?
14 How Old He Was When He Started Training to Be a Jedi
At the risk of offending the 1% of Star Wars fans who are really into The Phantom Menace, let us just say that our problems with this entry begins with this poorly-considered prequel. It was none other than Obi-Wan Kenobi who stated in the film that the very young Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader) was too old for Jedi training. And he was like 8 years old. Then, in The Empire Strikes Back, we learn that Yoda is reluctant to train him because he’s “too old.” So how old was Luke really in A New Hope when Old Ben started him down the path?
For many moviegoers, he seemed to be about 16 years old or so. Let’s face it – "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!" sounds exactly like a whiney teenager. Officially, the canon says he was 19. But none of that lines up with Jedi tradition, so we'll need to see his pilot’s license for an accurate birthday check.
13 He’s Not Kind and Respectful to Wildlife
Remember those cute Ewoks from Return of the Jedi? Princess Leia made friends with one sharing a galactic version of a power bar. And these cuddly savages thought that C-3PO was their god! They also tied up Luke Skywalker and were ready to serve him up for dinner!
Now, Luke could have used his Jedi powers to get into some peaceful exchange with these impressionable teddy bears, but instead, he chose to trick them into believing the C-3PO myth by making him fly around. Yes, they’re intelligent and graceful enough to build mega treehouses and stomp armored imperial Walkers, but Luke won’t give them that respect.
Let’s not forget that back in Beggar’s Canyon, he used to brag about bulls-eyeing Womp Rats in his T-16. And did he use the force to just get the Wampa to back off in the Hoth ice cave? No. He reached for his lightsaber and cut the poor creature’s arm off. Somebody call PETA on this guy already!
12 His Aunt and Uncle's fates are his fault
“You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done!” Boy, oh boy, did Uncle Owen come to regret those words.
In A New Hope, Luke most often expresses frustration and resentment with his beloved Aunt Beru and her hard-ass hubby. Despite the fact that the couple raised Mr. Skywalker since his evil dad and fugitive mom gave them up for adoption, he just feels trapped on that Tattooine moisture farm. First he wants to go to the academy, then he wants to become a Jedi. His only roadblock: his legal guardians. Now we all know that the Force works in mysterious ways, and responds to the adepts who can control it. You know, people like Luke Skywalker. Funny how just when he’s ready to take that next step, the Empire is kind enough to clear the path for him with a little murder. Coincidence? Or maybe just a really sneaky Jedi Mind Trick?
11 He tried to stop evil but created Kylo Ren
Remember that guy who blew up the Death Star and defeated the Emperor while sparing with Darth Vader? That blond hero who saved the galaxy from evil? It turns out he didn’t quite finish the job.
In 2017’s The Last Jedi, we get some additional information about what turned Luke Skywalker’s nephew Ben Solo into the icky, evil emo kid Kylo Ren. It looks his Uncle Luke played his own part.
Ren’s mother, Princess Leia Organa, shipped him off to her brother’s Jedi training academy, but Skywalker is so spooked by the kid’s infatuation with his grandpappy Vader, and the growing influence of the Snoke, that he actually contemplates killing his own sister’s kid.
That moment traumatizes the already corrupted Ben - sending him into a fury of betrayal and vengeance that completes his transformation into Kylo Ren.
10 He’s Neither Humble nor Enlightened
The ideal image of any Jedi Master is one of a noble warrior doing the right thing. These are people who can meditate themselves into floating stuff into the air. They are so deep and connected to the Force, they don’t even worry about losing their lives.
Being in touch with the higher power of the Star Wars universe means we basically have a cinematic version of the Dalai Lama with a lightsaber. Then there’s Luke.
He’s the guy with the overconfident swagger to glibly confront Jabba the Hut in his own palace. Later, he goes on to put everybody he cares about at risk just so he can have a therapy session with his dad. Then he takes it upon himself to single-handedly retrain an entire galaxy’s worth of Jedi. And when he can’t handle it? He splits the whole scene and goes into hiding, the peaceful order of the universe be damned.
9 For a Jedi Master, He’s Not All That
While we’re on the subject of trashing Luke Skywalker’s entire credibility, was he ever really that impressive of a Jedi Master? As we’ve already mentioned, he failed to properly train a replacement generation of his own holy order.
While Kylo Ren grew in power and influence, Luke apparently went on an extended fishing trip on an isolated craggy island. When Rey tracks him down and begs for some proper training, Luke is reluctant – the exact opposite of how Obi-Wan Kenobi welcomed his younger self into the ways of the Jedi.
Should we be surprised? After all, that crotchety old geezer Yoda was less than welcoming when Luke first approached him Dagobah. Come to think of it, he too went into self-exile to hide from his responsibilities. Are there any reliable Jedi anywhere in this story?
8 Family Loyalty Is Not His Strong Suit
We’ve already pointed out that Luke pretty much subconsciously had his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen blown away by imperial Stormtroopers. Even though he eventually spares his father, he sure wanted to kill the old man for more than a minute there.
Then there were all those years where he was doing his whole Jedi training thing. It’s pretty evident he wasn’t doing a good job of staying in touch with his only sister. When he’s finally recruited to be a babysitter for Ben Solo, he gets so pissed at the kid, well - we all know how that turned out.
Not convinced yet? Then where was he when Leia was forced out of retirement to once again lead a new resistance? Oh, yeah, Mr. Jedi Master was chilling out in his personal retirement village. This is one brother/uncle/son who we can uninvite from Thanksgiving dinner.
7 He’s Not the Best Friend a Person Can Have
Why stop at family? It’s not exactly like Luke is an awesome friend to have. Just look at how he keeps putting all his pals in danger. First, he lets Ben Kenobi get sliced in half on the Death Star. Not his fault? Ask Beru and Owen.
Yeah, he risks it all in The Empire Strikes Back to save the gang in Cloud City, but when it’s time in Return of the Jedi to rescue Han from his carbonite coffin, he pretty much risks R2-D2 and C-3PO's well-being by handing them over to Jabba. Later in the same film, he even says he’s putting everyone in danger by joining the Endor mission.
Fast forward to The Force Awakens, where everything is going wrong, and where is he? We know he’s not by Han Solo’s side in his darkest hour. This is not a guy you want to count on as a pal.
6 R2-D2's the real power, not Luke
There are so many ways that the Star Wars universe has influenced our culture, it’s hard to count them all. One commonly used phrase that demonstraste this is “The Jedi Mind Trick”, which you can hear referenced on TV shows, by sportscasters, and even by politicians.
Obi-Wan uses it first to get past Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley. Later, Luke uses it to gain entrance into Jabba’s desert palace. So you figure he couldn’t fall for this sham, right? Except that in The Last Jedi, we find that none other than R2-D2 is able to talk him out of retirement and train Rey in the arts of his ancient order.
Is it us or did that happen just a little too easily? It’s not like Skywalker let anybody else change his mind on being a teacher. It may be time to go back and watch all the movies, R2-D2 might be the one behind all the action after all.
5 His Ethics Are Far from Clear
What does Luke Skywalker really stand for? For that matter, what is the whole order of the Jedi supposed to be about? In the Old Republic, we know they were credited with maintaining galactic peace for about 1,000 years. In The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, we also see that they are deeply involved with politics and run black ops teams to undermine the evil efforts of various bad guys.
Can we really take all this good guy stuff seriously?
We’ve already see Luke ready to sacrifice the galaxy to help his friends one day, and then sacrifice his family for the galaxy the next. He started training a whole new bunch of galactic cops one day and withdrew from the universe the next. We are supposed to take it on faith that Luke will always do the right thing, but clearly, he's all over the place.
4 He's not a leader
Ever notice that even in the most desperate days of the Rebel Alliance, Luke Skywalker never rose very high in the ranks? By the time we get to The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is already a captain while Luke – you know, the guy who blew up the Death Star – is still just a lieutenant.
Rather than being some kind of natural leader, Luke is always more of a piece on the chessboard being pushed around. In A New Hope we can see that even Obi-Wan is manipulating him into his “fate.” As mentioned before, it takes Rey and R2-D2 to get him off his butt and into dealing with Kylo Ren.
Even as he makes his final exit at the end of The Last Jedi, there’s this sense that Luke is sort of riding the tides of circumstance rather than setting the stage.
3 He Sucks at Strategy
The Last Jedi really ups the ante in the Star Wars universe as Kylo Ren has almost entirely wiped out the resistance, killed off favorite characters, and is going to make Emperor Palpatine look like Jar Jar Binks before he’s through.
What’s Luke Skywalker’s plan for dealing with this? Perform a “force projection” so strenuous that it kills him, leaving the galaxy without “a new hope” for beating back the forces of evil.
That’s only the latest in a string of bad strategy decisions from Luke. Rushing to deal with Darth Vader on Bespin before he was really ready was an awful idea, and he barely escaped that one with his life. He also almost blew the whole Endor moon mission just by being there as Vader felt his presence. If you’re going to play chess with this guy, make sure to bet a lot of money, you’ll probably win.
2 He’s Actually Pretty Selfish
Maybe it’s not Luke’s fault that he doesn’t live up to our expectations. Maybe we are just counting on him too much. After all, he’s only human - or whatever passes for people in a galaxy far, far away.
Whether it’s fair or not, fans have been looking to Mr. Skywalker for over 40 years now to protect us from evil at all costs, sacrificing his happiness, and even life, in the process. But is that what he’s really done?
From rejecting Uncle Owen’s request to keep working the farm to ignoring Yoda’s warning on Dagobah, and on up to taking himself out of the game entirely and becoming a solitary space monk, it’s funny how so much of what Luke does is all about Luke. Even when he’s saving us all in Return of the Jedi, it’s really all about talking things out with his dad.
1 He’s a Lot More Like His Dad Than He Lets On
Let’s take a look at just how much he really is like his father Anakin Skywalker, who would end up being Darth Vader. In the first trilogy of movies, we see a lot of similarities.
On the plus side, he too has a natural aptitude for being “Force aware.” He’s also an ace pilot – as good or even better than Luke in his X-Wing Fighter. They both gravitate toward Obi-Wan, yet aren’t as sure about Yoda. Luke shows he’s got some anger management issues as well - even though he mostly beat them.
By the time we get to The Empire Strikes Back, Luke even loses a hand and starts down the road to being a cyborg just like dad!
Perhaps the most disturbing similarity is how both father and son were able to lose their faith. Yes, for Vader it was much worse because he chose to give in to the Dark Side, while Luke simply exiled himself rather than reckon with his flaws.
What are some common things fans get wrong about Star Wars' Luke Skywalker? Let us know in the comments!