Star Wars: The Force Awakens Theories: Who Is Rey?

The reveal of Rey's true identity in the Star Wars universe will be 'profoundly satisfying' so here are 8 theories for who she could really be.

Who Is Rey Skywalker? Star Wars Theories

NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars 7




Don't let the lack of Rey Star Wars toys fool you. That problem, one that drove Episode VII director J.J. Abrams crazy, is a misleading one because Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And according to Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow, she's also a key character for the entire Star Wars universe.

Rey's story in Episode VII only offers glimpses of her mysterious history, depicting her as a resourceful, tech-savvy scavenger, abandoned on an isolated planet seemingly to keep her protected. We learn quickly that she's so much more though, as she proves herself a warrior, a pilot, and a capable Jedi. But how she has these skills, why she's been left alone, and who she's related to remain questions to be explored in future movies. We do have some answers though, ones you may have missed.

But before we start speculating on Rey's identity and whether or not she is directly related to a previously established character in Star Wars canon, let’s first examine what we know for certain about the character and explore the extra details from supporting official Star Wars materials.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Rey Poster


Director J.J. Abrams knows the secret identity of Rey, and make no mistake, her lineage and backstory is secret. It's held back intentionally from audiences for a bigger reveal, something that must have to do with the larger story. Despite the cast and crew openly talking about spoilers for The Force Awakens at this point in time, Abrams won't offer any hints about Rey, explaining that he's not going to reveal any details for what Rian Johnson is planing for Episode VIII. But it could be a reveal saved for the conclusion of the new trilogy if these words from Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow are anything to go by:

“We’re going to make sure that that answer is deeply and profoundly satisfying. Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy. She deserves it. We’ll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was something that happened a long time ago, far away, and we’re just telling you what happened.”

Here are the basic observations of what we know for certain about Rey from Episode VII, and later we'll add in more evidence as we run through the theories:

  • Powerful Force user, more in tune with the Force than Kylo Ren who's an active trainee and practitioner of it.
  • A capable combatant with a staff, a lightsaber, a blaster, ground vehicles, and starships.
  • Can survive the harshest of environmental conditions.
  • Was abandoned on Jakku by her "parents." Its unclear if she knows and recognizes them or why they left her on the desert planet.
  • Can fly the Millenium Falcon to perfection, better than anyone else ever, without practice.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Han (Harrison Ford)

"Dear child. I see your eyes. You already know the truth. Whomever you're waiting for on Jakku, they're never coming back. But... there's someone who still could."

– Maz to Rey

There are additional details we know about Rey that will be referenced in the following pages as we break down some topics on who Rey could be connected or even related to. Here are the theories we’ll examine.

  1. Rey is Luke Skywalker's Daughter
  2. Rey is related to Snoke
  3. Rey is Kylo Ren's sister
  4. Rey is Obi-Wan Kenobi's Granddaughter
  5. Rey is the new Anakin
  6. Rey is Ezra Bridger's daughter
  7. Rey is related to Palpatine
  8. Rey is just another Jedi student
  9. Bonus: What's Rey's "real" Name?
  10. Final Thoughts & Quotes

1. Is Rey Simply Luke Skywalker's Daughter?

Old Luke Skywalker Art by Chema Mansilla
Old Luke Skywalker Art by Chema Mansilla

The most obvious theory, and the one that best serves to connect everything we know about Star Wars saga, is that Rey is a Skywalker and the daughter of Luke. That couldn't be more evident than in these simple words by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in an interview with The Costco Connection.

"The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga. The stories follow the linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story."

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, after Rey has her troubling "Force Vision", Maz Kanata tells her "Whomever you're waiting for on Jakku, they're never coming back. But... there's someone who still could," to which Rey responds, "Luke." She knows him from her past or because of whatever attached within Luke's old lightsaber gave her those visions. They are connected which is why it's fitting that the final shot of the film is Rey and Luke locking eyes. In this moment, Luke knows too.

We've explored in depth why Rey being a Skywalker could be a good idea or bad idea and an easy explanation for the lack of knowledge about who Rey is could be that after the horrors of the Jedi Academy being butchered by Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren that Luke attempted to erase the memories of young Rey along with Han and Leia in an effort to protect Rey from Kylo.

This theory also explains the plot hole better than J.J. Abrams did in interviews when it comes to how R2-D2 woke up exactly when he did. It only happened when Rey landed on the Resistance base on D'Qar, and there is a telling (and intentionally included) scene in Rey's Force Vision that features Luke placing his hand on R2-D2, as if giving him orders. And remember, the reason that Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy tells EW that J.J. Abrams ultimately said yes to directing Star Wars 7 was the following question, "Who is Luke Skywalker?"

Of course, much of this would still apply if Rey was simply another student as Luke's academy but we know she's more than just another ordinary Force user. There's been an awakening, after all. She's central to the Skywalker saga.

2. Rey is related to Snoke

Star Wars Force Awakens Snoke Leader

When Han Solo confronts his son, Ben, he warns him that Supreme Leader Snoke (theories on who Snoke really is here!) is just using him for his power and will discard him when he's no longer useful. When taking into account that later, Snoke commands Ben a.k.a. Kylo Ren to bring Rey to him, it sure seems as if Snoke wants the more powerful of the two to be his apprentice.

The last time we saw something similar happen is when Emperor Palpatine was attempting to manipulate Luke into turning to the dark side and replacing his own apprentice, Darth Vader. Before that, when Darth Vader reveals his relationship to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, he attempts to recruit his son into helping him overthrow Palatine so they could rule the galaxy together as father and son.

With that in mind, and given Supreme Leader Snoke's knowledge of the events of the saga, he likely knows more than he's letting on and perhaps there are connections between Rey and Snoke to be explored later in the saga. Everything is connected.

For this theory to be true, Rey would not be a Skywalker. Since the trilogy is about Skywalkers, it would place Kylo Ren in a position to be redeemed. Maybe that's the twist and Rey ends up being a villain and Kylo must turn back to the light. It seems far-fetched, but so to does everything surrounding Snoke at this point.

It's possible this backstory of Snoke will be established during Star Wars Rebels but more on this later...

3. Rey is Kylo Ren's sister

Kylo Ren vs Rey Star Wars Art

While Harrison Ford's aged Han Solo always knows more than he lets on, don't let his fatherly actions towards Rey fool you. He'd know if Rey was his daughter. But that doesn't mean Leia couldn't have another kid with another father. If Rey is Force-sensitive, so to is at least one of her parents and if the Luke Skywalker theory doesn't play out - she could still be a Skywalker if her birth mother is Leia Organa.

Han and Leia have been separated for years by the time we meet them in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it's possible she found another love during that time. This theory would certainly add a nice touch to the scene where Rey and Leia seemingly meet for the first time, but immediately share a connection and a warm hug. This does raise the important question of how Rey would be left on Jakku, but then again, Leia isn't showing a good track record with decisions for her child(ren) given that she sent Ben who had "too much Vader in him" to Luke which led to him becoming Kylo Ren.

This theory would take some very hefty story work in Episodes VIII and IX but it would at least offer a nice twist in paying homage to Leia having multiple kids in the Star Wars Legends books of old, and could help explain some of the Force Visions Rey had when encountering Luke Skywalker's old lightsaber. It also might explain how and why Kylo seems to have some familiarity with her. Perhaps they are brother and sister - another homage to the original trilogy - but from different fathers this time?

4. Rey is Obi-Wan Kenobi's Granddaughter

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze - Star Wars: Clone Wars
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze

Anakin broke the Jedi code by secretly having a romantic attachment during The Clone Wars with Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), leading to the birth of Leia and Luke, but he might not have been the only one. His master Obi-Wan similarly shared a strong bond with another powerful government official during these times as well, Duchess Satine Kryze.

Satine was the intelligent and well-spoken leader of Mandalore during its peaceful era during The Clone Wars but she later died at the hands of Darth Maul who was exacting revenge on Obi-Wan for chopping him in half in The Phantom Menace. She expressed her love for Obi-Wan Kenobi during this time and Obi-Wan had told her he would have left the Jedi Order for her. This relationship helped add credence to rumors from early 2014 that Star Wars: The Force Awakens' early script by Michael Arndt featured a female lead who was the granddaughter Obi-Wan. What if Satine and Obi-Wan had a child in secret before Satine died or later had a child with her surviving warrior sister Bo-Katan Kryze who helped him in battle? And that child had a child named... Rey?

This theory could double up with Luke still being the father if he at some point fell in love with Obi-Wan's daughter but there's no evidence yet to suggest this possibility. Here's what we do have:

  • The voices of Ewan McGregor and the late Alec Guinness are both featured during the Force Vision sequence in Episode VII. Director J.J. Abrams explained, “The idea of the voices was, we wanted the audience to feel – but not necessarily be presented right in your face — this idea that familiar, Force-strong voices were connecting with her. At least as well as they could."
  • There are similarities and perhaps a mirroring of Rey's life to Obi-Wan's in that she lived in isolation on a desert planet, used Force persuasion on a Stormtrooper in a very similar homage to the original film, and even hands Luke the lightsaber that belonged to Anakin, much like Obi-Wan did in A New Hope. Rey even explores the innards of the First Order's Starkiller base much like Obi-Wan did the original Death Star before facing off with Anakin.
  • And when you think about this theory during the final battle of Episode VII, we're potentially seeing the granddaughter of Obi-Wan fighting the grandson of Anakin. Very appropriate.

The most interesting aspect of this theory if it proves true is what it means for the entire saga and the prophecy of the Chosen One. It could mean the Skywalker lineage is not meant to fulfill that role which explains how Anakin failed too, instead becoming the ultimate evil Jedi hunter of the galaxy, and that Luke also failed with his Jedi Academy, instead spawning Kylo Ren. Perhaps it's the Kenobi lineage, the more honorable, noble, and peaceful Jedi who's meant to give rise to the Chosen One. Behold, Rey Kenobi.

And we should note, it's also possible Obi-Wan fell in love and had a family while on Tatooine. There's a time gap of a few decades there in Obi-Wan's life that's yet to be explored but could be in future TV projects, Marvel Comics, or novels which are currently just starting to add canonical lore to the saga.

5. Rey is the new Anakin

Decisions Ruined Movies Kid Anakin

How Anakin was created we still don't know exactly. We do have one intriguing theory that relates to Supreme Leader Snoke's true identity that would explain this in a way the prequels don't, but until we know more all we can say for certain is that Anakin is the magical Force baby of Shmi Skywalker and has no father. It is this fact that ultimately convinces the old Jedi Council to believe that Anakin might be the "Chosen One" who will bring "balance to the Force" based on an ancient Jedi prophecy. We suspect that prophecy might have something to do with why Luke Skywalker's been searching for the original Jedi Temple and may have found it when we meet him at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

If we are to believe Anakin is the result of the Force attempting to balance itself, what if Rey is the same for the new era? Anakin wasn't exactly a success story for the light side, so perhaps Rey is the answer. Perhaps Rey is the real Chosen One. Perhaps, in a sense, she's Anakin reincarnated?

This is a wild one so bear with us.

In A New Hope, when Obi-Wan passes Luke Skywalker the original lightsaber of his father Anakin, what happened? Nothing. He turned it on and played with it like a kid. Four decades later and Rey finds this very same lightsaber after it literally calls out to her from the basement of Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana and what happens? She's stricken with intense visions which include events of the past and the voices of former Jedi Masters that scare her into running away and avoiding the weapon entirely. Why does this item connect with her in such a vivid way? Is it hers?

What if the extreme emotions that came over her when she touched the lightsaber were Anakin's mixed emotions, flashbacks to a previous life and her own youth, and the conflict that made Anakin turn to the Dark Side in the first place. From the loss of Anakin's mother to his hate against the Jedi and losing Padme. These emotions, some potentially Anakin's or not, deterred Rey from picking up the weapon.

Recall, this is what Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow had to say about the eventual "satisfying" reveal of Rey's identity when speaking with ET:

“We’re going to make sure that that answer is deeply and profoundly satisfying. Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy. She deserves it. We’ll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was something that happened a long time ago, far away, and we’re just telling you what happened.”

These words scream the obvious that Rey's true role in the saga is related to what came before. Each trilogy is cyclical, it's all about the prophecy of the Chosen One and the Skywalker lineage. This one fits, as far-fetched as it may be.

What makes this theory interesting if it's true is how Kylo and the Knights of Ren worship Darth Vader, and Rey pulls this information from Kylo when he's attempting to interrogate her. It's at this moment, Kylo begins to almost fear her for she might be more powerful than him. He even offers to train her later when they battle, sensing she can help him finish what... Vader "started." What a twist that would be, that the greatest adversary of the Knights of Ren is actually a new Anakin? And what if it's the new Anakin deciding between aligning herself with her son, Luke and the light side, or her grandson, Kylo, and the dark side.

What we know for certain is that Rey, seemingly without any training or experience with the Force - that we know of yet - is able to Force pull Anakin's lightsaber towards her, out-powering Kylo in this very moment. She then goes on to defeat him in battle just as she defeated his mind tricks and turned them against Kylo in the earlier interrogation scene. How is she more powerful and capable given all of this info than the child of Leia and the right-hand of Supreme Leader Snoke?

We also must note that originally Star Wars: The Force Awakens was going to include the Force Ghost of Anakin Skywalker, at least, an interesting version of that. We wouldn't be surprised to see that happen in Episodes 8 and/or 9 still, especially given that Darth Vader will likely appear in this year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Anthology spinoff.

Keep in mind, this theory - like all of them - has a big hole in it when it comes to the reveal of who Rey believes her "family" is and why she was she was abandoned on Jakku, etc. All we know is that this information remains intentionally held back from moviegoers.

6. Rey is Ezra Bridger's daughter

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 3 - Kanan and Ezra
Kanan and his apprentice Ezra in Star Wars Rebels

The Star Wars Rebels animated series, which like Star Wars: The Clone Wars is considered official canon, is fleshing out the origins of the Rebel Alliance in the time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. If the Lucasfilm Story Group is functioning as intended, establishing and ensuring continuity for the larger universe and long-form storytelling between all forms of canonical media (which also includes the latest novels and Marvel Comics) then this show will connect with the films.

Star Wars Rebels completes its second season in the next two months and is already confirmed for season 3 which begins this fall, just in time to tie-in with the next live-action theatrical film in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. With this film by director Gareth Edwards also telling a story about the early Rebellion, and also likely featuring Darth Vader, we should see some major connections between the animated series and live-action movies.

And since Lucasfilm Disney planned out their six movies practically from the get-go, the timing of Rogue One isn't a coincidence. It could also be laying some of the groundwork for the unexplained elements of the new episodic trilogy, from who Supreme Leader Snoke is to who the the hero of the trilogy, Rey, really is too.

Star Wars Rebels Ezra Green Crossguard Lightsaber

It can't be a coincidence that there are still so many active Force users alive during this time period. In Rebels alone we have Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Leia Organa fighting the good fight for the Rebels against Darth Vader, Darth Maul (according to the latest season 2 trailer for the final episodes), and a bunch of Inquisitors. If any of these characters are related to the new Force-sensitive hero of Star Wars: Episodes 7-9, the best bet would be on Ezra Bridger, the entry point and young protagonist of Rebels.

Like most, edgy Force-sensitive youthful protagonists we've met in the franchise to date (Luke, Anakin, and to a certain extent, Ahsoka), Ezra is hot-tempered, impatient, and too often close to crossing over the dark side to get things done. And like Luke and Anakin in particular, he lost his parents, and was seemingly abandoned to scavenge on a relatively desolate planet. As just a young teenage during the events of Star Wars Rebels, he'd be an adult and the right age to father Rey years after the Battle of Endor, assuming of course, that he's still alive.

And like Rey, Ezra is not only a capable, tech-savvy, droid-communicating, scavenger, but he can fly and use weapons of all sorts.

It may seem unbelievable that J.J. Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have their protagonist be directly related to a character in an animated series they have nothing to do with, but it would be the ultimate way to do what Disney's Marvel Studios has not in recent years - to directly connect in a relevant way, the events of its TV division to its theatrical motion pictures.

We should mention that Benicio Del Toro has a key role in Star Wars 8, who may or may not be a villain... what if he's playing an older Ezra?

7. Rey is a Descendant of Emperor Palpatine

Star Wars - Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine

Even if Rey doesn't end up being the daughter of Leia or Luke, and therefore not a descendant of Padmé Amidala, her ancestry could still originate on the planet Naboo if she's related to Emperor Palpatine.

This is more of a fun theory than anything, and we're only discussing it because some fans have suggested it and we already mentioned a possible (albeit extremely unlikely) family connection to Snoke.

Assuming Luke's a "good guy" in the new Star Wars trilogy, despite old rumors to the contrary and Mark Hamill's own ideas from the '80s of him becoming the villain when he's older, what if Rey's story arc - like all things Star Wars - mirrors that of Luke's in that there's a big reveal that her parentage is from the Dark Side.

Of course, there's no evidence to support this, and we've never seen Palpatine express interest in having a romantic relationship with anyone. He loves one thing, power. Perhaps having Force-sensitive offspring though could provide this, but again, everything we've seen of his actions and interests in the films and the Clone Wars series suggests this is nearly impossible.

8. Rey Is Just Another Jedi Student

Star Wars 7 Rey Speeder

Some would say the simplest answer is the best one, and if those people just don't like the idea that Rey is Luke Skywalker's daughter, than perhaps she's just a survivor of the Jedi Academy. After Luke's school was eradicated by the Knights of Ren, Rey's parents with the help of Luke put her into hiding on Jakku so Snoke, Kylo and his Knights, and the First Order could not find her.

We're mentioning this theory because it needs to be mentioned as a possibility although we do not believe it is. It doesn't make sense for the larger narrative for Rey to just be another Jedi. Whoever she is, it's larger than that. She's too powerful and she's the central figure of the larger mythology so her history must intertwine to what came before in a meaningful way.

It's also absurd to believe that if she was just another Force sensitive child, why her actual birth parents or caretakers would leave her on Jakku, alone. The only way we can reconcile these events and what was shown in Rey's Force Vision, is that whoever left her there not only had no choice to save her, but couldn't stick around themselves for some grander purpose.

Rey is not just another Jedi.

9. What's Rey's Real Name?

Star Wars 7 Rey Art Poster

Putting the theories aside that "Rey" could be Rey Skywalker, Rey Kenobi, Rey Solo, Rey Organa, or Rey Bridger, it's of course possible she's none of these.

There were rumors and alleged leaked script details (via MakingStarWars) surfacing in fall 2014, which turned out to be surprisingly accurate about certain aspects of the film and what we know of how it changed over the course of its development, that featured the female protagonist that we know as Rey under a different name. She was known previously known as Kira, and that's since been confirmed thanks to the official Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens book.

But if you're hoping that Rey is actually "Kira Skywalker," what potentially kills that first-name change is the Force Vision in which Rey hears the voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi actors Ewan McGregor and the late Alec Guinness, that latter of whom speaks the word "Rey" (thanks to some clever editing at Bad Robot Productions).

On the flip side, although Rey refers to herself as Rey, she may have adopted that name. Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn't explain this, but Rey grew up using the tech from crashed Rebel starships (including a Y-Wing computer) to teach herself a great many things. She trains on all sorts of starships via a flight sim system and even learns alien languages. This is spelled out in the official Star Wars: Rey's Survival Guide where it's also revealed that the Rebel pilot helmet Rey keeps with her belonged to a female fighter pilot named Dosmit Raeh. This character is also the inspiration for Rey's handmade doll so it's possible, if young Rey didn't know her name when left on Jakku, that she adopted the name "Rey" from Captain Raeh whom she looked up to without knowing as a kid for all those years.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Rey Helmet Theory

And in Star Wars The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening, which like the Survival Guide, came out the same day as the film, it states that Rey refers to herself as "Rey" almost as if it's not her birth name.

It won't be long until we find out.

10. Final Thoughts on Rey & Some Relevant Quotes

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

At the time of this writing we're only one movie and one television series in on the Disney-operated relaunch of Star Wars franchise. There are so many books, comics, and films in development that will flesh out what little we've seen and add so much more to it. So if you have more fun ideas and theories on who Rey is in the Star Wars universe, share in the comments and we might just add it in!

Otherwise, be patient. Answers are coming.

“Everyone who has seen these movies thinks about ‘I am your father …’ and ‘There is another …' But neither of those things were in [1977’s original] Star Wars. Star Wars didn’t say Luke was the son of Vader. Star Wars didn’t say Leia was the sister of Luke. You didn’t understand what these references were: the Empire, dark times, Clone Wars. There were these things that were discussed that don’t get explained. George [Lucas] dropped you into a story and respected you to infer everything necessary to understand what you need to know.”

- J.J. Abrams on spreading revelations throughout the trilogy.

"The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead. I am no Jedi, but I know the Force. It moves through and surrounds every living thing. Close your eyes. Feel it."

- Maz Kanata