Star Wars' Skywalkers are the most famous family living in the galaxy far, far away. The only other group that matches their level of notoriety are the Hutts, but they're infamous for wholly different reasons, not the least being that they are giant slug monsters who eat live frogs. Also, they partake in a lot of organized crime.
Luke, Leia, and their relatives are generally known for being forces of good, with a couple obvious and glaring exceptions. The Skywalkers run pretty hot and cold, honestly.
In the course of their space adventures, the saga's heroes have won countless battles and victories across the generations, but they haven't gotten away from them unscathed (and we're not just talking about some of that dialogue they had to say).
We'd argue that the family has had more misfortune than good luck, and that's probably because they're always out there getting into scrapes and changing the political balance of the galaxy. That sort of business almost guarantees you'll get a target on you, and it looks like that will continue in this fall's The Last Jedi, which just got a new trailer this week.
Even worse, the Skywalkers' tragedies have repeated themselves, affecting multiple members at different times through the years. So it's not just Luke and Leia taking the hits, it's also the generations before and after.
Here are The 15 Worst Things To Happen To The Skywalker Family.
15 Father and son fighting
Nobody expects parents and children to get along all the time, but we’re happy to say that we’ve never had multiple laser-sword duels with our dads.
Luke and his father, Anakin/Darth Vader, have two such fights in the original trilogy, and they don’t end well. Luke finishes the first down a hand, and Vader wraps up the second getting electrocuted so hard that his skeleton shows through his skin and clothes like he’s in a cartoon.
That happens because he drops the zap-happy Emperor Palpatine down one of the Death Star’s many bottomless pits. If you take the opera scene from Revenge of the Sith to mean that Palpatine himself caused Vader’s birth by manipulating the Force, then the end of Return of the Jedi has Anakin killing his own “father.”
The proud family tradition continues in events before The Force Awakens when Ben Solo renounces his parents (Leia and Han) to become Kylo Ren. That doesn't end well, either.
14 All those times they killed each other
The former Ben Solo eventually kills his father to destroy any urge he might have to not be evil. It was a tragic end for the old scoundrel, and it was just the latest example of Skywalkers straight-up murdering each other.
If we count that technicality with the Emperor in Jedi, the death of Han Solo marks the fourth time one Skywalker has personally pruned a branch from the family tree.
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin uses his first-ever Force Choke to kill his wife, Padmé, when he thinks she has betrayed him. We know the medical droid says she dies of a broken heart or whatever, but we refuse to believe that’s an actual thing.
In the now non-canonical book Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice, Kylo Ren precursor Jacen Solo becomes Darth Caedus and kills his aunt, Mara Jade. We know that didn’t technically happen anymore, but we’re still counting it.
13 Repeated falls to the Dark Side
As some of the most powerful Force users in the Star Wars universe, the Skywalkers have had a hard time balancing that strength with the wisdom to know how to use it well.
The most famous fallen Jedi was Anakin Skywalker, and he spends most of the original movies trying to get Luke to follow his example. He even threatens to turn Leia to the Dark Side to induce his son to give in to anger and fear.
Sith-hood apparently skipped a generation, however, because both Luke and Leia have (so far) remained true to the side of good. But two versions of Leia’s sons (Jacen in the books and Ben in the films) have gone the way of evil. And they’re not alone. The Legends novels also include an evil clone of Luke named … Luuke (we know), Han and Leia’s daughter Jaina, and Cade Skywalker, a distant descendant who started as a Sith apprentice before quitting to be a bounty hunter and pirate.
12 Their doomed mentors
This is unfortunately a necessary step in the journey that many famous fictional heroes undergo. The narrative point of killing off the main character’s teacher is to leave them with no other option but to rise to their full potential because having, say, Dumbledore just show up and get rid of Voldemort for good would not make a great ending for a seven-book series.
Basically, if you train a Skywalker, you are going to die. The family has left enough expired teachers behind them to staff a school for ghosts (and we would absolutely watch a movie called Jedi Ghost School, Lucasfilm), but the good news is that at least they weren’t all brutally murdered. Just most of them were.
Yoda had the luxury of dying in his bed at 900. But Obi-Wan Kenobi taught two Skywalkers, and the first one kills him to offer incidental motivation for Luke. We can also add Qui-Gon Jinn, and Emperor Palpatine to that list, and if Rey turns out to be a Skywalker in The Last Jedi, we hope Luke has practiced his blocking.
11 Overthrowing the government
We know that ultimate blame for the fall of the Old Republic comes down to the evil Chancellor who reorganized the government and the corrupt political system that enabled his rise to power. But he couldn’t do it alone.
Sure, he has an endless supply of Clone troopers to do his bidding, but he also has a willful accomplice in the fallen Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. The newly named Darth Vader has every opportunity to stop his new master from throwing the Republic into in authoritarian state, but he refrains for selfish reasons.
It would have a hugely negative impact on the Skywalker name if he didn’t also kill almost everyone who knew he was Darth Vader (and then end up in that identity-concealing suit).
Luke and Leia up the Skywalker tradition of overthrowing the political order when they lead the Rebellion against the new Empire. Anakin finishes the job (again) by assassinating the Emperor, creating what we assume is a horrifying power vacuum that allows the First Order to arise soon thereafter. Moral ambiguity aside, these coups just make more work for the family.
10 Ending the Jedi Order
The Skywalkers have caused disastrous social shifts on multiple occasions, and we aren’t just talking about how bills become laws.
One of Anakin’s first orders of business as Darth Vader was to head to the Jedi Temple and kill everyone inside. This wasn’t even the first time he’d murdered a bunch of kids-- he gives a village of Tusken Raiders the same treatment after they kidnap and torture his mother in Attack of the Clones.
Ben Solo scraps the Jedi for a second time before the events of The Force Awakens, when he and his Knights of Ren destroy Luke’s fledgling Order.
According to a provocative line in the trailer for this fall’s The Last Jedi, the Master himself seems ready to let the teachings go for a third time. We’re pretty sure that won’t play out, though, because we have at least one more episode after this one.
9 The Force sending them highly misleading visions
Mythology and literature contain countless warnings about trusting prophecies, visions, and dreams, but we’re pretty sure the Skywalkers haven’t read Oedipus the King, Hamlet, or even The Lord of the Rings because they did not learn that lesson at all.
In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is obsessed with dreams he has about Padmé dying, and he trusts them because the visions he had of his mother being in danger in Attack of the Clones turned out to be true. But his efforts to avoid the prophecy just make them happen as he foresaw.
Luke falls into a similar trap in The Empire Strikes Back when he cuts his training short on Dagobah after he has a vision of Han and Leia in peril.
However, the Empire manufactured that portent by torturing Han for no reason. In retrospect, we assume Vader knew this plan would work because it had fooled him years before, and his son similarly has more courage than brains.
8 All of the Torture
We don’t even have to count Han Solo’s later status as a Skywalker-by-marriage to have enough to cover here because that family has more stories about crippling discomfort than Larry David.
The Empire brings out a specialty torture droid to drug and stab the location of the Rebel base from Leia in A New Hope. This works so well that they have to use their backup plan of murdering billions of people by blowing up Alderaan.
A major turning point for Anakin in Attack of the Clones is when Tusken Raiders kidnap his mother and abuse her. This torture, along with his fascist beliefs and bizarre hatred of sand, sets the young Jedi on his path to becoming Darth Vader, which ends up being bad news for everyone.
Luke isn’t immune, either; the Emperor brings his Force lightning to bear in Return of the Jedi after the young Knight refuses to join him. He makes it clear that he could kill him whenever, but he draws it out, apparently to give Vader the time he needs to rethink his entire life and step in.
7 Being Sold Into Slavery
When we first meet Anakin and Shmi in The Phantom Menace, they’re living as slaves in a junkyard on Tattooine. Other than working for free and the possibility of a reselling, it’s not the worst form of slavery we’ve ever seen.
Young Anakin still has time to work on his personal projects, which include his podracer and, improbably, series-mainstay protocol droid C-3PO. We still don’t understand why this was a good idea.
The more famous — and way more degrading — moment of Skywalker slavery comes in Return of the Jedi, when Jabba the Hutt captures Leia, makes her put on a metal bikini, and locks her up by his throne so he can drool on her sometimes.
Leia is the biggest go-getter in the family, however, so she strangles Jabba with the very chain he was using to keep her restrained. And we love that payoff as much as cosplayers, Halloween party attendees, and middle-aged nerds trying to rejuvenate their marriages love the costume.
6 Becoming orphans
With as many surrogate fathers as the Skywalkers go through, it’s no surprise that they have similar luck with their actual, biological parents.
Anakin never had a father, and his mother dies right in front of him. Luke and Leia’s mother died right after they were born, and even Leia’s adoptive parents became among the first victims of the Emperor’s ultimate weapon.
Luke loses the only parents he’s known when Stormtroopers kill his aunt and uncle while looking for the stolen Death Star plans. One movie later, he discovers that his real father is still alive … right after the guy tried to kill him. He finally reconciles with and redeems Anakin just in time for him to also die.
While it affects him greatly, we don’t know if we can count Ben Solo’s loss of his father here since he’s the one who kills him. This just seems like cheating.
5 The Pressure to perform
It probably sounds like a pretty sweet deal to be a member of the Skywalker family: everyone likes you because you’re awesome and powerful and do really important and impressive things.
However, our Eeyore-esque worldview says that a downside to that fame and prestige has to exist. And we think we’ve found it. The problem with being as clearly and obviously special as the Skywalkers is that you’re constantly under pressure to keep doing great things.
Anakin grew up hearing that he was the Chosen One of Jedi prophecy, and all this did was convince him that he deserved better treatment than what his peers gave him. Then he killed a lot of people.
It’s not just him, though; we assume Luke felt a lot of pressure to top his early-peaker move of destroying the first Death Star without his targeting computer. Leia also strangled a disgusting slug-man with his own chain. How do you top that?
4 Their Lost limbs
Losing a limb in a universe that contains medical technology that can give you a robot part that looks exactly like the original probably isn’t a huge deal, but we still wouldn’t want to go through it. It looks like it hurts.
Darth Vader chops Luke’s hand off in The Empire Strikes Back, and the replacement is so good that we don’t even notice it until he takes a blaster shot to it. The version we see in The Force Awakens is way less life-like, but it still looks pretty cool.
Anakin had way worse luck with his appendages, however. Count Dooku cuts his arm off in Attack of the Clones, and then at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan helps him complete the set by severing his remaining three limbs.
Then, 26 years later, Luke takes his lightsaber to his father’s already-robot hand. We’d call that a double amputation if that weren’t already a totally different, sad thing.
3 The Incest panic
We don’t know for sure if Luke and Leia were always supposed to be siblings, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when she lays one on him just to make Han Solo jealous.
The sequel novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye — which originated as a low-budget follow-up should the first movie fail — also plays with the idea of Luke and Leia ending up together. This is most obvious in a retroactively awkward scene in which they play in some mud.
So we suspect the revelation that they were long-lost twins developed much later, and in the confirmation near the beginning of Return of the Jedi, Luke is basically all of us hearing this news.
If you watch his expression while he processes the bombshell, you see that he’s probably thinking about that part of Empire, too. He’s living the horror along with us. To her credit, Leia takes the news way better.
2 Forced to live on Tatooine
Nobody likes Tatooine, the desert planet on which both Anakin and Luke Skywalker grew up. In fact, the only effective joke in the terrible Star Wars Holiday Special is that the Empire routinely broadcasts scenes from the planet throughout the galaxy so that everyone else can feel slightly better about their own horrible, oppressed lives.
However, just watching Bea Arthur sing in a cantina while Harvey Korman pours drinks into the top of his skull doesn’t really capture the experience. Luke and Anakin actually had to live there. Not only that, but circumstances keep bringing them back to remind them how terrible it is.
Anakin has to return to the desert planet to save his mom, and Luke come back to rescue Han at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. The elder Skywalker hates the place so much that it becomes the perfect place to hide his son because he never wants to go back there again.
1 Zero down time because of unending Star Wars
We have a hard enough time fitting a vacation into our busy schedules, and we aren’t even in charge of liberating (or enslaving) the universe.
Through circumstance or destiny, the Skywalkers have participated in every one of the eponymous, intragalactic conflicts since the Trade Federation formed its blockade around Naboo in The Phantom Menace. This includes the Clone Wars, the Galactic Civil War, and whatever we’re calling this business between the Resistance and the First Order in the new movies.
It’s just been nonstop fighting for three generations straight, and we honestly don’t know why every Skywalker isn’t just constantly downing whatever the space-fantasy equivalent of antacid is. But they’re the heroes of the story, and that’s why they’re there.
They have the skill, knowledge, and opportunity to decide the outcomes for billions of people on countless planets. It’s a lot of work with no breaks, and for this reason more than any other, we would ultimately hate being in this family.
What other terrible circumstances have clouded the lives of Star Wars' Skywalkers? Let us know in the comments.