'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' Theory Explains the Palpatine-Rey Connection

the force awakens rey cloud city

Ok, but seriously, who are Rey’s parents? One new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker theory could explain Rey’s complex identity and how she relates to the Skywalkers while also maintaining the reveal from The Last Jedi that her parents were “nobodies.” The theory also delves into how Palpatine plays such a vital role in the story.

Could all of these Episode IX mysteries be wrapped up in the explanation that Palpatine cloned Rey from Luke Skywalker’s hand in a secret base on Jakku? Warning: Speculative spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead.

Timothy Zahn’s non-canon Star Wars novels explored a similar plotline, particularly in The Last Command, and now Disney’s final trilogy in the Skywalker films could also be on the verge of introducing a Luke Skywalker clone — except it was Rey all along.

Redditor u/vadrr21 posted this complicated theory to the r/starwarsspeculation subreddit Saturday, and even if they come off as a Kylo Ren fanboy who doesn’t want Rey to remain the hero, there’s some interesting stuff in here. After all, if Palpatine was the one to clone Luke and create Rey, that would explain why he returns in Episode IX.

But the most interesting part of this theory explains Rey’s lineage:

Rey is a clone of Luke made from his hand that got cut off in Empire Strikes Back. The clone was made by Palpatine in one of his labs in Jakku. Two Junk traders found Palpatine’s lab and were scavenging for goods they could have sold off for ‘drinking money.’ They found Rey and sold her off to Unkar Plutt.

This whole thing sounds unlikely until you realize the overwhelming amount of evidence to support it. Not only is there precedent in the Star Wars expanded universe of Luke being cloned, but we know from Chuck Wendig’s canon Aftermath novels that Palpatine did have a secret observatory on Jakku located under the Plaintive Hand plateau (an ironic place to put a lab where you clone somebody using their hand.)

We still have no idea how Maz Kanata came to possess the blue Skywalker lightsaber 30 years after it fell into the skies around Cloud City with Luke’s hand, but the original script for The Force Awakens opened on a sequence detailing the lightsaber’s journey after it and Luke’s hand were lost in his Cloud City duel against Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Later, during the scene where Rey touches the lightsaber and has a vision, the original version included her watching Luke fight Darth Vader in that same Cloud City battle.

Both these details come straight from The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who’s also directing The Rise of Skywalker and has previously teased “there’s more to the story” of Rey’s parents. The evidence is starting to add up, even more so when you consider how it might all connect back to Palpatine.

palpatine luke skywalker hand
Palpatine claiming Luke Skywalker's severed hand in a piece of fan art. Credit: Fred Palacio

Several years ago, in a fan art contest sponsored by Lucasfilm, an illustration by Fred Palacio of what might’ve happened to Luke’s hand won third place. None of this is canon in any way, but the scenes depict Palpatine claiming Luke’s severed hand after Empire Strikes Back but before Return of the Jedi. During this interim period, Palpatine collected various Force-sensitive objects and established secret bases around the galaxy, all while planning for Operation: Cinder, his plan to destabilize the galaxy and destroy the Empire after his death.

Luke stole a compass from one of Palpatine’s vaults and used it to find the first Jedi Temple. Maybe one of Palpatine’s other secret bases was a small cloning facility? There, he may have cloned a female version of Luke that was awoken as a small girl years after Palpatine died.

“This would explain why Rey thought her parents were nobody, why she also so strong with the force and also why Anakin’s Lightsaber called for her,” writes u/vadrr21. “Would be poetic in the sense that the lightsaber is yearning the “hand” that once yielded it.”

This could lead to Palpatine (or at least his Force ghost) tempting Rey in the same way he did Luke all those years ago.

“Palpatine manipulates her by telling her that he created her,” the theory continues, “that he is the closest thing she will ever have to a real father.”

Here’s where Rey might turn to the Dark Side while Kylo Ren simultaneously is lured back to the Light by the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker.

“In the end Rey doesn’t get what she was promised by Palpatine, just like Vader didn’t either. Rey dies. Poetic. And Kylo exiles himself to Tatooine or something,” u/vadrr21 writes.

Does this make sense as an ending for the entire Star Wars saga? Not really. But would it be a cool, unexpected twist? Totally.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released December 20, 2019.

Media via Fred Palacio, vadrr21, Lucasfilm