Skywalker is a household name for any fan of the Star Wars movies. It belongs to many of the main characters in the films, and those like Luke and Anakin have become iconic figures in popular culture. But what is a Skywalker? In this blog post we’ll take a look at Skywalker origins and their place in the Star Wars universe.
What Does a Skywalker Do?
What is a skywalker? Before there was Rey, Finn, or Poe, there were the skywalkers. No, not the Jedi family made famous by a certain movie franchise–the original sky-walkers were a group of intrepid explorers who mapped out the first hyperspace routes through the galaxy. They were force-sensitive Chiss navigators. At a time when most people thought that interstellar travel was impossible, the sky-walkers proved them wrong.
Through their daring voyages, they opened up a whole new Universe of possibilities. Today, their legacy lives on in the skywalks that criss-cross the galaxy. And who knows? Maybe someday we’ll find ourselves exploring hyperspace just like them.
In the Star Wars universe, the Chiss are a species of blue-skinned humanoids. They first appeared in the Expanded Universe novel Outbound Flight, and later became significant players in the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The most prominent Chiss in the Star Wars saga is Grand Admiral Thrawn, a military commander who served under Emperor Palpatine.
In Star Wars Legends, the Chiss were introduced as a powerful and technologically advanced species that had conquered much of the known galaxy. However, their empire was eventually destroyed by an unknown enemy. The survivors of this cataclysmic event fled to the Unknown Regions, where they established a new society.
The Unknown Regions were dangerous to travel due to their mainly “unknown” nature. It was their Force-sensitive navigators, mainly young females, that were referred to as sky-walkers. They used their powers to navigate the difficult paths throughout the Unknown Regions, and mapped hyperspace routes throughout the galaxy. For most sky-walkers, their powers fade during their teen years.
How are all the Skywalkers Related?
While in the company of Darth Vader, Grand Admiral Thrawn once recounted his confusion when he first met Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. He was taken aback by his surname being the same name as given to those courageous and gifted Chiss navigators of generations past.
It is not known what the relation or connection is between the Chiss sky-walkers and the Skywalkers. The only connection to speak of between the two is Force-sensitivity. And since the Skywalkers are human, there is likely no actual relation or direct lineage from the sky-walkers. The name similarity could simply be a narrative device.
The Skywalker Family
We just talked about what is a Skywalker. Now, let’s look at who is a Skywalker. The first Skywalker introduced was Luke, a day-dreaming farm boy on the outer rim planet of Tatooine. Although he was raised by his Uncle Owen Lars and his wife, Beru, they are not Skywalkers. Owen is the stepbrother of Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker.
The oldest Skywalker depicted in Star Wars canon is Shmi Skywalker. She and her son, Anakin, lived as slaves on Tatooine until they were discovered by the Jedi, Qui Gon Jinn. It was also discovered that Anakin has no father, and that he is some sort of nexus in the Force.
Anakin would go on to train to become a Jedi. Indeed he would become an extremely powerful Jedi knight, and end up falling in love with the Naboo Senator, Padme Amidala, who would conceive children with him. Just before her untimely death (at the hands of Anakin Skywalker himself) she would give birth to twins, Luke and Leia.
The Skywalker twins needed to be hidden from their father Anakin who had fallen to the Dark Side and taken up the mantle of Darth Vader. Luke would be entrusted to the Owens on Tatooine, and Leia would be adopted by Bail Organa, a senator from Alderaan.
Luke would end up joining the Rebellion and becoming a Jedi. According to canon he fathered no children. However, during the Galactic Civil War, Leia would fall in love with the smuggler Han Solo. Together they would have a son, Ben Solo. Although not a Skywalker by name, he carries Skywalker blood from his mother, Leia.
Ben would train as a Jedi under his uncle, Luke Skywalker. Eventually, Ben fell to the Dark side, took up the name Kylo Ren, and became obsessed with his grandfather, Darth Vader. In the end, Kylo would redeem himself and become Ben Solo once again, much as his grandfather did when Darth Vader become Anakin Skywalker in his last moments.
Is Rey a Skywalker?
When we are first introduced to Rey in Episode VII: The Force Awakens, she is a lonely scavenger on Jakku with a mostly unknown origin. Her character introduction is strikingly similar to that of Luke Skywalker; lonely youth who doesn’t know their real parents, stuck on desolate desert planet until they get on the Millennium Falcon and leave the desert planet, find out their Force-sensitive, join an uprising against the totalitarian faction in power, and help blow up a massive space station.
At first many theorized that she was a child of Luke Skywalker whom he had to abandon in order to protect her from his enemies, similar to how Luke and Leia were hidden from their father, Anakin/Darth Vader. As it would turn out, Rey is actually the granddaughter of Darth Sidious/Emporer Sheev Palpatine. We still don’t know much of anything about her parents though.
In the end, she retired to the old Lars farmstead on Tatooine and simply referred to herself as a Skywalker — most likely to keep the Skywalker name going and end the Palpatine name.
Were Skywalkers always force-sensitive?
All of the Skywalkers we have seen in Star Wars canon have been Force-sensitive with the exception of Shmi. It began with her son, Anakin, whom the Jedi Council believed to be the prophesied Chosen One. Anakin was extremely Force-sensitive and had tremendous power.
His sensitivity was passed on to his children Luke and Leia. Although Leia never became as powerful as Luke since she abandoned her training, she nevertheless passed her power to her son Ben Solo. Ben exhibited raw Force powers, especially as Kylo Ren after falling to the Dark Side.
It is possible that Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mother, was also Force-sensitive. This has never been directly addressed in Star Wars canon, but it could explain how she was able to conceive such a force-sensitive child on her own, with no father. Could that have been some sort of rare and mysterious Force ability? We may never know, but it might make sense.
Are there any Skywalkers left?
So what is a Skywalker and who’s left? The powerful Chiss navigators are long gone, and the sky-walkers who charted routes through the stars have faded into legend and folklore. Sadly, it seems the human Skywalkers are sharing the same fate. Rey may be a Skywalker by name, but it seems the Skywalker bloodline ended with Ben Solo’s death. Given all the trouble that’s been started by a Skywalker, maybe that’s actually a good thing?