Understanding the Skywalker and Palpatine Families Is Key in The Rise of Skywalker

The Star Wars franchise has been, impressively, in existence for over the last four decades. In addition to books and TV shows, we've seen a total of three trilogies, each focused on a new generation of Jedis and Siths. After all these years, to understand the grand scheme of things in Star Wars, you need to know two families: the Skywalkers and the Palpatines. Knowing the family lineage is especially crucial in The Rise of Skywalker. The latest episode drops a huge reveal about the latter clan — that Rey is, in fact, a Palpatine, but adopts the Skywalker family name.

Ahead, we've briefly broken down the two legendary families, touching on how each member fits into the Star Wars universe.

The Skywalker Family

Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS:  THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Walt Disney Studios
  • Shmi Skywalker Lars: Shmi Skywalker Lars is the first known Skywalker member. She was a slave on the planet Tatooine and remained so until she married Cliegg Lars (Anakin's stepfather — Anakin has no father in the movies, though a Star Wars comic book reveals that the Emperor manipulated Midi-chlorians inside of Shmi's womb).
  • Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader: Qui-Gon Jinn discovered that Anakin, Shmi's son, was very Force-sensitive and took him under his wings. He believes that Anakin is the Chosen One who would balance the Force by abolishing the Sith. Anakin later secretly marries Naboo's Senator Padmé Amidala during the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Seeing visions of his wife's death, the Jedi Knight joins the Dark side and becomes Darth Sidious's (aka Palpatine's) apprentice. However, Padmé still dies after Luke and Leia are born. Her husband turns into Darth Vader, betraying the Jedi as Palpatine rules over the Empire. The children are taken away from their father and separated.
  • Luke Skywalker: First appearing on A New Hope, Luke grows up with his aunt and uncle (Anakin's step-brother) on Tatooine, training under Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. When Palpatine tried to kill Luke in Return of the Jedi, Vader sacrifices his life, becoming one with the Force. Luke becomes a Jedi Master himself later.
  • Leia Organa: Leia gets adopted by Senator Bail Organa, joining the Senate but also pitching into secret Rebel efforts. She has Ben Solo with the pirate smuggler Han Solo, giving birth when the Empire surrendered to the New Republic.
  • Ben Solo/Kylo Ren: While training with Luke, Ben gets tempted to join the Dark side under the influence of the First Order's Supreme Leader Snoke. He adopts the name Kylo Ren, leading the war against the Resistance. Killing his master, Kylo then takes on Palpatine to consolidate his power. But he then turns to the Light side once more after a vision with Han, sacrificing his life to resurrect Rey. He's technically the last Skywalker in blood.
  • Rey Skywalker (formerly Palpatine): At the end of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey goes to Tatooine to bury Luke and Leia's lightsabers. When a local asks her what her family name is, Rey replies that she is Rey Skywalker.

The Palpatine Family

Walt Disney Studios
  • Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious: Palpatine was a shady Sith Lord from Naboo who played Galactic politics until he was made Supreme Chancellor, then Galactic Emperor. While we thought that Vader had killed him, Palpatine returns in The Rise of Skywalker, hoping to leech off the Force dyad between Rey and Kylo to restore himself.
  • Rey's Father: We didn't know that Palpatine really had a family until The Rise of Skywalker. Rey's father is Palpatine's son, and he and his wife have a daughter. Palpatine sends an assassin to kill Rey's parents, who drop her off in Jakku to keep her safe from her grandfather.
  • Rey Palpatine: Amidst Palpatine's return, Kylo reveals to Rey that she's Palpatine's granddaughter. Rey almost joins the Dark side to stop the fighting between Palpatine's followers and the Resistance, but then chooses to kill Palpatine when Kylo comes along. Despite having Sith blood, she renounces her heritage and adopts the Skywalker name.

Now that one of the biggest inter-family conflicts in Star Wars history is resolved, what lies ahead for Rey, who embodies both the Palpatines and Skywalkers? Only time will tell if Rey's adventures will continue in a new trilogy. In the meanwhile, be sure to check out our comprehensive Star Wars timeline to freshen up your memory of this epic saga!