Does Luke Skywalker ever abandon the Jedi?

Image: Lucasfilm / Disney

A Jedi like his father before him, Luke Skywalker is one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise. Appearing in the original Star Wars trilogy, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, we pretty much get a picture of the Jedi’s entire life. But has Luke always upheld the tenets of the Jedi? Did the Master Jedi ever abandon his fellow members? Let’s take a look at all the times he possibly could have abandoned the Jedi and fill in the gaps.

We first come to know farmboy Luke Skywalker when he is still helping his moisture farmer Uncle Owen on Tatooine in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. One could definitely argue that Luke abandoned his aunt and uncle to their deaths, to go help Obi-Wan Kenobi, but even if Luke were there when the Stormtroopers attacked, it isn’t likely that he could have done anything. Later in the film Leia, Han, and Luke leave the Death Star and leave behind Obi-Wan, who becomes a Force ghost after confronting Darth Vader.

With Kenobi gone, Luke would not meet another Jedi until he met Yoda on Dagobah in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Luke trained in the ways of the Jedi with Yoda riding on his back. But after sensing that Han and Leia were in trouble, Luke had to abandon his training, confront Darth Vader, and rescue his friends. Unfortunately for Luke, his encounter with Darth Vader did not end well for him with one hand being cut off and his lightsaber lost. 

Luke Skywalker

We know through the Star Wars comic books written by Charles Soule with art by Jesús Saiz, that Luke gained a new hand, trained with it, and managed to obtain a yellow-bladed lightsaber before rescuing Han from Jabba the Hutt. Somewhere along the way, he constructed a new green lightsaber while continuing to train in the ways of the Force, without going back to Dagobah to see Master Yoda. 

Luke would not see Yoda again until Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Unfortunately at the time, Yoda would be on his deathbed, and as far as Luke knew he was the last remaining Jedi. There could be an argument to be made that Luke did abandon the Jedi by leaving Yoda and leaving his training. But if you were to agree with that sentiment you would also have to admit that Yoda abandoned the Jedi by fleeing Coruscant and hiding on Dagobah, which he did. That being said, Luke didn’t spend 20 years floating around the galaxy until he rescued Han, so give Skywalker some credit for coming back to see his old master. 

Of course, at the end of The Empire Strikes Back Obi-Wan and Yoda talked about how there was another Jedi amongst them, referring to Princess Leia. But again, as she wasn’t yet a Jedi and would need to be trained, you really couldn’t argue that Luke was abandoning anyone other than Master Yoda. We do know that Leia eventually trained with Luke, but not that she became a Jedi. This was shown in a flashback in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, but the scene would have taken place after Luke and Darth Vader destroyed the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, so again, it wouldn’t count, because she was not a Jedi.

After Return of the Jedi, Luke traveled the galaxy and searched for connections to the Jedi. According to a few different stories in the Star Wars universe, including The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and the campaign of Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Luke found what he was looking for. Luke uncovered ancient Jedi artifacts, built a new Jedi temple, and found Force-sensitive children, including Grogu.

In Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, it was revealed that Luke had been training Han and Leia’s son, Ben Solo, along with some other young padawans. Multiple flashbacks in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, explained how Ben turned into Kylo Ren. Luke had seen a glimpse of hate in Ben, a potential for Ben to fall to the dark side of the Force. 

While Ben was sleeping, Luke ignited his lightsaber to kill him but backed out at the last moment. Ben woke up and saw what Luke was about to do and he used the Force to collapse his hut on top of Luke. Ben then proceeded to use the dark side to destroy the Jedi Temple, killing most of the Jedi-in-training. 

After Ben found out that Darth Vader was his grandfather, he had been manipulated by Supreme Leader Snoke, who was a puppet being controlled by the Emperor. Ben joined a cultist group known as the Knights of Ren and explored the use of the dark side, turning his back on Luke and everything he had ever known.

In shame of his actions, and how they led Ben to turn to the dark side, to become Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker shut himself off from the Force. As far as we know, at that time Luke was the only surviving Jedi, so he did abandon the Jedi Order. We don’t know too much about the years during his disappearance but he did venture to Ahch-To where he lived as a hermit for a number of years.

Star Wars Yoda Luke Skywalker
Image via Lucasfilm

Fortunately, Rey found him on Ahch-To, and together with Chewbacca, R2-D2, and the Force ghost of Master Yoda, they convinced Luke to confront Kylo Ren. Luke did not confront Kylo in person — instead, he used a projection of his own form and sent it to Crait. When Kylo Ren saw his uncle and former Master he became enraged and attempted to fight him, allowing Luke to stall him enough so the resistance could escape. 

Luke then became one with the Force, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi did on the Death Star, after straining to send his Force projection to Crait. Luke reappeared in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker as a Force ghost to talk to Rey in her moment of need. Ultimately, Luke departed from the world as a Jedi.

It’s also interesting to note that while Luke abandoned the Jedi Order, so did Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano. Even the greatest Jedi turned their back on the Order at one time or another.

Even though there were times Luke Skywalker definitely turned his back on the Jedi, being the lone Jedi in the galaxy would have been a tough burden to carry. Let’s not forget the years he defended the galaxy, defeated the Emperor, and helped turn his father back to the light side of the Force. At the end of the day, Luke was one of the greatest Jedi to ever live, even if his faith did waver for a time.