One recurring theme in Star Wars is that the dark side tempts its main characters. Some, like Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo, fell to the dark side. Others, like Luke Skywalker and Rey, resisted its temptation.
Luke, however, nearly fell to its temptation in Return of the Jedi. So let’s outline a scenario where Luke falls to temptation during the Battle of Endor. How would it have changed Star Wars?
Had Luke turned to the dark side, the Empire would have won the Galactic Civil War. However, a Resistance, led by Leia, would have eventually formed, challenging the Emperor Palpatine/Luke Skywalker-led Galactic Empire.
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Would Luke Have Killed Darth Vader?
If Luke turned to the dark side, he would have had two options: Kill Darth Vader or kill Emperor Palpatine. In this scenario, Luke would kill Vader, just as Anakin killed Count Dooku.
Because Luke had already tapped into the dark side and had Vader on the ropes, he would finish his father off in this alternate timeline of events. This act would completely change the series, because now Vader never had a chance to redeem himself back to the light side.
Anakin Skywalker will never return as a Force ghost, while Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, now Force ghosts themselves, at least realize there is one final hope for the galaxy: Leia Skywalker. We know this because Yoda once told Kenobi’s Force ghost that “there is another.”
With Luke serving as Palpatine’s apprentice, the Sith would continue to rule the galaxy while Leia would go into hiding with Han Solo and the rest of the disbanded Rebellion.
Luke Entrenched in the Dark Side
In the Original Trilogy, Luke spent roughly a year learning the Jedi way while Darth Vader, as Anakin Skywalker, spent 13 years in Jedi training, becoming a Padawan and, finally, a Jedi Knight. He also served as Palpatine’s representative on the Jedi Council.
You can argue that Luke spent four years in Jedi training if you count 0 BBY when Obi-Wan Kenobi first gave him Anakin’s lightsaber. However, Luke did not get around to much Jedi training even with Yoda, giving Palpatine a golden opportunity.
Luke knew little of his Force sensitivity while growing up on Tatooine, so in 4 ABY, had he become a Sith Lord, he would have had a tougher time showing any good.
Three Decades of Darkness
Further, Palpatine would not have needed another vessel, meaning there would be no point in going into exile on Exegol to await an appropriate vessel for his consciousness. He also wouldn’t need Snoke to act as a proxy for any First Order.
With the Galactic Empire still in power and growing stronger with Luke taking Darth Vader’s role under a supposed Darth moniker, Palpatine would turn to doing what he does best: Replacing his current apprentice, as he did with Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and Vader.
Therefore, Snoke, born sometime before 12 BBY, still has a role, and that role is to recruit Ben Solo, who would be living in hiding with his mother and father while Luke searches the galaxy for former members of the Rebellion with his own band of Inquisitors.
Where did these Inquisitors come from? They would be Force-wielding beings who, instead of training with Luke at his new Jedi Temple, instead train with him at a reconstructed Sith Temple on Exegol.
Here, Luke oversees Sith training and as the decades pass, they grow in number. After locating and killing off many from the Rebellion, Luke and his Sith Inquisitors oversee stormtroopers maintaining order in the galaxy and arresting anyone who dares to question the Empire.
At this point, the Sith Order has returned and grown strong, but not so strong that anyone will be powerful enough to challenge and kill Luke or Palpatine. The dynamic duo would kill off anyone they believed might gain too much power.
Enter Ahsoka Tano
If there is one Jedi who would have survived the madness, it’s none other than Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. In this scenario, Ahsoka will still cross Din Djarin, but she would choose to train Grogu, who eventually becomes her Padawan.
We know little of Grogu, except that he’s part of Yoda’s species and that the species is rather powerful in the Force. Ahsoka proved her own power time and again, and the duo would successfully evade Luke and his Inquisitors multiple times.
Ahsoka and Grogu would eventually stumble upon a remote area on an unnamed planet in the Outer Rim’s furthest portions, where they locate Han, Leia, and Ben. Here, Ahsoka offers mother and son Jedi training, and it is also where the new Resistance originates.
What Would The Sequel Trilogy Look Like?
The Force Awakens takes place in 34 ABY. At this point in the alternate timeline, Luke and Palpatine’s Empire is still strong, but facing a growing Resistance led by four Jedi in Ahsoka, Grogu, Leia, and Ben.
What about Rey, you may ask? Rey is here. Her father, Dathan, was born as Palpatine’s cloned son on Exegol in 12 BBY, rejected the dark side, escaped, married Miramir, and had Rey, who is sensitive to the Force, in 15 ABY.
Much of Rey’s timeline remains unchanged from the original. Both of her parents are dead by the time 34 ABY rolls around, she becomes a scavenger, rescues BB-8, befriends Finn, and steals the Millennium Falcon, eventually locating Han and Chewbacca.
The only real difference is, because of her Force-sensitivity, Rey would spend some time defying Inquisitors looking to kidnap and bring her into the Sith Temple.
Since she is Palpatine’s granddaughter, the Sith Lord would still see her as a potential apprentice to replace Luke, keeping galactic rule in the Palpatine family. Resistance cells would be forming in secret in the furthest regions of the Outer Rim.
Ben Solo Never Embraces the Dark Side
Since Luke is the Sith Lord in this one and Ben trains as a Jedi under Ahsoka and Grogu, he never succumbs to the voices in his head, as was the case in The Sequel Trilogy. Instead, he and Rey are never enemies.
Rey still has a strange Force vision on Takodana, which occurs much like in The Force Awakens, when she touches Luke’s old lightsaber stored in Maz Kanata’s castle.
Inquisitors and stormtroopers attack the planet, yet Ben, leading a Resistance force in this timeline, rescues Rey.
Ben reports to Leia, who just as in the original timeline is the leader of the Resistance, and she commands him to bring Rey to her. It is here that Rey presents Luke’s lightsaber.
Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker
The events of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker would change dramatically had Luke turned to the dark side. However, Leia would still be the one training Rey while Ahsoka, Ben, and Grogu would be leading the Resistance against the Empire.
Since Leia is more well-versed in the Jedi path, she gives Rey thorough Jedi training. During the training, Rey feels a growing connection with Ben through the Force, not yet knowing it has to do with their Sith heritage.
Luke, however, crosses Rey and claims he created the connection as a trap to eliminate the last remaining Force-wielders he could not detect. This would prompt Rey into looking to turn Luke back to the light. Using her connection, she locates Ben, but in the process, Luke captures them both.
“No, I am your father,” is one of the most iconic quotes in cinematic history. In this timeline’s version of The Last Jedi, Luke reveals to Ben that he is Leia’s twin brother, and offers Ben to join him, where they can rule the galaxy.
Ben declines, and an iconic battle erupts between the trio, with Luke, the strongest Force-sensitive in the galaxy, quickly gaining the upper hand. In this climactic scene, Leia, Grogu, and Ahsoka astral project to distract Luke, allowing Ben and Rey to retreat.
Luke makes the same mistake that Kylo Ren made in the original timeline, with Leia telling her brother she’ll, “see him around,” before she, Ahsoka, and Grogu die from the amount of energy it took them to ensure an escape route for Rey and Ben.
The Rise of Skywalker
The movie remains set in 35 ABY, one year following the events of The Last Jedi. With Luke still firmly entrenched in the dark side and Leia gone, Ben takes it upon himself to ensure Rey completes her Jedi training.
With the Resistance crumbling, Palpatine still constructs the Sith Eternal fleet of destroyers. Rey finds notes on how to get to Exegol, but they are from Leia instead of Luke. She and Ben eventually travel across the galaxy toward Exegol, but Luke stops them.
The trio duel, but Leia, Obi-Wan, and Yoda along with other fallen Jedi, call out to Luke through the Force, turning him back to the light when it becomes apparent that, given the family lineage, Palpatine wishes to replace him with Rey.
Now that she knows of her Sith background, Rey wants nothing more than to go into exile, but Luke stops her, stating that the Force connection between her and Ben is really a dyad since they both descend from powerful Sith Lords, Palpatine and Vader.
End of the Saga
Palpatine, sensing Luke’s betrayal, orders the Sith Inquisitors to attack and to bring him Rey and Ben. Luke, also sensing the Inquisitors coming through the Force, tells the duo to escape while the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Leia join him in battle to grant Ben and Rey time.
The Millennium Falcon arrives and they go to Kef Bair, where Rey retrieves the wayfinder. In this sequence, Ben never destroys it, and they relay the coordinates of their location to the Resistance, allowing them to launch an attack.
Rey and Ben locate Palpatine, who tries to sway them toward the dark side. They refuse, and Palpatine, angered, attempts to kill them with Force lightning. However, with Rey and Ben trained as Jedi in this timeline, they manage to reflect the lightning back onto Palpatine.
This kills the Sith Lord, and in these events, Ben also survives. The duo travel with their friends to Tatooine, and the saga ends much in the same way it does in the original, but with Rey and Ben both adopting the name Skywalker.
Had Luke turned to the dark side, the Galactic Empire would have won, negating Palpatine from moving his consciousness into his vessel on Exegol.
Leia, and not Luke, would have trained as a Jedi during this time with her Sith Lord brother training the next generation of Force-sensitives into Inquisitors.
This would lead to a sequence of events where Ahsoka Tano would train Grogu, and the duo would train Leia and Ben, both of whom would wind up training Rey. This would lead to an altered timeline of events in The Sequel Trilogy, but it would end in roughly the same way.
Leia would call out to Luke through the Force, turning him back to the light. Luke would still die, but to protect Rey and Ben, who would face and defeat Palpatine.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.