The Star Wars franchise features many characters who keep their identities secret, but who are they and why do they hide their true selves? While in many ways the Star Wars saga seems like a simple science fantasy series, its deep lore and complex characters and organizations provide a deep canon to explore, especially as the story expands outside the films.
In many cases, it’s due to long-term schemes that characters hide their identities, protecting themselves and allowing them to conquer the galaxy (or overthrow an oppressive regime). For example, most Sith Lords had to keep their identity secret, as they no longer operated on the battlefield, but in the shadows instead, manipulating the galaxy in secret.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
From a real-world perspective, the Star Wars franchise’s many instances of secret identities have led to exciting plot twists and fascinating character development. Darth Vader’s famous identity revelation in The Empire Strikes Back became a focal point in his character arc (and Luke Skywalker’s) in Return of the Jedi. Of course, Palpatine’s dual identity throughout the prequel trilogy as both the Senator who becomes Supreme Chancellor as well as a Sith Lord means audiences now expect most major characters to have a secret identity waiting to be revealed.
For much of the first act of Star Wars, R2-D2 searches for the famous Clone Wars-era Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unfamiliar with Obi-Wan, Luke assumes he means “Ben” Kenobi, an eccentric hermit who lives out in Tatooine’s Dune Sea. When Luke comes face-to-face with Kenobi, he learns that Ben is simply an alias Obi-Wan had been using for almost two decades.
Obi-Wan assumed the name Ben to hide his Jedi identity while living on Tatooine in hiding from the Empire. In Canon, Obi-Wan used the Ben alias during the Clone Wars, while on an undercover mission. Han Solo and Leia named their son Ben, and in Legends, Luke named his son Ben in Obi-Wan’s honor.
Most of the galaxy assumed famed Jedi Clone Wars veteran Anakin Skywalker died during the Clone Wars. The truth was grimly ironic, as Anakin had shed his identity to become the Sith Lord Darth Vader and led the attack on the temple, murdering countless Jedi, including younglings.
Like most other Sith Lords, Vader assumed a new identity upon becoming a Dark Lord. Within the Galactic Empire, few knew who and what Vader truly was. Grand Moff Tarkin was vocally aware that Vader was once a Jedi, and privately deduced that he was once Anakin Skywalker.
Boba Fett (Legends)
In both continuities, Boba Fett is a man of few words. Like his father, Jango, Boba benefitted from an aura of mystery surrounding his origin and heritage, but he was fairly apathetic towards those who knew his full background. While Jango Fett was a true Mandalorian in both continuities, Boba Fett fully embraced his father’s culture in Legends.
In Legends, there were various rumors regarding Boba’s background within the galactic underworld. Some thought his real name was Jaster Mereel, and that he wasn’t a real Mandalorian. Others thought he was a Stormtrooper who broke ranks. While both stories are false, Boba never disputed them. Disney’s canon hasn’t revealed as much about Boba Fett, but the upcoming Mandalorian spin-off, The Book of Boba Fett can be expected to fill in a few blanks.
While Leia eventually learned that Breha and Bail Organa were her adopted parents, the galaxy writ large did not. Leia (and subsequently her brother, Luke) are not royalty by blood, as her mother, Padme Naberrie became Queen Amidala via election (as per Naboo culture). Leia instead became Alderaanian royalty as a result of her adoption.
As a public figure in the Alderaanian Royal Family, the Imperial Senate, and eventually the Rebel Alliance, Leia’s identity remained hidden to conceal her from Darth Vader. Leia’s true heritage eventually became widely known in both canon and Legends, creating challenges for Leia in public and private.
The cruelest, deadliest, and most intelligent Dark Lord in the Sith Order, Palpatine maintained two identities for most of his life: The beloved politician Palpatine, and the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. As a Senator (and later Supreme Chancellor), Palpatine won the hearts and minds of the Republic populace, all while orchestrating atrocities as Darth Sidious that he could combat as Palpatine.
Padme Amidala often had a handmaiden serve as a body double as a way to protect her in dangerous situations. The most famous instance of this was seen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, where Sabé spends much of the film’s runtime impersonating the Queen, even after the truth is revealed to the other protagonists.
Padme would once again employ a body double in the opening scene of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Her decoy, Cordé, was assassinated in Padme’s place, protecting the Queen-turned-Senator at the cost of her life.
The former Jedi Master Count Dooku, frustrated with the Republic’s corruption, left the order and became the Sith Lord Darth Tyranus. As a Dark Lord, Dooku used his two identities similarly to his master, Darth Sidious, posing as a political leader in public while masterminding catastrophes in the shadows.
In Star Wars Legends, the Sith Order was destroyed at the Battle of Endor, but just as the Jedi returned through Luke’s New Jedi Order, a new Sith Order was established by the deadly Dark Lady Lumiya. Her first apprentice was Flint, a former Imperial Stormtrooper and eventual Sith apprentice to Darth Vader. Lumiya completed his training, and he became known as the Dark Lord of Belderone.
Thanks to the Force, Luke knew that this new, masked, Sith Lord was Flint (having met him before the Battle of Endor). Rather than defeat the young man, Luke helped Flint reject the dark side. Flint left the Sith and the Empire but was murdered by Lumiya years later as revenge.
The Dark Lady of the Sith and successor to Sidious was once the Imperial spy Shira Brie. Brie completed her Sith training on Ziost during the Battle of Endor, assuming the name Lumiya and becoming the first of a new Sith Order as the last of the old Sith Order died (resurrections aside).
Lumiya’s Sith Order was as prone to secret identities as its predecessor, with Lumiya wearing a full suit of life-support armor (like Vader) that concealed her identity. At the end of a climactic duel on Kinooine, Luke destroys Lumiya’s mask, revealing her true identity as Shira Brie.
Another member of Lumiya’s Sith Order, the Fosh known as Vergere was an enigmatic individual, whose true origins were possibly only known to Palpatine and Lumiya. Vergere was believed to have been a Clone Wars-era Jedi who somehow became a tangential Sith apprentice to Sidious. Decades later, she became one of Lumiya’s most valuable allies, helping to turn Jacen Solo to the dark side.
The oldest of Han and Leia’s three children in Legends, Jacen Solo was for a time one of the New Jedi Order’s greatest members. After the Yuuzhan Vong War, however, Jacen eventually joined Lumiya’s Sith, becoming Darth Caedus. In his mind, Jacen was making a noble sacrifice for the greater good, as the dark side would give him the power necessary to bring peace to the galaxy.
Jacen kept his Sith identity secret for a time, covertly committing atrocities, such as murdering his aunt Mara Jade, to grow in dark side power. His Sith identity was eventually discovered by the Jedi, and Jacen was killed in a duel with his sister, Jaina.
The player character in the Legends-era video game Knights of the Old Republic is believed to be a simple aspiring Jedi at first but is the amnesiac Sith Lord Darth Revan in truth. While not a true “secret identity,” Revan’s name and past are kept secret from him, his allies, and the player until a certain point in the main storyline.
With the Empire committing galaxy-wide genocide against the Jedi, padawan Caleb Dume stops using the Force, stores his lightsaber away and assumes the name Kanan Jarrus. Though he tries to maintain a low profile, Kanan reluctantly helps found an early Rebel cell and eventually the Rebel Alliance.
In Canon, Han and Leia only have one child, Ben Solo, who becomes a Jedi student of Luke Skywalker. Seduced by the dark side and enamored by his late grandfather, Darth Vader, Ben attacks Luke and flees his fledgling Jedi Order. With the help of the mysterious Snoke, Ben joins the Knights of Ren, eventually becoming their leader and taking on the name Kylo Ren.
An even greater mystery in the Canon sequel trilogy was the true identity of the First Order’s original Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke’s background, dark side training, and connection to the First Order were all conspicuously left unexplained until the first act of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
As it turns out, Snoke is a strand-cast (artificial humanoid) who Palpatine used as a deadly proxy to lead the First Order as he gathered strength on Exegol. Snoke’s mysterious nature was meant to keep the galaxy unaware of Palpatine’s resurrection while ensuring proper leadership for the Empire’s successor state.
Rey’s identity was kept secret from nearly all characters and Rey herself throughout the sequel trilogy. The films and their marketing constantly built up the mystery of Rey’s potential familial relationship to major Star Wars characters. At one point, it was implied Rey was related to nobody, perhaps as a way to establish that anyone could become a Jedi, regardless of their family (a point well-made in the original and prequel trilogies).
In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey (and viewers) finally learn that she’s the granddaughter of Palpatine. Rather than follow the dark path of her grandfather, Rey remains a Jedi, defeating Palpatine and his Sith forces on Exegol.
Next: Star Wars: Every Upcoming Movie & Release Date
- Rogue Squadron (2023)Release date: Dec 22, 2023
Attack On Titan Season 4 Trailer Highlights The Finale’s Big Problem
About The Author