I’ve made no secret of the fact that Ben Solo is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters. Right from the outset, there was something compelling about the son of the heroes falling to the dark, the one who had all the potential for goodness, falling to the same darkness that plagued his family for generations.
It all came beautifully full circle when he found the light within himself again and flipped to the side of good, both for the general sense of what is right and for the sake of Rey, the scavenger-turned-Jedi that made up the other half of his soul.
It’s just a shame that the love story only got to properly play out for a grand total of thirty seconds.
The thing is, at least for me, the most egregious sin of The Rise of Skywalker isn’t even in the fact that the writers killed off Ben Solo. No, that dubious honor belongs to Rey and the butchery of her arc for the sake of fanboy comfort. But that is a much longer subject for another day.
Instead today, in the spirit of keeping it lighthearted, I present the ten reasons Ben Solo is absolutely coming back to life one day.
10. Death in Star Wars Isn’t Permanent
Like it or not, it’s true. The number of deaths that occur onscreen is not equal to the number of deaths that actually stick. The sheer amount of characters that got pretty final-looking endings, only to pop up years later somehow is mindboggling. It doesn’t always work (see: the laziest possible way to incorporate Palpatine into your story) but by and large, giving a popular character a second chance at life has precedent, and often works out for the best.
Darth Maul was bisected by Obi-Wan Kenobi, his top half and bottom half bouncing down the ventilation shaft in totally separate pieces, only for him to resurface with spider legs and living in a pile of garbage, his mind in understandable shambles. Ahsoka Tano had an entire building dropped on her head, only for Ezra Bridger to pull her out of the way and into the World Between Worlds. Boba Fett fell headfirst into the belly of a Sarlacc, where nothing awaited him but crushing darkness and a stomach full of acid, and the man punched his way out.
Compared to these extremely lethal, and extremely permanent-feeling death scenarios, something as simple as draining your Force battery and disappearing into nothingness feels like a simple hurdle to clear. It’s not as if he turned into a Force ghost, so all he would have to do is simply rematerialize, no spider leg assembly required!
9. “No One’s Ever Really Gone”
Intentionally or not, The Last Jedi gave fans a rallying cry anytime they were faced with the death of a favorite character: “No one’s ever really gone.” True, the purpose of this quote could be twofold. On the one hand, it could simply stand to signify that those we’ve lost still remain with us in some way. In our hearts, in the Force, etc. Luke Skywalker is doing what Luke Skywalker does best, and drawing on wider — and vaguer — wisdom to comfort Leia, who feels her son is too far gone to ever be reached again.
But the context of the line is what matters. They are not speaking of Ben as “gone” in the literal, deceased sense. Rather, Leia is worried that every vestige of what made him who he is is gone and replaced with Kylo Ren. She is losing her conviction that her son will ever truly come back to the light, and keeping him dead just confirms that statement. Because I have said it before and I will say it again: there is not a decent parent in the world who would find satisfaction in their child’s death when all they ever wanted was for them to come home.
8. He’s a Pretty Popular Character, Anecdotally Speaking
As the heading of this section suggests, this is all anecdotal and based on my own observation. In the days following the release of The Rise of Skywalker, I was working a retail job where I had access to a wide array of Star Wars toys. The Kylo Ren ones sold out first. A few, it must be said, were bought by adults trying to process what they had just seen. But by and large, most were purchased as Christmas gifts for young fans.
Though the merchandise for the character is few and far between these days, it’s worth noting that when something does come out, it seems to sell out fairly quickly. The Ben Solo Funko pop comes to mind as one such example.
While this isn’t strictly Star Wars, avid book fans are very aware of the current trend of Reylo fan fiction-turned-original fiction. There is a market out there for those interested in what life looks like for this character post-redemption, working through his hangups and finding that romance with his soulmate along the way. And if it comes in the form of a grumpy PhD-holding professor or a warlock, or a magic-wielding prince then so be it.
7. Galaxy’s Edge Feels Strange
There is a grim truth facing guests who enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Or at the very least, the guests who are aware that the day you observe occurring at Black Spire Outpost is one specific day within Star Wars canon. Because the story of the land is “set” between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, anyone visiting who sees Kylo Ren stomping around in front of his TIE knows he is somewhere between a few weeks to a few months away from dying.
This was always bound to happen when the theme park was announced to be so firmly locked into one time period. Once the final film in the saga came out, anyone visiting Galaxy’s Edge takes on the role of time traveler. Rey and Kylo might not know how their stories will play out, but we do. Sure, there are jokes to be made about appearing before Kylo like an oracle and imploring him to only give 90% on Exegol instead of the full 100%. But that doesn’t take away the grimness of looking at a character that the story has, until this point, asked us to feel sympathy for, and knowing no matter what happens, he’s still weeks away from death.
“What ifs” aren’t especially helpful, but imagine the following scenario for a moment. Ben Solo is somehow brought back. Now the guests entering the park are still armed with knowledge of the future, but a far more optimistic knowledge. For all that he storms around interrogating people, and demanding to know the location of the Resistance, we know that he is a few months away from turning his back on this forever, and instead working to make right the wrongs committed by the First Order. He’s not there yet, but he will be. For a story about hope, that’s the more optimistic mindset.
6. His Death Makes Han/Leia a Retroactive Tragedy
For fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this isn’t exactly a new point. In those novels, Han and Leia had three children whose lives were tragic to the point that it has eliminated any urgency I had to read the books. I will not willingly submit myself to that kind of tragedy.
In resetting the canon, they gave that happy, embracing couple at the end of Return of the Jedi a new chance at a happier, though not outright happy and perfect, life. Unfortunately, now on the other side of the films, the best-known romantic pairing in Star Wars is pushed right back into that unhappy future. For all that they declare their love in carbon freezing chambers, or escape the clutches of Jabba the Hutt together, or embrace under the stars and the watchful eyes of the murder bears, nothing changes the fact that the son they’re going to have together is doomed to die before reaching his 30th birthday.
They say their final farewell in The Force Awakens as Han departs for Starkiller Base knowing that he’s almost certainly not coming back to Leia. After years of estrangement, Leia is devastated at the loss of her husband, but knows he went where he did in an effort to save their son. Han gives his life for Ben. Leia gives her life for Ben. Ben dies anyway, and so their sacrifice was for nothing. They might as well have not bothered. They probably all would have lived longer that way. Bringing him back would give some much-needed weight to their sacrifice, rather than having it feel as pointless and tragic as it currently does.
5. Star Wars Publishing is Telling Its Own Ben Solo Story
There are two driving factors in making Ben Solo as sympathetic a character as I believe he is. The first is Adam Driver and the performance he gives as Kylo Ren and Ben Solo, with subtle shifts in facial and body language giving the audience an indication of where the character is mentally and emotionally.
The second is the utter wealth of work done by Star Wars publishing. Daniel José Older’s Last Shot, and Jason Fry and Rae Carson’s novelizations of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker respectively all come to mind. They all paint a picture of the kind of person Ben Solo was before his fall to the dark. Far from being the schemy, cartoon villain so many think he is, the two novelizations — since he’s a toddler in Last Shot and doesn’t do much more than act adorable — show him as a tormented man, torn between his nature and what Snoke and Palpatine have spent years telling him about himself.
If there was ever a place to bring Ben Solo back, it would be via the novels. Star Wars publishing is easily telling some of the best Star Wars stories these days. With so many talented writers writing for the Galaxy Far, Far Away, many of whom are willing to ask the tough questions about viewing people in shades of gray instead of black and white, it is the prime location to revisit the character — indeed, all the characters of the Sequel Trilogy era.
4. The Knights of Ren and That All-important Context
The Knights of Ren were a mystery from the moment they were first introduced. Who were these mysterious figures who followed the lead of the one who called himself Kylo Ren? Though the final film had these knights stand dramatically on a cliff before meeting a quick end at the hands of Ben Solo later, that was fortunately not the last we would ever see of them.
Like many concepts slightly too convoluted to be properly addressed onscreen, the Knights of Ren got their due on the page, first appearing in the Rise of Kylo Ren comic run, and currently playing a major role in the Crimson Reign comic series alongside Qi’ra, a former flame of Han Solo turned leader of the Crimson Dawn syndicate.
Beyond just being cool characters aesthetically, as the Knights of Ren take a larger place in the story — with distant Solo family connections, no less — the more likely it seems that this is somehow going to connect with the day Ben Solo joined their ranks and left his Jedi training behind. Given that the Knights are all dead by the time Ben dies, the most likely way this could be done is with a young Ben Solo series. But if that avenue were taken, without bringing back his adult self, the whole thing would come across like a sad inevitability. No matter what the young Ben does, the audience already knows how it ends. But if he were to come back first…
3. The Lego Holiday Specials AKA the Ben Solo Redemption Tour
There is nothing and no one out there doing more legwork for the eventual resurrection of a redeemed Ben Solo than LEGO. The company has so far produced two seasonal specials for Disney+ — The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special in November 2020 and LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales in October 2021 — both of which feature Ben Solo in some capacity.
LEGO is not afraid to lean into the goofier aspects of the saga as a whole. The recent Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga game is proof enough of that with meta visual gags and very self-aware dialogue. The holiday specials are in the same vein, by and large silly and not to be taken too seriously. Except both also establish key canonical aspects of Ben’s character.
The Holiday Special sees Rey travel through time to important moments in the story, and at one point encounters Ben. Though she knows she has to leave him behind, she does so almost regretfully. Because even the little bricks know that he matters to her. More importantly, Terrifying Tales presents a Lost Boys-esque take on Ben’s recruitment by the Knights of Ren, mixing Easter eggs together with the true-to-canon story of how the Knights approached Jedi Apprentice Ben and offered him a way to expand his knowledge and application of the Force.
If they were so committed to keeping him dead, they could have played up the villainous side, rather than painting him as someone in over his head, and someone who is still very much missed.
2. The Dyad and the Mystical Force Stuff
Up until now, this list has been mostly reasons why he should come back. But nothing has me more convinced that he will come back someday than the concepts introduced in the story, namely those of the Force Dyad.
I am not the first to make this assertion, but the longer I sit with it, the more the line “a power like life itself” with regards to the connection Rey and Ben share reads like a loophole. Like plans for a moon-sized battle station revealing the location of a 2-meter wide exhaust port. In its most literal sense, yes, the power was used to bring Rey back from the brink, draining Ben in the process. But how limiting to simply stop there.
Star Wars has taken the time across books, TV, and movies to establish that the Force is so much more than laser swords and lifting rocks. When you take the time to create two characters who are the equals of one another in the light and dark respectively, by removing the dark, you remove the balance. The most concrete proof, to me, that Ben Solo is returning is simply that there is too much there for him to not come back. The way is all but paved.
Potential for New Stories
This one should go without saying, but bringing Ben Solo back opens up the potential for the kinds of stories we have only previously seen hinted at. When the Alphabet Squadron trilogy concluded in early 2021, it wrapped up on the note that no one is beyond redemption, and that those that have harmed others can and should work to make amends.
Though the circumstances surrounding Ben Solo and Alphabet Squadron’s Yrica Quell are quite different, the possibility of what restorative justice looks like in a new, forgiving galaxy is extremely enticing. Too often, this possibility where Han and Leia’s son is concerned is brushed away with the kind of lazy dismissal that got the story to this point, to begin with.
If Star Wars ever wants to push beyond the Original Trilogy comfort zone — and the success of The High Republic tells me that there are storytellers who do — it’s time to look to the future, and to what kinds of things legacy characters and those who came from nothing can achieve if given half a chance.
Broadly speaking, we are long overdue for stories featuring the cast of the Sequel Trilogy. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Rose Tico too are full of potential to tell stories of the galaxy in the hands of a new generation who has perhaps at last learned from the sins of their predecessors. None of them, Ben included, deserve to be left in the limbo forced on them after their onscreen conclusions.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.
Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.