Parenting Padawans: The Legacies of Star Wars Fathers

From scoundrels to senators, examines the legacy and sacrifices of fathers across the Star Wars saga.

Are you a parent with children who love the galaxy far, far away? Parenting Padawans is an exclusive column that discusses the various questions and factors that come into play when introducing your younglings to Star Wars.

Fatherhood has a somewhat peculiar role in the Star Wars mythos. Fathers are critically important to the story, but they’re largely removed from their children’s lives. Many of the most powerful and enduring characters in the saga got that way despite — or more likely, because of — absent fathers.

Looking at the overarching story, it’s difficult to identify many close father-son or father-daughter relationships, and there aren’t many stereotypical “happy families.” Nevertheless, the effect fathers have on their children — both directly and indirectly — is profound. In short, their influence is extraordinary.

Would Luke be as driven to become a Jedi Master if he weren’t inspired by Anakin’s legend and Ben’s sacrifice? Would Leia have joined the Rebellion and begun the Resistance if she hadn’t been inspired by Bail’s vision and leadership? Would Vader have turned away from the dark side and betrayed the Emperor if Luke hadn’t appealed to the father within him?

It’s hard to say. But it is safe to say that many of the central themes in Star Wars hinge on these family relationships. The story of Star Wars would be entirely different if it didn’t deal with these issues.

Therefore, as we get closer to Father’s Day, we wanted to say thanks to all those dads who helped shape the Star Wars universe.

Before we begin, though, let’s clear something up. We’ve chosen only to include biological or adoptive fathers here. We fully recognize that fathers come in many shapes and sizes, and they’re all absolutely worth recognizing and celebrating on Father’s Day. However, if we were to try to adopt a more inclusive definition that includes all manner of father figures, then this list could theoretically include almost every male character in the Star Wars universe.

Finally, I guess we should mention that a few of these should come with a potential spoiler alert. You’ve been warned.

Anakin Brooding
Anakin Skywalker
Though there might be some disagreement among fans, Star Wars is essentially Anakin’s story. And for better or worse, much of that story deals with his role as a father. Ironically, even though he literally had no father of his own, Anakin still showed a propensity for the role from a young age. His creation of (and affinity for) C-3PO is evidence of this. Later, as a conflicted Padawan, Anakin was thrilled at the prospect of becoming a father once Padmé became pregnant — so much so that he made a series of unfortunate decisions. His choices, though regrettable, were nonetheless made with the best of intentions: he was trying to protect his young family. Ultimately, when confronted with his son’s unwavering belief in his essential good (despite remarkable evidence to the contrary), Anakin (as Darth Vader) is able to find a certain measure of redemption. In the end, it’s a father’s love for his son that wins out and is, to me, the central message of Star Wars.

Bail Organa
Adoptive father to Leia, Bail raised his daughter as a princess of Alderaan and instilled in her a strong independent personality, a love of freedom, and a flair for politics. Without his (and Breha’s) upbringing, it’s impossible to say whether the Rebellion or the Resistance would have ever developed let alone been successful. It’s not an exaggeration to say that without Bail Organa’s influence, the Empire might’ve taken over the galaxy unchecked.

Cham Syndulla
An eminent — and revered — freedom fighter during the Clone Wars, Cham completely dedicated himself to Ryloth liberation, especially after the death of his wife. This all-consuming, singular devotion eventually created a gulf between him and his daughter, Hera. Even though their relationship was strained and distant for many years, Hera still inherited Cham’s revolutionary zeal and independent spirit. Cham’s resolute focus on his people and their freedom ultimately taught Hera how to be an effective leader — a skill she clearly took to heart — and inspired her to join the Rebellion.

Ephraim Bridger
In much the same way that Hera was inspired by her distant father, Ezra found inspiration from his father’s legacy and absence. Ephraim’s imprisonment (along with his wife Mira) essentially made Ezra an orphan. As a result, Ezra learned to fend for himself, create his own code of conduct, and find the will to survive. Since his parents’ absence was caused by the Empire, Ezra obviously directed his energy toward actively disrupting the Empire as much as he could. Inspired by his father’s revolutionary activities, Ezra walked the same path and reflected that inspiration back toward Ephraim, who in turn drew inspiration from Ezra and rose up against his captors.

Jango Fett
Should we consider all of the clones his children? Or just Boba? Or none of the above? Strictly speaking, Boba was Jango’s “unaltered clone,” but regardless of the genetics of the situation, Jango still raised young Boba as a son. Sure, Jango may have been a ruthless bounty hunter and not above assisting the Separatists if it brought a few extra credits his way. But he was also a single father just trying to make his way in the world. Of all of the fathers in Star Wars, Jango probably made the most…questionable choices. But darn it if Boba didn’t flat-out idolize his dad. We may not agree with Jango’s particular brand of fatherhood, but Boba worshipped him, followed in his footsteps, and spent his entire life avenging Jango’s death. He had an effect on the boy, I’ll give him that.

Owen Lars
Adoptive father to Luke, Owen welcomed Luke into his home while still a young man himself. Unlike Bail, Owen didn’t have the privileges of position, authority, or money. He and Beru were barely making ends meet, yet they still had room in their hearts and lives for an adopted son. Whereas Bail was able to raise Leia as a princess, Owen did right by Luke by showing him the strength of perseverance, determination, and independence. And he kept Luke safe. Thanks to Owen, Luke inherited a gritty, can-do attitude that was critical for a life spent searching for water in a desert. Luke took these lessons to heart so well that he was able to use those skills and basically train himself in the ways of the Force.

Han Solo
Even though we don’t yet know much about his time with young Ben, we do know that Han didn’t have much time with him. We know that Ben left to train with Luke at a young age and that Han “lost touch” with him after Snoke’s interference not long after. But losing your son to the dark side does not revoke your parenthood…or love. Despite everything, Han remained optimistic and clung to the hope that his son could be saved. The odds were against him from the beginning, but Han still made the most of the few opportunities he had.

Lost Stars Cover

Oris Kyrell
Let’s be clear. Oris Kyrell, from the Lost Stars novel, won’t be winning any Father of the Year awards. Abusive, violent, obnoxious, and vindictive, Oris set his son Thane on a fast track to rebellion. But Thane’s youthful tendency toward rebellion soon intersected with full-scale Rebellion. Growing up under Oris’s iron grip taught Thane that “it didn’t matter who was really right or wrong — because the rules were set by whoever held the cane,” and “above all, it taught him to hate bullies.” These were lessons that Thane took with him both to his position in the Imperial fleet and, ultimately, to the Rebellion. In a sense, Oris became a role model for the type of man that Thane vowed never to become.

Kes Dameron
Poe Dameron has emerged as one of the most compelling new characters from The Force Awakens — and it’s well documented that Star Wars fans have a perennial soft spot in their hearts for the hotshot pilot. But how did he also become one of the most important members of the Resistance? In large part, that’s thanks to his parents who (surprise!) were absent for much of his childhood. Their responsibilities to the Rebellion largely kept Kes and Shara Bey away from their young son, but they nevertheless had a powerful impact on him. For his part, Kes instilled in Poe a strong sense of duty, loyalty, and commitment that he carried with him to adulthood.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).