Star Wars Fathers: The legacy of 10 dads from a galaxy far, far away

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One of the most famous moments in the Star Wars saga is in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is Luke's father. The line "I am your father" is one that has become so well known in pop culture that even those who may never have seen Star Wars have probably heard the phrase countless times. That father-and-son relationship became essential to the original trilogy, but Anakin Skywalker is far from the only dad to appear in the franchise.

As Star Wars has grown, so too have the depictions of fathers in the series. From the prequel films to the animated TV shows, there are quite a few representations of dads that have now appeared over the years. Some have stood out more than others, and some of them have not exactly been great dads, yet all impacted their children, whether biological or adopted, in some way.

In honor of Father's Day, we look at a few dads in the new Star Wars canon and what they're like in a galaxy far, far away. Here's my examination of 10 dads from the franchise, including some obvious and perhaps some less well-known characters.

Bail Organa

Bail Organa was Alderaan's senator and part of the royal ruling house of the planet. When it's decided in Revenge of the Sith that with the rise of the Empire Anakin's twins must be hidden, Bail quickly offers to take in baby Leia as he and his wife Breha always talked about adopting a baby girl. In this way, Leia becomes a princess of Alderaan and follows in her adoptive father's footsteps when growing up.

Unlike Owen Lars, Bail didn't try to overly protect Leia by keeping her on Alderaan away from things. Instead he allows her to work as his aide and brings her into the Rebellion he helped create. As we see in Rebels, at just about 15 Leia is already helping her father in his work assisting Rebel cells. Bail was a smart and kind person. He tried his best to make a difference by playing the game of being in the Senate while working secretly for the Rebellion and he passed on everything from his ideals to his politics to his daughter.

Father and daughter seemed to have a strong relationship and in Rogue One, when it's time for Bail to contact Obi-Wan, he turns to the person he trusts with his life: Leia. It's clear Bail tried to be the best father he could be for Leia, and his teachings and beliefs live on in his adopted daughter.

Cham Syndulla

Cham Syndulla was introduced in Clone Wars and was revealed in Rebelsduring the episode "Homecoming" to be the father of Hera Syndulla. A hero of the Clone Wars, Cham is thought of highly by many for his skill in fighting the Separatists and later the Empire. However, it's abundantly clear from how we see he and Hera interact that things are not great between the father and daughter. The two have not spoken in years and the death of Hera's mother in the resistance caused Cham to shift his focus more to Ryloth's freedom than his daughter. Cham believes Hera should have stayed home and focused on freeing Ryloth, not putting faith in outsiders, but Hera thinks the fight has to be fought beyond just their planet. She ended up leaving home because of her father's refusal to see and believe her when she said the Rebellion was in the same fight as him.

Hera's father loved her but wasn't there for her in the way he needed to be when she was younger and that led to this rift. Despite their distant relationship, Hera did learn from her father's example about being a leader and fighting for what's right though, which served her well in her own role working with the Rebels. Eventually their relationship improves as they come to an understanding and, better late than never, the two seem to have completely reconciled by a future episode where Cham is willing to sacrifice himself for his daughter. While their past may have been rocky, it looks like these two will have a better relationship moving forward.

Jango Fett

The bounty hunter Jango Fett was introduced in Attack of the Clones. His name as well as his armor connected him pretty quickly to fan favorite bounty hunter from the original trilogy Boba Fett. It's in the prequel film that we learn Jango is being used as a template for the clone army being grown on Kamino. Other than being paid for his work, all Jango asked for in return was an unaltered clone for himself that would not have growth acceleration or be tampered with to be made more docile. This clone would become his son Boba.

Since he asked for the clone, Jango obviously wanted to be a father and he cared a lot for his son. Jango was a skilled fighter and pilot, and he passed this knowledge on to Boba. Already we see the kid knows his way around the ship at a young age as he, for example, fires on Obi-Wan when the Jedi tries to stop them from leaving Kamino. From what we see Boba do in the future, his father clearly laid the groundwork for his son's own career as a bounty hunter as Boba continued his father's legacy.

Of course, that violent legacy isn't exactly the best thing a father can teach their kid and very early on Jango seems fine with Boba witnessing some terrible violence, whether it's trying to kill Obi-Wan, which Boba often finds funny, or witnessing executions. Jango brought his son to the arena on Geonosis to watch Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala be executed in a rather poor idea of a father and son outing. This especially became true since the execution turned into a much larger fight with even more death and ended with Jango killed by Jedi Master Mace Windu. Boba watched his father's head get cut off by the Jedi and that left a lasting impression on the young boy.

As we see later in Clone Wars, Boba tries to get revenge for his father's death and follow in Jango's footsteps as a bounty hunter as he tries to make his way in the world on his own. While Jango loved his son, due to his line of work he didn't really expose him to the best elements of the galaxy!

Han Solo

The Force Awakens makes it pretty clear things didn't go so well with the family life Han tried to have with Leia and their son Ben. We don't know too many of the details of exactly what happened … yet. We do know from the novel Aftermath: Life Debt that once Ben was born Han thought a lot about being a dad, telling his son it'd be them against the world and he might not be a fantastic dad but he'd do his best to keep them on the path of doing the right thing. It's a sweet moment and we don't know much beyond that about their relationship. More is certainly going to be told in future movies as well as other media, but from what we do know the son and father did not exactly have a good relationship in the future.

When Han and Leia are reunited in the sequel trilogy film, it's revealed how Han feels mostly hopeless about the loss of his son to the Dark Side. He feels bad that he reminds Leia of Ben and doesn't believe they could have done anything else since there was "too much Vader in him." It all sounds quite complicated and we don't know the specifics, though it does seem like until this talk with Leia Han had kind of given up a bit, at least outwardly, when discussing Ben. He says they lost him forever despite Leia thinking he can be saved and if Luke couldn't reach him, how could Han? Leia believes he can because he's Ben's father and that touches a cord with the old smuggler so that when Leia says bring him home, Han tries to. He suddenly seems to have hope when he tells Kylo Ren he wants him to come home because they miss him. Han's reached the point, as he tells Ben all this, that he'll do anything for his son. Unfortunately, that leads to his death.

Still, Han was willing to take the chance on hope and not give up on his kid. Right now, we don't know if Han was indeed the disappointing father Kylo believes he was because we don't have many facts about Ben's life growing up. Maybe Han was a terrible dad. Maybe he wasn't. But at this point in The Force Awakens when it mattered and Han could have just continued to run away and give up on his son, he didn't. At that moment, he tried to be the best father he could.

Owen Lars

When Luke grew up on Tatooine, it was his uncle Owen who acted as the father figure in his life. Owen and his wife Beru took in his stepbrother's son and raised him on their moisture farm. He obviously loved Luke, which was why he was so protective of the boy. Owen gave Luke chores on the farm to occupy his time and stressed how much he needed him on the farm, but the more he did so the more it seemed to just fuel Luke wanting to get away and head to the Academy like his friends.

Owen wanted to keep Luke safe so much that he didn't even want Obi-Wan in Luke's life. When Luke mentions "Old Ben" Owen denies knowing anything, calling him a crazy old man and insisting R2-D2's memory be wiped. He does state that Obi-Wan died around the same time as Luke's father, but that just makes Luke more curious until Owen insists Luke forget it. When Luke mentions the Academy and Owen says he needs him another season, Luke's frustration at hearing this once again leads him to storming out of the room.

Owen believes he can make all this up to Luke and admits he's afraid the boy is a lot like his father, who as far as Owen knows is dead. He was probably too protective of Luke due to his fear, but he did his best to give Luke a safe and loving home despite not encouraging his dreams too much. It's easy to see how the life Owen and Beru gave Luke helped him have the foundation to become the good man we'd see him grow to be.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

Darth Vader is the ultimate Star Wars father. Has any fatherhood confession in pop culture been as memorable as Darth Vader's "I am your father" line in The Empire Strikes Back? Telling his son they're related after cutting off his hand might not have been the best way to go, but then again Vader wasn't exactly a good father. It's only when his son is moments from death in Return of the Jedi that he does something good for Luke. Before we get to that, though, let's start at the beginning …

When Anakin first discovers he's going to be a father in Revenge of the Sith, he's excited by the news and calls it the happiest moment of his life. It's something he's looking forward to until his dreams show Padmé dying in childbirth. From there he falls to the Dark Side, becomes Darth Vader, and thinks his child died with his wife until he discovers the pilot from A New Hope is a Skywalker. His confusion at this is clear when he talks to the Emperor in Empire Strikes Back, wondering how it's possible. His feelings as well seem to come through as he says Luke's just a boy and suggests instead of just destroying him, trying to bring him to the Dark Side and make him an ally first. If he won't, then Vader will kill him, but he's hoping for more now that he knows he has a son. Of course, threatening Luke's friends and cutting off his hand is not a great way to connect with your kid!

Meeting again in Return of the Jedi, Luke has accepted Vader was once his father Anakin. Vader claims that name has no meaning for him and says it's too late for him whenever Luke says he knows there's good in him. Even finding out he has another child, a daughter, doesn't turn Vader and it's only when watching the Emperor come close to killing his son that Anakin decides he doesn't want his son to die and sacrifices himself when killing the Emperor.

Vader was a terrible person who did horrible things, but despite all the pain and horror he'd caused in the galaxy, he was able to do one good thing as a father before the end and save his son's life.

Galen Erso

Galen Erso made his on screen debut in Rogue One and fans can learn a lot more about him in the movie's prequel book Catalyst, which explores his work for the Republic and later for the Empire during its early years. During this time before the movie, we see Galen cares deeply for Jyn and tries to do what's best for his family to keep them safe. However, he also easily gets caught up in his work and what he can and can't discuss with them, which makes him not always be there for Jyn and Lyra. It takes help from Lyra for Galen to see what Orson Krennic, who Galen considered a friend, was really using him for and the family runs from the Empire.

That's where we find them in Rogue One, living what we can only assume was a simple but happy life. Galen is willing to face Krennic on his own when he arrives and sends Lyra and Jyn away from their home. He makes sure to spend a moment with his daughter to tell her that whatever he does he does to protect her and hugs her before they part. Unfortunately, Lyra is killed, Galen is taken and Jyn is left to grow up with Saw Gerrera and then on her own. It's years later that he's able to send a message to Jyn, who he hopes is alive, to explain that he's been trying to delay the Empire's plans and secretly included a weakness in their ultimate weapon: the Death Star.

Galen thought he was doing what was best for his family and the rest of the galaxy by working for the Empire. It can be debated whether or not this was the right move, as can putting the pressure on his daughter when he sends a message about his work to the Rebellion. However, it's apparent from the sweet nickname of 'Stardust' and what he says in the message about missing and thinking of her that he loved his daughter very much. He always kept hope that Jyn was alive and that people could do the right thing, as seen in how he encouraged Bodhi that he could make a difference, how he sacrificed his own life to try to stop the Empire and how he admitted to contacting the Rebellion to try to save his team from Krennic. Under terrible circumstances, Galen tried his best to be a good dad to Jyn.

The Father

The mysterious being only known as The Father appeared in the excellent third season three-episode Mortis arc of Clone Wars. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka discover him along with his Son and Daughter, and learn that The Father is keeping balance between the two who represent the Dark and Light sides of the Force. We learn through his conversations with Anakin that keeping this balance isn't easy for him. He loves his children but knows their power can tear the fabric of the universe if the balance is ever lost, which is why he's kept them on Mortis. Now, he’s getting older and dying, and looking for the Chosen One to replace him to keep the balance.

Unfortunately, everything starts to go wrong with the Jedis' arrival and soon the Son starts to fall further into the Dark Side. The Father tries to talk to him and doesn't want his children fighting, but his efforts can't stop the death of the Daughter and the guilt he feels afterwards. He continues to try to reach the Son and tells him he loves him, but the only way to stop him in the end is for the Father to sacrifice himself and lead his son to his death.

Throughout the three episodes it's clear this being cares deeply for his children despite whatever flaws they might have and only wanted what was best to protect them as well as the rest of the galaxy. His actions unintentionally sparked events that would kill them all and break his heart, but he was just thinking ahead to what would be best for them when he was gone. It's a tragic story as the Father watches his family fall apart despite his love for them.

Cliegg Lars

Like Jango Fett, Cliegg Lars was introduced in Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Padmé meet the moisture farmer on Tatooine while looking for Shmi Skywalker. It turns out Cliegg met Shmi and the two fell in love, so he freed her from her life as Watto's slave and the two married. Unfortunately, Shmi was later taken by Tusken Raiders and died, though Cliegg tried to go out and save her, which cost him his leg. By the time Anakin arrived, he wasn't healed enough to try to find her again.

During this encounter we also meet a young Owen Lars and his girlfriend Beru Whitesun, but there's not much we know about Cliegg as a father from this appearance or what his relationship with Owen might have been like. Still, from how he freed Shmi, loved her and treated Anakin upon his arrival, it certainly seems like Cliegg was a caring individual. He tried his best to find his wife and didn't want to give up on her, even though he knew the chances of her being alive were slim. He must have taught Owen all about moisture farming and left the homestead to him.

Despite the lack of details, if Cliegg was indeed a decent person as he appeared to be in these short scenes, it's easy to see how Owen grew up to be the good man who took in and raised Luke years later.

Brentin Wexley

Brentin Wexley is only mentioned in the first Aftermath novel but plays more of a role in the last two books in the trilogy.

Brentin was a member of the Rebellion and was taken from his wife Norra and son Temmin when he was discovered by the Empire. From what little we know of Brentin being around when Temmin was young, things were good between the father and son and it seems like they spent a good deal of time together. While the Empire cut that short, years later Norra and Temmin discover Brentin was in a prison all those years on Kashyyyk. The family is reunited, though reconnecting after so much time isn't easy. Unfortunately, an implant in Brentin and the others rescued made this even more difficult and caused them to attack the New Republic leaders. It also caused Brentin to restrain his own son and ultimately fight with him before leaving with Grand Admiral Sloane. Brentin and Sloane become unlikely allies as they both go after the mastermind behind it all, Gallius Rax, in a quest Brentin says he has to go on in order to try to fix things with his family. However, he's later killed in this attempt.

Until being taken by the Empire, it seems like Brentin was a good father. However, his later actions, despite being what he thought would be best for his family, are questionable. Would it have been better for him just to go back to Norra and Temmin after everything and try to work it out instead of embarking on a quest for revenge? His choice lost him the chance to spend more time with his son, though clearly it was something he felt he had to do.