The Star Wars canon deals a lot with characters whose allegiances and morals are ever-changing. This usually adds complexity and depths to them and their stories. It can also lead to classic redemption stories from dark side Force users, Imperial troopers and officers, and even good-hearted characters who never always led the most upstanding life.
There have been many redemption stories told in Star Wars over the years, coming most famously in the films, but also in the likes of Star Wars: Rebels, the novels, and even video games of the canon.
10 Galen (& Jyn) Erso
A few Imperial redemption stories in the Star Wars canon include Iden Versio, Bodhi Rook, and more. However, one of their redemption stories ended up having the heroic impact of Galen’s combined with depth to the story.
Galen was never a bad person, he got misled, and his judgment was clouded by wanting to repair the damage done to the Galaxy during the Clone War. Nevertheless, he worked with the Empire under Krennic and helped create the Death Star. Thankfully, he eventually put in a flaw that would lead to Luke Skywalker destroying the space station during the Battle of Yavin. His daughter (and one of the best characters in Rogue One), Jyn Erso, also had a bit of a straying life, despite never being truly bad. She more than made up for whatever mistakes she made in her life by bravely getting the Death Star plans to the rebels.
9 Lando Calrissian
One of Star Wars’ most iconic characters, rife with charm and charisma, Lando Calrissian walks the moral tightrope for most of his life as a smuggler, gambler, and overall scoundrel.
He was never evil. However, between the life he led before the original trilogy and betraying Han and co. on Bespin, Lando had some mistakes to atone for, which he more than did. It is not a redemption story highlighted as such in the films, but between leading the charge in the Battle of Endor and everything he did with Luke after the fact, Lando made up for all his wrongdoings and redeemed himself tenfold.
Even when he was part of the First Order, Finn never contributed to the killing of innocents. On top of that, he was taken as a child and so got raised with nothing but the First Order. But his redemption is more than just switching from good to bad.
Finn not only was a part of the tyranny of the First Order but wanted to run away from the Resistance; he was almost cowardly in how little interest he had in helping the Galaxy. The former stormtrooper spent the rest of the trilogy finding his place in the Resistance and being so much of a hero, with such incredible bravery throughout the sequel trilogy, that it is easy to forgive his disinterest in heroics during The Force Awakens.
7 Han Solo
Han Solo spent much of his life committing petty crimes, smuggling, working for the Empire, and working for crime lords. On top of that, he showed incredibly little care for other people’s lives for much of his and Chewie’s time together.
Han’s lifestyle has peaks and troughs in terms of how good and bad it is morally, especially when he abandons the rebellion/New Republic for smuggling again once Kylo Ren was born. However, in the end, Han was always good at heart, proving so time and time again despite his flaws, with his final moment of redemption coming when he sacrificed himself to try and bring his son back.
6 Obi-Wan Kenobi & Yoda
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda were the only two surviving members of the Jedi High Council following Order 66 and had to carry that burden with them for the rest of their lives in exile, waiting for a new hero to emerge.
There are rightfully many criticisms of the arrogant Jedi Order of the Republic-era, and neither of these beloved Jedi are exempt from unpopular opinions or condemnation. However, in their exile, pain, and helping Luke Skywalker save the Galaxy, they more than made up for any mistakes or oversights made during that time; their redemption was not only for them but for all Jedi before them.
5 Ben Solo
One of the more divisive aspects of the sequel trilogy among fans of the films is the redemption of Ben Solo. Many fans believe Ben should have survived, while others think he should have remained Kylo Ren until the end.
Nevertheless, what fans got in The Rise of Skywalker was the redemption of Kylo Ren, a brilliant glimpse of Ben Solo’s potential and his sacrifice. Kylo may be the sequel trilogy’s best character, and so much of that is down to the torn nature of the character, performed wonderfully by Adam Driver. But, while fans would love to see more of Ben Solo, he had a solid redemption story that led to the film’s best scenes, such as his conversation with Han and confronting Palpatine on Exegol.
4 Luke Skywalker
The Last Jedi has proven itself as Star Wars’ most controversial movie, with a lot of that coming down to the treatment of Luke Skywalker within it. There is no doubting that Luke’s arc, though, is a beautiful redemption story.
Having let down his nephew, Luke cut himself off from the Force and went into exile, ignoring the struggles of the Resistance and the Galaxy. By the film’s end, Luke faces off with not only Kylo Ren but a barrage of First Order Forces and allows hope to live, for a sliver of the Resistance to escape and thrive. Luke realized his mistakes and rectified them wonderfully.
3 Alexsandr Kallus
Former Imperial ISB Agent Alexsandr Kallus is not known by Star Wars fans with little knowledge of Star Wars: Rebels. However, Kallus is an underappreciated character with a genuinely brilliant redemption story.
Kallus kicked off his time in Rebels as a pretty one-dimensional recurring Imperial villain. As time went on, it became clear the character had so much more to him. After getting stranded with Zeb, Kallus defected from the Empire and bravely worked undercover for the rebels before joining the rebellion completely. This is a slow-burn story that takes place across all seasons of the show and is a fantastic underlying story in the show.
2 Asajj Ventress
Asajj Ventress brought so much to The Clone Wars every time she appeared. Fearless, ruthless, and intimidating, the character is excellent whenever she pops up in canon but has proved that she is more than just badassery.
Through The Clone Wars, fans get let in on the tragic life of the beloved Star Wars villain turned anti-hero, and get to see her grow from a Sith assassin to a mercenary to someone who reluctantly works with the good guys. Her redemption hits full force in Dark Disciple, in which Quinlan Vos also undergoes a brilliant redemption, and the novel is a must-read for any Ventress fan or Star Wars fan who enjoys redemption arcs.
1 Anakin Skywalker
The most famous redemption arc in Star Wars is that of Anakin Skywalker. The fallen Jedi became a tremendous force of darkness in the Galaxy but eventually redeemed himself in one of the saga’s greatest stories.
Some debate whether or not killing the Emperor was enough to redeem Vader for all the heinous evil he had performed over the decades prior. However, the return of Anakin Skywalker is a moment that will always be epic and beautiful. He is Star Wars’ most tragic character, and a sacrificial redemption and chance to be the hero by saving his son is no less than what the character earned with his quality.
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