Of all the different villains we’ve seen in Star Wars, one of the most misunderstood is Kylo Ren, who had his own redemption arc in the sequel trilogy. That means that Kylo Ren used to be evil and allied with the sequel trilogy’s antagonists. Of course, we all know that there was a good reason why he became evil, even though he was the son of Leia and Han and was the nephew of Luke. So, why did Kylo Ren turn to the dark side?
Kylo Ren turned to the dark side because he had become disillusioned by the Jedi Order after Luke Skywalker tried to kill him. Luke saw inner darkness within Kylo. And this darkness surfaced when Luke tried to kill him, and Kylo Ren became disillusioned by the secrets the Skywalker family kept from him.
In a way, Kylo Ren’s fall to the dark side wasn’t his own doing but was the product of the different things his mother and uncle did while raising him to become a Jedi. He quickly lost faith in both the Jedi and his family as a result of the secrets that they were keeping from him. So, with that said, let’s look at Kylo Ren’s fall to the dark side.
Why Did Kylo Ren Turn to the Dark Side?
We first met Kylo Ren as an angry man desperately looking for Luke Skywalker during the events of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens while leading the First Order to defeat the Resistance. However, it was eventually revealed that he was actually Ben Solo, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo. That would mean that Luke was his own uncle and that he was a Skywalker by blood.
Ben, of course, wasn’t evil when he was born. Instead, he was a good man that was strong in the Force and was talented enough to become one of Luke’s top students in his new Jedi Order. But how and why did Ben Solo become Kylo Ren and turn to the dark side?
Even though he was allied with the light side of the Force during the earlier part of his life, Ben knew that he had an inner darkness within him. This was innate within many Force users, as many had to conquer the darkness by themselves. And Ben understood that he had to suppress this darkness because he was a Jedi.
Nevertheless, the truth about Ben’s family’s past came to light. Leia’s political enemies released information regarding her parents. As such, Ben learned the truth about Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. Of course, both Luke and Leia also hid from him the fact that Anakin was Darth Vader. But Ben eventually learned about Vader’s true nature when the truth was leaked all over the Republic.
Ben felt his family betrayed him by hiding the truth from him. Of course, neither Luke nor Leia shared the truth about Vader with him out of fear that he might embrace the darkness within him. But because Ben found out the truth in the worst way possible, he thought he was justified to embrace his inner darkness, similar to what Anakin did in the past.
Snoke, who was becoming more powerful in the dark side of the Force, saw this as a way for him to turn Ben into his apprentice. He thought that Ben Solo could be the ultimate bridge between both sides of the Force, and that was why he utilized Ben’s anger to convince him to become his apprentice. And by promising that he would become even greater than Darth Vader, Snoke ultimately convinced Ben to embrace the dark side and train under him.
Luke eventually sensed the growing darkness within Ben, and that was when he approached his sleeping nephew. The moment that Luke approached Ben, he had a vision of what his nephew would do with the darkness within him, as he instinctively drew his lightsaber in an attempt to take Ben’s life.
But Luke felt shame in what he was about to do. He decided against killing Ben. But it was too late because Ben woke up and saw his uncle brandishing his lightsaber before him as he thought that Luke was about to murder him. Ben drew his lightsaber and collapsed the tent before escaping, believing he had killed his uncle.
Out of rage, Ben drew the power of the dark side of the Force to destroy Luke’s Jedi Temple, killing most of Luke’s students in the process. He eventually killed all of Luke’s other students and joined up with the Knights of Ren. Joining the Knights of Ren allowed him to follow a new path in life as he killed and replaced the leader of the Knights of Ren and took the name “Kylo Ren.” The newly-christened Kylo Ren eventually joined up with the First Order as the right-hand man of Supreme Leader Snoke.
Why Wasn’t Kylo Ren a Darth?
One of the things that we noticed about the dark-side users in the storyline of Star Wars is that almost all of them had the “Darth” name. Darth Sidious, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Darth Tyranus. So, if Kylo Ren had turned to the dark side, why is it that he didn’t have the Darth name?
Basically, “Darth” means “dark lord of the Sith.” As such, one has to be a Sith Lord to bear the Darth name. That is why not all of the dark side users in Star Wars carry the Darth name. Some of the best examples are Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress. While both worked under Count Dooku, they never earned the Darth name because they were never Sith Lords.
This means that, even though he turned to the dark side of the Force, Kylo Ren was never a Sith Lord. He needed to be a member of the Sith Order to bear the Darth name. And because he never turned into a Sith, he never earned the Darth name that his grandfather carried for more than 20 years.
Why Wasn’t Kylo Ren a Sith?
As mentioned, Kylo Ren wasn’t a Sith, even though he was a user of the dark side of the Force. And this is quite technical because using the dark side doesn’t automatically turn someone into a Sith Lord.
When Kylo Ren turned to the dark side, the Sith was presumed destroyed. Emperor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker’s deaths caused the Sith’s extinction. Of course, we know that Palpatine survived the cloning process, but we also know that he stayed in hiding for a long time and wasn’t the one who indoctrinated Kylo Ren into the dark side.
While Snoke was a puppet that Palpatine created through the Sith Eternal, he wasn’t a Sith. Instead, he saw himself as a scholar of the Force and was knowledgeable about both sides of the Force. But while he favored the dark side, he was never a Sith Lord. And because he was the one who turned Ben Solo into the dark side as his apprentice, Kylo Ren wasn’t a Sith Lord.
In short, a person needs to be indoctrinated by a Sith Lord to become a Sith. But because Palpatine and the other Sith Lords were presumed dead when Ben turned to the dark side, Kylo Ren never had a chance to join the Sith Order.