The revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father was one of the biggest moments of the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies. It is an often-quoted moment from the history of the franchise and is an iconic pop-cultural moment. But, we all know that Vader had two children and that Leia proved to be equally important to the future of the Galaxy as Luke. In this article, we are going to focus on Leia’s side of the story as we reveal when and how Leia found out that Darth Vader was her father.
Leia Organa found out that Darth Vader was her father during Return of the Jedi. She spoke to Luke Skywalker, not knowing they were related at the time, who revealed to her that Vader was his father, before also revealing that she was his sister and, thus, Vader’s daughter. Although she claimed to have felt it all the time, she did not know for certain until Luke confirmed it to her.
It is worth noting that Luke and Leia were never planned to be siblings from the very start, as George Lucas kind of just winged the story of Star Wars. In that regard, that is why Leia never found out that she was his daughter all along. The books, meanwhile, found a way to plug the plot holes. With that said, let’s look at when Leia found out the whole truth about her heritage.
Why did Leia not know Darth Vader was her father?
Like her older twin brother Luke Skywalker, Leia was born on the asteroid colony Polis Massa shortly after Emperor Sheev Palpatine seized power. Her mother Padmé Amidala was both mentally and physically hit by the recent events, since her husband and the father of her children, Anakin Skywalker, had fallen to the dark side of the force and henceforth called himself Darth Vader.
Shortly before her admission to the Polis Massa infirmary, Padmé was injured on the planet Mustafar by her husband’s power. While the injuries were not fatal, the continued ordeal caused Padmé to lose her will to live and she died shortly after giving birth to Luke and Leia. Not long after, the future fate of the two newborns was decided. Given the fact that the twins could one day play a crucial role with their gifts of power, contact with their father Darth Vader had to be avoided at all costs.
Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda had decided that Luke should be taken to Tatooine to live with his uncle Owen and aunt Beru Lars. Leia, on the other hand, was entrusted to Bail Organa, the senator, and viceroy of the planet Alderaan. Bail and his wife, Breha Organa, had wanted a child for a long time, and Bail promised the two Jedi that Leia would experience a great deal of love.
Darth Vader assumed that his wife and their child – he had no idea of twins at the time – had died. As Princess of Alderaan, Leia Organa learned from an early age what it means to be responsible. Thanks to traditional classes, she learned all about Alderaan culture, galactic politics, and royal manners. She was also taught the art of diplomacy and rhetoric by her aunts, which would help her in later years.
Although Leia was very intelligent, it was not easy for her to pay attention to this theoretical knowledge and her special status as a royal personality in all situations of her everyday life. As a young girl, she could not sit in a classroom for long without feeling constrained. With her restlessness, she was much more interested in letting the action speak for itself.
It wasn’t long before her parents noticed this trait and took it into account accordingly. Although they could not spare their daughter the many lessons, they gave her the opportunity to bring her energy and drive to the art of self-defense. As a member of the royal family, Leia was in constant danger of being kidnapped or threatened.
Through her combat training, she learned how to defend herself in an emergency rather than relying solely on the services of her bodyguards. Combat training was a welcome change from the mandatory diplomacy and dance classes that Leia was required to attend. Here she learned how to use a blaster, how to defeat an attacker in one-on-one combat, and how to control a jet ski and other vehicles.
She also learned how to operate small spaceships from her mother. Her father traveled a lot as Bail served as both a Senator in the Imperial Senate while secretly building the rebellion against the Empire. Nevertheless, Bail was a great role model for the young princess. From him, she gained her unshakable sense of right and wrong.
As a teenager, Leia began to realize the level of injustice that came with the rule of the Galactic Empire. While core worlds like Alderaan went almost entirely unmolested, planets in the Outer Rim were stripped of their resources with no regard for the native populace in order to fuel the Imperial war machine.
Concerned and frustrated by this fact, Leia turned to her father, who let her in on his secret plan. Along with Senator Mon Mothma and other influential figures, Bail Organa had already established a viable and growing underground movement to resist the Empire’s oppression. Leia was immediately enthusiastic about this endeavor and agreed to join this movement and support her father.
In one of her first missions in this matter, Leia delivered much-needed starships to the rebel cell led by Hera Syndulla on the distant planet Lothal. Leia had to be extremely careful with this, as the Empire already suspected that Alderaan was providing spaceships to the rebels. Had the Empire received evidence of this, Alderaan would lose his seat in the Senate and Leia’s father would be arrested for treason.
For this reason, Leia traveled to Lothal under the pretext of wanting to deliver important supplies to the starving civilian population. Once there, she had the corvettes stolen by the rebels, which worked despite extensive imperial protective measures. It appeared that the Imperial forces, commanded by Lieutenant Yogar Lyste, had failed and Leia had become the victim of a rebellious encroachment.
When and how did Leia find out she was Darth Vader’s daughter?
The moment when Leia found out about her heritage happened in Return of the Jedi, while Leia talked to Luke. At the time, she did not even know that Luke was her brother, let alone that both of them were children of Darth Vader. This is the scene in question:
And we also have a transcription of the dialogue:
LEIA: Luke, tell me. What’s troubling you?
LUKE: Vader is here…now, on this moon.
LEIA (alarmed): How do you know?
LUKE: I felt his presence. He’s come for me. He can feel when I’m near. That’s why I have to go. (facing her) As long as I stay, I’m endangering the group and our mission here. (beat) I have to face him.
Leia is distraught, confused.
Luke moves close and his manner is gentle. And very calm.
LUKE: He’s my father.
LEIA: Your father?
LUKE: There’s more. It won’t be easy for you to hear it, but you must. If I don’t make it back, you’re the only hope for the Alliance.
Leia is very disturbed by this. She moves away, as if to deny it.
LEIA: Luke, don’t talk that way. You have a power I–I don’t understand and could never have.
LUKE: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have. The Force is strong in my family. My father has it…I have it…and…my sister has it.
Leia stares into his eyes. What she sees there frightens her. But she doesn’t draw away. She begins to understand.
LUKE: Yes. It’s you Leia.
LEIA: I know. Somehow…I’ve always known.
And from this moment on, Leia knew everything. Her backstory was was explained above and with this, we can wrap up our text.