Remember those science lessons back in high school where you spent hours staring at little drawings of blue and brown eyes, putting them in various combinations to learn about genetics? And recall that multi-million dollar film directed by JJ Abrams last year that brought the world’s most famous franchise – Star Wars – back into the mainstream?
Well, now someone has brought those two defining experiences from any person’s life together for a brand new Star Wars fan theory – or rather, the debunking of several existing fan theories. Thanks, internet.
A long time ago…
First off, the Star Wars background. In last year’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens we meet a young girl called Rey (Daisy Ridley), who was abandoned by her mystery parents on a planet called Jakku and later shows herself to have the powers and abilities of a force-sensitive Jedi Knight.
Naturally, this led many to decide she was the offspring or clone of a Jedi character from the series, most likely Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker or possibly (er) a clone of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
So far, we’ve had no confirmation as to if she’s anyone’s child in particular, with JJ Abrams quick to distance himself from any sort of solid comment on whether we’ve even met Rey’s parents before. So really it’s not a surprise that one redditor has turned to genetics to solve the mystery once and for all.
How genetic markers work
A basic tenet of genetics is that certain genes are recessive and others are dominant, most visibly in eye colour. For example, blue eyes are a recessive allele (gene) while brown eyes are dominant, which basically means that if you have blue eyes both of your parents carried the blue eye gene (even if they didn’t necessarily have blue eyes as some brown-eyed people carry the blue-eyed gene), whereas if you’ve got brown eyes only one parent needs to have had a brown eye allele.
Other dominant genetic markers include cleft chins and dimples, both of which our mystery girl Rey has thanks to actress Daisy Ridley.
Star Wars genetic markers
Now, here’s how these markers stack up when we apply them to either the Skywalkers or Emperor Palpatine:
Rey – Brown eyes, dimples, cleft chin
Luke – Blue Eyes, dimples, no cleft chin
Anakin – Blue eyes, no dimples, no cleft chin
Padme – Brown eyes, dimples, no cleft chin
Palpatine – Blue eyes, no dimples, cleft chin
The eyes have it
So what does all this mean for Luke and Rey? Well, according to jad2121, it means they can’t be related (or connected by Rey being a magic force child with one parent like Anakin was in the prequels). As stated in the original reddit post:
“For the Skywalker line, Luke has blue eyes, so he had to get one blue allele from each parent. This means that Padme must have one blue and one brown allele (since she has brown eyes). Anakin also must have two blue allele’s, since he has blue eyes. Out of all the Skywalkers, only Padme has dimples. So she must have one dimple allele and one non-dimple allele. Anakin has two non-dimple alleles. None of them have a cleft chin, and since that is a dominant trait, there can’t be any cleft chin allele’s in the Skywalker genetics.
“Rey has brown eyes. This means that she either has one or two brown alleles. Since Palpatine has two blue alleles, she can’t be his clone or his force child, since you would need another parent to give the brown eye allele. Similarly, Rey has a chin dimple but none of the Skywalkers do. So she can’t be a force child or a clone of either Luke or Anakin.”
So that’s the analysis, and it’s pretty interesting – though we should point out that a few people have since noted this is a fairly basic way of looking at genetics, so it’s not entirely impossible Rey could end up looking the way she does with Luke as a parent (especially if he had her with someone who did have a cleft chin, presumably).
We could also point out that these are actors who don’t need to look a lot like each other to be related (just look at father/son Harrison Ford and Adam Driver, below), or that this is a film series about magic space wizards so this sort of detail might not be one they get too bogged down in.
We could say that. But instead we’re furiously googling “Ewan McGregor cleft chin” to see if our Obi-Wan Kenobi theories have the empirical scientific backing they need to be taken seriously.
Star Wars Episode VIII probably still won’t reveal who Rey’s parents are in December 2018