In Return of the Jedi, Luke asks Leia if she has any memories of her real mother.

Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother, your real mother?

Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.

Luke: What do you remember?

Leia: Just images really, feelings.

Luke: Tell me.

Leia: She was, very beautiful, kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?

Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.

How is this possible? In Episode III, Padme dies soon after giving birth to Luke and Leia. Would this be considered a plot-hole?

  • 35
    The real plot-hole is the mother of two babies dying because she "lost the will to live". :/
    – Martha
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 23:32
  • 10
    @Martha Not really, see the last of the criteria listed for diagnosing postpartum depression - "Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide"
    – Izkata
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 4:01
  • 19
    To be fair, I've got plenty of "memories" that I learned years later were just people telling me stories about things I didn't even witness.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 18:02
  • 9
    IT’S DA FORCE B Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 14:30
  • 3
    The force runs strong in their family Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 14:58

7 Answers 7


I need to root around for a retcon explanation, but as-of-ROTJ explanation is this:

In the novelization of Return of the Jedi, written by James Kahn, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke that Anakin didn't know his lover was pregnant when he became Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan hid her away to protect her. After she gave birth, Obi-Wan took Luke to Tatooine and she took Leia to Alderaan. (source)

A further confirmation of the alternate backstory is in SW FAQ from IMDB:

The original script included an extended scene between Luke and Obi-Wan (which can be seen in the Jedi novelization by James Kahn), where Obi-Wan explains that both he and their mother wanted to protect them from the Emperor as long as possible; Obi-Wan therefore took Luke to the Lars family on Tatooine, while their mother took Leia to Alderaan (Obi-Wan also curiously refers to Owen Lars as his brother, an offhand comment which is never explained). It therefore can be implied that "Mrs. Skywalker" originally survived long enough for Leia to have a real, genuine memory of her.

That article clearly rejects the "Memories are NOT of Padme" theory:

However, Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays states that George Lucas intended for Leia to remember her real mother, and Leia's Star Wars Databank entry states that her memories are of Padmé.

In case further confirmation is needed, Luke asks Leia whether she remembers her "real mother".

The article further confirms that it was Padme from the canon:

Patricia C. Wrede's novelization of Episode III describes the newborn Leia as looking around her, intent to memorize every detail. Perhaps Leia's Force-sensitivity allowed her to form memories even at such a young age.

The exact quote from novelization is:

... stared intently in Padme's direction, as if she wanted to memorize her face...

Then the article goes into pure speculation, which I find plausible, if a bit far-fetched:

It's also possible that Leia gleaned images and impressions of her mother through the Force even after Padmé's death. As Yoda tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Back: "Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future...the past...old friends long gone." Even though Leia has no formal Jedi training until after Return of the Jedi, she could have learned about her mother through visions in the Force, which she then mistook for memories.

As an aside, other theories floated are "pre-birth Force feelings". NOT implausible as well.

  • 2
    Patricia Wrede wrote novelizations of the prequel trilogy? Now that's a name I haven't heard in a while! Are they worth reading? Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 18:48
  • 15
    ...(Leia) stared intently in Padme's direction, as if she wantedt o memorize her face... trying so hard to make the prequels fit
    – jsedano
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 14:34
  • 1
    I don't think newborns can focus well enough for this, Force or no Force.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 22:41
  • 8
    @Oldcat - judge them by their size, do you? Size matters not! Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 22:47
  • 4
    Leia has an extraordinary force sensitiveness, even greater than Luke's maybe. She could "hear" Luke in Cloud City through the Force without even knowing she had this ability. I bet this will be further explored in the sequel trilogy. Anyway, the newborn staring thing does sound stupid.
    – Giuseppe
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 9:07

How Leia truly remembers Padme is considered a plot hole itself. In the original draft, the twins' mother and Anakin ended their relationship before Padme discovered her pregnancy. After the twins' birth, Padme took Leia to Alderaan and Kenobi took Luke to Tatooine. Leia again was adopted into the Royal House of Alderaan. Their mother's fate again becomes unknown. However, within the 1983 official novelization of Return of the Jedi written by James Kahn, it is stated that Leia remembers actual memories of her mother:

Return of the Jedi by James Kahn, p 148

He looked down at their intertwined fingers. 'Leia...do you remember your mother? Your real mother?'

The question took her by surprise. She'd always felt so close to her adopted parents, it was as if they were her real parents. She almost never thought about her real mother -- that was like a dream. Yet now Luke's question made her start. Flashes from her infancy assaulted her -- distorted visions of running...a beautiful woman...hiding in a trunk. The fragments suddenly threatened to flood her with emotion.

'Yes,' she said, pausing to regain her composure. 'Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.'

Return of the Jedi by James Kahn, p 150

She looked away, she shook her head, she wouldn't look at him. It was terribly disturbing, what Luke was saying, though she couldn't imagine why. It was nonsense, of course; that was why. To call her the only hope for the Alliance if he should die -- why, it was absurd. Absurd to think of Luke dying, and to think of her being the only hope. Both thoughts were out of the question. She moved away from him, to deny his words; at least to give them distance, to let her breathe. Flashes of her mother came again, in this breathing space. Parting embraces, flesh torn from flesh...

George Lucas was quoted on this topic, saying back in 1997:

"....The part that I never really developed is the death of Luke and Leia's mother. I had a back story for her in earlier drafts, but it basically didn't survive. When I got to Jedi, I wanted one of the kids to have some kind of memory of her because she will be a key figure in the new episodes I'm writing. But I really debated whether or not Leia should remember her...."

Despite the novel being the official book adaptation for the film, certain aspects aren't canon any longer since Revenge of the Sith was released. But it does tell us that the original concept for Leia's memories of Padme would actually have been due to her age. However, there is still a logical explanation in the Star Wars universe itself for Leia's memories:

YODA: Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future...the past. Old friends long gone...

Since Leia is force sensitive, it is possible she saw Padme through the Force. Leia's connection to Padme has been highlighted before in a canon comic where Leia visits Naboo and she sees the portrait of the former queen turn and stare at her briefly.

enter image description here

In the Star Wars Adventures Annual 2019, the book's backup story, So Much More tried to answer this question as well. Leia's adoptive mother, Queen Breha talks to Leia in a garden where a statue of Queen Amidala is present. She talks to Leia about Padme, and tells her:

"Leia, love, I know you're too young to understand all this...to remember, even. But I want you to hold on to this image, this feeling. That spark -- the spark. You have it, too." enter image description here

In the retelling of Return of the Jedi by Tom Angleberger, Leia doesn't even know if her memories are actually real:


"...Unsure, in fact, if she really did ever see her mother or just invented these memories to fill the hole in her life..."

The most logical explanation I can come up with is that Leia remembers Padme through the Force, hence why she isn't sure if her memories are even valid. But it appears that the actual answer varies according to the Star Wars material presented.


I don't think Leia was remembering Queen Breha of Alderaan, her adoptive mother because Luke asked her about her real mother. It is possible that Leia remembers Padme through the Force as she says that she remembers "a little bit" since she died when she was "very young." I'm sure that Bail and Breha Organa told her who her birth mother was (of course, not on who her father was; otherwise she would have known beforehand that Luke was her brother) and that she was adopted. Obi-Wan makes it clear to Luke that they were hidden after they were born, "To protect you both from the Emperor you were hidden from your father after you were born." So in even in the sense of the original trilogy, it would make no sense why Leia remembers her mother either. It would make sense if Leia saw Padme through the Force often and mistook them for memories. Yoda did say that an individual can see the past, present and future through the Force. This makes sense and I do believe that is how Leia "remembers" Padme.


According to the new (canon) novelisation of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Leia isn't entirely sure that her memories are actually valid.

Just…images, really,” she says. “Feelings.” “Tell me.” “She was very beautiful. Kind…but sad,” says Leia, but she is unsure how she knows this. Unsure, in fact, if she really did ever see her mother or just invented these memories to fill the hole in her life. “Why are you asking me this?”


In the Princess Leia canon comic by Marvel, Leia goes to Naboo. There she sees a painted glass picture of Queen Amidala. She believes it to look sad, like she says in Return of the Jedi.


Other answers show that when Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi was written the story was that Padme left Vader before he knew Padme was pregnant. Padme took Leia to Alderaan and lived long enough for Leia to have real memories of her.

But for some reasons this was deliberately or accidentally retconned in Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith which shows Padme dying almost at the moment that the twins are born.

This is no problem for fans who consider the prequel trilogy to be be cut from their personal head canon. If one is one of those fans they have no reason but mild curiosity to read any further in this answer. But it is a big problem for those fans who seek to include all of the official Star Wars canon in their person head canon.

And this is my solution:

IMHO "what we have here is a failure to communicate". It is possible that Leia had three mothers during her life, that Luke knew of the first two and Leia knew of the second two.

My theory is that Leia's "mothers" included:

1) Padme Amidala, her birth mother who died at the moment of birth.

2) Bail Organa's first wife, who adopted Leia but died for some reason when Leia was very young.

3) Bail Organa's second wife, who adopted Leia after marriage to Organa and raised Leia for most of Leia's life until the destruction of Alderan.

Because Leia's ancestry is top secret, Leia never found any record that she had been adopted the first time and believed that # 2 was her birth mother.

Because Luke was not a scholarly type, and because most of the time he had available for learning when a member of the Rebel Alliance was spent learning to use the Force, he never checked up on Leia on any of the publicly available sources of information about her. So Luke never knew that Bail Organa had two consecutive wives during Leia's lifetime.

So Luke thought that Bail Organa had only one wife and she was the mother of Leia, until Luke's Force senses told him Leia was his sister. Then Luke assumed that Leia had been adopted by Bail Organa and his wife when she was born and raised by them until the destruction of Alderaan. He didn't know she had two consecutive adoptive mothers.

So when Luke asked Leia about her real mother, assuming she would know it was # 1, Leia assumed he meant # 2 and told Luke about her dim memories of # 2. Then and only then did Luke tell her that he was her brother and Darth Vader was their father. And then Luke left long before Leia realized she must have been adopted by # 2 as well as by # 3, and that Luke had asked about # 1, Darth Vader's consort.

Never ascribe to the Force what can be explained by a simple miscommunication.

  • Bail Organa only had one wife
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 18:32
  • Leia was very well aware that she was adopted. Her parentage is secret, but that Baille and Brega aren't her biological parents is something she (and the entire population of Alderaan) has known her entire life
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 18:34

This was an oversight in the script.

But honestly, Leia is as powerful as her brother in his connection to the Force. And the young Princess probably tapped into her connection without conscious thought or intent through dreams.

The living Force binds everyone. So it stands to reason that Padme's Force Echo (not a Force Ghost) could be seen with by her daughter.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.