In a Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV Spot there is a scene of Kylo Ren saying "I will finish what you've started" to Darth Vader's mask.

If I recall correctly, this scene appears pretty much as-is in the movie.

Do we know what exactly Kylo Ren means? What does he want to do? What did Vader leave unfinished?

The main goal of all Sith - including Vader - was ruling the galaxy. Once Sidious achieved that, he and Vader resorted to maintaining their domination.

As we know from the original trilogy, the Rebels animated series and the Lords of the Sith novel, Vader was mainly tasked with stopping any rebellion movements across the Galaxy. I am not sure if this is established by new Canon, but he probably also hunted down any Jedi who managed to survive Order 66.

Personally, I am not convinced that Kylo Ren could refer to any of these things. So what he did have in mind when he said these words?

I am mostly interested in Canon answers, but if there are none yet, I am eager to hear fan theories and speculations.

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    "fan theories and speculations are fine, too." Not on this site, they aren't :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 20, 2015 at 16:35
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    @randal'thor fair point. What I mean is that maybe there is no Canon answer yet and Kylo Ren's intentions are anyone's guess. Dec 20, 2015 at 16:39
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    I thought Kylo Ren was not a Sith, why would he want to continue what a sith started?
    – user13267
    Dec 21, 2015 at 4:42
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    If it turns out it’s a Sudoku book, episodes VIII and IX could be pretty dull. Dec 22, 2015 at 14:01
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    Half a sandwich. I believe it is a Ruben.
    – Wad Cheber
    Feb 10, 2016 at 18:15

9 Answers 9


JJ Abrams largely addresses this in an interview with IGN.

“Kylo Ren idolizes Darth Vader, not Anakin Skywalker,” Abrams explained. “He idolizes what Vader represents and what Vader was trying to do. The idea that Vader didn’t succeed, if you look at it from Ren’s point of view, he was seduced by the enemy and failed because of that seduction. So the idea is that Ren wants to complete the thing that Vader started.”

Vader was attempting to rule the galaxy through strength and power and to destroy the Jedi, but was seduced away from his goal by the enemy - his own son. This echoes to Snoke's concerns about Kylo, leading to Kylo's killing of

his own father.

From the novelization:

“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.”

Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.”

“Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment— had the father killed the son— the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”

“I am immune to the light,” Ren assured him confidently. “By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced.”

“Your self-belief is commendable, Kylo Ren, but do not let it blind you. No one knows the limits of his own power until it has been tested to the utmost, as yours has not been. That day may yet come. There has been an awakening in the Force. Have you felt it?”

Ren nodded. “Yes.”

“The elements align, Kylo Ren. You alone are caught in the winds of the storm. Your bond is not just to Vader, but to Skywalker himself. Leia…”

“There is no need for concern.” Despite the Supreme Leader’s cautioning, Ren’s assurance remained unbounded. “Together we will destroy the Resistance— and the last Jedi.”

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    I think there may be slightly more to it than that. Vader attempted to turn Luke to the dark side. He failed. I think Kylo Ren intends to (or will when he confronts him) succeed in turning Luke to the dark side. That may even be the whole reason Luke is hiding: he wants to avoid situations where he'd be susceptible to being turned. Dec 21, 2015 at 15:27
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    When you get down to it, only your second paragraph actually answers the question, and the rest is discussion about where Vader failed, not what he was trying to accomplish. Abrams' quote doesn't talk about specific goals either. Dec 27, 2015 at 5:04
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    Yes, that's why my answer didn't end with just the first paragraph - because it's part of the answer. It's there to explain Ren's obsession.
    – phantom42
    Dec 27, 2015 at 20:09

I believe we have a canon answer from Empire Strikes Back as well as TFA

In ESB, Vader tells Luke

With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy

Kylo Ren and the First Order General Hux make similar statements regarding chaos and the need for order.

General Hux:

Today is the end of the Republic! The end of a regime that acquiesces to disorder!

Ren is likely echoing Vader's sentiment of rule, as well as what he perceives as his mission to eliminate the Jedi (considering Ren is looking for Luke)

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    And he works for the First Order
    – vynsane
    Dec 20, 2015 at 18:34
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    Quotes would be nice.
    – RedCaio
    Dec 20, 2015 at 18:46
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    Cut me some slack @RedCaio I've only seen it twice ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Dec 20, 2015 at 19:26
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    @Nathan K. Campbell I still upvoted your answer. I just look forward to quotes to go with that last paragraph.
    – RedCaio
    Dec 20, 2015 at 19:42
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    As for @RedCaio suggestion, I was going to ask the same thing, but it seems that this is right in opening crawl: "the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed" (Wookieepedia). Dec 20, 2015 at 21:00

My personal theory is that the legacy of the Sith sees the Jedi as an aberration of The Force; a sort of pervasive virus that resulted from teaching non-Sith the ways of The Force. It could even be that the Sith Holocrons teach of ancient threats so strong in The Dark Side that the only way to protect any civilization is through the power of order and rule and The Dark Side. Not to mention that historically the Jedi have done some pretty awful things in the struggle to confront the Sith. Almost all of the ancient wars were instigated by the Jedi in order to "bring the Sith out of the shadows," including The First Great Schism.

Vader believed the Sith ideal was more honest than that of the Jedi. I recently read a comic wherein Vader is confronting Jabba The Hut, and he gets pissed when Jabba accuses him of attempting to use a Mind Trick, saying "That is NOT the Sith way." and, "How DARE you call me a Jedi." The goal of COMPLETELY eradicating the Jedi and any who might pass on their ideals seems to be very important to the Sith agenda, and tougher than one would think. Every time they get close, another Skywalker appears.


Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is already being seduced by the light side in the first movie. Doesn't look good for him. If that is what Ren meant by finishing what he started. Even killing his own father might not be enough for a full turn to the darkside. Will have to wait and see.

He says I will not be seduced, but already is having moments where he is. Kylo Ren doesn't seem as strong as Vader.

So Kylo will finish 2 things, not only one? First finishing killing Luke and second not being seduced by the lightside?

  • @Naomi Great point on Kylo bringing balance as in having both the light side/dark side at once. I thought it was confirmed that Anakin was the Chosen One. So you think what Vader didn't finish bringing balance to the force ('prophecy') Ben can do?
    – Skywalker3
    Dec 27, 2015 at 21:50

What Vader started? He started turning Luke to the Dark side, but failed. That was the thrust of the plot in both E.V and E.VI. In E.VIII, I believe there will be a stand-off between Luke and Ren; not with sabers necessarily, but with the Force primarily; Luke trying to turn Ren to the light, and Ren trying to turn Luke to the dark. I believe Luke will fall or otherwise fail in this struggle, leaving Rey to battle Ren in E.IX. In order for the entire series to pay itself off after nine movies, and tie up all the loose ends with an ultimate happy ending, Rey will ultimately save Ren from the Dark side at the end of E.IX.

Ren doesn't appear to be interested in bringing balance to the Force. He's neither Jedi nor Sith, he's First Order (an apparently secular military power; not unlike cold-war era Russia) using the Dark side as a tool only, not a pseudo-religious practice. That's why he is kind of reckless with it. His motivation is to "finish what Vader started." Vader did not start to bring balance to the Force. That was Anakin's to do. Once he became Vader, his task was to destroy the Jedi. To do that, he has to either destroy Luke, or turn him to the Dark.


Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Anakin was believed to be / recognized as the "Chosen One". The Chosen One's destiny was to bring balance to the Force.

["You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this…boy?" - Mace Windu "The Phantom Menace"]

Although Darth Vader did bring about the death of both the Jedi and Darth Sidious, this would not necessarily be considered "bringing the balance." The balance was already out of whack before Anakin turned to the Dark Side, and the final actions before his death did not balance out anything - just brought everything back to a slightly less extreme state of imbalance. If the Force had attained balance there would be no reason for further chapters in the Star Wars universe.

By definition the Jedi and the Sith go to the extremes of Light and Dark. To have balance in the Force would mean to accept both the light and dark within one's self. A balance would require one person to be Jedi and Sith simultaneously. Kylo Ren admits to being seduced by the light while working to give himself over totally to the dark, to finish his training. He seeks to finish the work that Anakin/Vader started - to bring balance to the Force.

  • While Yoda and the Jedi Council mentioned the prophecy several times during the prequel movies, I don't recall Anakin ever saying anything or behaving in any way to indicate he believed it's his task to bring balance to the force. Dec 27, 2015 at 5:06

I've been giving this question a lot of (probably too much) thought.

I return to Ep3, when Anakin embraces the dark side. His motivations are: firstly,

"Learn to know the dark side of the force, and you will be able to save your wofe from certain death," - Palpatine

Anakin's initial seduction towards power was motivated by a desire to protect those he loved from death. To be strong enough to save them.

Again, at the crucial deciding moment ("the Turn"), Palpatine, (himself a longtime mentor to Anakin) appeals that (only) he "has the power to save the ones [Anakin] love[s]" while utilizing force lightning for the first time in the films.

This moment brings me to Anakin's second passion: democracy. As Palpatine fades, Windu decides that "he's too dangerous," and that "he [Palpatine] has control of both the Senate and the courts."

Anakin simply states that "he must be allowed to stand trial." Anakin ends the engage with Windu shouting "I need him!" and gives a hand slice to Windu as he was winding his saber back for the kill-stroke.

During his pledge of alliegance, Anakin confesses that he will "do whatever you want; so long as you teach [me] how to save Padme."

Then, as a secondary point and motivation, we should consider Anakin's first directive after being christened 'Vader' : to protect "the senate" ("democracy") from the certain wrath of the Jedi. Vader agrees, saying "I agree. The Senate will be the Jedi's first target."

Based on the exchanges during and before "the Turn," it would seem that Anakin/Vader's two great unfinished projects were preventing death (or preserving life?) and protecting democracy.

Vader echoes both of these desires on Mustafar:

"Love won't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that," and then pleading "don't you see? I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor; I can overthrow him!"

Moments later, to Obi Wan, after force choking Padme unconscious:

"I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, security, and justice to my new empire!" But rather than aligning himself with democracy like Obi Wan, Anakin declares "if you're not with me, then you're my enemy."

I think that, by this point, Anakin was too deep in the emperor's cool aid to know what was going on.

In the novelization of TFA, Leia muses early on about the general disorder and "fear to independently govern" that many systems faced after the Empire fell.

In my mind, one of these is a lofty political task, and the other is a lofty force-user task.

Further, absent a formal Jedi council, there doesn't appear to be a need to separate a Jedi from an orderly or "autocratic" political agenda so long as it "walked the line" (?)

If Kylo Ren is continuing a darkside task and is afraid he'll never be strong enough, then that task must be to protect someone he loves from death.

I note Rey's flashback, where baby-Rey is about to be stabbed in the back by Raiden, only to turn and see Raiden killed by Ren as he wound back to strike her.

The , Rey was marooned on Jakku by someone flying Ren's ship before it got wings and the jet black paint job.


What is Kylo trying to accomplish what Vader started is to bring back love one to life. But who would Kylo try to bring back to life or prevent from dying ?

How about a twin Brother (or sister) that he feel responsable for the death/severe injury ?

That could explain why Han & Lea couple did not lasted. Not only have they lost a son or girl that was killed/severely wounded but also shortly after having Ben Solo who felt responsible for that lost and becoming obsessive about his conviction to study the dark side to bring back to life his brother/sister. Embrace the Darkside and follow Leader Snoke to bring his brother back.

Even thought Luke tried and failed to convince him to stop that foolish tought. But after Kylo mislead his uncle and wife far away from his Academy to find Snoke so that he or the Ren order killed killed most or all of Luke's apprentice Jedi from his Academy except for a little cousin Rey that Kylo insist on sparing the life off as her being too young to be a real menace. And even thought was promise for this not to be made one of the Ren knight still decide to try to do so resulting in Ben Solo to stack is lightsaber inside that Ren Knight seconds before he would strike down Rey. Then using the Falcon Millénium his dad left him or that he manage to get back from a thief who took it from his dad, he would bring the kid to that foreign planet and abandoning her to the Alien asking him to surveil her cousin in exchange...of the Falcon ship.

That could also explain why killing his own father to fully embrasse the darkness and get the extra help from Leader Snoke Who looks like someone coming back from the Death (Darth Plagueous or other réincarnation) does seems à reasonnable price to pay as later he van bring him back to life.

It would also explain why he wears that stupid Helmet while he can Breath so easily with it. The purpose of the Helmet is to embrasse full isolation and create some sort of concentrated chamber to meditate a way to bring back Death to life.

That version of the story explain also:

Why Rey and Finn found the Falcon on Wakku (and furthermore maybee why an old friend of Lea, Luke and Lea would be hiding on that planet with a map is not just pure coïncidence but also à chance to find Rey back.

Why Rey has that vision when touching the lightsaber it is potentially flashback and maybee had she hability to communicate her feeling directly to her mom (potentially died at the hand of a Ren order.

Why Luke having his Academy destroyed, loosing his pregnant wife (like his dad), and loosing sight of his only daughter goes into hiding after merrely surviving a full Knight of Ren combat

Why Kylo Ren is SOOOO furious when he is told that "A Girl" has helped Finn and the Robot Escape. Deep down he knows Who that girl is.

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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Can you provide any sources for your answer? It is recommended that you support your answer with as much evidence to show proof your answer is valid and not just an assumption you've made.
    – Edlothiad
    May 6, 2017 at 0:56
  • No proof : this is only my personnal "meditation" as to What would give more strenght to The force awekening movie. Oh and that thing about prophecy of "the one bringing balance to the force" is purely to allow Jedi to love and have kids" Luke and Lea achieving somehow that purpose and have a more balance existance like ancient Jedi from the beginning of the Old Republic where allowed too. (A similar comparaison with the Catholic church of forbiding priest from living a balance life of love and dedication to the force ! May 6, 2017 at 1:05

Wiping out all the Jedi, every single one, and turning the galaxy to the Dark Side. This is the "true nature of the Force".

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