We know that Luke Skywalker vanished after

Kylo Ren killed his students.

But, for some reason, there’s a map to his location. That seems odd for someone who doesn’t want to be found, at least not by the wrong people.

  • 22
    Oooooh! Awesome question!!! I was itching to ask this for days! I don't have a canon answer, but the likelyhood is, he assumed that he should be reachable in an emergency. Like, y'know, evil guys blowing up the entire New Republic... Or Leia needing an emergency babysitter and nobody else is free Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:55
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    I have been thinking about this too, I assumed it was actually his navigation history. The entire chart was needed to find the proper hyperspace routes. Plausible?
    – user45549
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:56
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    Who says Luke left the map?
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 19:58
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    How about asking "Why does the map need a path?" If you know where he is, couldn't you just go there by whatever route you wanted? Space is mostly empty, after all.
    – Joel Brown
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 23:30
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    @MichaelBecker According to (even Disney-)canon evidence, we know that hyperspace trips are not a simple distance / hyperdriveRating thing - some routes are inherently faster, while others are inherently slower (I assume major trading hubs exist on places that have plenty of fast routes). The former EU goes even further, and explains that hyperspace routes are discovered, rather than "calculated" - and discovering new routes is shown as extremely dangerous business. Most likely, plotting a course in hyperspace is actually finding the fastest path in a graph of known nodes and edges.
    – Luaan
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 9:46

4 Answers 4


Throughout the movie people kept calling it a "map to Luke Skywalker" but I think they were being a bit sloppy with their phrasing.

At one point, Han mentions that everyone believes Luke left to find

the first Jedi temple.

The map everyone is looking for, then, isn't a map to Luke. It's a map to the thing Luke was looking for. This is significant, because two different characters have most of the map already:

Kylo Ren tells Rey this, and R2-D2 displays it at the end.

Both characters got this map information from the Empire's records, so clearly the map predates Luke's journey by a long time. In fact, in the novelization, one of the Resistance members makes this same connection, after being told that the Imperial Records had the rest of the map:

'Admiral Statura nodded in agreement. “It makes sense. The Empire would have been looking for the first Jedi temples.'

What's missing from this map -- likely, missing from the Empire records -- is the last piece. However the Empire got this map, one section of it was lost/damaged/never scouted/etc. That is the thing that was found at the start of the movie and that everyone else needs to find Luke.

  • 66
    The movie would have made so much more sense if they had used this perspective instead of "map to luke skywalker." Him leaving to go to the original Jedi Temple and then there being a map of that location makes so much more sense. It'd make more sense for everything, it'd make more sense why the First Order wants to destroy it/him, why a map exists at all, and why both sides care about it.
    – enderland
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 22:17
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    @Theik not all temples are Roman or Greek like in architecture :) See Stone Henge for example - its a solar temple, looks nothing like what you would expect of a temple tho. And the mountain isn't completely devoid of human structures, we see a series of stone steps, earthworks and dry stone walls on Reys trip up to Skywalker.
    – Moo
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 12:44
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    @Gusdor I believe it was filmed in Ireland - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skellig_Michael
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:49
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    @enderland I think "map to Luke Skywalker" made sense in the movie. Nobody cared about the first Jedi Temple tbh. Only Luke did. Kylo Ren wants the map because he's on a quest to finish what Vader started - Order 66. Leia+Han+Rey wants the map to get to Luke before Kylo and save or warn him. And no matter how much the good guys want the Jedi back, they still don't care for the temple. So yes, a "map to Luke Skywalker" is more relevant wording to the folks in universe than a "map to the first Jedi Temple where Luke Skywalker is" conversationally. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 2:41
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    If you read the whole question and answer and started in on the comments, you deserved the spoiler.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:07

I assume the overarching plot is going to be that Luke is a Chessmaster implementing a Xanatos Gambit against the Dark Side.

  1. If there is a remnant of Dark Side agency in the Galaxy, then my establishing a Light Side school will draw it out. (... especially urgently, given the Force user population bottleneck Vader/Sidious implemented recently.) Alternatively, the school succeeds and everyone lives happily ever after.
  2. If there is such a remnant, the Force has shown me the school will be destroyed. Consequently, I will need to go into hiding, much as Yoda did. (But instead of using a dark nexus as camouflage, I will use a light nexus.) Alternatively, I will be hunted down relentlessly (which is at least un-fun and possibly lethal.)
  3. I will need to cache a Force user out of the way and let events unfold so that she is eventually caught up in events to block the resurgence of the Dark. Otherwise, see the alternative to #2.
  4. I will need to place R2-D2 such that the cached Force user will (somehow) trigger release of plot-critical information. (I really do wonder how R2 was triggered to awaken -- Rey DNA sensor, R2 is Force sensitive, Luke remotely activated him following the Force ripple of the death of the New Republic core worlds, countdown timer, something else... This was the most unsatisfactorily handwaved part of TFA for me.) Otherwise, if the Dark rises and the person who comes to find me is not the cached Force user (because that user is dead or was insufficiently Force capable to stop the Force ripple (use of Starkiller Base).), I will need to wait until the Dark spreads across the Galaxy and subvert it quietly later.

Consequences: If my cached Force user arrives at my location shortly after the major Force ripple, it will be time to set out to shut down the Dark. Otherwise, continue hiding.

This answer may be colored by the pre-Disney writings about Palpatine's Xanatos Gambit regarding defending the Galaxy against the Yuuzhan Vong.

  • 4
    The novelization makes it clear: R2 woke up when he heard someone else mention the map fragment and he realized he probably had the rest in his data banks, from when he plugged into the Death Star.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 1:41
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    One could argue Luke has experience with the Xanatos Gambit from the end of Jedi. The Emperor thought he was using the Gambit on Luke, since if Luke killed Vader and/or the Emperor, he would have become a new dark lord, but it turned out that Luke out-gambitted the Emperor by not killing either of them and giving up in the end. At least that's true from a certain point of view. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 4:33
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    This was the most unsatisfactorily handwaved part of TFA for me I actually didn't feel that it was handwaved at all. When I watched the film, I perceived R2's activation as a complete, and totally unexplained, surprise. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:22
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    @Dan Henderson, I would have thought it was a surprise if C3PO hadn't said 30 minutes before, "Hey BB-8, there's no chance R2D2 has the other part of the map so don't bother trying." I don't know why they added that line. Gave away the ending.
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:39
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    @MikeEdenfield the movie could have made that clear, with no additional foreshadowing than already exists, by showing some sign of life from R2 when he was revealed... zoom in on his optical sensor and show a tiny flash of light behind it to show he's listening. Would have been more satisfying.
    – Jason
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 18:48

I took it as, "I don't want to be found, but if you really, really need me, here's where I'll be."

Sort of like giving co-workers your private phone number when you're going on vacation.


I think you answered your own question. He doesn’t want to be found by the wrong people, so he created a two-level authentication challenge that presumably, only the right person/people/Wookiee can complete. Finding the fragment is the first part, but anyone can do that. The second part is to get R2-D2’s approval. Those requirements are never made clear, but the implication is that R2-D2 must validate that the right person and/or Wookiee found the fragment. You can infer that Rey is the right person, as R2-D2 failed to activate until she presented herself.

  • 4
    Except the First Order already has the same information R2 has. The novelization makes it clear that R2 got that information from the Death Star, so in theory lots of people might have it. It also explains why R2 woke up and it has nothing to do with Rey.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 1:40
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    It was also plainly established in dialogue that if Kylo Ren succeeded in extracting Rey's knowledge of the map fragment, he'd be able to reconcile it with galactic map information the First Order already possessed. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:26

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