77

Obi-Wan and Yoda didn't really make a good effort at hiding him, especially considering they let Vader's family adopt him.

55

First, Vader didn't even know he had a son, so there was no reason for him to even look.

Second, Anakin couldn't wait to get off Tatooine, and there was no reason for him to return. While it was a time with his Mother, it was also where she died and a place where he was a slave, with someone telling him what to do all the time, which is not something a Sith Lord will want to remember. So Tatooine is probably the one planet Vader would never want to return to.

Third, Obi-Wan was close to Anakin and good friends with him, so he likely wanted to let Anakin's name pass on to another generation.

Fourth, he's staying with his aunt and uncle. While they don't have the Skywalker name, as relatives (it's never given exactly how close, since uncle and aunt are sometimes vague terms), it wouldn't be too out of place for them to be raising a Skywalker child.

Fifth, sometimes the best place to hide something is in plain sight.

It clearly worked, since Vader was not aware of him until after Luke blew up the Deathstar and Vader became obsessed with finding "Young Skywalker."

12
  • 14
    His aunt and uncle didnt have the Skywalker name, they where Owen Lars and Beru Whitesun Lars.
    – DavRob60
    Jan 12 '12 at 18:20
  • 2
    That's right; Shmi Skywalker would have given up her name (or moved it to her middle name) when she married Clieeg Lars. As Anakin was Shmi's only son under the Skywalker name, it should have died out when Anakin became Vader. And Shmi is the oldest known Skywalker, so there are no known Skywalker "cousins".
    – KeithS
    Jan 12 '12 at 18:26
  • 13
    Surely the Skywalker name would have red-flagged somewhere in the Imperial Beauraucracy as soon as a census of Tatooine was made (and the Empire would definitely be the type of government to perform a detailed census - even on a backwater [backdesert?] planet)
    – HorusKol
    Jan 12 '12 at 22:46
  • 4
    @HorusKol: You're assuming they were looking for the name (there's no reason to), or that the Empire cared enough about a backwater world like Tatooine to track such things on that planet. But, even then, if there are other families with that name, what reason would Vader have had for watching it?
    – Tango
    Jan 12 '12 at 22:57
  • 10
    Sixth, Skywalker may have been a common surname on Tatooine, like Johnson or Smith.
    – RobertF
    Nov 6 '13 at 21:08
15

This answer is pretty much conjecture, and dips out of G-Canon, but:

The Emperor had the power to foretell the future (although, whether entirely accurately or not is up for debate).

The Sith have a tradition where, either the apprentice kills the master and takes on a new apprentice, or the master engineers the failure and death of the apprentice and replaces them.

It is entirely possible that the Emperor did know about the Skywalker children, but kept them a secret from Vader as some long-term gambit to force a Sith succession (which the scenes in the Death Star Throne Room can be interpreted as).

1
  • 4
    While an interesting theory about the Emperor knowing their identities, this doesn't answer the question of why Obi-Wan et al. let Luke keep his last name. Sep 15 '16 at 23:27
11

According to Leland Chee in Star Wars Insider Issue 115, it was Owen and Beru's decision to keep his last name in order to honor Shmi Skywalker. He suggests that either Skywalker was a fairly common name, or that no one made the connection between Luke and Anakin.

Why didn't Obi-Wan and Luke change their surnames when they were in hiding on Tatooine?

Let's start with Obi-Wan. He's a hermit living in a very remote hut on a very remote planet that Obi-Wan knows that Anakin hates going to. Obi-Wan's not gonna be throwing his name around everywhere he goes, aside from the Larses and maybe some close neighbors. Still, he adopts the first name Ben just in case. It was Owen and Beru's decision to give Luke the last name Skywalker in reverence to Owen's stepmother and Luke's grandmother, Shmi Skywalker. Granted, Anakin Skywalker made a name for himself throughout the galaxy as a hero of the Clone Wars, though he also made a name for himself on Tatooine as the only human to compete in and win the Boonta Eve Podrace. And yet, throughout his childhood. Luke never knew anything about a Skywalker being a great Jedi or a famous Podracer. We can only assume that there are many other Skywalkers in the galaxy and Luke never made the connection or heard of these stories.

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1
  • I've taken the liberty of transcribing the quote and replacing the picture with one that's readable.
    – Valorum
    Jan 23 at 17:53
8

In fact, this worked very well, as Luke remained hidden from Vader and the Emperor until his protector decided to reveal him. Even after that, It took time for them to realize Luke's lineage.

As I explain here, they where not searching for him because they thought Amidala died before giving birth. Even after the first death star's destruction, the emperor didn't realize Luke was Anakin's son before he started his training with Yoda.

5

At best I'd say this is a plot hole and any attempts to explain it are just good tries at ret-conning what we know about how the OT turns out (i.e. Luke and Kenobi were never found) into the story.

Worse, the blame seems to be placed squarely on the prequels.

  • Luke's dad is discussed in the OT--and they may mention his first name--but I'm pretty sure Anakin Skywalker made its debut in the prequels. Meaning Skywalker could have been Luke's ingognito name until Lucas ruined it. (Vader says Skywalker, but only after he knows Luke's real parentage, so any name he went by would have been said with gravity.)
  • Same with Tatooine. We don't know Anakin is from there until TPM. Lars and Veru could have been moved there in hiding and ANH the first time we ever hear about it.
  • Lastly, even Obi-Wan could have been explained by a better plot for the prequels. Obviously Vader knows him by that name, based on their chat before the duel on the Death Star, but if RoTS would have ended with Vader thinking Obi-Wan was dead, then him going by Old Ben on some random planet on the Rim would have been plenty low key.
4
  • 1
    True! I cannot accept it as a canonic answer though.
    – Sunny Boy
    Jan 23 '12 at 15:09
  • 4
    Nope. From the script: LUKE You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father. BEN You father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I have told you was true... from a certain point of view.
    – phantom42
    May 8 '12 at 11:13
  • 2
    And the Emperor refers to Luke in Empire as "the son of Skywalker" before the parentage is revealed.
    – phantom42
    May 8 '12 at 11:15
  • 2
    The Obi-Wan would make sense in terms of him using Luke's incognito name, but it's true that the Emperor part from ESB doesn't jive with my answer. So I guess Lucas ruined it as early as 1980. :)
    – Adam Wuerl
    May 11 '12 at 16:36
1

From what I have heard originally while the original movie was filmed it was not Lucas' intent to have Darth Vader be Anakin Skywalker so that explains why Luke would have gone by his true last name...

2
  • 2
    From an out of universe perspective, yes, but generally questions on this site are looking for an in universe explanation.
    – Null
    Dec 11 '15 at 6:52
  • This is the only valid answer. Every attempt for an in-universe answer in mind games and retconning.
    – Verdan
    Jan 21 at 19:47
1

It was a perfect ruse if you think about it. As the accepted answer already mentioned the bad memories meant that vader would not go voluntarily to tatooine and if he did he would not stay for long.

And with so many planets in the galaxy a similar name would not be that much out of order. Now in the new canon (the comics) Vader even had met luke personally fighting the young yedi after the death stars destruction and cleaning the floor with him.

He still was intrigued enough by him to send a bounty hunter after him. And only when the puzzle parts fell into place......ben kenobi training luke, giving him anakins old light saber AND luke being from Tatooine and a jedi AND having the Skywalker name.....only then vader understood the ruse that happened and that he had a son.

Thus hiding luke right in the open was the most sure way for people to overlook him (especially as nobody had searched for him or was aware that he was force sensitive).

0

To add to the best answer above, Skywalker may very well have been a slave name or a bastard name on Tatooine or even in that part of the Galaxy.

I personally like this because it concludes that twice a Skywalker (slave/bastard) goes on to become the most powerful individual in the Galaxy.

For me the only plot hole is that Vader never once noticed in 20 years that his "family" Mr. and Mrs. Lars were raising a Skywalker.

1
  • Actually, according to the annotated screenplays and the original novelizations, Owen Lars was originally meant to be Ben's brother, and not related to Anakin at all. It wasn't until the prequels that this became an issue. Also, this adds nothing to the existing answers.
    – phantom42
    Dec 28 '15 at 6:11
-1

Seems no one thought of perhaps the obvious possibility, that Skywalker may not be so unique of a name? We are talking about a populations the size of a galaxy after all.

4
  • That possibility has already been mentioned.
    – phantom42
    Dec 11 '15 at 15:00
  • I looked again, I don't see an answer that includes it
    – Escoce
    Dec 11 '15 at 15:05
  • 1
    Right in the answer I linked: "And with so many planets in the galaxy a similar name would not be that much out of order. "
    – phantom42
    Dec 11 '15 at 15:07
  • @Escoce - that suggestion is also in comments on this page
    – NKCampbell
    Dec 11 '15 at 15:18

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