The first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi left fans wondering whether Rey is a Gray Jedi. In Star Wars Legends lore, Gray Jedi are Force users who walk between the light and the dark sides without following the will of the Jedi Council. The only will they follow is the will of the Force. With Luke Skywalker’s declaration that it’s time for the Jedi to end, we believe this means that Rey represents the beginnings of a new kind of Force user. But who walked the gray path before Rey?
One of the first things we learned about Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was that he was an unorthodox Jedi. He constantly defied the will of the Jedi Council and followed his own code rather than the Jedi Code. He imparted some of that defiance in his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and encouraged the young Anakin Skywalker to trust his instincts. Anakin’s defiance of the Jedi Council spelled his doom, but Qui-Gon’s biggest unorthodox belief was still true in the end: Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One. How that plays into The Last Jedi and its ideas of balance remains to be seen.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars introduced the world to Ahsoka Tano, the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. Like her master, she wasn’t the typical Jedi. She learned to defy Jedi norms when she felt there was a better path, and she wasn’t the biggest fan of the Jedi Council either. During the war, the Jedi Council falsely accused her of attacking the Jedi Temple and expelled her. When her innocence was proven, she refused to return to the Jedi Order and forged her own path. We met her again in Star Wars Rebels, where she was no longer a Jedi but instead walked a grayer path. This led her into a confrontation with her old master, Darth Vader, and her fate is still unknown. There’s perhaps no greater character to have forged a gray path for Rey than Ahsoka Tano.
The Bendu was introduced in Star Wars Rebels as an ancient, ethereal being who slept for thousands of years before the Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger brought rebellion and conflict to his planet. He was neither Jedi nor Sith. He saw them as beneath him. To the Bendu, the wars between Jedi and Sith were petty and uninteresting. He just wanted to sleep and be connected to the Force. Jedi and Sith were disruptions.
The Bendu taught Kanan, blinded in a duel with Darth Maul, that a blind warrior could still see through the Force. He taught him to let go of his fears and be less attached to the dogmas of Jedi and Sith. But he was no ally. When Grand Admiral Thrawn brought war to his planet, the Bendu attacked the Empire and the Rebels. Thrawn tried to kill him, but the Bendu mysteriously disappeared. How his story unfolds remains to be seen.
Two of the most prominent Gray Jedi in Star Wars Legends were Revan and Jolee Bindo. Although Revan was never officially classified as a Gray Jedi, he represents someone who constantly straddled the line between the light side and the dark side. He was a Jedi who refused to follow the Council’s orders to remain out of the Mandalorian Wars, and instead led the Republic to victory. He turned to the dark side before he was redeemed by the Jedi, but his life remained one of turmoil. He is, if anything, a warning to those who think they can operate between good and evil. He lacked balance.
Jolee was a true Gray Jedi who became a companion of the redeemed Revan during the Jedi Civil War. He was an outcast from the Jedi Order for his unorthodox views. He believed that the will of the Council was irrelevant and was guided only by the will of the Force. Many of his beliefs ran counter to the Jedi Code; the Jedi believed that love would lead to attachment and the dark side, but Jolee believed it was unchecked passion, like the Sith, that was truly dangerous. As he told Revan, “Love itself will save you, not condemn you.”
Gray Jedi were a much more concrete concept in Legends than the official Star Wars canon. Canon likely will never officially adopt the idea of Gray Jedi, but the idea of ending the dogma of the Jedi and the Sith seems to be where the story of The Last Jedi is heading—and all of these characters paved the way for that.