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Can We Stop Trying to #SaveBenSolo Already?

Literally so many fictional characters die. It's fine.

Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I’ve actively called “Kylo Ren” Ben Solo since The Force Awakens, mainly out of rebellion, because his name is Ben and I wanted him to stop being a little shit. So, when it came to the conversation of Ben Solo’s redemption arc, my feelings were mixed. On one hand, I wanted to see what it was like to have actual Ben Solo onscreen, but then again, he did kill his father.

Still, The Rise of Skywalker made me love him in a way I didn’t think was possible (probably because Ben Solo in the light is just a different version of Han Solo), and I didn’t mind his redemption arc as much as I thought I would. Now though, fans of Ben Solo are angry because the end of the movie saw Ben sacrificing himself for Rey to survive.

From bashing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their characters with redemption arcs (truly, a baffling line of argument that includes both Natasha Romanoff and Tony Stark … two characters who are dead) to writing petitions to Disney to bring him back from the dead complete with a #saveBenSolo social media campaign and conspiracy theories that his death wasn’t originally part of the plan, fans are not happy that Ben Solo came back to the light only to die in the end.

Most of the tweets were just genuinely sharing why they thought that Ben deserved more of a chance to actually be Ben Solo, which I agree with, to a degree. Ben Solo was the most interesting part of Kylo Ren’s entire arc, and with three movies dedicated it, there was a very clear missed opportunity there. But that doesn’t mean I want them to retcon his death just to give me more of Han and Leia’s son.

While well-meaning (and fans of both Adam Driver and Kylo Ren are extremely well-meaning, having raised money for Driver’s charity in honor of their favorite character), this kind of reaction makes me feel old mainly because … do you know how many of my favorite characters ended up dead? How would these fans feel about Sirius Black if he were being written right now? That’s a man who was wrongfully imprisoned and then died trying to save his best friend’s son. Like … that’s tragic.

I think there is just a new wave of social media inclusion in our pop culture and films/television that has fans demanding things of their favorite properties that didn’t exist beforehand, at least not to this extent. They want the storylines they think these characters deserve, and that is that. And not to sound like an old man (or a broken record), but … that’s what fanfiction is for.

Trust me, in my days as a Harmony (Harry/Hermione) shipper, we thrived in the world of fic. And maybe that’s how we now have to view Ben Solo and the life that many think he deserved. Because while great, I don’t think Disney is going to suddenly say, “You’re right. He’s alive and fine, and so are his parents. Happy ever after!” because … they just won’t.

There is a long-standing tradition of beloved fictional characters dying, and maybe I’m just used to it at this point, but … I think it’s fine. Don’t like a character’s arc? Write up that fanfiction! Don’t want them dead? Surprise, they’re fine in your fic. Trust me, I’ve been reading Tony Stark surviving fanfiction since April of last year. It’s just how the world of fandom goes, and I think that it’s time to let Ben Solo rest and thrive in our own worlds.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.