Snoke was a humanoid alien who was originally the leader of a group of mute alien navigators from the galaxy's Unknown Regions called the Attendants. At an unspecified point in his life, Snoke became the Supreme Leader of the First Order, founded the Knights of Ren and based its practices off of ancient Sith teachings from the planet Malachor. He trained eight apprentices, with his most prized pupil being Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, the nephew of Luke Skywalker, and the grandson of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Padme Amidala. Snoke was critical in the seduction of Ben to the Dark side, and when his turn was complete, Snoke christened him Kylo Ren. Snoke's rise to power was a surprise to the surviving Imperial leaders that survived the Battle of Jakku, such as Gallius Rax and Brendol Hux. As a result, Snoke was able to orchestrate their deaths or personally kill them himself, consolidating his power thoroughly.
Snoke is a sophisticated and calculating individual, knowing how to act in situations of danger or when things do not go like he wanted. However, he is also a subtle manipulator as he exploited Force-sensitive individuals, such as Ben Solo, only for their power without them catching on to his true intentions.
Snoke displays tendencies unusual for practitioners of the Dark side of the Force; he shows little emotion, as he is usually very calm and collected, as did not appear to be in any form of worry or distress despite the circumstances against him and the First Order. When the Starkiller Base was being destroyed, he calmly expressed his wishes without showing any form of anger or annoyance, a stark contrast to his apprentice Kylo Ren, who is prone to violent outbursts when faced with frustration. However, despite this, Snoke did demonstrate a considerable level of anger and frustration after learning of failures from Armitage Hux and Kylo; though he only directed his anger and frustration towards Hux. Despite his calm and level-headed demeanor, Snoke can be incredibly sinister and subtly cunning, a feature he employs when earning obedience from individuals. Ultimately, he was much more sinister and a darker soul than even Palpatine, who himself was considered evil incarnate.
Snoke's reason for choosing Ben Solo as his apprentice (as explained in the novelization of The Force Awakens) is that as Anakin Skywalker's grandson, he is a focal point in the Force; a perfect balance of light and dark. Snoke also has a dislike for Luke Skywalker. In the film's novelization, Snoke is shown to believe that Vader's compassion, sentiment, and love for his son, Luke, was the reason for the fall of the Galactic Empire. He also passed on that belief to Kylo during the latter's apprenticeship.
Snoke is also very wise; wise enough that he had seen the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire. He knew that the future was always in motion, and thus, for this reason, his motto had become "Be careful or die.". It was partly due to this that he was smart in keeping the First Order from making the same mistakes as the Empire did, and would not hesitate to instigate plans that would force his enemies to reveal themselves. Snoke also knew that visions from the Force were often incomplete and that he could not see all ends or outcomes, and for that reason, he was also cautious. In the novelization for The Force Awakens, it was on Hux's suggestion that use of Starkiller Base might force the Resistance to reveal itself which led to his approval of the superweapon's use. He further kept his personal secret base mobile, so as never to be located by his enemies. Furthermore, once Snoke had seen that Kylo Ren had fulfilled his purpose and once Rey and the Resistance were destroyed, he intended to rethink Kylo's future or kill him; a testament to his cunning. Additionally, Snoke's calculations and analysis showed him that he did not need Rey for her powers like Palpatine needed Luke for his, but the Supreme Leader still mused that in times past, she would have made a good apprentice.
Snoke is sadistic, as he enjoys tormenting his enemies with the Force on a physical and emotional level. He did this to Rey with thoughts of her parents, and the same to Ren when he plays with his mind and his soul. Snoke, additionally, is not an individual who tolerates failure, so if anyone from the First Order fails in what they were supposed to do, Snoke will not hesitate to kill them.
Regardless of his evil, Snoke had great respect for his enemies, including Luke Skywalker, whom he respected for the fact that the Jedi master sought the same knowledge of the Force that he did. Indeed, having met Luke once, they had shared knowledge with one another regarding the Force.
Sharing several traits with Palpatine but at a greater scale, Snoke was ultimately a tyrannical leader. However, his callousness and negative traits proved to be his downfall, as he repeatedly mistreated his then-apprentice Kylo Ren, such as, for his failure to defeat Rey, a Force-sensitive individual who has never utilized a lightsaber in combat before, leading to Snoke being betrayed and murdered by his own apprentice.
In appearance, Snoke was heavily disfigured, with large scars across most of his face and skull. He was quite frail-looking and had large hands and deathly pale skin. Regardless, he stood at an imposing height, well over eight feet tall. His eyes, according to Rey, were not unlike the Dark side cave on Ahch-To.
Powers and abilities
- The Force: Though not much of Snoke's powers were actually shown, he was extremely powerful and had an extremely strong connection to the Force. Snoke was far more powerful than Rey and Kylo Ren respectively; despite the two latter being exceptionally powerful force-users in their own rights. When Palpatine died on the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor, the Sith Lord sensed Snoke's power but did not realize he had sensed Snoke in the moments of his destruction. Snoke's knowledge of the Force may also have been even greater than that of the Sith Lord, as he had discovered many secrets of the Force during his years in the Unknown Regions that even the Emperor had failed to glean. Despite this, Snoke was not quite as powerful as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker respectively at the two latter's peaks; as he avoided getting into a direct confrontation Luke, evidenced by the fact that he ordered Kylo to find and kill the Jedi Master.
- Force Sense: Snoke was able to sense an awakening in the Force, which he knew Kylo Ren could feel as well.
- Telepathy: Snoke could sense Kylo's emotions and intentions, though he was only able to sense that Kylo was about to kill "his true enemy", but assumed that it was Rey and not himself.
- Mind Probe: Snoke possesses skill with the Mind Probe that was naturally superior to that of his apprentice, as he easily pried into the mind of Rey to discover Luke's location, which caused her extreme agony.
- Telekinesis: Snoke utilized Telekinesis for offensive and defensive purposes, demonstrating a great process which he was known using to choke and throw his opponents. He was notably able to deactivate Rey's shackles from across a room.
- Force Grip: Snoke utilized Force Grip to lift his opponents off the ground and into the air, sometimes by the neck, to immobilize them. His telekinetic grip allowed him to restrain his targets effortlessly and manipulate their movements. As demonstrated on both Rey and Hux, Snoke could make his targets glide along the floor or fly through the air while barely concentrating or exerting visible effort. His power in this regard is so strong that he doesn't even have to be in close proximity to his intended target, as he was capable of using his powers on General Hux even though they were not even on the same starship (or solar system, as his ship had not entered the same system yet at that point).
- Force Lightning: Snoke was able to use Force Lightning, which he blasted against the floor like a shockwave to knock his apprentice Kylo off his feet.
- High-Level Intellect/Master Tactician/Leader/Manipulator: Snoke is highly intelligent and wise. As the leader of the First Order and the Knights of Ren, Snoke is a highly skilled tactician and a capable leader. Snoke's skill in manipulation is so strong that Snoke even managed to manipulate and deceive Ben Solo into becoming his apprentice, turning him against the New Jedi Order.
Snoke sends Kylo Ren and the First Order on a search for Luke Skywalker following his disappearance. At Starkiller Base, Kylo and General Hux contact Snoke via hologram to report the progress of their individual assignments. While Snoke is irritated when Ren admits his search has been delayed, Hux proposes using Starkiller's superweapon against several New Republic planets who have been caught supporting the Resistance, which Snoke authorizes. After Hux is dismissed, Snoke confides in Ren of a disturbance in the Force and urges Ren to kill his father to overcome the Light side's temptation and fully embrace the dark side.
After capturing a scavenger named Rey who had seen a piece of the map to Luke, Ren asks Snoke to let him train her in the ways of the Force as an asset, to which Snoke orders Ren to bring him to her. However, Rey manages to escape before this can happen and, after Ren defeats Finn, duels him in lightsaber combat as the Resistance attacks the base, causing the planet to collapse. Moments before the base's total destruction, Hux contacts Snoke, who calmly orders Hux to bring Ren to him in order to complete his training.
Sometime after the destruction of Starkiller Base, Snoke began directing several maneuvers designed to eliminate any possibility of hope returning to the galaxy. He empowered General Hux to pursue and destroy the Resistance fleet and was delighted when Hux found a way to track the fleet's movements through hyperspace, thereby allowing the First Order to immediately pinpoint their location, wherever they might be.
Snoke then summoned Kylo Ren to him, and after questioning if his apprentice was recovering, he proceeded to belittle Kylo for his failure, saying that the young warrior was weakened by the conflict in his heart, emphasizing his displeasure by electrocuting his apprentice with a blast of Force Lightning. He also stated that for all his attempts to emphasize Darth Vader, Kylo Ren was little more than a child in a mask before dismissing him. Snoke then used his Force powers to link the minds of Rey and Ren through a Force-bond. Through the Force, both Rey and Ren could see each other and communicate from different locations in the galaxy, so as to manipulate them into revealing Skywalker's location and eliminating the Jedi once and for all.
Believing she could restore Ben Solo to the light, Rey sought Ren out and was brought to Snoke aboard the Supreme Leader's flagship, the Supremacy. Using his skills with the Force, Snoke successfully probed Rey's mind and discovered Skywalker's whereabouts, laughing with sadistic glee at the idea of killing Rey and Luke.
After obtaining the knowledge he sought, Snoke commanded his apprentice to execute Rey, believing she represented a threat to both himself and the dark side. He was confident that Ren would not turn in spite of Rey's faith in his former persona, that of Ben Solo, but while reading his apprentice's mind, he failed to detect Ren's use of the Force, subtly turning the Skywalker lightsaber in Snoke's direction, instead believing Kylo's actions were to cut Rey down. The blade activated straight through the Supreme Leader, cutting him in half. Shocked and disbelieving, Snoke fell to the floor and died, his reign ended by the man he never thought could betray him. Despite his bodyguards' efforts to avenge their leader, the entire Elite Praetorian Guard was destroyed by the combined efforts of Ren and Rey.
Snoke's death created an immediate power vacuum that Ren took advantage of by assuming his fallen master's role as the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, much to the displeasure of Hux. Although Ren desired to rule the galaxy with Rey at his side, the aspiring Jedi rejected his offer, leading Ren to falsely implicate her in Snoke's assassination.
Snoke took Ben Solo as his apprentice after corrupting him through the Dark side of the Force. After luring him to his side, Snoke rechristened Ben as Kylo Ren, the first of his Knights of Ren. During his time as Snoke's apprentice, Kylo Ren was devoutly loyal to the Supreme Leader and listened to his teachings closely. Snoke believed Kylo Ren was the finest apprentice he had ever taught and considered him to be a focal point in the Force because of his relationship to Darth Vader as his grandson. Furthermore, Snoke believed that if Kylo fully embraced the Dark side, he was destined for greatness beyond imagining. However, upon learning that Rey defeated Kylo without proper training, Snoke was infuriated and began rethinking his apprentice's future, planning to change his purpose or kill him due to his instability. Snoke's faith in his apprentice was irreparably damaged, and the ancient Force-wielder began to see Ren as little more than an instrument, calling him a child in a mask that was pretending to be Darth Vader. Ultimately, this would lead Snoke to his undoing, as Kylo Ren would use Rey to help him kill Snoke when the former brought her before the latter. As he waited for Kylo Ren to kill Rey, who was at his mercy, Kylo subtly used the Force to manipulate Rey's lightsaber, making the Supreme leader think he was going to kill Rey, before activating the blue blade of her weapon, cutting Snoke in half. Snoke, surprised and dying, could only look on in shock as he was killed by the very man whom he thought would and could never betray him.
Snoke commanded Armitage Hux with absolute authority, and Hux, in turn, was absolutely loyal to Snoke. However, where he valued Kylo Ren, Snoke saw Armitage as a tool, and a warmongering cur to be kept tight on a leash. He approved of Hux's plans, particularly when they suited his needs, but when Hux's plans went awry, he would not hesitate to punish him, as he did when Hux failed to stop the Resistance from escaping the First Order's fleet and when his forces failed to stop BB-8 from escaping on the Millennium Falcon. Additionally, Snoke had personally either killed or orchestrated the death of Armitage's father, Brendol Hux during his unexpected rise to power, only sparing the younger Hux due to his usefulness.
Snoke both hated and feared Luke Skywalker, due to his being an extremely powerful Force-wielder and because of his status as the last Jedi Master. If Skywalker were to remain at large, Snoke knew a new generation of Jedi would rise again. However, at the same time, Snoke respected Luke for the knowledge he sought regarding the Force. This was such that before Snoke began to corrupt Ben Solo, Luke and Snoke had been in communication and had met to share knowledge regarding the Force. Whether Luke knew of his malicious plans at that time is unknown, but when Snoke revealed his true nature was revealed to everyone, Luke viewed Snoke forevermore as his enemy.
Snoke viewed Rey as a true threat, due to her having the heart of a Jedi and the fact that she was strong enough without training to fight Kylo Ren evenly due to the fact that she was the light to his apprentice's darkness. As a result, he intended to kill her as soon as he was able to prevent her from fully becoming a Jedi. However, despite his hatred for Rey, Snoke mused that had he found her in the past, she could have been a fine apprentice.
Snoke and Leia are sworn enemies, not in the least because of how Snoke corrupted her son, Ben Solo, turning him into Kylo Ren. Leia also knew the threat Snoke and the First Order posed to the galaxy, and to that end formed the Resistance to fight him when the New Republic could not.
- His appearance was created using motion capture (CGI).
- His name was officially unveiled on May 28, 2015.
- Andy Serkis has confirmed that Snoke's horribly deformed face was inspired partially by injuries of World War I veterans who came back badly scarred or deformed.
- Andy Serkis also revealed that Snoke also was stricken with severe osteoporosis that left him "as twisted as a corkscrew".
- Andy Serkis considers Snoke to be a much darker character than Palpatine.
- Snoke carries an artifact on his person that reveal his fanaticism with Darth Vader: The ring on his finger is made from obsidian from beneath Darth Vader's Castle on Mustafar.
- The role of Snoke in the sequel trilogy mirrors the role of Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy. The case of Snoke is similar to the roles of both Kylo Ren and General Hux in the sequel trilogy, who respectively mirror Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin in the original trilogy. The difference being that, Snoke is betrayed and killed in the second installment of the trilogy, and for different reasons.
- Likewise, his telling Kylo Ren to "fulfill his destiny" mirrors Palpatine telling Luke the same thing in Return of the Jedi. Both villains are also shortly after uttering this line betrayed and killed by their respective right-hands (Darth Vader and Kylo Ren).