Yoda’s most mysterious line referred to Luke’s first sister, not Leia

Yoda is one of the best Star Wars characters and has plenty of brilliant lines. One of them, though, is more mysterious than most and has a fascinating origin.

Yoda in Empire Strikes Back with Leia in background

Star Wars is literally overflowing with iconic lines of (often misquoted) dialogue. A lot of them come from the mouth of the small, green Jedi master Yoda, even with his unusual speech pattern. There’s “do or do not, there is no try” and his whole “size matters not” monologue.

There’s plenty more too, including one of the most mysterious lines in all of Star Wars from the best movie in the series. When the best Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi reflects that all hope for defeating Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire rests on the shoulders of Luke Skywalker, the ancient alien Jedi master says, “No, there is another,” while Luke abandons his training in order to save his friends.

When it came to Return of the Jedi, this line retroactively made sense as Princess Leia was also revealed to be Force-sensitive, and the sister of Luke. However, when the line was written George Lucas hadn’t intended for it to refer to Leia, as he hadn’t yet decided she was Luke’s sister. So, before the reveal, who exactly was Yoda referring to? Who was this other potential Jedi who had the power to defeat Darth Vader?

The answer is both very simple and complicated and can be found in the first draft of the script for The Empire Strikes Back, the best science fiction movie in the whole series. In this early version of the story, written for Lucas by American science fiction writer Leigh Brackett, Luke was visited by a Force ghost apparition of his father (who hadn’t yet been decided to be Darth Vader).

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He tells Luke, “You’re going into battle untried. Did your uncle ever speak to you about Nellith?” Luke says no, and his father explains that Nellith Skywalker is his sister. Like in the final version of the story, Luke and his sister had been separated for their safety. Luke’s father explains, “When I saw the Empire closing in, I sent you both away for your own safety, far apart from each other.”

Much was changed from this early draft, and a lot of beats were kept the same. Importantly, as reported by Inverse, Lucas wanted to keep hold of Nellith as a character, but reveal her identity later on in a subsequent movie. However, Yoda’s line: “No, there is another,” was kept in the script as a reference to what would later be unveiled.

Gary Kurtz, who produced the movie, confirmed as much when speaking to Film Threat. “His sister was someone else way over on the other side of the galaxy and she wasn’t going to show up until the next episode.”

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

However, as Lucas’ grand plans for Star Wars changed (he’s been vocal about really not enjoying work on the movies) he decided to bring everything to a resolution sooner than planned. Plot lines were condensed, and in order to make sense of Yoda’s line – and neatly tie up the character arcs from the story – Leia was made Luke’s sister and Nellith Skywalker was abandoned.

Now, when you rewatch the Star Wars movies in order and hear Yoda’s most mysterious line, you’ll know that there is in fact another: another sister for Luke beyond Leia, who was originally going to play a significant role in the story. Who knows: perhaps Nellith will be a part of the new movies in the series?

For more from the galaxy far, far away, check out our ranking of the best Star Wars villains, and our guide to the new Star Wars movies coming out. You can also read about why Princess Leia was George Lucas’ biggest mistake, and see everything new on Disney Plus this month in order to keep up with Ahsoka. Or, swap sci-fi franchises and see the status of Avatar 3.