Approximately 30 years after the second Death Star was destroyed, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate Luke and the Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke's twin sister, Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.
Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke's location. Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe's droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters a scavenger, Rey, at a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to kill for the First Order, frees Poe and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 "Finn". They crash on Jakku, and Finn appears to be the only survivor. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. The three flee the planet in a stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.
The Falcon breaks down, and is soon captured by a much larger ship, piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who reclaim their former vessel. Han explains that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but went into exile after a student turned to the dark side and destroyed all that Luke had built. Gangs seeking to settle debts with Solo board the ship and attack, but the five escape in the Falcon. The criminals inform the First Order of Han's involvement. The Falcon crew arrive at the planet Takodana and meet in a cantina belonging to Maz Kanata, who can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to flee on his own. Rey is drawn to a vault and finds the lightsaber that belonged to Luke and his father before him. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.
At the First Order's Starkiller Base, a planet converted to a superweapon capable of destroying star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use it for the first time. It destroys the Republic capital and its fleet and Hux declares the end of the Republic. Snoke tells Ren that to overcome the call of the Light Side of the Force, Ren must kill his father, Han Solo. The First Order attacks Takodana. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn, who uses the lightsaber in the fight, are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, but Rey is captured and taken to Starkiller Base. Ren interrogates Rey, but she resists his mind-reading. Discovering she too can use the Force, she escapes her cell with a Jedi mind trick.
Han, Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8 arrive at the Resistance base on D'Qar, where they meet Leia and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, the latter of whom has been inactive since Luke's disappearance. They also learn that BB-8's map to Luke's location is incomplete. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D'Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to lower the planetary shield so their fighters can attack. Leia urges Han to return their son alive. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate the base. They lower the shield, find Rey, set explosives, and encounter Ren. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Though conflicted, Ren ultimately rejects and murders Han. An enraged Chewbacca shoots Ren in the thigh and sets off the explosives, allowing the Resistance X-wing fighters to attack the weapon and start a chain reaction that destroys Starkiller Base.
The injured Ren pursues Finn and Rey to the surface. Finn battles Ren with the lightsaber, but is overpowered and badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and fights Ren, overpowering him with the Force before they are separated by a fissure. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate and bring Ren to him, while Rey, Chewbacca, and Finn escape in the Falcon. On D'Qar, the Resistance celebrates while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han's death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map, which Rey follows with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to an island on a distant planet. She finds Luke and offers him his lightsaber.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo:
A rogue and smuggler. Ford said Han "does not aspire to the position of Obi-Wan, nor do I aspire to be some New Age Alec Guinness. His development is consistent with the character, and there are emotional elements which have occasioned his growth ... There's a lot of the rogue still left in Solo. Some things don't change..."
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker:
One of the last remaining Jedi who has gone into hiding. Regarding Luke, Han and Leia, Abrams stated: "They'd be as old and as mythic as the tale of King Arthur. They would be characters who [the new characters] may have heard of, but maybe not. They'd be characters who they might believe existed, or just sounded like a fairy tale..."
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa:
The former princess of the destroyed planet Alderaan, turned General of the Resistance, and Luke's twin sister. After the events of Return of the Jedi, she is described as "a little more battle weary, a little more broken hearted." Fisher described Leia as "Solitary. Under a lot of pressure. Committed as ever to her cause, but I would imagine feeling somewhat defeated, tired, and pissed." Abrams said: "The stakes are pretty high in the story for her, so there's not much goofing around where Leia's concerned."
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren:
A dark warrior strong with the Force, originally a member of the Knights of Ren, and commander of the First Order. Driver said the team tried "not to think of him as being bad, or evil, or a villain. Something that was more three-dimensional. He’s more dangerous and unpredictable, and morally justified in doing what he thinks is right."
Daisy Ridley as Rey:
A scavenger abandoned as a child on the desert planet Jakku, who is searching for her family. Ridley said: "She's completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself, until she meets [Finn] and an adventure begins."
John Boyega as Finn:
A reformed First Order stormtrooper. Boyega said that he learned he obtained the part "over a nice breakfast in Mayfair" where Abrams told him: "John, you're the new star of Star Wars." Boyega said: "When we find Finn, he's in incredible danger. And the way he reacts to this danger changes his life, and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a very unique way." He said in another interview: "He's been taught about [Luke], he knows about his history. For him it's like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country."
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron:
A Resistance X-wing fighter pilot.Isaac said: "He's the best freaking pilot in the galaxy... He's been sent on a mission by a certain princess, and he ends up coming up across [Finn], and their fates are forever intertwined."
Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata:
A wise and perceptive figure operating a somewhat shady cantina on the peaceful forest planet, Takodana. J.J. Abrams said Kanata has "lived over a thousand years. She's had this watering hole … and it's like another bar that you'd find in a corner of the Star Wars universe." According to Abrams, the character was based on his former high school English teacher, Rose Gilbert, who lectured at the Palisades Charter High School from 1961 till 2013. Abrams said the team "really wanted the story to feel authentic, despite being a wild fantasy. I mentioned Rose in an early story meeting as a sort of timeless, wise figure that I'd actually known in my life."
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke:
The political leader of the First Order. He is Kylo Ren's master and is very powerful in the dark side. Serkis described Snoke as "quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful... He is large. He appears tall. And also just the facial design—you couldn't have gotten there with prosthetics... Without giving too much away at this point, he has a very distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure."
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux:
The commander of the First Order's Starkiller Base. Gleeson described him as "pretty ruthless. A strong disciplinarian would be a mild way of putting it... He's kind of opposite Kylo Ren. They have their own relationship, which is individual and unusual. One of them is strong in different ways than the other. They're both vying for power."
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO:
A humanoid protocol droid. Daniels said the actors were allowed to experiment with their performances, and that Abrams "made a field, a playpen where you were allowed to take your time and suggest things."
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca:
A loyal Wookiee and Solo's longtime companion. Joonas Suotamo portrays the character in several action scenes, as the then 71-year-old Mayhew suffered from knee problems.
Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka:
A retired adventurer on Jakku, aiding the Resistance in locating Skywalker.