Kylo Ren, born with the given name Ben Solo, was a Force-sensitive human male who was a member of the Knights of Ren and ally of the First Order, approximately thirty years after the Battle of Endor. Born to Rebel heroes Leia Organa and Han Solo, Ben was taken by his uncle Luke Skywalker to become his Jedi apprentice in Skywalker's new Jedi Academy. However, Ben was drawn to the dark side as a result of his obsession with the legacy of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Believing he was too weak to live up to his grandfather as a Jedi, Ben was lured to the dark side by a mysterious Force-user named Snoke. Taking the name Kylo Ren, Ben left his uncle's new Order, killing all his students in his wake. Skywalker disappeared after the massacre, and Kylo joined the Knights of Ren and Snoke's Imperial offshoot, the First Order.
Seeking to find and destroy his uncle before he could rebuild the Jedi, Ren tracked down the remnants of the only map that indicated his location, recovering all but one. Nearly obtaining the last fragment on Jakku, Kylo was beaten to it by Resistance pilot Poe Dameron who hid the map in his droid BB-8. Kylo and the First Order then hunted the droid, who befriended the scavenger Rey and former Stormtrooper Finn. After locating them on Takodana, Kylo Ren captured Rey after reading her mind with the Force knowing she had seen the map, but she escaped as the Resistance mounted an attack on Starkiller Base. Kylo killed his father, Han Solo, believing that it was his father's light that was weakening him in the Force. Shot by Chewbacca, Kylo then chased after Rey and Finn into the woods engaging both in a lightsaber duel, critically wounding the helpless Finn before being equaled by the Force-strong Rey, leaving a severely wounded and unstable Kylo on the ground. With Starkiller Base imploding, Supreme Leader Snoke instructed General Hux to leave the base with Ren.