Supreme Leader Snoke is arguably the most polarizing character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The mysterious First Order commander and teacher to Kylo Ren looked a bit out of place design-wise next to pretty much everything else in the movie and as is the tradition with powerful figures who like to appear in hologram form only, hardly any information about who or what Snoke is was given over the course of the movie.
Snoke is likely to have a much bigger presence in the next film, but given that Star Wars: Episode VIII is still at least a year and a half away, fans have had to fill the gaps with what they already know to try and figure out just what Snoke’s real deal is. While it’s likely that Snoke is a wholly new character we’ve never seen before in any previous Star Wars film, one new theory making the rounds posits that he’s actually a character we already know.
ScreenRant has posted a theory arguing that Supreme Leader Snoke is actually Grand Moff Tarkin, the Imperial commander played by the late Peter Cushing thought to have perished in the destruction of the first Death Star. File this one in the “crazy but possible” category, as while it would be a bit nuts for a character to have survived something like a Death Star explosion, it’s also true that we never actually saw Tarkin die. He also happened to be the military leader of the Empire, to the point where he actually ordered Darth Vader around in the first film. From what we’ve seen of Snoke, he does seem to share these characteristics with Tarkin.
Snoke is also theorized to be an old man with some serious scars (sustained in a giant space station explosion, perhaps?) and there’s no actual evidence in The Force Awakens that Snoke is a Force user, so he could very well just have knowledge of the dark side thanks to his time spent with Vader. While this is a pretty convincing theory, it’s also likely quite far off the mark. Andy Serkis, the actor who plays Snoke, has already stated that Snoke is an original character (not to mention that it would take a lot of convincing retcon work to have Tarkin be alive). Still, we’ve heard worse theories!