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Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi are ahead!
When he turned to the dark side, Ben Solo cast aside his old name and adopted the moniker Kylo Ren. However, he isn't the only character in the Star Wars universe to adopt the Ren title. In fact, there's a whole group of them in a galaxy far, far away. Although The Force Awakens showed a quick glimpse of the Knights of Ren, Kylo's fellow dark side users were nowhere to be seen in The Last Jedi. When recently asked about the Knights' absence, director Rian Johnson noted that he decided to leave them out because Episode VIII was already packed with a lot of characters and material. Johnson explained:
You can see we have a very full movie already. There literally was just not room for another element at them. I guess I could've used them in place of the Praetorian guards, but then it would feel like wasting them because I knew all those guards had to die pretty quickly. And if Kylo had some kind of connection to them, it would've added a complication that wouldn't have helped the scene. So the truth is I just didn't see a place for them in the movie.
Aside from Supreme Leader Snoke offhandedly mentioning the Knights of Ren during Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there weren't any direct references to them in the movie, so one couldn't be faulted for possibly forgetting that they're floating around somewhere. As Johnson noted, the Knights could have replaced the Paretorian guards, but considering how important the Knights are suggested to be, as well as how Rey and Kylo ultimately killed all the Praetorian guards in Snoke's throne room, using the Knights instead would have been a waste of their potential. However, before delivering the above quote during his interview with The Empire Film Podcast, Rian Johnson said that he does find the Knights of Ren interesting "intriguing who they are." So if director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio choose to include the Knights in Episode IX, Johnson is curious to know more about them.
So far our only look at the Knights of Ren comes from Rey's Force vision in The Force Awakens, where the Knights were seen with Kylo surrounded by slaughtered bodies during a rain storm. It was also implied, but not confirmed, in The Last Jedi that the Knights were some of Luke Skywalker's other students at the Jedi academy who left with Ben after the temple was destroyed and Luke's remaining students were killed. Since Episode IX is wrapping up this Star Wars trilogy in 2019, and Rian Johnson's upcoming Star Wars trilogy will be separate from the Skywalker saga, that movie will be the last opportunity to fully introduce the Knights, so here's hoping that Abrams and Terrio choose to shed light on who they are, if not outright show them in action.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still playing in theaters, and Episode IX will be released on December 20, 2019.