Rey was a human female scavenger who discovered her latent Force-sensitivity while on a quest to find the legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and bring a new hope to a galaxy on the brink of war. Rey grew up in the wastes of the desert planet Jakku, where she was left by her family for reasons unknown to her. She spent her childhood dreaming of the day her family would return for her, meanwhile honing her skills as a scavenger and gaining a reputation as a warrior and scavenger in the junk fields of Niima Outpost. She became a talented scavenger in the planet's Starship Graveyard and gained skills as a linguist and a pilot, all of which were necessary to survive on the backwater planet. Despite the harsh realities of Jakku, Rey remained optimistic for her family's return and compassionate towards others.
Rey's life changed forever when she encountered BB-8, a Resistance astromech droid who carried information about Luke Skywalker's whereabouts; and a stormtrooper named Finn who defected from the First Order. They were hunted by First Order forces and escaped from Jakku aboard the Millennium Falcon, which was soon retaken by two of its previous owners, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Solo brought them to Takodana to meet the pirate Maz Kanata, where Rey discovered the lightsaber that once belonged to Skywalker and his father. However, she rejected the idea that the lightsaber was calling to her.
During a First Order assault on Kanata's castle, Rey was taken captive by the dark Force user Kylo Ren, who knew she had seen the map that BB-8 carried. On Starkiller Base, a First Order superweapon, Rey refused to give up the information and mounted an escape attempt. She encountered Finn, Solo, and Chewbacca after they had arrived to destroy the weapon and rescue her. After the weapon was damaged and Solo killed by Ren, who was actually his son Ben, Rey and Finn escaped into the forest to find the Millennium Falcon. Ren confronted them and, after Finn was injured, Rey fought Ren in a lightsaber duel and bested him. She and the others escaped to the Resistance base, where they learned Skywalker's location. Rey ventured to the planet Ahch-To, found the legendary Jedi Master, and presented him with his father's lightsaber.