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"What's in there?"
"Only what you take with you."
―Yoda and Luke Skywalker[1]

The Dark Spirit was a protean manifestation of the dark side of the Force that dwelt within the Dark Side Cave on the planet Dagobah. In the years that followed the birth of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, a number of individuals confronted the Spirit. Those included the Jedi Master Yoda, who faced an apparition of the Galactic Emperor Palpatine. Twenty-two years later, the young Luke Skywalker also dueled the mysterious entity during his apprenticeship under Yoda, where the Spirit assumed the form of Darth Vader, his father.


The Dark Spirit takes the form of Dark Lord Darth Sidious.

"That which you seek, inside you will find."
―Yoda to Galen Marek's clone[3]

Around the year 700 BBY, a lone Bpfasshi Dark Jedi who led a group of other Dark Jedi was mortally wounded after a duel with the Jedi Knight Minch. The darksider was able to retreat into a cave on the swamp planet of Dagobah, where he took his last breath.[4] The site of the Dark Jedi's death absorbed their dark energies. It became the Cave of Evil and was haunted by a protean manifestation of the dark side[5] known as the Dark Spirit. That fearful phantom was endowed with prophetic powers, and those who confronted it would learn about the darker side of their own nature. Although bound to the cave, the Dark Spirit could still roam the swamp-covered landscape of Dagobah, radiating an aura of fear and hate that could cloud the minds of most Force-sensitive individuals, thus weakening or even paralyzing them in the process.[2] At least one other entity with similar powers was known to have existed in the Dark Force Temple located on the Sith planet of Dromund Kaas.[6]

In 19 BBY, the autocratic Galactic Empire was formed, and Yoda chose to settle on Dagobah in order to avoid the new government's anti-Jedi persecutions.[7] At some point, the old Jedi Master explored the Cave of Evil. He came to face the Dark Spirit, which had taken the form of his arch-foe Palpatine, Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith.[8] Immediately before his self-imposed exile on Dagobah, Yoda had fought the real Palpatine in the Grand Convocation Chamber of the Senate Rotunda, and the Jedi had been forced to flee.[7] Now in the Cave, Yoda confronted the grinning Spirit without his lightsaber, only armed with a gimer stick.[8]

In 1 BBY, the clone of the late Galen Marek, pioneer of the Rebel Alliance, came to Dagobah with the desire to find his identity. After entering the Cave of Evil, he encountered the Dark Spirit, who took several shapes. First, the entity appeared as several "clones" of the young man, all entangled in vines and asking for help. A little further on, the spirit transformed into the captain Juno Eclipse, an old acquaintance of Marek, standing on the bridge of a ship. The clone then saw the false Eclipse getting attacked, which filled him with distress. He called out to the apparition, but both Eclipse and the rest of the vision faded all of a sudden.[3]

Two years later, the young Force-sensitive Zak Arranda accidentally led a group of cannibal younglings into the Cave. The Dark Spirit tortured them reenacting scenes of their past, when their parents were forced to nourish them upon their own flesh.[9]

Luke Skywalker battles himself as Darth Vader in the cave

By 3 ABY,[10] Yoda had been hiding from the Empire for years. As part of his training, Yoda sent the young Luke Skywalker into the cave to confront the Dark Spirit. Upon the apprentice's entry, the phantom took the form of Darth Vader, a Sith Lord and Palpatine's second-in-command. Unbeknownst to the young apprentice, Vader had once been a Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker and was also his father, whom Skywalker had been led to believe to have been murdered by Vader. After a short duel, Skywalker gave in to rage and beheaded the spirit.[1] As the apprentice watched the helmet-encased head fall to the ground, the Dark Spirit's armored body completely vanished in the shadows.[11] For a moment the helmet remained on the ground completely still, then its faceplate exploded, revealing Luke Skywalker's own face, looking up at him. The young apprentice realized that, although that construct had been defeated, he still had much training left to do before confronting the real Vader.[1][2] In no time, the ghostly vision of the decapitated head dissolved into nothingness.[11]

Powers and abilities[]

"Help me! Help me!"
―The Spirit to Galen Marek's clone, in the form of several other clones[3]

The Spirit could impersonate more than one individual at a time.

The Dark Spirit was able take on the form of its intended victim's fears or darker sides. It could move unhindered and nearly undetected through the swamp of Dagobah, only being noticed by strong Force-sensitives. In battle, the entity radiated an aura of hate and fear that could unnerve and even paralyze an opponent.[2] Unlike Force ghosts, which were normally impalpable,[12] the Spirit had all the appearances of tangibility for those who faced it.[2] As Darth Vader,[2] and Palpatine,[8] it even used a phantom lightsaber that could cut like a genuine lightsaber.[2] More than just morphing into a single being, the spirit could actually assume the shape of several individuals at a time and mimic entire scenes[3][9] with a realistic background. It could also alter the vision that its victim had of their own appearance.[3]

Behind the scenes[]

In the games LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy[13] and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, the duel with the Dark Spirit is very different for gameplay reasons. For example, Yoda takes part in the duel because two players are required in all levels.[14]

"Game On!", an article published in the Star Wars Insider 135, cited the duel in the Cave of Evil with the Dark Spirit in Empire Strikes Back as a possible inspiration for the fake Vaders (Clados, Gyaos, Sasori and Wampa) in the ambiguously canon Japanese Star Wars game from 1987, who were said to have been "intended as illusions representing Luke's fears."[15] However, since those game opponents were able to kidnap Luke Skywalker's allies and hold them prisoner, the game contradicts the article's statements, since they appeared to be real creatures rather than mere illusions.[16]

In the Game Boy Advance game Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force, during the Dagobah: Training portion of the Empire Strikes Back storyline, the Dark Spirit in Vader's appearance is encountered as a boss. However, unlike in the film, the spirit doesn't actually do anything and only requires a lightsaber strike to bring him down, and as such his defeat animation only depicts him keeling down and moving his arm up and down. In addition, his defeat also omits his decapitation at the hands of Skywalker.


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]