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For other uses, see Lightning (disambiguation).
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"How does one defend against such power?"
"A wise master does not reveal all his secrets at once. In due time, my apprentice."
Savage Opress and Count Dooku, after assaulting Opress with a barrage of Force lightning[src]

Force lightning, also known as Sith Lightning, was a power that Force users could conjure through the dark side of the Force.

Description[]

Power of destruction[]

"If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."
―Darth Sidious, to Luke Skywalker[src]

Luke Skywalker nearly died while Darth Sidious tortured him with Force lightning.

Force lightning was an offensive technique which involved a discharge of electrical energy from the practitioner's hands[7] and was capable of killing or inflicting severe pain on the target of this attack as well as possible disfigurement[8] or even disintegrating them.[9]

In some cases, the intensity of Force lightning was so high that the victim's skeletal system glowed and could be seen through his or her skin—as demonstrated with Windu[8]—or even through heavy armor.[7]

During the mission to Pasaana, while battling Kylo Ren, the Jedi Rey released a burst of Force lightning so powerful it was able to obliterate a First Order troop transport ship.[9] Shortly after, during the Battle of Exegol, Darth Sidious unleashed a barrage of Force Lightning that completely disabled the ships in the citizens' fleet above.[9]

Variations[]

A variant of the ability, known as chain lightning, involved a burst of lightning that would spread from the first target to those around them. Another variant used by Sidious was the power Dark Aura, a miniature storm of malevolent Force energy and lightning surrounding its producer that tortured and slowed the movement of all caught within its radius.[10]

Force lightning occurred in at least four colors; blue,[7] green,[6] yellow[11] and red.[12] The typical form was a bluish-purple version as demonstrated by Darth Sidious,[8] Darth Tyranus,[13] Snoke[14] and Rey;[9] Nightsister magick equivalents were green like magical ichor as demonstrated by Mother Talzin.[6] Darth Momin's lightning glowed yellow[11] and red lightning was used by the Son—a represention of the dark side[5]—and the disembodied spirit of Darth Vader when he entered a portal in his castle on Mustafar.

Counteractions[]

"As you can see, my Jedi powers are far beyond yours. Now, back down."
"I don't think so."
―Count Dooku and Obi-Wan Kenobi[src]

A Jedi and Sith could deflect the lightning with a lightsaber; a powerful Jedi Master such as Yoda was capable of deflecting the attack using Force deflection[13] but only for a short while and with immense effort.[1] Gungan personal energy shields were also capable of repelling Force lightning.[15] Mace Windu[8] and Rey were both able to deflect Sidious' lightning back onto him using lightsabers. In Rey's case, the force of his own reflected lightning was what ultimately destroyed Sidious.[9] Quinlan Vos was able to deflect the Force lightning of Tyranus back onto him with his lightsaber.[16]

Usage[]

"Now you will experience the full power of the dark side."
―Darth Sidious, to Yoda[src]

Vader blasted an illusion of his Sith Master, Darth Sidious, with red Force lightning before confronting the visage of his late wife, Padmé Amidala.[12] Momin planned to pour the Force into his engine via his version of Force lightning, at the moment of ignition to use it to slow down time, trapping the expressions of horror and pain on the city's inhabitants forever.[11]

Snoke using a short burst of Force lightning to subdue Kylo Ren.

Other dark side wielders besides the Sith were able to harness the ability. Mother Talzin conjured her own version of Force lightning that was powerful enough to block Sidious' lightning.[17] Supreme Leader Snoke used it to subdue his apprentice, Kylo Ren when the young knight lost control of his anger. Snoke's use of Force lightning varied from previous practitioners, as he projected energy against the floor, causing it to bounce upward and knock the target off their feet.[14]

With his powers amplified by a Force dyad, Sidious unleashed a storm of Force lightning upon his enemies above Exegol.

Although its use was officially forbidden by the Jedi Order,[18] light-siders like the Jedi could also use this power. Dooku, during his time as a member of the Jedi Order, utilized it spontaneously during a painful Force vision to kill some Presagers of Hakotei, without any known prior training[2] and also used it on Shenda Mol to save his Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn while on Numidian Prime, although Qui-Gon was unaware of it.[19]

A use of this power that varies from the usual ability consisted of summoning lightning from the sky, which could blast structures and set a place on fire. In fact, standing outside Luke Skywalker's Jedi temple full of fear and anger, Ben Solo gave in to the dark side's power and created a lightning storm that razed the structure, killing all of the students who were present.[20] Yoda did something similar later as a Force ghost.[21]

During the mission to Pasaana, in a skirmish with the First Order, the Jedi Rey was trying to bring down a First Order transport she believed was carrying Chewbacca. She and Kylo Ren were both trying to bring the transport to themselves with the Force, and in her anger, she accidentally unleashed lightning upon it, destroying the ship immediately.[9]

Behind the scenes[]

Conception and development[]

Darth Sidious blasting Luke Skywalker with lightning in Ralph McQuarrie artwork seen in The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

Force lightning first appeared in the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, the final installment of the Star Wars original trilogy.[7]

As sound designer Ben Burtt wanted sounds for sparks and artificial lightning akin to those in Frankenstein films during the production of the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Burtt tracked down Ken Strickfaden, the person who built and kept the props of Frankenstein, and asked if he could record sounds from the still-functional Frankenstein props. Strickfaden initially denied the request, but, during the production of the 1980 film Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, was stunned after watching the 1977 Star Wars film and drove Burtt to his house in Santa Monica, switching on all his props and allowing Burtt to record the sounds. Much of the Emperor's Force lightning attack on Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi made use of sounds recorded from Strickfaden's Frankenstein props, with the sound effects being used in subsequent Star Wars media.[22]

Disfigurement[]

There has been a debate about the consequences of Force lightning in an individual. In Revenge of the Sith, after having been bested by Mace Windu, Darth Sidious uses Force lightning against the Jedi Master, who repels it with his lightsaber, deflecting it onto Sidious and disfiguring and scarring the Sith Lord's body.[8] However, previous to the Force lightning's appearance in Sith, Sidious blasted Luke Skywalker with Force lightning in Return of the Jedi several times and Skywalker wasn't disfigured or scarred.[7] Though an official explanation of this inconsistency has yet to be given, Lucasfilm Story Group's Matt Martin has shared his thinking for what the explanation could be, as he never saw it as an inconsistency. In his mind, it was Sidious' own fault that his disfigurement took place, assuming that he overexerted himself, causing the Force lightning's voltage to be higher, unlike when he later attacked Skywalker.[23]

Appearances[]

Non-canon appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

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