- "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 Dooku assaulted Opress with a barrage of Force lightning
Power of destruction
- "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Luke Skywalker
Force lightning was an offensive technique which involved a discharge of electrical energy from the practitioner's hands and was capable of killing or inflicting severe pain on the target, as well as possible disfigurement or even disintegration.
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—or even through heavy armor. Luke Skywalker considered it to be the ultimate manifestation of the Force in a physical sense.
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. Shortly after, during the Battle of Exegol, Darth Sidious unleashed a tempest of Force Lightning of such power and precision that it completely disabled an entire fleet of 14,000 ships, while leaving his own fleet of Xyston-class Star Destroyers untouched.
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.
Force lightning occurred in at least four colors; blue, green, yellow, and red. The typical form was a bluish-purple version as demonstrated by Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus, Snoke and Rey; Nightsister magick equivalents were green like magical ichor as demonstrated by Mother Talzin. Darth Momin's lightning glowed yellow and red lightning was used by the Son—a representation of the dark side—and the disembodied spirit of Darth Vader when he entered a portal in his castle on Mustafar.
- "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
A Jedi and Sith could deflect the lightning with a lightsaber, such as when Obi-Wan Kenobi blocked Dooku's lightning with his saber; a powerful Jedi Master such as Yoda was capable of deflecting the attack using Force deflection but only for a short while and with immense effort. Gungan personal energy shields were also capable of repelling Force lightning. Mace Windu 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. Quinlan Vos was able to deflect the Force lightning of Tyranus back onto him with his lightsaber.
- "Now you will experience the full power of the dark side."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Yoda
Vader blasted an illusion of his Sith Master, Darth Sidious, with red Force lightning before confronting the visage of his late wife, Padmé Amidala. 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.
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. 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. Bendu created and joined with a massive storm, raining lightning upon the Imperial forces as well as those of the Rebellion. Due to Bendu's own claims about being of both the light side and dark side, it is unclear which side of the Force he used for this battle.
Although its use was officially forbidden by the Jedi Order for most of its history, 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 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. Yoda himself conjured Force lightning while in exile on Dagobah. Force lightning was one of the dark side powers that Luke Skywalker admitted might be correct to use if the need of a Jedi was dire, though he still felt that under most circumstances using the dark side carried a cost beyond whatever benefits such power might grant. The Baran Do Sages understood a means of using Force lightning without drawing upon the dark side.
In a skirmish with the First Order during a mission to Pasaana, 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.
Behind the scenes
Conception and development
Force lightning first appeared the canon continuity in the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, the final installment of the Star Wars original trilogy. In Legends, conversely, Splinter of the Mind's Eye is the first work this power is introduced in.
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.
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. 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. Likewise, Dooku used this power on Anakin Skywalker without permanently damaging him. 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.
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