This article covers the Canon version of this subject.  Click here for Wookieepedia's article on the Legends version of this subject. 
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 Dooku assaulted Opress with a barrage of Force lightning[8]

Force lightning, also known as Sith lightning or dark rays, was an offensive power that Force users could conjure through the dark side of the Force.


Manifestation of death[]

"The ultimate physical manifestation of the Force is also one of its most malicious forms and is most commonly generated by those heavily versed in the ways of the dark side, such as Sith Lords. This aggressive energy attack is usually released from the fingertips in the direction of the intended target, leading to severe injury, disfigurement, and death."
―Luke Skywalker[9]

Force lightning was a highly powerful dark side ability that could kill, maim, or just generally hurt those attacked by it.

Force lightning was a dark side[3] combinative technique which involved a discharge of electrical energy from the practitioner's hands[4] and was capable of killing or inflicting severe pain on the target, as well as possible disfigurement[10] or even disintegration. It could also be used to destroy physical objects, such as star ships. Moreover, sometimes the user's hand would emanate faint amounts of smoke just after employing this power.[11] Sometimes this power was used to parry another's usage of the Force.[12] Using this power to stun an opponent was possible, as was using the lightning to move a target.[13]

Luke Skywalker considered it to be the ultimate manifestation of the Force in a physical sense.[9] The Baran Do Sages understood a means of using Force lightning without drawing upon the dark side.[2] In some cases, the intensity of Force lightning was so high that the victim's skeletal system glowed and could be seen through their skin—as demonstrated with Windu[10]—or even through heavy armor.[4] 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.[11] Shortly after, during the Battle of Exegol, Darth Sidious, having absorbed the power of a dyad, 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.[11]



Mother Talzin uses Nightsister magick to bring forth her version of Force lightning against Darth Sidious's Sith Force lightning.

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. Sometimes this power was unleashed in a wave of stunning sparks. 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.[14]

Force lightning occurred in at least six colors; blue,[4] green,[7] yellow,[15] white,[16] and red.[17] The typical form was a bluish-purple or bluish-white version as demonstrated by Darth Sidious,[10] Darth Tyranus,[13] Snoke,[18] Yoda,[16] and Rey;[11] Nightsister magick equivalents were green like magical ichor as demonstrated by Mother Talzin.[7] Darth Momin's lightning glowed yellow[15] and red lightning was used by the Son—a representation of the dark side[6]—and the disembodied spirit of Darth Vader when he entered a portal in his castle on Mustafar.[19]

Counteractions' and effects[]

"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[13]

Yoda bending lightning with the Force on Dagobah

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[13] but only for a short while and with immense effort.[20] Gungan personal energy shields were also capable of repelling Force lightning,[21] as were Squad shields.[14] Mace Windu[10] 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.[11] Anakin and Obi-Wan were able to use their lightsabers to absorb Dooku's Force Lightning.[13][22] Quinlan Vos was able to deflect the Force lightning of Tyranus back onto him with his lightsaber.[23] Despite the power of a saber as a weapon of protection, a bolt of lightning shot fast enough might be able to disarm a lightsaber wielder.[10]

Quinlan Vos described the feeling of being struck by Dooku's lightning as both burning and freezing his limbs. Those who were harmed with Force lightning often writhed in pain with uncontrollable muscle spasms. After Asajj Ventress was struck with Dooku's lightning, her skin became tattooed with dark lines where the lightning bolts had hit her.[23]


"Now you will experience the full power of the dark side."
―Darth Sidious, to Yoda[10]

Aside from the obvious uses to stun or kill an enemy, this power was used for other tasks. 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.[15] Count Dooku used this power to torment Savage Opress, in the hope of teaching him to embrace his hate more fully and so deepen his connection to the Force.[8] While traveling through an illusion-filled plain of reality, the soul of Darth Vader was able to make use of a red Force lightning; he blasted an illusion of his Sith Master, Darth Sidious, with red Force lightning before confronting the visage of his late wife, Padmé Amidala.[17]

Snoke Lightning

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.[12] The Son used red lightning to attack his sister.[24] 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 ship's floor, causing it to bounce upward and knock the target off his feet.[18] 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.[25] Ben Solo,[26] similarly, after a confrontation with his uncle, called down a bolt of lightning upon Luke Skywalker's Jedi temple, annihilating the structure, and those within.[27] During his fall to the dark side, Solo also conjured lightning around himself as he fought with Ren.[28] Yoda, after his death, appeared to Luke Skywalker and caused a lightning strike to burn a tree as a demonstration to Skywalker.[29]

Sidious Force storm

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 for most of its history,[30] light-siders like the Jedi could also use this power and indeed some ancient Jedi used it against the Sith.[26] 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[1] 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.[31] Yoda himself conjured Force lightning while in exile on Dagobah.[16] Yoda was also able harvest the power of absorbed lightning to temporarily increase his telekinetic powers.[14] 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.[9]

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.[11]

Behind the scenes[]

Conception and development[]

Adventures of Luke - Force Lightning

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

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.[4] In Legends, conversely, the 1978 novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was the first work this power is introduced in.[32]

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.[33]

George Lucas originally conceived of Force lightning as being just another Force power and wanted Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader to use it against each other in Empire Strikes Back, with Luke seeming to turn close to the dark side to increase his power at Vader's urging, but ultimately being defeated as in the final film, though ultimately this idea of Luke using lightning so early in his life was not implemented in The Empire Strikes Back.[34][35] The Return of the Jedi draft script saw Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda appear amid the Emperor's use of Force lightning against Luke: the two Force ghosts appeared in defense of the young Jedi and deflected the Sith's attack.[36]


There has been a fan debate about the consequences of Force lightning in an individual.[37] 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.[10] 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 was not disfigured or scarred.[4] Likewise, Dooku used this power on Anakin Skywalker without permanently damaging him.[13]

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.[37] In Legends, it was suggested that Palpatine used a Sith power known as "Mask" to hide his true face, suggesting the lightning did not cause his disfigurement. Instead, the lightning only broke the alchemical disguise and revealed the Sith Lord's true appearance. Any further damage was because of the mask suddenly dropping from a blast of dark side energy.[38][39]


Non-canon appearances[]


Non-canon sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dooku: Jedi Lost
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Disciples of Harmony
  3. 3.0 3.1 StarWars-DatabankII Force Lightning in the Databank (backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  5. StarWars Sith in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Altar of Mortis"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Massacre"
  8. 8.0 8.1 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Witches of the Mist"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Star Wars: The Secrets of the Jedi
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
  12. 12.0 12.1 Darth Maul—Son of Dathomir 4
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Star Wars Battlefront II
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Darth Vader (2017) 22
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Unlimited Power
  17. 17.0 17.1 Darth Vader (2017) 25
  18. 18.0 18.1 Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
  19. Darth Vader (2017) 25
  20. Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
  21. StarWars Poll: Which Star Wars Weapon Would You Use? on StarWars.com (backup link)
  22. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Massacre"
  23. 23.0 23.1 Dark Disciple
  24. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Altar of Mortis"
  25. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Zero Hour"
  26. 26.0 26.1 Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith
  27. The Rise of Kylo Ren 1
  28. The Rise of Kylo Ren 4
  29. Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
  30. Star Wars Expert Guide
  31. Master & Apprentice
  32. Splinter of the Mind's Eye
  33. SWYTlogo Conversations: Sounds In Space - Frankenstein Sounds on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)  (Posted on StarWars.com)
  34. The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
  35. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
  36. SWInsider "Rewind of the Jedi" — Star Wars Insider 218
  37. 37.0 37.1 TwitterLogo Matt Martin (@missingwords) on Twitter: "This is not an official answer but I just always assumed there was more going on with Palps and it wasn't just a result of the lightning itself. Maybe he overexerted himself and that caused it? Maybe he had the voltage turned up higher? IDK, but I never saw it as an inconsistency" (backup link)
  38. Jedi Counseling 71, Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Roleplaying Game website (link)
  39. Star Wars Insider 83