- "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 Darth Tyranus, after assaulting Opress with a barrage of Force lightning
Force lightning was a power that Force users, such as the Sith and even light siders like the Jedi, could conjure through the Dark side of the Force. It was an offensive technique which involved a discharge of electrical energy from the practitioner's hands and was capable of inflicting severe pain on the target of this attack as well as possible disfigurement. 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 to produce a dark aura, a miniature storm of malevolent Force energy and lightning that slowed the movement of, and tortured all caught within its radius. Its use was forbidden by the Jedi Order.
Force Lightning occurred in at least four colors; blue, green, yellow and red. The standard color was a bluish-purple as demonstrated by Palpatine, Dooku, Snoke, and Rey; Nightsister Magic equivalents were green like Magical ichor as demonstrated by Mother Talzin. Lord Momin used yet another version that was yellow. It would appear that the most powerful manifestation was "red" as it was used by the Son (the manifestation of the Dark Side itself) and the disembodied spirit of Darth Vader when he entered the portal in his castle on Mustafar. Anakin blasted the illusion of his master, Emperor Palpatine with red Force lightning after the latter tried to bar him from going to the balcony to see Padme. Momin planned to pour the Force with his version of Force lightning into his engine at the moment of ignition and use it to slow down time, forever trapping the expressions of horror and pain on the city's inhabitants forever.
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 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 Skywalker were both able to deflect Darth Sidious' lightning back onto him using lightsabers, in Rey's case two. The force of his own reflected lightning the second time was what ultimately destroyed Darth Sidious for good. Quinlan Vos with his lightsaber was able to deflecting the Force lightning of Dooku back onto him.
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 Darth 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.
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 whilst on Numidian Prime.
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 Mace Windu—or even through heavy armor.
Rey briefly unleashed a blast of Force Lightning on a First Order transport on Pasaana while 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 it immediately. And during the Battle of Exegol, Darth Sidious unleashed a barrage of Force Lightning that disabled the Resistance fleet above.
Behind the scenes
Force lightning first appeared in the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, the final film of the Star Wars original trilogy. In Star Wars Legends, a few Jedi, such as Luke Skywalker, used a variant of Force lightning. The Databank entry for Force lightning, however, says that in current canon, it's exclusively a dark-side power.
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 on 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. 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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Notes and references
- Dooku: Jedi Lost
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Master & Apprentice
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 22
- Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
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- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Massacre"
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
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- Star Wars Expert Guide
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 25
- Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
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