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"The Jedi Code demands I give you gangsters one last chance! Are you going to come quietly?"
Obi-Wan Kenobi[4]

The Jedi Code was a code of conduct that established rules and modes of behavior for all Jedi. Although changing in style through the generations, the main tenets, context and meaning of the code stayed the same.

Mantra[]

At the heart of the Jedi Code was a mantra, consisting of a series of contrasts. Given that the Jedi Order existed for tens of thousands of years, it is unsurprising that several versions of the mantra cropped up, some containing precepts considered controversial within the Order.[1]

An early precursor to the Jedi Code was adopted by the Je'daii Order of Tython. It read:

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no fear; there is power.
I am the heart of the Force.
I am the revealing fire of light.
I am the mystery of darkness.
In balance with chaos and harmony,
Immortal in the Force.[5]

The origin of the Code proper is unknown. Only that it predates the writings of Jedi Master Simikarty, whose interpretations were taken as authoritative by later generations of Jedi.[6]

The classical form of the mantra contained five precepts, and read:

There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no death; there is the Force.[1]

This form was attributed to Homonix Rectonia, writing in the early Manderon Period.[1] However, it was also included in the edition of the Codex of Master Simikarty common at the beginning of that era, and thus likely dates to the late Subterra Period or earlier.[7] At the time of the Jedi Civil War, the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine required apprentices to memorize this form of the Code, before they could be considered Padawans.[8] It was transmitted to the Jedi of the post-Ruusan Republic via Fae Coven's work The Jedi Path.[1]

Another form—nearly identical, but lacking the fourth precept—was associated with Jedi scholar Odan-Urr:[9][3]

There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no death; there is the Force.[2]

This version was the one most commonly recited by Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order.[10][11]

Yet another form, known to be used during the Old Sith Wars, softened the contrast within each precept:

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.[12]

During the Galactic War, a fringe sect of Jedi, called the Sixth Line, held to a version of the mantra containing (as one might expect) six lines. The added precept was:

There is no contemplation; there is only duty.[13]

Other excerpts[]

Apart from the mantra, several other excerpts from the Jedi Code are known. The following portion was considered the most accessible part of the Code, and was taught to young apprentices to help them understand what it meant to be a Jedi:

(audio) AlternateJediCode-JJTM.ogg (info · help)
Accessible excerpt from the Jedi Code


Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.
Jedi respect all life, in any form.
Jedi serve others, rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.[9]

In 22 ABY, Luke Skywalker similarly presented the following as the Jedi Code to the students of his Junior Jedi Academy:

A Jedi’s promise must be the most serious, the deepest of his or her life.
A Jedi seeks not adventure or excitement, for a Jedi is passive, calm, and at peace.
A Jedi knows that anger, fear, and aggression lead to the dark side.
A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
There is no "try," only "do." Believe and you succeed.
Above all else, know that control of the Force comes only from concentration and training.[14]

Another excerpt read:

A Jedi does not act for personal power or wealth but seeks knowledge and enlightenment.
A Jedi never acts from hatred, anger, fear, or aggression but acts when calm and at peace with the Force.[15]

Miscellaneous tenets[]

Here can be read a number of miscellaneous tenets which are not mentioned in the Code, but should be known for all Jedi.[source?]
  • The Jedi are the guardians of civilization, yet do not allow civilization to destroy needlessly.
  • The lightsaber is the symbol of the members of the Jedi Order.
  • If a Jedi ignites their lightsaber, they must be ready to take a life.[16]
  • Jedi must put the needs of the community above the needs of individuals.
  • Jedi must always cooperate in battle or crisis.
  • Jedi must not have wants; self-reliance must be shown.
  • Jedi are forbidden from ruling others, although by the end of the Republic there was some debate over whether or not this was part of the actual Code.
  • A Jedi Master may not have more than one Padawan. This particular rule developed after the Old Sith Wars, as most ancient Masters such as Arca Jeth, Thon, Vodo-Siosk Baas and Krynda Draay did not have to abide by it. Meetra Surik also trained many apprentices at the same time due to their Force-sensitivity and the galaxy's dire need for Jedi. However, one apprentice per master seemed to be the standard around 32 BBY. But due to the lack of Masters in Luke Skywalker's Academy, several Padawans per master was necessary, as seen in Jaden Korr and Rosh Penin training under Kyle Katarn.
  • While the Code did not mention a maximum age for taking Padawans, Jedi Master Simikarty wrote influential interpretations of the Code that inserted such limits; over time, his interpretations of the Code became conflated with the Code itself. In Revan's era, apprentices were taken from early childhood. After the end of the New Sith Wars, it became policy to take apprentices from infancy, which proved controversial with those outside the Order. Conversely, Nomi Sunrider started her training as an adult, as did the apprentices of the Jedi Exile and many of the New Jedi Order.
  • A Jedi does not cling to the past, such as Anakin did when he used bad memories like when Padmé was almost assassinated to keep his resolve to defeat Nute Gunray and the Confederacy of Independent Systems

Following the code[]

"As a Jedi, you must be faithful to the spirit of the Code. Every day you must ask yourself: Do I understand it?"
Fae Coven[1]

Letting go of Attachments[]

"To love without wanting to possess or influence. To cherish without keeping. To have without holding."
Siri Tachi, describing love without attachment. [17]

The Jedi were well aware of that the way of the Force, the way of the universe, was that everything comes to pass, and for this they were not supposed to form emotional attachments: holding on to a person or a thing beyond its time was the path of misery, putting once's selfish desire against the Force. Thus, the Jedi had to let go of everything they were afraid to lose, to surrender attachment to persons and things that passed out of their lives.[18][19] It was Anakin Skywalker's attachment to his wife and the fear of loss that flowed from it that caused his fall to the Dark Side of the Force.[20]

Some Jedi struggled to understand how love and attachment are different; for example, Djinn Altris believed attachment is loving commitment and thus it should be encouraged, even founding a sect of the order that shared this view.[21] Additionally, Obi-Wan Kenobi experienced hardships to cease his attachment to Siri Tachi. However, he ultimately came to understand that love was different from possession, that loving her was enough, and the Jedi were teaching him how to live with losing her.[22] Jedi Master An'ya Kuro had an extreme view on the teaching, confusing attachment with basic connections.[23] Initially, even Luke Skywalker believed forsaking attachment entirely is unnecessary, feeling that he can't imagine his life without his friends, sister and wife.[1] However, after the death of Mara Jade, with the help of his son, Ben Skywalker, he understood the teaching, eventually being able to continue on loving his wife, but letting go of his attachment to her.[24]

Personal relationships[]

While a Jedi was free to have connections with others outside of the Order,[25] they were expected to remove as many external distractions from their life as possible. For that reason, the Order only accepted potential Padawans while they were still young children; due to their age, they not had yet formed attachments and bringing them up among the Jedi would prevent them to do so later during their lives. Members of the Order considered each other as close friends, family[1][26][27] and sometimes were truly related by blood.[28][29]

Romantic relationships, since they easly led to attachments, were discouraged; nevertheless, in general, romance was considered acceptable and some Jedi developed such feelings for each other.[30][31][32] As Master T'ra Saa described it, romantic love doesn't make someone a bad Jedi if the relationship was pure from attachment; resentment, jealousy and bitterness - the dark side of love.[33] However, Jedi were not allowed to marry without special permission,[2] like in the case of Cerean Jedi Ki-Adi-Mundi, who was allowed to marry several Cerean women because of his people's low birth rate.[34] By giving up marriage, Jedi avoided attachment more easely and—according to Vergere— it helped prevent the creation of dynasties of strong and potentially dangerous Force-sensitives. However, in many periods of the Order's history, such as the era prior to Exar Kun and in Luke Skywalker's reformed Jedi Order, marriage was permitted.

Emotions and serenity[]

The Jedi were encouraged to rely on their instincts over their mind.[35] They held their emotions valuable[36] but were also warned to be mindful of them, for they could cloud their judgment. A Jedi had to maintain a serene, quiet mind in order to stand on the light side instead of the dark—thus, they were able to keep the Force within them in balance.[37]

Self-discipline was one of the key concepts of Jedi behavior, and Jedi Padawans were taught this from a very early age. The lessons started off similar to what might be taught to an ordinary student; however, as the student progressed, so did the complexity of the lessons.[2]

A Jedi was taught to use the Force for knowledge and defense, never for aggression or personal gain - corollary of the Code was "A Jedi does not act for personal power." A sizable number of Jedi, in training, confused the meanings of attack, defense and aggression. Thus, Younglings were taught that it was possible for a Jedi to strike without aggression, so long as they acted without recklessness, hatred or anger. A Jedi was permitted to kill in self-defense - but only if there was no other option. To conquer aggression, even in combat, a Jedi must have explored every other option, including surrender, before resorting to using lethal force. Killing opponents should never become commonplace: Jedi who depended on murder were drifted towards the Dark side of the Force.[2] Instead, Jedi were taught not to kill an unarmed opponent, nor take revenge, such as the way Anakin Skywalker executed Count Dooku, and massacred Tusken Raiders. Similarly, Jedi did not believe in killing or torturing their prisoners.[8]

Conquer Arrogance

"The Jedi who believes that he is more important than others only demonstrates that his opinion is to be ignored."
Dooku[2]

Jedi were required to learn that, although they were able to use the Force, they were no better than those who could not. Jedi were taught that they were only Jedi because some had taken the trouble to teach them, not because they were superior to others, and that a Jedi Master was only a Jedi Master because he had disregarded his own sense of self-importance and embraced the will of the Force.[2] Thus, Jedi were expected to respect each other, and all other life forms.

Conquer Overconfidence

"Overconfident thinking is flawed because the Jedi does not take all possibilities into account. [...] He has planned only for success, because he has concluded that there can be no failure. Every Jedi, in every task, should prepare for the possibility of failure."
Vodo-Siosk Baas[2]

Many young Jedi students, while learning the ways of the Force, began to believe that they could accomplish anything. This, unfortunately, led to many young Jedi to die taking on tasks that were far too difficult for them, not realizing that the Force was only truly limitless to those who had limitless understanding.[2]

Conquer Defeatism

"Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try."
Yoda — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

Young Jedi also learned that defeatism was just as dangerous as overconfidence. Although it might have seemed contradictory to the goals of conquering overconfidence, a Jedi would first plan for success, then for failure. Jedi who always plan for failure expected to lose, and usually only used minimal effort—enough to say that they had tried.[2]

Conquer Stubbornness

"When you concentrate solely on winning—in lightsaber duels as in everything else—you sully your victory. Winning becomes worse than losing. It is better to lose than to win sorely. And it is always better to end a duel peacefully than to win or lose"
Rekpa De[2]

Jedi would always have been ready to accept defeat if the cost of winning was greater than the cost of losing. Jedi were taught that it was always best to end things peacefully than to win or lose.[2]

Conquer Recklessness

"Learn to recognize when speed is not important. Race when being first is important; move at your own pace at all other times. It is not necessary to always strike the first blow, to provide the first solution, or to reach a goal before anyone else does. In fact, it is sometimes vital to strike the last blow, to give the final answer, or to arrive after everyone else."
Wiwa[2]

Many young Jedi lacking in self-restraint were always ready to ignite their lightsabers and plunge straight into battle. They perceived a goal and rushed towards it, without any consideration for unseen dangers or other options. And so Jedi were taught that speed did not necessarily lead to success.[2]

Conquer Curiosity

"Use the Force to satisfy the will of the Force—not to satisfy your own curiosity."
Odan-Urr[2]

Many inexperienced Force-sensitives used the Force to satisfy their curiosity, probing into the business of others. Intruding gave the clear message that the Jedi felt they were above others' privacy. Jedi were taught that although using the Force to discreetly uncover the secrets of others may have been occasionally necessary, it should never become a matter of course, as it would cause great distrust of the Jedi in general.[2]

Conquer Materialism

"I wear my robe so that I am warm; I carry my lightsaber so that I am safe; and I keep enough credits for my next meal, so that I am not hungry. If the Force wants me to have more, it finds a way of letting me know."
Kagoro[2]

Jedi were forbidden from taking a political appointment. They were taught that their loyalty was to be to the Force, the Jedi Order, the Republic and to themselves, in that order.[2] Nor were they allowed to accept gifts - the latter did not include the traditional Padawan gift, given to the students by their Masters[38] and presents given to them out of gratitude.[39][40]

IthorianJediMaster

A Jedi typically carried only essential belongings

Jedi were discouraged from keeping more than a few essential belongings. There were two reasons for this; first because they distracted a Jedi from the Force, and second because, as they emerged through the ranks, Jedi were required to leave for missions with extremely short notice, and so having many objects was a burden. It was rare for a Jedi to possess more than they could carry on their person at one time.[2] However a Jedi allowed to keep personal belongings, such as accessories connected to free-time activities,[41] and, in the case of the young, toys.[42]

Responsibility[]

Once a Jedi had mastered self-discipline, they could begin to accept responsibility for their actions. Jedi who shunned responsibility were never trained, and Jedi who embraced it were never denied training.[2]

Practicing Honesty

"Let there be truth between your heart and the Force. All else is transitory."
Surenit Kli'qiy[2]

Honesty was the first responsibility that aspiring Jedi were taught. Jedi were permitted to stretch the truth if the situation required it of them, however this was to be done as sparingly as possible. An honest Jedi was always truthful with themeselves, his Master, and the Council.[2]

Honoring Promises

"Deliver more than you promise. The best way to be always certain of this is to deliver much, even when you promise nothing."
Tho-Mes Drei[2]

Jedi were taught that if they made a promise, they should have always been prepared to keep it, or else to have made amends. Thus, a Jedi should never have made a promise he or she was not certain they could keep. Jedi were encouraged to consult their Master before making a promise.[2]

Respect between Master and Padawan

"I'm sorry for my behavior, Master. It's not my place to disagree with you about the boy. And I am grateful you think I'm ready to take the trials.
"You have been a good apprentice. You are much wiser than I am, Obi-Wan. I foresee you will become a great Jedi Knight.
"
―Obi Wan Kenobi and his Master Qui-Gon Jinn[43]

Jedi Masters were required to treat their Padawan with respect. They were warned not to reprimand their Padawan in public, nor punish their Padawan for disagreeing with them. On the other hand, in order to built the Padawan's confidence, and strengthened the bond between teacher and apprentice, a Master excepted to praise their Padawan, especially in the presence of others.[2] By the same token, Padawans were expected to show great respect to their Masters, especially in front of others. Padawans were taught never to disagree with their Masters to the point of argument, and that when they were in discussion with others, Padawans should only address their Masters when they had been addressed themselves. This spared the Master having to apologize for his Padawan's behavior.[2]

Honoring the Jedi Council

"Now must I keep the word I made when only a Jedi Knight I was—a promotion this is not."
―Master Yoda after being invited to join the Jedi High Council[2]

Although the Jedi High Council was the ultimate authority of the Jedi Order, it was impossible for the High Councilors to be everywhere at once. Therefore, when the Council sent a Jedi on a mission, the Jedi spoke for and was a representative of the Jedi Council. The Council was forced to answer for the Jedi's words and answers, and so the Jedi would have been careful not to put the Council in a difficult position, as to do so would be to show terrible disrespect for the Council.[2]

Honoring The Jedi Order

"When a Jedi behaves badly in public, an observer might think, 'If this Jedi is a representative of the whole Order, then plainly no Jedi is worth respect.' On meeting a second Jedi, who behaves better than the first, that same person might think, 'Does this say that half the Jedi are good, and half bad?' On meeting a third Jedi, who behaves as well as the second, the person thinks, 'Was the first Jedi an exception, then?' In this way, only by the good behavior of several Jedi can the public be certain that the poor behavior of one Jedi was unusual. Thus, it takes many Jedi to undo the mistakes of one."
―Odan-Urr[2]

Every action a Jedi made reflected on the Order. Good deeds boosted the Order's reputation, but poor behavior sometimes caused incurable damage. Jedi were taught to remember that each person they met might not have set eyes upon a Jedi before, and that the acts of the particular Jedi that person would influence their perception of the Jedi Order as a whole.[2]

Honoring the Law
One of the most important roles of the Jedi was to protect the peace and justice of the Republic, and so no Jedi was above the law. Jedi were expected to follow the law the same as they expected others to. Jedi were permitted to break laws, but only when it was required, and only if they were willing to accept the consequences.[2]

Public service[]

Although the Jedi existed to serve the Force, they were funded by the senate because they served the public interest. If Jedi were unable to use the Force, they would continue to serve, because that was their duty. The fact that the Force was real, and that the Jedi were its most prolific and devoted practitioners, only strengthened their resolve to use it for good.[2]

Duty To The Republic
Although the Jedi and the Republic were dissimilar, and the Jedi Order had no authority over the Republic, the Jedi served the Republic, and were expected to uphold its laws and ideals, and to protect its citizens. However, members of the Order held no rank in Republic hierarchy, and only served when asked; at all other times they stepped aside. This strange agreement between the two parties had stood for so long that no one knew how or why it had come about.[2]

Rendering Aid
Jedi were obliged to help those in need of aid whenever possible, and were expected to be able to prioritize quickly. Jedi were taught that while saving one life was important, saving many lives was even more so. This principle did not mean a Jedi had to abandon other goals in every circumstance, but merely that a Jedi must do their best to make sure that they aided those who were most in need of assistance.[2]

Similarly, a Jedi was expected to defend the weak from those who oppressed them, ranging from small-scale suffering at the hands of an individual to large-scale enslavement of entire species. However, Jedi were taught to remember that all may not have been as it seemed, and that they should respect other cultures, even if they clashed with a Jedi's moral or ethical code. Jedi were warned not to act in areas out of their jurisdiction, and to always consider the ramifications and political consequences of their actions.[2] At times, it was necessary for a Jedi to stand aside and let others defend the weak, even if the Jedi felt that they could do a superior job. Jedi were taught that they should assist by word or action as required by the situation, offering advice when requested to, warning when necessary, and arguing only when reason failed.[2]

Miscellaneous Codes[]

The Jedi also abided by other codes that were not part of the original Jedi Code:

Crystal Code[]

LightsaberConstruction-CW14

Luminara Unduli reciting the crystal code while Barriss Offee assembles her lightsaber.

The crystal code was a mantra traditionally recited by a Jedi while witnessing their student assembling their lightsaber. However, this was not a constant, as a separate tradition held that Jedi students should fabricate and assemble their lightsabers in private, without their master's guidance or intervention.[44]

The crystal is the heart of the blade.
The heart is the crystal of the Jedi.
The Jedi is the crystal of the Force.
The Force is the blade of the heart.
All are intertwined.
The crystal, the blade, the Jedi.
You are one.

Behind the scenes[]

The concept for the Jedi Code could be traced back to early drafts for Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back in which Luke Skywalker took the "Jedi Oath" before traveling to Bespin.[45] Had this been included in the movie, the oath would have gone like this:

I, Luke Skywalker, do swear on my honor, and on the faith of the brotherhood of knights, to use the Force only for good, denying, turning always from the Dark Side; to dedicate my life to the cause of freedom, and justice. If I should fail of this vow, my life shall be forfeit, here and hereafter.[46]

In the video game version of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, during the fight with Serra Keto, the training holograms that repeat the Jedi Code can be damaged, revealing a "Saber Crystal" power-up and thoroughly darkening the Jedi Code; e.g. There is no death, there is the Force replaced by Death…is the Force.

Inconsistencies[]

"Jedi aren't supposed to have attachments. They can love people, they can do that, but they can't attach, that's the problem in the world of fear. Once you are attached to something then you become afraid of losing it. And when you become afraid of losing it, then you turn to the Dark Side, and you want to hold onto it, and that was Anakin's issue ultimately, that he wanted to hold onto his wife who he knew, he had a premonition that she was going to die […]"
―George Lucas on attachment[47]

George Lucas explained, the Jedi are trained, allowed, and expected to love people, even their enemies, the Sith, but they are not supposed to form attachments. Attachment connoted possession and the inability to let go, thus, it wasn't love, and led to the dark side of the Force.[48] In novels and reference books now considered Legends the interpretation of the Jedi teaching on not forming attachments was alternating between being in line with George Lucas' vision[17] and using "attachment" in the sense of affection, fondness and loving commitment, stating that the Jedi Code prohibited these emotional bonds.[1][21][49]

George Lucas, identifying himself as Buddhist Methodist or Methodist Buddhist, stated that his philosophy depicted in his movies was influenced by the fact that he was from San Francisco, the "Zen Buddhism capital of the United States." When author Tom Veitch asked Lucas for guidance about the spiritual aspect of the Jedi when developing the comic series Tales of the Jedi, Lucas told him "Look to Buddha."[50] In 2020, Lucas stated that the Jedi were "designed to be a Buddhist monk who happened to be very good at fighting."[51]

Appearances[]

Non-canon appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
  3. 3.0 3.1 Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook
  4. "Mask of Iron" — Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic 6.44
  5. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi 0
  6. Outbound Flight
  7. Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
  8. 8.0 8.1 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Official Star Wars Fact File 107
  10. I, Jedi
  11. Legacy of the Force: Inferno
  12. Tales of the Jedi Companion
  13. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Onslaught
  14. Junior Jedi Knights: The Golden Globe
  15. Star Wars Fandex Deluxe Edition
  16. Star Wars Day-at-a-Time Calendar 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Last of the Jedi: Secret Weapon
  18. Labyrinth of Evil
  19. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith novelization
  20. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
  22. Secrets of the Jedi
  23. Jedi: Aayla Secura
  24. Legacy of the Force: Fury
  25. Jedi Academy Training Manual
  26. Jedi: Mace Windu
  27. The Gathering (episode)
  28. Star Wars (1998) 39
  29. The Unknown
  30. Tides of Terror
  31. Star Wars: Republic: The Battle of Jabiim
  32. The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
  33. Republic 75
  34. Databank title Ki-Adi-Mundi in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  35. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  36. Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  37. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
  38. Jedi Quest: The Way of the Apprentice
  39. Yoda's kybuck
  40. Sharp Spiral
  41. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "The Rise of Clovis"
  42. Shatterpoint
  43. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  44. Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
  45. Draft Variations for The Empire Strikes Back on Starkiller (archived from the original on November 27, 2020)
  46. The Empire Strikes Back – First Draft by Leigh Brackett (Transcript) on Starkiller (archived from the original on November 27, 2020)
  47. YouTube Mellody Hobson George Lucas - Virtual Speaker Interview on the Star Wars universe YouTube channel (March 24, 2021) (backup link)
  48. Dark Victory by Richard Corliss & Jess Cagle on TIME (April 29, 2002) (archived from the original)
  49. The Old Republic: Deceived
  50. Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 13
  51. The Star Wars Archives: Episode I-III, 1999-2005
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