The Force was an energy field created by all life that connected everything in the universe, and was known by a variety of names throughout galactic history. It was called the Ashla by the Lasats, It by the dianoga Omi, the Life Current by the Mustafarians, the Tide by the Lew'elans, the Sight by the Chiss, the Life Wind by the Zeffo, the Great Presence by the people of the Chaos, the Luminous Mist by the Mist-Weavers, the White Current by the Fallanassi, and as the Beyond by the Magys and her people. The Force was created by life, and therefore, resided in all life forms. It was especially powerful in a select group of individuals who were born with a high concentration of midi-chlorians—microscopic, intelligent lifeforms that formed a symbiotic relationship with and communicated the will of the Force to their host—in their blood. These people were deemed Force-sensitive, and were capable of consciously sensing the Force. With this conscious sense of the Force came the ability to harness it, accessing various Force powers. Unlike organic beings, droids and other artificial constructs existed outside of the Force. As such, they possessed no connection to the energy field that was created and sustained by life. Apart from its scientific aspect, the Force was the basis of various religious organizations, who held differing views as to the nature and purpose of the Force. These included the Church of the Force, the Guardians of the Whills, and most notably the Jedi and Sith Orders. In addition, the Lasats believed that the Force was the "spirit" of the galaxy.
The Force as a recorded concept existed for well over twenty-five thousand years. There were two overarching and symbiotic aspects of the Force. The Living Force was the energy of all life, which, in turn, fed into the Cosmic Force—which bound everything together and communicated the will of the Force through the midi-chlorians. The Jedi followed a code of selflessness and service to others; therefore, they adhered to the light side of the Force, one of two methods of using the all-encompassing energy field. The Jedi's adversaries, the Sith, coveted strength and power through the dark side of the Force. Their opposing philosophies led to millennia of cyclical conflict between the two orders, and resulted in both the extinction of the Sith and the near annihilation of the Jedi.
- "In darkness, cold.
In light, cold.
The old sun brings no heat.
But there is heat in breath and life.
In life, there is the Force.
In the Force, there is life.
And the Force is eternal."
- ―Sunset Prayer of the Guardians of the Whills
The Force was the energy field that bound the galaxy together. Thus, distance was nothing when compared to the Force, which connected life forms together across the galaxy. Additionally, it was believed nothing was impossible to the Force, being beyond the power of any man-made technique. Every lifeform in the universe had a place in the Force, even simple bugs. The Force existed in two forms: the Living Force and the Cosmic Force. The Living Force represented the energies of all lifeforms, and those energies were fed into the Cosmic Force, which bound the galaxy together and communicated the will of the Force through midi-chlorians. When a life-form died, they would become "one with the Force" by becoming a part of the Cosmic Force, which then provided power to the Living Force.
Mystics and scholars had long debated the origins of the Force, such as where and when civilizations first became aware of its power, resulting in many answers and none that were considered definitive. Different species had their own names for the Force as well as their own metaphors for how they perceived it and techniques for learning its powers. Force-sensitive children without training were often skilled with one aspect of the Force instead of many.
Though only certain individuals were Force-sensitive, the Force resided within all living things and could be extracted. Because of this, Force-sensitives could feel a "disturbance in the Force" whenever there was a great loss of life. Droids, however, being mechanical creations, and thus possessing no midi-chlorians, could never sense the Force. Although the Force was everywhere, even being present in areas like deep space, it was at its most powerful in areas of life, being easily noticed by Force-sensitives in such lively places. Thus, if a Force-sensitive was in such a location, the individual did not need to spend time or energy looking for a deep connection to the energy field, as such a connection was all around them.
Force-sensitivity generally could be passed from parent to offspring as an inheritable trait, though it was not always the case. The Force was strong with the Skywalker family as well as the Palpatine family. The twins Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa were born Force-sensitive like their father, the Chosen One Anakin Skywalker, as was Organa's son, Ben Solo. Unlike the members of Anakin Skywalker's bloodline, the son of Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine—the Sith Lord Darth Sidious—did not inherit his father's connection to the Force. The Emperor's son was an artifical strandcast, a byproduct of the Sith Eternal cult's cloning experiment with Sidious' genetic template. However, the Emperor's cloned son sired a natural-born daughter, Rey, who was Force-sensitive as a result of her descent from Sidious, her paternal grandfather.
It was possible for siblings born to normal parents to not share a talent for Force sensitivity. Such was the case with Zare and Dhara Leonis. While Dhara from an early age could always sense her brother's presence, Zare never had this talent, nor any special abilities that could be attributed to the Force. Despite what non–Force-sensitives often believed, using a Force power was not as simple as waving one's hands, as channeling the Force took an effort, especially for individuals like Ty Yorrick who had been through trauma. Being surrounded by panic also often made hard for a light side user to focus on their abilities.
Indeed, the study of the Force was a lifelong commitment for a Jedi. Whereas Luke Skywalker devoted his life to the Force, his sister did not complete her Jedi training, having chosen her family and political career instead of the Jedi way of life. The Jedi Code restricted members of the Jedi Order from forming personal relationships. Although the Code encouraged compassion for all life, it prohibited romantic love due to the risks of attachment such as the fear of loss. The Jedi of the Republic Era were identified by their midi-chlorian levels; the Force-sensitive population of the Galactic Republic was more easily identifiable than that of the territories outside of the Republic's domain. The Order sought to shield its members from fear, anger, hatred and other emotions that were considered dangerous to the Jedi. As such, the Order regarded younglings as the preferred age group for recruitment, although exceptions could be made for older children at the discretion of the Jedi High Council.
A Force-bond was a connection between two Force-sensitive individuals; the bond between a Force dyad was exceedingly rare and as powerful as life itself. A Force-bond spanned across space and time, allowing the bonded Force-sensitives to communicate over vast distances, such as separate planets across the galaxy. During the High Republic Era, Jedi Master Avar Kriss held a rare ability involving such bonds, being able to connect and strength the natural connections into what effectively became a communication network. Although it was inexact and best for informing each other of locations or sensations, dozens of Jedi could be brought into the network, allowing for greater coordination during the duration of the connection.
Different beings saw the Force in different ways; while Kriss saw it as a song, Jedi Knight Elzar Mann, at least in part because he knew that the Force would never end, saw it as an endless, deep, storm-tossed ocean. The Wookiee Burryaga Agaburry thought of it as a massive tree with deep roots and high branches, while Jedi Douglas Sunvale compared the energy field to an interlocked series of gears made from an endless number of materials. Master Loden Greatstorm felt that using the Force was like dancing with the wind, while his Padawan, Bell Zettifar, thought of it as dancing with fire. According to Chirrut Îmwe of the Guardians of the Whills, the Force moved darkly around any being that was about to kill.
Powers and abilities
- "The Force is not a power you have. It's not about lifting rocks. It's the energy between all things, a tension, a balance, that binds the universe together."
"Okay. But what is it?"
"Close your eyes. Breathe. Now, reach out. […] Breathe. Just breathe. Reach out with your feelings. What do you see?"
"The island. Life. Death and decay that feeds new life. Warmth. Cold. Peace. Violence."
"And between it all?"
"Balance. An energy. A Force."
"And inside you?"
"Inside me, that same Force."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Rey
The Force granted a myriad of supernatural powers to Force-sensitives such as the Jedi and the Sith, as well as entities like the Bendu and the Mortis gods. Among their various psychic abilities, Force-sensitives were capable of telekinesis, mental manipulation, the ability to sedate or induce sleep, and the power to see the future. The clairvoyant aspect of the Force allowed Jedi mystics and other seers to predict events long into the future, forming prophesies about the Chosen One or the Force dyad in the Sith Eternal's lore.
Fast reflexes were the more immediate effects of a Force-sensitive's precognitive senses; even without formal training, an untrained child was capable of developing Jedi-like traits. Their physical vitality, strength, mobility, and resilience could also be augmented by the Force, allowing them to crush objects with their bare hands, jump across great distances, levitate or survive injuries that would cripple and kill normal beings. During the duel on Kef Bir, for example, the Jedi apprentice Rey and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren harnessed the energies of the Force to increase their speed, agility, and other physical traits. Although Rey gained a slight advantage in speed, Ren was physically stronger than her.
While some Force techniques were practiced by those on either the dark side or the light, such as telekinesis, telepathy, and augmenting one's own physical abilities, certain powers could only be harnessed depending on the user's stance in the Force. Jedi younglings were taught that the Force could be used for many purposes, including protection, persuasion, wisdom, the manipulation of matter, and the performance of great physical feats.
Yet whereas the Jedi harnessed the light side's abilities through a mental state of peace and calmness, the Sith relied on their passion for strength, granting them access to many abilities, some considered to be unnatural. For instance, Force lightning was a dark side ability used to torture, disfigure, and kill one's victims. Another example of the dark side's power was Force choke; by visualizing the ability with a claw-like or crushing hand gesture, the user could strangle a victim either to intimidate or kill them. In contrast to the dark side, only the light granted the ability to preserve one's consciousness after death. Those who gained this power could become Force spirits—beings who achieved immortality by retaining their identities after becoming one with the Force.
Origins and early studies
- "All that surrounds us is the foundation of life, the birthplace of what your science calls midi-chlorians, the foundation of what connects the Living Force and the Cosmic Force. When a living thing dies, all is renewed. Life passes away from the Living Force into the Cosmic Force and becomes one with it. One powers the other. One is renewed by the other."
The Force existed as a recorded concept in the galaxy for well over twenty-five thousand years prior to the era of the Galactic Civil War, with disparate schools of study evolving in parallel on countless planets. The midi-chlorians, which connected the Living Force to the Cosmic Force and allowed a Force-sensitive individual to feel the will of the Force, originated on the Wellspring of Life. Some believed that the origins of the Force came from Mortis.
Some suspected that the Force itself must have created the galaxy due to the complexity and beauty seen throughout it, but the theory was unproven. Over time, the Jedi Order became the most well-known organization that practiced the ways of the Force, although the galaxy hosted many other religions, orthodoxies, and observances even among those who did not exhibit control or manipulation of the energy field—such as the Guardians of the Whills, who held the Jedi in high esteem. The Jedi believed themselves to be the instruments of the will of the Force, carrying out what they sensed to be the will.
The Hundred-Year Darkness
- "Once we were brothers in the Force. But from the Hundred-Year Darkness were born the Sith."
- ―A Jedi
Thousands of years before the Clone Wars, the unity of the Jedi Order was fractured by a rogue Jedi who came to believe that the true power of the Force could only be reached through passion rather than the calmness of the Jedi way. The Jedi High Council at the time balked at this new direction, and the fallen Jedi was banished from the Order. Nevertheless, a group of renegade Jedi followed the rogue into exile, resulting in a schism that gave way to the Hundred-Year Darkness and the rise of the Sith Order.
As a result of the schism between the Jedi and the Sith, the Force came to be seen as divided between their two philosophies: the Jedi's selfless commitment to serving and defending others came to be regarded as the light side of the Force, whereas the Sith's use of emotion and violence became known as the dark side of the Force.
The Force at war
The Jedi and Sith conflict
- "The last great conflict, having been waged for the soul of civilization itself, was a decisive war fought between the Jedi Order and the Sith Lords."
As the schism between the Jedi and Sith grew, their open hostility eventually turned to open war both for control of the galaxy and to impose their own philosophy with regards to the Force. During the era of the Old Republic, the Sith and Jedi fought countless wars to destroy one another. Great battles were fought between the two warring orders, and various ways of using the Force were discovered but later lost. The Sith also took to sacrificing Jedi in ancient chambers on their homeworld of Moraband, places which would remain forever tainted with the darkness of the events that happened in there. The Sith also used these arts to create monsters, such as Sith snakes, which remained on Moraband until the days of the Clone Wars.
The wars between the Sith and the Jedi raged for centuries, and several worlds of the galaxy were broken by their conflict, such as Moraband, which the Sith were eventually forced to abandon, and Malachor, the site of an enormous battle that left the planet scorched with no survivors on either side. The Sith tombs in the Valley of the Dark Lords were also marked with the darkness of the deeds of those who had been buried there.
Both the Jedi and the Sith used lightsabers as their main weapons. These devices were powered by kyber crystals, special crystals with a strong connection to the Force. In addition to their study of the dark side, the Sith also took to building superweapons of power sufficient to destroy an entire planet. They would sometimes use giant kyber crystals to power these weapons. As such, gaining control of the source of the kyber crystals, which had a strong connection to the Force, was vital to both sides of the conflict.
The age of light
- "We're moving. I promise. Just not in ways you can see. The Force doesn't feel the need to announce its actions. It just acts."
- ―Elzar Mann, to Izzet Noor
Eventually, in the waning days of the Old Republic, the Sith had practically destroyed themselves through infighting, and the Jedi finally emerged victorious. A modern Galactic Republic, emerged from the ruins of the previous Republic and, with the Jedi as their guardians and advisors, expanded throughout the galaxy while beginning an age of peace and prosperity which would last for a thousand years. During the peace of the High Republic Era, the Jedi Order's understanding of the Force grew because of Jedi Knight Elzar Mann, who experimented with different Force techniques.
However, the Jedi of the High Republic were opposed by the Eye of the Nihil, Marchion Ro, and the Nihil raiders under his command. Ro's family had a secret history with the Jedi, beginning a conflict between the Jedi and "the faithful" amongst the Ros because of their different opinion on "balance." Ro claimed that the Jedi thought themselves a group that always acted in ways that were right, only for his family to suffer because of their actions. His family history also involved a being known the Great Leveler, which Ro would deploy against the Jedi during the conflict between the Nihil and the Republic. Another threat faced by the Jedi, the Drengir, were strongly connected to the dark side.
The Sith reformation
- "The Sith killed each other. Victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor."
- ―Darth Bane's specter
Despite the Jedi's victory over their rival order, the Sith survived through Darth Bane. As the sole surviving ancient Sith Lord, Bane created the Rule of Two to prevent further infighting within the Sith Order. Henceforth, their ranks consisted of only two members—the Sith Master, who embodied the dark side's power, and the Sith apprentice, who coveted the master's power. It was traditional for the apprentice to kill the master in order to ascend within the dark side of the Force.
Although the Jedi eventually learned of Bane and his philosophy, they were convinced by his death that the Sith had truly become extinct. However, the Rule of Two ensured the survival of the Sith for generations in hiding, plotting their revenge against the Jedi Order and the restoration of Sith rule throughout the galaxy.
The dark side ascendant
- "You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!"
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Anakin Skywalker
During the late Republic Era, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discovered the prophesied Chosen One in the form of a human child named Anakin Skywalker, whose potential in the Force surpassed all known Jedi including Grand Master Yoda. His raw strength in the Force—honed by Jedi training and wartime experiences—made Skywalker one of the most powerful Jedi Knights by the time of the Clone Wars. At the height of the war, however, Skywalker was seduced by the dark side of the Force through the machinations of Darth Sidious. As a result, he betrayed the Jedi and helped the newly formed Galactic Empire hunt them to near extinction as Darth Vader.
Promise of Lira San
- "And it is through your Force, our Ashla, that the prophecy comes. It is written and it is spoken. The promise of Lira San will follow the fate of The Three. The fool, simple and selfish, he would lead. The warrior, bold and bloodthirsty, to hunt the hope of tomorrow. The child, to destroy him! We will find our new home only if the child saves the warrior and the fool."
Following the Fall of Lasan, Lasat mystic Chava the Wise and former High Honor Guard Gron discovered a prophecy in the Lasat's ancient writing. They embarked on a journey to find Lira San, believing their quest was foretold by the Force, or "Ashla" as they called it. Three years before the Battle of Yavin, Chava and Gron were captured by the Empire. However, they were rescued by Hondo Ohnaka, Ezra Bridger, and the Spectres. Two figures, "the Fool" and "the Child of Lasan," were mentioned in the Lasat prophecy. Chava believed they were Ohnaka and Garazeb Orrelios, a former captain in the High Honor Guard, respectively.
Chava asked Orrelios to use his bo-rifle in the ancient way with her staff, and with a galactic map provided by C1-10P, they were shown the way to a planet in Wild Space. Believing this world to be the legendary Lira San, they attempted to reach it but were forced to exit hyperspace due to a black hole. Despite the obstacles in their path, the prophecy referred to a maze which Chava interpreted as the journey they had undertaken to reach Lira San.
When confronted by an Imperial light cruiser, Chava saw its commanding officer, ISB Agent Alexsandr Kallus, as "the Warrior" in the prophecy. Refusing to surrender to Kallus, the Spectres used Orrelios' bo-rifle to guide their starship, the Ghost, into the star cluster. Against Kallus' expectations, the Ghost safely navigated the gravity field and ultimately reached the location of Lira San. Chava and Gron settled on the planet, where they found other Lasat refugees, although Orrelios elected to remain with the Spectres and continue fighting the Empire.
Purge and prophecy
- "You are the Chosen One. You have brought balance to this world. Stay on this path, and you will do it again for the galaxy. But beware… your… heart…"
- ―The Father, to Anakin Skywalker
The Jedi Order was all but annihilated during the Imperial Era. Although a few Jedi escaped the initial purge, the survivors dispersed into hiding while Sidious consolidated his reign as Emperor. The Galactic Empire made an effort to thoroughly erase the memory of the Jedi from the minds of the general population. The Church of the Force operated as an underground movement, preserving faith in the supernatural, but belief in the Force waned and was doubted by skeptics such as Han Solo. Members of the Empire's military hierarchy regarded the Force as the basis of an ancient religion that had no place in the New Order.
Sometime after the Battle of Atollon and during their time working together, Grand Admiral Thrawn told Vader that the Chiss Ascendancy, a mysterious empire from the Unknown Regions that Thrawn came from, used Force-sensitives as navigators due to their lack of navigation computers. The Chiss knew the Force as the Sight, and their Force-sensitives were overwhelmingly female, though they would grow out of their sensitivity after childhood. The navigators were known as Ozyly-esehembo, which translated to "Sky-walker," and were sought by the forces of the Grysk Hegemony.
Although Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin was a veteran of the Clone Wars, and had therefore witnessed the Jedi's use of the Force, he believed that the Jedi Order was extinct and Vader was the last trace of the Jedi religion. Ultimately, the prophecy of the Chosen One was realized when Vader killed Sidious in order to protect his son, Luke Skywalker, who followed the Jedi path like his father before him. Having fulfilled his destiny at the cost of his life, Anakin Skywalker died and became one with the Force. Through his final actions, the Sith were destroyed and balance was restored to the Force, with Luke emerging as the last of the Jedi in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor.
Legacy of the Force
- "Darkness rises, and light to meet it."
Although the Jedi prophecy foretold that the Chosen One would herald the destruction of the Sith, it never predicted the end of the dark side of the Force. With balance restored to the Force, Luke Skywalker gradually endeavored to rebuild the order that had been decimated by his father and the Emperor. Recruiting over a dozen students to train in the ways of the Force, he became the Jedi Master to a new generation of Jedi. One of Skywalker's acolytes was his nephew, Ben Solo, in whom he saw the raw strength of the Force. Skywalker hoped that by passing his knowledge to Solo, the order would once again thrive and he would not die as the last Jedi.
However, Solo's inherent strength was noticed by another powerful practitioner of the Force—Supreme Leader Snoke, ruler of the First Order. Although Snoke was not a Sith Lord, he was strong with the dark side of the Force. Intrigued by the potential that Solo inherited from his grandfather, Darth Vader, he induced the young Jedi to embrace the dark side. Skywalker sensed the darkness rising in his apprentice's heart and nearly gave into the temptation of killing Solo before his future as a dark warrior came to pass. As a result, Solo felt betrayed by his master and proceeded to destroy his Jedi training temple by burning it, killing most of the apprentices. Skywalker survived the destruction, which he felt responsible for, and went into self-imposed exile out of shame for his part in Solo's fall.
Having rejected both his family and the legacy of the Jedi, Solo renounced his birth name and adopted the identity of Kylo Ren—apprentice to the Supreme Leader, warlord and champion of the First Order, and master of the Knights of Ren. But in gaining the former Ben Solo as a disciple, Snoke was concerned that his apprentice's equal in the light would rise as Ren grew stronger in the darkness. Believing Skywalker would be the light's champion, the Supreme Leader hoped that Ren would grow powerful enough to kill his uncle, and therefore, complete the purge that his grandfather began. Snoke had been wrong, however. The one who rose to meet Ren's darkness with light was not Skywalker, but a scavenger from Jakku named Rey. Her encounter with Ren awakened her long-dormant connection to the Force which, combined with Ren's inner conflict, allowed the untrained scavenger to triumph over the dark warrior during the Battle of Starkiller Base.
Ren recovered from his defeat but was castigated by his master for becoming unbalanced and losing to an opponent with no prior experience in lightsaber combat. As he worked to regain his master's faith, Ren discovered that a Force-bond had been formed between himself and Rey, allowing them to commune with each other across the galaxy. The bond became increasingly powerful as their connections grew more frequent, giving Rey insights into Ren's inner turmoil and pain.
After touching hands through the Force, Rey confronted Ren in person with the intention of turning him back to the light. Her arrival resulted in Ren betraying Snoke, assassinating him and later claiming his throne. He wanted to rule the galaxy with Rey, but she rejected his offer and returned to her allies in the Resistance. During the Battle of Crait, the new Supreme Leader was confronted by his former master. Skywalker projected his appearance on Crait from his actual location on Ahch-To, and although the effort led to his death, his stand against the First Order served to inspire hope across the galaxy.
One year after the start of the First Order-Resistance War, the Sith's rebirth was prevented, as Rey killed Darth Sidious, who had been resurrected after his death during the Battle of Endor by transferring his consciousness to a clone body, and the Resistance and Citizens' Fleet defeated the Final Order. The destruction of the Sith ushered in a new era.
- "In a single generation, the entire Jedi Order…and indeed, the concept of wielding the Force itself…largely disappeared from the collective consciousness of the galaxy."
- ―The Archivist
Throughout the galaxy, various organizations either practiced or followed the Force. These factions included both the Jedi and Sith Orders, as well as the Inquisitorius and the Knights of Ren. In addition, the Dagoyan Order was also composed of Force-sensitives, while the Nightsisters and other clans of Dathomir wielded dark-side magick. The Church of the Force, the Guardians of the Whills, the Frangawl Cult, and the Lasat mystics were examples of a group that worshiped the Force or some aspect of it.
Behind the scenes
- "…May the force of others be with you all."
The concept of The Force first appears in the rough draft of what would become A New Hope, where it is referred to as "The Force of Others" and is first uttered by King Kayos. The second draft goes into more detail describing The Force of Others as consisting of two halves; "Ashla, the good, and Bogan the paraforce or evil part."
These terms would later be introduced into canon in Star Wars Rebels; first by the Lasat Chava who refers to the "Ashla" as "the spirit of the galaxy," and later, the Lasat Zeb Orrelios would use "bogen" as a derogatory term for dokma. Finally, Bendu (another word originating from the early drafts) to refer to the Ashla and Bogan both as names for the light and dark sides of the force, respectively.
A leitmotif of the Force exists. In The Clone Wars, a deep rumble was typically used as the sound effect for the dark side of the Force. In Star Wars Rebels, a high-pitched tone likened to wind is used as the sound effect for the light side of the Force.
In Ronin: A Visions Novel, the Force is reimagined with a white flare and a black current, not a dark side and a light side. Author Emma Mieko Candon drew upon the concepts of Taoism and yin/yang to depict the Force in a new way for the novel.