Greetings organics, and welcome back to the Sarlacc Pit! This week I will give a rundown of all the abilities that Force-sensitive beings have been shown using in Star Wars canon. This will include abilities used by adepts of both the light side and dark side philosophies. I plan to go into the differences between the light side and dark side in the (near) future, so I will not be trying to divide these abilities between the two categories. Also, since content continues to come out, I’m sure more abilities will be shown. However, this is the most comprehensive list I can make based on current canon, so enjoy!
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force…as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”
The most basic Force ability, beings strong in the Force were able to sense ripples throughout the mystical energy field. These ripples could be the presence and emotional status of someone familiar to them, a death (or deaths) of importance, or visions of the future. Jedi and Sith both trained in the ability to sense these ripples and follow them to their source, allowing them to fully understand the mysteries of the Force. This ability allowed the Jedi Order to find younglings strong in the Force that could be brought into the Order, as well as warning them away from areas that were strong in the dark side.
Strongly connected with their Force sense, Force-sensitives were able to use ripples in the Force to help them react quickly to events happening around them. By concentrating on the moment, these Jedi could use the Force to react to something as quick as a blaster bolt, which allowed Force-sensitives to block and deflect blaster bolts at a target using their lightsabers. This ability also made them highly capable Starfighter pilots, and the Jedi Starfighters they commonly used in the Clone Wars were made to allow for maximum precision and pilot control as possible, allowing Jedi to fully use the Force in their piloting.
Often referred to as Force jumps or Force speed, the Force could be used to enhance a being’s movement. This allowed those strong in the Force to move much faster than others of the same species, as well as jump incredibly high. The Force could also be used to soften someone’s steps, allowing for a more stealthy approach to enemies.
This ability is most often what people think of when they think of the Force. By interacting with the Force around an object, a Force-sensitive being could move an item with no more than a wave of their hand and a strong will. The size of the object did not really matter, if the user believed they were able to move the object, it generally worked. This often seemed to be difficult for those training in the Force to grasp at first, as even being able to move a noodle across a table with your mind can be challenging to imagine (see the novel Heir to the Jedi for this ridiculous example.). However, for those trained in the Force, lifting something the size of an X-Wing is no challenge at all (see the movie “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” for this awesome example). Furthermore, this ability could be used in combat by throwing objects at an enemy, or throwing a lightsaber and bringing it back in stylish boomerang-like manner. A final really cool implementation of Force-fueled telekinesis is the ability to actually stop a blaster bolt in mid-air, and keep it there until releasing it (as seen in “The Force Awakens”).
The Force could be used to speak to other Force-sensitives from across the galaxy. A good example of this can be seen in “The Empire Strikes Back,” where Luke and Darth Vader had a very odd exchange after their first meeting, this is also seen in “Rebels,” where Yoda was able to communicate with Ezra and Kanan inside the Jedi Temple on Lothal.
If you can’t reach your lightsaber, how do you block a blaster bolt? Force users could use the Force to absorb the energy blasts shot by blasters by simply diffusing the energy across their bodies. Pretty handy when the nerf herder your daughter brings home tries to shoot you during your first family dinner in years. Come on Leia, how are we going to heal this family if you keep hanging out with this kind of Rebel scum?
That’s right, one of the most useless Dungeons & Dragons spells was an official Force ability. Using the Force, one could make a connection with a non-sentient organism, befriending it and compelling it to do your bidding. Do you want an army of alien cats? Then this is the Force ability for you! However, this ability requires the user to practice patience and openness, so this ability was notoriously difficult for those who used the power of the dark side.
Due to the fact that Jedi philosophy required them to suppress their emotions in order to resist the pull of the dark side, it was important for them to be able to remain under control even during times of stress. During meditation, Jedi would focus on nothing but the Force. This allowed them to better sense changes in the Force, as well as occasionally glimpse into the future. This ability also had offensive capabilities, as it was possible to achieve a shortened meditative state during any pause in battle to allow the user to dispel any heightened emotions, focus on the present, and let the Force guide the user. While meditation was used by both Jedi and Sith, the Sith used their anger to fuel their strength, so meditation was not used during battle.
One of the more popular abilities, the mind trick was used by Force-sensitives to impose their will on weak-minded sentients. The Force-user would make a gesture with their hand (which actually did enhance this ability) and say what they wanted the target to do. If the target was weak-willed enough, they would comply, repeating the statement while doing so. While this was a strong ability, it could be trained against (as was the case with Mandalorian guards) and some species, such as Hutts and Toydarians, were biologically immune to it. The effect of this ability could be increased if more than one Force user concentrated on the same target with the same intentions, however trying to force this too much could cause physical and mental damage to the target.
This one is a classic. What better way to inspire better performance in your troops than choking out those that fail you? Using telekinesis, the Force could be used to pinch the windpipe of a target, essentially choking them from the inside. This method is most often associated with Darth Vader and the dark side, however let’s not forget those Gamorrean guards that Luke Skywalker chokes out with zero remorse. I guess choking skills run in the family.
The Force could also be used to create lightning bolts. These bolts were used purely offensively and caused a large amount of pain for the target. While both sides could create Force lightning, lightning created by the dark side was generally more painful and was known for its disfiguring properties, often damaging the looks of the user more than the target.
Dark Side Cloak
“The dark side clouds everything…” –Yoda, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”
This is an ability that was only used by dark side wielders. The dark side was known for clouding the Force sense of those who used the light side of the Force. Dark side Force users would benefit from this as their plans were generally hidden from the clairvoyance of the Jedi. Dark side users could use this in a more active way by actually hiding their presence in the Force from others. This is how Palpatine was able to hide the fact that he was Force sensitive from the Jedi, even though he worked closely with them during his tenure in the Republic Senate.
While supposedly only achieved by one person in the Star Wars universe, those who were extremely strong in the dark side of the Force had the ability to manipulate the midi-chlorians (symbiotic organisms that channel the Force through a living being) of an organism. This could potentially be used to save someone’s life. Currently it has only been confirmed that Darth Plagueis had the ability to manipulate midi-chlorians, but there is a theory that Darth Sidious used this ability to kill Senator Amidala and keep Darth Vader alive after their lava-filled trip to the beautiful planet of Mustafar.
Used extensively by Kylo Ren in “The Force Awakens,” Ren was able to forcibly retrieve memories from an unwilling target. While this was not always the case, if the target resisted too much, then this ability could be quite painful. However, this ability could also backfire as if the target was strong in the Force, they could counter, which would allow the target to retrieve information from the user, as was the case with Rey when Kylo Ren tried to extract memories from her.
An ability only achieved by four Jedi so far, this was the ultimate light side exclusive ability. While the long-held belief by the Jedi was that once a being dies, they merge with the Force. Qui-Gon Jinn found that he was able to maintain his consciousness by studying the Living Force (one side of Jedi philosophy we will talk about in the future). While Jinn was only able to manifest his voice and not a physical presence, both Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker were able to manifest a bodily presence in the living world after their deaths. There is, however, an apparent contradiction in this ability. At the end of “Return of the Jedi,” Anakin Skywalker was able to come back as a Force ghost, showing that at his death he had fully turned away from the dark side. However, in the final season of “The Clone Wars,” Yoda learns that there is much more than being strong in the light side involved in this ability. One must undergo a long spiritual journey in which they grapple with and defeat the dark side within them. Anakin appears to have completely skipped this journey, but maybe when you’re the Chosen One you can do whatever you want.
Here we have a fairly comprehensive list of Force abilities of both the dark side and the light side. But what are the differences in the two? Which abilities are favored by the light and the dark, and why? How are Force-sensitives able to channel the mysterious energy field called the Force to do such wondrous things? Well, next week I will be discussing the Force. We will discuss what the Force is, what the difference between the light side and the dark side is, and I’ll even throw a few theories into the mix. So check in next week as we get real spiritual around here. Thanks again for reading, and may the Force be with you!