A religious cult that operates outside the law with no oversight, abducts children, engages in guerrilla warfare, maintains an unshakeable conviction they are always right, and carry around deadly swords made out of lasers (or plasma, depending on your science). On paper, the Jedi are downright terrifying. Sure, they’ve done some noteworthy things over the years, like blow up the first Death Star and recruit Liam Neeson, but is that really enough to make up for all the times they put the galaxy in danger and didn’t recruit Liam Neeson?
Just because some Whill tells us the Jedi are on the right side of history doesn’t make them good guys. In fact, there are a lot of ways in which they’re anything but a beacon of hope. We have already seen why the Empire was actually a positive thing and the Sith were awesome, so why not take a look now at the other side of the Force and reveal the true nature of these crazy nefarious space monks.
Here are 15 Reasons Why The Jedi Are Bad Guys, from a certain point of view.
15. They Abduct Children and Train Them as Soldiers
Any parents who notice their kids are particularly adept at moving things with their mind would be wise to run and hide, because the Jedi are coming for your babies. As Qui-Gon pointed out to Anakin’s mom in The Phantom Menace, had her annoying child been born in the Republic, he would have already been ripped from her caring arms and thrown into Jedi training, forced to grow a rat tail and hang out with this guy. Sweet deal, right?
While some may say becoming a Jedi is every kid’s wildest dream, others might point out that this involves removing them from their homes when they are too young to have developed moral reasoning so they can be taught to kill effectively, feel nothing, and look forward to dying so that they can become part of something bigger than themselves. In other words, training child soldiers is never cool.
Yet impressively, the Jedi seem to have a particularly horrifying view on how to properly raise them. Take for instance the time Qui-Gon thought it was a great idea to enter young Anakin into an incredibly dangerous pod race so he could win some spare spaceship parts. Or how about during Attack of the Clones, when Yoda makes Obi-Wan look a fool in front of a bunch of toddlers while he watches them play with lightsabers blindfolded. And then there’s what happened to the younglings at the end of Revenge of the Sith. “Oh by the way parents, all those kids you lent to us on good faith in hopes of providing them a brighter future — they’re dead. One of our guys kinda went a bit nuts and slaughtered them. Our bad.”
14. They’re Known Liars
We can understand why Obi-Wan might not want Luke to know right off the bat that his father is Space Hitler. We even get the decision to not share how the lightsaber Luke’s holding was taken from his dad right after Obi-Wan himself cut the dude to pieces and left him to burn alive. But choosing never to do so and instead letting him find out during a sword fight on the precipice of a bottomless pit just seems wrong. And why did Kenobi feel the need to make up the entirely irrelevant bit about Anakin wanting his only son to have his lightsaber in the first place? (Other than to trick a young impressionable farm boy into doing exactly what he wanted, that is.)
The worst of it comes when Luke confronts Obi-Wan about straight up lying to his face and the old man doubles down with some classic FU reasoning: “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.” What does that even mean? Try that one next time you have to tell your girlfriend you weren’t checking out the waitress, and see how it goes over. In hindsight, you would think the perfect time to drop this bomb was on Dagobah when Yoda was supposedly preparing Luke to fulfill his destiny. Though to be fair, Yoda was already pretty busy lying about how if Luke left he was going to destroy everything his friends had worked for and be dominated by the Dark Side. (Neither of which ever happened.) Apparently, the Jedi have no qualms about lying and manipulating their trainees, and they often rationalize it in the jerkiest way possible.
13. They Don’t Trust Their Own Padawans
Usually a sure sign you’re playing for the wrong team is when they make you feel like a criminal. A member of the Jedi grows weary with what she perceives as the Order’s evil and corrupt ways, so she orchestrates a bombing of the Jedi Temple, killing dozens. She then frames her fellow Padawan, Ahsoka, for the crime. Giving little thought to the matter, the High Council immediately expels Ahsoka from their ranks and turns her over to the Republic for trial, where she is prosecuted by Admiral Tarkin, who’s seeking the death penalty for this poor gal. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
For those unfamiliar with The Clone Wars TV series, Ahsoka Tano was the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. Luckily, right at the last moment, he was able to prove her innocence in the whole affair. Though instead of everyone apologizing for calling her a murderer, they try to convince Ahsoka the trial was for her own good, stating, “the Force works in mysterious ways.”
But because they view themselves as awesome, they offered to graciously let her back into the Order. Luckily, Ahsoka realized these dudes were freaking crazy and high-tailed it out of there. Her departure from the Order was one of the main contributing factors for Anakin’s disillusionment with the Council and his ultimate turn to the Dark Side. Nice going, Jedi.
12. They Foster Corruption and Crush All Who Oppose Them
When the Jedi threw Ahsoka to the wolves over a crime she didn’t commit, she saw that the Order had compromised its duty to the Force to serve political interests. Little did she know that was just the tip of the iceberg. Prior to the Clone Wars, the Republic had achieved unprecedented levels of bureaucratic corruption, all under the watchful eye of the Jedi. As a result, a movement was started to reduce the power of the Galactic Senate, protect corporate interests, and deregulate the government in the name of capitalistic growth, a foundation of any prospering society including the United States. Think of it as reducing the power of the federal government in favor of handing it over to the States. However, the Republic didn’t want to give up its power, so instead branded the dissenters as greedy separatists.
Overall, there was nothing inherently evil about this group. In fact, the Confederacy of Independent Systems (as they called themselves) was made up of over eight galactic governments and spanned over 10,000 star systems, including the likes of the Trade Federation. Not exactly what we would call a rogue group of rabble rousers. What’s more, the reason why Count Dooku famously left the Jedi to join the movement was because he couldn’t stand by as the Order protected the Republic’s corrupt ways any longer. Sure, the group was eventually manipulated by Darth Sidious, with Count Dooku turning to the Dark Side, but its beginnings were founded in a noble desire to ride the galaxy of fraud. But instead of addressing these concerns, the Jedi backed the Republic in refusing to acknowledge the Confederacy’s existence, and instead opted to defend a corrupt government by wiping out their adversaries. So much for being guardians of the peace.
11. They are Oppressive and Undermine Democracy
What’s important to realize about the Clone Wars is that the Jedi aren’t fighting some invading force or threat to democracy. They’re fighting to prevent people from ruling themselves free of the Republic and, by association, the Jedi Council. Yes, there were darker forces at play behind the scenes, but most people involved in the struggle on the side of the so-called Separatists sincerely believed they were doing so in the name of capitalist freedom, at least at the start. But in this galaxy, it’s either the Jedi way or the highway. And by the highway, we mean have your head cut off by a lightsaber.
The whole reason why the Sith came about in the first place was because they didn’t share the same views as the Jedi. In fact, the first Sith were actually Jedi exiles (labeled Dark Jedi) who simply had a more radical view of how to use the Force and felt oppressed under the current Order. Years later, when the Jedi Knight known as Revan wanted to help people who were dying in the Mandalorian Wars, the High Council denied his request and forbade any involvement. So he quit the Order and did it anyway. In the process, he joined the Dark Side, only later to be kidnapped by the Jedi and brainwashed back onto the Light Side against his will. All this just goes to show that unless you conform to the Jedi way of doing things and follow their repressive ideals, you’ll be ostracized at best — and neuralized at worst.
10. They Think They’re Above the Law
Despite having no trouble constantly involving themselves in the inner workings of government, the Jedi conveniently ignore the law when it gets in the way of what they want. After Mace Windu learns that Palpatine is secretly a Sith Lord, he takes it upon himself as judge, jury, and executioner to straight up assassinate the elected leader of the galaxy. No warrant. No trial. No verification of the facts. No government authorization. No telling anyone that the Supreme Chancellor is actually an evil space wizard. All that literally goes out the window.
That’s not to say the Jedi are entirely lawless. They do follow a vague set of rules meant to govern their behavior and keep them from having sex. This Jedi Code primarily teaches its followers not to give in to feelings of anger toward other lifeforms and follow this simple yet entirely nonsensical mantra:
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
Of course, these are only a rough suggestion. Qui-Gon completely ignores them and his only punishment is having to hang out with Jar Jar Binks. Likewise, when Obi-Wan catches up with Padmé’s attempted assassin during Episode II, instead of deftly subduing her without resorting to violence, he chops off her hand and the incident is chalked up to, “Jedi business.”
Then there’s Mace (again), suggesting the Jedi stage a military coup of the Senate and later screaming like a mad man that Palpatine is “too dangerous to be left alive.” The point is that the Jedi do whatever they want without any semblance of accountability. Just ask Ponda Baba. Because who you gonna call after a random monk chops your arm off because you told some brat kid you didn’t like his face. Heck, sometimes we don’t like his face. But we guess it’s okay so long as Obi-Wan wasn’t angry when he was doing it.
9. Their Unhealthy Lifestyle Breeds Xenophobia
What sounds more healthy to you? Suppressing all your emotions to a point where you are completely detached from your surroundings and all those that you love, or freely accepting your feelings? In contrast to the Jedi Code, here is the far more relatable version created by the Sith (especially if you drop the first line):
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
We should note that we’re not siding with the Sith here. Those guys are just as awful. However, if current real world events have shown us anything, people shouldn’t be automatically judged as good or bad based on their preferred philosophy. It’s what they do in the name of those beliefs that are dangerous. Despite the Force routinely being described as all-encompassing, the Jedi opt for a more narrow-minded, dysfunctional view of the universe. By the mere act of seeing things in terms of black and white, they automatically welcome prejudice and suspicion. After all, fear is the path of the one-sided. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to Obi-Wan slicing off your limbs and watching as you burn alive.
8. They’re Elitists
One of the great things about the Original Trilogy is that it inspired the belief that anyone can make a difference, even farm brats with shaggy hair who whine about not being able to go to Toshi Station. Then The Phantom Menace cold clocked every ten-year-old’s dream of Force choking their oppressors and replaced it with midi-chlorians. Do or do not, it makes no difference to the Jedi. The Force is something you’re born into. Like the Rockefeller’s, or Duck Dynasty.
The lesson here is that unless you’re related to someone who has a genetic predisposition to a high midi-chlorian count in their blood, you’re just a worthless muggle like the rest of us and won’t be saving the galaxy anytime soon. It’s kind of an odd policy for an organization whose charter supposedly promotes harmony. Guess they were going for a separate but equal sort of harmony, because apparently, the Force will only be with you if you have Jedi-approved genes.
7. They’re Militants Who Train Terrorists
Remember at the end of Episode II when Yoda shows up out of nowhere with an infantry of clones and starts ordering them about. You might have been confused why this docile gremlin just turned into a hardened military commander. Well, it turns out the Jedi have a long history of warmongering. A thousand years before the films, the New Sith Wars saw the Jedi grow so militarized they named themselves the Army of Light. In response to jeopardizing their entire belief system, the Ruusan Reformation decentralized power in the Republic and disbanded the Jedi’s armed forces, restricting their political influence. Then along came the Clone Wars, and the Jedi force pushed all that beneficial legislation aside and crowned themselves war generals once more.
The Jedi’s militant hubris reached its peak during Season 5 of The Clone Wars TV show, when they turned a group of rebels into terrorists. Most notably, this story arc first introduced Saw Gerrera, the crazed and paranoid extremist getting high on oxygen and torture during Rogue One. But he wasn’t always that way. He started off as a partisan citizen eager to fight the Confederacy. His planet Onderon had sided with the Separatist movement, and in a plea to overthrow their king, he asked the Jedi Council for help. Wisely, Obi-Wan responded, “How we conduct war is what distinguishes us from others. Funding rebels to overthrow a legitimate government puts innocent lives at risk.” A very valid point. One that the Jedi immediately ignored.
Not only did they supply a steady stream of cash and weaponry to fund the coup, but Anakin, Ahsoka, and Kenobi were deployed to show the wannabe rebels how to kill more effectively. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because the CIA did the same thing during the ’80s in Afghanistan, training the locals to fight the Russians so the U.S. didn’t have to. Well, we all know how that turned out. Just like the modern day Middle East, Forest Whittaker’s Saw Gerrera is the physical embodiment of the negative effects years of guerrilla warfare can have. Not to mention an example of what happens when you do the Jedi’s dirty work for them.
6. They Violate People Against Their Will
Watching Obi-Wan Kenobi nonchalantly wave his hand and say “these aren’t the droids you are looking for” makes us giggle every time. That is until we realize that old desert hobo just mind-raped those Stormtroopers. Apparently, the only thing Jedi respect less than the sanctity of life and following the rules is the idea of free will.
The famous Jedi Mind Trick allows Jedi to manipulate others into doing whatever they want, whenever they want. If that’s not creepy enough, Obi-Wan explains that it works because the Force gives “influence over the weak-minded”, which we’re pretty sure is exactly how dictators talk. From avoiding security checkpoints to cheating merchants out of their property and forcing powerful monarchs to reverse their policies, there seems to be no limit to the “stupid” people Jedi are willing to violate to get their way. Even when a younger Obi-Wan flippantly tells small time drug dealer Elan Sleazebaggano to go home and rethink his life, we can’t help but feel we just witnessed something unethical. Do good guys really make people do things against their will? One thing’s for sure, we wouldn’t want a bunch of mind-controlling monks wandering around our galaxy coercing young boys into smuggling droids for them.
5. They Are Down with Genocide
Over 5,000 years before the events of A New Hope, the Great Hyperspace War saw a newly formed Sith Empire wage a military campaign against both the Republic and Jedi. In the end, the Sith got their butts handed to them and surrendered in shameful defeat. That’s when, at the behest of that era’s Supreme Chancellor, the Jedi mercilessly slaughtered every last one of them in what is affectionately known today as the Sith Holocaust.
If there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that you don’t go blindly killing millions of people just because some wackadoodle in power tells you to. The Sith were no longer a threat, and all that remained of their empire had little desire for further conflict. Unsatisfied with this, the Republic called in the Jedi, who apparently are guardians of the peace only some of the time. During the rest, they’re exterminating their enemies with extreme prejudice. And we’re not talking about a few evildoers in black robes or military specific targets. The Sith around this time were an entire species, populating several planets with vibrant civilizations, and the Jedi, aided by the Republic army, tried to kill them all. Because that’s what heroes do.
4. They Created the Sith
Okay, so the Jedi may have had a few questionable moments over the years, like killing off an entire civilization. But it can easily be argued their actions are usually for the betterment of the galaxy. That is unless you count the fact that they also created the single biggest threat to the galaxy.
Let’s go back before the Sith Holocaust. We already hinted at how the original Sith Empire was formed by a small group of Jedi curious about the forbidden teachings of the Dark Side. These “Dark Jedi” were dabbling in using the Force to create life, which the rest of the Order wanted no part of. So they eventually banished their fallen brethren into the unknown, where they stumbled across a primitive tribal species calling themselves the Sith. These Dark Jedi were revered as gods, and it wasn’t long before one of them crowned himself the first Dark Lord of the Sith. Following years of interbreeding, the two groups merged into one, and the term “Sith” came to not only mean the local people but a newly formed Empire ready to challenge the Jedi’s oppressive rule.
Their first attempt brought about the genocide discussed in our previous entry. However, a few members of the Sith were able to escape the mass execution and go into hiding. As one might imagine, they weren’t too happy about having all their family and friends murdered, so they planned revenge. Thus came about the Great Galactic War, which saw a reinvigorated Sith sack the capital world of Coruscant, execute the Supreme Chancellor, and force the Republic into a peace treaty that recognized their Empire as the legitimate rulers over half the galaxy. All because the Jedi refused to open themselves up to new ways of thinking and couldn’t let bygones be bygones after the surrender of the Great Hyperspace War. Oh well, their loss was Darth Sidious’ gain.
3. They Have a Complete Disregard for the Well-Being of Others
Remember that scene from Attack of the Clones when Anakin and Obi-Wan engage in a thrilling airborne car chase in pursuit of
the 5th Element Padmé’s would-be assassin? Stealing vehicles at their leisure, weaving in and out of traffic and using deadly weapons in crowded nightclubs, it’s obvious these Jedi could give a wampa about public safety. Though that should come as no surprise, seeing as how the first line of defense for these galactic peacekeepers is dismemberment.
Even Luke, who was trained outside the Order, has a certain knack for killing innocents and celebrating it afterward. We’ll forgo for a second his complete lack of remorse or even hint of pity for the millions he killed on the Death Star. That was, after all, a military target that had just wiped out an entire planet. The same, however, can’t be said of Jabba the Hutt’s pleasure cruise on Tatooine. On that memorable occasion, Luke merrily murdered an entire barge to save his friends in the most reckless way possible. No doubt, rescuing carbo-Han from Jabba the Hutt was the right move. Destroying a floating boat presumably filled with innocent slaves and the lovable Max Rebo band was not. Leia had just killed Jabba. Han was free. They had won the day and there was no one left to put up a fight. But who cares about any of that when there are explosions to be had.
2. They Are Selfish
Let’s ignore the fact that Luke became a Jedi despite failing nearly every single test he was ever given. Somehow, he still got inducted into the club. Which, along with super jumping and inexplicably knowing how to make your own lightsaber, came with the perk of Jedi selfishness. We are not implying that Jedi as individuals are inherently selfish (though many are). We’re saying the Order as a whole is egocentric, concerned more with self-preservation and the advancement of their creed than whatever anyone else has going on.
Don’t think for a second that Qui-Gon couldn’t figure out a way to also save Anakin’s mom if he wanted. This is the same guy that cheated at a game of chance, after all. Alas, poor Shmi didn’t have enough midi-chlorians in her blood to be of enough interest to the Order. The same goes for Obi-Wan and Yoda, who, despite being veteran generals with more combat experience than the entire Rebel cause combined, decide to go AWOL for decades following the rise of the Empire until “the right moment.” The right moment being when they can get their cult back up and running. We’re pretty sure the rebellion could have used their help and expertise in the mean time. Tellingly, when they finally do re-engage, it has absolutely nothing to do with stopping a planet-destroying superweapon and everything do with Jedi business.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s Luke and his endangerment of the entire raid on Endor. Sure, the Emperor knew about the not-so-secret assault, but Luke didn’t know that. Nope, he just decided he’d also go AWOL, drop in on his dad, jeopardize his friends and risk the freedom of the entire galaxy, full well knowing that Vader could sense his presence from a solar system away. Who cares if a few Ewoks died when there’s an entirely irrelevant feud between the Light and the Dark Side to settle. Just like those that came before him, the more Luke became a Jedi, the more disloyal to the cause and his comrades he became.
1. They Created Darth Vader
We’re not complaining. Creating Darth Vader through their lack of compassion, understanding, and foresight is probably the single greatest thing the Jedi have ever done. If they hadn’t, we would never have gotten that awesome scene at the end of Rogue One. Still, everything the Jedi did involving Anakin Skywalker was a lesson in gross negligence.
They probably should have gone with their gut from the start and not trained him at all, and instead booted him back to Tatooine where he could live out his days building sexually confused robots. Though you can’t blame the High Council’s decision — Ewan McGregor’s big blue eyes are hard to resist. But once Anakin was accepted, there’s no excuse why they couldn’t have done a better job of raising him. A good place to start would have been retrieving his mom, bringing her to Coruscant and letting him visit her on occasion, which probably would have done wonders for his self-esteem. Or how about trusting him once in awhile and making him feel like a valued member of the team? Honestly, Anakin seemed like the ideal every other Jedi should have been striving for, and makes you wonder what would have happened had he been mentored under the open-minded tutelage of Qui-Gon.
You don’t get any more light side-y than Anakin Skywalker. Yet somehow, the Jedi managed to make a crotchety old man with a wrinkly butt for a forehead the more appealing choice. His fall represents the ultimate failure of the Jedi Order and speaks to the core of their problems. The Jedi took the idea of emotional detachment to an illogical extreme, attempting to accept the role love plays in the Force while forbidding all expression of it. Darth Vader is the symbol of their refusal to grow, and probably the Jedi Council’s greatest failure. Does that make them bad guys? Well, as Obi Wan would say, it certainly does…. from a certain point of view.
Have the Jedi done any other horrible things worth mentioning? Or do we have it all wrong and these galactic peacekeepers are above reproach? Let us know in the comments.