Within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi Knights and Sith Lords are renowned thanks to the awesome powers granted to them by their mastery of the Force. With the Force as their ally, a fully trained member of either order can move faster, jump higher, and just generally fight better than a non-Force sensitive individual. They also boast a myriad of even more fantastical abilities, ranging from telekinesis to precognition and other extrasensory gifts.
As such, both Jedi and Sith combatants are theoretically unstoppable – except when they forget how to use their powers! If that sounds unlikely (or even a little silly), it shouldn’t. Over the course of all the Star Wars films released to date, numerous servants of the light and dark sides of the Force – including several very prominent ones – have lost because they neglected to effectively use the amazing abilities at their disposal.
There’s a real-world reason for this, of course: it’s just not that exciting to watch unbeatable characters, so the filmmakers occasionally resort to afflicting Force users with temporary amnesia. But let’s be honest – half the time, audiences are so enthralled by these adventures in a galaxy far, far away, they don’t even notice.
Here are 15 Times The Jedi And Sith Forgot How To Use Their Powers.
15 Pretty Much Every Jedi Fails To See Order 66 Coming
One of the benefits of a connection to the Force is that it makes you clairvoyant. This explains why Jedi have such lightning quick reflexes: they can literally see things before they happen, and react appropriately. It also makes them incredibly difficult to surprise – especially when coupled with their capacity to sense the emotions of others, making any hidden treacherous intentions clear.
This leaves us wondering how so many these guys and gals were gunned down in Revenge of the Sith, after Emperor Palpatine set into motion Order 66 – the execution of every Jedi by their own clone troops. Sure, a few did pick up on the murderous vibe in the air, but not in time to make their escape. Indeed, of those we see attacked onscreen, only Master Yoda twigs to what’s going down in time – although admittedly, comparing your average Jedi to him is hardly fair.
14 Luke Skywalker Doesn’t Deflect Boba Fett’s Blaster Fire
Towards the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is lured to Cloud City by visions of his friends being tortured. Upon arriving, he rushes to the rescue of Princess Leia only to run afoul of bucket-headed bounty hunter Boba Fett. Despite Luke’s training, Fett is able to keep him at bay with only a blaster rifle, and the former farm boy fails to liberate Leia!
So what could Luke have done differently? Well, he probably would have been better off ditching his own blaster and using his lightsaber to deflect Fett’s salvo – ideally back at him. True, Skywalker wasn’t yet a fully fledged Jedi, and possibly wasn’t confident enough to try a stunt like this. However, he was definitely shown how during his initial coaching by Obi-Wan, and given he was able to survive a duel with Darth Vader himself, you’d think he was up to it!
13 Obi-Wan Kenobi Can’t Reach Qui-Gon Jinn In Time
As mentioned earlier, Force users are able to run much faster than humanly possible – something we see demonstrated in The Phantom Menace, when Qui-Gon Jinn and his pupil Obi-Wan Kenobi sprint so fast they are little more than a blur. You’d think this power would come in handy later in the movie, when the two Jedi square off against Sith apprentice Darth Maul, and find themselves separated.
But does Obi-Wan put on a Force-assisted burst of speed to close the distance between himself and his soon to be ex-teacher, like you’d expect? He does not, opting instead to proceed at a more modest pace. It’s a baffling decision, especially as it sees him stranded behind an impenetrable energy barrier, unable to do anything other than watch as Qui-Gon is skewered on Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber.
12 Darth Vader Lets Luke Skywalker Fall Into The Air Shaft
When Luke and Vader duel during The Empire Strikes Back, they each have very different preferred outcomes in mind. The young Rebel simply wants to kill his adversary, whereas the Sith Lord wants to capture his opponent alive. Ostensibly, Vader’s motive is to bring Luke before Emperor Palpatine so they can seduce him to the dark side. But secretly, he wants to gang up with Luke to overthrow the Emperor, so they can rule the galaxy together as father and son (which is… actually kind of sweet, in a way).
When Luke baulks at this offer and steps out into the near-endless void of a Cloud City air shaft, you’d imagine Vader would use his telekinesis to catch the kid, right? Unfortunately, this concept goes right over the Sith Lord’s shiny black helmet, and rather than snag Luke and take him prisoner, he watches as he plummets towards (what appears to be) certain death.
11 Luke Skywalker Doesn’t Absorb The Emperor’s Force Lightning
In terms of raw destructive capabilities, it’s hard to beat the dark side of the Force. While the Jedi are no slouches when it comes to offensive powers, nothing they can do is a patch on the Force Lightning favored by Sith Lords. Faced with a blast of this lethal energy, the best course of action is to either block it with a lightsaber or – depending on how strong your connection to the Force is – absorb it with your hand.
When Luke Skywalker confronts the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, he has only one of these options available to him – so he invents a third: “just let it hit me.” Now, maybe Luke was never taught this skill by Yoda – and if so, shame on the little green guy – but the young Jedi is definitely powerful enough to do it, and should have at least tried.
10 Obi-Wan Kenobi Keeps Forgetting To Force Push General Grievous
At the end of the day, for all of General Grievous’ four-lightsaber-wielding ludicrousness, this asthmatic cyborg has zero connection to the Force. The droid general might like to brag about having been trained in the Jedi arts, but really, all he knows is swordplay. When he goes up against an actual Jedi – like his eventual killer, Obi-Wan – he’s hopelessly outclassed. Or at least, he should be.
When Grievous and Kenobi square-off in Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan easily evades his opponent’s multiple blades – even lopping off a few of the hands holding them. Yet it’s a while into their duel before the Jedi Master remembers he’s the only one with Force powers in this fight, laying Grievous out with a massive, Force-assisted shove. When Grievous promptly tries to flee, Obi-Wan engages him in hand-to-hand combat – again, putting in a lot of effort where another big (Force) Push would probably do the job.
9 Darth Vader Can’t Sense Princess Leia’s Force Potential
It’s a well-established aspect of Star Wars lore that experienced Force users can sense when an individual has a dormant connection to the mystical energy field. Even following the largely-reviled introduction of midi-chlorians – microscopic life forms that enable this connection in the first place – it was still made clear that Jedi and Sith can spot Force potential unaided.
Why then does Darth Vader – one of the most powerful Force sensitives of all time, no less – not notice Princess Leia’s incredible mystical prospects when she’s standing right next to him in A New Hope? Some fans have argued that this is because Leia’s abilities were still dormant – she didn’t even know she had them herself – but that doesn’t make sense,, given the power levels we’re talking about. No, it seems that the Sith Lord just plain screwed up on this occasion!
8 Darth Maul Doesn’t Force Push Obi-Wan Kenobi To His Doom
As The Phantom Menace draws to a close, Darth Maul emerges triumphant over both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan – impaling the former and knocking the latter into a reactor shaft. All the Sith apprentice needs to do to earn his victory lap is finish off Kenobi, who clings by his fingernails to a nozzle just out of reach. If Maul had taken a minute to remember his basic training and used the Force to knock his enemy loose from his handhold and into the bottomless pit below, it would have been game over for Kenobi.
But what does he do, instead? He decides to play cat-and-mouse with Obi-Wan, using his lightsaber to rain sparks down on the young Jedi to prolong his suffering a few moments longer. This winds up being all the time Kenobi needs to reflect on his own education, allowing him to quickly turn the tables on the over-confident Maul!
7 Emperor Palpatine Can’t Escape Darth Vader’s Tight Grip
Emperor Palpatine – otherwise know as the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious – was a tremendously powerful practitioner of the dark side of the Force. Even in his advanced age, the evil old coot was still a formidable and agile duellist – and that’s in addition to his considerable telekinetic skills. Yet when Palpatine is blindsided by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, he calls upon none of these powers to break free of his apprentice’s grasp.
True, he does divert his Force Lightning away from current victim, Luke Skywalker, and toward Vader – a move that will ultimately result in the big guy’s death. Nonetheless, he could have done so much more; even something as simple as telekinetically throwing something heavy at Vader. After all, it wouldn’t have taken much for Vader’s grip on Palpatine to falter – he only had one hand at the time.
6 Darth Maul Doesn’t Jump After Qui-Gon Jinn On Tatooine
If the three-way duel at the end of The Phantom Menace represents the grand finale, then the skirmish between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul is the equivalent of a barnstorming curtain raiser! Taking place in the desert wastes of Tatooine, this intense encounter – the first time a Jedi Knight and a Sith Lord clashed in a millennia – provides our first true glimpse of Force users at the height of their game.
And what a sight it is, complete with blistering swordplay and gravity-defying acrobatics. But the most astonishing thing of all comes when Qui-Gon looks to make his getaway, leaping onto the ramp of the Queen’s starship – and Maul doesn’t follow him. A supernaturally gifted gymnast himself, Maul could easily have made the jump and kept the fight alive. Interestingly, in the rough cut of the film he actually did – but this moment wound up on the cutting room floor.
5 Coleman Trebor Is No Match For Jango Fett’s Blaster
Not every Jedi Knight is a great warrior – after all, as Yoda once said, “Wars not make one great.” Even so, in addition to their skills at diplomacy, thanks to their role as intergalactic peacekeepers, all Jedi are expected to be at least competent when on the battlefield. This includes the highly valuable ability to block incoming blaster fire with their lightsabers – a technique Jedi learn and perfect while they are just younglings.
Unfortunately, it seems Coleman Trebor missed those lessons, as – despite being a Jedi Master sitting on the Jedi Council – he was gunned down in Attack of the Clones by Boba Fett’s dad, Jango! Admittedly, Fett Senior was a highly skilled bounty hunter with impeccable aim, however he was still an ordinary human being, and Trebor should have been able to withstand his volley.
4 Luke Skywalker Is Captured By Ewoks
Return of the Jedi is infamous for marking the debut of the Ewoks – a teddy bear-like race who inhabit the forest moon of Endor. Many fans cried foul when these furry critters proved a match for an entire legion of the Emperor’s best Stormtroopers. But something that’s equally outrageous is that they also manage to take a powerful Force user captive, too!
That’s right: Luke Skywalker ends up hogtied by the Ewoks and nearly roasted alive along with Han Solo and Chewbacca, when he could have dismissed them all with a mere wave of his hand. Now, a valid argument could be made that Luke didn’t want to hurt the little guys, but he could have easily used his “magic” powers to intimidate the Ewoks enough to set him and his friends loose right then and there. That's basically what he ended up doing anyway, but without the added danger!
3 Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, And Kit Fisto Put Up No Defense Against Darth Sidious
Mid-way through Revenge of the Sith, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine stands revealed as Darth Sidious, and Jedi Master Mace Windu rounds up a posse of fellow Jedi Council members to arrest him. On paper, Windu picked a strong line-up, with Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, and Kit Fisto all powerful Force users esteemed for their skills in lightsaber combat.
Inexplicably, though, when it came time to tackle Sidious, the entire trio seemingly forgot even the basics of Force-assisted swordplay. What else could explain the disconcerting ease with which the Dark Lord of the Sith cut the three of them down? In his defense, Fisto manages to parry at least a few of Sidious’ blows, whereas Kolar and Tiin pretty much stand around and wait to get killed! Quite frankly, these guys let Mace down big time.
2 Kylo Ren Doesn’t Freeze Finn In His Tracks
Okay, so we bent the rules with this one – Kylo Ren isn’t technically a Sith Lord. But just like the First Order is really just the Empire by another name, so too are the Knights of Ren essentially just a rehash of the Sith Order. But back to the matter at hand: the former Ben Solo’s failure to paralyze Resistance fighter Finn ahead of their lightsaber duel in The Force Awakens.
In fairness to Ren, maybe he did consider doing this – it’s his signature move, after all – but he was badly wounded at the time and perhaps lacked the focus necessary to pull it off. There’s also a decent chance he was spoiling for sword fight – he hasn’t had anyone to duel with in a while! But it would have been far smarter to freeze Finn on the spot rather than go to the trouble of crossing swords with him.
1 Anakin Can’t Overcome The High Ground On Mustafar
The showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker isn’t just a big moment in Revenge of the Sith – it’s a flashpoint in Star Wars history. Fans had been dying to see the newly-christened Darth Vader do battle with his former teacher for decades, and the spectacular duel that ensued mostly didn’t disappoint. But if we’re being honest, the climax of this epic confrontation is a slight let down – largely because we have trouble believing it!
When Obi-Wan somersaultsonto the shore of one of Mustafar’s lava streams, he announces the fight is over. Despite Star Wars swordplay rarely emulating its real-world counterpart, suddenly having the high ground matters, and Kenobi seems confident that Skywalker will come off second best if he attempts the jump. This proves correct, as Anakin – who earlier had executed more impressive vaults – struggles to make the distance, losing one arm and both legs as a result!
Did we forget to include any other times Star Wars Force users forgot how their powers work? Let us know in the comments!