With The Last Jedi, it’s become readily apparent that the Jedi were flawed. Luke’s speech about the Jedi’s legacy being one of failure, hypocrisy, and hubris has validated what many fans have been saying for years – while the Jedi might have started off with good intentions, they eventually lost their way.
The current Star Wars trilogy is attempting to present a galaxy where the Light and Dark aren’t as black and white as they appeared when they were first introduced in the Original Trilogy.
Keeping with the theory that Light and Dark are two sides of the same coin, it’s interesting to note how often the good and evil forces in Star Wars operate in the same way. It should come as no surprise then that some of the practices of the First Order-- such as training Stormtroopers from a very young age and forcing cadets to cut all ties from their families-- were adopted from the Jedi.
Therefore, it shouldn't come as a huge shock that Luke, perhaps the most well-intentioned Jedi to ever exist, would want to tear down the myth of the Jedi. He has seen the past repeat itself and, unlike his predecessors, he realizes that in order for the Jedi to survive, he and future Jedi need to acknowledge their less than spotless history and change.
Here are the 7 Ways the Jedi Are More Evil Than The First Order (And 8 Ways They Aren’t).
15 Aren't More Evil: They Don't Suffer Fatal Consequences If They Don't Follow Orders
Repeatedly, throughout the Prequels and the Clone Wars, numerous Jedi don’t follow orders, choosing to do what they thought was right instead of following the wished of the council.
Anakin, for example, was famous for constantly disobeying the Council and doing his own thing. Similarly, Qui-Gon Jinn, was known as a bit of a rogue within the Order.
According to Obi-Wan, if Jinn did not repeatedly disobey the Council and the Jedi Code, he would have been made a member of the Jedi High Council. While the Council was closed-minded, they were not cruel and Jedi who disobeyed the wishes of the Order didn’t seem to suffer any serious repercussions for their actions.
Within the First Order, Stormtroopers who didn’t follow the rules-- even those who did not live up to training standards-- were executed or mysteriously disappeared.
14 Are More Evil: They Enslaved Thousands Of Clones
The story of the Clone Troopers is a tragic one. They were literally created for one purpose: to serve and die for the Republic. Like First Order Stormtroopers, they were given designations, not names.
While many of the Clone Troopers gave each other nicknames and some even formed meaningful bonds with the Jedi who commanded them, they were not considered citizens of the Republic.
Despite being ordered to fight in a war that could (and often did) cost them their lives, they had no rights and they were not allowed to vote on Republic matters.
While the punishment for desertion was never made clear in canon (in Legends, the penalty was execution), The Clone Wars made it clear that a Clone deserting the military was unheard of.
13 Aren't More Evil: They Value Their Own
The Jedi might not have always given their Clone Troopers the respect that they deserved, but they undoubtedly valued their own. They even mounted rescue missions on occasion for captured or missing Jedi, putting their lives at stake to save a member of the Order.
In contrast, the First Order sees every Stormtrooper as expendable. Even if a Stormtrooper can be saved, it is more efficient to leave that soldier behind. In fact, troopers are reprimanded for attempting to help other troopers.
According to the Before the Awakening novel, this was one of Finn’s major flaws. He wanted to help his teammates and ensure everyone’s survival, but Phasma told him that this was a weakness and something that needed to be stamped out of him.
12 Are More Evil: They Take Part In Assassination Plots
The First Order has zero qualms about killing people-- even when they’re unprovoked. That’s because they’re evil. However, the Jedi, the so-called peacekeepers and guardians of the galaxy, are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard. This is why their decision to attempt to assassinate someone, even someone as evil as Count Dooku, is problematic.
Believing Dooku to be the linchpin in the Separatist’s continued success, the Jedi concoct a plan to assassinate Dooku, a plan that endangers the well-being of one of their own Jedi.
This plan was put forth by the Jedi Council, the highest ranking members of the Order. They asked Jedi Quinlan Vos to immerse himself into the Dark Side to get into Dooku’s good graces. The plan, unsurprisingly, fails and results in collateral damage.
11 Aren't More Evil: Most Try To Do Good
We can have a lengthy debate about the intelligence and wisdom of the Jedi, but it’s safe to say that most of them at least tried to do good. Even Anakin, who became one of the most notorious killers in the galaxy, started out by trying to do the right thing.
While the First Order could be populated with a number of Finns waiting for the right opportunity to escape the Order, many of the Stormtroopers have been too brainwashed to even think of defecting or deserting.
Despite being misguided, the Jedi did save or at the very least try to save innocent lives. At its very core, the Jedi Order was committed to doing good. While they may have lost their way, they were and, long after their fall, still remained a symbol of hope and light.
10 Are More Evil: They Thought They Were Unstoppable
Arrogance was something that the Jedi had in spades. Like Luke tells Rey in The Last Jedi, as a group, the Jedi displayed a lot of hubris. Nearly every high-ranking Jedi within the Prequels displayed a bounty of hubris, even, and especially the members of the Jedi Council.
When Darth Maul revealed himself to Qui-Gon Jinn, and Jinn told the Council about the Sith, the Jedi refused to believe that the Sith could return without them knowing.
The Jedi were at what they believed to be the height of their power, and because of their arrogance, because they refused to believe that the Dark Side could rise without their knowing, and because they continually brushed off any corrupted Jedi as anomalies, they lost everything in one fell swoop.
Their arrogance brought the near extinction of the Jedi and the fall of the Republic.
9 Aren't More Evil: Jedi Training Is Rigorous But Not Ruthless
Even at a young age, Padawans were expected to endure dangerous trials. For example, one of their very first rites of passage was obtaining a kyber crystal for their lightsaber, a task fraught with some danger.
However, while Jedi initiates faced considerable risks and their training was every bit as rigorous as you’d expect it to be, it wasn't not as ruthless as the training of First Order Stormtroopers.
First Order cadets who are too slow, too clumsy, and the ones who repeatedly question orders had a habit of mysteriously disappearing. According to the Phasma novel, their records would be wiped clean like they never existed.
In addition to facing dire consequences for failing to meet First Order standards, the Stormtroopers’ training is relentless. Older cadets have no free time and are constantly monitored, with every single one of their actions being evaluated and analyzed.
8 Are More Evil: They Didn't Always Mourn The Deaths Of Others
In the animated series The Clone Wars, each time a Jedi died, the Order would have a ceremony for their fallen comrade. If they could return the body to the Jedi Temple, they would hold a service for the deceased. If a Jedi fell during a mission and their body couldn’t be returned to the Temple, they would perform the funeral rites then and there.
When Jedi Master Even Piell died while he and several Jedi and Clone Troopers were fleeing Separatist forces, the team paused for a moment to wrap Piell’s body and give him an honorable send-off.
On the same mission, several Clone Troopers were killed, but the group did not pause to honor them – they barely even flinched as they fell. Sure, Piell is a Jedi Master, but the Jedi are supposed to regard all life as precious, and, more often than not, they barely registered the deaths of lower-ranking soldiers.
7 Aren't More Evil: They Are Allowed To Partake In Some Worldly Pleasures
While intimacy was off the table for the Jedi, they could at least enjoy other worldly pleasures, such as drinking alcohol and eating their favorite foods. Life for a First Order Stormtrooper is filled with pre-approved meals-- mainly tasteless nutritional packs that meet their nutritional needs.
Even the Stormtroopers’ free time is planned out for them. While Jedi could do whatever they wanted during their leisure time, Stormtroopers have every minute of their lives scheduled. Time that isn't spent training in simulations is spent washing dishes, doing maintenance, and taking out trash.
Their entire existence revolves around either improving the First Order or becoming more efficient killers. Jedi had more leeway with their free time. They could cultivate friendships, take walks, and even repeatedly visit senators in their private rooms without worrying about facing any consequences.
6 Are More Evil: They Brainwash Fragile Youths
Like the First Order, the Jedi tore young children away from their homes and their families and raised them in their desired image. While the Jedi potentials were given a choice to join the Jedi, five year-olds aren’t mature enough to make a decision of that magnitude, especially one that will dramatically impact and shape the rest of their lives.
While their methods are different, both the First Order and the Jedi Order brainwash their young initiates during their training. In fact, the First Order training program was inspired by the methods used by the Jedi.
Brendol Hux, General Hux’s father, admired the efficiency of the Jedi training, particularly the way initiates were molded from a very young age to devote themselves entirely to the Order, and so he chose to adopt their methods for his own training program.
5 Aren't More Evil: Initiates Can Keep Their Culture
One of the first things that First Order recruiters do when they acquire new recruits is wipe away all traces of their individuality. Since many cadets were kidnapped when they were young, and since, like the Empire, the First Order appears to favor human soldiers, establishing uniformity is easy.
Unlike the First Order, the Jedi Order allowed its initiates to retain their cultural ties, even if they were required to cut all familial ties. While the Jedi had a uniform, many chose not to wear the traditional Jedi robes.
For example, Jedi like Luminara Unduli and Ahsoka Tano chose to wear attire from their homeworlds instead of the customary tunic and robe. They were also allowed to perform cultural rites, something a First Order officer couldn’t even consider since they would have all of that information expunged.
4 Are More Evil: They Preach Peace While Bringing Destruction
As Luke mentions in The Last Jedi, the Jedi had a lot of problems. One of them was that they were hypocrites. The Jedi were self-professed keepers of the peace, but they allowed themselves to become embroiled in a galactic war.
They joined the ranks of the Republic military and began to lead clone squadrons into battle. They became so entrenched in the ways of war and became so self-righteous that they failed to see that they were being played and that their Republic, along with many of their fellow Jedi, had fallen to corruption.
Of course, it could be argued that the First Order is similarly hypocritical. They claim to want to establish order within the galaxy while causing chaos, but unlike the Jedi, they make no claims of being guardians of peace and justice while slaughtering thousands.
3 Aren't More Evil: They Don't Completely Discourage Attachment
This is partly why the Jedi Code is confusing. According to the Code, the Jedi are not allowed to feel emotion, but they clearly form attachments. For example, the bond between a Padawan and their master is intense.
In fact, it’s one of a Jedi’s most important relationships, one that defines that Jedi, for better or worse. While it may not always be apparent in the Prequels, Anakin and Obi-Wan cared for each other. Ahsoka and Anakin cared for each other. Obi-Wan cared for Qui-Gon. While they’re not romantic relationships, they’re relationships nonetheless.
Stormtroopers are trained not to care for each other. If someone from their team gets pinned down, they're supposed to abandon them. Going against what he’d been taught, Finn always tried to help his fellow teammates. According to Phasma, this was FN-2187’s biggest flaw. Despite being an exemplary soldier, he cared too much.
2 Are More Evil: They Use An Outdated Doctrine To Serve Their Own Purposes
There’s a reason why Yoda burned down the force-sensitive tree in The Last Jedi. The ancient texts, the Jedi doctrine, they played a large role in the downfall of the Jedi.
During the Prequels era, the Jedi believed in a strict adherence of the Jedi Code. So when a young Jedi recited the words, “There is no emotion, there is peace” or “There is no passion, there is serenity,” there was no room for interpretation. A Jedi should not feel, and a Jedi definitely should not give in to passion.
However, according to The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, the code adopted by the Jedi was based on a translation created by a Jedi Master nearly 4000 years before the Clone Wars.
Ignoring the potential for some of the original meaning becoming lost in the translation, the Code, like many legal doctrines, should have probably been updated with the changing of the times.
1 Aren't More Evil: Initiates Can Keep Their Names
When we first meet Finn in The Force Awakens, he’s introduced as FN-2187. One of the first things Finn does when he frees himself from the First Order is give himself a new name, with the help of his buddy Poe Dameron, of course.
Assigning Stormtroopers designations instead of giving them names was one of the ways the Order fostered uniformity and conformity within its ranks. Only the highest ranking soldiers, like Captain Phasma, were allowed to have names. The prospect of receiving a name also encouraged troopers to strive for excellence.
Again, while Jedi were required to cut familial ties, they were still allowed to keep their names, and that included their family name. Anakin was known as Anakin Skywalker, and while there isn’t canon material to back this up, we can assume Kenobi, Jinn, and Windu were all family names.
Can you think of any other ways the Jedi are more evil (or as evil) as the First Order in Star Wars? Let us know in the comments!