Up until its most recent iteration, the Star Wars franchise hasn’t exactly been known for exploring thematic nuance and moral gray areas. Steeped in the comparative “hero’s journey” mythology of Joseph Campbell, the Star Wars saga has traditionally set a scene of clear good vs evil.
These sides are represented by the Jedi Knights— champions of the “light” side of the Force— and the Sith— perpetrators of the “dark." However, from the beginning, this mythology has been complicated by one simple fact: the Jedi kind of suck.
There have been many great Jedi over the course of Star Wars’ fictional history, and the Sith are certainly not a healthy substitute for the Jedi Order, but that hardly means that the Jedi can be considered heroes across the board.
Back in the days when all we had was the original Star Wars trilogy, Obi-Wan’s description of the Jedi as “guardians of peace and justice” seemed like gospel. Then the prequels revealed that the Jedi clearly weren’t everything they’d been cracked up to be.
The deeper you dig into Jedi history, the clearer it becomes that Jedi are villains in their own right.
For a clear look at just how lame the Jedi can be, here are the 15 Times The Jedi Were WORSE Than The Sith.
15 When they tried to overthrow the government
Sure, Palpatine was a bad dude. You might say he was the worst dude ever. However, that hardly justifies the Jedi staging a coup upon discovering that Palpatine was a Sith.
When the Jedi Council learned of Palpatine’s true identity, they immediately sought to remove him from office on their own, despite the fact that he was an elected official.
In attempting a unilateral government takeover, the Jedi played right into Palpatine’s plan. It was the very excuse he needed to bring his admittedly evil plans to fruition and rule the galaxy.
Palpatine’s Empire eventually became a more oppressive entity than the Jedi ever could have been, but that's certainly no rationalization for the way they tried to take him out.
14 When They Created The Sith
No, the Jedi didn’t literally create the Sith, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t responsible for the Sith’s inception. Thousands of years before the Clone Wars, the Sith Order was created by a rogue Jedi who was cast out when he proposed the idea of exploring the dark side of the Force.
In reaction to the passivity and overt temperance of the Jedi way, the Sith developed into an entity that favored the power of passion, pain, and anger.
Had the Jedi not been so hasty to cast out one of their own, they might have been able to learn the value of the dark side of the Force and blended both dark and light to actually achieve the balance that they spent centuries paying lip service to.
Instead, they hastily rejected what they didn’t understand and created a destructive binary with thousands of years of repercussions.
13 When they prophesied of the "Chosen One"
Long before the events of the Star Wars saga, an ancient Jedi prophecy foretold of a “Chosen One” who would vanquish the Sith once and for all and restore balance to the force.
This sounds like a good deal-- unless you’re a Sith, of course. However, the only problem with the prophecy is that it was made by a group who know nothing of true “balance” in the Force.
The Jedi definition of the Force has always been suspect, as is their definition of a balance in the Force. By defining “balance” as only one side prevailing— even if it is the “light” side— the Jedi undermine the dictates of their own prophesy.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Chosen One would eventually fulfill the prophecy by living under both the light and dark sides of the Force over the course of his troubled life.
12 When They Indoctrinated Children And Made Them Soldiers
There must not be an equivalent of Child Protective Services in the Star Wars universe. If there were, the Jedi wouldn’t have lasted very long.
For generations, the Jedi sought out Force-sensitive children across the galaxy, virtually abducted them from their former lives, heavily indoctrinated them, and trained them as literal soldiers/assassins. This is not quite the recruitment practices of your model “good guys."
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda momentarily dismisses the idea of training Luke as a Jedi, saying that he’s “too old to begin the training.” If one’s definition of “too old” is anything past the age of eight, then this statement is pretty ridiculous.
Luke may have been too old to begin Jedi training by Jedi standards, but the Jedi standards are practically child abuse.
11 When They Committed Sith Genocide
Near the end of the Great Hyperspace War-- a galactic conflict between the Republic and the Sith Empire roughly 5,000 years before the original trilogy-- the Republic issued an extermination order on the Sith.
By the time of this order, the Sith were already in retreat and many had given up on the conflict altogether. That didn’t stop the Jedi from carrying out the order and committing what would later become known as the Sith Holocaust.
Sadly, the Sith Holocaust isn’t the only time that the Jedi committed some form of Sith genocide. They also triggered a kiber crystal superweapon on the planet Malachor and instantly petrified every Sith on the planet.
Sorry, Jedi, but no militarized religious order with multiple counts of genocide under their belt should be able to call themselves the defenders of galactic peace and justice.
10 When They Came Up With Midi-Chlorians
When George Lucas is on his deathbed, someone will probably still be maligning him for adding midi-chlorians to the Star Wars mythology.
Ever since Qui-Gon Jinn told Anakin that a person’s Force sensitivity barrels down to how many magic micro-organisms are in their body, fans have been trying to block this weird retcon detail out of their minds. However, what if we’ve been going about midi-chlorians the wrong way?
If you look at the Star Wars mythology as a whole, it’s more than possible that the midi-chlorian theory is exactly that— just a theory. Midi-chlorians are the focal point of a Jedi pseudo-science.
The Jedi were both arrogant and ignorant in thinking that they had the Force all figured out to the point that they could explain away the ultimate mystery by coming up with some imaginary microscopic Force-organism.
9 When they forbade love
The whole celibate/monk thing didn’t work out well for the Jedi. In fact, it was the primary catalyst for their demise. The moment that the Jedi decided that romantic love was out of the question for members of the Jedi Order, they charted a course for their own “Chosen One” to bring about their destruction.
Anakin’s inner conflict between his love for Padme and his dedication to the Jedi Order wasn’t the only thing that turned him to the dark side, but it was the thing that Palpatine used to manipulate Anakin into destroying both the Jedi and the Republic.
Anakin’s actions may ultimately have been unjust, but the feelings behind his reaction were certainly justified. The Sith may be painfully misguided in their violently unchecked passion, but the Jedi rejection of virtually all emotion is equally, if not more destructive.
8 When they joined government militaries
By their non-secular nature, it’s highly problematic for the Jedi to take sides in political conflicts. Yet, throughout their history, the moral compass of the Jedi has largely been governed by political allegiances.
In the prequel era, the Jedi are straight up generals for the Republic army. Previous eras also see the Jedi allowing their political allegiance to the Republic dictate their actions.
The Jedi are supposed to be the “guardians of peace and justice” throughout the galaxy. While it’s understandable that righteous causes sometimes call for the taking up of arms, it hardly justifies the Jedi becoming a military force and surrendering all notions of peace and justice to government interest.
The Sith may be ruthless in their semi-constant bloodlust, but at least their actions are largely dictated by their own moral code-- or lack thereof, depending on who you ask-- rather than their political associations.
7 When Obi-Wan Straight Up Lied To Luke
Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been the greatest Jedi of all time. Though not necessarily the “strongest” or most experienced in the Force, he almost perfectly encapsulates the potential for goodness within the Jedi ideology.
Still, he’s not without his flaws. There was that time he straight up lied to Luke about Daddy Vader, then justified his lie with some serious mental gymnastics.
While it’s clear that Obi-Wan is lying to Luke to protect him, the old “from a certain point of view” angle is a rather flimsy excuse. Even if he had only the best of intentions, Obi-Wan’s excuse for lying to Luke about his father is a perfect illustration of how easily the Jedi can rationalize just about everything they do.
Sorry Obi-Wan, but from a certain point of view, you really blew it with this one.
6 When Pong Krell discriminated against the clones
The Clone Wars fleshed out many elements of Star Wars’ prequel era that the prequel films left criminally underdeveloped. Within the broad scope of the show, the clone troopers became individuals and complex characters, rather than a soulless army of identical bodies.
As a galactic military force, the clones were obviously put through a wide variety of harrowing trials. One of their most harrowing was when they suffered under the fatal command of a bigoted Jedi general.
Pong Krell was a Jedi master who turned to the dark side in an act of self-preservation after foreseeing the fall of the Republic. He also viewed the clones as dispensable pawns, intentionally putting clone legions in harm's way.
Pong was eventually revealed to be more Sith than Jedi, but in his bigotry, selfishness, and deceit, he demonstrated how fragile the morality of the Jedi can be.
5 When The High Council Betrayed Ahsoka
The Jedi may have many faults, but at least they’re loyal to their own... until they’re not.
Near the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi Council threw padawan Ahsoka Tano to the wolves when they banished her from the Jedi Order after she was framed for bombing the Jedi temple.
Ahsoka stood a legal trial for the charge and was eventually found innocent when fellow Jedi padawan Barriss Offee confessed to having carried out the bombing. By then, the Order had justifiably been tarnished in Ahsoka’s eyes.
After the trial, Ahsoka put the Jedi Order behind her and set out on her own path. She would eventually become an early leader of the Rebellion, a truly powerful Force-user, and an example of what can be achieved when one isn’t bound to the dogma and political interests of the Jedi Order.
4 When They Came Up With An Oppressive Code
Let’s take a look at the Jedi code: "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."
Now let’s take a look at the Sith code: "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."
Both are forceful and incredibly dogmatic in their message, but one is certainly more oppressive than the other, and it isn't the one talking about breaking chains. The Sith code may be unforgivably violent, but the Jedi code is both equally destructive and even more oppressive in its exaltation of law and order.
3 When They Decided That Mind Control Was OK
The exact origins of the infamous Jedi Mind Trick is unknown. What’s also unknown is how the Jedi managed to get away with practicing literal mind control for centuries.
For a group so concerned with championing the light side of the Force, getting into someone’s head and taking away their free will— even if only for a fleeting moment— seems pretty dark.
Nothing more blatantly displays the hypocrisy of the Jedi than a Jedi Mind Trick, which is probably why it’s not practiced by the Sith. Granted, the Sith have mind control tactics of their own in the form of manipulation and tactical deception, but nothing so directly contradictory to their own principles as the Jedi willingness to take immediate control of another person’s mind.
Any religious group who claims to value enlightenment probably shouldn’t be infantilizing and violating the minds of others.
2 When They Squashed All Offshoots of the Jedi Order
On several occasions throughout their history, the Jedi were met with the challenge of dissenting splinter groups that sought to move beyond the confines of the traditional Jedi orthodoxy. Every time, the Jedi sought to squash these groups.
All of these groups shared one thing in common— they represented a challenge to the authority of the Jedi Order, not to mention a threat to their monopoly on all things Force related.
Most of the splinter groups were made up of Jedi who only wanted to explore the Force beyond the confines of a reductive doctrine. If the Jedi were at one with the Force as they surely claimed to be, then they probably wouldn’t be so afraid of any attempt to explore the Force outside the confines of their petty rules.
1 When They Paved The Way For The Empire
Much like the creation of the Sith as a whole, Darth Vader is a personified reaction to the failures of the Jedi Order. Were it not for the political frivolousness and spiritual complacency of the Jedi in the last days of the Republic, Vader and the Empire might never have been.
The Jedi were wrong about pretty much everything during the Clone Wars, and every move they made eventually played right into Palpatine’s hands. Palpatine was able to use Anakin to destroy the Jedi only because the Jedi fueled Anakin’s angst in the first place with their celibacy laws and shady politics.
After thousands and thousands of years of wallowing in the echo chamber of their rigid doctrine, the rise of the Empire was an inevitable result.
What are your thoughts? Are the Jedi really worse than the Sith? Join the debate in the comments!