Star Wars Has Completely Forgotten Yoda’s Most Important Lesson

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

yoda spinoff

For Star Wars fans, Yoda’s comments in The Empire Strikes Back about The Force are invaluable in helping us understand this mystical energy field. At one point, he tells Luke Skywalker that “a Jedi uses the Force only for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” Unfortunately, the franchise completely forgot this lesson decades ago, and it’s only gotten worse since Disney purchased Star Wars from George Lucas.

Never Use The Force To Attack

Yoda’s training of Luke focused extensively on the nature of the Force and the Jedi who wield it. Many of his wise words involved how to properly access and use these powers, including the iconic “do, or do not–there is no try” quote.

But he also wants his young Padawan to know what to do (and not to do) with his powers once he is a Jedi Knight.

In the context of the Original Trilogy, Yoda’s comments about using the Force merely “for knowledge and defense, never for attack” make perfect sense.

Obi-Wan never uses the Force in the Original Trilogy to attack his opponents, instead using it to get out of fights (“these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”), and his greatest moment is actually putting his weapon down while fighting Darth Vader. As for Yoda, he notably doesn’t have any weapons himself, never using either a lightsaber or the Force for attack in these early films.

At First, Luke Doesn’t Listen

Fittingly enough, we mostly see the wisdom of Yoda’s words about the Force through Luke’s many screw-ups. Luke goes out of his way to bring his weapons into the cave, encountering a monstrous vision of himself as Darth Vader, and it’s Luke who goes to Cloud City to fight and nearly gets killed.

In Return of the Jedi, Luke finally realizes he’s walking the path of the Dark Side when he aggressively attacks and mutilates his own father.

In The Prequels, The Jedi Attack All The Time

But while the Original Trilogy validates Yoda’s claims about Jedi never using the Force for attack or defense, later films seem to throw that wisdom out the airlock.

For example, Yoda himself goes to personally assassinate Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, and one of the first things he does is use the Force to immediately knock out the leader’s guards.

The prequels were absolutely filled with the Jedi using the Force offensively, especially after they became (reluctantly) generals leading a bloody war throughout the galaxy.

The Sequels

The franchise ignoring Yoda’s words about the Force extends to fan-favorite cartoons like The Clone Wars, where archetypal Jedi good boy Obi-Wan Kenobi tells the forbidden love of his life that “the best defense is a swift and decisive offense.”

That spirit is alive in the Sequel Trilogy, as Rey seems to channel some real Dark Side aggression in her first fight with Kylo Ren. Speaking of Kylo, the first thing he does after returning to the Light Side is use the Force to kill his old buddies The Knights of Ren, something that is treated as a heroic act.

Going Astray

phantom menace

These are just a few examples of Star Wars ignoring Yoda’s words about the Force–we haven’t even touched on other crazy examples, like Luke Skywalker dying after a Force projection attack against Kylo Ren and the First Order.

The point should be clear, though: this is a franchise that decided it could sell more toys by making its pacifist space wizards into aggressive warriors, ones who use their special powers for offense all the time.

For both George Lucas and Disney, it seems that what Yoda said was only true from a certain point of view, one they were all too eager to ignore.