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Why Can’t Darth Vader Use Force Lightning in ‘Star Wars’?

Palpatine users Force lightning in Star Wars

In the Star Wars franchise, there are two different ways in which the Force can be channeled. Force-sensitives can either channel the dark side of the Force, called Bogan, or the light side of it, called Ashla. The Sith were Force-sensitives with a particular devotion to the dark side of the Force. They gave into their emotions of hatred, anger, and passion to wield it. This was as opposed to the Jedi, their mortal enemies, who served the will of the light side of the Force.

The light side of the Force is definitely the harder side to practice. This is because it must be wielded with passivity and calmness, and utilized only for defense. It takes much more practice to learn to wield power with calmness than with emotions, such as anger, that come naturally to one. Hence, it usually is no contest that the light side of the Force often proves more powerful than the dark side, because its practitioners are far more knowledgeable and boast better technique.

With that being side, the dark side of the Force did give the Sith some unique and powerful abilities that generally couldn’t be wielded by the Jedi. One such ability is Force lightning, which became a common weapon of the Sith, though Rey (Daisy Ridley) wielded it in Rise of Skywalker. This powerful offensive technique allows Force-users to discharge lightning from their hands. The lightning is powerful enough to inflict great pain, or even cause death or disfigurement. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) nearly died when Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) used Force lightning on him in Return of the Jedi.

Why can’t Darth Vader use Force lightning

With Force lightning being practically synonymous with the Sith, it is certainly confusing that Sith Lord, Darth Vader, never utilized the technique in the Star Wars films. With his penchant for Force-choking and desire to inflict pain and torment, the technique seems right up his alley. Not to mention, he’s one of the strongest Force-users in Star Wars.

Star Wars never explicitly answers why Vader can’t, or doesn’t, use Force lightning. However, when one considers the nature of the technique, alongside the injuries Vader sustained on Mustafar, it is easy to see why. When Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) fought Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) on Mustafar, he was left near-death, with his body badly burnt and both his hands and leg severed. When Darth Sidious rescues him, Vader is fitted with prosthetics and a life-preserving suit.

Vader relies on the complex life support system of his suit to survive and it happens to be very vulnerable to electrical discharges. So, if Vader ever had unleashed Force lightning, there’s a good chance it would’ve caused his suit to short circuit, thus, killing him. Additionally, he may not have been able to wield it regardless, considering the lightning is discharged from the Force-users hands. Vader, meanwhile, has prosthetics, having lost both his hands on Mustafar.

(featured image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.