Ever since Obi Wan Kenobi achieved immortality by becoming a Force ghost in A New Hope, the concept of Force-based life after death has captivated Star Wars fans. In the original trilogy we see Obi Wan, Yoda, and even Annakin Skywalker manifest into glowing spirits and communicate with the living.
However, little is known about how Jedi become Force ghosts. Qui-Gon Jinn was the first Jedi master to learn the secret of how to become immortal in spirit. From there, we see Obi Wan, Yoda, Annakin, and Luke Skywalker learn the secret.
Since this is a feat only achieved by a select few Jedi, that leaves us with some pretty daunting questions. Can even Sith become Force ghosts? If not ghosts, can their spirits communicate after death?
To give a simple answer, Sith cannot become Force ghosts, at least not the same as Jedi. In both Star Wars Canon and Legends, Sith do not possess the ability to become Force ghosts.
Still not convinced? Keep reading to get the full story on Force ghosts.
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Can Sith Become Force Ghosts?
Becoming a Force ghost is something only a few individuals have accomplished, but it requires training and devotion to the light side of the Force. Only the strongest Jedi have managed to do it.
After all, becoming immortal is one of the most powerful things a Jedi can do. As Obi Wan Kenobi said in A New Hope, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can imagine.”
However, only Jedi can learn this power because it requires full devotion to the light side of the Force. Sith only study the dark side, making them unqualified to learn this power.
Jedi who learn this secret can appear physically in the living world, surrounded by an ominous blue glow. They can walk, talk, and react with people just as if they were there.
Since Jedi learn this by their unyielding devotion to the light side of the Force, their spirit bodies are sustained by the power of the Force. However, a sith’s selfish motives assure that they can never have a full life after death.
Sith may not be able to become full Force spirits, but they can retain some level of consciousness by binding their spirit to something in the physical world. This could be a specific place, object, or even a person. Emperor Palpatine uses this tactic to stay “alive” in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In this excerpt from the upcoming Lucasfilm novel Shadow of the Sith, we see Luke Skywalker battle nine Sith wraiths on Exegol, but their spirits are not alive in the Force. Rather, they are bound to the setting of Exegol. Luke can’t sense their presence with the Force, because the Force is not flowing through them.
This shows us that while Jedi can become full Force ghosts through their devotion to the light side of the Force, the Sith can only imitate that power. Palpatine did say that their abilities were “unnatural.” Even after death, that rings true.
Were Darth Revan, Palpatine, Darth Maul Force Ghosts?
No, these Sith were not Force ghosts. Force ghosts are fully visible and audible in the physical world and aren’t limited by any time or setting. These Sith spirits aren’t fully alive, and they’re not being sustained in the Force.
Rather, these Sith spirits are bound to the living world in a rejection of death. Their life, immortal as it may be, is cursed.
In The Rise of Skywalker we see Kylo Ren meet Palpatine in his physical body on Exegol. However, Palpatine is limited to Exegol in his existence.
His body looks frail and warped, scarier than his true Sith form. He seems to have more power than he did when he was alive, but his power is sustained unnaturally and is confined to the area of Exegol.
This is not a proper Force ghost. Though many hardcore Star Wars fans have qualms with The Rise of Skywalker, this much remains true. Despite how far-fetched the storyline becomes, Sith cannot become a Force ghost.
Can all Jedi be Force ghosts?
Since becoming a Force ghost requires a lot of training and devotion to the Force, only the most powerful Jedi have accomplished it. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s off -limits for other Jedi.
When we see Jedi learn the secret to immortality, there aren’t many Jedi left. Qu- Gon Jinn learned the secret to immortality and communicated with Yoda after “Order 66” had already been executed. Most of the Jedi in that time were eliminated.
Since the only Jedi left were Yoda and Obi Wan, they learned the secret from Qui-Gon. From there, Annakin and Luke Skywalker also learned it. If there had been other Jedi present who were devoted enough to the light side of the Force, there would have been nothing stopping them from learning it as well.
Learning the secret to immortality as a Force ghost is one of the most powerful things a Jedi can do. While living, a Jedi aims to live in full harmony and balance with the Force. Without the tether of their physical body, they can finally be fully immersed in the Force.
Sith can never learn this power, as their devotion to the dark side of the Force forbids it. Any life after death they seek is cursed.
Mitchell Layton is a freelance writer and touring musician living in Philadelphia. When he’s not playing guitar or writing for clients, he enjoys rewatching cult classics like Star Wars, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and more. Mitchell has been published by sites like HM Magazine, Glassworks Literary Magazine, GameRevolution, Pif Magazine, and others.